My Life at Li Po Chun United World College of Hong Kong 2011-2013

Commedia dell’arte

Yesterday afternoon, finally something exciting happened again in LPC! The last days and also the coming ones were and are mainly characterized by exam preparation, so all Quan Cais etc. have been cancelled, Firstyears go only to classes and we Secondyears are free to do nothing but study for our up-coming exams. However, yesterday we had a short glimpse of our usual LPC life: The Year 1 Theatre students gave us a performance of Commedia dell’arte, a special type of theatre originating in Italy. Commedia dell’arte is characterized by its mainly masked performers and improvised sketches and scenarios. To describe it the most basic, one could say Commedia dell’arte is indeed comedy. DSC09397

The scenarios and sketches performed by our Theatre Students were all both funny – and very, very weird. Often, you could not understand a word of what they mumbled, sometimes it didn’t make sense. One of the students explained the whole concept to me afterwards, saying that they had gotten a bunch of characters and were told to write three plots with exactly those characters. Though the characters stayed the same, all three plots were different, and so were the interpretations of the individual characters! It was very interesting to see how the students had interpreted the characters all in very different ways.DSC09414

The plots were about love and intrigues, money and reputation, and the (often love) stories were presented in a way that opposes all description: Grotesque, heavily sexual, yet absolutely hilarious. Shira, one of the Theatre Students afterwards explained one of the plots to me: “Pantelone wants Isabella, his daughter, to marry Il Detore because he thinks Il Detore is rich. Il Detore’s son, Flavio, and Isabella are in love and want to get married. Zanni and Culombina are Pantelone’s servants and Arrlechino is Il Detore’s servant. La Ruffiana is Columbina’s and Zanni’s mother, and wants Columbina to marry Pantelone so that she becomes rich. Arrleccino has the idea and arranges that La Ruffiana and Il Detore get married, Columbina and Pantelone get married and Zanni and Arrlechino get married. This way, everybody is matched up and Flavio and Isabella are free to become married, too.”DSC09411

While all of us spectators had a lot of fun in the Courtyard, watching the Theatre Student making fools out of themselves, this was an actual Course Unit for them. After the performance, one of the Y1 Theatre Students told me: “I learned all about commedia in the last classes. I found it particularly interesting to learn how to act in extreme, different characteristics of characters. You really have to practice to exaggerate whatever you do, it’s not easy. Yet, of course, it was really, really fun, too. I don’t think most of you got what the plots were about, but at least you laughed and that was our objective”.

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