MASKS, MASK ACTING and SCENARIOS
Commedia characters, while traditional and conventional, have their origin in real life. These
timeless archetypes are not just literary types but were inspired by people who populate our daily lives.
Dottore is not a fictional exaggeration but your friend who carries on as if he can fix anything but leaves
your computer in worse shape than before. Zanni did not live hundreds of years before but is your
relative who always gets a free meal without helping wash dishes. To discover who these commedia
characters and stories are, recognize how the characters and their stories are like someone you know or
have seen every day. Their natural actions and reactions are simply made more stylized and satirized: the
miser guarding his moneybag or bankbook, a lover's pained looks and heavy breathing, the prima donna's
obsessive preening, the braggart's conscious display. While these stereotypes are constantly exploited
and seen on television and in the movies, take some time and observe how they appear in real life without
the clichés and gross simplifications. Find some aspect which has not been explored.
In casting, certain parts, originally played by men, can be played by women.
Note the function of other roles in the scenarios.
Observe persons who can be satirized and used as commedia types. What obsession motivates their
behavior and can be satirized? The beauty who constantly fixes her hair, makeup, and clothes? The
cheap shoppers who brag about how much money they saved? Do cheap shoppers get overly exciting or
over confident when talking about their bargaining ability? What behavior, common to this type and
which would be remembered by your audience, can you satirize? Do they lean forward? Do their eyes
sharpen and twinkle? Do their hands become more agitated when they discuss their obsession? Is this
obsession driven by a need for approval from others or an inner hunger? What social or psychological
statement do you want to make through this satiric exaggeration? You can be a moralist without being a
Observe these types and note how they think and what they do so that you can recreate them for your
classmates. Through your satiric choices, what do you want to say about: the beauty, the miser, the big
shot, the know-it-all, the hurt lover, the loser?
What other types can you add to the list?
Masks are usually thought to be objects placed on the face. However, "masks" for the commedia actor
were roles which could be played with a mask or makeup. Commedia characters usually are not very
complex or subtle but follow conventions or forms. However, when you play these characters allow your
own creativity to develop and personalize the way you play the character. The contradiction in the
objectives within the character's nature causes a dilemma which leads to conflict, humor, and, in most
What contradictions can you add to this list: smart but over-confident, greedy but vain, hungry
The following is a brief discussion of the major themes or story lines, characters, and how they would be
performed, and scenarios that can be improvised after you have perfected the lazzi or games presented in
the first chapter.
COMMON THEMES: Money--Love--Status:
Commedia stories are very simple and direct, presenting basic issue such as money, love, and status
through the conflict of masters and slaves, lovers and parents, the clever and the foolish, the good
and the bad. The stories are very positive, containing morals and lessons such as the reversal of
injustice and the triumph of the right.
What issues, themes, morals, and lessons are presented in Chinese stories?
What action or conflict is used to dramatize these themes, morals, and lessons? An example would
be love vs. money in the rights of a daughter to choose her husband. Another example: a greedy man is
soon parted from his gold when a clever Brighella cheats a miserly Pantalone.
When you improvise and perform the scenarios, decide what the issue or theme is and then focus on the
single action or conflict that dramatizes that issue. Your whole performance may contain other issues to
give greater variety and depth, but one issue will dominate the performance.
Before we look at these conflicts and issues, a few performance concepts and techniques will have to be
All characters are very strictly defined through their dominant objective and emotional center and then
presented through the physical and movement forms which either symbolize that objective or are a
result of the emotional center. To aid in the representation, the character is given not only a physical
mask but objects to release and express the character's objectives and feelings, such as the rich man's
purse or the female lover's handkerchief. We will call these toys for both the the character and the actor
who is playing the character, for they use the objects as toys to amuse, distract or convey their feelings.
Finally, each character has playmates with whom he/she is usually matched either as opponent or ally.
The objective is the driving force.
Objectives: Pantalone, or rich old man, is driven by the desire to protect and obtain wealth. All actions
are motivated by this single purpose: marrying his daughter to a rich Dottore or finding a way to feed his
servant with paper, which is cheaper than bread. And as these examples show, the objective has become
an obsession. Likewise, the character has become a caricature.
What are the objectives which motivate or create a character? Observe how people with the following
objectives act: to get wealth, avoid work, to get others to do their work, to get attention, to get love, to get
Name five other objectives that motivate people.
