Befriending the Commedia dell'Arte of Flaminio Scala : The Comic Scenarios
Part of the Toronto Italian studies series
The most important theatrical movement in sixteenth- and early seventeenth-century Europe, the commedia dell'arte has inspired playwrights, artists, and musicians including Moliere, Dario Fo, Picasso, and Stravinsky. Because of its stock characters, improvised dialogue, and extravagant theatricalism, the commedia dell'arte is often assumed to be a superficial comic style.
With Befriending the Commedia dell'Arte of Flaminio Scala, Natalie Crohn Schmitt demolishes that assumption. By reconstructing the commedia dell'arte scenarios published by troupe manager Flaminio Scala (1547-1624), Schmitt demonstrates that in its Golden Age the commedia dell'arte relied as much on craftsmanship as on improvisation and that Scala's scenarios are a treasure trove of social commentary on early modern daily life in Italy. In the book, Schmitt makes use of her intensive research into the social and cultural history of sixteenth-century Italy and the aesthetic principles of the period.
She combines this research with her insights drawn from studying with contemporary commedia dell'arte performers and from directing a production of one of Scala's scenarios. The result is a new perspective on the commedia dell'arte that illuminates the style's full richness.