Commedia dell’Arte performances shine

"Years 9 and 10 Drama and Italian students saw theatrical style come to life in our very own Commedia Playhouse," said Director of Dramatic Arts Rita Morabito.

“The two actors performed multiple roles in their show, Venice in Love,” she said.

“It is rare to be able to see Commedia troupes in action, and we were fortunate that the ‘Make a Scene’ company was briefly touring from Melbourne and visited

Below are some student reflections on the performance they saw.

Akasha said: “Our study this term is focused around Commedia dell’Arte, which is actually the root of so many other branches of theatre and comedy, but no amount of study quite compares to the magic of watching Commedia live. The skill with which the actors brought their characters and masks to life seemed effortless and was highly energetic – as well as informative, and very helpful to me in developing my character.

“Even more impressive was their extensive capability, as there were only two actors performing each and every character. The comedy was perfectly timed, especially in one scene where Arlecchina was on her own and all she had to work with was mime and sound effects – and she still had us in stitches!

“Perhaps the most hilarious character served in their Commedia buffet was Il Dottore, who contrasted with the authentic Italian accents by bumbling his way onstage with a traditional Australian twang.”

Antigone said: “Considering we are studying Commedia dell’Arte this term, the Commedia troupe’s performance was incredibly useful for all of our studies. Of course, we have seen the masks and have been working with them all throughout the term, but seeing them come to life on these professional actors was truly special.

“From Arlechina’s curled up lip and flouncy diamond covered skirt to Pantalona’s gruesome hunched back and copious gold rings, these characters were hyperbolic and fantastic. I was also glad to see an appearance from Il Capitano, as he is the character that I am playing this term, and after this I will certainly make him more arrogant than ever before.”

Noah said: “After studying Commedia dell’Arte, I was blown away by the creativity and exploration of the style. The two incredibly expressive actors gave us extra time at the end as well.

“They gave really interesting insight and involved a lot of us in some commedia activities where we were able to explore characters like Il Capitano. It was a really fantastic experience.”

Tiffany said: “On 3 June we watched a Commedia dell’Arte piece. There were two very versatile performers who played a variety of different characters. I really enjoyed their physicality and how they differentiated each and every one of the characters by exaggerating their individual characteristics. I learnt that to create a larger than life presence you mustn’t touch your co-actors.”

Sabrina said: “The Commedia performance Venice in Love was a masterclass in character, physicality, imagination and confidence. Through observation and some exercises afterwards we learnt how to transition between characters, how to use our experiences to connect to a character, how to use costuming effectively and intelligently and how to use our imagination to create a world for the audience.”

Liv said: “The performance of Venice in Love was stunning—the pure physicality engrafted with the costumes and set were so comedic and impressive. When only two actors came out, I was so surprised! The characters were so spectacularly distinct that I thought there was a whole team behind the stage.”

Milla said: “The play was excellent; the actors embodied the Commedia characters through their professional physicality and their high ability to improvise.”

May said: “I loved the performance because it was entertaining and the actors were so so talented. It was great to see how they put on a whole show with just two people and it was really helpful for our current drama topic.”

Jack said: “The Commedia dell’Arte performance was a smart fast paced story that made the audience laugh around 99 per cent of the time. At the end they gave us time to practise our own Commedia dell’Arte and try out some characters.”

Abigail said: “We got to see a performance of Commedia dell’Arte last week. It was an amazing performance, with the actors switching seamlessly between characters and making us all laugh with lazzi (Italian witticisms) and jokes.

“Afterwards we participated in a workshop where I was able to act as Il Capitano. They taught me a lot about characterisation and making sure to include the audience in jokes. It was a lot of fun and I would love to watch them again!”