Friday, February 12, 2016

Fava Class Day Five: Wrapping up

-There are androgenous masks that can be used by the lovers as social masks (or other un-masked characters) if they want to meet in secret for the purposes of intrigue.

-You can not pronounce the name of the masked person until it is obvious you know who they are.

-Always look away when another person is doing their aparte or you will simply appear like part of the audience

-Capitano boasts: make something so impossible that even the skeptic has to hang on your every word. Make mistakes as you talk so that you can laugh them off.

-Never look at a person face to face during an aparte

-Always take off intrigue mask in one simple motion, holding it gently by your side without showin the back of thumb through the eyes.

-Main business for pantalone and dottore is to speak of marriage (usually)

-Zanni and Pantalone are friends.

Pantalone's strategy for documents is simply 'agree or don't agree' and sign.
Dottore's strategy for documents is to make Pantalone appear like a fool/humiliated

A happy ending in commedia is to return to the beginning balance. AKA starting with a wedding, wedding gets interrupted, return to the wedding. Etc. Everyone happy.

It was a very short day with some teaching as the long part of the day was set aside for all of us, as one company, to do a canvaccio:

In Pantalone's house with Pantalone, Isabella, la Signora, Pedrolino, Columbina, and Zanni as well as Dottore and Flavio. Dottor and Pantalone are about to go through with the ceremony of engagement for Isabella and Flavio. There is a knock on the door: announcement of Capitano's (and his Zanni) entrance. Ceremony is interrupted and  Capitano produces a letter signed by Panalone promising Isabella to him for marriage. Everyone is confused. End scene.

Next scene: First is the duel of the two lovers. Then the duel of the old men. Then the duel of Signora/Pedrolino as she plots how to get the Capitano for herself. Then the desperate servants who just want the food from the ceremony. Then the Capitano and his Zanni talk about how they created the trick of the document. End scene.

Next scene: Engagement ceremony to begin between Capitano and Isabella. Dottore/Flavio are upset. Arrival of a mysterious woman (Columbina) and a baby (Zanni) who is searching for Capitano. Capitano admits to his trick and the engagement ceremony between Isabella and Flavio can happen once more.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Fava Class Day Four: Pantalone, Dottore, Servetta, Infernato, and stage slaps


- old is NOT an ailiment. It is just a condition that happens. This does NOT mean that Pantalone acts old and decrepit. He merely has a slight body posture change because of age.

-Followed a full life: a lover- most likely in marriage where Isabella/Flavio whomever came from
a zanni: worked hard for a living
a capitano: lived through many wars
This means that Pantalone (and Dottore as well) may be old, but can have the same steps and motions as the other archtypes for a variety of reasons.

In stance:
-World weighs down on Pantalone from age which causes his knees to bend more, his back to round out and rolling his pelvis/belly outwards. He is -not- hunched over. He remains with a good vertical access. This pose will make your thighs burn if you do it right.

-keep loose in the wrists and ankles. Do not drag/shuffle feet. Pantalone may take small steps (almost heel to toe), but he is still filled with energy. Walks heel first.

-When excited, Pantalone will lift foot quickly off the ground as if floor is on fire and then slowly put it back down again. He will do the same kind of step when angry.

-keep elbows out and up. Never fully extend arm, but he can still point and move just fine.

-Loves money. Every coin has a name, a shape, a color, a story.

-Pantalone is not a thief. He will not steal money.

-If not wanting to pay a loan, Pantalone will suddenly remember that he is old (aka- can't hear, aching back, stiff knees, etc.)


-Also weighed down by the world, but it causes instead for his back to arch outward, sticking out his stomache and keeping his knees and arms very open and bent.

-Walks with a similar step to Pantalone, but because of being such a large man (always pictured as a very large man who loves his gastronomy), a nearly small hop has to be inserted just for the effort of getting him off the ground.  Shoulders and elbows will bounce with the hop steps as if a bird (if he is not gesturing)

-Very bombastic. Whole world is his chalk board to draw on, refer to, create visual diagrams with as he answers questions. In other words, he speaks with his hands and his words will change in tone and texture depending on what he is talking about, almost like onomonopiae. (AKA if he is describing how to cook sausage he may say 'then you *makes sounds of frying* and you CRANK up the heat')

-It is always dangerous to ask him a question. It will take him hour to explain anything. He will make up theories and loops and roads and cross himself and follow his own logic that no one else can.

