Friday 13th January 2017 – Commedia

In today’s lesson we followed on with the theme of commedia dell’arte, specifically focussing on the different stock characters and what qualities they would traditionally have. There are traditionally four main categories the famous character types can be divided into..

  1. The Servants or Zanni such as Arlecchino (Harlequin), Pulcinella (Punch), Colombina (Columbine), Scapino (Scapín), Brighella, Pedrolino, Pierrot.
  2. The Old Men or Vecchi such as the greedy Magnifico (Pantalone), the know-it-all professor (il Dottore), or the stuttering Tartaglia.
  3. The young Lovers or Innamorati with names such as Isabella, Flaminia, or Ortensia (for women) and Flavio, Orazio, Ortensio, or Leandro (for men).
  4. The boasting Captains or Capitani and their female equivalent, the vivacious and oftentimes violent La Signora.

We played around with these character types and the movements and stances they would usually use to help portray the character; for example, Pantalone would often be bent over with a sticking out chin, hands behind his back or held in front of the torso constantly fidgeting to show his agitation and impatience. I played around with this character and tried using grammelot to bring his voice to life, and did so by muttering lots in a gravelly tone at the bottom of my vocal range to show the characters age and the grumpy nature of the character. In the past I had also learnt that Pantalone would often have a walking stick which is held in front of the crotch and so I also played around with this idea as well.

The other characters looked at in my group were Capitani, Flavio and the Zanni, however as a group I think we could have gone a lot further with our characterisation when performing these back. Personally I wasn’t focussing on giving a polished performance to the rets of the class as I was concentrating on trying out physicalizing each of the characters and experimenting with things that did and didn’t work and then how our chosen movements would affect the voice and presence of them in the scene. Therefore when it came to showing back my group didn’t have much of a story line to our showing, which created some confusion for the audience, instead we simply presented the work we had done on physicalising the characters. I think it didn’t help that we only had one of the lovers in our scene, whereas they are usually shown together. James seemed to struggle with finding how to portray Flavio, which I can understand as the lovers are probably the most ‘normal’ out of each of the stock characters and therefore it is tempting to stick to more naturalistic choices, however, by presenting over exaggerated movements and stereotypical love sick poses the audience will soon be able to identify who the actor is playing.




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