Understanding Historical Context. Commedia Del ‘Arte. Commedia del Arte. Comedy developed in the 16th century in Italy. Modern influence can be seen in troupes such as Monty Python's Flying Circus and Kids in the Hall (Canadian), and even Bugs Bunny.
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Commedia Del ‘Arte
All are standard characters, either "masters", "slaves", "lovers" or "villains".
Arlecchino (Harlequin)One of the most popular stock characters. The nimble, acrobatic, trick servant. Sometimes childlike and not too bright but usually wins in the end.Mask: sly, cat-like with short noseCostume: tight-fitting tunic and pants with multi-colored diamond patches
Brighella (Brawler)Arlecchino’s companion or crony. Cruel, driven by lust, cynically witty and does anything for money. Tough guy, a good liar, and a schemer.Mask: hooked nose with moustache and greedy expressionCostume: loose-fitting servant’s uniform, may carry a dagger
PantaloneA wealthy, miserly old man, possibly lecherous. Usually portrayed as a Venetian.Mask: large hooked nose, with bushy eyebrows and a scraggly beardCostume: sometimes tight-fitting red suit and black coat; sometimes baggy red pants
Il Dottore (the Doctor)Smug, know-it-all professor, who usually knew nothing. Either Pantalone’s friend or rival. Often tricked by others.Mask: stubby, pig-like nose, chubby cheeksCostume: black academic robes and graduation cap
Il Capitano (the Captain)Boasting, bragging macho soldier, who is often a coward underneath. Sometimes awkward or embarrassing, an unwanted suitor for young women. Usually has an absurdly long name and shrieks in a high voice when frightened.Mask: long nose, wide eyes and usually exaggerated handlebar moustacheCostume: fancy exaggerated military uniform, plumed hat, sword
PulcinellaEither a servant or a merchant. Mixture of foolishness, villany, wit and dullness. May pretend to be stupid as means of defense.Mask: simple with extremely long, hooked noseCostume: humpback, servant clothing, long hat
ScaramoucheVersatile character, can be clever or stupid. Boastful clown or Robin Hood type figure.Mask: similar to Il Capitano’s, no moustache, sometimes whiteCostume: black
Columbina (Little Dove)Wise-cracking maid, usually the smartest character. Flirtatious and playful, sometimes Arlecchino’s girlfriend or mistress.Mask: small half mask or none at allCostume: low-cut maid’s uniform
Innamorati (Young Lovers)Young, graceful, and attractive, these characters did not wear masks. Slightly vain and not necessarily bright.Masks: noneCostumes: fashionable, contemporary clothing
Choose the location in which the characters meet…Library Grocery store Restaurant Park Beach etc.Choose the conflict…(Play along with your partner, always say ‘yes’. Saying ‘no’ stops the action from progressing.)
One character wants or needs…a job… to buy something from the other… to find out a secret… the food the other character has… etc.But he or she…laughs at the wrong time… isn’t wearing glasses and can’t see anything… keeps calling the other character by the wrong name… keeps tripping over things… has unstoppable hiccups… etc.Ready, Set, Go!