-Often is seen wearing robes and really big hats.

-When he stops walking, he plants his feet with authority as if saying 'I am here, you stupid people. You should be glad I am here.'

Servetta (such as Columbina)

-stands like a more upright zanni. Walks similar to signora.

-Often loves a 2nd zanni

-Often has little flip kicks in her step in order to pop her skirt up

-no mask. Beautiful woman.

Infernato AKA the white face (such as Pedrolino)

-Often has no mask but a face dipped in flour with a small red dot for mouth

-wears crisp, clean, very rich silken white clothing and a red skull cap

-disgusted at dirt, unlike other zanni. Nose often in the air looking down at the other zanni and at filth (which horrifies him)

-More vertical than other zanni. Has a similar step feel as la signora

-feels more important/better than the other zanni

-seen as a master of ceremony and a beauty expert (described in class as seriously metrosexual)

-every movement is a zanni movement, but more graceful.

-servetta and infernato live in the house, unlike zanni who are more of a rent a worker.

-Last scene of a play usually has all weddings being announced. Make sure to invite the audience. This is when everyone gets a small moment to say something to the audience.

-the madness of love can be a time where the lovers can be something other than divas and serious. It can also make the audience cry.

List of stage slap styles taught: punch in the face, full face slapping, small face slaps, grabbing of hair, pulling of ear, pulling of nose, head butts, nose flick, eye gouge, tickling.

Today's cavaccio was:

La Signora is being primped by her faithful servant Pedrolino to prepare for the Capitano's visit. Her husband tries to see her but is turned away multiple times. In the mean time, Capitano slips into the room as the husband decides to disguise himself as a gift to get in the room. Once in the room, he catches the lovers and they quickly need to make a lie as to who the Capitano is.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Fava Class Day Three: Capitano and Signora

First let me start with Fava recommending searching for 'teatro del' whatever language you want to learn. He said that recording himself saying a sentence or two would just not be useful at all for understanding. He also did not feel comfortable recording any of his movements, which I completely respect, so continue to bear with my descriptions.


-Same stance as zanni: knees slightly bent, chest out, point and click head, etc, only allow more elasticity in movement. You are showing off, offering a wider stance and expanse with chest and legs.

-When moving, unlike the zanni, there is a pivot/hip torsion. It causes one to walk with more of a strut. Heel should always be the first thing that strikes the floor; move with conviction. Shoulder and opposite leg move when walking.

-Capitano was not always masked. The important features are the nose and mustache. There are times just a nose was put on and then blended in with make up, etc.

-Capitano shows as a man with dignity, but he has none.

-Capitano is filled with a good sense of humor. The lovers, on the other hand, have no sense of humor.

-Capitano laughs off danger unless it is an immediate threat: the war is right there, for example, or he sees his shadow or a mouse.

-kind of a bastard with a lot of bragging. Very easily able to exhibition  with other capitano.

-long names

-often names his sword a woman's name. The weapon is not animated, but he refers to it, looking at it and treating it with respect. Example "Back to battle I go. To fight. To protect. Rosaria, you shall keep me safe. Now. We go."

-Often refers to a horse, but one is never seen.

-Seen as a second lover, also known as the secret lovers or adventure lovers.

-Ways to carry a sword
on hip - traditional
under arm - british
over both shoulders - military
over one shoulder - gypsy
twirled in front - french

-finds good humor in everything - laughs at small mistakes/scares to prove he is good natured/not afraid

-can be afraid of own shadow, reflection, mouse, lover's husband, etc

-he will laugh off momentary fears. example, seeing his shadow. "Aaah! Oh. Haha."
Fears that "I will die" such as going off to fight in the war, he will hide himself or pretend to be someone/something else that would no longer be in such danger. Example: pretending to be sweeping the floor with his broom because no one would ever think a cleaner is dangerous enough to envoke a fight.

-speaks poetic, but ignorant. As if he were a first lover, but with the romantic logic of a zanni.

