Y8 project between art and English. 

Year 8 students have recently completed a long-term project on the famous 16 century improvisation theatre movement, Commedia dell ‘Arte. This carnival inspired, Venetian set art form has its roots in historical theatre. It allowed actors much more freedom to interpret their parts as well as letting women become actors, which hadn’t happened since the ancient Greeks.  Each mask represents a set character, usually divided into three main types; Zanni (servants), Vecchi (masters), and Innamorati (lovers).  

Zannis are usually comical in appearance, with emphasized appendages such as noses, foreheads and colourful costumes. Think of Harlequin, an original Commedia dell´Arte character, and you have a Zanni. Their masters, the Vecchi, on the other hand, are cranky and pompous in their dotage and are generally on the receiving end of many pranks and intrigues. Finally, love spins its chaotic web across all sides with the Innamorati at its epicentre. Interestingly, the amorous couple were the only part of the troupe who didn’t wear masks.  

The students studied deeply into their elected characters’ traits and appearance which complemented their English studies with the use of physical theatre. Towards the end of the third term, we look forward to uniting their elevated mask creations with theatrical show cases with such works as “The Scandalous Marriage of Capitano Fortunato” and other skits so that Commedia dell ‘Arte will have truly come to Richmond Park. Please pass by the art corridor on the first floor to see the present showcase if you have the opportunity. 

Teachers: Greg Williams (art)  

Anne Lydon (English and drama)