Friday, January 4, 2008

The Starving Zanni

In preparation for next month's show at Willoughby and Baltic, I've been preparing some new pieces of repertoire. One draws upon the commedia dell'arte traditions that I have explored both with i Sebastiani and in I have taught at Open Air Circus. The scenario I have chosen is that of "The Starving Zanni" (La Fame dello Zanni) which I first encountered while reading Dario Fo's Tricks of the Trade (a translation of Manuale Minimo dell'Attore). Here is a video of the 1997 Nobel Laureate performing his own version (somewhat different than the one in the book):

(Grazie to Brian Foley who first brought my attention to the above video on his blog, Commedia dell'Arte Links. )

The rehearsal process has been to improvise upon this scenario,and like any commedia performer, liberally steal from the masters and then drawing upon my own strengths as an artist in the elaboration. As the piece has developed, I have somehow found myself including visits to both heaven and hell (which echos a chapter of the traditional Punch & Judy scenario) and a bit of satirical theology.

Now the only question is: Which Zanni should I play? I thought Arlecchino at first, but I'm wondering if I should not play it as Pulcinella. If so, I may need to make another mask.

N.B.: I have realized, thanks to Google, that I actually discovered the Dario Fo video, not through Commedia dell'Arte Links but through the also excellent blog which is maintained by Adam G. Gertsacov. There's even a comment from me attached to this article that proves it! Time is not linear in the blogosphere. Thankfully, Foley and Gertsacov have something of a mutual appreciation society as evidenced here and here.

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