La Ruffiana

Summary

La Ruffiana is an older female character of the Commedia dell'Arte with a shady past or who used to be a prostitute. She is used most often in relationship to the vecchi of which group she is a nominal member. Ruffiana is most often romantically involved with Pantalone, though his love may easily be unrequited if it suits the plot. She is generally described as being talkative/gossipy, sneaky, and mischievous, but deep down is actually kind. She has been described as an "outsider" that always mixes things up and causes trouble for the rest of the characters. "Her quips reek of garlic" (Pierre Louis Duchartre, The Italian Comedy p. 285) [1][2][3][4][5][6][7][8]

Roles in scenariosEdit

Typically la Ruffiana is a former prostitute. While she is long retired, she still knows everything there is to know about the business. Because of this sometimes she is a counsel to some of the younger characters when it comes to romance. As a retired older character, she can fill the role of other shady characters in scenarios, such as a peasant or a woman who pursues younger men. When performed in the northern parts of Italy, specifically around Venice, she is portrayed as the gossipy townsperson. Whereas when we venture down south around Naples, she makes appearances as a midwife, or the older herb woman.

Another common role for la Ruffiana is a mysterious magical woman or gypsy. Most of the other characters in Commedia are not trusting or scared of sorceresses and gypsies because they are typically mischievous thieves. La Ruffiana is known to have spells, potions, and a vast amount of knowledge. She is also found to use her powers to see the future and to meddle in the younger characters love lives. While she is good at heart, she is still known to be a thief and should not be messed with.[9][10][11][12][13]

EtymologyEdit

La Ruffiana gets her name from the earlier Italian word "ruffiano", from which, via French, the English word "ruffian" also comes. A "ruffian" (first recorded in English in 1525) is "a boisterous, brutal fellow, one ready to commit any crime". In Italian "ruffiano" means "a pander, pimp". La Ruffiana is therefore also related to the procurer/old woman/pimp characters of ancient Latin comedy. [14]

CostumeEdit

La Ruffiana has been seen in various clothing options and styles depending on the direction that the character is being taken. Traditionally, she is seen in Neapolitan peasant clothing. She is also often seen in a cloak and a mask, which makes her one of the only woman Commedia dell'Arte characters to be played in a mask. She is also occasionally seen with a staff of some variety.[15][16][17][18]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Rudlin, John. "La Ruffiana." Commedia Dell'arte: An Actor's Handbook. London: Routledge, 1994. 158. Print.
  2. ^ Grantham, Barry. "La Ruffiana." Playing Commedia: A Training Guide to Commedia Techniques. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 2000. 237. Print.
  3. ^ Pesner, Ben. "TDF Theatre Dictionary » Commedia Dell’arte." TDF Theatre Dictionary » Commedia Dell’arte. N.p., 03 May 2015. Web. 04 Dec. 2016.
  4. ^ Wilkes, Cali "18th and 19th Century Theatre." BYU Theatre Education Database. N.p., 2015. Web. 10 Dec. 2016.
  5. ^ Bettella, Patrizia (2005). The Ugly Woman. Toronto: University of Toronto Press. p. 71.
  6. ^ Ariosto, Lodovico (1857). Opere di Lodovico Ariosto. L. Austriaco. p. 62.
  7. ^ Cripps, Linda Ann Elizabeth. Calling All Clowns - A Creative Project and A Personal Journey. Diss. U of Montana, 2007. N.p.: n.p., n.d. Print.
  8. ^ Duchartre, Pierre-Louis. "La Ruffiana, La Guaiassa, The Go-Between, The Gossip." The Italian Comedy: The Improvisation, Scenarios, Lives, Attributes, Portraits, and Masks of the Illustrious Characters of the Commedia Dell'arte. Trans. Randolph T. Weaver. New York: Dover Publications, 1966. 285. Print.
  9. ^ Duchartre, Pierre-Louis. "La Ruffiana, La Guaiassa, The Go-Between, The Gossip." The Italian Comedy: The Improvisation, Scenarios, Lives, Attributes, Portraits, and Masks of the Illustrious Characters of the Commedia Dell'arte. Trans. Randolph T. Weaver. New York: Dover Publications, 1966. 285. Print.
  10. ^ Achorn, John. "Another "Ruff" Note." Commedia Dell'Arte Is Alive. Yahoo!, 17 Oct. 2003. Web. 9 Dec. 2016.
  11. ^ Meehan, Kate. "Ruffiana and the Gender Politic: An Historical Context." Lafeniceaustin. N.p., 30 Jan. 2015. Web. 09 Dec. 2016.
  12. ^ Mango, Achille, and Vito Pandolfi. La Commedia in Lingua Nel Cinquecento: Bibliografia Critica. .: n.p., 1966. 160. Print.
  13. ^ Collier-Frick, Carole. (1987). Dal giardino dei bei fiori. Carte Italiane, 1(8).
  14. ^ Harper, Douglas. "Online Etymology Dictionary." Online Etymology Dictionary. N.p., 20. Web. 01 Dec. 2016.
  15. ^ Rudlin, John. "La Ruffiana." Commedia Dell'arte: An Actor's Handbook. London: Routledge, 1994. 158. Print.
  16. ^ Grantham, Barry. "La Ruffiana." Playing Commedia: A Training Guide to Commedia Techniques. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 2000. 238. Print.
  17. ^ Katritzky, M. A. "Some Further Comic Types: Female Types." The Art of Commedia: A Study in the Commedia Dell'Arte 1560-1620 with Special Reference to the Visual Records. Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2006. 205. Print.
  18. ^ Royce, Anya Peterson. Movement and Meaning: Creativity and Interpretation in Ballet and Mime. Bloomington: Indiana UP, 1984. 86. Print.