Teaching: Clown & Commedia

Clown Headshot Teachingmy Philosophy

People are at their funniest when they feel joy. There is great joy in wearing your flaws on your sleeve, without apology. I developed my teaching style – zany, rigorous, and compassionate – through ten years of international study with master instructors in Clown, Bouffon, Commedia dell’Arte, Neutral Mask, and Lecoq Method.

More on my training below. My job, as I see it, is to provide my students with the physical and rhythmic jungle gym that will lead them towards release, courageous abandon, joy, and then (inevitably): comedy of the self.

I believe that the performer’s body – her quirks, tics, idiosyncrasies – is the key to unlocking her inborn comedic rhythm. If you follow your so-called flaw – “I fidget constantly,” “I laugh when I’m nervous,” “I mouth-breathe” – you will find Your Funny: a way of moving through time and space that is at once absurd and natural…because it comes from you, uncensored, as you really breathe, think, move, and relate to others.

A Peek Inside My Classroom

Courtesy of: Ryan DeForeest and the Chappell Players (St. John’s University).


“Becca was my director for a Commedia show we did at the PIT. Having Becca as my director for just one show made me learn more about improv than the year of improv classes I took. Her directing made me feel more confident with my body as a tool for comedy; it made me comfortable being silent on stage, tuning into the audience’s reactions and sitting in each moment all the while connecting with your fellow players. During rehearsals, her easy and warm demeanor made me forget completely about my physical inhibitions. Without any pre-amble, she encouraged the actors dive right into exploring the deep ties that your body has to the choices you make in improv. I barely knew the other actors, but within minutes, I felt entirely connected to them and was making bold moves without feeling silly. Because Becca approaches comedy so passionately and so earnestly, there was little room left for feelings of embarrassment or inhibitions. She levels with you while leading by example. She respects your style and knows how to extract and enhance your best qualities. She brings both an acute intelligence and an unmatched physical awareness to comedy. And trust me when I tell you: you’ll be laughing the entire class until it hurts. I cannot recommend her enough.” — Elvira I.

“Learning Commedia with Becca was such an incredible experience. I quickly went from having not even heard of the art form to feeling confident about performing it onstage, and it’s all due to Becca’s encouraging, supportive, thorough and warm teaching style. It’s hard not to love the exercises when you see how passionate Becca is about Commedia. It’s infectious. If you’re interested in Commedia, you should absolutely let Becca ferry you across the canal towards fun and self-discovery. Even if you’ve never heard of this art form, this class will help you, as a performer or improviser, to be more in your body. From the first hour onwards, you’ll be making bigger, bolder character choices that will add to your tool-belt!” — Patrick J.

“Becca was such a delightful coach (and show director) for Commedia. I knew virtually nothing about mask performance before setting foot in her rehearsal room; Becca was able to explain the physically demanding technique in simple terms for the actor while displaying a wealth of knowledge on the art and the reasons behind the techniques. I loved doing it. It helped me become an overall better improviser and reminded me of the value of physicality and ‘character tropes’ in my work.” — Kirsten O.

“I had a wonderful experience working with Rebecca on Zanni Zanni Lazzo at The PIT. Rebecca’s passion for the art form is palpable during rehearsals, and her energy is equally infectious. She sets the bar very high with her own detailed work while providing a safe space for fellow performers to discover and grow into the characters they will become under her example.” — Brian H.


TRAINING & Experience

I’ll start with my most recent news and work backwards.

In 2015-2016, I began teaching commedia dell’arte classes at the college level, and I made my directorial debut with Zanni Zanni Lazzo, a commedia dell’arte show at The Peoples Improv Theater. I also produced and performed in the show.

In 2014, I accepted the RomaFringe Festival‘s invitation to perform my full-length, Commedia-inspired play “HALF: A Divorce Farce” as an International Guest Performer at the 2014 Rome Fringe Festival.

Before performing in Rome, I traveled to Florence for a Clowning and Commedia intensive taught by internationally renowned master teacher Giovanni Fusetti at his Scuola HELIKOS in Italy. Fusetti’s empathetic approach has deeply informed my own style of physical theater instruction.

In 2010, I began training with the exceptional master teacher, Christopher Bayes (currently the Head of Physical Acting at Yale Drama, formerly at NYU and Juilliard). Under Bayes’s instruction, I have — and will continue, as I move into my sixth year of training with him — to hone my understanding of the rhythmic, vocal, and physical techniques that fuel the comedic core of Clown and Commedia performance.

In 2009, I attended an intensive at L’École Philippe Gaulier in Sceaux, France, where I learned the fundamentals of Clown and Bouffon from the school’s founder, Philippe Gaulier. Gaulier began as a core teacher at L’École Jacques Lecoq, where he developed a unique physical theater pedagogy for Clown, Bouffon, Commedia dell’Arte, and Neutral Mask work.

In 2006 and 2007, I participated in Lecoq Movement and devised, site-specific, promenade theater intensives taught by the Pig Iron Theatre Company. Under the instruction of Pig Iron company members Quinn Bauriedel, Dan Rothenberg, and Dito van Reigersberg (founders of the Pig Iron School), I established a solid understanding of Neutral Mask and the Lecoq Movement Method. The devised performance pieces we generated during our two workshops provided inspiration and material for the OBIE Award-winning Pig Iron production “Chekhov Lizardbrain” and Dan Rothenberg’s production “Wind-Up.”

For a sense of how my training has influenced my own playwriting and performance, please visit my Theater page to view clips of the plays I’ve written, staged, produced, and performed.

other collaboration & TRAINING:

Theatre de Jeune Lune