“Comedia in the Piazza of New York” is a virtual piazza; an interactive, illustrated website that features the characters of the Commedia dell Arte and takes a whimsical look at how the characters of Italian street theatre are interpreted in New York today. Traits, gestures, tricks, and wit have been the tools that developed in 16th and 17th century Europe, and are still played out in the parks, restaurants and bars of New York City.
This web site will show that the legacy of the Italian American theatrical heritage is based in human behavior, whether played out in a renaissance piazza or in a bar of the Big Apple. The goal is to evoke a poignant comparison between the old and the new. The familiar places, the New York faces, the settings and atmosphere we are used to will be visually superimposed creating an effect that enlightens and informs our appreciation of this cultural heritage.
The artist has elected to communicate this concept through the internet. The creative use of interactive design elements on the website will be updated and refreshed on an on-going basis, keeping the site from becoming stale and maintaining it’s relevance to visitors. The site will strive to engage visitors in the exchange of ideas revolving around the historical influences that shape modern society. This intent therefore taps into the essence of what social media does today – and this will be an essential outgrowth of the site itself.
The proof of concept site can be viewed at www.ciaopiazza.com. When a visitor enters the site, the image of a generic Italian piazza appears, however on closer inspection the viewer will notice architectural elements that suggest New York City. Arlecchino, (the site “host” and guide) enters the piazza on a Vespa and jumps off to introduce the campanile clock. Clicking on it will cause it to enlarge, and the viewer will realize that the clock is the navigational device that links to various stores and events in the piazza. Visitors can use the clock to select scheduled performances or locations in the piazza by rolling over the highlighted numbers on the clock face. Activities can also be selected according to time of night or day; the piazza lighting changing accordingly. Some aspects of typical renaissance social life will be featured in “performances” where the Commedia characters – Arlecchino, Columbina, Pantaloon, Isabella, The Doctor and The Captain interact with each other and the crowd in the piazza. Other illustrations will show contemporary New York scenes, where the historical characters are depicted like ghosts of the past. The visitor will be able to view the site with or without reference to the historical characters.
“Commedia in the Piazza of New York” will excite, inform and stimulate a thoughtful, positive reflection upon the Italian American culture, identity and history.