Commedia dell'arte


My thesis proposal is to research, workshop, develop, script, direct and produce my own commedia dell'arte. This proposal stems from my desire to explore improvisational comedy theoretically and practically. The genre of commedia dell'arte is not only timeless, but continues to further our ability to create characters and scenario for future projects as the root of improvisation. By coupling research on commedia components (character, lazzi and scenario) with the creation of an improvisational troupe, a commedia piece will be developed, documented and performed. The first part of my thesis will consist of research on the history of improvisational comedy. The earliest traces of improvisational comedy are seen in 800 B.C., when Susarion and his troupe of comedians of Icaria wandered throughout Greece. Many other comedic performance troupes were later formed, some expressing their comedies through acrobatics, like the schoenobates of Greece and funambuli of Rome. During the sixteenth century, improvisational comedy became a flourishing art form, known as the commedia dell'arte. It is the sixteenth-century commedia dell'arte form that will be my primary focus of research. A bibliography and outline will serve as the preliminary guidelines. The research should be in a coherent enough form to share with a cast by mid-January. The second part of my thesis will involve practical application of this research. By mid-January, I will have selected a troupe with which to workshop the commedia. The workshop will consist of adopting commedia stock characters for each troupe member and creating lazzi and scenario around these characters. Improvisational satire continues to be the most difficult theatrical form to master. Pierre Louis Duchartre in his book The Italian Comedy states: The success of the commedia dell'arte depended almost entirely on the acting rather than the scenarios. In the opinion of Gherardi and Riccoboni it was easier to train ten actors for the regular theatre than one for the extemporaneous stage. Moreover, a good improvisator had to practise a kind of self-abnegation and refrain from indulging in his own conceit or overplaying his part to the detriment of other roles. (Duchartre 30) The art of listening and sharing the stage as a performer is the basis of modern performance techniques and the primary skill of a great actor. The purpose for this workshop is not only to develop the commedia piece, but also to further the troupe's understanding of the commedia tradition as we continue our exploration. This will be a three- to four-week process. The end results of this workshop will be a scripted commedia that will be used for production and documentation of the process itself. By mid-March, the research, process of the workshop, and script will be documented in clear and concise terms for the purpose of this thesis. April will focus on production elements based on approval from the department on venue and budget details. The performance will take place in April or May. The final conclusions will be completed at the same time. This commedia will serve as a comprehensive experience in theatrical studies, culminating my academic and production work at University of Central Florida Conservatory Theatre. It will be an educational and collaborative effort for all involved, as well as enjoyable and entertaining for those who see it.


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Graduation Date





Listengarten, Julia


Master of Arts (M.A.)


College of Arts and Sciences



Degree Program









Release Date

January 2005

Length of Campus-only Access


Access Status

Masters Thesis (Open Access)


Arts and Sciences -- Dissertations, Academic; Dissertations, Academic -- Arts and Sciences

Hart_Jennifer_200407_MA_movie1of1.wmv (147899 kB)
Appendix L: Performance Video