Feeling Betta – Commedia dell Arte outline

This commedia script is my first and only to date, it was rehearsed to great amusement by Gwillim as Arlecchino, Godric as Pantalone, Margaret as Betta and myself as Dottore and the Apothecary.  We never performed it, but maybe someday it will see the stage!

Betta (la servetta)
an Apothecary
Betta gives a speech to the audience about a few things: once was wealthy – but no more – she’s broke; her mother is ill and dying; she needs money; she will marry Pantalone for the money, the only other bonus is that Arlecchino, her secret love, will be near her if she marries the old man.

Pantalone enters and attempts to woo Betta from one knee – he falls over while trying to woo her and can’t get up

Betta  tells Pantalone that she has no use for a love who “can’t get up” to see her and storms off the stage

Pantalone, fallen down and unable to right himself, calls for Arlecchino who tried to help right him.

Dottore enters and seeing Arlecchino helping Pantalone up, surmises that that he has gallstones, is pregnant or must be dead.

Pantalone tells Dottore that the only problem is that he can’t get up to see Betta, who he is trying to woo.

Pantalone is sent away, assured that Dottore will have a solution.  Arlecchino is leftbehind to get orders from Dottore.

Dottore gives Arlecchino a list for wooing a lady – bread, wine, cheese and a prescription for “Consummation Powder” so he can get up to see Betta and sends him to the apothecary.  Dottore exits.

Arlecchino walks repeating his list, salivating over the food items and forgetting what kind of Powder (Consummation, …etc arriving at Constipation.)  He gets the food and the Constipation Powder for his master.

The Apothecary says that he hopes that Pantalone will soon be feeling Betta.
Arlecchino returns to Pantalone, repeating his list in reverse until he arrives again at Consummation Powder.

Arlecchino gives all the stuff to Pantalone, who enters Betta’s room and sets the stage for seduction.

Pantalone takes all of the powder.

Betta enters.  Pantalone begins to woo her – just as he gets close to her….
Arlecchino knocks on the room door, Pantalone answers (lazzo of the door locks / trip wire) to ask Pantalone how it is going; Betta leaves the room.

Pantalone, furious at the interruption, sends Arlecchino to go talk to someone in the street!  Arlecchino exits.

Pantalone resumes his seduction of Betta, who is disappointed that she missed Arlecchino.

Pantalone is enamored now – he chases Betta, catches her and there is a sudden loud rumbling – he looks astonished and agonized all at once he excuses himself loudly to the chamber pot.  Loud farting & other grotesque noises heard from off stage.

Betta leaves for another room – to get some air – in disgust.

Arlecchino goes to the street and talks to the audience about Betta & the mountain of food (lazzo of the fly or the eating of the hand)

Dottore enters in a temper – he has been to the apothecary and found out that Arlecchino gave Pantalone the wrong powder!  Dottore gives Arlecchino the correct powder and threatens to beat him with his own stick.

Arlecchino runs away, swearing that he will return after this errand!

Betta and Pantalone re-enter Betta’s room – they are just about getting amorous when Pantalone’s stomach gives another fierce rumble – this time he knows what is about to happen and he excuses himself loudly to the chamber pot.  Loud farting & other grotesque noises heard from off stage.

Arlecchino goes to Betta’s room and pounds on the door. (Lazzo of the door locks, again)

Betta allows Arlecchino in and Arlecchino blurts his story out and displays the correct powder.

Betta tells him that she will make it all Betta…and as Arlecchino, laments about the powder and all the food going to waste she very obviously covers the bread with the Consummation Powder.

Betta feigning innocence and sorrow tells Arlecchino that he can have the food, as it seems that his master won’t be needing it, but the he should go and eat it there in the back room.

Arlecchino looks delighted and bounds out merrily chewing on the bread while singing Betta’s praises, and the bread’s praises, for feeding him.

Betta begins to exit the same way as Arlecchino, but before leaving, turns to the audience and gives them a winning smile.  Arlecchino says that this bread is really something – he’s never felt this way about bread! (“Well, there was that nice rosemary olive bagette once, but that was ages ago…”)

A last loud fart is heard offstage.

The End

The Hern

The Hern is a song I first heard on an amazing LP by the late John Fleagle.  A song with period lyric, and quite ancient tune.

It is known as the Corpus Christi Carol as well.

This performance is at the East Kingdom Bardic Competition AS45.

Book of Love (ala Magnetic Fields)


The Magnetic Field’s beautiful “Book of Love” was one I heard covered by Peter Gabriel, having never seen the movie which popularized it.  I loved it, and heard it at about the same time that my dear friends Lord Gwillim and Lady Constancia (then Lady Melisunde) were getting married.

I sang this at their wedding with Nathaniel Kellogg playing the cello – it was wonderful.  Lady Alessandra asked me to play it on the harp, and so I decided to try it for her.  I recorded it the same night that she asked, using my trusty MacBook, at the kitchen table.