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It was the actors who gave the commedia dell’arte its impulse and character, relying on their wits and capacity to create atmosphere and convey character with little scenery or costume.

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As time went on, the actors stopped altering the characters, so that the roles became frozen and no longer reflected the conditions of real life, thus losing an important comic element.

The efforts of such playwrights as Carlo Goldoni (1707–93) to reform Italian drama sealed the fate of the decaying commedia dell’arte.

Goldoni borrowed from the older style to create a new, more realistic form of Italian comedy, and audiences greeted the new comedy with enthusiasm.

The commedia dell’arte’s last traces entered into pantomime as introduced in England (1702) by John Weaver at Drury Lane Theatre and developed by John Rich at Lincoln’s Inn Fields.

The art is a lost one, its mood and style irrecoverable.

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