Theatrefolk - The Drama Teacher Resource Company

Spread the Love: The Scarlet Heart

This week on Spread the Love, Lindsay Price and Allison Williams talk about The Scarlet Heart, a commedia dell’arte comedy for high schools by Allison Williams.


Hello! Welcome to this week’s “Spread the Love,” where we are talking about “The Scarlet Heart,” A Commedia Dell’arte comedy by Allison Williams, who’s standing right here! Yay!

That’s me! Hi! We’re here in beautiful St. Petersburg, Florida, enjoying the sunshine and the fresh air, and talking to you about a play that also happens in sunshine and fresh air in beautiful northern Italy.

What a wonderful segue.

Thank you, I’m a writer.

“I’m a writer!” We have always, always, always wanted a Commedia Dell’arte play in our catalog, because teachers ask us all the time; That’s what they do in school, they do Commedia, do you have a Commedia play? We have a writer who has like, a lot of expertise in Commedia.

I’ve been a Commedia performer for many years, love doing it, I think it’s awesome, I think schools should totally do it, BUT we have one major challenge with doing Commedia in schools.

Well, and we’ve addressed that; we’ve talked and talked and talked over it. How can we do Commedia? Okay, so there are some things that true Commedia really addresses.

True Commedia is totally naughty. There is bawdy, and there’s grabbing of parts, and there’s showing of parts, and there’s bawdy jokes, and you just can’t do that in high school.

So Allison has done an amazing job with bridging both worlds. We have The Scarlet Heart, which takes place in northern Italy–

In Bergamo.

In Bergamo, where we have the scarlet heart, which is an actual gem that lots of people want. And what she’s done is that we have this wonderful story with lazzie, and all scripted out, and really wonderful. And if you want to include the true Commedia part, where you want to do the naughty bits, it’s wonderfully included!

There’s a section at the back called “Naughty bits”!

And I just love that. I love that we can bridge both worlds. If you want to do a Commedia and you’ve got a really strict administration–

You can do the script straight-up as written, and it’s Disney-friendly, PG-friendly, totally cool for everybody’s school.

And if you want to explore something else, it’s in here too. And there’s lots of other things that you can explore Commedia with.

And, for me, as a writer, doing this with the different variations was awesome, because when I wrote the first draft, you know, naughty bits come out of my head. And that happens with most of the scripts that I write for TheatreFolk, and then Lindsay looks at it and goes, “You know you’re going to have to take this out, right?” And I’m like, “Yeah.” This time, I got to put those things in the back of the book. And so, what I love about this script, is, you know how in rehearsals your students are getting really creative, and especially with a comedy, they go, “Whoa! Wouldn’t it be funny if this happened?” You’re like, “It’d be super funny if this happened! But we can’t do that, because you have to respect the playwright’s copyright, you have to do the play as written.” This play is specifically written to be Commedia, to let you throw in jokes that come up in rehearsals. So, if your students are going through the script, and there’s a section where they go, “You know what? We want to do this funny joke that we came up with over there.” You can say, “Yeah, absolutely, stick it in. And you know what? If we’re out of time, we can cut these lines over there.” The script is designed to be completely flexible. And in fact, if you want to, there’s a section that has just the scenario, it lists what happens in every scene. And so, just as the ancient Commedia actors worked from a scenario and made up all the lines, all the jokes, all the script. If you feel brave, if you feel bold, if your students feel excited, you can do that, too.

So as you can tell, we’re really excited about this script. We’re really excited to have it in your catalog. So if you want to do Commedia, check out “The Scarlet Heart.”

Products referenced in this post: The Scarlet Heart

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