Monday, January 13, 2020

Commedia dell'Arte & the Dawn of Molière

What is Commedia dell'Arte? According to Encyclopedia Brittanica it is a "lost" theatrical art form. 

We know a lot about this style of theater... but because of the improvisational nature of Commedia dell'Arte, much delivery, dialogue, costumes, and jokes are lost to the ages. 

But we do know many of the key ingredients... 

The Great Outdoors:
Performances of Commedia dell'Arte began in Italy in early to mid 1500s. In contrast to dramas and tragedies, these comedies tended to be performed outside, and were attended by the general population. 

Traveling Troupes:

Actors of Commedia dell'Arte were typically nomadic, traveling from one village (or city) to the next. As the demand for this art form thrived throughout much of Europe (including France), troupe became even more mobile. 

Costumes and Masks:

Distinct colors and fabric patterns denoted the different stock characters. Masks featured highly exaggerated facial features. (I think all of them look creepy, but maybe that's just me.)

Women in the Theater:

Take that, Shakespeare! The first professional actresses (since the fall of Rome) performed Commedia dell'Arte. 

Loose Plot + Improv + Well-Practiced Slapstick = Commedia:

It wasn't pure improvisation... Most shows had a rough sketch with a clear conflict, beginning middle and end. Actors knew each others characters so well that they developed comedic routines, speeches, quips, and pratfalls. 

The medium flourished for centuries... evolving into many different theatrical forms. Including... our hero of the afternoon... 

As well as modern day silly people at Renaissance Fairs... 

And don't forget these guys... 

Unfortunately... when Napoleon took over most of Europe he did not care for the satirical nature of Commedia dell'Arte... So he had it outlawed in 1797. 

But let's back up again... before that that 5 foot, Seven inched general ruined everything. 

In the golden age of Commedia dell'Arte, most troupes consisted of at least ten players. Most storylines contained what was called the Usual Ten... 

Four Innamorati (Two pairs of Lovers)
Two Vecchi (Old men who are often greedy or overbearing or both)
One Captain (who is boastful yet usually a coward)
One Colombina ( often a maid, almost always a trickster -- sound familiar?)
Two Zanni (trickster characters / sometimes servants) 

Now... where does Moliere come into play? He was born Jean-Bapiste Poquelin... he adopted his stage name later in life. The year of his birth was 1622... just six years after the death of Shakespeare. Hmmm... 

(Reincarnation, anyone?)

This French-speaking vlogger provides a quick overview of the playwright's career... 

Thursday, January 9, 2020

Helpful Links for English 1A

Hello there...

Just organizing some of the articles I will be using for this semester...

"The Human Nature of Werner Herzog's Grizzly Man"

"Coach Wooden's Pyramid of Success"

Packing for Mars by Mary Roach

"Behind the Formaldehyde Curtain" by Jessica Mitford

"Why We Crave Horror Movies" by Stephen King

Prop 47 Article: LA Times

Prop 47 Article: Fox News

"Netflix's 'You' is an Addictive Thriller"

"John Chau and the Sentinelese"

"10 Things I Hate About Anonymous" by Ron Rosenbaum

"I Want a Wife" by Judy Brady

"The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas" by Ursula K. LeGuin

"One Side Can Be Wrong"

"To Build a Fire" by Jack London

"3 Reasons Why It's OK to Have Dark Humor"

"How Tiger Woods' Father Treated His Son as a Prisoner of War"

"Against School" by John Taylor Gatto

"The Singer Solution to World Poverty" by Peter Singer

"OK Boomer Marks the End of Friendly Generational Relations"

Outliers by Malcom Gladwell

Why Don't We Complain?

Monday, December 30, 2019

Goals for a New Year, New Decade

All right, people. This is it. Time to get serious. We're 48 hours away from the Roaring Twenties 2.0!

By the end of this decade I will be an old person. (That's assuming I survive until 2030.) Therefore, I want to hit as many of my bucket list goals as possible, within the next ten years.

My most ambitious life-long project that I hope to complete is a cycle of Eight Novels.

One of them (CAMP OMIGOSH) is in print. Two of them have been completed in manuscript form (VISIONS in the MIDNIGHT REALM, TWIXT & TWERP).

God willing, the next book in the cycle will be KETTLE BLACK. Hopefully I will complete that during 2020. Then, I have the rest of the decade to generat the last four novels (and I only have murky ideas about what they will be).

New Year's Resolutions...

For 2019... I was a bad boy. I did not write / sell a new play, or a new picture book, as I had promised myself. I also failed to gain 1000 YouTube followers. However, I can easily forgive my shortcomings because I surprised myself by writing my longest novel ever, and all entirely within 2019... That, of course, is Twixt & Twerp, which is currently in the hands of my agent.

So now, it's time to generate my 2020 Goals... They will be quite similar to last year's since I didn't accomplish those goals... Here they are:

1) Write / Sell a new picture book

2) Write / Sell a new play

3) Gain +1100 YouTube followers

And... I have been very forward thinking, and I have created a Vision for the Year 2030:

1) I am retired.

2) I have free time.

3) Cheri and I are head-over-heels in love with each other.

4) I have many creative outlets and abilities.

5) We have $100,000 in savings and less than $5000 in credit card debt.

So, that's the vision. I know the universe might have other plans for us... But for now, that's the direction I'd like to head... And I'm ready to get to work!  Part of me is tempted to list something like "my children are happy and successful." However, that's their journey, not mine. It goes without saying that I will do all within my power to help them towards a fulfilling life.

To any and all who read this, HAPPY NEW YEAR! May the Roaring Twenties 2.0 be breathtaking.