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W&L's Medieval Renaissance Studies Program Presents “Commedia Meets Hamlet!? A Really Dumb Show”

The Medieval Renaissance Studies program at Washington and Lee University is sponsoring “Commedia Meets Hamlet!? A Really Dumb Show.” The event will be Friday, May 3, at 4 p.m. in Northen Auditorium with reception to follow. This performance is free and open to the public.

Guest artist Norma Bowles from Los Angeles and Professor Holly Pickett and her Spring Term class, Hamlet’s Ghost, have collaborated on the presentation of a commedia dell’arte show.

The performance will introduce six of the traditional stock Italian Renaissaice dell’arte characters Pantalone, Arlecchino, Pulcinella, Dottore, Capitano and Tartaglia. After presenting the characters, the students will explain the ways these characters, their lazzi and commedia techniques can be used to address contemporary social justice issues.

Pickett’s students will work with these traditional character types in their staging of the show in the play-within-the play from Act 3 of Hamlet.

Bowles is the artistic director of Fringe Benefits Theatre. She has led commedia dell’arte workshops all over the world, including The Melody Sisters in Pamplona, Spain; the Center for Theatre of the Oppressed and Applied Theatre Arts in Los Angeles; the American Academy of Dramatic Arts and South Coast Repertory Theatre.

She has also led workshops at more than 10 universities, including Princeton, Smith College, the University of New Hampshire and the University of California Riverside.¬† In 2007, W&L students¬† performed “Commedia for Social Justice” lazzi addressing sexual harassment and date rape for an audience of their peers.

Pickett, associate professor of English at W&L, has been a member of the W&L faculty since 2005. She is the author of four articles and five reviews and has one book manuscript under consideration and one in progress. She earned her B.A. at Millsaps College and her M.A. and Ph.D. at the University of California, Los Angeles.