Comedia dell’ Arte is a theatre art form dating back to Renaissance Italy. Its attributes and techniques are still used today to create theatre and film productions. Throughout this paper the origins of Commedia dell’ Arte will be discussed and its distinctive traits explored. These include the characters Used, mask work, pantomime (physical comedy) and improvisation. In addition, by using examples from both 16th century Commedia and modern day television I will show how not only was Commedia an inspiration for modern television, but that modern comedy would not exist without it.
Commedia draws its existence from the period of economic and cultural enlightenment known as the Renaissance ( Claudon,2003).While the Renaissance was present most everywhere in Europe, it had its beginnings in Italy where manufacturing and trade with the Islamic world made it an economic superpower. It was through this trade with the Islamic world that Italian sailors and scholars found Ancient Roman and Greek texts containing the writings of philosophers like Sophocles and Aristotle. Bringing them back to Italy and translating them, Scholars would spend the next few centuries deciphering and interpreting the meaning of these ancient texts. The product of the introduction of these Greek and Roman cultural elements (examples include the right of free speech, critical thinking and questioning divine authority) into Italian society was an atmosphere where the humanities (an umbrella term used in Italy to denote history, architecture, dramatic art and visual art) could be studied and practiced with little intervention from higher authority. It was from this atmosphere that Commedia could begin to evolve (Wild, 2011). Now, what is Commedia?
Commedia dell’ Arte is a theatre form combining pantomime, masks/costumes and improvisation. The actors (known at the time as either players or artisans) would play stock or stereotypical characters and act out familiar plot...
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