In Greek tragedy, characters, masks and actors form a compact unity, whereas comic masks are usually perceived as an object, almost a plaything in the hands of the actor. This peculiarity is one ingredient of the so-called “metatheatrical” spirit of old Greek comedy, whereby theatrical props, masks, etc. are often referred to as such. A similar antithesis between the two genres emerges from the pictorial record: some much discussed vases depict both tragic and comic actors on the same scene, yet the latter wear a very conspicuous mask, whereas the former are unmasked, as if to show the compact unity of character, mask and actor. Building on this generic opposition, we make a few observations about the masks of the three hags in Aristophanes’ Assemblywomen. A close examination of lines 1056-1057 is a good case in point, revealing the theatrical possibilities of the actor’s playing with his mask: the two hags are not ‘characters’ in the modern sense, but different instantiations of the metamorphic ability of one and the same actor, whose changing look is designed to render the face of the new regime, foisting power and seduction on the reluctant citizens. The constant pointing to the presence of an audience, of a stage, and, in a broader sense, the reality of the theatrical representation itself are yet another problem for those who want to stage Aristophanes nowadays. The obstacle lies in the approach that, from Stanislavsky onwards, has influenced to some extent every modern actor, aiming at a total emotional identification with the character and a detailed reconstruction of his/her interiority. This approach clearly clashes with what has been previously described. We therefore present the case of a theatrical representation which proved particularly successful in our perspective, namely, Aristophanes’ Assemblywomen directed by Serena Sinigaglia, staged at Milan’s Piccolo Teatro in April 2007 (we have videos of the staging). The direction chose to characterize women strongly from the aesthetic point of view; acting is also marked by grotesque tones and is consistent with the stylistic features of the commedia dell’arte. The work on facial expression relies on clownesque techniques, supported by unnatural and heavy make-up, which is a clear reference to the comic mask used in ancient staging. Such a strong characterization, together with a grotesque deformation of human physiognomy, has been misunderstood or even not appreciated at all by Italian critics, while it is definitely consistent with some fundamental features of the ancient comic genre, such as caricatural and folk elements.
|Titolo:||'Prince of Painters' : The Grimacing Mask of Power and seduction in Aristophanes' Assemblywomen.|
|Parole Chiave:||Aristophanes ; performance|
|Settore Scientifico Disciplinare:||Settore L-FIL-LET/02 - Lingua e Letteratura Greca|
|Data di pubblicazione:||2013|
|Tipologia:||Book Part (author)|
|Appare nelle tipologie:||03 - Contributo in volume|