-his destiny is to fight

-he tries to look dangerous, but he's not
he tries to look powerful, but he's not
he tries to look rich, but he's not

La Signora

-Feet are almost in the shape of a T and walk more in a ballet position on the tips of the toes

-Nose is above the pride line which is a horizon mark. Looks down on everyone

-Arms out and floating because of very full skirts. Not out like wings, but comfortably out and up

-Again, torsion/pivot in the hips when walking

-acts very elegant with movements, tries to be poetic but is romantically naive

-very generous because it is her husband's wealth, but often will not look at or touch the servents

-very authoratative

-tries to look dangerous, and she is
tries to look powerful, and she is
tries to look rich, and she is

-Also is a second lover

-Seen as a young woman who was likely closer to being a zanni than a lover who was married to a pantalone. Either she is married or she is widowed.

-often her walk appears like a grand balancing act as she is often loaded with gold, jewels, large wigs, etc.

-A woman actor would normally start as a lover, and as she ages she would become la signora and then a masked character where age and sex would no longer play a factor on the stage.

-Commedia is NOT physical theater. Physical theater is acrobatics. There may be acrobatic moments, but it is not, fully, acrobatic/physical.

-a traditional set is a city. Often it was made of wood or paintings, two walls and a back, and no religious buildings would be seen.

-Humanist studies- studying new form of theater

-commedia starts the age of professional theater where actors get paid, stay in troupes, and have fixed characters.

-it was not practical to work all year in one place, many troupes traveled to various theaters. In this way, the props were more important than the sets.

-Sometimes the set is just a pedestal in the middle of the stage, but it has to have an importance. Things on stage have to be used for significant importance.

-a list of props in scenari never include any of the things that were traditionally for a character already.
-prop list is only for the particular comedy being read

-first time with a prop is exaggerated and then put back to normal. Example: la signora's wig often would have a theme the first time she is seen, such as war with cannons and such in it... and then it would be a normal wig after the fact.

-props have very precise functions. Know how your props move/work/what they are made of. All props are important. They should not drop on the floor accidentally. They can be thrown, but only with an intended reason (such as capitano tossing his sword so he wont be caught looking so dangerous). Things that are tossed in such a manner can/should be taken up by another character (example, zanni yawning and suddenly there is a sword in their hand. Where did that come from?) Every action with a prop needs to have a purpose.

-zanni and capitano are not always aware of each other

-capitano's servant is normally ruffano - AKA a ruffian

-how fear happens: First hear it. Then see it. Then shock. Then reaction to the fear.

-create disaster for visual effect, but everything is always in control

-final show is an agreement between professionals. Given an idea, each actor has a fixed character - they can create a show in 5 hours.

-Lovers are typically the only ones who can destroy props. Example: thinking their love no longer loves them, they can tear up a letter and have it rain down like snow. Poetic movement of the prop.

-Fixed types of characters: there are 4 archtypes and about 7-8 characters within them.

-Publicity for plays were mistaken as street performance because the publicity happened through parades of the characters.

-Only the best troupes would get play time in theaters.

-A sun was made with a sphere of glass filled with water with a torch behind it.

-Often used candles for lights in the theater

-Commedia is not miming. Props are needed for any object you may want/need in the comedy.

-use the darkness as a solid: it weighs on the characters and their body shows the weight. They have to fight through the darkness: Lovers protect their face by going feet first. Capitano is a hunter and goes nose first.

-commedia is just a moment in the life of a society

-if lovers fall into a severe suffering, such as the loss of a love, they can become mad. Madness shelters them and the are safe in their madness. They can be cured upon seeing their love again.

-The 7 deadly sins are NOT seen in commediay. Comedy is just under these. It is more comic not to have them.

Edit: ARGH I forgot today's canovacci (which I believe I have seen isebastiani perform):

Two lovers meet to plan for a secret elopement. Capitano and signora meet to plan for a secret tryst. That night, Flavio and Capitano get mixed up and climb into the wrong bedroom.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Fava Class, Day Two: The Lovers and further exploration of the Zanni

The Lovers:
-Eyes still follow the nose, even with no mask on. Head is still independents and moves a lot.
-Lead with the sternum. The sternum is the heart. Collapse chest to pull heart away/hide it from breaking.
-Arms out as if you were the statue on the bow of a ship.
-Walk with toes. Ballet feet. Keep your walking feel always about hip space apart.

-Lovers can think about suicide, but they would always find reasons that are too dirty to do it.

