Studio Zanni brings commedia dell’Arte to life for modern day audiences through our school programs, public performances, and actor training. We are a group of actor educators with over 60 years of teaching and performing experience, including appearances at the Walt Disney Concert Hall, Mark Taper Forum, Hollywood Bowl, European tours and festivals across North America. We have taught throughout the greater Los Angeles area, including workshops in physical theatre, commedia dell’arte and integrating arts into the curriculum at schools throughout the LAUSD, Plaza de la Raza, Virginia Avenue Project, USC, UCLA, Pepperdine, Cal Arts, UCSD, among many others.

The Show: Commedia dell’Arte
Running time 45 minutes (can be adjusted to fit your needs)
“Commedia dell’Arte” takes the audience on a hilarious journey back in time to Renaissance-era Italy while a bumbling professor and his madcap group of cohorts explain the roots and traditions of commedia dell’Arte. It features authentic costumes, masks, stock characters, song, dance, physical comedy and audience participation. Students have the opportunity to learn the historical and cultural context of commedia dell’Arte and its relevance to today. The show meets California state educational standards for the visual and performing arts (CA State VAPA standards grades pre-K through 12). More importantly, it fosters critical thinking skills in students and is guaranteed to generate lively classroom discussion. It brings history and the performing arts alive! 

In the Classroom
We offer pre- and post-show worksheets for the classroom so that your students can put their critical thinking skills to work before, during, and after the show.

John Achorn – (Il Capocomico, Dottore, Pulcinella) is an actor, director and teacher. He has specialized in the commedia dell’Arte technique for over 40 years. He studied underthe late Carlo Mazzone-Clementi, with whom he helped found the noted Dell-Arte School in Humboldt County, where he has returned several times over the years to teach commedia. As a Visiting Assistant Professor, Mr. Achorn has taught acting and directed productions at The University of Redlands, UCLA, USC, UC San Diego, UC Riverside, UC Santa Cruz and The American Academy of Dramatic Arts. Mr. Achorn currently teaches Shakespeare, American Novel and History of Comedy at Santa Monica Emeritus College. Mr. Achorn also is involved with the Virginia Avenue Project where he teaches at-risk teens Creative Dramatics, and is currently developing InterPlay with them involving six senior citizens and six of the more experienced teens in sharing their personal stories around theme of Beauty to be presented in the Fall of 09 at the Getty Villa.

Jon Monastero – (Arlecchino, Capitano, Leandro) has performed as a clown with Cirque du Soleil in multiple special events celebrating the opening of “Iris” at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood, including as a performer in the Rose Parade. He has twice performed at the Disney Concert Hall with the LA Philharmonic Orchestra; in The Spirit of the Cello (as The Spirit of the Cello) and in The Composer is Dead (Pall Bearer). Other theatrical credits include the The School of Night (Harlequin) at the Mark Taper Forum, Summersounds (Jack Donkey) at the Hollywood Bowl, L’Histoire du Soldat (Soldat) with the San Francisco Symphony, The Illusion (Matamore) at Open Fist Theatre and Fafalo (in the role of Fafalo)at the Miles Playhouse. He was awarded the 2008 Ticketholder Award for Special Events and Performances for his skill in commedia dell’Arte in The School of Night, and wrote and starred in sixteen episodes of Vatos in Space for Serial Killers at Sacred Fools Theater Company. Jon was also among a select group of artists asked to participate in the Soltanoff-Findlay Project with the Center Theatre Group. Jon recently became a proud performer in the award winning educational show The Bully Dudes, working with Keith Berger and Sharon Diskin of The Chameleons Magical Mime Theatre and David Prather. He is 1/2 of Ten West – an LA-based comedy troupe (www.tenwest.net) that has garnered critical and audience acclaim across N. America.

Ilana Gustafson Turner – (Pantalone, Brighella, Isabella) is a Los Angeles-based performer and educator. She has toured her original work in the USA and Europe as both a solo artist and as a collaborator with such ensembles as ARTEL (founding member), City Garage, Theatre Revelation, and others.  She is one half of the female clown duo, Duck Bits. She has performed and taught educational theater for over six years with organizations such as Bluepalm, the East L.A. Classic Theater, and the Zoe Barnum Continuation High School, where she directed at-risk teens in the creation of theater performance. She has also taught professional development to teachers of at-risk youth. Ilana has studied with Dell’Arte International (Mask, clowning, physical comedy), John Achorn (commedia), David Bridel, Jef Johnson, Stefan Haves, Ronlin Foreman (clown), A Noise Within (Shakespeare), Alyssa Ravenwood (Mask), Karagod (Voice).

Juliette Angeli – (Colombina) is a Los Angeles based actress and musician. She has studied and performed classical theatre for over ten years, including award winning performances at the Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum, and the International Classical Acting Project. Juliette performed educational shows for the Cincinnati Museum of Natural History for three years. She studied classical acting at SMU and with Elizabeth Huffman and John Achorn. and is currently a student of improvisation at iO West. She writes and performs her own music with several bands and plays the theremin.