Robert Henke (Washington University in St. Louis): "Shakespeare and the Commedia Dell'Arte" (2015/2016 CMRS Public Lecture)

January 13, 2016
Friday, February 19, 2016 - 7:00pm
U.S. Bank Conference Theater, Ohio Union)
Robert Henke

Abstract: Especially if one views the “commedia dell’arte” in its relationship to Italian scripted comedy of the day, Shakespeare thoroughly absorbed the Italian system of masks.  Despite the fact that Italian professional actors, who scandalously had women actually play female roles, abruptly stopped visiting England in 1578, a professional interest in the Arte emerges in London theater of the early and mid 1590s, as Shakespeare explicitly deploys versions of Pantalone, the Dottore, the Capitano, and the Zanni in plays such as The Taming of the ShrewLove’s Labour’s Lost, and the Merchant of Venice.  Shakespeare’s interest in foolish old men, loquacious pedants, braggart soldiers, and plot-controlling servants seems to have waned in his mature comedies, but resurfaces in his tragedies, in figures such as Polonius, and in the character system of Othello.  One of the more persuasive “sources” for The Tempest is the Arte subgenre of  “magical pastoral”: a set of Italian scenarios representing a magician on an island populated by spirits and shepherds who causes a group of travelers to shipwreck.

S M T W T F S
 
 
 
 
1
 
2
 
3
 
4
 
5
 
6
 
7
 
8
 
9
 
10
 
11
 
12
 
13
 
14
 
15
 
16
 
17
 
18
 
19
 
20
 
21
 
22
 
23
 
24
 
25
 
26
 
27
 
28