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Performing Arts Department

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The Commedia Dell' Arte

Drama 407 - Spring 2020

This course combines a sustained performance element with the study of texts and ideas related to an Italian theatrical tradition known as the commedia dell'arte: a form mostly though not entirely based on improvisation. No acting or even theater experience is required to take the course--just a willingness to try one's hand at commedia performance, including the use of masks. Renowned Arte maestro Antonio Fava will visit the class and give a week of workshops, culminating in a public performance. Academically, we will begin by looking at antecedents to the Italian theater, then closely examine translated primary texts and secondary texts regarding the Italian "golden age" of 1570-1625. The influence of the commedia dell'arte on Shakespeare will be examined, and we will experiment in performing some scenes from his plays in commedia style. We will examine the commedia dell'arte in France up to the eighteenth century, and the influence of this theater on the work of playwrights such as Molière and Marivaux. The final part of the course will regard directors, plays and performers in the twentieth and twenty-first century inspired by the commedia dell'arte: Vsevolod Meyerhold, Giorgio Strehler, the San Francisco Mime Troupe, Teatro Campesino, and Dario Fo. The course will culminate in a collaboratively written performance. In addition to short writing assignments (including the creative writing of original commedia dell'arte scenarios) a research paper will also be assigned.

Section 01

The Commedia Dell' Arte
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