* I offer both Neutral and Commedia dell’Arte Mask classes. They can be taught separately
or together for short or long term workshops. For a longer term Commedia workshop, I recommend starting with Neutral for
a strong understanding of how to work with a Mask, then moving on to Commedia. Clown and Bouffon work can
also be incorporated into the workshops.
* All class and workshop offerings can be tailored to the time frame and particular interests of a
school, company, or theatre project.
* I have taught all levels: Professionals, MFA, BFA, BA, and High School students. See testimonial and
resume tabs for specifics.
* I provide all Masks, Neutral and Commedia, for the workshops or I can work with Masks you provide.
There is no Mask making in my classes.
* My beautiful Neutral and Commedia dell’Arte Masks are all leather and were made in France by the
highest quality artisans who create Masks specifically for actors in performance, not for display. My Commedia dell’Arte
Masks represent all the stock characters of the Italian Comedy.
* Fees are based on the length and location of the workshops.
End of semester mask performance at University of Delaware, UD Photos: Nadine Howatt
A Neutral Mask is a Mask with no expression and no opening for the mouth. The work is silent. The exercises we learn will enhance the actors’ spatial awareness, timing, listening, concentration, management of focus, economy of movement, spontaneity, and ability to guide the audience. Students will have a new idea of what it is to be present on stage and a side benefit will be enhanced stage presence. They will discover the expressive potential in the most basic movement and become acutely aware of extraneous or habitual patterns or postures revealed by the simplicity of the Mask. With Neutral Masks actors find their simplest states, devoid of personal character as far as possible. Onto this blank canvas they can later build and add the traits of a brand new character of any style, age or type, while they themselves transform and become unrecognizable. I tell my students that what we learn with Neutral Mask is the skeleton that holds us up on stage, the most basic stage technique.
Commedia dell’Arte Mask
In this section of the workshop, the students will use the basic technique they learned with the Neutral Masks, advancing to create their own highly expressive characters. Commedia Masks are used to free and transform the actor. Through improvisation, the actors’ imaginations, and my guidance, the students will create their own stories and names for the characters and discover appropriate physicality and voices for them. Working individually and in groups, we will incorporate the use of dance, song, improvisation, props, and text. By the end of the class, the students will have created several characters and have a new sense of themselves as actors who are creative artists.
Why Mask Training?
Masks have a seemingly magical ability to liberate an actor’s expressive potential and imagination. Having taught a full spectrum of acting classes, I can attest that the freedom students find and progress that they make with Mask work far exceeds that of an ordinary acting class. Over twenty-five years ago as a student of this work, I made this discovery first hand and felt I had found – completely unexpectedly – who I wanted to be as an artist. It brought me joy, a sense of play, freedom, discipline, and artistry; it gave me a passionate desire to continue as both a participant and teacher.
Though we work with Commedia dell’Arte Masks and the basics of the Italian stock characters, we use Masks as tools to spark the students’ imaginations; we do not necessarily create characters under the strictest tradition of the Italian Comedy. Through improvisation and class response, students learn to create characters, stories, and situations using their own imaginations . They also learn that the methods used can apply to the creation of roles in any style of play, from the most theatrical to the most naturalistic. Often the students are hilarious, but sometimes their characters are tragic, sad, or scary. I encourage them to find what is most real with each character they bring to life. The workshops are always filled with laughter and joy, but the goal is authenticity.
Origins of Technique and Training
The technique for Mask learned in this class is largely the invention of Mario Gonzalez, who was my teacher at the Conservatoire National Superieur d’Art Dramatique (the national theatre school of France), and whose work I have studied and taught for over twenty-five years. Mario was a long time member of Ariane Mnouchkine’s world renowned Theatre du Soleil. His Mask technique is inspired by his work with Mnouchkine and a response to Jacques LeCoq. I think Chris Bayes and Philippe Gaulier are brilliant teachers and I was lucky enough to study “Clown” with Chris over the course of several years and “Bouffon” with Philippe. They have both influenced my work. Trained by these wonderful physical theatre artists, and developed through years of my work in the theatre as both a classical actress and teacher, I’ve created my own practice of this craft to share with students.