-First act: least comic, mistakes are made, symmetry
-Second act: more comic, explosion of mistake, no symmetry
-Third act: very short, few words, crescendo, most comedy, symmetry

-Very hard not to parody the lovers. Let them have their own lives. Do not make them into something else. They are funny because they are naive, not because you make humor with them.

-All commedia characters are good characters. AKA All players play commedia characters well.
- Disguised characters still act as themselves: therefore all characters do not play all characters well. example: Capitano is a horrible Isabella. And vice versa. They can not act the part, only wear the disguise.

- Must always retain contact with the audience. Whenever there is a big change in a character, there should always be a small aside with the audience. The audience is seen as the only true friend of the character and so they are always to be kept in the loop when something changes: someone falls in love, had an idea, finds something, etc. Any change of movement (looking at the word 'movement' as in the art form of music) should be shared with the audience.

-There are no extremes in Commedia. This means no Kings/Monarchs/criminals/villains. No good or evil. And never any religion.

-Scenes must be symmetrical in the beginning as in the end. If two people walk on stage, two people walk off stage. But the stage must never be empty, even for a second. As two are walking off, two are walking on.

-Typically a scene end is an end for EVERYONE on stage. Do not stay as an aside while others leave as it only add dramaturgic that the scene doesn't need and may confuse the audience.

-Zanni know everything about beds. Everything. They know rich beds, poor beds, middle beds, etc. They sleep standing up (lift foot to cross over knee, balance on one leg, put head on fist and slightly cross arms) so they can jump when their master calls. But if there is more than one zanni, they usually all sleep in a cluster.

-We learned the Zanni tired walk: lead with head instead of feet. And the Zanni proud walk: thumbs in belt while leading more with knees and moving elbows slightly like a chicken.

- Servetta is not a Zanni. Zanni are like... rent a servant. Servetta are a little more clever, more beautiful, unmasked, and are a live-in servant.

Today we did three short little scenes:

The first- Two lovers are to meet at the same time and place as another two. Unfortunately the male and female lover, one from each set, meet in the dark and think it is their lover. They are then found by their actual lover and chaos happens (jealousy, anger, upset, etc).

The second- The zanni sleeping machine! Zanni got into a position to sleep, slept together like a machine, and then woke, went back to sleep, etc three revolutions.

The third- Two lovers meet in the dark but there is a problem. They wake a sleeping Zanni who then tries to help them with their problem.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Fava Class Day One: History of Commedia and Masks as well as Zanni work

-Until the 4th century when Romanization took over, masks were primarily used in religious ceremonies. Eventually they became more secular and then disappeared for a time before returning in a more social setting.

-Around 1530 we can see Commedia coming into the scene.  The characters never defined Commedia; Commedia chose the characters.

-Different dialects are seen with different charaters. Dottore usually has a Bolognese dialect as he is from Bologna where the first university can be seen as well as a gastonomic capital. Pantalone, which stands for Plant a Lion (the symbol of Venice), speaks Venetian. In fact, all versions of the Pantalone character come from various different port cities, heavy in trade: Pancrazzio, Magnifico, Stefanello. The lovers spoke the language of Florence as it was the most common, plus had the most Latin and was mostly used for writing. Southern servents spoke Neopolitan and the Northern servents spoke Bergamesk.

-Commedia started in Italian and then went to Spanish, French, German, and then English.

-All Characters are part of the audience. In that sense, all the audience is part of the play. There is no fourth wall.

-Pulcinella stands for chicken, but not chicken like the animal, but more of a bird brain or a rube. In Italian, people will say they will trick that 'pollo' over there, for example.

-You need a zanni 1 (smarter/cleverer) and a zanni 2 (more foolish/stupid) for a play. They are the an integral part of the machine that is Commedia.

-Follow the rules of the mask at all times. If you wear a mask of that character, you are that character. Respect the mask. When it is on, talk and act in character.

-There are six pillars of Commedia: Masks (on principle), Improv (to react with your partner, to know how to react on stage), Engage the Audience, Multilingual (as long as one person in the troupe is understood by each member of the audience, and it can be a different member for each person, you don't need everyone speaking the same language. Commedia is PHYSICAL not VERBAL), Fixed parts (the mask is the character), and the audience must be happy!

