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The Hamlet : Commedia dell' Arte style

Michael Alaimo and his company - 1964

Year: 1964, 28 mins
Code: CAT-Comm

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"Commedia dell' Arte" - a 16th century Italian dramatic genre - was well known in Shakespeare's England. Masked actors improvised on familiar plots and worked familiar characters into comedic versions of serious stories. It was part farce, part deconstruction, part social commentary.

The technique has been used here on scenes from Shakespeare's "Hamlet". It focuses the relationships in the play through a new and unexpected lens. Here Michael Alaimo and his group perform several scenes from "Hamlet" in "Commedia dell'arte" style: his advice to the players, the encounter with his father's ghost (in a tasseled night cap to indicate residence in the nether world), the "to be or not to be" soliloquy (but done in pantomime), his confrontation with his mother, and Ophelia's "mad scene" (which ends in everyone singing a bawdy song.)

This early example of television experimentation was rescued from a film copy, and does not come up to present day technical standards. Black and White

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