Finding Meaning in Artifice


In Commedia we work with many stock characters. As any actress I would always want to dig deeper to see what’s at the bottom of the character. Sometimes the dig is successful, but too often there really isn’t anything at the bottom of the character, other than the basic primal desire.

For instance, take Pantalone and Arlecchino: both men are driven by the pleasures of the flesh, food, and money. While there are often subplots in scenarios (lost bets, lovers etc) basic motivation rarely goes beyond this. The beauty of these characters is the contradictory movements. Pantalone is an ancient man (and by all reasonable fact he should be dead!), yet he moves very quickly at the site of a young, fleshy servant. How does the actor explain this? An old man who moves so easily and quickly? This kind of movement can only be compared to a small child. A child! There you have it– stock characters such as Pantalone and Arlecchino are the very paradox and perhaps the essence of Commedia.

-Maya Attia-

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