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Pazzi Lazzi Troupe Perform “Masks in Motion” Show at Cardinal Cushing Library

Charia Durazzini (Right) performing as Arlecchino while Daniel Meyers (Left) plays music. Photo by Ave Johnhope

The Cardinal Cushing Library hosted the Pazzi Lazzi troupe’s “Masks in Motion” show last Thursday Feb. 8.  Students and faculty gathered in the library’s Reading Room to learn the Italian art form, Commedia Dell’arte.

Commedia Dell’arte is an improvised comedy act that was popular in Italian theaters throughout the 16th and 18th centuries. During their shows, actors performed their actions and dialogue based on basic plots.

Cards of some of the stock characters in Commedia Dell’arte. Cards Provided By: Professor Isa Orvieto
Photo Provided By: Ave Johnhope

While it is not as popular as it once was, the comedy act is commonly performed during the Carnevale di Venezia from Feb. 3 to Feb. 13.

The Italian Club and Art History Club co-sponsored the event. The two clubs hoped the event would help give people a better understanding of Italian culture.

“I think that it brings a lot of cultural aspects of Italy to here,” Italian Club President Philip Goulet ’18 said. “Too often is Italy seen as ‘Pizza! Pasta!’ So, this is more cultural in music and stuff.”

Art History Club President Madeline Petrucelli ’19 praised the Commedia Dell’arte masks.

“I would like to consider the art of masks to be a part of Art History,” Petrucelli said. “Just because there’s different types of them, different designs on them, it’s like a form of self-expression for the artist or the wearer.”

Masks commonly used in a Commedia Dell’arte show. Photo Provided By: Ave Johnhope

The Italian Club Advisor, Professor Isa Orvieto, planned and organized the “Masks in Motion” event.

Italian Club Secretary Noelle Bisignano ’20 noted Orvieto’s hard work.

“She was the one who learned about them. She really was the one who was doing the communication back and forth,” Bisignano said. “Everything that I know, I got it from her.”

Orvieto had seen the Pazzi Lazzi troupe’s performance at Harvard University and wanted them to perform at Emmanuel.

Orvieto grew up in Rome, Italy. During her childhood, she watched Commedia Dell’arte performances, and would dress as some of the characters for Carnevale di Venezia.

“We studied Commedia Dell’arte in Elementary school in Italy. Everybody knows what it is,” Orvieto said. “As children, we would wear the costumes for Carnevale. So, the idea of costumes, the masks, and the fooling around is a theme.”

Like Orvieto, the co-founder of the Pazzi Lazzi troupe, Chiara Durazzini was raised in Italy. As a child, she enjoyed dressing up as a Commedia Dell’arte character for the Carnevale.

“When we would dress up for Carnevale, I would say, that being a Columbina was every girl’s dream,” Durazzini said. “But sometimes it was fun to dress up as Arlecchino. I still have an old Arlecchino costume, when I was really small with this basic mask.”

With the help of Multi-instrumentalist Daniel Meyers, Durazzini educated the audience on Commedia Dell’arte through a performance, lecture, and workshop.

Durazzini (Left) giving a lecture on the history of Commedia Dell’arte. Photo by Ave Johnhope

Meyers (Right) giving a lecture on the Renaissance music. Photo by Ave Johnhope

Throughout the show, students and faculty witnessed a common Commedia Dell’arte show, learned its history, and gained a first-hand experience of the acting techniques.

Durazzini (Center) demonstrating acting techniques.

Students and Faulty acting like Commedia Dell’arte characters. Photo by Ave Johnhope

Students acting with masks on. Photo by Ave Johnhope

One of the participating students, Audrey Esakoff  ’19, said that the event was a fun way to learn about Commedia Dell’arte.

Through the “Masks in Motion” event, the Italian and Art History Club worked to spread awareness of different aspects of culture on campus.

Students wearing masks. Photo by Ave Johnhope

Posted by on February 15, 2018. Filed under Around Campus. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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