The Comic Mask in the Commedia dell'Arte

Trade Paper – $34.95

ISBN 978-0-8101-2368-7
Publication Date
February 2007
Page Count
262 pages
Trim Size
6 1/8 x 9 1/4
ISBN
0-8101-2368-1

The Comic Mask in the Commedia dell'Arte

Actor Training, Improvisation, and the Poetics of Survival
Antonio Fava
Recipient of 2007 37th Annual University and College Designers Association Cover Design Award



Nobody says Shakespeare is dead, Antonio Fava tells us, but Commedia, they say, is dead. Why? Because clearly, he goes on, we have Shakespeare's texts, but nobody knows what to do with the improvisation that is the basis of the Commedia dell'Arte, despite massive documentation. This book by Fava, one of the few living master teachers of Commedia dell'Arte, is the first aesthetic and methodological study of the traditional Italian theater form--the first to describe, in a precise and practical way, what Commedia is and what it should be.


The mask--as object, symbol, character, theatrical practice, even spectacle itself--is the central metaphor around which Fava builds his discussion of structure, themes, characters, and methods. Drawing on twenty years of research conducted through his work as performer, director, mask maker, and scholar, he offers extensive practical, philosophical, and technical guidelines to performing the stock characters of Commedia, observing its structure, extracting its poetics, exploring its themes, and using the mask. A densely layered text combining historical fact, personal experience, philosophical speculation, and passionate opinion, and including copious illustrations--period drawings, prints, and color photographs of leather Commedia masks made by Fava himself-The Comic Mask in the Commedia dell'Arte is a rich work of singular insight into one of the world's most venerable forms of theater.

About the Author
Antonio Fava, one of the world's foremost experts on Commedia dell'Arte, is an actor, playwright, director, composer, teacher, and mask maker. He founded and runs the Teatro del Vicolo and the International School of the Comic Actor. He lives and teaches in Italy.