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Mountebanks, Charlatans, and the Origins of Commedia Dell’arte
Episode 1711th July 2022 • The History Of European Theatre • Philip Rowe
00:00:00 00:33:25

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Episode 80:

The influence of Italian literary theatre can be seen in later works, but if there is one form that infiltrated the general consciousness of theatrical comedy on the continent it is the Commedia Dell’arte.

A definition of what we mean by Commedia Dell’arte as it emerged in the Italian renaissance, and the difficulties with this.

Professionalism, comedy, masks and the degree of improvisation, or not.

Theories about the origins of the Commedia Dell’arte.

            From Roman mime and pantomime

            From non-religious medieval drama

            From religious medieval drama

The impact of the system of troupe patronage in the development of the Commedia Dell’arte and how actors escaped from it.

The continued low position of actors in society and their involvement with mountebanks and charlatans.

The description of theatricals in Venice in 1608 by English traveller Thomas Coryat.

Mountebanks and charlatans in Ben Johnson’s ‘Volpone’.

The differences between Italian and English theatre as seen by Coryat.

Why actors were associated with mountebanks and charlatans and the ongoing issues of professional begging.

How the quack doctor character becomes part of Commedia Dell’arte.

The earliest records of Commedia Dell’arte and Commedia Dell’arte troupes.

‘A Song for Buffoons and Parasites’ as the earliest example of Commedia Dell’arte.

The development of acting troupes from 1500 and then after 1550 when many new theatre buildings were constructed.

The continuing prohibitions against players


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