Commedia Link: Commedia Books for performers

The first place to start to learn about Commedia are books.  Amazon lists 325 books under the search “Commedia Dell’arte”

You can browse all of those books here: Commedia Books on Amazon

Below I pick 6 that I particularly like, and that I think are particularly great for both experts and novices alike.   I welcome your own recommendations in the comments.
Please note that the links to Amazon are affiliate links, and will get a small credit if you buy stuff using those links. THANKS IN ADVANCE!

I also recommend that some of the more expensive books be gotten out of your local library.

Commedia Dell’Arte: An Actor’s Handbook by John Rudlin

Rudlin’s book is a classic textbook about how to act Commedia. The price has gone up tremendously (I think I bought mine for $9.95 when it came out) but I have to say that it’s worth it. This book gives you most of what you need to know for learning about commedia, along with a number of valuable exercises to practice.   Rudlin also has a follow up book that he wrote:  Commedia Dell’arte a Handbook for Troupes which has many more 2 and 3 person exercises and scenarios to practice.
The Italian Comedy by Pierre Louis Duchartre The Duchartre book is a great history of Commedia. Doesn’t delve too much into performance practices, but really gets into the nitty gritty history. Lots of great illustrations. A must for your commedia library.  THE ITALIAN COMEDY ON AMAZON

Flaminio Scala's Scenarios

Scenarios of the Commedia Dell’arte by Flaminio Scala

This is a breakdown of a whole bunch of actual commedia scenarios.  A wonderful (although right now very expensive) look at the actual scenarios used by commedia players.  Try to get this out of the library if you can, or just break down and buy it.  If you are serious about commedia it is worth the $60 or so on Amazon.  (And if I had known this book was going to be worth $60 in 1985 I would have bought a case of them!)SCENARIOS OF THE COMMEDIA DELL’ARTE ON AMAZON

Tricks of the Trade by Dario Fo

Tricks of the Trade by Dario Fo

Dario Fo is one of the premiere playwrights and performers of our time.  I was fortunate enough to follow him around in Copenhagen in 1996, and took a master class with him then.  In 1997 he won the Nobel Prize for literature.  Now, I’m not saying there’s a connection between these two facts, I’m just pointing them out!  :O)This book is a great insight into a master class with Dario– over the course of the book you really get into how he thinks about storytelling and comedy.  It’s another book that used to be reasonably priced.


The Comic Mask in the Commedia dell’Arte by Antonio Fava

Antonio Fava is one of the top mask makers and commedia trainers in the world.  His classes (which now come to the US and also to Great Britain on occasion) are generally held as some of the top in terms of re-creating the styles of the past while maintaining the immediacy of now.  Highly recommend this book as an insight into his work.THE COMIC MASK IN THE COMMEDIA DELL’ARTE ON AMAZON.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.