Melodrama and commedia dell’arte


Melodrama is a style of theatre that was prominent in the Victorian era. It uses exaggeration and stereotyped characters to appeal to the audience’s emotions. It can be useful when working within the melodrama genre to explore stock characters, eg an evil villain, a wronged maiden or a noble hero. Very clear and loud vocal delivery is needed in a melodrama, facing out to the audience, combined with large gestures and exaggerated facial expressions. The plot for a melodramatic devised piece would ideally be very sensational, designed to evoke emotion within the audience, with lots of dialogue.

Commedia dell’arte

Commedia dell’arte was established in Italy during the 16th century. It has very clear, simple and humorous plot lines, usually related to the themes of love, money or food. It is important to research the stock characters of that time, eg foolish elderly men and mischievous servants. Distinct costumes and masks were used to identify characters and should be an integral part of any performance within this genre.

Commedia dell’arte often includes:

Three males stand on stage in highly-decorated costumes and masks that are indicative of commedia dell’arte.
The distinct masks and costumes of commedia dell’arte in a performance of Servant Of Two Masters, Teatro D'Europa
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