The hall fell into a silent dark and the stage was heavily lighted. Actors came running, jumping and cooing out! Standing in row, these bunch of two women and four men cooed and cooed more. They were announcing, singing, clapping, playing guitar, thumbing feet, clanking wooden stick and wearing mask. The lights offered a clear details. And soon, they ran back then a lady re-appeared. The play began.
Il Carro dei Comici, the Italian theater company which was started in 2007 performed for the very first time in India declaring “whether Indians could understand Italians” at India Habitat Centre in New Delhi on 27th Sept 2009. the company is dedicated to promoting using the techniques of expression characteristic of Commedia dell’Arte which was born in Italy in the late 15th century, meaning originally the art of comedy. Commedia dell’Arte use all aspects of theatrical expertise; In every show one could find live music, singing, acrobatics, fencing duels, dramatic moments, extempore acting and comical scenes. It’s also unique in its use of masks and it forms the basis of all modern comedies in the world, especially the “slapstick comedy”.
Inspired by ‘The merchant of Venice”, ‘Romeo and Juliet’ and ‘Othello’ by William Shakespeare and directed by Carlo Boso, Mori a Venezia uses these interactive gestures of actors finely – masks, improvise, sing, dance, perform pantomimes and combats on stage.
Lovers and chaos. Mori a Vanezia unfolds with Jessica, daughter of Shylock, who is in love with the pirate Sinbad, enraging her father. Antonio, a poor fisherman migrates to Venice in search of fortune and falls in love with Benilde, a noble mistress, who was courted by Shylock. Antonio takes loans from Shylock to obtain her favour and to make a fortune in America. Baldassarre and Pedrolino, servants of Antonio and Shylock respectively, help them realize their plans. These Venezians and pirates followed character grappings and Sinbad appeared by the end.
The language was in Italian. Though the fully packed audience should know Italian to understand, assume half didn’t know, even then, little wonder that the play received some five minutes applause from these “Indians” audience. The performances were supered counting the actors high credentials. The scenes where techniques of improvising stands out much; insertions of two or three Hindi words, Rakhi Sawant and Bihari recieved roaring laughters.
Wickedly so, Mori a Venezia looked gorgous – the lovers and the plans – and finely articulated the rich Commedia dell’Arte form which sprang your body loose. And walked away winning over you without explaining itself, but after giving you all it stand for.