Be it the Stitch,
Or the Itch,
The Grumps, Mumps or Twitch,
The Physician is here,
Proffering cure-alls most queer.
The Doctor has been on the streets of Nailsworth today pedalling his wares and offering potions, lotions and finest remedies for all ailments, aches, shakes and quakes. Together with his (not so) able assistant Zan Pollo, they found a crowd – rather randomly – at #RecordStoreDay2019 @SanctuaryVinyl
Selling cure-alls is merely a secondary ruse to draw his public into the knowledge that he is the keeper of one of life’s greatest secrets: he is on the cusp of galvanising the essential elements into an elixir that can bring the dead back to life . Already hailed as the greatest physician, scientist and self-proclaimed alchemist he will soon be noted globally as the Great Rejuvenator!
The character of the Doctor began to appear in commedia dell’arte in response to the proliferation of charlatan mountebanks who were setting up impromptu stalls in every market place of Renaissance Italy. At this time, many new breakthroughs and discoveries in science and medicine were being made and the public were keen to purchase the newly available remedies for every known ailment. This presented an opportunity for the quack, self-proclaimed ‘physicians’ to profit from the public’s want, luring them in with elaborate spectacle and theatrical demonstrations, using stooges purposefully placed in the crowd. A market place full of fakes, replicas and rip-offs? Times haven’t changed that much.
The Doctor of commedia dell’arte is based on these unscrupulous profiteers, the only difference being that the audience are encouraged to quickly see him for what he is: a pompous buffoon with little credibility. It is through the comic relationships with his servants, through the absurd investigations and riotous operations that we appreciate the Doctor as a primary source of comedy in the scenarios; he is the straight man to the fool; Oliver Hardy to Stan Laurel.
Today was a warm up for our new show: The Breath of True Love. The show will be touring to schools nationwide accompanied by a commedia dell’arte workshop for students. If you would like to know more, click here.