Commedia dell'Arte Criticism: Origins And Development - Essay

Anya Peterson Royce (essay date 1986)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Royce, Anya Peterson. “The Venetian Commedia: Actors and Masques in the Development of the Commedia Dell'Arte.” Theatre Survey 27, nos. 1-2 (1986): 69-87.

[In the following essay, Peterson Royce traces the origins of the commedia dell'arte to popular street entertainment in Venice.]

The commedia dell'arte, which spanned three centuries from the sixteenth to the beginning of the nineteenth and nationalities as diverse as Italian, French, Austrian, Polish, and English, went through a number of metamorphoses before it attained the form we now associate with it. Very briefly, that form is based on stock characters (Arlecchino, Pantalone, Il...

(The entire section is 8606 words.)

Kenneth Richards and Laura Richards (essay date 1990)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Richards, Kenneth, and Laura Richards. “Antecedents” and “The Emergence of Professional Companies.” In Commedia dell'Arte: A Documentary History, pp. 11-19, 32-40. Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1990.

[In the following excerpt, the critics give the early history of the commedia dell'arte, beginning with its limited connection to classical sources and its more likely origins in the popular entertainments of the Venetian Carnival.]


A number of very early comments on the commedia dell'arte, dating from the sixteenth century, assume a derivation at least from Roman times, but although they have the apparent...

(The entire section is 6723 words.)