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The Secrets of Harlequin

HIGHLIGHT on Art of Theatre Commedia: The Embassy of Italy and the Italian Cultural Institute in the framework of Vivere all Italiana are happy to present one of the masterpieces of Maestro Enrico Bonavera “The Secrets of Harlequin” for the first time in Indonesia.

Enrico Bonavera is one of the most important interpreters in the character of Harlequin – the icon of Italian Commedia dell’arte – in the world. Commedia dell’arte (comedy of the profession) was an early form of professional theatre, originating from Italy, which was popular in Europe from the 16th through the 18th century.

Commedia dell’arte is a unique form of actor’s theatre characterized by improvised dialogue and a cast of colorful stock characters. Commedia dell’arte is a form of theatre characterized by masked “types” and was responsible for the advent of actresses and improvised performances based on sketches or scenarios. A commedia, such as the Tooth Puller, is both scripted and improvised. Characters’ entrances and exits are scripted. A special characteristic of Commedia dell’arte are the lazzi. A lazzo is a joke or “something foolish” or “witty”, usually well known to the performers and to some extent a ‘scripted’ routine. Another characteristic of Commedia dell’arte is pantomime, which is mostly used by the character Arlecchino (Harlequin).

Enrico Bonavera, has been performing on stage for more than three decades, was an apprentice of Ferruccio Soleri. Enrico Bonavera is a tutor for the Commedia dell’arte Academy at Piccolo Teatro in Milan and Shapkin Theatre School in Moscow. He was awarded as the Best Supporting Actor at the Borgio Verezzi theatre festival for his Harlequin in Carlo Goldoni’s “The Venetian Twins” (I due gemelli veneziani). In 2007 he won the “Golden Harlequin” in Mantua – an award previously held by Marcel Marceau, Dario Fo, Ferruccio Soleri, and Carolyn Carlson.

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Enrico Bonavera has worked with civic theatres, private theatre companies and theatre cooperatives. As an actor, he has been directed by Strehler, Lassalle, Sciaccaluga, Amelio, Battistoni, Boso, Kerbrat, Friedel, Hörtnagl, Gallione, Conte, Emiliani, Bartoli, Maifredi, Zecca. As a teacher, he has been collaborating since 1990 with the Scuola del Teatro Stabile in Genoa. Enrico Bonavera has taught at ENSATT in Lyon, at the European Summer School in S. Miniato of Pisa, at the training course of the Teatro del Veneto, and the Mask Center in Abano Terme directed by D. Sartori. Since 2004 he is adjunct professor at the DAMS of the University of Imperia. Enrico Bonavera has conducted workshops at the University ‘La Sapienza’ in Rome, at the University of Rio de Janeiro, at the University of Oslo, at the HKPA in Hong Kong, at the Summer Campus of the New York University in Florence.

“The Secrets of Harlequin”, was born almost by chance, with the desire to present the Mask and the Comedy in an unusual way, by combining traditional structured scenes with improvised plot. The actor, Maestro Enrico Bonavera, presents the spectacle with a very simple scenography: a trunk and a chair, yet the spirit of the stage is lit up by the splendid masks of Amleto and Donato Sartori.

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During his stay in Indonesia Maestro Bonavera conducts workshops for students, actors and theatre enthusiasts the day after the performance in the Auditorium of the Italian Cultural Institute. The workshop gives possibility to the participants to have a profound knowledge of Commedia dell’arte.

The workshop is in collaboration with Teater Mandiri directed by Putu Wijaya and Bentara Budaya Jakarta. The week after Maestro Bonavera is scheduled to give a lecture on Commedia dell’arte at the Setia Darma House of Mask and Puppets, Ubud Bali.