Name five objectives that motivate the characters in traditional or typical Chinese stories.
The emotional center can be the cause or the result of this objective. In the case of the Pantalone, an
emotional center of suspicion would be the result of worry over being cheated. For a lazy but insatiable
Zanni servant, the dilemma between the objective, to be on the constant search for food, and his
emotional center, a desire to get out of work, could create either great physical or psychological
discontent or the ability to manipulate people.
Contrasting characters are placed together to generate the conflict, such as a greedy but slow-witted
Pantalone and a lazy but clever Zanni. Later in this book, classic scenarios between these opposing
types or brief scenes from the commedia influenced plays will be used to explore how stories are created
by interposing characters with opposing objectives and emotional centers.
(One might ask how such a slow-witted Pantalone became so rich. However, commedia often does not
bother itself with logical consistencies.)
What are the emotional centers of the characters you observed? What is the cause and effect relationship
between the objective and the emotional center? Is the person who wants love but never gets it insecure?
Is the person who wants others to do his work dangerously overconfident? Base your conclusions on
accurate observations rather than on clichés or the desire to create melodramatic characters.
Describe the emotional centers of the five people you observed.
List and describe five contrasting emotional types found in Chinese stories.
Physical and Movement Forms of the Objective/ Emotional Center: The objective and emotional
center produces physical forms and movements. Usually thin, Pantalone might show the effects of his
age through a stoop in the shoulders and back or wobbly walk. He might, on the other hand, be a very
feisty old man who has resisted the effects of age and so has placed his weight toward the back by pulling
his back and shoulders back. Moreover, he could walk with a wider and stronger placement of feet. No
matter how age has affected him, his obsession with money would be revealed through a continuous
grasping with the hands or suspicious peering about for thieves and conmen. He might wear spectacles
to represent his narrow vision and lack of foresight. He would wear a money pouch and even a dagger
for protection, which he almost never uses. Often a bulging codpiece was present to show that even
though he was getting old, his sexual appetite was strong... or he wished others to believe that it was.
Answer the following question for the five people you observed. How are the five different objectives
and emotional centers revealed in physical movement and physical form? Does the person who wants
wealth take more space or talk louder? Is he hyperactive?
Describe the physical movements and forms which your five characters have
Describe the physical movements and forms of five contrasting characters from Chinese stories.
Which brings us to the characters' objects or toys. As any actor will tell you, objects can be very useful
in creating character. Commedia actors were no exception.
Pantalone would have his money pouch, which sires a whole family of habitual movements: touching the
pouch to be reassured of its presence, checking the contents, counting the money to make sure it’s all
there or to be reminded to get more. There are as many choices as the creative actor can discover. A
dagger for protection was also traditional as was a codpiece. He might have glasses and, as every
successful actor knows, the costume must be used: a cloak for disguise, and shoes that are too tight or
worn because Pantalone is too cheap to buy new ones. Once again, be individual and add to the
What toys are used by the five people you observed? What toys are used by contemporary types?
Who plays with a cellular phone? Who plays with make up? Who plays with a hand-held computer
Describe how five contemporary characters reveal themselves through their toys. Make original
discoveries based upon real people as characters rather than the clichés found in fictional types from
current television or films.
Describe how five characters in Chinese stories reveal themselves through their toys.
Finally, each type is often paired with the same characters either to serve as a source of conflict or
support. The term “playmate” is used to resist the urge on the part of some actors to feel that they must
be in real conflict with the actor playing the scripted opponent. Even though the lovers are fighting in the
play, the actors playing the lovers are finding ways to play with each other to create the best possible
performance. Your stage enemy is actually your most important playmate, since that character is the
source of the conflict which brought you to life. And the better you play with the actor playing your
enemy, the more fun you have and the more the audience enjoys the show.
What are the playmates of the five characters you observed? Are they complimentary or contrasting
Describe how the complimentary characters render support and how the contrasting characters
create action which would be useful on stage. The supporting character might encourage or soothe
nerves while the contrasting character might create work for the person you observed.
In Chinese stories, give five examples showing how complimentary characters support and
contrasting characters create action.
STORIES * CHARACTER * PLAYMATES
The following is a chart which matches some stories, characters, and playmates.
Pantalone vs. Brighella: Brighella tries to con Pantalone out of money.
Pantalone vs. Arlichinno: Arlichinno wants more food or money from Pantalone.
