Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Italian comedy and fanfare rule in ‘I Gelosi’


The end of the semester is racing towards us. Before the deadlines and exams all come crashing down, now is the time to embrace some comic relief. What better way to do that than by seeing a play complete with juggling, masks, fun costumes and an Italian flare?

Beginning Monday, April 9, through Sunday, April 15, the UA Theatre and Dance production of “I Gelosi” will hit the stage at the Allen Bales Theatre. Tickets are on sale for $10, with the performances beginning at 7:30 p.m. nightly. The show on Sunday, April 15, will begin at 2 p.m.

“I Gelosi” translates to “The Jealous Ones” and is a play about commedia dell’arte, or Italian comedy. The play centers on a real acting troupe, “Gelosi,” that existed in the 1500s and traveled around Italian and French provinces. It follows the troupe’s beginning, its rise and its fall.

Elizabeth Kirkland, an MFA directing candidate of the Department of Theatre and Dance and director of this play, on a whim emailed the playwright, David Bridel, and has been in contact with him ever since. 

“I’m obsessed with being historically accurate and I wanted to know how much of these characters are based on their actual history,” Kirkland said. “The playwright said that 80 percent of the characters came from him being in a rehearsal room and noticing that these characters were the actors right in front of him, and then the other 20 percent was historically accurate.”

“I Gelosi” is a piece about the commedia dell’arte style, and it includes the fashion and character roles that were popular in the 16th century. 

“My favorite experiences were watching the actors just play and take chances with what works, and they’ll surprise you every time,” Kirkland said. “This is a show about characters and these are the fun roles that actors want to play, like the powerful queen, brat king, romantic girl, mean girl and the clown.”

One actor in the play, Jonathan Bryant, is a junior musical theatre major and has loved working with Kirkland. 

“She’s really fun and quirky, and has created this safe and experimental atmosphere where actors get a lot of freedom,” Bryant said. “If what you try does work, then yes, but if it doesn’t, that’s ok too.”

What stands out about this play is that the “Gelosi” was the first acting troupe to have women write the plays, act in them and get paid to do so. In the 1500s, women were not accepted onstage, so this play marks an important milestone in the history of theater.

Lily DiSilverio, a junior double major in theatre and economics, plays one of these women and has really latched onto her character.

“It’s incredible that these women did this and had the nerve to do it to begin with,” DiSilverio said. “There’s just something special about playing a character who helped create the theatrical world as it is now and has let me be able to do it.”

“I Gelosi” is both a comedy and a historical fiction that will give the audience a glimpse of the start of theater and show them how this acting troupe changed that world forever. 

“I want the audience to learn a little bit, to be entertained, and to really question in the art world, whether it’s theater or visual, are we doing this for entertainment or are we doing this to change the world?” Kirkland said. “Or is there a little grey area in between?”

More information and tickets are available at 

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