Back to Chicago and UIC – Commedia Masks This Time

Back to Chicago and UIC for another Inside Out Studio and Jeff Semmerling sponsored workshop with guest instructor from Italy. Ginevra Sanguigno of Clown One Italia. She is actor, dancer, clown and has just returned from a trip with Patch Adams of the Gesundheit! Institute. The plan is to work with just two of the comic masks from the Commedia – Pulcinella and Arlecchino.

One day workshop structure:
Warmup to music
“Wind Exercise” – interpret wind working alone from verbal directions – to explore parts of the body and qualities of wind
“Wind Exercise” with apartner
“observe own state of being” – this is quality of Ginevras work – structure always directly requires introspective analysis
“Basic Body Separation” exercises to increase movement vocabulary
“Wind Exercise” this time solo, but exploring tempos and levels of space with music this time
“observe ones state of being”
“Wind Exercise” as group – different tempos from furious to calm
“observe ones state of being”
Introduction to the Masks – mini lecture by Ginevra
Voicework – tonguetwisters exercise embodying various emotions
Voicework – tonguetwisters with emotions and movemetn
Demonstration/explanation of Commedia masks by Jeff
Session of Personal Exploration with mask of choice
Presentation of Individual Discoveries
Peer Critique
Creation of Piece with a Partner and its presentation – using only sketch structure like original Commedia
Peer Critique
Open Q & A with Ginevra and Jeff

Mini-Lecture Notes:

  • Lecoq experience starts from one’s own natural movement, what is within your own natural movement uncovers the character.
  • Ancestor of Arlecchino comes from Roman mask whose role was as a shadow to move in cemetary between the tombs. Movement to entertain dead people. His roots were possibly as a demon as well – the stubs or warts on his mask are what remains of his horns. His movement is always alive and quick. it is possible that he wore patchwork to attract stupid people to trick them.
  • best book: Niccolo Fano “Il maschere italiano”
  • In Islamic culture, the Sufis have holy beggars and traveling entertainers that wear patchwork as representation of the universe.
  • Some cultural roots are mythic creatures that are half animal and half human, that can be demonic or at times wise and holy.
  • the clown as a healer in ancient traditions was that they excite people to heal them. the confusion at the beginning of routine is how they open up people to change for healing. the actions of the clown help people become more aware, which is a way to come out of the transitional state.
  • Arlecchino is always poor, and therefore hungry, trying to survive somehow.
  • Pulcinella began wearing the white of the zanne, but is characteristically deformed with a hump. He is also a servenat, also hungry, and always looking for something. According to Fano, he also has roots in the world of the monster and demon.

Comments on Voicework:
Greatest challenge is to find right voice for the mask. The goal of the tongue twisters exercise is to dissociate context and meaning from speakaing from the quality tonality of the voice to communicate the essential meaning

Comments on Mask:
Jeff – in working with mask to communicate, it is best to concieve that there is a light coming from the head that is communicated through the mask eyes.

Comments from the Open Discussion:
the clown is not a therapist but a facilitator.
the clown breaks the barrier of wht is expected (the devil aspect of the clown) which then opens up the realm of possibilities
Me: then the healer aspect of the clown is more able to operate as then the true essence of others is more open to true essence of clown because the barriers are down.

“Even if you are suffering in end stages of HIV disease, and only have hours or days to live, the clown healer can allow the person to remember the true essence of their life, and then they can die alive.” (in the state of their best part) – Linda Cripps