ALIVE and WELL: The Process of Reviving a Dead Art: Commedia Dell'arte (week 3)

Here we are, back again for the third time, thank you so much for clicking and reading or subscribing or following our social media accounts, or doing whatever you did to end up here. We love to share our craft and our passion for masked theatre with everyone so we really appreciate your eyeballs landing on our words and pictures today.

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It’s time to get stuck into a subject that everyone loves, a subject that is crucial to all storytelling, but especially commedia dell’arte, it’s time to talk about… drum roll please...

CHARACTER!!!

One of the longest standing comic archetypes from the commedia dell’arte is of course Pantalone, the miser, the master, the original merchant of Venice. Despite his selfish, greedy, impersonal approach to life, love and family, there’s a lot to love about the character. Maybe he reminds us of ourselves at our worst, or perhaps reminds us that no matter how bad we can be from time to time, our intentions are pure (especially when compared to him). He is like a crazy grandfather who says things we don’t agree with and hold values that are outdated, but somehow it seems understandable coming from him, it’s endearing, it’s a part of our social past that we respect and enjoy even at the worst of times.

Like all Characters in the commedia dell’arte, Pantalone has a stance, his own system of moving, and a number of classic lazzi (comic routine) that audiences have loved for dozens of generations. So, lets have a quick GIF Guide to Pantalone's skeleton.

Pantalone front.gif

Firstly, move your feet in at the ankles and toes, a small stance and a small gait are required.

Secondly bend slightly at the knees (but never so much that your knee’s are past your toes, that can damage/age your knee’s)

Next you will role your hips forward as well as your shoulders. This is the most important part to remember, you create a hump back illusion, NOT DAMAGE YOUR SPINE SO THAT YOU DEVELOP A HUMP BACK!!! You will see when I turn to the side that my centre of gravity is situated entirely vertical and above my legs, I have no unhealthy pressure or strain on my SPINE or BACK MUSCLES.

Lastly, you stick your head forward like a turtle man.

He can be seen in literature dating back hundreds of years, and in modern forms of story telling story telling from just last week. His desire for money, and his willingness to cheat the system are universally accepted in comedy and drama. So lets have a look at some examples.

Even Shakespeares characters, while not physically played as Comic archetypes, were still built around the psychological and relationship traits of the comic archetypes. Take Lord Capulet for example, a man who does not see his daughters marriage as an expression of her love, but rather an opportunity to strengthen his ties and relationships to those important to him.

 Lord Capulet - Baz Luhrmann's Romeo and Juliet

Lord Capulet - Baz Luhrmann's Romeo and Juliet

As mentioned in our last blog, we will be combining the Traditional archetypes with the Greek mythological creatures, therefor the rules which will govern Pantalone’s physicality must alter greatly to fit the dynamics imposed by the Cyclops. Pantalone is a character who has aged, his body has shrunk and his mobility is limited, how does this shape change when it is now filtered through the flesh and blood of a giant brute creature? Imagine how a great warrior must look once old age has scrapped him of his former glory, how the attitude of greatness and strengths remains long after the fact. Our ‘Pantalone x Cyclops’ will be the beastly equivalent of a soldier turned politician, mixed with the misery of an over thrown pack leader in a lion pride, who still has the ambition for power.

We will look more closely at the Cyclops and his physicality in the coming weeks, but for now, we need to capture the energy and attitude of our character, which is more man than myth, even though on the outside it is clearly a Monster.

Yeah, just of like the characters from Monsters Inc… only completely different.

Okay, lets wrap things up now with another offer to check us out on our social media pages if you haven't done so already. Facebook is >>> HERE <<< and Instagram in >>> HERE <<< 

Thank you and goodbye.

That's you, looking sad because this is goodbye... Until next week!