Amherst College; New York Workshop; University of Delaware – photos: Deenie Howatt; WildWind Performance Lab at Texas Tech Universityphotos: www.tifholmes.com
Carine coaches privately and in groups on a number of skills:
Executive Speaker Coach:
Carine is a personal speaker coach for C-Level executives in the business world, and has also coached a great number of conference speakers. She has coached for presentations in large spaces, like the Javitz Center, smaller rooms, zoom presentations, and on camera. She addresses clarity of speech, persuasive speaking, presence, audience connection, movement, dramatic structure/writing, nerves and more, always catering to the individual’s needs.
Carine has over 25 years experience narrating audiobooks for top companies like Recorded Books, Audible and Penguin Random House. She has received numerous awards for her reading from the American Library Association and AudioFile Magazine. She has successfully given group classes and private sessions on the complex set of skills needed to narrate a book.
Accent, Dialect, & Text Coaching For Actors:
Carine teaches accents and dialects for the stage. She is also a coach for professional and educational productions.
Accent Acquisition For The Business World:
Carine has also worked with people of varying professions, from software engineers to models to bankers, who are interested in improving their pronunciation for ease of communicating with English as a second language. She caters her private classes to the needs of her students, identifying rhythm, tone, and sound changes, and giving students tools for working on clarity of speech outside the classroom. In addition to her experience as a voice and speech teacher for actors, she spent about five years teaching English as a second language (ESL). As a dual citizen, she is particularly attuned to the needs of international students. Rates depend on the location and frequency of sessions.
Carine has coached auditions privately as well as in the classroom. She has many years of experience in the audition room herself, so she is aware of what’s necessary when an actor walks through the door! She can coach monologues as well as sides, and has had good success coaching students auditioning for graduate school.
Carine is a theatre teacher with over twenty years of experience. During that time she has taught everything from basic acting to Shakespeare to mask work. Her students have ranged in age from undergraduates to graduate students and professionals. Her special passion is teaching neutral and Commedia dell’Arte mask, which she first studied at the Conservatoire National Superieur d’Art Dramatique in Paris. For her mask work she can teach short and long term workshops, and brings beautiful leather masks created in France specifically for actors. The masks represent the major stock characters of the Italian Comedy. She’s taught mask at Stella Adler Studio of Acting in New York, University of Delaware, and Amherst College among others. Carine has also spent many years teaching Voice & Speech as well as Acting at The American Musical and Dramatic Academy in New York. She coaches accent acquisition privately in New York or online, and is also a public speaking coach for executives.
“Certificate of Recognition” presented to Carine Montbertrand. “a Residence Life survey asked students to recognize staff or faculty who have made a positive impact and you have been chosen ‘Fantastic professor this past semester’”
—University of Delaware for THEA205 Intro to Stage Movement, Neutral and Commedia dell’Arte Mask
“Carine’s workshop was such an uplifting experience. She expertly took a wide-ranging collection of students, and, in a very short amount of time, created a safe space where they could explore and make discoveries. With intentional direction, Carine led the actors through a series of awareness-building and inhibition-freeing ensemble activities. Each exercise led to the next, building the foundational skills necessary for beginning mask work. Carine was direct, but supportive, and it was amazing to see how students progressed throughout the workshop. Students were proud, engaged, alive, and inspired. Thank you, Carine!”
—Anna Kimmell, Director of Education at Arkansas Repertory Theatre
“Carine Montbertrand’s approach to neutral mask and clown is unique in that it is centered around distinguishing ‘presence.’ Through the rigor of the neutral mask in particular, students learn what it means to be specific, precise, present, and completely tuned into their ability to make choices in the moment inside of a prescribed structure. She is extraordinary in her ability to bring these distinctions forth so clearly and rigorously, all the while maintaining a sense of humor and fun. Our students were enthralled with her!”
