Commedia della’arte

Commedia della’arte is an old form of Italian theater beginning in the 16th century, featuring a number of specific characters with major issues, who perform in an improvisational way.  A given troop of performers would know each others characters & the stock plots very well so to keep it fresh & entertaining, a performer could do something unexpected & the other players would react, go along or respond to create more & more absurdity, drama or intrigue.  The Commedia della’arte is still wildly popular today and the fast-paced craziness of the routines and slapstick humor have laid the groundwork for many subsequent styles of comedy.

http://www.ericjoisel.com/commedia.html

http://www.theatrehistory.com/italian/commedia_dell_arte_001.html

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