Performers Slapstick – Designed for the Performer

Arlecchino with his slapstick at his side, when the Commedia dell'Arte companies were kicked out of France by Louis XIV 1697.

Arlecchino with his slapstick at his side, when the Commedia dell’Arte companies were kicked out of France by Louis XIV 1697.

Over the last two years or more have been making, perfecting and testing all kinds of slapstick’s. Trying different designs. Leather hinges, spring loaded slapstick and others designs. Most did not work very well if at all. Spring loaded slapstick you can buy in some drum and music stores. It is for musicians, but clumsy and can be dangerous for the performer if you get your finger caught when the spring board is going down. Finally have a design I like, based on the inner workings of the original slapstick’s from the 1500′s, passed onto me by a European colleague.

Slapstick History: From my masters Jacque Lecoq and Carlo Mazzone-Clementi I learned; Arlecchino, the lowest of the servant characters of the Commedia dell’Arte from Bergamo, could not afford a sword. He used a stick in its stead. Arlecchino by G Van Der GuchtWhich is why I wanted to develop; a slapstick that looks like a simple stick. You can see graphic images of Arlecchino’s from the 1500s, 1600s and 1700s with his simple looking stick. His stick is design with two pieces of wood, and with a light tap it makes a smacking sound like someone was hit very hard, enabling the performer to hit others or get hit with the slapstick without injury. The Slapstick is a performer prop and instrument. Hitting it in different places will create slightly different sounds. Yes the word, Slapstick-Comedy comes from Arlecchino’s slapstick.

Research and development in creating these slapstick’s involved not only testing different designs but various materials as well as sourcing these materials. Now able to offering three levels of slapstick’s in three different woods, Oak, Poplar and Pine. They feel, weigh and sound different. The denser the wood the better the sound. All Slapsticks are 19” long and 2” wide. Yes I can make them longer or shorter.

Four slapsticks, from bottom to top, Oak, 2 Poplars and Pine

Four slapsticks, from bottom to top, Oak, 2 Poplars and Pine

Oak Slapstick makes the best and loudest smack sound, is the heaviest at around 5.4 oz and most difficult to make. Has an excellent feel, the wood is very dense.

Poplar Slapstick gives a very good smack and is lighter, weighing about 3 oz to 3.4 oz and has a very good feel.

Pine Slapstick is lightest, least dense wood weighing about 2.2 oz and makes the smacking sound, is not as loud or strong as poplar or oak.

For performers and educators where it will really be used, I recommend the Oak Slapstick as it is the strongest and loudest. Poplar is a very good alternative to Oak. Pine being the lightest, does not feel as strong as the poplar or oak slapstick’s, but works well for a beginning slapstick.

holding the oak Slapstick

Oak Slapstick

 

Each Slapstick is handmade in NYC on the island of Manhattan at Mask Arts Company studio. There are no metal or moving parts. There is a lot that goes into the inner workings of the slapstick. Which is why it has taken years to develop these three Slapsticks I now offer.
Slapstick Prices:
Pine Slapstick       $100
Poplar Slapstick   $150
Oak Slapstick       $200

www.maskarts.com

 Summer 2017 workshops NYC
Commedia dell’Arte: June 19 -30
Mime – Movement – Rhythm: July 10 – 15
Neutral & Metaphysical Mask Lab: July 10 – 15
Creating original material workshop: July 16 – 21
Beyond devised theater; discover how to create bits, lazzi and a full original show.
www.commediau.com for information

Arlecchino with another character maybe a Capitano using his Slapstick.  by Johann Probst 1673-1748

Arlecchino with another character maybe a Capitano using his Slapstick. by Johann Probst 1673-1748

by: Stanley Allan Sherman
copyright 2016

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