Past Meetup

Commedia dell'Arte

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This is posted as an event to see who is interested in participating in a performance for the Carnival Masquerade Party on February 2nd.

Commedia dell’Arte is a type of theatrical performance known as Italian Comedy. The Commedia dell'Arte had its start in the second half of the 16th century, in a period when theater plays were classic and stylish. Possibly as a reaction against that, they starting using the exact opposite: loud, colorful representations blossomed everywhere in Italy, and the rules of theater changed. Performances took place on temporary stages, mostly on city streets, and occasionally in court venues.

Music, dance, and witty dialogue contributed to the comic effects. The unique talent of commedia players was to improvise comedy around a pre–established scenario. Performance themes revolve around a repertory of conventional theatrical situations, such as adultery, jealousy, old age and love. Dialogue and actions were tailored to become topical and were often adjusted to satirize local scandals, current events, or regional tastes, mixed with ancient jokes and punch lines.

The stock characters of the commedia represented fixed social types, tipi fissi, for example, foolish old men, devious servants, or military officers full of false bravado. Characters such as Pantalone, the miserly Venetian merchant; Dottore Gratiano, the pedant from Bologna; or Arlecchino, the mischievous servant from Bergamo, began as satires on Italian "types" and became the archetypes of many of the favorite characters of 17th– and 18th–century European theatre. These characters and their masks have become part of the traditional Venetian Carnival costumes.

Commedia dell’Arte performance for the Venetian Masquerade Party
We need between 2-12 people to have a performance. I expect the performance to last about 30 minutes. Most of the Commedia parts are for men, so if we have a too many women who are interested, they may have to play the male parts. The people who wish to participate and perform at the party will each be responsible for purchasing their own mask through the internet. There are specific masks associated with each character and I will give recommendations for the masks you’ll need. You can count on spending around $40 for your mask since they are specific character masks. However, those who perform for the Party will get in free to the Masquerade Party! You will need a mask anyway for the party, so you’ll be set with your mask for that event. Also, you’ll need to think about a simple costume that is appropriate for your character. Again, I can provide some advice for that.

I have ordered a book of Commedia dell’Arte scenes and scripts. This event is for those interested to meet, see what the performance would be like, and to decide which script to perform. You can come to the initial event just to see if you’re interested, but at that time, I will expect people to commit to the performance. I will not be part of the performance since I will be busy with other things at the party, but I can be a resource for advice. For those who participate, you will need to get your mask ASAP after the first meeting. You can also plan on getting together as a group a couple of times to practice your performance.