Commedia Dell'Arte By janahan

History of Commedia Dell'Arte

Commedia Dell'Arte began at the beginning of the sixteenth century in Italy and quickly caught fire and trended. The theatre art was known to be the first form of professional theatre. The play involved using masks to exaggerate the actor or actress's expression. Masks were used in Commedia Dell'Arte as the scenes or play would often take place in outside areas and the crowd would expand greatly. The masks therefore made it easier to see what the actors' reactions are. Although Commedia Dell'Arte is a theatre act and actors have to rehearse there is room for improvisation and this helps engage the auseisende with the act. Many acts also have lazzi which are comic gags. Comic gags give the effect of exaggerated humour and help move the plot onwards.

An example of a Dell'Arte mask


An image of Pantalone

Pantalone is a character in Commedia Dell'Arte who is of the higher status. Pantalone in the Commedia Dell'Arte world is directly translated as money. Pantalone is characterised as having an ego for money with emotion extremes. He is known to not forgive or forget the smallest things; petty.


Pantalone's costume was designed with the inappropriateness intended to comically entertain. The costume for Pantalone is characterized by the use of red for almost the entire costume. The characteristics of the costume also include a Greek style hat, a jacket, a pair of long trousers or breeches with stockings, a tight jacket, a woolen skullcap and a robe or cape; it also includes a prominent codpiece or strategically placed coin purse.

Mask of Pantalone


Pantalone is an elderly man so many actors would often give a hunch back. Many people may think this hunchback is used to give the effect of an old man however it is really to protect his money bag. The person portraying Pantalone would also take long strides since Pantalone would often show off his ego.


Zanni is a character type of Commedia dell'arte best known as an astute servant and trickster. The Zanni comes from the countryside. The Zanni is known to be a "dispossessed immigrant worker". He is a servant and also a cunning trickster. The Zanni is also the lowest status and would do anything for food.


The person obtaining the role of Zanni would usually wear big, white baggy clothes as these clothes are similar to what peasants wear.


Zanni usually cannot stay in one place for too long and so he hops about in excitement, often causing irritation to characters such as Pantalone.

Mask of Zanni


II DOTTORE is the doctor in Commedia Dell'Arte realm and of a high status. He can also be the father of one of the two lovers and can also be an obstacle for their relationship. Inclusive about his personality with an old man he is known to procrastinate around a specific answer.


His costume is usually all or mostly black and he frequently wears a black felt hat with long, trailing robes.Under his black robes are shorter black robes and black shoes. The ruff around Il Dottore's neck didn't become permanent until his popularity in France grew, at which point it was adopted in 1653


Il DOTTORE is known to be big made and is fond of drinking. The person who takes up the role of the doctor would often move about in a hefty manner. Indicating his weight and love for drinking.

Il Dottore's mask is the only mask that takes upmleast of the actor's face.


Since the art of Commedia Dell'Arte is involved in theatre many scenarios would often have to take place in order to move along the scene. Although the scenario is no more than the fabric of scenes woven from a plot, which brief hints of the action, divided into acts and scenes, which are to be acted extemporaneously by the performers. There are still some existing scenarios which include La Fortunata Isabella and The Two Harlequinns. There are some scenarios that can be used to make a play.

For example the Harlequinn scenario is about Pantalone seeking the hand of Isabella and so he seeks advice from his servant Harlequinn although conflict strikes when Harlequinn's brother comes to town. Some people could take the roles of these four characters outlining the original scenario.

The Two Harlequinn scenario. Harlequinn on the left, Pantalone in the middle and Isabella on the right.


Commedia dell'arte began in the 16th century. When it began it was performed outside in piazzas, in theatres, and in public meeting halls and courts.

Note that all acts didn't have to take place here. Some could be performed on street revenues.


Lazzi is the theatrical term which means comic gags. Some of these comic gags can include slapstick, pulling the chair away lazo, defend me lazo, revival lazo, innocent bystander lazzo. There are many more forms of lazzI which take place in Commedia Dell'Arte. Usually these lazzis were used to give the audience humour or add more engagement with the performance.

Example of a gag


Commedia Dell Arte, explore its realm. 2010, 'Explore Commedia Dell Arte', accessed 2 May 2017, <Hotspot://exploreDellArte>.

Commedia Dell Arte wiki 2013, 'Servants and Masters'', accessed 3 May 2017, <>

'Masks and Status', the art of masks 2002, What were the masks used in this amazing act?, accessed 2 May 2017, <Hotspot://>.

Data grid


Created with images by croisy - "scaramouche mask little shooter"

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