Commedia dell’arte is a 16th Century masked acting form. It’s the basis of all comedy and it’s a form that many teachers want to include in their curriculum.

Instructor Todd Espeland has designed two courses that work hand-in-hand with teaching this fantastic physical form.

In Commedia II: Style - Todd moves on to the specific style of Commedia dell’arte. This includes a history of commedia, the stock characters and how to physicalize them, sample lazzi and a capstone assignment. The course includes video demonstrations so you can see the exercises and activities in action.

Course Summary

Standards Addressed

11 Modules
2 hours, 31 minutes
7 Credit Hours

commedia comedy

Course Outline

Lesson 1: Introduction 2:23
FREE PREVIEW
Lesson 2: History and Style of Commedia 21:33
FREE PREVIEW
Lesson 3: Character History 24:38
Lesson 4: Warm Ups 20:31
Lesson 5: Poses of Arlecchino 19:35
Lesson 6: Character Walks 13:49
Lesson 7: Character Walks 14:58
Lesson 8: Lazzi 9:27
Lesson 9: Intention/Invention 6:38
Lesson 10: Bringing it all Together 12:54
Lesson 11: Wrap Up 4:57

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Standards Addressed

National Core Arts Standards


TH:Cr3.1: Refine new work through play, drama processes and theatre experiences using critical analysis and experimentation - Grade 8

TH:Cr3.1.8.b - Refine effective physical, vocal, and physiological traits of characters in an improvised or scripted drama/ theatre work.

TH:Cr3.1: Refine new work through play, drama processes and theatre experiences using critical analysis and experimentation - Grade 7

TH:Cr3.1.7.b - Develop effective physical and vocal traits of characters in an improvised or scripted drama/theatre work

TH:Cr3.1: Refine new work through play, drama processes and theatre experiences using critical analysis and experimentation - Grade 6

TH:Cr3.1.6.b - Identify effective physical and vocal traits of characters in an improvised or scripted drama/theatre work.

TH:Pr4.1: Select, analyze, and interpret artistic work for presentation - Grade 6

TH:Pr4.1.6.b - Experiment with various physical choices to communicate character in a drama/theatre work.

TH:Cr1.1: Generate and conceptualize artistic ideas and work - High School Accomplished

TH:Cr1.1.HSII.a - Investigate historical and cultural conventions and their impact on the visual composition of a drama/theatre work.

TH:Cr1.1: Generate and conceptualize artistic ideas and work - High School Proficient

TH:Cr1.1.HSI.a - Apply basic research to construct ideas about the visual composition of a drama/theatre work.

TH:Pr4.1: Select, analyze, and interpret artistic work for presentation - Grade 8

TH:Pr4.1.8.b - Use various character objectives and tactics in a drama/theatre work to overcome an obstacle.

TH:Pr4.1: Select, analyze, and interpret artistic work for presentation - Grade 7

TH:Pr4.1.7.b - Use various character objectives in a drama/theatre work.

California VAPA Standards (2001)


California VAPA Standards (2019)


6.TH:Pr4 Select, analyze, and interpret artistic work for presentation.

6.TH:Pr4.b - Experiment with various physical choices to communicate character in a drama/theatre work.

8.TH:Pr4 Select, analyze, and interpret artistic work for presentation.

8.TH:Pr4.b - Use various character objectives and tactics in a drama/theatre work to overcome an obstacle.

7.TH:Pr4 Select, analyze, and interpret artistic work for presentation.

7.TH:Pr4.b - Use various character objectives in a drama/theatre work.

Florida Sunshine State Standards


Georgia Performance Standards 2010 - Theatre Arts


Grade 9-12 - ACTING III

TAHSAIII.2 - Developing scripts through improvisation and other theatrical methods
a. Examines theatre practices regarding the development, structure, layout, and format of scripts
b. Uses improvisation, personal experiences, heritage, imagination, literature, and history to develop scripts
c. Performs formal and informal monologues and scenes based on published and original scripts

TAHSAIII.3 - Acting by developing, communicating, and sustaining roles within a variety of situations and environments
a. Examines the voice, body, and imagination as tools of the actor
b. Explores observation, research, cultural development, and personal experience as potential resources available to the actor
c. Implements the tools and resources of acting in the development and presentation of formal and informal monologues and scenes
d. Researches and assesses the development of skills for character creation and performance

TAHSAIII.8 - Examining the roles of theatre as a reflection of past and present civilizations
a. Examines theatrical performance conventions from a variety of historical periods
b. Explores cultural influences on acting, theatre, and human interaction
c. Applies appropriate historic and cultural data during the performance of a character in formal and informal theatrical pieces
d. Researches and applies the knowledge of historical movement and acting technique to character development
e. Assesses the application of historic and contemporary acting theories to a variety of classical and contemporary theatre literature

