Commedia dell'Arte: Plotting, lying, deceiving and cheating, but all's well that ends well
Commedia dell’Arte began in 16th-century Italy and France when travelling players improvised performances for local festivals and carnivals. The companies used a set of stock characters to improvise scenarios with a very clear structure. They employed masks, physical theatre and acrobatic skills to tell their stories, and entertained the spectators with visual humour, slapstick and satire based on recognisable figures of authority.
This series of workshops encourages students to explore a wide range of challenging techniques. They will be able to explore comedy in many forms and appreciate the use of masks in performance. This style of theatre will improve their improvisational and speaking skills. The nature of the scenarios will help their sense of structure so that they can devise a brief narrative that is told clearly, succinctly and in an entertaining way.
There is a wealth of material to draw on for this project and, if it becomes part of your staple diet of projects at either KS2 or KS3 (Years 7 and 8), you will find that you will always be able to re-draft it with a different set of scenarios. The stock characters of the Commedia give rise to many combinations of plotting, intrigue, mistaken identity and deceit. They offer great freedom to be creative in devising and improvising work either individually or in small groups.
Number of lessons: 4