Preparing for our tour to Dartmouth College: the challenge of trying new characters in old scenarios.

We at Pazzi Lazzi are getting ready for a 4-day tour to Dartmouth College, NH. We will teach workshops in numerous classes of the Italian and Theatre Departments. Workshops will be about Commedia dell’Arte, of course, and Renaissance Music with our new collaborator, Renaissance musician and multi-instrumentalist Dan Meyers.

On Thursday February 2, the college will offer our show “Aria di Commedia – An Evening of Commedia dell’Arte and Italian Renaissance Music” to its students and to the entire Hanover community. It will be a free show for all!

For the show, we decided to perform three scenarios with two musical interludes, and during rehearsals we are experimenting with playing different characters in the scenarios we wrote over the past four years. For example, we are trying to see if in the scene about impotence, where the impotent has always been Dottor Balanzone, marvelously played by Emanuele Capoano, the impotent can be Pantalone… of course it can, but does it work with a script purposely written for Dottore? The opening monologue of Dottore boasting about himself and how well educated he is but… wait, he has a “small” problem, does not work. Perhaps we need to re-write the monologue or better yet, we’ll keep Dottore!

Chiara Durazzini as Zanni and Alessandro di Gioia as Pantalone in rehearsal

In this same scenario, we are replacing Arlecchino with a Zanni. The physicality changes, it is necessary to remind the actor Chiara Durazzini that Zanni is more of a farmer, used to work the soil of the Bergamo country side. Therefore, his hands are big and full of calluses, his back is hunched. It is certainly less delicate, less dancer-like than Arlecchino. The switch is good, though, both characters are mischievous servants…

We are also adding two Zannis in our scene “Law and Order”, they are the court clerks of the disguised Judge. They have to give him his book of law and his gavel but of course, they are not very capable of delivering the requested objects. Needless to say, here the addition of the Zannis works like a charm, the physical gag adds so much to the scene.


Liz Adams and Alessandro Di Gioia as the clumsy court clerks

Although it can be difficult to switch character in a scene that we know well, it can certainly be a fun challenge. True, we often need to change some parts of the text, but it can be used as an exercise of improvisation and to keep the scenario fresh and lively.

Looking forward to a delightful tour!

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