Arrêtes - Commedia Dell'arte

This technique is used in commedia dell’arte, an Italian form of theater that believes certain characters, when on stage, must always be in one heightened emotional state (happy, sad, angry or afraid).

Step 1

A character pops his/her head out from behind the curtain, shows an emotion, and hides again. This gives the audience a quick
glimpse of the emotion.

step 2

The character runs forward and stops center stage.

step 3

Using pantomime, the character grows more and more intense in his/her emotional state.

step 4

The character “bubbles over” with emotion and runs off stage from the sheer intensity of the emotion.

step 5

Before leaving the stage completely, the character pops back around the curtain showing the emotion one more time.

coaching hint

This activity is most successful with teacher coaching with phrases like, “explore and heighten,” “make it even more intense,” “show us that emotion with your knees, your back, your whole body, etc.”


Art Making



This activity encourages
character development, an awareness of
stage presence, and the ability to focus,
and demonstrates an understanding of
the primary tools of theater (mind, body
and voice).
Actors use pantomime, the technique of
conveying emotions by gestures without