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#StayTunedOnIt #12 | Masks and kinfolk in times of “viral” Commedia dell’Arte

Bottegavaga is a theatre company and association based in Venice, whose actors and members have a twenty-year experience in devising shows and teaching theatre techniques.

Commedia dell’Arte is a seminal part of their poetics; the ancestral power of the mask digs into the deeper side of the actor who wears it, allowing the expression of extreme strength, freedom and vitality that go beyond the body and the will.

With masks, everything is a game: mistakes, beatings, work, love, hunger, poverty; their feelings can be profound and dramatic, but they last a moment and then with a with a flourish of the masks they become something else. Masks are an education in happiness, a journey back to childhood, and an injection of good humour.

After working on The Servant of Two Masters in a version quite similar to the original, Bottegavaga re-worked Goldoni’s classical piece creating an international dramatization in Italian and English showcased, with great success, at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2019.

The Company collaborated then with our Institute and now, in the middle of the Coronavirus emergency, they have welcomed with great pleasure the invitation of Director Angelo Izzo, to narrate their experience as quarantined artists.

Bottegavaga embraced this opportunity to take their first steps into a new research: investigating the cross contamination between Venetian tradition and Shakespeare, combining the irreverent folly of masks with Shakespeare’s soulfulness, continuing the linguistic experiment of weaving Italian, Venetian dialect and English.

The outcome is a short video where Arlecchino is trapped in a flat, compelled to woo his beloved Colombina via a computer screen, to ask her to marry him as this is the only way to “join” her.

Shakespeare comes to the rescue of the two poor lovers through the words of one of The Tempest’s supporting characters: after tragedy things can be considered in their complexity, balancing opposite aspects and facing reality not only with adaptability, but transforming misfortune into the opportunity of improving one’s life and the world.

Shakespeare’s highest spirituality meets Arlecchino’s good common sense, which he possesses in abundance, the only wealth he has…

“Viral” Commedia dell’Arte