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Commedia Dell'arte Character Diagram

Character Diagram

Will Hargreaves

on 7 October 2015

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Transcript of Commedia Dell'arte Character Diagram

Commedia dell'Arte
Character Diagram
1st actor
1st actress
Magnifico is one of the characters of the Commedia dell'Arte, though he was replaced rather early on with the character, Pantalone. He is old (70s), shrewd with his money, adoring of young women, and totally not capable of copulating at all. Magnifico represents the highest authority in the family. He is the one who is in charge of not only the economy and finances but also the destiny of the household and all who live there.
She wore the latest fashion of their time, stunning silk dresses, often in antique Renaissance style with necklaces of gold and pearls. She may also wear wigs. The actress would show off their wardrobe by changing costume several times during the course of the action. Her walk is very fancy and flouncy. A handkerchief or a flower like a posy, would be in the leading hand. Because she's vain, she frequently looks in a hand mirror, only to become upset by any minor imperfection which is discovered. They are always looking to see if a ribbon or a sequin is out of place. A button found on the floor or a blemish in the coiffure equals disaster.
He may have names such as Silvio, Fabrizio, Aurelio, Orazio, Ottavio, Ortensio, Lelio, Leandro, Cinzio, Florindo, Lindoro, He sometimes dressed as young soldiers or cadets. He had exaggerated movements of the hands, like feathers flapping in the wind. He wore no actual mask, but heavy make-up. Mascara and beauty spots were for both sexes. The lad was often young and attractive with nice looking, gentry-class clothing.
She accesses the healing powers of the Earth as her power, and her direct oppossite is the knowledge crazy and logical, Il Dottore or the Doctor. In a performance, she would be fortune telling, and brewing and selling potions. Sometimes, her mask has long strands of silvr hair streaking out of the top part of the mask or at the eyebrows. Desperate women and men would plead for her help to get what they want. This method of victory was through magic and trickery.
He is a head of another family. He's like Pantalone with brains, that can be quite annoying. He may be a bachelor or a widower. So Il Dottore can be either male or female. But, often parent to one of the lovers. His signature props would be a book or a white handkerchief. Often greedy with members of his family, and a great bore to the other characters. The dottore's physical size is very large, he has a pot-belly and dressed from head to toe in black except for a white collar. He has a red spot on his cheek and wears a black semi-mask that only covered his nose. Covers the nose and forehead only. The actor’s cheeks are thus revealed and often reddened to show Il’ Dottore’s fondness for alcohol.
He is the top of pecking order. He controls finance in the character world of Commedia, therefore his orders are usually obeyed. He can be an Employer, Father, or a Godfather. He wears red breeches, a red vest, and a black ankle-length coat. His mask featured a long, hooked nose with bushy eyebrows, sometimes also a moustache. There is a pointed beard just forward enough as if to meet the nose coming down. One of his props could be a gold chain around the neck with a large medallion and a dagger. When walking, he would be leaning slightly forward with his nose in the air. When he is talking to someone, he leans forward, when he is listening to something, or getting bad news, he leans back. Sometimes falls flat on his back on hearing bad news, just like a beetle.
The personal Maid to the prima donna, innamorata. She is better dressed than the male servants since she is a lady’s maid. An apron, with a ‘folly’ dress underneath. The skirt usually fell just below the knee. The neckline of bodice is low and often frilled from several colors of material. She is initially strong and attractive like a circus artist. She often wears a mask that usually just covers her eyes. Usually, she is happy and carefree, yet when assigned a task moves with speed and efficency. This is one of her strongest traits in being a good servant. Her normal pose is hands either on hips, holding apron or making significant gestures. When she's excited, she throws her hands up as if still dancing with her tambourine.
Brighella is a crafty, quick, unscrupulous servant who was often paired with Harlequino. He thrives on double dealings, intrigues, and foul play. Having the highest status of the servants, he is sometimes depicted as an innkeeper, shop owner, valet, or a soldier. He is a cynical liar who only looks out for himself, and is never repentant when caught in wrongdoing. He is sleazy, seductive, dangerous. He executes his crimes ingeniously. He offers assistance to innocents, scoping opportunities to steal from the unsuspecting. Money for him is worth only the pleasure it provides and he loves nothing but his own pleasure. He is a drunkard and boisterous debaucherer who readily insults anyone weaker. He is lazy but can move quickly, almost imperceptively. He gets very close to people when he speaks. He can sing and dance, and drink with the best of them. His costume is usually trimmed in green.
He is a servant, usually to Pantalone, but also frequently Il’Capitano, or Il’ Dottore. He wusually wears a tight-fitting long jacket and trousers, sewn over with random, odd-shapen patches of green, yellow, red and brown. The jacket is laced down the front and caught by a black belt worn very low on the hips. His shoes are flat and black. He is always ready to spring into action in a clumsy yet graceful manner. He is ragged, yet sleek. The mask represents his head as shaved in the same manner as the ancient mimes. When Harlequino spots someone, the mask moves first and he then hops round and into the gesture of greeting.
Large, whether physically or egotistically, he is a large presence on stage. Designed to attract attention from women and intimidate men. His masked featured a long-nosed crocodile mask. His weapon is part of his personality, a gestural extension like zanni’s slapstick, not an accessory. As he walks, his feet are planted apart in order to occupy maximum space, with his chest pushed forward, back straight, and hips wide. He also thinks he’s good-looking, strong, brave, a good guy and God’s gift to women.
He is the bottom of the pecking order. Zanni is that regrettably eternally unfortuante worker. As with other Commedia characters, the longer Zanni's nose, the more stupid he is. He could be collapsing completely into a puddle with his feet splayed, bent forward at hips elbows slightly raised. His movements are dynamic, exaggerated, his head constantly moving independently of body. Zanni's actions are always urgent. He appears nervous, talks a lot, his head moves constantly. The nose defines the rhythm of his body since it is the center of his actions. The hands are very expressive and constantly used to illustrate what he is saying. He lives totally in the present: he never, for example, looks for somewhere to sleep, sleep just happens to him, often in totally unsuitable situations, he could be sleeping standing up
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The Lovers.
Zannis (Servants)
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Female figure of Mystic Power.
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