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Commedia Dell'Arte Characteristics

  • Date Submitted: 03/25/2010 02:33 PM
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Commedia Dell’Arte

Commedia dell'arte literally means “comedy of the actors.” The term implies a contrast between a popular form of comedic theater that included improvisation, loud, colorful representations, on the one hand, with plays that were based on written texts, classic, stylish, c     ommedia dell'arte, continued to be an important form of theater until 1780.
Commedia dell'arte is a truly popular form of theatre - of the people, by the people, for the people. Commedia dell'arte is definitely an artform centred on people and their world. Although its origins are hazy due to the illiteracy of its first performers and audience, it is believed to have stemmed from the carnivals in Italy during the sixteenth century. Here it rose from the people from folk theatre, which used masks and music, and from the charlatans using pretence as a means of earning money.
Commedia dell'arte’s key to success around the audience was when the actors would make stuff up on the spot, this is called improvisation. Improvisation is the key to success because the audience watched the plays didn’t know anything about what is going to happen on the stage, this gave the audience’s attention to the actors and this is why commedia dell’arte was so popular at that time.
The Commedia dell'Arte bases its charme on the free improvisation on stage. Free in the sense it is not codified, but of course it follows very precise rules, and it needs good actors to work. The time of amateur actors who learn by heart the dialogues an repeat them without expression on stage is over. Though improvisation is considered a hallmark of the commedia dell'arte, spectators knew what to expect when they attended a performance. They would see some version of the four major characters, or masks: an innocent but foolish servant, a merchant and the master, a voluble and ignorant doctor, and another servant. These were the main/ stock characters of every Commedia Dell’arte play, but...


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