Summer 2009 - New York University Summer in La Pietra, Florence, Italy

Florence is the capital city of the Tuscan region in Italy and is considered one of the most beautiful cities in the world. This historic city is filled with art galleries, gardens, museums, piazzas (elegant squares), and Renaissance palaces. Its artistic and cultural heritage dating back to the Renaissance still influences great storytellers of today, particularly the actor, filmmaker, and writer.

Interested students enroll in one of two programs: Writing Florence or
Commedia dell’Arte: The Actor as Creator, Clown and Poet.

The courses in these programs are designed to immerse students in the cinematic and theatrical traditions, as well as contemporary works, which have influenced and transformed Italian society.

Villa La Pietra, a magnificent 15th-century, 57-acre estate, serves as NYU’s center for study in Florence. Located near the center of Florence, La Pietra is celebrated for its early Renaissance art collection and formal gardens. Classes are held in one of five historic villas on the estate. Students enjoy field trips in and around Florence in the picturesque Tuscan countryside.

Commedia dell’Arte: The Actor as Creator, Clown, Poet

Instructor: Jim Calder

Special Guest Instructor of Creative Movement for Commedia and Clown:

Sigfrido Aguilar

The tradition of commedia dell’arte involves defining the actor as a source for expression and interpretation that is at the center of dramatic creation. Our course focused on the commedia dell’arte in order to liberate spontaneity, physical presence, and a sense of play. In recreating the crude as well as the subtle roots of commedia, our students worked toward combining popular theatre with social commentary, stock characters with a sense of self, and the absurd with daily dramatic life. Throughout the course, we incorporated mask work, circus skills, scene improvisation, individual lazzi (bits and specialty acts), and the search for each student’s unique sense of clown.

A Midsummer Night's Dream

Directed by Jim Calder, with the assistance of Sigfrido Aguilar as movement coach.

Our version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream is a brisk and funny production, an adaptation of Shakespeare’s tangle of love, jealousy and an erotic donkey, done with song and spunk. 6 actors play all twelve roles accompanied by three musicians, all edited down to eighty-five minutes. The production has been made possible by NYU’s Office and Global Programs.