Humboldt County is located in Northern California. Within Humboldt County, a very small town (population 1200 as of 2020 census) named Blue Lake is found. This town is located on the Mad River, 6 miles northeast of Eureka, at an elevation of just 131 feet. 

Other than the fact that Blue Lake and its surrounding areas are the perfect get away spot from the hustle and bustle of the San Francisco Bay area, this small town is just another place most people have no idea it exists, and if they happen to stumble upon it, they quickly forget about it. 

Hidden within its natural paradise full of red woods, however, a worldwide known commedia school is found. Originally known as “Dell’Arte School of Mime and Comedy, now known as “Dell’Arte International School of Physical Theatre,” this institution was founded in Berkeley, CA back in 1971 by Carlo Mazzonne-Clementi and his wife Jane Hill. It wasn’t until four years later, in 1975, that “Dell’Arte International” opened its doors in Blue Lake.

Carlo Mazzonne-Clementi was a childhood friend of sculptor Amleto Sartori. I spoke of Sartori and the museum that carries his name earlier, on a post titled, “Museo Maschera Sartori.” Mazzone-Clementi was the first Italian artistic partner of Marcel Marceau. Marceau was a French actor and mime, performing professionally worldwide for more than 60 years. Lastly, Mazzone-Clementi was also an assistant to Jacques Lecoq. Lecoq was best known for his teaching methods in physical theatre, movement, and mime. 

In short, Carlo Mazzonne-Clementi was part of the group of artists who reinvented the Italian theatre, commedia, and mask work after WWII in Italy. Mazzone-Clementi founded two commedia theatre schools, “Dell’Arte International School of Physical Theatre” in Blue Lake, and “The Commedia School” in Copenhagen, Denmark. In North America, Mazzonne-Clementi is responsible for the spreading of Commedia dell’arte. 

I had the opportunity to meet Tony Fuemmeler, current Interim Head of Training Programs and full time faculty of Mask-making and Commedia at “Dell’Arte International.” Due to the pandemic, however, our meeting took place over zoom. We spoke of the importance of commedia as an art form, as an actor’s training tool, and about the role Dell’Arte International plays for the community and society at large. The next post will be a general transcript of our conversation.

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