Olly Crick  is a performer, trainer and director, having trained in Commedia under Barry Grantham and Carlo Boso. He is founder of The Fabulous Old Spot Theatre Company.

He has been interested in Commedia for  a long time now, and first trod the boards as Pedrolino in a Barry Grantham show in London in 1987. Since then he has worked with the Unfortunati (as the Doctor), TAG Teatro di Venice (as Captain Spavento in Venice Carnival in 1990) , taught at RADA and LAMDA, and co-authored one book, and co-edited another on Commedia. He is currently in his final year of a PHD, in  which he is making a valiant attempt to bring together as many strands of commedia performance practice together as possible, to see if there are indeed  valid reasons why we all get so excited about this style of theatre. His main area of research is in Commedia dramaturgy and aesthetics: how we may define what  contemporary commedia is, in order to both classify it, but equally to create more of it.



The overall purpose of this workshop is to introduce or consolidate a participant’s knowledge of the practical aspects of Commedia dell’Arte, and to place its performance within the context of improvisational skill.

Part 1: The history and the masks

A practical and chronological history of the roles of commedia, their movements, social position and ways to raise a laugh: from the carnival antics of the early Buffoni, to the rise of the Magnifico/Zanni double act and the development into a full troupe incorporating Lovers, Pantalone, The Doctor, The Spanish Captain, Brighella, and of course Colombina and Harlequin. Masks are provided, and all other questions will be answered over lunch.

Part 2: The scenario and improvisation

In this section we will look at how to write a Commedia scenario as a collective enterprise, and then how to plot the dramatic path of a single character that an individual portrays through it.  We will look at linear improvisation as a way of exploring these individual story lines, both as a performance in their own right, and as part of the rehearsal process. This section will look at the motivations needed to propel a character through a scenario, and how improvisation is part of the collective social process required in building a commedia (or other) performance.

30 mins Q&A



Commedia dell’arte : a handbook for troupes co-authored with John Rudlin ( Book )

This book is intended to provide practical information as well as case studies, as an aid and resource book for those interested in creating their own commedia performances and company.

16 editions published in 2001 in English and held by 581 WorldCat member libraries worldwide

The Routledge Companion to Commedia dell’Arte co-edited Judith Chaffee and author of two chapters( Book )

8 editions published between 2014 and 2015 in English and held by 110 WorldCat member libraries worldwide.

From Commedia dell’Arte came archetypal characters that are still with us today, such as Harlequin and Pantalone, and the rediscovered craft of writing comic dramas and masked theatre. From it came the forces that helped create and influence Opera, Ballet, Pantomime, Shakespeare, Moliere, Lopes de Vega, Goldoni, Meyerhold, and even the glove puppet, Mr Punch. The Routledge Companion to Commedia dell’Arte is a wide-ranging volume written by over 50 experts, that traces the history, characteristics, and development of this fascinating yet elusive theatre form. In synthesizing the elements of Commedia, this book introduces the history of the Sartori mask studio; presents a comparison between Gozzi and Goldoni’s complicated and adversarial approaches to theatre; invites discussions on Commedia’s relevance to Shakespeare, and illuminates re-interpretations of Commedia in modern times. The authors are drawn from actors, mask-makers, pedagogues, directors, trainers and academics, all of whom add unique insights into this most delightful of theatre styles. Notable contributions include: * Donato Sartori on the 20th century Sartori mask * Rob Henke on form and freedom * Anna Cottis on Carlo Boso * Didi Hopkins on One Man, Two Guv’nors * Kenneth Richards on acting companies * Antonio Fava on Pulcinella * Joan Schirle on Carlo Mazzone-Clementi and women in Commedia * and M.A. Katritzky on images.

Other Publication

Rehearsing our roles : drama in citizenship education. (book) A teacher’s resource, Birmingham UK : Development Education Centre, 2002.