by Janine Sobeck, dramaturg
Now that you have met the servants, here’s a peek at the other two categories of characters that make up any classic commedia dell’arte play.
The two most common father characters are Pantalone and Dottore (The Doctor).
Pantalone, the Venetian merchant, is a old and miserly. Usually the father of the female lover, he has one goal in life: to make as much money as possible. In order to reach his goal, he often tries to marry his daughter off to the richest suitor available, even if she does not care for him. He also believes himself to be quite the ladies man.
Dottore is Pantalone’s best friend and sidekick. Hailing from the city of Bologna, the city in Italy known for its university, Dottore believes himself to be quite the scholar. However, even though he is often found spouting off (often incorrect) Latin phrases, Dottore is the most likely to be tricked by the other characters.
The plot of most commedia plays revolves around the plight of the Lovers. Always separated by some seemingly insurmountable obstacles – such as a father promising one or both to another – the Lovers often engage the help of their servants in their quest to be together. Young and naive ,the Lovers are nevertheless witty, handsome and well-educated. Always dressed in the top fashion of the day, the Lovers are the only characters to remain un-masked.