Helikos Summer School 2023

July 10th → 22nd , 2023

BOULDER, Colorado, USA


A seminar on the pedagogy of
Neutral Mask, Clown and Physical Characters

Neutral Masks by Donato Sartori

Welcome to a unique event celebrating the art of teaching movement based theatre, exploring its roots in Physical Comedy, Mask Theatre and Somatic Psychology.

This seminar follows the pedagogic process of the journey from the Neutral Mask to the Red Nose, two essential and complementary states in the world of theater masks.

Through the Neutral Mask the actor discovers a state of physical presence, calm and openness to space. There is a web of “non-neutral attitudes” and physical and emotional “background noises” within each person’s movement and physical presence. If observed through the reference of the Neutral State, this web appears like paintings/markings on a white sheet. They are “dramatic” in the etymological sense. They contain a drama: an action.
The Neutral Mask teaches the actor to unfold any individual physical drama in order to reach a state of engaged presence in space, in the silence of the present moment. It’s the basis for all theatre masks. It reveals the potential of the poetic body before becoming a character.
While searching for Neutrality the actor discovers their unique way of being personally non neutral. The Latin word persona meaning mask.
If treated with the Red Nose this physical persona becomes a unique source of comedy. A radical somatic comedy.

The discovery of the Clown emerges from the analysis of the physical and emotional world of each actor, as revealed by their natural body, with the help of the Neutral Mask. The use of the smallest mask in the world, the Red Nose and the amplification and articulation of personal themes allow the actor to enter the Clown State. This somatic approach leads to the unfolding of a unique clown, with a specific body, tempo, voice, costume, attitudes, emotions, and poetic world. The clown emerges from a state of playing where the poet has access to this key question: what is so funny about myself ?

Melbourne Red Nose Intensive, 2018

The Personal Clown emerges from a very powerful state of play: present, alive, raw, essential, vulnerable in the sense of being affected by everything, empowering, revealing…
To discover one’s own clown is to reveal one’s own unique comic persona and turn it into a universal comic form.

As a theatrical territory, Clown has a unique poetic potential because it allows the performer to explore and play combining the naiveté and the vulnerability of the child, with the rigor and the technique of the adult, thus revealing the poetry of the ridiculous, and a unique poetic power.
After developing the awareness of the Neutral State, the actor can explore the infinite possibilities of creating characters, based on variations from neutrality. Each character development is based in an unbalance from neutrality. And the Poetic Body can explore the world and its infinite variety of forms and masks.
As the Neutral Mask reveals the mask of humanity, the Red Nose reveals the humanity of the mask.

During this training participants will use Neutral Masks by Donato Sartori and Sara Sartori Abano Terme, Italy.


A WORKSHOP is essentially a practical exploration of an art. The focus is on the active practice, there is very little theory and it is always related to the unfolding of the exercises.

In a SEMINAR the practice is integrated with a strong focus on the THEORY that stands behind it. This creates a space of reflection and intellectual elaboration: a field of discussion, analysis, examples, questions and synthesis. It gives food for the mind, references, history of ideas, articulation of principles.

Etymology tells us that the word theory means something you can view, a spectacle, and it has the same root of the word theatre. A theory is a choreography of ideas and principles. An intellectual performance to attend and enjoy.

This seminar will include different ingredients:

– Lectures on pedagogic theory
– Core exercises
– Pedagogic analysis of core exercises
– Discussion on the questions from the participants
– Pedagogic practice in groups
– Supervised teaching sessions: the participants teach an exercise and receive feedback from the teacher and from the group.

Friedensreich Hundertwasser Silver Spiral (1988)

The Theoretical Content of the Seminar

  • Jacques Lecoq: the Journey of the Poetic Body and The Way of the Masks.
  • Gestalt: Masks and characters as forms emerging.
  • Reichian Analysis and Bionergetics: Characters as somatic impression of emotions and urgencies.
  • Pedagogic analysis of Giovanni Fusetti’s somatic approach to clown and mask.
    – The Neutral Mask
    – From the neutral state to the comic state: movement analysis of the body in space.
    – The Red Nose as a mask: mask take, amplification and articulation of movement.
    – The clown state as a Non-Ordinary State
    – Emotional presence: awareness and contact with the emotional body.
    – The relationship among clowns: hierarchy, masters and servants, levels of stupidity
    – Clown Archetypes.
    – Physical characters and Masks.
    – The Teacher as a process facilitator, and her different tools.
    – Positive and Negative Feedback, Support, Provocation, “Via Negativa”.
    – Pedagogue or Director ?
    – Teaching and playing at the edge between the Personal and the Poetic

