JOAN SCHIRLE – Founding Artistic Director / Faculty

Joan Schirle is the founding artistic director of Dell’Arte International. She is an actor, playwright, director, deviser and teacher, whose acting work was recognized with a 2006 Fox Foundation/TCG Resident Actor Fellowship for professional development. In 2004 she was honored at the 16th Cairo International Experimental Theatre Festival as a leader in the field of experimental theatre. She served as director of the Dell’Arte International School of Physical Theatre from 2003 – 2011.

Joan has directed productions at San Diego Rep, the Alley in Houston, Bloomsburg Ensemble, A Traveling Jewish Theatre, Touchstone Ensemble, Colorado University/Boulder and Dell’Arte. A principal actor-creator with the Dell’Arte Company since its founding, she most recently created the title role in Mary Jane: The Musical at the 2011 & 2012 Mad River Festival and again played the title role in the 2016 film version: Mary Jane: A Musical Potumentary, which won the award for Best Musical Film at the 2016 Oregon Independent Film Festival. ReadMore.

MICHAEL FIELDS – Artistic Director / Faculty

Michael Fields is a founding member and Producing Artistic Director of the Dell’Arte Company, and Director of the California State Summer School for the Arts (CSSSA). As a member of the Dell’Arte performing ensemble for the past 30 years, he has been a recipient of San Francisco and San Diego Critics Circle and Los Angeles Drama-Logue awards for Performance and Writing. He has co-authored and performed in over 25 Dell’Arte productions, including Mad Love, Slapstick, Intrigue at Ah-pah, Whiteman Meet Bigfoot, Paradise Lost, Performance Anxiety, Malpraticeand Wild Card.…He is also Chair of the California State Summer School for the Arts Theatre Program. A master teacher of Physical Performance Styles at the Dell’Arte International School of Physical Theatre, Michael has also taught for the Dutch National Theatre School; the California Institute of the Arts; Teater Studion in Stockholm, Sweden and at the Aarhus University Dramaturgi Institute in Denmark. Michael was a member of the Board of Directors of Theatre Communications Group (TCG) from 1998 – 2004 where he served as the president of the International Theatre Institute/USA. Read More.

FRAN BEATTY – Executive Director

Fran Beatty has been bringing art into the landscape of everyday life throughout her career. At Dell’Arte International, she leads the organization’s strategic planning, fundraising, and operations to ensure all programs flourish. Upon arrival to Humboldt County in 2008, Fran focused on contributing to the visual and performing arts community and leading local creative placemaking initiatives. This work and leadership at Dell’Arte bridges her past with her present where decades in landscape architecture, historic preservation, historical research merge into building community through the arts.

One of Fran’s most important works was to lead a $156 million restoration of Boston’s historic parks from 1989-2001, including the city’s internationally renowned park system the “emerald necklace” designed by 19th-century landscape artist Frederick Law Olmsted. She continues her research of cultural landscapes from her tenure as a university professor and department head through an investigative playground Topophilia Studios. Fran holds a B.S. in landscape architecture from the Pennsylvania State University and an M.A. in preservation studies from Boston University.

Fran is a co-founder of the Humboldt Creative Alliance, which rouses the rabble for local arts with vision and moxy while seeking to foster collaboration among local arts and cultural organizations.

LAUREN WILSON – School Director / Faculty

Lauren Wilson graduated from the École de Cirque in Brussels in 1990, and from the Dell’Arte International School of Physical Theatre in 1992. Since then, she has worked with the Dell’Arte Company as a writer, director and performer in many productions. She received her B.A. from Reed College, and an M.F.A. in Theatre from Sarah Lawrence College, where she was awarded the Stanley and Evelyn Lipkin Prize for Playwriting. In 2008, she received a year-long Dramatists Guild Fellowship for Playwriting. Her comedies “Chemical Imbalance” and “The Golden State” are published by Dramatists Play Service, and her play “Wedding Duet” appears in the 2007 Vintage anthology Laugh Lines: Short Comic Plays. Before joining the faculty at Dell’Arte, Lauren also taught at the State University of New York, Humboldt State University, and American Conservatory Theatre. Recent projects include “Three Trees,” a full-length clown play devised and performed with her longtime ensemble partners Joe Krienke and Stephanie Thompson, and “Punctual Folly,” a film for three clowns. Lauren has been School Director at Dell’Arte since 2015.

