18th century farce often revolved around the arranged marriages of the old school and the romantic love-matches of the new, thriving on social upheaval. These stock plotlines and stock characters were being developed throughout European Theatre at this time.
In Renaissance Italy, a very physical and acrobatic style developed, incorporating old performance traditions that dated from the Roman Empire and the comedies of Plautus. This became known as Commedia dell’ Arte.
By 1650, the travelling troupes practising Commedia had infused French culture too, but plays were no longer improvised and the literary side of farce began to be emphasized, as the actors switched languages from their native Italian to French. This influenced many farce writers from Moliere to Marivaux, to Goldoni who began to establish farce as we know it.
The plays were now being sponsored by the nobility, were performed indoors and audiences had to buy a ticket. Entertainment in eighteenth-century Paris was far more than mere light hearted diversion and socialising though. The public’s subliminal search for sex, pathos, brutality, and absurdity through entertainment was often satisfied through this theatrical genre and shows how the lower classes often used entertainment to mock the elite.
Farce differs from standard classical comedy in one major way: it is an exaggerated, broad form of
comedy based on unlikely situations and highlighted by contrived and improbable plot twists. In
modern farces, the plot, particularly in bedroom farces (also called sex farces), often deals with
infidelity, jealousy and the unfaithfulness of one or more married persons.
Like classical comedy, farce is both aggressive and festive. The driving force behind a farce is fast
action, brisk dialogue, visual effects, mistaken identities and convoluted and complicated plots. As a
form, it depends upon the direct, dramatic enactment of its jokes. Intellectual verbal exchanges are
overwhelmed by physical action and the physical skills of the actor or the ability to perform acrobatic
feats (such as falling downstairs or over couches) are more important than depth and revelation of
The Imaginary Invalid/Le Malade Imaginaire by Molière
Tailleur pour dames/Fitting for ladies by Georges Feydeau
Noises Off by Michael Frayn
Le Garcon et l'Aveugle by anonymous
- Slapstick Comedy
- Witty dialogues
- Casual dialogues
- Feedback from peers
- Watched "Black Comedy" by Peter Schaffer
- Watched videos on French Farce