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Frequently Asked Questions

What is Commedia dell'Arte Day?

Commedia dell'Arte Day is celebrated every February 25 with performances, lectures, conferences, classes, and other events occurring in cities all over the world.
Why February 25?

It is the “birthday” of Commedia dell'Arte and of professional theatre! On February 25, 1545, a troupe under the leadership of Ser Maphio signed the first contract of theatrical incorporation in Padua, Italy. The document, drawn up by a local notary, is the oldest extant documentation of actors conceiving of their work as a legitimate industry. Commedia dell'Arte (which translates as “Theatre of the Professional”) put the “business” into “show business”!

Where is this happening?

At theatres, schools, and universities all over the world! Check the participants page to find an event near you or organize one of your own.

Who is promoting this event?

Commedia dell'Arte day is proclaimed by the European cultural association SAT, which is recognized by the United Nations as the world's only NGO dedicated to safeguarding and promoting the tradition of Commedia dell'Arte. Other events are being planned all over the world. Faction of Fools Theatre Company, based in Washington, DC, is the International Coordinator of those events.
Ok, so why should I care?

Did you know that Commedia dell'Arte is not officially recognized by the UN as “World Cultural Heritage”? Other native performances forms, such as Japan's Noh and Kabuki, are on the registry maintained by the United Nations' Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), but Commedia dell'Arte has not yet been recognized, despite having given rise to modern professional theatre and having established characters, themes, and storylines still enjoyed throughout the world. Commedia dell'Arte Day is a worldwide celebration in support of SAT's petition to UNESCO and the nation of Italy to grant Commedia dell'Arte its rightful place as “World Cultural Heritage.” But don't take our word for it. Click here to see some of the world's most esteemed experts make the case for Commedia dell'Arte.

How can I find an event near me?

Visit our participants page!

How do I organize my own event?

You can create any kind of event you'd like: a large-scale production or an informal theatrical presentation, an educational workshop for any age or experience, or any other event dedicated to Commedia dell'Arte on February 25th. Here are helpful materials, including scenarios and curricula, that you are welcome to use if you want. Or you are free to follow your own plan.

Visit the official Commedia dell'Arte Day website to register your event. Registration is free, but we ask that participants follow some easy guidelines like (1) using the official participant logo in marketing materials, (2) using this template to notify your local press, (3) reading or printing the official statement at your event, (4) inviting participants to sign this petition, and (5) sending photos, videos footage, and news clippings from the event to the official SAT incommedia archives and to us at Faction of Fools. Click here to download these required materials.

What kind of event can I create?

Anything you want as long as it is on February 25 and is dedicated to Commedia dell'Arte! There are four scenarios available here that you are free to use for your performances or classroom activities. Or you can create any other kind of event that you want. Some companies that have shows running during this period will dedicate the February 25th performance to Commedia dell'Arte Day and will feature a special pre-show or post-show discussion. Some schools and universities will set aside class time that week to discuss Commedia dell'Arte. Student groups can create informal plays. Training centers can offer introductory workshops for performers. In some cities, theatre companies and schools team up to organize conferences featuring lectures, performances, and forums about Commedia dell'Arte. Check out the participant list from this year or last year if you'd like ideas about what you can do.

What's it gonna cost me?

There is NO cost to participate in this event! Unfortunately, we are not able to help with any funding, so you must raise your own support for your local event.

Do you have materials or curricula available?

Yes! Visit this link to download free curriculum guides, scenarios for use in performance, a history of Commedia dell'Arte, etc. Please note: there is no charge for using these materials, but they have been donated by the writers for use on Commedia dell'Arte Day ONLY. And you must give credit to the writers if you intend to use their materials.

Wait! I'm still confused. What is Commedia dell'Arte?

Good question! Commedia dell'Arte (which translates as “theatre of the professional”) began in Italy in the early 16th Century and quickly spread throughout Europe, creating a lasting influence on Shakespeare, Molière, opera, vaudeville, contemporary musical theatre, television sit-coms, and improv comedy. The legacy of Commedia includes the first incorporated (i.e. professional) theatre company, the first European actresses, and many of the themes and storylines still enjoyed by audiences today. The style of Commedia is characterized by its use of masks, improvisation, physical comedy, and recognizable character types--young lovers, wily servants, greedy old men, know-it-all professors, boasting heroes, and the like.

Still confused? Watch this video: