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The King Stag is an Italian Commedia Dell’Arte play by Carlo Gozzi, English Adaptation by Carl Wildman. Commedia Dell’Arte is a Rennaisance Italian Street Theater Form which is known for broad comic situations featuring stock characters (many of which are recognizable today), physical comedy, improvisation and clowning.
Carlo Gozzi’s work is known for taking traditional Commedia stories of multiple pairs of lovers who must (with the aid of their trickster servants) thwart the wishes of their parents to be together and blending elements of Fable, often involving magic, animals and royalty.
The King Stag is one of the best known examples of Gozzi’s style. It tells the story of King Deramo’s quest to find a woman worthy to be his bride, using magic tools given to him by a magician. Two of the young women put forth are the daughters of The King’s Ministers, both hoping to be father to a future queen. In the show’s pivotal plot point, the evil Minister transforms the King into the Body of a Stag. The show features animal puppetry portraying two life-size deer, an enchanted bird and a bear who roams the woods providing comic relief.
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