Drama Assessment – Commedia dell’Arte
This term during our drama lessons we have been exploring and learning about Commedia dell’Arte, a comical and slapstick style of theatre that first became popular in Italy during the 16th century. I had never heard of Commedia before we began studying it in class, so my first impressions were that it was extremely over the top and exaggerated! At the start of the topic I didn’t think that I would enjoy it very much as, because of the use of stock characters, I felt that there would be little room for creativity and making the performances original and inventive. However I was proved wrong and I learnt that although all the characters are the same, everyone interprets them differently so I enjoyed watching other groups portray the likes of Il Dottore and Columbina in ways that I would never have thought of. Commedia first came about in 16th century Italy and was performed on temporary stages in city streets and market places. The troupes of actors performed for all social classes, and as their plays mostly took place outside, were accessible to all. Using skilful and strangely understandable mime and grummelot, stereotypical stock characters, masks with exaggerated features, over the top physical movements and improvised dialogue, Commedia actors were accepted and enjoyed wherever they went. As the style grew in popularity, it spread to Europe and has influenced every other theatre style. Charlie Chaplin and the Marx Brothers are direct descendants of Commedia, using mime and slapstick. Commedia has gone on to influence sitcoms (you have the bosses, the workers, the stupid one etc) and even Shakespeare, especially A Midsummer Night’s Dream and the Merchant of Venice. The over the top style shows in modern pantomimes, with the loud and bubbly portrayal of characters. There are different stock characters that represent the different stereotypes in society. One of the most famous is Arlecchino, who is of the zanni (servant)...
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