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Signora Violante

When she heard about Signora Violante's act, dancing a minuet on the slack rope with a child hanging from each ankle, comedian Susan Morrison was mightily impressed - good child care is so hard to get in any era. When she realised that the Signora was also a theatre manager, commedia dell'arte actor and later a top-notch 18th century Enlightenment dancing mistress, Susan was even more impressed, and wanted to know more about her eminent predecessor on the Edinburgh and Dublin comedy stage. Helped by Commedia dell'arte specialist Didi Hopkins and dance historian Grainne McArdle, Susan finds out how you play Columbine and dance a minuet (thankfully on the floor and no children were harmed in the making of this production). We find out more about what the Signora did in Dublin at the new Smock Alley theatre with its director Patrick Sutton, and how she managed to start a theatre war involving smutty songs from the stage. But what did the Signora do in Edinburgh? Historian Louise Yeoman helps Susan unravel the story, finding out about the Signora's children, her husband, her fabulous stage clothes and a scandalous family link to the first night of Handel's Messiah.

Oh and also the flying donkey. Don't stand underneath the flying donkey as it goes by - words to live by in 18th century showbusiness!

Release date:

28 minutes

Last on

Sun 7 May 2017 06:00