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COMMEDIA CHARACTERS

& Masks of the Commedia

Along the times of the Commedia dell'Arte evolution, the main characters would define themselves and also adapt to changes in the public tastes: nothing new, it sells.

We could try to define what was the typical Commedia dell'Arte setup as follows:

  • Male. Old rich mean guy that usually is fooled by the poor guy's wit.
  • Female. Cute young servant who is going to marry the rich (and a little simpleton) young kid of the block.
  • Male. Poor and again poor and utterly desperate but brilliant individual that will make it good in the end.
  • Male. Arrogant powerful guy who tries to abuse of his power and strenght and whatever other he has, but in the end is usually humiliated and defeated.
  • Female. Rich and revered dame which will try to get the best man available, but usually another poorer lady gets the best in this competition.
  • Male. Arrogant and dishonest representative of the "power" pretending to be intelligent, brilliant and cultivated.
  • Male, more or less. Sweet, dreaming amorous guy who tries to be happy and sometimes succeeds.
  • Male. Arrogant, violent but stupid and coward "representative of the State Power".
  • Male. Sleeky dishonest guy trying to take advantage of every possible situation.
  • Male + Female. Madly in love but there are several difficulties, traisons, misunderstandigs. But it usually ends well, novela-style.


Various mask names would, from time to time, from audience to audience, take the lead in these roles, growing in fame or losing impact on the public.

Commedia dell'Arte = Comedy of Life?


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