Commedia dell’Arte Sides

We are looking for people who enjoy playing as much as acting, love comedy, and can think on their feet. Here are a few of our stock characters – pick one that you’ll enjoy performing! Each of these characters can be done as a one- or two-person audition. If you’re on your own but would like to have a scene partner, never fear! One of us in the room will be happy to join you. Once you’ve picked a character you think you’ll have fun with, somebody in the room will give you something to do in-character. We might ask you to try on more than one character, or to do more than one thing, or both, or neither. Relax, play, enjoy yourself – we want to see you have fun on stage. Best of luck!

1.       Dottore & Pantalone: Dottore and Pantalone are the two main vecchi (old men) in Commedia. They are the heads of their respective households, their children are often the young lovers who drive the plot, and their servants are the bumbling zanni, who they freely abuse. Pantalone is a curmudgeon and a miser. His only enjoyment comes from counting his money, but can’t count beyond ten (or twenty if he can see his toes). Old and decrepit, his body is as empty and hollow as his bank account. Dottore means doctor, but he has never received any doctorate in anything. He pretends to be an intellectual and will go off into inane lectures about random topics using conjured ‘facts’ and made-up Latin. His ridiculous “intellectualism” hides a staunch hedonism (his cheeks are permanently rouged from some good ole booze). Despite the pains he takes to convince his audience of his intellectual nature, Dottore is led by his body, not his mind.

2.      The Lovers: The young lovers are often the driving force behind the plot of a Commedia show. They are often the children of the old men, who will in some way obstruct their prospects of a happy union. Young and foolish, they are far more in love with themselves being in love than interested in their partner. They are vain and petulant and constantly in pursuit of “noble” ideals. They are easily scandalized, whether by vulgarity or physical contact, but also tend to have a closer relationship with their servants (the zanni) than anybody else. When they move, they do so lightly and gracefully, like birds, with the firm belief that somebody is observing and appreciating the beauty of their movement.

3.      Arlecchino: Arlecchino always serves under the thumb of one of the old men (usually Pantalone) in Commedia. Like the rest of the zanni, he comes from simple origins and has absolutely no education in anything. With a nimble body and a quick (but stupid) wit, he moves from one half-formed idea to the next. Distraction comes to him easily and often, and tasks assigned to him rarely get done. Like the rest of the zanni, he is constantly, ravenously hungry. His sharp tongue and mischievous disposition frequently earn him the wrath of his master, against whom he is perpetually scheming. His movements are extremely energetic, often acrobatic; he is the most physical of the characters.

4.      Il Capitano: Il Capitano means The Captain, but if he ever even was in the military, he fled from anything resembling battle. He tells grand tales of his many conquests, military and sexual alike, but when duty calls his performance is far from satisfactory. He is quick to goad and threaten, but even quicker to retreat from any conflict. Capitano swaggers, proudly displaying his shiny medals and magnum dong – that is, until his bravado melts in the face of danger.