On October 15, 2013 the Pirandello Society of America sponsored a reading I adapted and directed of Pirandello’s The Giants of the Mountain, with nine actors and two visual artists, who took turns at drawing the characters so precisely described by the author’s stage directions. The play is a “myth” between fable and reality that Pirandello continued to imagine, write, and rework from 1929 to 1934, but eventually left unfinished despite encouraging contracts with American impresarios. Yet, in its present form, the play vibrates with the powerful contradictions of sublime Art torn between the inner necessity to reach out to spectators who may not understand it and the temptation to abandon the world altogether. It was, in the playwright’s opinion, the culmination of his artistic endeavors.
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.
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 who wanted to stage a Shakespearean play in an imaginative way at the Teatro del Tempo in Parma, Italy. For this company of young actors, who had just graduated from a professional course supported by the European Union, I chose The Two Gentlemen of Verona.
In addition to providing an original translation, I dramaturged the script in several directions:
I substituted several scenes with speechless actions to take advantage of opportunities for physical theatre;
to better employ one of Numeriprimi’s performers, I substituted the clown character with a winged Cupid on roller skates who recited aphorisms from the humorous Murphy’s Law of Love, a prominent theme in the play;
finally, I added several songs, each in fact a Shakespearean sonnet, translated into Italian and set to original music by Marco Caronna.
With the tunes played by Luca Savazzi and sung by a gifted vocalist and company member, the show came to resemble a musical.
Below you find both an 8 minute promo video and the two parts of the full show:
Teatro del Battito and Teatro della Memoria, Milan, Italy.
Piccolo Teatro Caligola, Aversa, Naples, Italy.
For a while I collaborated with an energetic company of young actors, I Mercenari in Milan, Italy. This show took its title from the fact that many scenes from different plays were tied together in the context of an asylum, which gave us a lot of freedom in experimenting. The show had quite a few versions adapted for different types of venues, from regular theatres to outdoor settings and dinner theatres.
Even with all the Bard’s words, the most impressive scene remained the final silent one, where all the performers gradually wrapped themselves up as a group in a long yellow sheet. Here is where I came to fully realize the power and intensity of pure images.
Teatro Comunale Concordia, San Benedetto del Tronto, Italy
The first show where I experimented with brevity and improv together. One of the four actors and I produced a minimal version of Hamlet, and offered the audience the opportunity to choose the style they wanted it played, form serious to comic, spoken or musical-style.
My MFA diploma production with the actors of the School of Dramatic Art “Paolo Grassi.” The whole show was offered a small, somewhat claustrophobioc space at the Teatro Franco Parenti, which made movements difficult for the large cast. However, the location worked well with the theme of the play and afforded an incredible intimacy with the audience, which packed the seats for the production’s run.
Dramaturgically, I variously trimmed the play to emphasize Malcolm’s story and the theme of free will, in addition to translating the original.
Critic Ruggero Rastelli described the show as “a gem not to be missed” and my directing as “solemn and ironic at the same time, with that extra kick that takes you in” (Il Giornale, March 23-29 , 1998)
The video of the performance was later shown at Centro Festival del Teatro d’Europa, Palazzo Reale, Milan.
School of Dramatic Art “Paolo Grassi” – Sala Colonne, Milan, Italy
In this dramaturgy of two of Shakespeare’s Roman plays, scenes from Julius Caesar and Antony and Cleopatra explored Antony’s character in its entirety. Three male actors played all the roles including Cleopatra and the Roman mob, and this brought about many inventive solutions in a mixture of tragedy and comic moments.