-You have to know 1/2 of the character and 1/2 of yourself to have the definitive to improvise.

-Commedia is based on a binary system. You should always be working in pairs.

-The finale of each act should be all actors and big confusion until the finale of the last act, which should be all characters and happy.

-It is not uncommon for the play to end with Dottore coming out and apologizing for the play not being on the same level as such a beautiful audience. Always leave the audience happy!

-The audience can see the creation of a mistake and will follow it to the inevitable conclusion. The goal of the players is to be more creative than the audience so they can make the mistake do things that the audience couldn't have imagined... and then resolve it.

-All scenarios almost exactly the same for the past 2 centuries: not written words but more focused on the physical comedy.

-Everyone in commedia is a protagonist. There is no good and evil. Cruelty and cynisism is not synonymous with evil.

-Typical commedia would be three hours long with 2 intermissions, making the full show time about 4 hours. There would be a tremendous amount of props, sets, and costumes.

-Commedia started on the street because it was an invention of a new type of entertainment and they had to invent and figure out the audience they needed. It could not stay there, though, because 5 minute skits, (which were all someone was allowed) would just confuse an audience.

-In 1560 we see women in public in theater and it was a big success. Immediately we see the professional term for an actress seen in writing.

-Use the language of the country. Italy has over 300 dialects of Italian. Use them all. Some will understand you, some wont, and that's okay. Your body should be telling the comedy.

-Isabella Andrini was a poet and playwright. She invented how to speak in love, upside down, term: mad for love.

-Each actor invents their own names.

-1st Zanni examples: Brighella, Finnocchio.

-2nd Zanni examples: (there are OVER 300 of these names) Alecchino (who is NOT separated from the rest), Pulchinella (who is a survivor of political change in creation and is the only zanni who is typically married to Dona Setza and has lots of children).

-Your mask is your face. It is not a mask. You do not touch, readjust, move your face. That is creepy. Do not speak normally in your mask. When you put it on, you are that person. Follow the rules of the mask.

-An actor is a worker making a mask do what it needs to.

-Social masks were invented to hide people, for secret rendevous. It was the same as if saying 'should I wear a hat today or not'.

-Ancient greek/roman theaters were open. Audience and their reactions were part of the show.

-Lights out theater did not start until Wagner. At that point, the audience was no longer a part of the show. They were simply there to watch the actors.

-Canovaccho is a more elastic term for a single scene as opposed to scenario which refers to the whole play.

Zanni stance and characterization:
-Your head is independent of your body and moves in a camera point and click action. Otherwise, with a mask on, you just look drunk. So small short movements. Your sight follows where your nose is pointed.
-Lead with your sternum. Push it out to accentuate spine curvature. The sternum represents the person. Your body moves in whichever direction your sternum is pointed in.
-Keep your elbows bent and your hands rounded.
-Pop out your butt to, again, accentuate spine curvature.
-Knees bent.
-Feet at oblique angle and kept close together.

-When moving, your arms and legs move opposite directions like a marionette.

-All masked characters follow the point and click so they don't look drunk.

-Actions happen in an upsidedown pyramid shape. You should act like you are floating, barely touching the ground. Take small steps but big movements to take them.

-Kick steps: always land with feet flat or lead with toe. Don't put down heel and stick toes in air.

-Grand Zanni walk - arch back inward and bend down slightly. Slow steps, big arms, high legs. Over accentuated creeping walk.

-Engage audience!! They are part of the cast!

-Masks hold no magic. They are a science and an art. Bad religious mask is still good because it holds magic. Bad commedia mask has no art and hence is a bad character.

-Too finished = naieve/obvious. Do not 'demonstrate' the character.

-Sprizatura = natural and being absolute in a natural way.

-Psychology is not inside the character. Everything is shown on the outside visibly. All wants/fears/etc are shown, visible, outside.

-Commedia is like jazz. Two people at the same time make a cacophony, but the harmony will come.

-When you have a fixed point (ie, two people grab the same thing or each other) all action happens around that point and the point stays as still as possible or the action will feel dirty.

-Disguises go around the character. Do not mask a masked character. Always have part of the character showing so we know who is disguised.

-Feet should -never- make a sound. It distracts the audience.

