From Unofficial Handbook of the Virtue Universe
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Commedia dell'Arte is a highly immersive Carnival of Shadows fringe group located villain-side on Virtue.
Ideologically, the VG is a benevolent dictatorship with a Ring Mistress who is neither unquestioningly in thrall to the overmind of the Carnival nor demanding of absolute submission to herself. The most familiar face outsiders will see is that Commedia dell'Arte is a touch of culture and refuge located in a renovated classic theatre off the Strip in St. Martial.
"The Carnival of Shadows fringe group that resides at Commedia dell'Arte (which is a theatre) is not linked to the Vanessa/Giovanna overmind/hive mind. The Carnival of Commedia is a place of refuge and equality for people who have been, for one reason or another, brutalized or rejected by the Carnival of Shadows proper. People turned out by the Carnival at the Circus in St. Martial are welcome to sanctuary at Commedia. As an OOC matter, I chose purposefully to not be a proper Carnival of Shadows group because I didn't want to engage in the position of speaking on behalf of an NPC of official lore since the Carnival of Shadows is the domain of Vanessa/Giovanna. We may not be Carnival proper, but I don't believe that has left us lacking in any way and has also allowed for greater player freedom with character development and role-play such as any male character being required to be a Strongman."
- --Kat 10:42, 25 November 2007 (MST)
"The attraction of the virtuoso for the public is very like that of the circus for the crowd.
There is always the hope that something dangerous will happen." ~ Claude Debussy
Originating in 16th-century Italy, commedia dell'arte is a theatrical form featuring improvised dialogue based on a pre-arranged outline. Performances would have non sequitur segments interrupting the plot action featuring dance, acrobatic feats, pantomime or even wrestling that have nothing to do with the rest of the play. Since there is no memorized dialogue, the actors themselves must be clever and talented in creating dialogue and action that will emotionally move the audience. The characters' roles can be identified onstage by their costumes, masks, and even some particular props.  Commedia was frequently performed on outdoor stages, but in all cases the stage was minimally set so the focus of the play was on the actors.
In Our Context
Role-play in City of Villains (and Heroes) more or less is improvisational theatre. We create characters and form their concepts, powers, and costumes and bring them into the game world to interact with others. Sometimes the plot is known in advance, and sometimes it isn't, but typically the dialogue is never memorized ahead of time.
In the sense of creating a role-play group, commedia is the perfect metaphor out-of-character. Immersively, having a theatre and performing commedia dell'arte is a perfect vehicle for a group associated with the Carnival of Shadows.
Commedia's in-game VG hierarchy consists of "ranks" loosely based on how strong of an affiliation someone has with the Commedia itself, or the Carnival. It is possible also that some "members" of Commedia are simply there for the environment or perqs of life at the edge of the fringe.
- ↑ Arlecchino, or Harlequin, carried a battachio - the slap stick in English - which was a club made by two slats. The loud noise it would make upon striking someone was disproportionate to the force of the blow, thus actors could hit each other repeatedly to exaggerated comical effect without causing much physical damage.