Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Classical Dramatic Improvisation in Venice




For this last day of the Carnival in Venice, I thought my post would not be complete without talking about the wonderful and distinctive plays that originated in Venice in the 16th century; namely, ‘La Commedia dell’Arte’ - Commedy of the art or profession. Although the plays were scripted and the actors, plot and material were all in place, there was room for additional individual expression.


Actors were allowed to bring more to the piece through their own creative additions. This was either done through mimes, acrobatics, singing, or any other form of expression that enabled the actors to embellish their parts while bringing lively entertainment to their audience. The plays always dealt with love schemes and conspiracies, the aristocrats, and heroes of the times. The main idea was comedic art that brought laughter and often mocking of past and present situations.




Throughout the centuries certain characters became conventional ‘musts’ of la Commedia dell’Arte. Carnival time in Venice was no exception. And- no play would have been complete without traditional masked and costumed figures such as Pantalone; a not-so bright little (but big-mouthed) shop owner from Vienna. Another character, Pulcinella- the long pointed nose hunchback who was always ready to scheme people, and of course, Columbina, the maid servant, are just of a few of the Commedia’s favorites. The one that most people would recognize the most, I think would probably be Arlecchino (Harlequin), the colourful clown.



Pulcinella


La Commedia dell’Arte, in its improvised technique of acting, set stage for the later plays that we have all come to love and recognize as classics. (This inevitably brings us to the ‘great one’ of Venetian Theatre- stay tuned for my next post on the brilliant Goldoni).


To see some illustrations of characters of La Commedia dell’Arte see: http://www.fulltable.com/VTS/c/cda/cda.htm


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12 comments:

Ms. Lucy said...

testing..Blogger problems again..

Matterhorn said...

I hope the problems get fixed! Great post.

Ms. Lucy said...

Seems to be working fine..,for now...

Thanks Matterhorn:)

Arleigh said...

I really need to read more on Venice! Have you ever seen that scene in Labyrinth where Sarah is dancing in that bubble thingy? There are lots of masks (some are kind of scary!)

Amy @ Passages to the Past said...

Hey you! Stop on by my blog and pick up an award!

Ms. Lucy said...

Testing Blogger Bugger...

Anonymous said...

loved the article! :)

Ms. Lucy said...

Arleigh, some masks are REALLY scary! I think that some of the theatre characters are portrayed as pretty gruesome, costume and all.

Ms. Lucy said...

Amy- That's such a wonderful award. Thanks so much!

englishwithjennifer said...

RE:Characters that became a conventional MUST in those plays.

Seems the old saying is true: The more things change, the more things stay the same. If you think about all the romantic comedies we've seen on screen, we can categorize the many characters into just a few types. Hollywood has just updated those old conventional MUSTS from past centuries.

Ms. Lucy said...

I love it Jennifer..you're so right about that! And it seems that we, the audience sometimes fuel that fire and help to keep it going (for good and bad;)

sandragulland.com said...

Wonderful post, Ms. Lucy -- and thanks for the mention on Hoydens & Firebrands!