The Italian Renaissance & Commedia dell’Arte 1. Renaissance – a rebirth of cultural advancement and activity. During this time, the power shifted from the church to the merchant class. Subject matter began to include earthly as well as religious themes. 2. Patronage – artists being supported by wealthy individuals (patrons). 3. Neoclassical Ideals – based on the rediscovered writings of Aristotle and other Greeks and Romans. Neoclassic theatre tried to recreate Classic Greek theatre by following a set of rules. 4. Verisimilitude – “true to life”. Neoclassicists felt that theatre should be based in everyday, human events. 5. The three unities – are “rules” that forced Neoclassic playwrights to stay “true to life”. a) The unity of time stated that all action in the play must take place within 24 hours. b) The unity of place stated that all action must take place in one location. c) The unity of action stated that there must be one plot with no distracting secondary stories. The 3 unities were pretty much ignored in England and Spain. 6. Renaissance style was preoccupied with three dimensions. Medieval painting was flat; Renaissance paintings had depth. Perspective was very important. Theatre style reflected this. The Teatro Olimpico was an Italian theatre with a permanent façade on stage. This façade had doors with hallways that led upstage, giving a true sense of depth. All productions, however, had to adapt to this permanent structure. In order to keep the perspective of depth without the inconvenience of having to use one permanent structure, backdrops were created which could be painted to give an illusion of depth. 7. Proscenium arch – is a permanent downstage structure that creates a “picture frame” behind which the play is performed. The space defined by the proscenium arch is often called the “fourth wall”.
8. Medieval theatre showed all the scenery at once; Renaissance theatre presented it as needed, one at a time. 9. Commedia dell’Arte – a form of comic theatre based on improvisation. Commedia used outlines, but the performances were spontaneous, usually involving a young hero and heroine. 10.Stock Characters in Commedia dell’Arte: a) Pantolone – the foolish old man b) Arlecchino (or Harlequin) – the prankster c) Pulchinello – the malicious servant d) Zanni – wacky male servant (we get our word “zany” from here) e) Fontesca (or Fontessa) – shrewd female servant