—Professor Joann Browning, Associate Dean & Head of Movement for University of Delaware’s MFA in Acting
“Carine is an extraordinary teacher. She has the perfect balance of knowledge and fun. She teaches practical skills that make actors better.”
—Margot Harley, Artistic Director of The Acting Company
“I am very appreciative that Carine never once let anyone not commit. She stayed on everyone and pushed us to our limits. I felt challenged in new ways, and I know for a fact that I am a stronger actor because of it. Throughout the week we have done a lot of ensemble work. Carine showed us how important it was to be present with the group and give them your best so that you can effectively accomplish the different tasks at hand. Thanks to Carine I feel like I am so much closer to my peers and now know how to really make myself available to an ensemble.”
—Isiah Columbus, BFA student in Acting, WildWind Performance Lab
“Carine’s mask teaching has been a revelation for both me and my students. She recently spent a month with my intermediate acting and directing class, providing the perfect springboard to a semester-long exploration of Molière and his roots in the commedia dell’arte. Guiding them from the fundamentals of mask through sophisticated ensemble work and unique character creation, Carine taught with discipline, steadiness, and good humor, and every student experienced transformational moments in their own performance technique. At my previous school, by the end of a three-day workshop Carine gave for my beginning undergraduates there, my students were able to express themselves physically and vocally in new ways I had not thought possible in such a short time. In addition, in the year that followed, all of the students were much more present in their work, in both rehearsal and performance. She is an exacting and nurturing teacher of the first order.”
—Professor Ron Bashford, Amherst College
“This class was an eye opener. Pretending to be someone is actually quite difficult. Rather than a topic discussion, Carine has orchestrated this class to be educational, physical as well as exploring with our own identity to see what really works for us individually. For example, different tones of voice, body rhythm and posture etc. Her class is fun and very energetic. Highly recommend to any who who enjoys role playing.”
—Albert, Theatre Gym UK Student, online “Mask & Physical Storytelling”
“What a gift to have Carine teach at Amherst College! She attends to every detail with such clarity, encouraging actors, through narration, to take up the challenge of neutral mask with patience and precision. The neutrality that Carine enables through this work becomes a solid bedrock for the vivid Commedia characters she guides actors to create in “naissance”. I was amazed by the transformational capacity Carine brings out of her students. She brings a sense of wonder, resolve, and humor to the work. Her way of teaching is one of a kind, a synthesis of techniques and perspectives on which her own acting thrives. Carine’s teachings will stay with me, emboldening and anchoring my acting. She is amazing!”
—Leslie Erin Roth, Amherst College graduate
“Carine Montbertrand is an exceptional theatre artist whose work with students is inspiring as well as practical. I recommend her strongly and without reservation to colleges, schools of theatre, and universities.”
—Sanford Robbins, Artistic Director of the Resident Ensemble Players at the University of Delaware and
Head of the UD MFA program
“Working with Carine gave me a strong sense of presence and freedom in creating a character. She taught me to have patience with myself so that I could listen to the inner impulse. A more truthful character was revealed when I learned how to breathe through the moment, breathe in the audience and breathe in my own character.”
—Samantha Midler, Stella Adler Studio of Acting graduate
“Ms. Montbertrand is a superb teacher, who brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to her instruction in mask work. Recently, she taught a two-day workshop in neutral mask to my freshman students, and they responded beautifully to her detailed guidance. This is teaching and practice at the highest level, and both my students and I benefited greatly from the experience.”
—Ira Rosenberg, Drama Faculty at Frank Sinatra School of the Arts
“Carine taught a five-week mask unit for my intro to acting students. She was brilliant, able to support without coddling and critique without reprimanding. Her profound work on presence and focus did more than expand their understanding of theater; it transformed their understanding of themselves.”
—Professor Julie Polk, Manhattan College
“I had the privilege of studying with Carine for a full year. In that year, I feel that my abilities on stage have grown exponentially. She encourages each actor to find his own path to improving his craft. She completely understands the process of growing as an artist, and her observations during this are spot-on. Anyone who has the opportunity to study with Carine should consider themselves a lucky person!”
