Faction of Fools Group character picture

Mission Statement

Faction of Fools Theatre Company celebrates Commedia dell'Arte in Washington, DC and around the world. We preserve and promote this Renaissance theatre style by both respecting its heritage and exploring its future. We embody the spirit of Commedia, which is traditional yet innovative, international yet familiar, and classical yet accessible. In our performances, actor training, international initiatives, and educational outreach, Commedia dell'Arte is theatre at its best: physical discipline, spontaneous imagination, collaborative energy, and joyous wonder.

Faction of Fools is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization in residence at Gallaudet University.

Commedia dell'Arte's Legacy

Commedia dell'Arte, which translates as "professional theatre," began in Italy in the early 16th Century and quickly spread throughout Europe, creating a lasting influence on Shakespeare, Molière, opera, vaudeville, contemporary musical theatre, television sit-coms, and improv comedy. The style of Commedia is characterized by its use of masks, improvisation, physical comedy, and recognizable character types—young lovers, wily servants, greedy old men, know-it-all professors, boasting heroes, and the like. The legacy of Commedia includes the first incorporated (i.e. professional) theatre company, the first European actresses, and many of the themes and storylines still enjoyed by audiences today.

Faction of Fools' Initiatives

• Faction of Fools is a member of the European cultural association SAT, which is recognized by the United Nations as an NGO dedicated to preserving and promoting Commedia dell'Arte. SAT is currently working with UNESCO and the nation of Italy to attain official recognition of Commedia dell'Arte as "Intangible World Cultural Heritage."

• Faction of Fools serves as the International Coordinator of SAT's annual Commedia dell'Arte Day, featuring performances, classes, and events in cities around the world every February 25.

• Faction of Fools produces professional mainstage shows in Washington, DC, using a well-trained ensemble to reimagine historical Commedia scenarios from the Renaissance, to interpret other classical works through a Commedia lens, and to devise new, modern works of Commedia dell'Arte.
• Faction of Fools appears at cultural festivals in the DC-area and around the world to promote and share Commedia dell'Arte within the communities that surround us.

• As part of our educational outreach, we offer accessible training opportunities for learners of all ages because we believe that studying this classical performance style enhances creativity, hones physical theatre skills, and sparks imagination. We also offer touring productions of some of our mainstage shows, providing students the opportunity to enjoy this important cultural tradition firsthand.

• We partner with other local and international theatre companies to create new performance and educational experiences.

• We produce scholarly and dramatic writings that draw on original research in Commedia dell'Arte's history as well as on-going experiments in staging practices of this traditional form.