Commedia dell’arte is a performance style that originated in Italy emphasizing pantomime,

1700 WordsApr 23, 20197 Pages
Commedia dell’arte is a performance style that originated in Italy emphasizing pantomime, improvisation, and ensemble acting, using over the top movements to accentuate emotions on a bare stage. Although shows presented by commedia dell’arte troupes were improvisations they were heavily influenced using an array of stock situations along with very well-developed masks (characters). Commedia dell’arte masks have molded the creation of characters from William Shakespeare’s “Merchant of Venice” to Matt Groening’s “The Simpsons”. Keeping society entertained at every age. Unlike most masks in theatre, or even masks for ceremonial purposes, performers in commedia dell’arte wear masks that cover half of their face leaving their mouths free.…show more content…
The use of masks was of a great significance to the early performers. (Marczak, 7) Early in the life of commedia dell’arte it quickly became normal to call the “character” “the Mask”. Performers would be the Mask of Il Capitano, or the Mask of Pantalone. This notion of being the mask can get confusing as not all commedia dell’arte characters wear masks that convey who they are. “Lovers are the Commedia stock characters that do not wear masks” (Sullivan 14). In this case the Masks are often referred to as stereotypes. This wouldn’t be very accurate. Stereotypical characters are very broad two dimensional characters that are based on a class of persons that have been stuck with prejudices and generalizations. Although old men are salacious and money-grubbing that isn’t all the Mask of Pantalone must be this way. If done right he is so much more than that, but that is left to the performer that takes on the Mask to develop with their own flair. Often we find Il Capitano playing the false romantic lead. Since he is part of the Vecchi (old people) one of his common functions is to interfere with the innamorati or young lovers. He is often hired by the father, Pantalone, to protect his daughter. Upon which Il Capitano often falls head over heels in love with her, creating opportunities for a great lazzi to occur. Lazzi are rehearsed comical bits added throughout the performance at the performer’s
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