—Anthony Tiberi, University of Delaware graduate
“I first had the opportunity to study with Carine at AMDA New York. Now, whenever I have a big audition for film or theatre, or if I just need to work on my monologue repertoire, I always go to Carine for coaching. I know I can count on her for absolute honesty, constructive and comprehensive criticism, and concrete ways to improve my work. No matter how prepared I feel beforehand, I always leave her coaching sessions feeling ten times more prepared. If you want a coach who is really going to challenge you to do better work, and still leave you with confidence in yourself and your performance, you must go to Carine.”
—Amanda Yachechak, AMDA graduate
“The junior drama studio at Frank Sinatra School of the Arts had the privilege to have Carine Montbertrand lead a two day Commedia dell’Arte mask workshop. Ms. Montbertrand’s effective teaching engaged all of my students in the craft of mask work. Her approach encouraged all learners, even those usually reluctant to participate, to make bold physical choices to meet the Commedia stock character repertoire. Further, the workshop had a very practical focus on building characters and stage technique that my students can apply in all areas of their stage work. I highly recommend Ms. Montbertrand as a teaching artist and will certainly have her return to work with my future classes.”
—Jamie Cacciola-Price, Instructor of Advanced Acting, Musical Theatre and Playwriting, Frank Sinatra School of the Arts
“Carine came in and worked with my cast and her work became the foundation for their characters. The actors enjoyed her style of teaching and the play, SCAPIN, really came alive. She led the actors through a birth of the character and through experiencing the mask of the role. It brought out each actor’s individual creativity.”
—Professor Stanton Davis, SUNY New Paltz SCAPIN Workshop
“Studying Commedia Dell’Arte and mask work with Carine Montbertrand was a defining period in my theatre training, inspiring a greater attention to the use of the body and relation to the audience. Her dedication to the art and to the growth of her students places her in an elite tier of theatre educators.”
—Zachary Jackson, University of Delaware graduate
“Carine Montbertrand’s Mask Movement class was highly valuable for my students. The full “stripping away” of distractions for the actor is learned over time, and this class addresses the much needed, and highly difficult-to-acquire, technique known as focus. Demanding full physical and mental focus in equal parts, the class is performed within the context of physical expression. It begins with attention to the objectives of the class. The attire for successful mask is on a par with classical ballet in importance, and the students gained discipline by learning to transform themselves into mask performers with a pre-dressing ritual that set the tone, and established the physical parameters for success. Carine’s teaching methods are both engaging and relaxing for the students. They were captivated and energized from start to finish, and she was able to ease their self-consciousness by gaining and holding their trust throughout the class. Through the various exercises, students learned the art of focus, both physical and mental. The class emphasizes techniques for actors on how to create and direct the audience’s focus using only their bodies and space. For the beginning students the mask exercises were extremely valuable, as they cannot be done without complete physical and emotional involvement. For the more advanced students, the exercises required them to leave their comfort zones and “stretch” their physical and emotional acting capabilities. I found the class to be fascinating, fun and valuable.”
—Judith Townsend, Education Director (2008-2010) for Off Square Theatre, Jackson, WY
“The combination of the coursework and our teacher Carine makes for a unique acting class that not only improves your ability in improvisation but in working with other actors and being aware of the action onstage. Thanks for all your advice and teachings while I was at UD! You are an amazing teacher and actress!”
—Carolynn Ashoff, University of Delaware graduate
“Being a strong dancer, I had gone into our Intro to Movement with the mindset that it would be a breeze. Boy, was I wrong. Between the use of the masks and the direction of our fabulous professor, Carine, I was completely taken out of my comfort zone and pushed beyond limits I didn’t even think were possible. It was an awesome and interesting experience and I highly recommend anyone with the slightest interest in acting to take it.”
—Brianna Dulio, University of Delaware graduate
“Carine’s class gave me a new approach to stage movement that I continue to use in performance. And the work was a heap of fun.”