Pantalone vs. Zanni: Zanni wants to get out of a job that Pantalone wants done.
Lovers vs. Lovers: Lovers love to fight about topics serious and trivial, reasonable and ridiculous, such
as who is more faithful or who is more in love.
Lovers need a mediator/Colombina or Arlichinno
Lovers vs. Fathers: with Colombina or Zanni mediating
Lovers vs. Another Suitor: Pantalone overhears the truth
Status: Isabella or Colombina mediate between Pantalone and his daughter
Masters vs. Slaves: Pantalone vs. Arlichinno/Scapino
Reversal: Pantalone is corrected by Colombina
Clever vs. Foolish: Pantalone vs. Scapino
The Triumph of the Right: Isabella vs. Dottore
Good Guy Vs. Bad Guy: Dottore is revealed to Pantalone by Isabella
List five different themes which are represented by pairs or groups of characters found in Chinese
SCENARIOS FOR IMPROVISATION:
The following scenarios are taken from the plays included in this text. Each will start with a matched
pair, such as Zanni and Pantalone. Some will develop to include additional characters. After you have
improvised these scenarios, look at the plays and note the similarities and differences in characterization
and action so that you can make your performances more comprehensive.
Note the objectives, emotional centers, and physical representations of each character, as well as
what their toys and who their playmates are.
For each of the following scenarios answer the following questions:
What is the dominate theme or issue?
How can the issue be clarified through the action?
What characters are present?
What is the objective of each character?
What is the emotional center of each character?
What in the action allows the character to reveal his/her emotional center?
What toys are present for the characters to use?
What toys can I add to improve the performance?
1. Two Person Scene-PANTALONE VS. BRIGHELLA
Pantalone is getting married today and asks a Brighella fortune teller for advice. Each time Brighella
tells Pantalone what he wants to hear, he is rewarded. Each time he does not say what Pantalone wants
to hear, Brighella is not rewarded.
Play the scene twice. In the first scene, Pantalone is very slow witted and easily pleased and then, the
second time scene is played, very suspicious.
The toys for Pantalone have already been discussed.
Each Brighella would have the tools of his particular trade. In this case, they would be cards, a crystal
ball, star charts, incense burners, I Ching sticks... the more the better. He also could have a money
pouch, shawl, magic jewelry... again, the more toys the better.
2. Two Person Scene-PANTALONE VS. BRIGHELLA
Pantalone wants a Brighella fixit man to repair a broken earthen jar. Pantalone wants it done as cheaply
as possible while Brighella has his own methods which are very complicated and therefore costly.
This Brighella's toys would be a bag filled with equipment, lunch, a change of clothes, and whatever
absurd, crazy, or taboo items you can pull out as a sight gag, something which makes the audience "laugh
at first sight."
3. Two Person Scene-PANTALONE VS. SCARAMOUCHE
An argumentative hunch-backed Scaramouche comes to fix Pantalone's jar. Scaramouche is not so
much out to con Pantalone as to be stubborn and argumentative. Since being stubborn and argumentative
is the reaction, play the objective which would be to get people to agree; however, the demands are such
that people find it hard to agree, therefore he insists on his way.
How does the limited movement of a hunched back actually provide amusing lazzi? One possibility
would be that Scaramouche himself will not acknowledge the hump's existence, let alone that it is a
problem. Or everyone is afraid to refer to the hump since Scaramouche flies into a rage if anyone alludes
to it in the slightest way.
Give Scaramouche added toys, representative of a feisty type rather than a Brighella, who can not
argue since he would alarm those he wanted to con. Scaramouche could chew tobacco which he
would spit when angry. A lazzi could develop from this: how he spits, how far he spits. Those present try
to avoid getting in the way of his spitting. Experiment with the possibilities here.
Would a Taiwan type chew Betel-nut?
What is the objective of Scaramouche?
What is his emotional center?
What is his physical form and movement?
What are his toys?
What character or story from Chinese culture is like the previous Scaramouche scene?
4.Three Person Scene: PANTALONE, BRIGHELLA 1, BRIGHELLA 2
You may use Zanni rather than Brighella 2.
Play the scene again and add in a second Brighella as fortune teller who uses the same or different
methods and who also wants to exchange positive responses for monetary rewards.
What Chinese story is this scene like?
