The togetherness of the Commedia dell’Arte masks

The mask of Commedia dell’Arte simply cannot work alone for any stretch of time. I have
already talked about how the masks of Commedia dell’Arte represent different aspects of the human inner life, as opposed to the clown who contains a whole world. (See for instance the Royal Dramatic Theatre-speech, part 5).

Kompani Komedi in Gera

With a few brief exceptions, the masks are never alone on stage. Both the humor and the way
of telling the story are collective. It helps the genre in its direct visual style to make images on stage. The collective in the style is also something that helps the frenzy that is so typical for Commedia dell’Arte. Commedia dell’Arte origins from a time long before our individualistic times, when life was lived together on the streets and squares. That also reflects in Commedia dell’Arte.

Commedia dell’Arte contains a number of pairs, or binary relations. Even if they are not
the only relations in Commedia dell’Arte they stay the same from production to production.

The relations between the masks stay the same in status, in that they look for in each other and so on. Pantalone and Arlecchino has a master-servant-relation for example, they always know each other (even though Arlecchino is not working for Pantalone), Arlecchino always
seeks for food or money for least possible effort while Pantalone wants Arlecchino to do him services for the least possible reward. That pattern is followed from show to show with very few exceptions. That is what creates their relation.

The same mask can also constitute more pairs then one. For example Pantalone constitute
a pair together with Dottore, at the same time as he is a pair with Arlecchino, who, in his turn, also constitute a pair with Brighella.

On the other hand don’t Pantalone and Signora make a pair even if they can be married
and even if Pantalone’s relation to her always is about him wanting sex from her and she always cheats him using sex as her tool. That is because their relation is not always the same. They are not always married. She may very well be a brothel madam or a concubine. Because of that they are not a pair or in a binary relation, since their status relation has changed.

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