Performance and Literature in the Commedia dell'Arte (Theatre in Europe: A Documentary History)

Performance and Literature in the Commedia dell'Arte (Theatre in Europe: A Documentary History)

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Robert Henke
Cambridge University Press, 12/12/2002
EAN 9780521643245, ISBN10: 0521643244

Hardcover, 278 pages, 22.9 x 15.2 x 1.9 cm
Language: English

This 2002 book explores the commedia dell'arte: the Italian professional theatre in Shakespeare's time. The actors of this theatre usually did not perform from scripted drama but improvised their performances from a shared plot and thorough knowledge of individual character roles. Robert Henke closely considers commedia dell'arte texts to demonstrate how the spoken word and written literature were fruitfully combined in performance. Henke examines a number of primary sources including performance accounts, actors' contracts, letters, popular poems, memorials of deceased actors, scenarios, and printed plays, among other documents. Henke analyzes the character system in the commedia dell'arte, individual roles, Venetian buffoni, and provides detailed case studies of early actors and actresses. While previous studies have concentrated on either the oral or the literary aspects of commedia dell'arte, this was the first book to consider how these two elements might have worked together to create this rich and fascinating theatre.

List of figures
1. Introduction
2. Improvisation and characters
3. Residual orality in early modern Italy and the commedia dell'arte
4. Venetian buffoni
5. Early male actors
6. Early actresses
7. Zanni texts, 1576–88
8. Conclusions and caprices
early texts of the Dottore and Pantalone
9. Tristano Martinelli
a company buffone
10. Theatrical and literary 'composition' in Francesco Andreini and Flaminio Scala
11. The generation of Cecchini
technical, moral and dramaturgical publications