An Interview with Roberto Andrioli, one of our Commedia dell’Arte instructors in Florence, Italy
1) Tell us about you.
I am Roberto Andrioli, 42 years old and I have been practicing Theatre since I was 17 years old. I started in Florence at the Oriuolo Theatre then with Master Orazio Costa. Then I moved to Milan where I graduated from The Drama Academy of Piccolo Teatro directed by Master Giorgio Strehler. There I had the occasion to begin studying Commedia dell’Arte with the famous Arlecchino Ferruccio Soleri and Mime techniques with Marise Flash (Decroux method) and I began to use the leather mask made by Master Sartori. I had the chance to study Commedia with Enrico Bonavera, Adriano Jurissevic, then Nicolay Karpov, and Yosci Oida. After I developed my experience studying physical theatre I continued with contemporary dance with Master Caroline Carlson.
I spent two years working and collaborating with LA MAMA e.t.c in New York City, then I was part of the French theatre company Jean Francois Duroure. I have been teaching Commedia and making Leather Masks since 2000. I have worked in many productions of Prose, Musical and Commedia theatre as an Actor and Director. I love Commedia dell’Arte and in my opinion it is a very good meeting point between tradition and innovation. It is a very creative theatre and Masks are very good instrument to develop the acting techniques for any kind of actor. Another good thing for me is the relation that we can find in the Commedia tradition between music, dance and acting.
2) How did you start with Commedia?
In Milan at the Piccolo Theatre Accademy with Ferrucio Soleri
3) Why is it important for actors to learn about Commedia?
Because Commedia dell’Arte is a very important cultural phenomenon that started in the 16th century in Italy and involved all Europe and influenced the most important classical playwrites in the 17th and 18th century in all of Europe. So we can say that our European tradition comes from Commedia that at this time it is connected with Middle Age theatre and Latin theatre. Then I think that technicallly it is very important and funny for whoever is practicing acting to know the Commedia way of defining characters and using the body and voice.
4) What is challenging about Commedia?
The possibility to create theatre based on physical gags and body expression where it is very clear that also the use of voice is a physical body thing. So in Commedia every strange and original idea can be good if the energetic impact on the audience it is at the right level. But to get to that level of energy and manage that level is a challenge for sure.
5) What do you teach in the workshop?
I try to find relation with music language so that the students understand that acting is like playing music, you need a lot of passion but a lot of control and time for repeating and repeating until you not only understand but take your body to the point to make the action in the right energy and speed in a precise way. And also I try to find out with the student their own way to make Zanni or Arlecchino or any of the characters. It is the most important thing to not lose our personality under the mask.
6) Who is your favorite Commedia character?
I really like Arlecchino and the Old Pantalone in their relation. There is the father and the son, the master and the servant, the old and the young, and inside of Pantalone there is a little Arlecchino hidden and free…searching for love and freedom and not just money and business : )
7) Do we see Commedia characters in real-life today?
Always if you go out in the street or just inside of every family it is easy to still find these types of characters alive. Sometimes it is a very strong feeling and sometimes you are in the street and you turn to watch some character that captures your attention. Most of the time there is a Commedia character or a Commedia gag hidden in that reality.
8) Marco Bendoni teaches another part of the course. Why is his part important too?
I really like his artistic work, his research and his spirit. I like the fact that he is a teacher of Renaissance and baroque dance, which is so connected with the history, the energy and the style of Commedia characters. Also, Marco is a Master of Spiritual dances and meditation. I like to point the attention of the fact that Commedia is funny theatre but very deep. And to get the energy of the characters that are somehow deformations of human deficits and characteristics , the actor has to do deep, long, and continued work on balance, and manage the energy in the neutral dimension. I find Marco so fun and full of inspiration and it is always a pleasure to work with him. He is a very special man
Go Inspired will have its Commedia dell’Arte workshop in Florence, Italy for 3 weeks from June 30-July, 18. Check our website for up-to-date information on the course and deadlines.