Our students step back to Renaissance Italy with their own take on a classical theatrical form.
As part of their "History Through Drama" morning lesson, Grade 9 have spent 3 weeks with Mr. Bell-Young learning about 3 classical styles of theatre - Greek Tragedy/Comedy, Shakespeare and Commedia Dell'Arte.
Discovering the unique, prescribed nature of Commedia allowed the students to access the traditional methods of structured improvisation, comedic timing and "Lazzi" (stock jokes for comic relief).
"Pedrolino is to blame? Well, let us run him through!.....ouch, my back. Perhaps we should get a younger man to do the work." A Grade 9 student's improvised monologue for the "ll Capitano" character.
Through academic study of the arts, practical acting sessions and collaborative, creative team work, the students devised an original play using the stock characters and plot scenarios of Commedia. This resulted in a comedy of mistaken identity that entertained a room of staff and parents alike this morning.
One of the most important elements of Commedia Dell'Arte are the character masks. Originally made from leather without decorative features (due to lack of money), the masks were used to differentiate between the 7 stock characters and acted as a precursor to the famous "Venetian Mask". This presented another creative opportunity for the Grade 9 students and they spent 3 days building their very own papier mache Commedia masks, based on the characters that they chose to play.
The Commedia stock character "Arllechino" gave the world many comedic conventions that we know and love today - clowns, pantomime and the term "slapstick".
The final play, entitled "The Scheme", was a structured improv performance by the students. Having spent the rehearsal period refining and learning the outline of the show, they delivered a 7 minute play where they improvised dialogue and reactions within the template of the Commedia method.
And, with the audience laughing at every moment, the students successfully harnessed what it meant to be a Commedia Dell'Arte troupe and, more importantly, had a great time experiencing it.
Well done Grade 9s!