Assignment #4

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The Gelosi troupe's incorporation of women could be signaled as the beginning of women empowerment continuing into today. The 4 main points that we discussed were: the method in how women were incorporated, history of the Gelosi troupe, the social norms of how women were treated during the time, and the lasting effects of women's inclusion onto the stage.

1. Based on what you've read, what contextual information must your group necessarily
communicate to the class in order to help us better understand the theatrical material you
plan to discuss?
Based on our research, the politics of the cities that the Gelosi visited are very important as it determined not only the types of shows they performed, but how they edited their shows, actors, content, and mode of performance based on the personal tastes of the royalty and other political leaders. The reception and perceived helplessness of women at the time of the art form's growing popularity is also helpful in determining how much a revolution it was for women to be played by women and to express power over not only themselves but others. This controversial reception, centering around the "masculine" qualities of female performers, was significant as well. The addition of windows as portals in the scenery was also very helpful and useful in establishing the power of the women. The inclusion of windows also represented a major change to Commedia from the previously established Roman Comedy, one of Commedia's supposed ancestors.

2. How does your topic express the philosophies, ideologies, political circumstances, and/or social movements occurring in the specific time and place you are investigating?
Our focus is mainly on the advancement of women to leading roles, which was a very big step towards social equality, an issue women still struggle with today. Our research shows how petty some of the leaders of the time were and what they could get away with if they simply just didn't feel in the mood for certain theatre. Kacie's research on women performing in their own homes versus how they were received by the public along with Aaron's research on how women were able to bridge the gap between the power in their home onto the power onto the pubic stage space. This expression of power by the perceived "weak" women helped bring about the new perspective of women and the establishment of women as , increasingly more, equal members of the arts and in time, society.

3. Given that you only have 20 minutes to present, what big ideas/contextual elements will
you have to leave out?
We would love to be able to include the development of improvisation, stock characters, the use of masks into our presentation and the similarities and differences between Commedia Dell'arte, but it is really not relevant. We could easily have an entire presentation about the creation of stock characters and origins of characters we know and use today, but our choice of women as a focus is much more relevant to the beginnings of growing equality of women, which at the time women were not viewed as equals, but to our entire class as theatre creators in a time of social advancement for women in a time where women are still not viewed as equal by some groups.

Format of the Presentation

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We have decided to chose a presentation/lecture format for our project. By doing a lecture presentation we can more easily relate our research and Commedia Dell'Arte to recent class subjects like Roman Comedy. We will also provide media content that gives a clearer understanding of what Commedia Dell'Arte is in a visual sense. After a media example we will have a discussion session of a few minutes that will allow the students to vocalize their understanding of Commedia Dell'Arte and explore what it means for other people in the class. (Like the example of Noh theatre in class.) For cultivating a collective argument we will divide up aspects of our argument, such as background of Commedia Dell'Arte/history of women in social situations in Italy/etc. Which we will present in segments which will build up to supporting our argument.

Initial Proposal

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Here is our initial proposal for our research on Italian Commedia dell'Arte.

Proposal & Bibliography.doc


After reading the sources we have compiled earlier and upon finding more information, we have decided to narrow our scope down to the social revolution of women appearing onstage with the Gelosi troupe. So far we have found evidence that the inclusion of women who were not prostitutes was a major revolution for women in theatre and in their society. The development of improvisation is closely linked to the inclusion of women also. we have found evidence of conflict but do not have a clear enough understanding to accurately describe it. For the project overall, we will focus on what women brought to theatre through this revolution, the conflicts that arose from such a social upheaval, and what this revolution has resulted in a history has unfolded.