Commedia dell arte was developed in 16th and 17th century. It was a form of comedy that started around Italy. The actors improvised text based scenarios so they didn't have to write down scripts. It came from people first starting performing in the streets and markets of the Italian Renaissance, but it can be traced all the way back to Ancient Greek. The actors wore masks and colourful clothes to draw attention to them and their acrobatic skills increased that chance. They soon teamed up in troupes with more actors and moveable stages to establish it as a genre of its own. These performances were open to all classes from the rich to the pore. They didn't care about language barriers because they used mime, stereotyped stock characters, signature stunts, gags, pranks, masks, physical gestures, clowning and improvised dialogue so they would know what was happening. Later the tradition spread all over Europe. It then gave the idea to the French which turned most of the ideas into commedia style shows.
The Stock Characters
The Stock Characters are the characters that they use as a base for their show. They are Arplechinno, Capitano, Columbina, Comico, Dottore, Flavio, Isabella, Lelio, Pantalone, Pedrolino, Pulcinella, Vittoria, Zanni.
Arlechinno is got a status of being a servant. It is mainly a servant to Pantalone but sometimes to the others. His costume was a tight multi-coloured patches sowed on to one main top and pants. His mask looked just like a person's face but darker. His head turns first then his body follows when he sees someone.
Capitano has a status of being a Mercenary always from someplace else. He is always wearing a military uniform. His mask is a long nosed face that leaves the mouth showing on the face. His movements are slow, careful and looks like he is being controlled.
Colombia is a maid. Her costume was a lot like Arlechinno's, but she had a small apron that she wore because she was a maid. She sometimes takes off her mask but when she is wearing it only covers her eyes. Her movements are fast and speedy and looking she is searching all the time.
Comico is the lead. He organizes the show and rehearsals he also ties the actors and the audience together. The costume stands out from the rest of the group. He does not need to where a mask. His movements are big when addressing the crowd but small when on stage.
Dottore is the father of to one of the characters. His costume was a black jacket with one of the traditional academic caps. His mask only covers his face and nose leaving...