Sunday, July 19, 2009

Friday Workshop

I just took one today. I went to the Instructional Center to learn about Italian Punch—Pulcinella…for a bit…until we all were informed that Georgia Tech had once again double booked the class room. Allow me to say that again emphasizing the key points: The Georgia Institute of TECHNOLOGY once again double booked a classroom. Now, that’s just sad, isn’t it? I mean…we do have the scheduling TECHNOLOGY to not do this…it does exist. But I digress.
The workshop was lead by Philip Farah and called “Pulcinella and Commedia dell’ Arte hands on techniques”. Pulcinella is a bit more stylized than its English counterpart. He also looks a great deal different. He wears all white clothes and a black plain (for Commedia dell’ Arte, that is) mask. His motions involve a lot more rhythmic hitting and slapping of the playboard—with not only his hands, but also his face and the back of his head. The characters he plays with are different as well. For example, there is no wife—only a beautiful fiancé which he loves and wants to marry but never gets to. This is not stock, however, because sometimes Pulcinella is not male. In Italy, Pulcinella isn’t just ‘Every-man’; he’s also ‘Every-woman’ depending on the skit at the time. Odd…and difficult to wrap one’s mind about, but true.
He faces off against Death rather than the Devil, but that’s one war he can’t win…just put off for another day. His neighbor is a true villain…and like in England the story really has no non-villains—except possibly the fiancé who isn’t a glove puppet like the rest. She is single stick rod puppet with very little controls and looks like a doll on a stick. Now there is an authority figure that sends Pulcinella off to the hangman, which is the same to a point. For the scene with the hangman is extremely bawdy in its use of the hole presented by the noose. Never thought of that before, I assure you.
There are no huge noses in a Pulcinella set…because there is a lot of beating of the heads against everything: the stick, the playboard, the heads of other characters, etc.
The Italian system of the passing of the torch involves Apprenticeships, which Philip described in great detail. The most striking task being the using of a huge swazzle to make one’s mouth bleed until one’s palette develops calluses. Ouch. I’m glad that I could make my swazzle for my mouth rather than adapt my mouth to a swazzle!

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