5. Three-four Person Scene-- BRIGHELLA, ZANNI 1, ZANNI 2
Add in a Zanni or two to help Brighella who has become stuck in a jar. Zanni are two common
playmates who are either helpful or provide a conflict.
Play the scene several times with different kinds of Zanni: clever but lazy, stupid but aggressive,
thinks he can fix anything but only makes matters worse, or doubts his every effort but is actually quite
These Zanni could bring the following toys: bags filled with other tools which are even more unsuitable,
useless and ridiculous than those Brighella brought. Play with their emotional excesses such as “loves to
eat” or “afraid of getting dirty.”
What is the objective of each Zanni? Experiment with the effect of using complimentary or contrasting
What is the emotional center of each Zanni? Experiment with the effect of using complimentary or
contrasting emotional centers.
What is the physical form and movement of each Zanni? Once again, experiment with
complimentary vs. contrasting types.
What are the toys? Are they similar or different?
What amusing lazzi can be developed with the toys? How can they pull at Scaramouche? Arms?
Ears? Head? Lure him out with money? Food? How can they move and roll the jar about until it
6. Four to Five Person Scene--SCARAMOUCHE, ZANNI 1, ZANNI 2, PANTALONE
Add in Pantalone who hears that two Zanni are trying to remove the imprisoned Scaramouche. The jar
finally breaks freeing Scaramouche, who now has to get Pantalone to pay for his repair work.
Is the fixit man in Pirandello's “The Jar” a Brighella, a Scaramouche, or both?
LOVER MAGNET MOVEMENTS
In the drawing notice that the lovers eyes cause them to be attracted, while the rest of the body
resists and draws them apart.
7. Two Person Scene: MALE LOVER, FEMALE LOVER
Lovers as Magnets: After walking away from each other in opposite directions, an irresistible force
from the lovers' eyes draws them back together, even though the rest of the body resists the attraction.
Use isolations to turn the eyes, then the head, the neck, shoulders, chest, and hips, until finally the lovers
rush toward each other. After they are reunited, they start to speak with great passion until they find an
impasse and then start to quarrel. Whereupon they turn and stomp away, only to think they heard the
other beg forgiveness. They turn, and contact each other's eyes. After this, the magnetic attraction draws
them back again. Each time the anger becomes greater, the separation becomes greater, the need to resist
the magnet stronger, and the release more passionate. All movements should be synchronous.
8. Two Person Scene-MALE LOVER, FEMALE LOVER
LOVER VS LOVER:
The following is typical lover dialogue. They interrupt or complete each other's lines as if speaking from
one script. Notice how their anger rises and then subsides and then rises again only to subside and rise
again as they wait for the other to make the suitable apology. Plan a mirrored magnet game during the
Objectives: to love, to be loved, to be in love, to have another acknowledge your love, to be in love with
love, to control one’s love, to impress others with how much you love or are suffering for love.
What other objectives could be used? You may use verbs other than "love."
Emotional Center: the passion of love, the emotional ups and downs of love: hurt by love, the joy of
love, the joy of being hurt by love, the competitive pride of suffering more for your love.
What choices will change your interpretation of these lovers? Do you want the audience to sympathize
with the lovers or feel their love is just vanity?
If you want their love to be mature, what objectives and emotional center would be appropriate?
If you want their love to be fickle and amusing, what choices would be appropriate?
List five interpretations and choices of objective and emotional center based upon your
List five choices from Chinese love stories.
Physical Forms and Movements:
The mirror represents one type of lover and love relationship. What other types have you witnessed?
The silent type who wait for the other to say, "It's my fault. I'm sorry." Would this be effective on stage?
Why? For how long? Add to this a whole vocabulary of movements associated with costume and toys.
You may research period movements but don't feel restricted to only historically accurate choices.
List five types of movement and physical relationship that you have observed in lovers.
List five types from Chinese love stories.
Traditional commedia lovers used fans and handkerchiefs. When presenting traditional commedia, could
these be used?
List other props or items of costuming for men as well as women boots that could be used to create
movement and reveal character and reaction such as long dresses and coats, lace cuffs and collars.
Choices must must be used to suggest that the lovers were noble but powerless to effect their own
solution. For example, lace cuffs are a useless decoration which can be used to express light and
ineffectual reactions but lack any power or force.
List five toys which fictional Chinese lovers used.
List five or more toys that your contemporaries use.
