Thursday, February 25, 2010

Happy Birthday Commedia dell'Arte!

Today is Commedia dell'Arte Day! Commedia dell'Arte day is promoted by the Italian Cultural Association SAT and organized globally by Faction of Fools Theatre Company based in Washington, D.C. February 25 was chosen to commemorate the birthday of Commedia dell'Arte on February 25, 1545 when a theatre troupe in Padua, Italy, signed documents to become the Western world's first incorporated theatre company. On this day, Commedia dell'Arte created Western professional theatre -- theatre driven by artist entrepreneurs who would make a business out of their craft.

By the close of the 16th century the Commedia tradition -- marked by masks, stock character types, standard plot scenarios, improvisation, and touring ensembles of skilled professionals -- had spread throughout Europe. And today it has spread to a theatre near you here in Washington, D.C.!

In honor of "Commedia dell'Arte Day," The Great One-Man Commedia Epic will run for seven performances from Thursday, February 25 through Monday, March 1 (Thur, 7 pm; Fri, 8 pm; Sat-Sun 4 pm and 8 pm; Mon 7 pm) in the Forum of the Shakespeare Theatre Company's Sydney Harmon Hall (610 F St, NW). Created and performed by International Commedia dell'Arte specialist Matthew R. Wilson, he performs 12 traditional characters and transforms a bare stage into a raucous world of young lovers, squabbling old men, boasting soldiers, and dim-witted servants. The entire town is thrust to the brink of tragedy (even forcing Wilson to dual himself!) before love prevails, normalcy is restored, and comedy triumphs!

Running time is approximately 80 minutes with no intermission. Tickets are $20 for general admission; $10 for children 12. Tickets here or call 202-547-1122.

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