Each of the major styles studied at The Commedia School adds another
dimension to the actor or actressís development. Of course, each style has
its value as a specific form of performing. But just as important as
developing skills particular to a certain style is the addition each style
gives to the overall development of the actor or actress. For example,
perhaps one may never perform as a red nosed clown, but having trained and
studied the clown, one will add a richness and depth what would otherwise be
unavailable to performances of the classics such as Shakespeare. The reverse
is also true. Study and development with Shakespeare texts will give a
deeper richness to performances as a red nosed clown.
Here at The
Commedia School we study grand styles that extend the limits of each
performer. Each style has its particular demands, physical, vocal, and
spatial that help the student develop different abilities. These popular
styles have their roots in social phenomena and thus relate to the personal
lives of the students and the public. Here at The Commedia School one
develops to tools to make each of these styles alive and relevant to today's
Masks teach the student awareness and control of the movement and gesture.
The masks demand that the student becomes aware of the essential gestures as
well as aware of those not essential and thus distracting. The mask enlarges
the performer to a higher level of projection and playing. It demands
clarity of intention and precision of gesture and voice.
Click here for photos of masks
During this study, the students discover the fundamental nature of theatre,
telling stories whether literary and verbal or gestural and non-verbal. By
telling stories, the students learn to connect in a profound way with the
public and develop the sensitivity necessary to hold the public and take
them on a journey through the story. Everyone loves a charming story, and in
this section of study the students discover their own unique charm and
create their own stories.
As the students encounter the phenomena of the clown, they develop a freedom
of play while discovering their stock comic character, their unique way of
making people laugh. Working with the solitude of the clown gives them a
sense of being well centered in themselves on stage and in touch with the
immediate circumstances. Working with the naivetť of the clown gives each
student experience with a basic human condition and their own vulnerability.
They discover that their personal vulnerability is what makes them
interesting on stage no matter what style they are performing in.
The study of melodrama explores that dramatic territory that lies between
farce and tragedy touching both at opposite extremes, at one end comic, and
at the other end tragic. Working as an ensemble, the students discover how
they can move the publicís emotions between these extremes by studying those
demands particular to the melodramatic space.
Although the commedia dellíarte, the Italian comedy, is today a dead form,
the study is important historically because it is a modern source of our
western performing arts. The important aspect in the actorís development is
the level of play demanded. Someone once described commedia as circus with a
plot, and indeed commedia is at its best when the level energy is at circus
level. The students are obliged to push their own abilities to the level of
the fantastic discovering another dimension of themselves in the process.
Important aspects of tragedy are the chorus and the tragic space. In the
study of tragedy, the students develop a fundamental understanding of the
chorus. They can then transpose that phenomenon to the other styles giving
all their work a richer quality. The tragic space, being very particular and
a dominant aspect of this style, gives the students an immediate sense of
the spatial demands of a particular style. These particular demands are
discovered in movement, voice and text.
Many aspects of the buffoon relate directly to other styles. The tragic
space, the fantastic level of play, the foolish logic, and the direct
contact with the public are part of the play of the buffoon. This study then
reveals to the students how different styles can be used in the same piece.
Students discover how to confront the public about sensitive issues in a
manner that is effective and yet not destructive. The theatrical study of
the buffoon is a study of human folly touching both the tragic and comic
extremes. During this study, the students discover another aspect of the
stock character, the grotesque aspect.
The period of cabaret study involves each student creating performing
material that is very personal in nature with an emphasis on writing,
composing and staging songs. This study pushes the limits of the studentís
creativity in areas not otherwise explored, like stand up comedy, magic,
burlesque and other more or less obscure areas of performing.
For us at The Commedia School, it is important that the students create
performance level material in each of these styles. Shows in each style are
staged in the school studio and often are later performed in other venues in
Copenhagen or at festivals in Denmark and abroad. These performances confirm
for the students the attractive power of popular theatre styles.