PICTURE OF MALE LOVER
Two Person Scene:
(The lovers rush toward opposite exits and then stop.)
He: What was that?
She: What was that?
He: Did you speak?
She Did you speak?
(catching eye contact)
(pause as they resist the magnetic attraction)
He: You ...
(the magnet turns them around
He: My dove...
She: My love...
He: My own...
She: ... has flown.
He: Oh, could I ever?
She: Oh, I should never?
(drawing closer almost hypnotized)
He: To think that she...
She: To think that he...
(face to face)
He: Do you mean to say...
She: Do you mean to delay...
He: Well, it seems...
She: ... that this were but dreams.
He: Very well?
She: Pray tell?
He: How can you have a heart of ice?
She: ‘Tis better than a soul of vice.
He: I'll not stay to hear my honor so maligned.
She: To think that I was so blind.
He: Madam, I take my farewell.
She: Sir, do not in my presence dwell.
(They turn and march toward the exit and then stop.)
He: Did you...
She: ....hear a lark?
He: Yes, its song
She: ... ever so sweet?
(turn and see each others' eye)
He: As when...
She: ...true loves'...
He: ...eyes meet?
CONTINUE AND FINISH WITH ANOTHER CLIMAX AND THEN A RECONCILATION
9. Three Person Scene--MALE LOVER, FEMALE LOVER, COLOMBINA
LOVER VS. LOVER WITH A THIRD PARTY TO MEDIATE: Colombina or Arlichinno. Replay
and revise a lover's quarrel, using the same parallel dialogue, with a third character as mediator: a) a wily
Colombina and b) an inept Arlichinno. While the two lovers argue, Colombina mimics each lover in turn
until the argument becomes dangerously close to a permanent break, at which time she stops them and
makes the lovers apologize to each other.
Colombina was the maid whose independence of thought and action was inconsistent with her status.
She had the strength of character, intelligence, and presence of mind that her peers and masters lacked,
with the exception of Isabella, who will be discussed next. She had the greatest flexibility of movement
because of her access to female characters and quarters. The Pantalone father would chase his daughter,
only to have her escape into her room; it would be up to Colombina to run to the rescue, seemingly, for
Pantalone. Because of this she was the confidante and the one who solved problems for lovers, i.e.
Isabella, and even for the fathers.
Objectives: She is generally positive except when in a mood to have fun, play tricks, and seek a
righteous revenge; otherwise she helps, counsels, comforts, arrange solutionss, and mediates.
What other objectives could she have or do you see evidenced in the scenarios and plays?
Emotional Center: Because of her balance and strength of mind and character, Columbina’s emotional
center, aside from Isabella’s, is the most complex and close to a modern character.
Physicalization: Columbina’s mental agility and strength is seen in her movements as well.
Traditionally she would place her hands at her hips or above her head, as if dancing. Her feet would be
set far enough apart to give firm support and grounding. Hands and arms movements would be confident
and never given to wild erratic gestures. What other movements can you discover to represent her
confident and assertive nature?
Toys: Because she is a maid, she might use a duster or an other object used for cleaning. Likewise, she
could relate her role and objective to the toy, such as a handkerchief to wipe away tears or a shawl when
in disguise. Colombina's toys envince a great range of choices.
Are there confidante or mediator characters like Colombina in Chinese literature? How are they
similar? How are they different?
Describe the Colombina types you haveobserved.
10. Three Person Scene--MALE LOVER, FEMALE LOVER, ARLICHINNO
Repeat the scene with an inept but well-meaning Arlichinno who manages to get the lovers to kiss
and make up, in spite of or possibly because of his mistakes.
Arlichinno's basic objective, to help, is always complicated by his ineptitude. Arlichinno is basically
honest and good but rather simple-minded. He doesn't get upset by his mistakes but might drive others to
Emotional Center: Charlie Chaplin's Little Tramp character is very much an Arlichinno. You might
describe this character as cute or charming. However, this is your reaction to the character. Rather than
play the reaction, play the character: shy, innocent, desires to be attractive and heroic but aware of his
limitations in appearance and stature, but none the less heroic because he rejects the limitations by
fighting for the right. Traditionally, Arlichinno was a little slow but because of the purity of his
intentions and his alliances with virtuous characters, such as Isabella and Colombina, who balanced his
defects with their strength, he was able to succeed.
