Two students in Balinese masks

Residencies & Workshops

Pig Iron School’s workshops and residencies are available to colleges and universities, high schools, actor training programs, and groups of professional actors.  Most workshops are ideally suited for groups of 15 to 20 students. Workshop options might include:

Neutral mask and red-nose clown

In this workshop, students will explore the fundamental building blocks of theatre through work on the Neutral Mask. A vital tool for performers, this work trains students to develop a heightened presence, a deep awareness of the demands of the stage, and an ability to create new worlds onstage by connecting the body, breath, and gaze.

The Red-Nose Clown is a fragile and exhilarating territory that allows performers to indulge in “play.”  This is an adventure into idiocy, virtuosity, ridiculousness, absurd logic, and comic vulnerability.

Something from Nothing

"You can't make something out of nothing."  It's a classic adage, but it flies in the face of most creative practice.  Good art - especially good theatre - comes from the literal embodiment of a set of intangible ideas and inspirations. The trick, though, is where to start?

Learn the process of creating an ensemble-based work of theatre through Pig Iron's tried-and-true creation processes.  Participants will be given performance assignments: themes, stories, characters, even a piece of music which must be solved as an ensemble.  The playwriting and directing duties will be shared among the ensemble, and decisions will be made collaboratively.

This workshop emphasizes generating original material, physicalizing characters and theatrical ideas, structuring group improvisations into finished pieces, and the role music and rhythm play in theatrical creation.  Participants will work on taking material developed through improvisation and turning it into pieces that are precise, full, exuberant, and moving.  The workshop will culminate in an open showing of short works created over the course of the program.


This workshop takes its lead from Jacques Lecoq’s research into melodrama, fusing music, movement, narration, and drama in order to move an audience emotionally.

Melodrama asks us to focus on stories about families, about human choices that we make and the consequences they have on those around us.  This theatrical form explores sentimentality, grand gestures and, most importantly, the relationship between music and performance.  Working with pantomime, live music, and sound effects, narrators, and classic melodrama structures, the workshop will conclude with the creation of a short fully-realized melodrama.

The Journey of the Mask

Much of Pig Iron's acting work stems from the idea of transformation.  Masks, present in many cultures around the world, give actors immense freedom to transform.  The paradox of mask work is that masks are meant to reveal rather than hide.  This workshop begins with the neutral mask and the idea of expanding a performer's presence and moves on to cover larval (or Basel) masks, expressive masks, and on to Comedia del'Arte and Balinese topeng mask traditions.


To book a workshop or residency, or to find out more about Pig Iron educational programming, contact Quinn at (215) 425-1100 or