Twelve Twigs, Chris Kenny, 2020


The aim of this seminar is to explore the foundations of the pedagogy of Clown and Mask from the perspective of the teacher.
It is addressed to theatre practitioners
– with previous experience in Clown, Mask and Movement based theater;
– who are actively teaching theatre and/or with theatre;
– who wish to explore the theoretical ingredients of this work, as well as to develop their own teaching style and perspective.

Please read the page on Giovanni’s Pedagogy as well as Giovanni’s bio and the page My Roots, to review the essence of his approach to clown and theatre.


There is no application form. To apply to the Seminar please email a letter of motivation sharing the essence of your story, vision, dream, desire, fear, inexplicable intuition that leads you to this seminar. Please include in your letter your experience teaching movement based theatre, and for what purpose you apply to this seminar.
Please include in the application three “burning” pedagogic questions that are leading you to this seminar.
Giovanni will contact you after receiving the application.

Once accepted, to confirm the enrollment, a deposit of US$ 500 is due.
Please note that the deposit is non-refundable.
Once Giovanni has selected 16 students, the workshop is full, and a waiting list will be created. If you intend to participate, we encourage you to apply as soon as possible.

Please send your application to


Helikos Pedagogic Training, Padova, 2019


Early Bird Tuition: US$ 1.600, if full tuition is paid by May 1st, 2023.

Full Tuition: US$1.900, if full tuition is paid after May 1st, 2023.

A reduced rate is offered to the participants who also wish to attend other classes of the HELIKOS SUMMER SCHOOL 2023. Please enquiry if interested.

The sum generated by the seminar will fund the Helikos School and the setting up of its new pedagogic program.

Please note that tuition does not include accommodation and that participants will be responsible for organizing their staying in Boulder. You can find some useful information about housing in the beautiful city of Boulder in the document: Boulder Information Kit.

Please note the workshop is a learning continuum, so it is not possible to attend the class only in parts, or to miss any session of the work.

Once completed the enrollment, participants will receive a message containing further practical details about the workshop, as well as the most updated details of the anti-covid health and safety regulations that the group will agree to comply with.

The workshop will be taught in ENGLISH and a basic understanding of this language is required.

Helikos School, 2011


The training will take place in Boulder, Colorado,
4747 26th Street, Boulder, 80301, Boulder, Colorado, USA.


The workshop is an intensive 12-day Masterclass, from Monday July 10th to Saturday July 22nd, 2023.

Monday 10th: 9:30AM – 1:00PM; 2:00PM – 5:30PM
Tuesday 11th: 9:30AM – 1:00PM; 2:00PM – 5:30PM
Wednesday 12th: 99:30AM – 1:00PM; 2:00PM – 5:30PM
Thursday 13th: 9:30AM – 1:00PM; 2:00PM – 5:30PM
Friday 14th: 12:00PM to 9:00PM
Saturday 15th: 12:00PM to 9:00PM
Sunday 16th: day off

Monday 17th: 9:30AM – 1:00PM; 2:00PM – 5:30PM
Tuesday 18th: 9:30AM – 1:00PM; 2:00PM – 5:30PM
Wednesday 19th: 9:30AM – 1:00PM; 2:00PM – 5:30PM
Thursday 20th: 9:30AM – 1:00PM; 2:00PM – 5:30PM
Friday 21th: 12:00PM to 9:00PM
Saturday 22th: 12:00PM to 9:00PM

Please note that the workshop is a pedagogic continuum so it is not possible to attend it only in parts.

For further information about the content of the workshop and for applications, please contact Giovanni Fusetti at

Helikso School 2012


The training will happen in the rigorous respect of the Federal, State and Local anti-Covid guidance and restrictions, if any, as well as the rules applied by the venue that will host the workshop.
All participants will have to agree in engaging with these rules.

Given the uncertain circumstances of the current geopolitical turmoil, the training will be confirmed ONLY if the scenario will allow the safety necessary to travel and to practice. In case of cancellation due to force majeure, all paid deposit and tuition will be refunded.

See you in Boulder, under the gentle and powerful spell of the Rocky Mountains !