Physical Form and Movements: His slow wit is contrasted by his light and agile movements. Because
his movements are isolated, stretched, and highly expressive and stylized, many of the highly styled
movements of mime were inspired by the Arlichinno character.
Playmates: He alone may be servant to Pantalone or Isabella or may be contrasted with a large staff of
more witless Zanni or with the clever Brighella. Brighella may provide a conflict as Arlichinno is not as
mercenary as Brighella. You could create a non-traditional scenario in which he is even matched to a
Dottore because his lack of pretensions would unmask Dottore's reliance upon them. He is in love with
Colombina who may or may not reciprocate that love.
Arlichinno's toys would be: a pouch to carry his toys which means that you as actor are free to carry
whatever toys you need for that Arlichinno character and that story. He also carries a slap-stick which is
often used by others to hit him. This stick is design so that it makes as much noise as possible without
doing any bodily damage.
Describe how people you have observed are like Arlichinno.
Describe how characters in Chinese literature or performance are like Arlichinno.
What is it about Arlichinno that attracts an audience?
11. Three Person Scene--ISABELLE, PANTALONE, DAUGHTER
Isabella's Objective: Since Isabella is an intelligent and resourceful woman matched to a Pantalone
father or husband, she must reveal the truth and solve the problems caused by Pantalone. She also might
be matched to a Dottore, in which case her objective would be the same while her means might be
Emotional Center: Because she represents reason and restraint, balance and correctness are your guides
for choices. Unlike most commedia types which are very simplistic and two-dimensional, Isabella is a
more complex and well-rounded character. This means that you should avoid strong or exaggerated
emotions, except when Isabella is pressed. Even though Isabella is reasonable, avoid making her
colorless since her desire to set matters right comes from an independent and aggressive spirit.
Toys: While traditionally she used only a handkerchief or fan, you need not be limited to these. Make
your choices fit her high status and dignity.
Her movements, likewise, are all dignity and refinement: an upright posture and bearing, no affectation
Isabella's playmates would be Arlichinno or another Zanni as servant. Colombina might be a servant but
would function more as confidante or partner, since Colombina is more intelligent and capable. Her
father and husband would be Pantalones, or more non-traditionally Dottores. She is forever getting
herself and others out of situations which Pantalone is responsible for. Her suitors might be Cavaliere or
Describe people whom you have observed who would be an Isabella.
Describe characters from Chinese stories who are like Isabella.
Isabella is Pantalone's second wife and must mediate between Pantalone's outrageous demand for his
daughter to marry Dottore and her step-daughter's stormy outbursts.
Repeat the scene and replace Isabella with Colombina as rather imputent maid who acts as mediator
and constantly gives advice to Pantalone.
12. Two Person Scene--ISABELLE, SCARAMOUCHE
You have already worked with a hunch-backed Scaramouche. This Scaramouche has no visible physical
defect but is deeply emotionally scarred. While possessing typical Isabella strong points, this Isabella
shares Scaramouche's scars and, in some ways, his argumentative personality.
How do the emotionally scarred reveal their scars: physically and psychologically through the
avoidance of certain issues, topics, or situations? How is this avoidance often aggressive in nature?
Scaramouche is sent by his master to collect a debt from a wealthy widow, Isabella. Outside the house,
he rehearses his tried and true psychological and physical ways to overpower and get money out of what
he expects will be a weak and defenseless old woman. When he confronts Isabella, he finds her to be a
very handsome woman and is immediately attracted. Isabella also puts on her act, a pitiable grief-struck
widow, expecting Scaramouche to be sympathetic and leave. She has been beset by creditors following
the death of her faithless philandering husband, and this ploy has always worked in the past.
Scaramouche, on the other hand, believing Isabella to be a pushover, is a bull-in-a-china-shop belligerent
in his demands to be paid today. The topic moves from their experiences with debtors and creditors to
the fidelity of women vs. men. Isabella is such a passionate and able opponent that Scaramouche falls
madly in love with her, but he maintains his mask of belligerence. She ups the ante and challenges him
to a duel, with a set of old pistols left by her husband. Scaramouche accepts the challenge but decides he
would rather let her kill him than harm her with the slightest smudge of powder burns. Isabella interprets
this as cowardice and pursues her vendetta against the male sex. Scaramouche finally wins her over by
complying with her every demand.
Describe a Chinese situation like this scene between Scaramouche and Isabella.
