Commedia Dell' Arte by Jenny Xue

History of Commedia Dell' Arte

Commedia Dell' Arte (theatre of the professional) began in Italy in the early 16th century and quickly spread throughout Europe, creating a lasting influence on Shakespeare, Moliere, opera, sit-coms and improvised comedy. It was originated in the market places and streets of the early Italian Renaissance. Although the roots of it can be traced as far back as Ancient Greek and Roman theatre. Commedia Dell'Arte was known as the first form of professional theatre. It was both scripted (based on sketches and scenarios) and improvised theatre which includes at least ten actors each time. Also, there was no playwrights or directors during the performance. Commedia Dell' Arte did not receive its name until 1750, before it was called ' improvised theatre'. The performance includes Lazzi, mime and masks and was accessible to all social classes.

Characters in Commedia Dell' Arte

charater 1


- Pierrot is a stock character of patamime and Commedia Dell' Arte who is a sad clown with white face and loses his love Columbina to Harlequin.

- Despite his fate, the character of Pierrot is a trusting and proves to be naïve.

- He has a depressed white face and always wears white losses clothes.

charater 2


- Personal maid, Perky servant or the wife of Arlecchino.

- She is the female Zanni, who tries to do things with her attractive looks.

- She has no masks but the eye wide and well made- up.

- Better dressed than male maids since she is a femal maid.

- wears mob cap and apron. The coloring of her dress could be depends on her relationships and scenarios.

- she is happy and carefree, yet when assigned a task moves with speed and efficiency.

character 3


- he is at the bottom of pecking order.

- Zanni's mask has a very long, pointy and sharpe looking nose.

- Temporary custodian of anything that belongs to anyone else.

-Zanni stands with an arched back, with his knees bent and apart and splayed.

- His elbows are usually bent and half lifted.

- He speaks loud, open mouthed and everyone's gofer.

- In one scenario, there should be at least two Zannis. He could have the possibility of direct and he treats the audiences collectively.


The Red hat:

- act 2 the market place

Pantalone tries to give his money the the priest but the priest refuses because he doesn't trust Pantalone's actual motive. Oration enters in and waxing eloquent about Isabella, he follower Pedrolino is worried about his master going to get in troubles that he won't be able to handle. Isabella and Clarice meet and talk which Che mentioned his father's upcoming demise and Clarice shows his sympathy. Isabella looks over Oration but finds no rad hat. Clarice and Isabella see Spavento who has the red hat. Isabella is convinced that Spavento I the man she must marry. Isabella went to Gratiano who knows how to predict and she gets her answer. Pantalone appears, every time he tries to his money he failed. Arlecchino sees Pantalone is overjoyed because he remembered what he was suppose to do yesterday. Spavento comes to Pantalone and asks for a job, Pantalone told him his job will be to marry his daughter Isabella. Then he announced the plan and how they must be married soon.

Nowadays, this type of scenario is very common in our real life. We could see them in familiar Tv shows and other varieties.


There are two ways to choose for staging: indoor or outdoor. Before, staging was minimal it was rarely more than a market or street scene. There were just outdoors structures for use to dramatizing their daily life. Nowadays with the rise of technology and popularity, indoor scene has been created which include private homes and hall. When the group went to Europe they used what theatres they could find to aiding the art.

The term 'Lazzi'

'Lazzi' is an essential 'gags' which also means stock jokes and a special characteristic of Commedia Dell' Arte. It is often used in the performance on single one person or a group of people to create fun by action or dialogues.

Five examples for Lazzi:

Lazzo of the fly, lazzo of water, Lazzo of begging, Lazzo of eating oneself, Lazzo of the straw.


Faction of fools 2010, accessed 3 May 2017, <>.

Brief history on Commedia Dell'Arte 2013, accessed 4 May 2017, <>.

Pierrot formerly known as Gilles 2017, US, accessed 4 May 2017, <

Lazzo theatre 2017, accessed 4 May 2017, <>.

The Red Hat Commedia Dell' Arte Scenario 2017, accessed 4 May 2017, <>.

Created By
Jenny Xue

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