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At the Den Theatre, April 23-24, 2022
In association with Yes Ma'am Circus and the Chicago Circus & Performing Arts Festival

Directed by Claire Hart Proepper
Scenario written by Aaron Quick
Devised, written, and improvised by the cast
Originally presented at the Crowd Theatre February 2020

Our Setting

Chicago, Italy 1622

Lincoln Piazza
Signora Rosaura’s House

Pantalona’s House

The Cast
In Order of Appearance

Smeraldina ……………... Jennifer Mohr*

Pedrolino ………………… Jeffrey Rubin*
Flaminio …………………. Aaron Quick*
Lelio ………………………. Martin Downs*

Signora Rosaura ……….. Claire Proepper*
Pantalona ……………...... Shea Lee*

Capitano Ecc. ……………. Steven Yandell*

*Denotes Ensemble Member

Music by Aaron Quick

Choreography by Claire Proepper

Fight Choreography by Steven Yandell

Producer's Notes

As a company we only feel comfortable developing stories representing members of the company. The perspective in this show centers on my narrative. As a white, bisexual cis (sort of) male (sort of), I wanted to take our first stab at centering a non-heterosexual love story in the traditional framing of commedia. My ultimate goal with this company is to build a modern commedia that implicitly includes all humans. Antonio Fava calls Commedia dell’Arte the “human comedy” because we are telling human stories through spectacle. I think this 500+ year old style is open to so much more than we have been able to represent on stage so far. We are actively looking for ways to build our own internal diversity of voices (come to our upcoming workshops as we are looking to build our ensemble so that we are not 6 mostly hetero, white, cis actors doing this) to increase the intersectionality that we can put onstage.

I want to acknowledge the limited political range of both traditional theatre and, in particular, framing our work around a 600+ year old form of theatre that was purposefully apolitical in origin. In light of recent political efforts from the right to limit democracy, limit the rights of women, limit the rights of Black, Brown, and Indigenous people, and limit the rights of the LGBTQ+ community, especially our youth, I want to re-affirm our support of people from all backgrounds, of all colors, of all sexual and gender identities and I do believe that by including these identities on stage and celebrating their joy, we are accomplishing a, albeit minute, political action.

Queer Joy is Beautiful.
-Aaron Quick

Artist Bios


Aaron Quick (He/Him)

Flaminio, Writer, Producer

Aaron Quick fell in love with Commedia dell’arte when he took a course at Northwestern University. He loved it so much he started a student group dedicated to it, the Panini Players.

He is a clown, aerialist, pole dancer, and personal trainer. A graduate of the Actor's Gym's Professional Training Program, he is in love with creating emotional and hilarious movement on stage. He has previously worked as a sound and projections designer at many theatres in Chicago and around the United States.

Now based in San Diego, CA. They are available for national booking.


Claire Hart Proepper (She/Her)

Signora Rosaura, Director, Artistic Director

Claire is pleased to be returning to direct and perform with Laughing Stock after studying in Italy with Maestro Antonio Fava. Select Chicago performance credits include: Cecily Cardew in The Importance of Being Earnest (CenterStage in Lake Forest); Agnellina in Dottore’s Lab; Or, The One Where They Plot a Heist (Laughing Stock Theatre); Colombina in At Your Service: Commedia dell’Arte (Bristol Renaissance Faire); Rosaura in The Venetian Twins (Piccolo Theatre). Claire received her theatre and history degrees from the University of Virginia and spends her days working in finance. She sends her love to her family, friends, and her ever-supportive husband, Kurt.


Jeffrey "JR" Rubin (He/Him)


JR is delighted, excited, and ultimately pleased to be performing with Laughing Stock Theatre. He graduated from Illinois State University in 2011 with a BS in Acting. He has most recently been seen performing Commedia with Laughing Stock Theatre and with At Your Service: Commedia dell’Arte at the Bristol Renaissance Faire. Some of his favorite roles include: Peter in Diary of Anne Frank (MPAC); Anthony in Sweeney Todd (Devonshire); Demetrius in A 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.


Jennifer Mohr (She/Her)


Jennifer is so excited to be reprising her role in Masquerade ( her favorite Commedia show to date).  She was most recently seen as Lysimacha in Upon This Shore: A Tale of Pericles and the Daughters of Tyre with Idle Muse Theatre.  Jennifer has spent the last five years as a teaching artist and performing with various theatres in Chicago including First Folio, Birch House Immersive, Babes with Blades, Artemisia, Idle Muse, and Midsommer Flight. She is a proud ensemble member with Laughing Stock Theatre!  So many thanks to her friends and family for their constant support.


Martin Downs (He/Him)

Lelio, Education Director

Martin has been studying and performing Commedia dell'Arte since 2013 at the Chicago High School for the Arts. He went on to join "The Panini Players" at Northwestern University, performing and teaching Commedia as the Artistic Director. Martin also performed with the Commedia troupe "At Your Service" at the Bristol Ren Faire as the Assistant Director. In the summer of 2019, he traveled to Italy to learn first-hand from Antonio Fava at the "Stage Internazionale". Other theatre credits include "Mama's Boy" (Lee Harvey Oswald), "Peter Pan" (Peter Pan), and "Venus in Fur" (Thomas Novachek). You can see him next in "Hope & Gravity" at the Towle Theatre this May.


Shea Lee (She/Her)

Pantalona, Company Manager

Shea Lee is the company manager of Laughing Stock Theatre. She 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 all the way through college, and served as both company manager and producer. Most recently, she spent a summer in Reggio Emilia, Italy with fellow LST members studying Commedia under Maestro Antonio Fava. Much love and many thanks to her family, friends, and fellow company members! Shea is represented by Shirley Hamilton Talent.


Steven Yandell (He/Him)

Capitano, Fight Choreographer

Steven 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.

Additional Credits

Graphic Design

Sound Design

Lighting Designer

Chris Harriman

Sound Technician

Special Thanks

City Lit Theatre Company, Yes Ma'am Circus, Antonio Fava, Dan Zellner, Robert Irving Potter III, The Italian Cultural Institute of Chicago, Links Hall, Amancay Kugler, Maggie Karlin


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Our Mission

Making Commedia dell'Arte Accessible

Laughing Stock Theatre creates and performs substantive, high-quality Commedia dell’Arte that spectacularizes the mundane and delights our audiences

LAUGHING STOCK THEATRE is an LLC officially operating as a for-profit business, however our guiding principal is providing financially accessible Commedia dell’Arte. We operate our performances on an entirely Pay-What-You-Can model.

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