New English Translation Available
by Dorothy Holland  &  Paolo E. Landi
For scripts and performance rights contact

Commedia dell'arte is a heritage common to many national theater forms (Italian as well as French, Russian and American), to cinema and to a variety of performing methods and theories. Unfortunately, it is little known and even less put in practice. University students and professionals rarely get introduced to its physical energy, game, masks, and improvisations. Visual documents of the Commedia performances are available but for texts, we have only the scenarios that summarize the plots and contain some undecipherable references to 'gags', and the prop lists. Those texts were meant for the use of the actors and the company members. Goldoni's Servant of Two Master and Venetian Twins are very useful because they give us an insight into what might have been a Commedia play. When Goldoni wrote them, he was early in his playwriting career when he was working as a lawyer in Pisa. He first gave the scenario to a company and after some months wrote the text, basing it on the improvisations of the actors. So this play comes from the stage to the page, and not the contrary, as usually happens. Venetian Twins follows the tradition of the plot about twins (Maenecmi by Plautus, and Comedy of Errors by Shakespeare, just to mention the best known), inserting another traditional story that of an evil character disguised in the dress of a pious man (Moliere's Tartuffe). Staging this play, our goal, has been that of researching the elements of the Commedia dell'arte that still survive in cinema and in contemporary theatre such as mask, and improvisation A mask is not only an object but it also represents a stereotypical character who possesses some standard qualities that never change, no matter what the plot might do. Arlecchino, Brighella, the Doctor are wearing masks and are masks. For example in the cinema: The Little Tramp (of Charlie Chaplin) was a mask as well. The slapstick is coming directly from the tradition of the commedia. The commedia's actors are famous for improvising the text. This is only partially true. They knew monologues and dialogues that could be used in different situations. But, from time to time, they would improvise, especially with the audience. The audience becomes the best partner of the character - sharing his real thoughts (using the so called ASIDE) and feelings. So, we asked ourselves: what is the contemporary theatre that involves the audience in the action? Our answer: standup comedy. Eduardo De Filippo and Dario Fo (the best-known Italian playwrights - with Pirandello- of last century), did use improvisation in their performances. They both consider commedia as a useful tool for creating a new theatre, going back to its root (to play - to see) in order to involve the audience in a process of better understanding our contemporary life. Twins is the story of two brothers, one very smart (Tonino), the other very na´ve (Zanetto). While Goldoni is using Tonino for celebrating the skills of the new merchant middle-class (in a period when Venice was the New York of the Mediterranean), Zanetto is the sympathetic childlike character who asks, "Aren't we too well organized, too much on our schedule? Aren't we forgetting something about ourselves? Aren't we killing the child we have inside?" .




Venetian Twins

by Carlo Goldoni


Directed by

Paolo Emilio Landi



Reed West III



Santi Migneco


Costume Coordinator

Nancy Allen


Make Up Coordinator

Leslie Pope


Fight Choreographer

Phil Hayes


Associate Technica Director

Rich Mason


Produced by
University of Richmond

Jepson Theatre -University of Richmond (VA)

Style Weekly

Paolo Emilio Landi








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