I will just give a brief explanation on Commedia dell’Arte to share my point of view. But the pages might expand over time…
As with all Vulgar Comedy Commedia dell’Arte has its origins from the rites and festivities in ancient times. As a matter of fact it IS a party, shared with the audience, not acted out for the audience.
The plot in Commedia dell’Arte isn’t there primarily to tell a story. Just as in the rites of midsummer, church ceremonies or with Santa, the plot in Commedia dell’Arte is just there to hang up the scenes, lazzi, music, dialogs and tricks on.
Just as in other rituals we can be secure when we know to basic plot. We can therefore focus on the actions within the plot and take closer part in the show. In that way we in the audience become much more of participants then spectators.
Instead of a plot Commedia dell’Arte is all about the masks. They are the base for the play, with their instant recognition, their passionate drives and their constant urge to be loved by the audience.
The masks of Commedia dell’Arte are driven by their lust or their hunger instead of psychology. It can be sex, greed or revenge, or by their appetite for the seven deadly sins.
It is also one of the most collective theatre forms in the world, since each mask only represent one (or a few) aspect of a person they don’t work alone.
As an acting style Commedia dell’Arte is always based on the idea of street theatre. It is coarse, physical, fast, visual, big in expression, spectacular and always built on the concept of mask. Commedia dell’Arte can also contain all forms of stage arts and disciplines.
The technique is a strong component that the actors must use to make the masks and the play visible and understandable in the crazy energy of Commedia dell’Arte that allows anything to happen and makes us in the audience laugh at it all.