The Panini Players

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The Panini Players
Sponsored by formerly Lovers & Madmen

The Panini Players are a former Lovers & Madmen satellite group, now operating independently of StuCo, devoted specifically to Commedia dell'Arte in the style of Antonio Fava. Their page is listed here for historical purposes (ensemble information is current to 2015).

Mission Statement

We, the Comedians and Tragedians of the Panini Players, have gathered to explore the human experience through Commedia dell’Arte. Commedia dell’Arte began in Renaissance Italy as a masked comic form that represents human trials and comedies. This form has gone through many variations and has been an oft-forgotten and oft-misunderstood dramatic form.

We explore Commedia dell’Arte's history and its modern form, particularly inspired by the Italian maestro, Antonio Fava. We seek to perfect our own technique in order to both entertain audiences and improve ourselves. We seek to bring awareness of this great form of drama, which has inspired Chicago’s improvisational theatre scene, to the Northwestern community and beyond.


  • Grace Hamilton-Vargo
  • Eve Bell
  • Martin Downs
  • Jordan Scherer
  • Gordon Burkhart
  • Shea Lee
  • Kenzie Smith
  • Marcellus Burt
  • Jon Mathias

Executive Board

  • Artistic Director: Martin Downs
  • Producer: Jim Alrutz
  • Company Manager: Shea Lee
  • Director of Publicity:* Jordan Scherer
  • Director of Fundraising:* Grace Hamilton-Vargo


We also perform on request offering 5 different programs for performances:

  • An hour-long lecture/demonstration on Commedia history, characters and technique
  • A flexible length workshop teaching Commedia characters and technique
  • A traditional performance based on a scenario by Antonio Fava
  • A performance of a scenario by an ensemble member
  • Any performance that fits within our potential repertoire. As long as you give us some time, we can, in the tradition of the Arte, create any thing that you want.

The Panini Players Ensemble Archive

External Links

Panini Players