Friday, January 28, 2011

The Yale School of Drama presents Ruzante

I assume everyone is familiar with the groundbreaking comedic work of 16th century Venetian actor/playwright Angelo Beolco. Right? Neither was I. Fortunately, I can access Wikipedia articles from my phone, which is helpful research prior to seeing a show like last night's "Ruzante," based on the writings of Beolco.

The show was apparently a slight derivation from the Yale School of Drama's annual commedia play. This is a type of Italian genre with particular types of stock characters who wore masks. I'm still not entirely clear on how this was a derivaiton and not a straight commedia, as I have nothing to compare it to. Perhaps it has something to do with this show being, I supposed, adapted and sewn together from other translated writings? Not sure about that.

Anyway, the play -- and I believe the whole genre -- was characterized by linguistic humor (funny turns of phrases, misunderstandings and mistakes, etc.), as well as swearing and a bit of raunchy material, which of course was raunchier and more shocking in the mid 1500s than today. Unless I'm just hard/impossible to shock. This is the fourth drama school production I've seen this year, and they've all been radically different. You get a sense, given the context, that there's some inside winking going on in these productions, since they are ultimately and primarily exercises for students. We as the audience are seeing an attempt to learn, explore and experiment, as much as an attempt to entertain. That's a context that matters, and can actually make the experience more interesting and fun.

Meanwhile, I'm mentally preparing to hike several blocks this morning and borrow some winter-weather gear in preparation for the ski trip this weekend, to Killington, VT. It'll be beautiful.

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