Aaron's Blog Entries
For the project we were given the topic of Commedia Dell'arte. In our initial we collected during class we found many sources about the art of improvisation, the meaning of the masks, and entries about several of the troupes in Commedia. One article I found that peaked my interest initially was about the relation between Roman Comedy and Commedia Dell'arte. I focused on that article for the weekend because it could provide a link from what we have learned in class about roman comedy into what we will present the class in our presentation. If we can bridge the gap between what we have learned from Roman comedy to Commedia, then it could provide a transition from what we have already learned into what we are going to learn.
After our weekend of researching, we have decided to narrow our scope down to the Gelosi troupe and the inclusion of women on stage. I have found a article written by Jane Tylus about how women were beginning to come into the theatre, and how they were staged and included in the action on stage. It talks about how the inclusion of windows in the scenery were a key aspect in how women were able to express their power on stage and from the vantage point of a window, they don't need to disguise themselves from the public. The article calls back to a historic moment in Italy where a countess defies the men who have held her captive and asserts her power from the on top of a wall. Tylus uses this reference to assert the claim that the window is a place where women can establish their own power, of themselves and others, over any below the window. This article will be a great source telling how women began to become more equal in our society, which can be argued that women are still not equal today. This helps reveal how women began to assert themselves in society and began to express their own power.
This week we focused on what we are going to focus on during our presentation. Each of our group members will focus on one specific aspect of the topic. We divided up the parts into: the method in how women were incorporated, history of the Gelosi troupe, the social norms of how women were treated during the time, and the lasting effects of women's inclusion onto the stage. The part I will be focusing on will be the method in how women were incorporated onto the stage. In my previous week's post I talked a lot about this subject and the Jane Tylus Article. For my section I will be using the Tylus article as my main source and will incorporate it into what the others will bring. During the long weekend I will be focusing on getting specific with the Tylus article and beginning to compose my part of presentation.
I think the presentation went well. I found the whole subject very interesting. Before doing this project I only had a basic understanding of what Commedia Dell'arte was, and this project expanded my knowledge by leap and bounds. The aspect that interested me the most was how women began to be incorporated into theatre and how much Commedia influenced Shakespeare and Moliere. If I had more time to continue my research I would focus even more on how windows were used in specific Commedia plays. I would also dig and find more information and analysis between Commedia's window uses and the historical case of Caterina Sforza. A short summary of the event is that Caterina Sforza, a Countess in Forli, and her children were taken captive by angry citizens and attempted to take control of Forli. Caterina told the kidnappers that she could give them the citadel and they let her go. She goes to the Citadel, kills her husband, and from atop the citadel she tells the captors that they will never get the citadel and that they can kill her children. She then, allegedly, lifts up her skirt and exposes her genitals yelling that she can make more children. This story is told in the Jane Tylus article and makes a connection between the event and Commedia through Scala's influence of Machiavelli. I wish i would have related the story to during the presentation to solidify the significance of women in an elevated/windowed space and expressing great power over those below them. I felt that this would have been great for establishing why windows were used and how they found a vehicle to bring women from spectators to manipulators of theatre.
I agree with the idea that bringing humor or entertaining outside media into the presentation is useful for bringing the audience into the subject and keeping them engaged. Whether it be the video clips that we were going to use or the performance Dan did, they were great tools to engage the audience. While developing a performance, like Dan's, for a history presentation is a difficult task, if one can develop such an act it could lead to a much more engaging and enjoyable experience for an audience consisting of performers.
Overall I think the presenations were good and accomplished in expanding my understanding theatre, it's history, and impact on it's time's politics and society. Along with how theatre has formed and molded the society we live in today.