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Commedia DellArte 1400-1600 AD 1Commedia dellArte was essentially the first improvisational drama The Commedia dellArte was popular in 16th and 17th century Italy in a period when theatre plays were classic and cold and amateur actors recited their memorized lines onstage with no apparent emotion Commedia dellArte - in English Artistic Comedy or Play of Professional Artists - was the exact opposite loud colorful plays using stock characters culturally stereotyped caricatures which appeared in every play These stock characters wearing distinctive masks pertaining to their character would act out scenes on pre-planned subjects like adultery jealousy old age or love while improvising the text It was a sort of slap-stick comedy employing a great deal of exaggeration and physical humour The actors unusually for Renaissance Europe were much more than just dramatists They were also acrobats dancers musicians orators quick thinkers improvisators and even psychologists possessing a thorough knowledge of human nature They often interacted with the audience suiting the comedy to the tastes of the crowd If people of the upper classes were in the audience the comedy was wittier and more insightful On the other hand if the audience was more middle and lower class the play was more lewd Most Commedia troupes performed outdoors in town squares on stages which they brought with them in carts along with their equipment props costumes curtains and ladders The stages were usually built up to 2 meters high so that spectators had an unobstructed view of the play This also allowed for a spacious storage area and change room underneath Some of the better Commedia troupes performed in actual Renaissance theatres such as Palladios theatre in Vicenza or the Petit Bourbon in France 2 a A stock character is a fictional character that relies heavily on cultural stereotypes for its personality manner of speech and other characteristics Stock characters are instantly
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