Commedia Dell'arte Assignment By Ryan Pant 8E

History Of Commedia Dell'Arte

Commedia dell’Arte began on Italy in the early 1500s, and quickly spread throughout Europe, which created an influence on Shakespeare, Molière, opera, vaudeville, contemporary musical theatre sit-comes and improv comedy. Legacies of Commedia dell’Arte included the first incorporated theatre company, first European actresses, and lots of the themes, storylines still enjoyed today, by many audiences all around the world.

Commedia Dell'Arte’s origins have not been determined fully and scholars have given a variety of possible factors of its development; the mask, improvisation comedy of Roman Arellan farce tradition, the mime theatre of the Byzantine world, the jugglers and traveling players of the Medieval Europe, the market culture of the early modern public square that had performers, charlatans, the festivals and rediscoveries of Plautus and Terrence by theatre Academies. What ever the origins were, early practitioners of the Zanni type were entertaining audiences who like the style of early Commedia Dell'Arte.

Character 1

This character’s name is Capitano.

His makes has a long nosed crocodile mask.

His status is a loner and never originating from the town of where the scenarios is set, therefore not able to get a high status. He is also a master.

Capitano’s costume is a feathered helmet or hat, huge boots, with exaggerated garters, Spanish exaggerated ruff, and sometimes has a costume that is diagonally striped or slashed in the style of Francois I. He also has a sword.

He has four types of characteristics: Politic, Total Coward, Really courageous and Non-masked. But whatever the type, he is always pretending and thinks he is a sprung, handsome, brave and a good guy.

His mannerisms are gestures; extravagant and sustained, and speech; loud, deep and intense voice that turns into a high man’s voice when frightened, and when he is Spanish, his accent is Castillan.

Capitano’s skill are his poses; standing at attention, 2nd position with knees lock and nose in the air, bent at the waist, probing with the nose, seated with legs apart, skater position(with woman) and martial arts poses(as examples), and his movement; slow, deliberate and mechanical, like a robot.

Character 2

This character’s name is Flavio

He/she doesn't have an actual mask but wears heavy make-up, mascara and beatify spots, for both sexes.

His/her status is that he is a son of pride and joy in the main family. He is also the class president and prom king. He/she is also a lover.

Flavio’s costume is nice with masculine, which reflects a GQ Action Hero.

His/her characteristics are faithfulness to a person, jealously and changeability to one’s regard.

His/her mannerisms is gesture; extravagant and presentational, and speech; speaks Italian, reads well by knowing large sections of poems by heart, speak softly in musical sentences and their sentences are full of attractiveness.

Falvio’s poses are skill; overly dramatic poses, when with a female, arms are flexed like body builders and arms and hands are very expressive(as examples), and movement; always over the top, dramatic.

Character 3

This character’s name is Pedrolino.

He doesn't wear a mask, but has a white face.

His status is family-based, as he is a the role of the youngest son, and therefore has to sleep in the straw with the animals. He is also has abut of jokes but he never looses his dignity. He is a servant.

Pedrolino’s costume is baggy white cloths that were handed down to him and are too big for Pedrolino. Sometimes his coustume doesn’t even allow the audience to see his hands! He has tunic pockets that kept a variety of small object hidden in them. He also has a white pointy hat.

His characteristics are Zanni, energetic and no mask.

His mannerisms are gestures; youthful and fidgety, and speech; his voice as light and lifting, like Arlechinno.

Pedrolino’s skill is poses; hands and arms are loose, hanging on the sides, double-jointed poses/movement and feet one with arms folded and sleeves hanging down(as examples), and movement; always energetic.

Scenarios in Commedia Dell'Arte

A scenario’s role in Commedia Dell’Arte is a selection of various shows that customise an event. A way to present a classical scenario, original work or modern parodies is by one long presentation or a presentation broken into segments.

The original scenarios of Commedia Dell’Arte still exist in various universities such as Australian Catholic University and Roving Classical Commedia University.


A brief outline of a scenario I could use in a performance is a scenario called The Two Harlequins. It is about an elderly Gerontes that seeks the hand on Isabella. To do this, he enlists his servant Harlequin, but there is confusion when Harlequin’s twin brother makes an unexpected present in town.

Staging in Commedia Dell'Arte
Source: This is the different types of staging.

Lazzi is a gag or stock joke which can be added into a play or performance, to ensure the action keeps its pace. Traditionally the writes and actors will have these Lazzi memorised so they could put it in the play wherever it is needed. This trick is still kept up in the Theater in the motion potation era, films and T.V. writers still use it to enhance their work.

A Lazzi

The 5 Lazzi listed are; Spitting Lazzo, Running-Around-The-Balcony Lazzo, Shield Lazzo, Lazzo of Latin, Water and Wine Lazzo.


Sherman, SA 2006, Il Dottore Explains It To Us All, accessed 3 May 2017, <>.

Wilson, MR 2010, A History of Commedia dell’Arte, accessed 3 May 2017, <>.

Lazzi n.d., accessed 3 May 2017, <>.

Stock Characters n.d., accessed 3 May 2017, <>.

The Commedia Dell'Arte 2006, accessed 3 May 2017, <>.

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