First some ‘splainin’: Commedia dell’arte is a time-honored theatrical form that arose in Italy in the Renaissance, 16th century to be more exact. Initially characterized by the employ of masks during production — possibly connected to its emergence during Venice’s carnival celebrations — the form was responsible for certain innovations in theater.

One was creativity. While most stage plays were written by academics, then performed diligently by amateurs, commedia dell’arte featured loads of improvisation from a given scenario. The commedia players were normally professional thespians who perfected their portrayal of a specific mask or role. Some scholars attribute this to the emergence of actors’ unions.
The other important novelty was commedia’s initiation of women onto the stage. It would take centuries before cross-dressing men were no longer the norm before the footlights, but it was first seen primarily in those Italian works, with actresses like Isabella Andreini and Virginia Ramponi-Andreini gaining regional fame.

The Commedia del Arte of Mobile is rehearsing “Sherlock Holmes and the Gypsy Curse” for a June 27 performance.

The Commedia del Arte of Mobile is rehearsing “Sherlock Holmes and the Gypsy Curse” for a June 27 performance.

Mobile boasts its own version of this classic genre specializing in period theatricals. Appropriately enough, its roster comprises mostly women, with only one male among the current cast. Also apropos, the troupe is mobile, staging works on both sides of the bay.

The latest work, “Sherlock Holmes and the Gypsy Curse,” is the troupe’s own comedic adaptation of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s “The Speckled Band.” It features the famous master of deduction and his companion, Dr. John Watson, tracking down a young woman supposedly kidnapped by gypsies.

The show takes place Saturday, June 27, at 7:30 p.m. at the Episcopal Church of the Redeemer, 7125 Hitt Road in Mobile.

Tickets are $8 in advance, $10 at the door. Proceeds are to benefit the Animal Rescue Foundation of Mobile.

For more information, call Shari Priestwood at 251-510-0654 or email

New Daphne retail space unveiled
Last year, a transplant from Albuquerque, New Mexico, named Amanda Carter fashioned her family legacy into her own dream. Inspired by relatives engaged in woodworking, stained glass and painting, she opened Bay Art Exchange as a retail space for similar products.

According to her website, Carter founded the exchange “out of a love of art and crafts and a love for the community in which I now live.” She seeks to “make a living surrounding myself with expressions of beauty and a desire to offer artists and crafters the means to support themselves doing what they love.” Toward that end, Bay Art Exchange offers a physical retail space along with art parties and classes.

A grand-opening event is planned for Saturday, June 27, from 2 to 7 p.m. at 1203 U.S. Highway 98, Suite 2G in Daphne. On the schedule is a silent auction, a raffle of artwork and food. Ten percent of purchases for that day and through July will benefit Ozanam Charitable Pharmacy.
For more information, call 251-279-0145 or email  

Downtown mainstay features juried show
For two decades now, Cathedral Square Gallery has been a cornerstone of downtown art galleries. While others have opened to fanfare and high hopes, only to gradually wane, this mainstay has endured a change in location and thrived all the while.

Partially it’s because Cathedral Square Gallery found strength in numbers. With a roster of nearly 55 artists, this cooperative has managed to spread the burden in a manageable fashion.

Another reason is shows like the one now in place. The current, juried exhibition, “Colors of the Coast,” features many of the visual memories locals cherish, most of them tied in with the water and this time of year.

The gallery is open Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. until 5 p.m. Sunday hours are 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

For more information, call 251-694-0278, go to or check out the gallery’s Facebook page.