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La Commedia dell’Seaside

Posted on Mar 01, 2015 in The REP , March-April 2015

Seaside REP’s improvisational theater performances are fun for the whole family. Photo courtesy Seaside REP

The Seaside Repertory Theatre’s spring season brings tumbles, tricks and trips By Rebecca A. Huber

Did you know that our modern sense of humor has been heavily influenced by 16th century Italian theatre? Commedia dell’arte is a form of improvisational theater performed by a traveling comedic troupe of professional actors that performed in the streets and occasionally at court venues until they wore out their welcome.

While their style was improvisational, the troupes perfected their lazzi, a memorized joke or antic they used as a staple in the performances. These jokes became a trademark for the actors or troupes, and many of the lazzi have been passed down from generation to generation. Most of us are familiar with television’s The Simpsons, whose characters are based off the commedia dell’arte stock characters. Homer Simpson is Zanni, the lowly adult with the mentality of a child. Lisa and Marge are both the Columbina character, the beautiful and wise female who solves all the problems. Bart is the perfect Arlechinno, the loveable prankster. These character types are still considered standards for the entertainment industry.

Seaside Repertory Theatre’s (REP) spring season revisits the commedia dell’arte style with “The Commedia Robin Hood.” The merry REP troupe, Columbine, Arlequin, Punchin and Rosetta tackle, tumble, trick and trip their way through the tale of Robin Hood with fantastic abandon. The commedia players are portrayed as poor travelers who have made all their props from objects they’ve found. Get ready for action-packed clowning with puppets, stilts, singing, patter verse and mock combat in this unforgettable adaptation.

You can catch a performance of “The Commedia Robin Hood” on Mondays, March 9 through April 13, at 5 p.m., at the Seaside Amphitheater.

For more information about this performance and The REP’s Spring Break Theater Camp, visit

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