Introduction to the Commedia dell'Arte


Course description

Participants in this course will be introduced to the exciting and important theatrical style of Commedia dell’Arte, or Italian Comedy, which flourished in Europe in the 16th and 17th centuries, and has remained a highly influential form in modern theatre. Shakespeare, Moliere, Goldoni, and Lope de Vega found inspiration in Commedia, as have important theatre and film directors of the 20th century.

Commedia represents the essence of theatricality. Its characters are archetypes making them enjoyable and easily relatable. In this course, participants will have a chance to embody these characters through Commedia’s characteristic use of:

  • recognizable stock characters
  • masks and colorful costumes
  • suspenseful scenarios
  • stylized physical gestures, clowning, acrobatics, improvised dialogue, music and dance

It is exciting for today’s performer to study Commedia; it demands great skill and passion, and it empowers the actor to drive the performance, as opposed to our modern director- or playwright-centered theatre. A performer who knows the Commedia characters and techniques owns a wealth of information and skills that will enable him/her to gain a deeper understanding of the substance of theatre. However this introductory course is not only valuable for performers, it is also valuable to those interested in the arts in general and the great gifts they give to practitioners and spectators alike.

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