Because of Dell’Arte... my career has been more varied, wild, and fun than I had imagined it would be.

by Alyssa Ravenwood

Alyssa Ravenwood (photo by: Rob Silverman)  

Alyssa Ravenwood (photo by: Rob Silverman)  

Because of Dell’Arte my career has been more varied, wild, and fun than I had imagined it would be. I was able to travel the country acting as a physical theatre/Commedia/clowning/mask educator and director. My theatre masks have travelled even farther, to 26 countries at last count. I was able to tour a one woman show I wrote; I never would have done that without Dell’Arte training.

Because of Dell’Arte I have famiglia all over the world. I’ve worked with you, stayed on your couches, gone on adventures with you, collaborated with you, enjoyed your shows, and sold you masks. I felt privileged to be your “mask godmother” sharing mask making knowledge and being a link in the chain of the mask making tradition. When I was seriously ill you sent me cards with good wishes and cash to help pay for medical expenses. I’m very grateful to you for that.

My first job after graduating Dell’Arte was directing a play. It was a family drama, all talking heads, as far from the “Dell’Arte style” as can be. I was curious to see how the D’A training would come to play in this style. It turned out to be extremely useful. My training helped me focus the attention of the audience with laser beam precision. Understanding the dynamics of movement helped me create exciting stage pictures even though there was little “action” in the play.

My favorite production that I worked on was as director and mask designer for “Scapin!.” This show took all my Dell’Arte training and put it to good use. I staged the production as a full-blown Commedia piece with everyone in masks. I trained the cast in Commedia, clowning, improvisation, and mask performance techniques before we began regular rehearsals. A grateful tip of my hat to my brilliant Commedia teacher, Ole Brekke. Thank you Ole! I used all my PTP tricks of the trade to make the funnest play I’ve ever done. I was hired by famiglia, thank you Anna! The set of Commedia masks I made for the show won me a Drammy award and they became the start of the collection of theater masks that I sold on my website. (Where my first mask sale was to famiglia!)

I am grateful for the training and for famiglia. Because of them I’ve had a colorful life.

Alyssa Ravenwood is a theatre director and an award-winning mask designer. She began designing masks for theater productions in 1988. She graduated from Dell’Arte in 1992. Her masks have been in numerous theatre productions around the world and in amusement parks; Universal Studios Hollywood and Lotte World South Korea. Her mask and special effects makeup designs have been seen on the TV shows; American Experience, Comedy Bang Bang, and Parks and Rec. She currently makes leather masks for superheroes at and is working on opening a Makerspace in Eureka CA.

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