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Theatre professor wins international award to perform in Ukraine

February 13, 2009

Artemis Preeshl, assistant professor of theatre arts at Loyola University New Orleans, won the international competition, Shakespeare: Four Sketches, in January and was selected by the International University Global Theatre Experience to travel to Ukraine in May. Preeshl, who was one of only four international directors chosen from 174, will create a one-hour solo commedia dell’arte performance of Shakespeare’s “All’s Well That Ends Well,” performed in French and Spanish-style Mardi Gras masks.

As part of her proposal, “Multicultural Masks: Deconstructed Approaches to Classical Text,” Preeshl will build upon her already vast expertise in commedia dell’arte, a form of Italian improvisational theatre, by transforming voice, body and mask for multiple characters in Shakespearean plays.

While in Ukraine, Preeshl will revise the script to include six actors and then, along with the other directors, deconstruct their productions to create a single work.

Preeshl specializes in applying commedia dell’arte to Shakespeare. Her new work follows on the heels of her experience at the international exchange last summer in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia. While there, she directed and performed in a scenario from Shakespeare’s “All’s Well That Ends Well,” displaying her versatility between comedy and tragedy, at the first Balinese Fringe Festival.

Preeshl studied with commedia dell’arte master Antonio “Pulchinella” Fava and master mask maker Donato Sartori in two month-long workshops in Italy. She conducts daily research by speaking and moving in mask and regularly consults with Toronto-based creativity coach Lisa Pijuan-Nomura, a fellow director from the Directors’ Symposium at the 2006 La MaMa Umbria International Festival in Umbria, Italy.

Preeshl’s creative research has focused on directing and choreographing Shakespeare’s Italian and Roman plays in a slapstick style. She directed “Two Gentlemen of Verona” at La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club in New York in 2007, and Artemis & The Wild Things, her nonprofit theater and dance company, has presented Shakespeare’s Italian and Roman plays in this style since 2004.

In Loyola’s commedia dell’arte production of “Twelfth Night,” she incorporated commedia dell’arte characters and selected text references to accentuate comic action through sight gags and wordplay. She is presently preparing her solo version of “All’s Well That Ends Well” for a preview performance titled, “The Tipping Point,” to take place this March in New Orleans.

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