XII Days of Commedia dell’Arte

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  • Thursday, February 25, 2021 - Saturday, February 27, 2021

Days of Commedia dell’Arte brings carnival back in late February with masks, costumes and tomfoolery – it’s party time!

Before the era of sitcoms and stand-up routines, audiences were entertained by commedia dell’arte, whose origins date back to the 16th century. Comédie des masques or commedia all’improvviso had their roots in the traditions of Greek mimes, Roman pantomimes and Mediaeval court jesters, and they were largely based on free improvisation. Actors dressed up in leather masks and distinctive attire presented amusing gags – known in Italian as lazzi – showing off their tricks requiring considerable physical skills.

A feature of commedia dell’arte – alongside the distinctive movements, gestures and expressions – were the cast of characters portraying a range of stereotypes by wearing serious and comical masks depicting moods and types: the brash Colombina, the greedy old Pantalone, the cunning jester Harlequin, the boisterous Il Capitano, and the melancholic Pierrot. It’s worth nothing that dell’arte performances featured women, which was unusual at the time: Renaissance and Elizabethan theatre was the domain of men.

Commedia dell’arte – sometimes known as theatre of laughter – is as popular as ever and it is celebrated every year on 25 February in over sixty countries around the world, including Poland. Kraków’s Days of Commedia dell’Arte (25-27 February) present online many surprises!

This year’s 12th Days of Comedia dell’Arte will be very different. The festival is centred around a specially prepared cycle of recordings Meeting with Comedy introducing the audience to key aspects of the genre. But the smattering of theory is just a prelude to the entertainment to come! The troupe KOMEDIANTY performs intermedia prepared especially for the occasion.

Meetings with Comedia will be available free on PLAY KRAKÓW from 25 February.

Meetings with Comedia – episodes:

25 February 2021 Meeting 1. “Restless Hearts.” Humour and seriousness in comedia dell’arte. [Watch on PLAY KRAKÓW]
The message of comedia dell’arte is timeless. The characters, clad in distinctive clothes and masks, explore universal problems in a light, accessible way. But is there also space for seriousness? We will learn more during the first episode.

26 February 2021 Meeting 2. “Amorous Snares.” Women in comedia dell’arte. [Watch on PLAY KRAKÓW]
In its early days, comedia dell’arte brought radical changes which revolutionised theatre forever – so much so that we forget things were ever different. One such change was introducing women to the stage. The second episode is dedicated to actresses in comedia.

27 February 2021 Meeting 3. “Sly Advances.” Masks in comedia dell’arte. [Watch on PLAY KRAKÓW]
Masks have always been an important element of theatre from its early days. They have lost nothing of their emotional charge, unsettling some while enchanting others. We will learn about the role they play in comedia dell’arte during the third episode.

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