The World of Commedia dell’Arte

commdanceI love commedia dell’arte, though I don’t know much about the fantastic masked characters. Like most British children, I was introduced to it through seaside Punch and Judy shows. So it was a pleasure to come across this short National Theatre video of an acting class in which their characters, masks, and typical movements are explained.

Surprisingly, the instructor uses the Kaballistic representation of the universe, with the commedia dell’arte characters occupying the nodes. Years ago, in my pagan incarnation, I attempted to come to grips with its philosophy. With little success.

The core of the video, though, is the way she draws out the characters through the use of masks and movement. And for examples, she gives Basil Fawlty and Manuel from Fawlty Towers.