In April 2013 I was selected as one of the 20 resident artists for a three week marathon on the theme “The Power of Silence” produced by Forwardflux at Theaterlab in New York City.
This was an awesome experience made of fruitful discussion and unexpected discoveries, but most of all of intense collaboration with artists from many disciplines, including visual arts, dance, and even advanced mathematics. Additionally, since I was involved in four projects overall, I enjoyed stepping out of my usual role of director and perform as actor in a couple of them.
For more info, pics and videos, click on the titles below.
Cherry Blossoms, an exploration of the pauses between words in Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard. Director.
The Tortured One, a one act play by Jason Sofge on “weaponized silence”. Director.
Singer, a staged reading inspired by Carson McCuller’s The Heart is a Lonely Hunter. Director and actor.
Frameables by Dan O’Neil. Actor.
The residency culminated in a 3 hour performance on May 19, 2013 that took over the three spaces at Theaterlab. For the full program click here.
Stevens Theatre, Gettysburg College, Gettysburg, PA
An adaptation in four parts for the students of my Modern Italian Theatre course. Based on a list of physical actions, we devised and rewrote four versions of the same play, which was set, in turn, in an informal college environment, a morbid Eighteenth century, a flashback from the point of view of one of the minor characters, and a world of puppets.
An account of the theory underlying this course can be found in my article “The Short Play and Postmodernist Stage Directing: A Virtual Experiment with Pirandello’s Cecè.” published in Quaderni d’Italianistica 32.2 (2012)
The Theatre Arts Department at Gettysburg College asked me to direct a mainstage production during the 2008-09 season. Thus, I adapted and translated the play into English in collaboration with Susan Russell, Chair and Professor of Theater Arts. The action was set in contemporary Venice Beach, California and the Italian aristocracy was transformed into its American counterpart based on wealth.
Also, in line with Goldoni’s biography, I imagined that the playwright himself was writing in a haste, in order to keep his promise of delivering as many as 16 new comedies during a single season, and thus win a bet against his competitors. Since everything was being created on the spot, the actors received their parts page after page and the set itself was brought in piece by piece and moved around as the play developed. You can read more in my director’s notes here.
Since we were dealing with lying at its “best”, I asked each member of the production to write a biographical note with a twist, and include a half lie and a full-blown one. You can read the entire program here: try to find the lies! Some are really funny and you can probably tell without knowing the person directly.
Some obscure black-box room in snowy Madison, Wisconsin
In this theoretically infused production I worked with Stephen O’Connell, a talented MFA actor, to deconstruct the idea of “presence” by having the actor play both parts of the play, first in front of a mirror, then to a video of himself previously recorded.
Below you can find both the final product and a series of steps that led to it. For a director, the process is at least as important as the end result.
The first day of rehearsal was a lot about finding various approaches to the text in a constant process of exploration, starting with the alliterative sounds in the play. Although the video is not always in focus – directing and filming at the same time is not advised 😉 – this rehearsal demonstrates a post-modern style of acting/directing that does not ever come to a closure, while at the same time never giving up on potential further meanings. It also details the game of mirrors that will produce the final video.
The second day we tried to gauge the boundaries of the text, from a jazz version to a more expressive one with words only, up until an esoteric experiment of inner displacement in front of a mirror (first part). Finally we tapped into the forces of the four elements: water, air, fire, earth with surprising results (second part).
The third day’s rehearsal tried to blend all layers previously explored, but was also mostly devoted to figuring out how to record a video of the Listener to be played, later, to the same actor playing the Reader.
S. Giovanni Bosco Theatre, Modena, and San Martino Theatre, Bologna, Italy
By special arrangement with the Yourcenar Estate, I presented this monologue within the context of the “La manica tagliata” (The Cut Sleeve) LGBT festival, with Francesco Stella as the protagonist. Since the piece is particularly long, it offered a challenging field for experimentation in the areas of dramaturgy, storytelling, and composition.
For this dinner theatre show, I combined scenes from Verdi’s opera and Dumas’s Camille (La Dame aux camélias), with music played by an ensemble directed by Alessandro Nidi (Parma Conservatory). Two sets of performers, four actors and three singers, led the audience into the depths of passion as seen through the different conventions of spoken and musical theatre. The show had a lot of coverage in the newspapers and on TV since it was held during the year of the celebrations for the first centenary of Verdi’s death.
Read a series of articles published by the newspaper Gazzetta di Parma including a glowing review by Valeria Ottolenghi here. (in Italian, translations coming soon…)
Here is an 11 minute promotional video of the show:
I was called by Numeriprimi, a company of young actors who had just graduated from a professional course supported by the European Union. I chose The Two Gentlemen of Verona based both on the composition of the group and the script’s opportunities for physical theater. Each song is a Shakespearean sonnet, translated into Italian. With original music by Marco Caronna, played by Luca Savazzi, the show came to resemble a musical.
Below you find both an 8 minute promo video and the two parts of the full show:
With members of the Numeriprimi Company I organized a public lecture about Pirandello’s The Giants of the Mountain (I giganti della montagna) for the students of the Italian Lit course at the University of Parma (Prof. Marzio Pieri). It included a dramatized reading, with actors working vocally to portray the many roles each of them was called to play. While stage directions were read aloud, a visual artist drew each character on a series of large sheets, building up to the impressive final scene where each of them was visible simultaneously around the theatre.
Read an article published by the Gazzetta di Parma (in Italian):
The final directing project of the professional development “School after Theater” session held in Moscow consisted in choosing a short section of Chekhov’s The Seagull to be performed as an entire show. I worked with four actors from the Swedish National Theatre, plus many master class participants who were called to embody the dreams and expectations of the protagonists in the background. I directed in English, while the performance was in Swedish: despite the short (but intense) rehearsal time, I was impressed by the combination of focus and flexibility demonstrated by the players, which resulted in a really crisp performance. Plus, this was even more exciting as it was held in Stanislavsky’s own “chamber theatre.”
Montecuccoli Tower, Pavullo and Monteceneri Tower, Lama Mocogno, Modena, Italy
This site-specific Hamlet summer project was held at two historical locations, very different spatially, a remodeled castle that normally functioned as a museum hall and a multi-level medieval tower near Modena, Italy. I directed Act III in a postmodern experimental way: for instance, the dialogue between Hamlet and the Queen (scene 4) occurred three times, in separate versions that spanned the range between ironic detachment and intense emotional involvement. Overall, my interpretation of the whole act derived by a sense that every character is constantly under surveillance and every scene is being watched by someone else within the world of the play. For the same project, I appeared as one of the play-within-the play masked actors.