Anne Lewington’s Inspiration
William Shakespeare saw at least one Commedia dell’Arte play. His lean and slippered Pantaloon recruited to represent the sixth age of man in As You Like It, is confirmation enough. What is not so widely known is that his comedies owe a great deal to the Commedia scenarios.
Molière, on the other hand, admits his debt of gratitude to the Italian company in which he learned the actor’s craft and where he found inspiration as a playwright.
In Anne’s novel, she too has taken liberties with the Commedia dell’Arte. Within a real company, the actors would have kept the same role for much of their lives but gone by their own names off-stage.
Anne’s are known only by their characters’ titles and the essence of a Commedia performance, filled with its predictable plot lines and outrageous coincidence, spills over into the narrative so that the novel becomes its own scenario.
Like others before Anne, she has also tweaked the personalities so that they are more in tune with a modern readership.
All Anne hopes is, the world she has recreated for her troupe would be preferable to them than their current ignominious fate.
Trapped in two dimensions, they decorate greetings cards. Abandoned by time, their empty costumes are filled now by oblivious revelers on their way to masked balls. No place for the Commedia, not even in the modern pantomime!
Anne disclaims responsibility for what happens in this book. All she did was invite some characters she loves back on stage to improvise. They did the rest.