Commedia Dell'Arte By Alex TheOdore

Commedia Dell'Arte is a type of theatre created by the Italians. This type of theatre or entertainment officially became a real genre in the mid 1500's. This is a type of theatre that involves professional actors perform acts or acrobatics on a stage infront of an audience. These acts/scenarios were originally performed on streets or in market places in Italy. These performers would use specific masks to represent their character and would often use exaggerated actions or physical gestures to attract attention to their character. As Commedia Dell'Arte expanded through the Europe region these original acts and scenarios became real plays and scripts that were then performed on stage. Back then when it just started it was then seen throughout Ancient Greek and Roman theatre. The word 'Commedia Dell'Arte' means improvised theatre. Commedia Dell'Arte was most popular throughout the 16th and 17th century when it was performed worldwide on stages.
Brighella- Brighella is the much loved stock character of Commedia Dell'Arte who is displayed as a soldier. His low status is no good for his sneaky and evil personality. As a servant all he wants is to steal money from unsuspecting victims. His costume consisted of a short cloak and a full set of green striped trousers and a jacket. He often carried a dagger and that was represented as a wooden prop. Brighella' mask is Commedia Dell'Arte's worst and evil mask. It consisted of a olive green half mask with wicked eyes and a long hooked nose. He was a seducive attitude and posture towards younger women. He was also a very skilled assassin and often committed terrible crimes.
Arlechinno- Arlechinno is a very popular Commedia Dell'Arte stock character that was born in the poor region of Bergamo. Arlechinno's mask can be interpreted as a demon or fool because of his jumpy character. Arlechinno is similar to a Zanni but answers straight to Pantalone. He is more like the boss of the servants but is still treated disrespectfully by Pantalone. Arlechinno's mask is interpreted as a demon because of the cut off horn on his head. Arlechinno's costume looks like a clown because of all the bright colour and shapes to provide the audience entertainment. Arlechinno is often portrayed as a greedy servant and also a slow thinker. He acts very ecstatic by jumping around and performing acrobatic tricks. Arlechinno' stance is often shown by t bent knees, elbows point outwards with feet flat on the floor. His main skills as a servant are being very active and fit. He can also perform incredible acrobatic tricks.
Pantalone- Pantalone is the most selfish stock character in Commedia Dell'Arte. Pantalone' mask is copied from an old man. His mask has a long hooked nose and bushy eyebrows. Pantalone is on top of the pecking order with nearly everyone as his servants. Pantalone often wears colour of red, black and grey. He also often wears yellow tights and slippers. Due to his large amount of money he is poisoned by his money and is very selfish. To him nothing is more important an his money. He can also become protective of his belongings and can't trust anyone. As an old man Pantalone has a hunched over stance and shuffles with his feet to move around. One of Pantalone's skills would be chasing after women with his money. Besides him being married he often likes to flirt with other women.
Scenarios played a very important part in Commedia Dell'Arte. Scenarios are what the actors used to act out there play with different ideas scenes and storyline. Besides Commedia Dell'Arte being about improvisation, scenarios often gave different ideas on what to act out. There are many different scenarios in Commedia Dell'Arte. Most scenarios involve Lazzi and also a lot of slapstick. A lot of these scenarios are originals were created when Commedia Dell'Arte first became a recognised genre of theatre. Some of these include- ~The Two Harlequins ~The Wedding Scheme ~The Haunted House ~Sleepless in Siena ~La Fortunata Isabella And many more.

Lazzi is considered as an Italian joke or improvised action in Commedia Dell'Arte to provide entertainment and joy for the audience. Lazzi is used in performances to show the skill of the acrobatic actors or to just make everyone watching laugh. Some Lazzis can be used as an acrobatic stunt or a very funny joke. Here are some Lazzis:

Unspilled Wine- This when Arlechinno performs a backwards summersault without spilling a glass of wine.

Slapping Lazzi- This is when a zanni is holding plates of food in his hands and slaps someone else with their foot.

Shield Lazzi- Shield Lazzi is used when Arlechinno is about to be hit by someon ebut grabs someone in front of them to take the blow.

Revival Lazzi- When a Zanni attempts to revive a fainted woman by pulling her hair back.

Chair Lazzi- Just as the Captain attempts to sit down Arlechinno pulls the chair back and the Captain falls over.

Lazzi of Latin- When the doctor gets English words and Latin words mixed up.

Although there were many theatres for Commedia Dell'Arte. A lot of productions were done in people's homes.(Big Houses)

Bibliography- Ca'macana. (2017). About Arlecchino’s mask: a many-sided figure of the Commedia dell’Arte. [online] Available at: http://www.camacana.com/the-arlecchino-mask/ [Accessed 2 May 2017].

Medieval-castle.com. (2017). Medieval Jester, Medieval Juggler. [online] Available at: http://www.medieval-castle.com/medieval_entertainment/medieval_jester_juggler.htm [Accessed 20 Apr. 2017].

Mayhem, Madness, Masks and Mimes - Commedia Dell'Arte. (2017). Classic Lazzi. [online] Available at: http://mayhemmadnessmasksandmimes-commediadellarte.weebly.com/classic-lazzi.html [Accessed 6 May 2017].

Shane-arts.com. (2017). Brief History on Commedia dell'arte. [online] Available at: http://shane-arts.com/commedia-history.htm [Accessed 3 May 2017].

Sites.google.com. (2017). Plays and Scenari - La Commedia dell'Arte. [online] Available at: https://sites.google.com/site/italiancommedia/plays-and-scenari [Accessed 2 May 2017].

Theatrehistory.com. (2017). The Commedia dell'arte. [online] Available at: http://www.theatrehistory.com/italian/commedia_dell_arte_001.html [Accessed 3 May 2017]

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