To continue our series of spotlights on Tut’Zanni, a Commedia dell’Arte theatre company comprised entirely of ADA alumni, we are delighted to present this interview with Voice teacher, ADA Alumni Association president, Undergraduate Programs Associate and co-founder of Tut’Zanni and Women From Mars Theatre Dory Sibley! Read on to see what Dory has to say about her time studying at the ADA, her transition from student to staff and ultimately to faculty, and her experience co-founding two international theatre companies!
What did you study there?
Physical Theatre, Roy Hart Experimental Voice, Commedia dell’Arte, Ensemble Devising, Music
What University were you coming from?
University of Arkansas
What was your favorite thing about the program?
Kevin… his class changed my entire perspective on voice and on teaching philosophy… and my colleagues… they changed my perspective on the world.
Can you share a favorite memory or story from your time in Italy outside the classroom? From a trip or a meal in town etc…
It is hard because I have been here a long time and have had a lot of great memories. But, one of my favorites was when Patrick, ALi and I decided it was a great idea to go to PAM during our lunch break and get chocolate AND milk. On our way back to the Villa we stopped at Severi to eat the chocolate and drink the milk. Let me just say, it was a really, really hot day and if you have never done the walk up the hill from Severi to the Villa on a scalding hot day with fresh milk in your stomach, you have not lived sir.
Do you have any “must sees” while in Arezzo? A Favorite Gelato spot, restaurant, historical/cultural landmark?
My favorite place in Arezzo is a tiny Piazza near Via Pellicceria from which you can see all of the towers of Arezzo. I highly recommend it during sunset.
Do you stay in touch with anyone from your class?
Almost everyone. In fact, that is the reason I started the Alumni Association in 2006 so that we could all keep in touch and ADA Alumni from different cohorts could find opportunities to meet and collaborate.
What would your advice be for people considering attending the Accademia?
The Accademia changed the trajectory of my entire life. I would not be who I am today without the amazing people that have walked through the doors of this institution from its beginning to its present. My advice is to go for it. Don’t hold back. Give it your all. The only regrets I have in my life are the times when I didn’t try.
Why did you and your colleagues decide to start Tut’Zanni?
ALi Landvatter, one of my colleagues from Spring 2006, came to visit me towards the end of my MFA here at the ADA. She and I started discussing what we are excited about and what the future might look like. We wanted to create a vehicle for our own work and a way to work with people we LIKE to work with. She asked me if I wanted to be the Co-Founder and I said, “ABSOLUTELY!!” The rest is history.
Tut’Zanni is more than just a group that makes theatre… we are a family. I thank the universe every day that I get to continue making art with these people. We’ve been through thick and thin but our passion lies in the work we generate when we are together. It is pretty amazing.
Where did the inspiration come from for Tut’Zanni’s latest production, “BEEP AND BOP”?
You know it honestly came out of pure logistical need. All of the shows we had created up to this point involved no less than 4 company members. It is hard to get that many members together on a regular basis both to perform and develop. So, we started asking ourselves if we could do a two person masked show. That is where the original development idea stemmed from. Then ALi and Patrick developed magic, as per usual, with all of us being able to act as outside eyes during the process. The idea is that we will all learn Beep and Bop and any two of us could do a version of this show anywhere in the world.
This September you can see BEEP AND BOP in the San Francisco Fringe. You can get more info and tickets here.
Is Tut’Zanni working on any upcoming canovacci like “Love Letter Lost” and “Don’t Save the Princesses?”
Yes. We recently had a development period where we started on FOOD, SEX AND BIG CHECKS. This show will be a powerhouse of greed, hunger and all things sensual. The perfect Commedia smattering.
How do you balance teaching for four different ADA programs, co-directing the undergraduate programs, managing marketing and alumni relations for the school, being a founding member of two international theatre companies, and being a mother?
Wow… when you put it all in one question it looks like a lot. I don’t know… I’ve never been a person that stands still for long. I tend to overstretch my reach but I have learned a lot about balance especially after becoming a mother. I am lucky that I have a really supportive and reliable team here at the ADA. Also, I have to say, I owe most of the credit to my husband Jesse. He does a lot to support my “artistic chaos.” And though, I think I could still do most of it without him, I wouldn’t want to.
How and when did the idea for your company “Women From Mars” come about?
Yeah that is interesting. I was actually invited into the formation of Women From Mars by my friend and colleague Francesca Chilcote and my sister-in-law Echo Sibley. We wanted to work on a piece specifically about women’s issues and even more specifically about our own issues as individuals, so SILENT REFLECTIONS became about human issues through the lens of our own experiences. It is an important show and I am fortunate to be a part of it. We also wanted to form a group that could continue working together in Italy because all of our collaborators lived very far away. That didn’t last long though as we added a member in Chicago, Genevieve Durst, during our last tour and Francesca fell in love with a wonderful Canadian boy (love you Colin). However, we are finding ways to make it work!
How have your experiences with Tut’Zanni and Women From Mars influenced your teaching life here at the Accademia?
The more you create, the more you learn. The more you teach, the more you learn. The more you live, the more you learn. I think the most important thing I have learned from all of my experiences in creation and teaching is that failure is good. I mean really good. You learn so much from failure. Much more than you will ever learn from success. I encourage my students to say yes, to fail, to flop, to fall on your face… and then I teach them to support each other, dust each other off, help each other back on the bike to fail again. As a collaborative creator, I learned what it takes to be a true ensemble and how to be a good ensemble member. I learned about how to give feedback and how to set personal limits. With everything I learn about myself, I try to find a way to teach this to other young artists who may also be searching for a lot of the same answers that they can only find inside themselves.
How has it been to transition over the years from student of the ADA to staff, and ultimately to core teaching faculty?
I have to tell you… from the time I walked in the doors of my first class at the ADA, my dream began to take form. A dream to be a real part of this institution and to teach within its walls. My story before coming to the ADA is a little depressing. I was lost, stuck in my technique, underwhelmed with lack of opportunity and a square peg the education system was trying to fit in a round hole. When I came to the ADA, I found my voice and that is what I pass to my students. We debunk the idea of “perfection” and open the idea of individuality and identity.
If you had to play one and only one commedia character for the rest of your life, who would you choose and why?
HAHAHAHA!!!! I think I would choose Dottore because that character knows what it is talking about 😉
Check out more of Dory’s work with Tut’Zanni and Women From Mars by following the links below: