Meet Our Company
Our Company Members
Claire Hart Proepper (Artistic Director)
Claire Hart Proepper had a passing academic awareness of Commedia dell’Arte from her undergraduate experience at the University of Virginia but it wasn’t until she was cast as Colombina in At Your Service at the Bristol Renaissance Faire shortly after graduation that she discovered her passion for the art form. She went on to direct the Commedia troupe at the Bristol Renaissance Faire for four years and has directed and choreographed with Piccolo Theatre in Evanston and Pride Films and Plays in Chicago. When not performing, directing, choreographing, or at work she is usually sleeping or binge-watching procedurals. She also enjoys skiing, reading fantasy literature, and eating good food with friends.
Aaron Quick (Producer)
Aaron Quick fell in love with Commedia dell’arte when he took a course on it at Northwestern University. He loved it so much he started a student group dedicated to it, the Panini Players. He has spent the last 6 years as a sound and video designer in Chicago and the last year as a personal trainer at Anytime Fitness and First Ascent. Find him playing guitar, lifting weights, and climbing a variety of circus apparatuses, or playing a ridiculous amount of Dungeons & Dragons.
Martin Downs (Education Director)
Martin Downs first heard the name "Commedia dell'Arte" at the Chicago High School for the Arts, where he graduated from the Theater Conservatory in 2009. He went on to join the Panini Players of Northwestern University, performing a myriad of Commedia shows over four years while also directing and teaching as the Artistic Director for two years. Martin joined At Your Service Commedia Troupe at the Bristol Renaissance Faire in 2016, and became its Assistant Director in 2018. Martin is absolutely thrilled to begin his adventure with Laughing Stock Theatre as the Associate Artistic Director, and has the highest hopes that Chicago will embrace Commedia as strongly as he has.
Shea Lee (Company Manager)
Shea Lee graduated from Northwestern University in 2018, where her focuses included musical theatre, theatre for young audiences, and Asian American studies. She was first introduced to Commedia dell’Arte in middle school and returned to it in college upon joining the Panini Players. She was a member of the Panini Players' performing ensemble for all four years of college, and has served as both its company manager and its producer. Most recently, she spent a summer performing Commedia at the Bristol Renaissance Faire, under the direction of LST artistic director Claire Hart-Proepper. Much love and many thanks to her family, friends, and fellow company members! Shea is represented by Shirley Hamilton Talent.
Steven Yandell (Associate Producer)
Steven Yandell has been performing on Chicagoland stages for twenty years. A graduate of Loyola University Chicago and a Steppenwolf apprenticeship alumnus, Steven has worked in arts administration at Steppenwolf, The House Theatre, Adventure Stage Chicago, and Piccolo Theatre. He is a founding member of Laughing Stock Theatre and is an Associate Producer for the company. He's very glad you've come tonight, and hopes you'll enjoy the show and support Laughing Stock as this exciting new company grows.
Jeffrey Rubin (Associate Producer)
Jeffrey Rubin is immensely proud to be part of Laughing Stock Theatre. Jeffrey graduated from Illinois State University in 2011 with a B.S. in Acting. He has most recently been seen performing Commedia with At Your Service: Commedia Dell’arte during the summers at the Bristol Renaissance Faire. Some of his favorite roles throughout his acting career have been Peter in Diary of Anne Frank (MPAC), Anthony in Sweeney Todd (Devonshire), Demetrius in Midsummer Night’s Dream (Citadel), and Proteus in Two Gentlemen of Verona (ISU). He thanks his family and friends for their encouragement, and his father Max for always encouraging him to follow his artistic heart.