13. Three Person Scene--ISABELLE, SCARAMOUCHE, ZANNI
Repeat the scene by including Isabella's servant, an inept Zanni, who is terrified of Scaramouche.
Whatever Isabella commands Zanni to do, Scaramouche may refuse, ignore, or counter. Whatever
Scaramouche demands of Zanni, Isabella may refuse, ignore, or counter. Use the Zanni character to
develop the interaction between Isabella and Scaramouche. Zanni becomes a pawn, a tool, a weapon,
and a means to avoid or reveal one's control over the other. However, keep Zanni a supporting character.
14: Two Person Scene--PANTALONE vs. ZANNI
Pantalone is getting married and wants his Zanni to give his reaction to the decision. Make a list of
topics and issues such as Pantalone's age, how long he and his intended have known each other, the age
of the intended, how long Pantalone has known her, how he met her, why he wants to marry her, why she
wants to marry him. Pantalone gives very positive answers, and so Zanni is very positive and
encouraging until Zanni asks the name of the girl. When he hears it, Zanni's reaction immediately
changes because the girl is notoriously unfaithful. He continues to encourage Pantalone but can barely
keep from laughing.
Reverse the status. Pantalone is dependent on Zanni for encouragement. Zanni is aware of this and so
enjoys the manipulation of Pantalone.
Make stage movements parallel the discussion. Change the space with every question. Change body
positions with the different questions.
15. Four Person Scene--MALE and FEMALE LOVERS
PANTALONE vs. SCAPINO
Scapino is a very independent and playful servant who takes great pleasure out of disguises and
To play tricks and get away with them would be his objective.
Emotional Center: Think of him as part ham actor, part rascal who loves to show off his abilities.
While he may be paid for this by his master, he would be just as likely to do it for free.
Movements: Like all showmen, he is very physical and expansive, facially and bodily. Since he wears
no mask, his face is very important and must be expressive.
Toys: Since each disguise isa toy, make choices that provide as many options as possible: big wide-
brimmed hats with long flowing feather, full capes, fake mustaches and beards that Scapino might have
trouble controlling. He tends to satirize whomever he impersonates.
Playmates: The objects of his trickery would be less perceptive characters such as Pantalone and
Dottore. He might work for those same characters but might also be employed by the lovers, Colombina,
or Isabella to help solve a problem. You can be sure that no matter how simple his instructions, he will
find a way to complicate the situation and nearly ruin the solution. However, no matter how near he
comes to failure, he will rescue himself and the situation through persistence if not wit and talent.
The Male Lover ask his servant Scapino if he can help him. Scapino brags about all his past feats and is
very confident and eager to get the bag of coins his master is offering him until his master tells him that
he is to impersonate a doctor. The Male Lover continues to tease and tempt Scapino with the money
until Scapino convinces himself that he can make Pantalone believe he is a doctor.
Scapino puts on the doctor costume. Pantalone and his daughter enter. Pantalone and asks Dr. Scapino
to examine and cure his daughter. Scapino's examination and diagnosis is very unorthodox but Scapino
manages to convince Pantalone that his daughter must marry the first man to enter the room or she will
die. Upon hearing this, the Male Lover enters and Scapino, now as a priest, marries them at once. The
daughter is immediately cured.
Note: Scapino and the lovers are improvising. The male lover is hidden but tries to give Scapino
directions. The daughter tries to follow how she is supposed to react from both Scapino and her lover.
At times, she and Scapino might get the male lover's messages mixed up.
Describe a Scapino that you know. You don't have to use his/her real name.
Describe a Scapino and Scapino in disguise story found in Chinese.
16. Three Person Scene--PANTALONE, MALE LOVER, FEMALE LOVER
These lovers are more villanous. While they discuss how they plan to live well off of Pantalone's money
after she marries and how, even though she is married to Pantalone, they will continue to meet and be
faithful to each other and how she will contrive to stay out of Pantalone’s bed, Pantalone listens. He
changes his hiding spots as they change locations. You can end the scene with the two lovers leaving or
Pantalone jumping out, finally unable to contain his anger.
17. Two Person Scene--DOTTORE Vs. DOTTORE
Dottore means Doctor of Philosophy rather than Doctor of Medicine.
At the beginning of this chapter the Dottore was described as a know-it-all who wanted to impress people
with his knowledge. That is his objective--to impress people. Of course, he is limited to fields which are
unknown to those he's trying to impress.
