5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 12 February 2007
I have had this book for years and bought it to find out about this form of entertainment and to get info into the characters. Although it is meant for actors (as is the second book Commedia Dell Arte-a handbook for troupes) it is very informative for a historical point of view as well.
After the introduction, you go into part 1 which goes into the origins, the masks and playing Commedia which includes making a leather mask, acting in a mask, staging etc.
It goes into part 2 which goes through the stock characters (this is very helpful and useful to find out about how the characters react it includes the name (with it's meaning), costume, stance (servant, zanni, employer etc), gestures, relationships, status, mask, walks (long strides, with limp etc), speech, plot functions, origins (from France, Neapolitan etc) , props (a cudgel), movements, characteristics and improvisations.
It has brilliant engravings and drawings showing the plays and crowds and scenes to get into the mood and includes scenario's, Acts and non-improvised elements to get the person immersed into the theatre.
Part 3 are essays about those reconstructing 20th Century shows with some photos and the appendix is how to make masks, which includes plaster of paris, wood, leather etc.
All in all a very good book to read, even if just interested in the show, the history or the characters, you will find this very informative. You may even want to do the play yourself.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on 28 June 2001
A very clear and concise guide to all things Commedia, with easy to read chapters and reference sections. Well balanced information with little left out. Very modern; it brings Commedia into the twenty-first century. The non-technical language and explanation mean that anyone could use this book.
on 22 August 2013
If you require further instruction on the art of Commedia dell'Arte this is for you. Explanations of a highly regimented stage craft , this book examines and explains the roles, character and dress of all the principle actors. Buy it. Read it. Be drawn into a strange and wonderful world.