John Szostek

Caricature by Noah Ginex
As Karl in Richard Foreman’s Lines of Vision, New York City

John Szostek as Joey Grimaldi

Joey with Mayor Jane Byrne of Chicago
Promo Photo
In Balloon Suit during CATS (Conceptual Artists in Time and Space) Show.


John SzostekBrief Resume


MA   Governors State University, College of Cultural Studies       May 1981

         Popular Culture – Media and Communications                                  

         Thesis: “Clowns & Shamans”

         Advisor: Elizabeth Hagens

BA    Valparaiso University, Theatre                                           May 1972

         Christ College: Philosophy & Humanities

Member of Actor’s Equity Association

He began his professional theatre career performing and writing for Geoffrey Buckley’s Commedia dell’ Arte Gelosi Troupe, a program of the Royal Shakespeare Company at Stratford-upon-Avon, England. Later he was a cast member of the Emmy Award-winning TV show Beyond the Magic Door.  He has performed as a featured actor with the Chicago Symphony as the Beast in Alan Menken’s Beauty and the Beast, as Arlecchino in the Lyric Opera productions of Don Quixote, and as Pulcinella in the Lyric Opera production of Cosi Fan Tutte. In 1989 he directed the Lifeline Theatre ensemble in Carlo Goldoni’s The Servant of Two Masters. He returned there in 1990 to write and direct Chaos, which was nominated for four Joseph Jefferson Citations and which won for Best Original Music. He co-founded The Last Chance Circuz, a new-vaudeville performance company. He acted in and produced the award-winning Cablevision sci-fi comedy series Secret Circus. In 1997 he directed Servant of Two Masters for Valparaiso University. The production was selected to perform at the Regional American College Theater Festival in Indianapolis. The production received five awards, and John received two Meritorious Achievement Awards, one for directing and the other for mask design from the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival. In 1996 he raised 4.5 million dollars to restore a hundred-year-old train station in Evanston, Illinois, and turn it into a theatre and cultural center, the Evanston Arts Depot. He founded the Piccolo Theatre Ensemble to be the in-residence company at the Arts Depot. The Piccolo Theatre only performed comedy, whether classic, new or devised. He was the Artistic Director of Piccolo Theatre for eighteen years. He founded the Piccolo Theatre School, which trained actors and performers in the theatre traditions of the Commedia dell’ Arte, mask theatre, European Clown, and British Panto.  He has taught at Valparaiso U., Loyola U., Governors State U., Northwestern U., Loyola U., Coventry Cathedral, the Lanchester Faculty of Art & Design, and the University of Chicago. His masks have been exhibited in museums and purchased by The Lyric Opera of Chicago.  He produced the award-winning Custer Fair in Evanston, Illinois, for thirty-five years. For that work, the Illinois Festival Hall of Fame inducted him into the Hall of Fame. In 2009 the Mayor of the City of Evanston honored him with the Artist of the Year award. 

Recently he has served as the president of the international T’ai Chi Foundation. He currently teaches Tai Chi & qigong in Fair Oaks, CA., and is an 8th Level practitioner within the Tai Chi Foundation curriculum. He has been a member of the Arica Institute since 1974 and is certified to teach most of their programs. He studies and practices Tibetan Buddhism in both the Kagyu and Bon traditions. 

Leather Arlecchino Mask in Process

Promo Materials