Commedia dell’arte is a 16th century masked acting form. It is the basis of all comedy, including all tv sitcoms. This form is characterized by masked types and archetypical characters and a specific way of playing comedy. To that end, this unit is divided into two parts.
Part One focuses on the foundations of commedia - playing comedy. These principles will be important to learn when it comes to developing commedia characters, specifically the physicality of the characters. Part Two will cover lazzi.
Note: there are links to video demos in many of the lessons of this unit.
The overview lays out the unit into two parts; as well as describes and lists the video demonstrations and pacing guide for the unit.
This lesson introduces the first tool: status. Students will physically perform high and low status through status walks.
In this lesson students further explore status and using status to communicate physically through a variety of games. Students are also introduced to the game “Do It Get It Done” which will be re-visited throughout the unit.
This lesson introduces the second tool: appetite. An appetite is a primal need that drives a character in a scene.
be important later on when it comes to applying the Commedia Dell’arte style to characters and lazzi. This lesson introduces the third tool: swing. Swing is the idea that a comedic character can move between two emotions, or two needs,immediately.
This lesson introduces the fourth tool: intention/invention. Intention is what a character wants (it can also be called their need). Invention is the thing they need to invent to get their need.
The mid-unit assignment requires students to prepare, rehearse, and memorize a scene using the tools learned in Part One of the unit.
This lesson presents the history of Commedia; where it came from and introduces the main characters. It comes with a viewing quiz and reflection.
This lesson focuses on the characters of Commedia including who they are, what they’re like and places that we can see them in modern society.
In this lesson students will start to physicalize Commedia characters by introducing the Character Zero concept, the Character Hop, and the poses of Arlecchino.
In this lesson, students will see a demonstration of two character walks and practice those walks.
In this lesson, students will see a demonstration of three character walks and practice those walks.
In this lesson, students will be introduced to lazzi. Lazzi are solo comic beats to show off a character and their needs. Students will then create and perform a solo lazzi.
In this lesson, students apply previously learned comedy elements of status and swing to Commedia characters.
There are two possible assignments for this unit. One that will take a week of class time, including performances and one that can be completed in a class period.
Acc.TH:Cr2.a - Refine a dramatic concept to demonstrate a critical understanding of historical and cultural influences of original ideas applied to a drama/theatre in western or non-western theatre traditions.
C.3.2 - identify and apply the skills and attitudes needed to perform various tasks and responsibilities in producing drama works (e.g., use active listening and cooperative problem-solving skills; practise punctuality; use tact in suggesting changes and improvements; demonstrate willingness to accept criticism and build consensus)
C.3.3 - demonstrate an understanding of theatre and audience etiquette, in both classroom and formal performance contexts (e.g., as a performer: show willingness to take direction and behave appropriately towards other actors; as a viewer: demonstrate respect for performers and other audience members by paying attention, not interrupting or talking, and applauding when appropriate)
B.3.1 - identify and describe skills, attitudes, and strategies they used in collaborative drama activities (e.g., brainstorming, active listening, and cooperative problem-solving skills; strategies for sharing responsibility through collaborative team roles)
B.3.2 - identify skills they have developed through drama activities and explain how they can be useful in work and other social contexts (e.g., explain in a journal how their brainstorming and negotiation skills support teamwork in a variety of contexts)
B.2.1 - identify different types of drama and explain their function in diverse communities and cultures from the past and present (e.g., the function of television, film, or video game dramas with predictable plot lines and stock or stereotypical characters in today’s society; the function of theatre in ancient Greece, liturgical drama in medieval Europe, Shakespearean drama in Elizabethan England, and/or “social problem” dramas today)
B.2.2 - explain how dramatic exploration helps develop awareness of different roles and identities people have in society (e.g., explain what they learned through role playing characters from different socio-economic groups)
B.2.4 - identify ways in which dramatic exploration contributes to their understanding of diverse cultures and traditions (e.g., identify insights they gained through exploring the role of ritual in Greek theatre and/or Aboriginal ceremonies)
A.3.2 - use a variety of voice and movement techniques to support the creation of character or atmosphere during rehearsal (e.g., use voice and movement to suggest an airport, circus, or factory environment)
A.1.3 - use role play and characterization to explore personal and social issues (e.g., with a partner, create or assume a role that explores an issue such as bullying; create a scenario that reveals details about a character’s motivation)