Instructor: Jim Calder
Prerequisites: Acting I or permission of instructor.
Italy has long considered the actor to be at the center of dramatic creation, beginning in the 15th century with commedia dell’arte to the present-day work of Dario Fo and Roberto Benigni. This tradition involves defining the actor as a source for expression and interpretation that is at the center of dramatic creation.
This course delves into the mask work of the commedia dell’arte in order to liberate spontaneity, physical presence, and a sense of play. In recreating the crude as well as the subtle roots of commedia, the participants work toward combining popular theatre with social commentary, stock characters with a sense of self, and the absurd with daily dramatic life.
Throughout the course, areas of specialty are developed in mask work, circus skills, scene improvisation, individual lazzi (bits and specialty acts), and the search for one’s own clown work. Scene work consists of scenarios, texts, and lazzi from the 17th century, as well as the development of scenarios from present-day topics and texts. Parallel studies of the historical development of theatre and the visual arts in 17th-century Italy and how they influenced each other are integrated with the studio work, creating a larger perspective of the development of European theatre. The course involves students in the local festivals and carnivals and integrates mask makers and specialists from both Italy and Switzerland as it juxtaposes European styles of theatre with American sensibilities.
Note: This course has a nonrefundable program fee.