Nascita della commedia napoletana. Uno studio sul gesto nelle farse e nella pittura di genere

Elenio Cicchini, Ph.D.

‘Naples’, writes Croce in I Teatri di Napoli, ‘was not one of the precocious cities of dramatic performance [...] which is explained by the widespread and lively passion for less intellectual entertainment in which the body played a greater part.’ If elsewhere, theatrical companies were founded at the beginning of the fifteenth century, in Naples, mimic theatre remained dominant for a long time, represented by the minor genre of the farce (farsa).
Still, what exactly is a farsa, and how does it relate to comedy? What does it mean that the body ‘played a greater part’ in Neapolitan theatre? What role do facial expressions and gestures play?
Developing the hypotheses of Andrea de Jorio in La mimica degli antichi investigata nel gestire napoletano (1832), the study examines the ‘comic’ content of the gesture through the analysis of genre painting (G. Gigante, P. Fabris, X. della Gatta) and the reconstruction of the ancient gestural iconography underlying the idea of a ‘Neapolitan mimic’. The iconographic research is flanked by the study of scenography and texts of some of the main Neapolitan farces (Braca, Caracciolo, Sannazaro), in order to enrich the inventory of the ‘Neapolitan gestures’ and to see it in a new light.



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