What is the Commedia dell'Arte?
Commedia dell’Arte is a theatrical genre born in the sixteenth century in Italy and quickly spread throughout Europe, performing on the streets, in the courts and in the theatres, it became very popular all over Europe, including France, Spain, Germany, Austria, Netherlands, Slovakia, Romania and Russia.
The masks (half-mask leaving mouth and lower part of the face uncovered) create universal characters that represent specific human characteristics, such as the old and miserable Pantalone, the smart servant Harlequin / Arlecchino, the silly servant Zanni, the mischievous servant Colombina, the pompous Doctor , the bold Captain, the young lovers. On the stage, we see fixed types: immediately recognizable figures, embodying basic feelings, human vices and defects. Through these characters, timeless situations are born, based on love, hatred, power, money, betrayal, deception and revelations.
A universe of characters and situations, that are alive in our world today, more than ever.
The main characteristic of Commedia dell'Arte is its universality: a very clear physical code and the use of various languages together with the non-language gibberish "grammelot": Commedia dell'Arte is a theatrical genre easily accessible, and at the same time universal, embracing diversity and overcoming barriers. This is one of the reasons for the recent strong interest to recognize Commedia dell'Arte as Unesco Intangible Cultural Heritage.
The workshop and group performance
The 4-days workshop will be an open opportunity to experience and recreate our European cultural heritage. The work will be based on the discovery of the world of Commedia dell'Arte and specifically the study of the masks and the characters, aiming to bring out the universality of this theatrical language.
The traditional Italian Commedia dell’Arte masks and characters will be explored and we will also explore masks from various European traditions.
We will investigate the use of the traditional masks and specifically the mask as an "extra-ordinary" element, as a union between the immanent and the transcendent in Commedia dell'Arte, and in the European folk traditions that set its grounds, such as Harlequin as a devilish figure, including his mask with broken horn. We will explore the relations between masked characters (transcendent element) and unmasked (humans).
The participants will have a possibility to experience a self-discovery work that will will shed light and help develop the specific characteristics of each one, such us language, nationality, culture.
The strength of the Commedia dell'Arte lies precisely in utilizing and enriching the individual specificities and experiences of each person/actor.
As a conclusion of the 4-days workshop, the group will perform publicly: the resulting Commedia dell’Arte play will include scenes created by the participants with the elements explored during the days of the workshop.
In the phase of creation of the group we will pay specific attention to create a diverse and balanced group in terms of experience and national background.
Starting with a specific training, participants will deepen the study of the mask, through a practical and experiential work. The study of the individual characters (fixed types) will enrich the participants' imagery, allowing them to create their own character/mask. Eventually the mask will become an integral part of the actor's body and each participant will come to deal with the eternal paradox of the use of the mask: "Becoming credible with the most fake object".
We will play with improvisation. The encounters of characters will allow us to discover the nature of the "canovaccio" - plot, a clockwork mechanism that is created on stage. We will work on small scenes that will be publicly performed at the end of the workshop.
We will enter the wonderful universe that is the code of Commedia dell'Arte and participants will be able to dive in a complete work on themselves, a "total work of actor", valuing their specific characteristics, and including any artistic element, such as mime, acrobatics, juggling, dance, singing, use of musical instruments...
- Historical introduction on Commedia dell'Arte
- European theatrical masks
- Physical training (specific for Commedia dell’Arte)
- Study and practice on expressive techniques of the Mask
- Attitudes of the fixed types (the characters)
- Improvisation (free and structured)
- Principles of Dramaturgy (work on the "canovaccio")
- Study of the scenic space ("palco di commedia")
- creating one's own character
- Expressive techniques of Commedia dell'Arte
- Preparation of short scenes for final performance
The training language will be a physical, simple and easy-to-understand English, with Hungarian translation, if needed.
The workshop will be open to anyone and no previous theatre experience will be required.