Grade 9-12 - FUNDAMENTALS OF THEATRE II

TAHSFTII.2 - Developing scripts through improvisation and other theatrical methods
a. Critiques elements of dramatic structure
b. Recognizes realistic and conventional speech patterns within dialogue or dramatic verse
c. Identifies and distinguishes between stock and dynamic characters
d. Lists the steps in the dramatic writing process
e. Differentiates between drama and traditional literary writing
f. Incorporates dramatic elements through improvisation
g. Constructs scenes based on the elements of dramatic structure
h. Compares and contrasts dialogue from various theatrical genres
i. Interprets the objectives, decisions, and actions of characters
j. Develops and critiques various scripts
k. Creates and performs scenes for authentic audiences

TAHSFTII.3 - Acting by developing, communicating, and sustaining roles within a variety of situations and environments
a. Investigates mental and emotional methods of actor for preparation
b. Demonstrates awareness of verbal elements of acting (e.g., voice, breathing)
c. Demonstrates non-verbal elements of acting (e.g., posture, facial expression, physical movement)
d. Acquires and incorporates sensory and emotional recall in character development
e. Constructs authentic characters through observation of human behavior
f. Demonstrates the goals, observations, actions, and tactics of characters
g. Differentiates between acting methods (e.g., Stanislavski, Uta Hagen)
h. Revises performance based on self-critique
i. Defends acting and character choices
j. Analyzes critiques of fellow classmates to create improved performance

TAHSFTII.8 - Examining the roles of theatre as a reflection of past and present civilizations
a. Analyzes plays and dramas that are representative of various historical periods
b. Identifies and analyzes plays and dramas that are culturally diverse
c. Recognizes historical events that have influenced the role of theatre
d. Recognizes theatrical events that have impacted cultural development
e. Analyzes and explains theatre conventions and traditions for different cultures and time periods
f. Analyzes and explains how universal themes in theatre transcend time and space
g. Explores the works of milestone playwrights
h. Analyzes milestone plays for dramatic elements that contribute to their lasting influence
i. Predicts which contemporary plays may endure

GRADE 7

TAMS7.1 - Analyzing and constructing meaning from theatrical experiences, dramatic literature, and electronic media
a. Identifies and compares elements of drama present in various forms of media
b. Outlines dramatic structure used in various forms of theatrical media
c. Compares common themes present in various forms of theatrical media
d. Creates a list of traits exhibited by archetypal characters
e. Analyzes the connections between theatre and real life
f. Compares different forms of media production

TAMS7.2 - Developing scripts through improvisation and other theatrical methods
a. Identifies different techniques of storytelling
b. Creates ideas for stories
c. Applies improvisation techniques to tell a story
d. Demonstrates storytelling in dialogue form
e. Utilizes the elements and structure of drama in the scriptwriting process

TAMS7.3 - Acting by developing, communicating, and sustaining roles within a variety of situations and environments.
a. Identifies and demonstrates effective communication skills
b. Compares the physical, emotional, vocal, and social dimensions of a character
c. Analyzes the motivation for a character’s behavior
d. Demonstrates appropriate interactions between characters
e. Explores the variety of relationships between characters

TAMS7.6 - Researching cultural and historical information to support artistic choices
a. Utilizes advanced research skills to obtain appropriate cultural and historical information
b. Analyzes the cultural and historical context in theatre production
c. Supports artistic choices with cultural and historical information
d. Draws conclusions regarding cultural similarities and differences
e. Examines how a culture is defined through theatre and other media

TAMS7.8 - Examining the roles of theatre as a reflection of past and present civilizations
a. Describes the origins of theatre from a global perspective
b. Identifies reasons why the role of theatre has changed over time
c. Evaluates ways in which theatre and culture influence each other
d. Analyzes, explains, and defends theatre’s role as the reflection of a culture

Georgia Performance Standards 2017 - Theatre Arts


Alberta, Canada


Theatre Studies Drama 30 (Early or Middle or Late drama)

5 - recognize elements of tragedy and comedy

Movement Level III - Advanced

27 - create and sustain mood through movement

Speech Level I - Beginning

3 - use effective breathing techniques

Speech Level II - Intermediate

13 - use voice to communicate mood and emotion

Theatre Studies Level II - Intermediate (Theatre History)

6 - show awareness of selected periods and playwrights

Ontario, Canada


Grade 12 - Creating and Presenting - Presentation Techniques & Technologies

A.3.2 - use different acting approaches to explore and depict character in a variety of situations