MATT CHAPMAN – Director of Admissions

Matt Chapman is a performer, teacher, and director of physical theatre and clown. After three years working on the Faculty at Dell’Arte, he is now living and working in Oakland, CA. Matt is also Artistic Director and Co-Founder of Brooklyn’s Under the Table, now in its thirteenth year of making works and touring the country and globe. He has taught Clown at Marymount Manhattan College and Manhattanville College in New York, and has taught workshops at such places as the Kennedy Center, Actor’s Theatre of Louisville, NYU, Vassar, Sarah Lawrence, Towson, and many other universities and theatres. Matt regularly works abroad as well; he has taught and performed at festivals, schools, and theatres in South Africa, Denmark, Colombia, Mexico, the Netherlands, Canada, and England.

He is a Round 9 recipient of Theatre Communications Group’s New Generations Future Leaders program, plays guitar in the Oakland punk rock band The Big Forgive, and is a graduate of Dell’Arte International (’01) and the University of Kansas (’00).

ZUZKA SABATA — Associate Artistic Director, The Bartow Project

Zuzka Sabata is an alumnus of DAI and has been on staff, faculty, and a company member since 2010.  She specializes in community engagement programming. In 2015 she co-founded Dell’Arte’s Prison Project and taught theatre and creating original material to students at Pelican Bay State Prison for 3 years. She has been the artistic lead on DAI’s partnership with the Wiyot Tribe since 2016 and is currently working on a collaborative project between the Company and the Tribe to create a full-length performance based on the work of contemporary artist Rick Bartow (Wiyot). More info on this project is at For Zuzka’s additional creative work, see

Cleo DeOrio – Production Manager

Cleo DeOrio is Physical Theatre and Dance artist and teacher from Cleveland, Ohio. She received her Bachelor’s degree at Baldwin Wallace University, where she focused her studies in Directing and Choreography. Currently, Cleo is based in Humboldt County, CA, where she recently received a Master’s degree from Dell’Arte International School of Physical Theatre. Her work has premiered across Ohio and California in works such as Things As They Are, Fyoo Zh En- New Music and Dance, Citizen’s of Nowhere and Visions of a Crying Girl.  Cleo is currently directing at Ferndale Repertory Theatre and co-choreographing a modern dance show entitled IMPRINTS. She will soon be moving to Cuernavaca, Mexico where she will be a professor of theatre and dance at Universidad Autonoma Del Estado de Morelos.

ALYSSA HUGHLETT – Faculty/Executive School Administrator and International Student Affairs (PDSO)

Alyssa Hughlett holds a BFA in acting from Texas State University, San Marcos, and an MFA from Dell’Arte International. She trained and worked for Shakespeare & Company in Lenox, MA, as an actor and education artist between 2005 and 2009. Alyssa has over 20 years of experience coaching and teaching gymnastics, and 7 years as a certified as a yoga instructor. She has been an actor with the Wharton Salon, a theatre company devoted to adapting and performing the works of Edith Wharton at her estate in the Massachusetts’s Berkshires, and has acted for Irina Brook, in adapting an original stage production of Oscar Wilde’s, The Canterville Ghost. In 2014, she was assistant to the director, Irina Brook, at the National Theatre in Nice (France), helping with an adaptation of Ibsen’s Peer Gynt with a cast of international actors, dancers, and musicians. Alyssa is a founding member and the 2017 artistic director of UpLift Physical Theatre, an ensemble founded in 2013 by an amalgam of actors, acrobats, dancers, musicians, and performers ( Their most recent work, Enmity of the People, premiered in Dayton, Ohio, at the University of Dayton, where she was an artist in residence. In addition to performing, Alyssa has been a teaching artist since 2006, and taught in over 10 U.S. states, from ages 5 through adult. Alyssa has performed locally for Ferndale Repertory Theatre, the Arcata Playhouse, Redwood Raks Dance Studio, Dell’Arte’s Mad River Festival, and she is a proud Mum.

MICHAEL FOSTER – Resident Lighting Designer

In second grade, Spike played three French hens. In third, a mad scientist (he’d made an immense, foil-covered saw). Since then he has lit stages in 26 states, 16 countries, 4 continents, and both hemispheres; mostly with Dell’Arte International.

JAMES HILDEBRANDT – Technical Director

James Hildebrandt was born and raised just outside Chicago, Illinois. He studied painting and lithography at Harper College and later at the University of Minnesota at the Minneapolis campus. During that time he volunteered at May Day parades building puppets and props for The Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theater.

Since moving to the area several years ago, James has worked with many constellations of kids and adults to build theatrical sets, giant puppets and shadow plays. His own company, Black Cat Shadows, has performed in festivals, cabarets and giant outdoor spectacles.