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Commedia Dell’Arte History, Style and Characters.

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Presentation on theme: "Commedia Dell’Arte History, Style and Characters."— Presentation transcript:

1 Commedia Dell’Arte History, Style and Characters

2 Popular Entertainment Brainstorm! Popular Entertainment Examples

3 History Originated in Renaissance Italy – At its height between Popular professional entertainment Relied on stock characters, romantic plot lines, mistaken identities, and physical comedy Making a connection with the audience key for the actors making money

4 Physical comedy but not a “low” form of entertainment Mixed political commentary and provoked social change Appealed to all social levels of society – mix of high and low comedy Plays with current social issues

5 Style of Acting Masked Non-Naturalistic Stylized Plays improvised upon a scenario

6 Lazzi A short joke or visual gag used to bring up the energy of the scene Interrupts the course of the scene with something funny that does not necessarily relate to the subject matter of the play Interpolations based on the actor’s inspiration Not essential to the scene, but does not change the purpose of the scene

7 Lazzi Examples Sending messages back and forth between the lovers and mis-saying them – turning them into insults Laughing and crying – Tricking the characters – Crying at the departure of a character, and then laughing because they are finally free Person in disguise hears people talking about him/her, and then tells them that they are good people

8 Better Example 1 Man 2 Guvnors https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z3dKM3 7s4PM https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z3dKM3 7s4PM

9 Improvisation Tips Be careful not to speak when your partner is ready to speak If you are ready to speak, let the other actor finish their sentence When you are acting on stage alone, you must stop talking as soon as another character enters Understand the rules of the language – And assumptions made based on how people talk

10 Stock Character Types Lovers (Innamorati) - Unmasked Fathers (Vecci) – Pantalone – Dottore Comic Servants (Zanni) – Brighella – Arlecchino Columbina (Servetta) - Unmasked Capitano

11 Vecchi Pantalone – Long nose (Chicken) mask – Venetian merchant – High status father character – Offers advice, council, and compliments – Curses people quickly who have upset him – Ought to be a person of authority, but is so possessed with love (for either money or a person), that he acts like a child and does not act the way older people should

12 Dottore – Pig mask A lawyer/doctor from Bologna (A university city) Very smart, or at least thinks that he is and will convince people of this with his long speeches Second highest status father figure – Ability to be distant from the serious story

13 Zanni Servant characters Often found in pairs Always witty or always stupid not mingled unless they are the “stupid genius” Exaggerations or deformities Incapable of being “normal” – laughed at because of this State of permanent urgency Slapstick physical humour Always hungry Another example: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gz9gV5xWatA

14 Specific Zanni Characters Brighella (Cat/dog mask) – Scheming valet/butler – Cat/dog mask – Lively and witty – Deceitful and crafty – Advances the plot with plans

15 Arlecchino (cat/monkey mask) – Foolish/dumb – Completely witless – Parasitical – Humorous – Very high energy

16 Example https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ItmkZ4tb DWc

17 Capitano Braggart and a coward Seems strong, handsome, courageous and at the peak of his success But is a poor foreign soldier who has total fear in the face of danger Tries to seem impressive to the townspeople, especially the ladies Clumsy – lots of small accidents happen to him

18 Lovers No mask High status Not vulgar and always refined, cultured and presentable (even at the lowest point) Heroic Upset normality – normal people forced into adventure/extreme situations They never die, but they may get close to death Can sink into being crazy, but will always be saved Bursts of passion – Absolute in love and hate Proud and narcissistic Dramatic and songlike in speech

19 Columbina No mask Pretty Literate and numerate (can read and handle numbers unlike others) Very smart Nice, but mischievous (might make trouble but not to be mean) Comments on the action to the audience

20 Important notes to remember about acting in this style Isolated movements are most effective. Not constant movement. Find moments of stillness Character looks from the nose, not the eye Think about connecting the character to a type of animal and play with that intensity and movement Zanni are important – develop them Big in all movements - push it to the extreme! Real emotions, big in size Each character leads from a different point in the body


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