Emotional Center: proud, self-centered, self-satisfied, hungry for praise, obtuse.
Physical Form and Movements: His fat appearance fits a hungry ego and while he doesn't move very
much he tries to take as much stage space as possible with large and grandiose movements. His voice,
likewise, is large and fills the theater.
Toys: He would carry books or other academia, which he probably has not read. He might even be
dressed in academic robes.
Playmates: He may have a servant but is often only a friend of Pantalone and rarely has a wife or
children. Often the object of ridicule, he is a loner.
Two Dottore fathers criticize the wedding presents which were given to their children. The father of the
bride does not know that he is criticizing the gifts of the father of the groom. The father of the groom,
likewise, does not know that he is criticizing the gifts of the father of the bride. Both fathers will not
admit that their gifts are being criticized.
Describe a Dottore that you know.
Describe Chinese fictional characters like Dottore.
18. Four Person Scene--DOTTORE vs. DOTTORE
MALE LOVER vs. FEMALE LOVER
Repeat the scene and add in: The bride is very defensive of her father while the groom is very critical
of her father.
19. Six Person Scene---DOTTORE vs. DOTTORE
MALE LOVER vs. FEMALE LOVER
ISABELLE vs. ISABELLA
Repeat the scene and add in: The wives are very defensive of their husbands and critical of the other
This scene can be repeated with added members of the family or friends, and each with an
objective, point of view toward the gifts, and with a specific commedia character.
20: Three Person Scene--ISABELLE, PANTALONE, DOTTORE
This scene is taken from Tartuffe, so you may make the Dottore more menacing and less foolish.
Pantalone may be a little more intelligent but not very.
Isabella conceals Pantalone, her husband, under a table so that he can see Dottore's attempts to seduce
her. Whenever Dottore becomes quite aggressive and his seduction obvious, Pantalone fails to rescue
her. Likewise, when Pantalone pops out to see what is going on Dottore's advances seem quite innocent.
Finally, Isabella has had enough and, after a few failed attempts, gets her husband to come out and catch
Dottore when clearly attempting a seduction. Throughout all this, Isabella maintains her composure.
21. Four Person Scene--CAVALIERE, DOTTORE, PANTALONE
Cavaliere is a Don Juan. He wants all women to fall in love with him and all men to be impressed by his
macho prowess Unlike Dottore or Capitano, he is genuinely handsome and courageous; however, his
pride is too overpowering for him to be trusted or taken seriously by the others.
Emotional Center: Bravado and a hot temper would best describe half of his center. Insatiable pride in
his prowess would be the other half.
Physical Movements: He has an elegant mustache which he constantly twirls and twists. In fact, he is
forever conscious of his appearance. His movements are as large and theatrical as his ego.
Toys: A sword, mustache, and costume pieces of hat, cape, boots, and whatever you can find are always
being handled to display his manly virtues. He lacks, however, the poetic delicacy of the male lover.
Playmates: Any and every woman, but chiefly Isabella, while every man is either a potential opponent
Pantalone goes to Dottore's house to get out of marrying Dottore's daughter. At the front door Pantalone
and Dottore exchange formalities and small talk until Pantalone can break the news to Dottore. Dottore
seems very polite, which reassures Pantalone until the son, a Cavaliere, comes out the front door to tell
Pantalone he has to marry the daughter or fight a duel, to the death. Pantalone tries every way he can
think of to get out of both the marriage and the duel. Finally, Capitano's bluster convinces the cowardly
Pantalone to marry Dottore's daughter.
Describe someone like Cavaliere.
Describe Chinese or Taiwan fictional characters like Cavaliere.
22. Three Person Scene--PANTALONE, DOTTORE, CAPITANO
Switch Capitano for Cavaliere.
If Cavaliere is for real, then Capitano is the faker. His courage is all sham and at the slightest sign of
real danger he flees with Olympic speed.
Pantalone or Dottore are the only ones who believe him. He is enlisted by them to do their dirty work
and, fortunately, is unmasked before he can do any damage.
The longer his nose, the more he lies.
Add the daughter if you have the actors and wish the added complexity.
ARLICHINNO AS PEDROLINO:
Notice the Arlichinno mask but also the long sleeves and many pockets. Arlichinno as Pedrolino is even
more bewildered by the world.