The zanni are generally supposed to be low-class characters, at least in behavior if not always in their active social status (as far as rank and riches, zanni are even known to fill out the roles of royalty, as in Harlequin Premier. Thought I’d offer it up today as a kind of a wrap up of my three posts on the Commedia Characters.
Their purpose was to trick the other stock characters.
Pick a character. Within the Zanni characters, there were a number of types. Zanni is a shortening of the name Giovanni, which is a nice way of making a socio-economic /racial insult- it’s as if you were American in San Francisco in the 1860’s, and you called all of the Chinese construction workers Chang. Altogether there are 3 stereotypes of Commedia Dell’arte stock characters: Zanni: Clown-The Zanni is referred to as the ‘servant character.’ Zanni is said to be similar to a circus clown being alert and sharp but is also unintelligent. Zanni’s costume as a clue of the origins of this mask There were a number of different kinds of Zanni, though three prominent ones: Arlecchino, Pulcinella, and Brighella.
Commedia Cosmology: Masters, Lovers, and Servants. There were a number of different kinds of Zanni, though three prominent ones: Arlecchino, Pulcinella, and Brighella. Zanni is sneaky and is known to be a liar and a thief but is also a skilled acrobat.
(Rudlin, 130) Both playwrights use the character of Smeraldina … Zanni were valet buffoons, clowns, and knavish jacks-of-all-trades. (In case you’ve forgotten here they are) ... Commedia Characters: Zanni (The Servants) Their purpose was to trick the other stock characters. Then even in the 15th century people’d rather laugh at what frightened them, than be afraid of it. The only lucid and rational person in commedia dell'arte. In Commedia, the characteristics of a character (such as a walk, a pose, or a gesture) are just like wearing a mask. The Zanni in Commedia dell’Arte were clever servants. After you choose a category, you need to choose a character. )While they might sometimes be of a higher social class, they are never classy per se -- at heart they always remain cunning conmen or dull-witted country boys. It’s also where we get the word Zany from. The Arlecchino is hugely resilient, largely acrobatic character.
Each character has defined attributes that never change. The Arlecchino is hugely resilient, largely acrobatic character. Creating a Commedia Character: Step Two. Zanni, stock servant character in the Italian improvisational theatre known as the commedia dell’arte. The Zanni in Commedia dell’Arte were clever servants. Curiously enough, both Zanni and Harlequin have gradually developed from a “horror mask” into a comic one, just as some well-known horror-movie masks did. All possessed common sense, intelligence, pride, and a love of practical jokes and intrigue. He is dressed as a harlequin with very bright diamond shaped patterns covering… The female zanni, her status is personal maid to the prima donna innamorata, and is initially strong and attractive, like a artiste, later petite and pretty. They were, however, often… By the early 17th century, the zanni comedies were moving from pure improvisational street performances to specified and clearly delineated acts and characters. The comedic actors of Commedia were usually trickster servants called Zanni, from which we get the English word “zany.” The Zanni over time were broken down and divided into various subtypes, like the famous Harlequin that goes back as far as the 14th Century.