ALIVE and WELL: The Process of Reviving a Dead Art: Commedia Dell'arte (week 2)

Welcome Back, and thank you so much for joining us again! If you are joining us for the first time than that pleasant welcome is not for you, YOU ARE LATE! And we will be calling your parents; in our internet there will be no excuses for tardiness. 

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Just kidding (insert jovial laughter here)

We’re sure you would like to know more about the show we will be creating, it’s influences, it’s style, it’s characters and enough about the story to intrigue you, but not so much that we ruin the experience for the audience. Well it is with great honour that we… Postpone that information for a little detour (hahaha) to tell you about a character from our last show. This character was a fan favourite, and is the biggest influence in what we are doing next. That’s not to say this is a sequel… but if you get a chance to see our last show ‘A Midsummer Knight’sDream… What?!’ do it.

Please note, the next paragraph (and point number 1) is a spoiler of this character’s journey, but not of the show as a whole… I’ll leave it up to you whether you read it or not)

The Character in question: A Cyclops; transported from the mythical realm to an enchanted forest here on Earth, a character whom everybody believed to be a mindless beast, a killing machine, and (probably) a man. The character of Stephanie was anything but, she was a misunderstood lovelorn monster, sweet and caring, with a voice so rough it could froth the milk in your cappuccino… but sweet and caring nevertheless.

That’s her above, isn't she adorable?

The big question though, What made to character of Stephanie so popular amongst the hundreds of audience members? It’s hard to pinpoint exactly, but I think it comes down to a few factors.

1: The audience judged her prematurely, they were lead into a false sense of understanding, they assumed they knew the characters of this story, they thought it was a simple traditional theatre piece, with predetermined classic characters. But this was nothing more than the theatrical art of misdirection, and the revelation that Stephanie was not a mindless beast was the first time the traditions were challenged (but not the last). They might have been suffering from a little guilt for their judgment, and the guilt soon transformed into love.

2: The character was created with a voice that is reminiscent of a Jim Henson puppet. It may have felt like a throw back the their childhood, combining the audio qualities of the beloved characters Animal and Dr. Teeth, with a little Gonzo to top it off and hit the sweeter, sympathetic moments.

3: The mask played a huge part in our promotional strategy, for any audience member who saw us sprooking the show around the Fringe Festival grounds, they would have seen our resident mask maker out in public, making a second Stephanie masks, explaining the process, and demonstrating the way we mold the leather. Not to mention the updates on social media, with pics ranging from a clay design, to a wooden block, and finally a single piece of leather stretched, shaped and sealed into the end result.

Perhaps it’s a perfect blend of these factors that made Stephanie so popular, but at the end of the day what matters moving forward is how that love has influenced our next piece. Strictly speaking, the character of Stephanie will not be returning (sorry to burst your bubble). We have decided that we would like to explore the world she comes from, the world of the Cyclopes, the mythical realm. To do this we are going to follow the Corning folk archetype of Jack, up the beanstalk and into a world full of Cyclopes (rather than the giants).

In the traditional commedia dell’arte there is really only one archetype for the Cyclops, which was created out of the ancient Greek mythology of the dim witted, slow moving but incredibly powerful, hungry, deadly beast. But for this show we cannot have a world with only one character type, so we are going to try something very different… very different indeed…

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We are going to combine different classic comedy archetypes with physicality and personality traits of the Cyclops to create a handful of brand new characters, each with their own mask, their own system of moving and their own comic lazzi. Something never before seen, never before created. After 500 years of commedia dell’arte history, we will be proud parents of new characters.

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We hope the gravity of this moment and revelation is hitting our readers, it’s very ambitious and incredible exciting!!! Tune in next week to hear more about our development. let us leave you with a question.

What do you think about our idea to use 'Jack and the Beanstalk' to explore new these characters? answer in the comment box below, or on our Facebook page.

Cheers.