Character Analysis
Character Name

Il’Dottore Gratiano, latter called Balanzone, Scarpazon, Forbizone, Boloardo.  – Rudlin

Il'Dottore Mediocrite



Head of another family.  Pantalone with brains that can be quite annoying.  – Shane

Bachelor or widower.  When he does marry he is immediately cuckolded.  Often father to one of the lovers.  – Rudlin

Black academic dress satirising Bolognese scholars.  Long jacket with black coat over-reaching to his heels, black shoes, stockings and breeches, and black skull-cap.  Lolli, in mid-seventeenth century, added a wide ruff round the neck and a very wide-brimmed black felt hat.  – Rudlin

Black robe/jacket with traditional academic cap. – Shane

Origin (History)


A gross carnival figure, who also appears in folk plays, for example the English Mummer’s plays.  These invariably contain a section usually called the cure, consisting of the mock Doctor’s boast in which he brags of his travels and his powers, followed by a haggle over the fees, the administration of the cure and the resurrection of the fallen hero.  – Rudlin

Il’Dottore is a close relation to the mountebank quack.  Lodovico de’Bianchi, the Gratiano of the Gelosi, had himself been a mountebank and published a book of ‘conceits’ for the role that probably represents his mountebank’s stock speeches.  – Rudlin

The doctor is only second in importance to the combatants themselves, and like them he appears to be a survival of the ritual; he is the medicine man of primitive races, and in orgin an unusually gifted savage who assumed control of the ceremonies.  This theory of the doctor’s origin might at first seem to be untenable because as a rule it is the doctor himself, or the doctor in conjunction with his servant, who provides most of the rude comedy that enlivens the Mummer's Play.  But the reason for the comic aspect of the doctor is not far to seek.  The medicine man of savage races is hated so long as he is feared, and his natural  or inevitable fate is to become a target for witticisms as soon as that fear is no longer felt.  – Tiddy, The Mummer’s Play

There is no record in history of any case that Dottore has ever cured. – Duchartre 

Physical Appearance He is grande, even grandissimo:  his huge size comes directly from Carnival and contrasts with Pantalone.  Later French types became lean pedants, reptilian like Moliere’s Tartuffe. – Rudlin
Covers the nose and forehead only.  The actor’s cheeks are thus revealed and often reddened to show Il’ Dottore’s fondness for the bottle.  According to Goldoni the mask itself has a bibulous orgin:  ‘the idea of the singular mask which covers his face and nose, was taken from a wine stain which disfigured the countenance of a jurist-consult of those times. – Tiddy, The Mummer’s Play
Book – Shane

White hankerchief – Rudlin

Stance Weight back on heels, belly forward, hands gesturing in front.  The later French pedants is more dapper and leans forward from the waist.  – Rudlin 
Walks peripatetically in figures of eight, using tiny, mincing steps.  His walking posture descends while he thinks (out loud, of course) and rises up again on the solution of the problem.  The later French version walks like a lizard, leaning forward, using his head.  – Rudlin

Walks quickly and and sporadically, like a roach in sudden light.  Head moves independently in quick staccato motions, usally looking around like a small bird. - Shane 



1.)  Stiff, leaning forward with hand on face, usually tapping forehead or stroking beard in a pensive manner.
2.)  Open with arms up and out at the sides and fingers in an elegant and sophisticated posture.
3.)  Yoga positions.
4.)  Various very well balanced poses, almost like a frozen Tai Chi position.
5.)  The Thinker.
6.)  Pointing toward action like a hunting dog.
7.)  When posing behind another performer, he sometimes does something malicious such as preparing to knock them out with a mallet.  
8.)  Upright and proud like a scholar and a arm out to dictate
Movements Relatively static in front of the audience. – Rudlin 
Gestures Needs all the space to himself and gains it by gesturing out from the body as if sowing seed.
Speech ‘Parps’ like a trombone.  Pronounces ‘S’ as ‘Sh’.  Speaks a mixture of Bolognese dialect, Italian and Latin, known as minestrone.  Later French types fussy in their elocution.  – Rudlin
Animal Pig, or later a lizard – Rudlin

Owl – Fletcher

Relationships Neighbor and friend or rival of Pantalone (either way, the two are inseparable), and since he is a natural parasite, sees the advantage of being patronized by him.  Often the master of Pedrolino, whom he treats badly since he is envious of true creativity and natural understanding. – Rudlin 
Relationship to 
Needs a context in order to make a direct address – the giving of a lecture for example.  – Rudlin
Frequent Plot 
Gives the other characters a break from physical exertion by his prolixity – sometimes to the point where he has to be carried off by them, still talking.  For this reason he stays a relatively long time onstage.  A survivor, not a target figure like Pantalone. – Rudlin
Similar to Pantalone, except if Pantalone is more actions and Dottore is more words.  – Danny Fletcher

From Bologna, the home city of Italy’s oldest University, not that he ever went to it.  Specializes in everything, and can talk a load of old boloney about it.  Very oral, both in and out:  he also eats a lot (Bologna is the home of lasagne).  He is essentially belly, not intellect-centered.  Il’Dottore is inclined, like Pantalone, to be stingy, but in his case it is because he doesn’t have any money.  He is never put off his stroke by parody, interruption, or even physical abuse.  Makes crude sexual jokes and has a weakness for pornography.  – Rudlin

Old Man.  A pompous and Latin-spouting scholar from Bologna.  His speech is filled with malapropisms and gibberish.  Often greedy with members of his family and a great bore to the other characters.  Had a pot-belly and dressed from head to toe in black except for a white collar.  Had a red spot on his cheek and wore a black semi-mask that only covered his nose.  – Gordon

The doctor is an eternal gas bag, he cannot open his mouth without spitting out a latin phrase or quotation.  – Duchartre

1.)  Believes someone suffers from an ailment which they obviously do not.  Offers to cure them.
2.)  Spontaneously diagnoses performers on stage.
3.)  Tries to enlist assistance to help him perform experimental surgeries on himself and others.
4.)  Performs random experiments in the name of science and medicine.
5.)  Is usually trying to make and get people to try strange potions.
6.)  Accidentally takes his own medicine.
7.)  Having very large and frighteningly humerous medical instruments.
8.)  Lazzi of the enema.
9.)  Schemes of ways to seem like he is better off than his counterpart, usually Pantalone.
10.)  Offers to remove gallstones.

A Bibliography

Commedia dell'Arte: An Actor's Handbook by John Rudlin.  Routledge 1994

Commedia dell'arte: A Scene-Study Book by Bari Rolfe.  Personabooks 1977

The Commedia dell'Arte by Winifred Smith, New York, 1912

The Italian Comedy by Pierre Louis Ducharte.  Dover Publications, inc.  1966

Lazzi: The Comic Routines of the Commedia dell'Arte by Mel Gordon.  Performing Arts Journal Publications  1983

Harlequin On The Moon by Lynne Lawner.  Harry N. Abrams, Inc. 1998

Scenarios of the Commedia dell'Arte:  Flaminio Scala's Il Teatro Delle Favole Rappresentative translated by Henry F. Salerno Limelight Editions  1996

All other comments have come from growth and experience of the performers of Commedia dell'Carte

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