-La Servetta is LIKE a 1st Zanni. She has no mask. Beautiful. Columbina (dove), Olivetta (named after food), Rosetta (named after flowers), Emeretta (named after precious stones). They are always the first to recognize the imposter or plot.

-Can not couple two 1st zanni because both will want to be the leader. Always love between a 1st and 2nd.

-1st Zanni try to sound clever

-Try to create liberation of disasters. Example: Zanni is upset because he lost his love. So he decides he will try to kill himself and tries to punch himself, but that hurts. He tries to hold his breath, but that doesn't work. Tries to eat himself, but that doesn't work... etc.

-2nd Zanni can not lie

-Masks are not to be made on the actors face or with the mold of an actor. Then the mask will look like the actor.

-Never play as a parody of something else. Each character is serious in their life.

-Play emotions over the top, but you can interrupt for a serious moment. AKA Crying Zanni that can't be understand by audience called by his master. Turns and says 'in a minute' before returning to crying to the audience.

-Ignorance should be dynamic.

-Props are given the same dignity and respect artistically as the actors.

Themes of Commedia:

-Every character should have their breaking point. Examples: If I don't eat, I will die (Zanni). If I don't marry, I will die (lovers). If I am not seen as knowing all the history of humanity, I will die of shame (Dottore).

-Commedia is the poetry about surviving everyday life

We did two Canovacchio today.

The first was two Zanni, both of them having something that they found/were given/bought/etc. Each one searches their pockets and can't find it.

The other was playing as the Zanni of three different masters all searching Pantalone's basement, in the dark, to find a document (which they may not know what is) and none of them know the others are there.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Kataryn Mercer's Maunche scroll

The second I was asked to do this particular scroll, I knew EXACTLY the inspiration that was pulling me forward. It took me a day or two before I could say yes because I honestly had to weigh my ability against what I was hoping to accomplish. I finally decided that when it comes to friends, any amount of time is well worth my while.

The inspiration that I went with was Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics, circa around 1500.

I have always wanted to make this particular scroll, having been a fan of the bright and vibrant colors as well as the abstract manner in which it is depicted.

I only planned to do the top half of the manuscript and have the words take up the same amount of space. So the white space on the left that would be left is where the maunche symbol and the signatures would go.

The original is from Italy, where Kataryn's persona is from, although the words are in greek. So I nixed the manuscript writing and went for a bastarda script instead.

For the words, I went to my favorite source of beautiful poetry: Lord Tristan le Chanticler.

He decided on a sonnet and took a lot of time carefully wording it along the lines of the age long debate of the rose vs the holly.

The words read as such:

"Shall we appeach young excellence as passing like the rose?
That bursts in color early, woos, wanes, and leaves us wanting?
We oft prefer the holly that endures through winters daunting.
A frock's one dance leaves much to chance, as time yet onward flows,
But mason's ton is bulwark when every blossom goes.
Then is the seamstress’ hand but ephemera and flaunting?
Like a bud of vain display, void of virtue vaunting?
Or a lasting green that shades suns sheen in natural repose?
Scrutiny of her art reveals this choice is false diversion:
Each careful cut is jewel craft, as long the hours take her,
As chipping at a ruby yields a permanent conversion.
So cast perhaps the dress aside: the true stone is its maker.
This We gather to Us, as a great career is launched,
And with this gem crown We now Our Order of the Maunche.

Done by the hand of Their Royal Majesties of the Laurel Kingdom of the East
Brennan Rex and Caoilfhionn Regina for Lady Kataryn Mercer
at Their King’s and Queen’s Arts and Sciences Championship
in the Barony of Barren Sands this Sixth day of February A.S. L."

With the words created, it was time to work on the manuscript. I wanted it to be as close to the original as possible, so I decided to create a see through overlay to place over the picture of the manuscript and then create a grid work on my paper and work from there. This is what I came up with:

I decided to make the dress after one that I particularly like on her and instead of putting a sphinx on her lap, I placed a cat there instead since she does have and likes cats.

Now it was time to get to work. This is the first time I have ever taken daily photos of my progress, but that is because it took the full two weeks of around 6-8 hours a day of work to complete. But by the time I was finished, I was very happy and felt that it certainly was a scroll that would fit her persona and the inspiration that she is.

Here is the final product: