Reviewed by LindaAnn LoSchiavo for L’Idea
Though Italian Americans are 5.6 percent of the United States population, we have no groups dedicated to specifically funding or encouraging dramatists. However, all the other ethnic minority groups do.
In this country, we have no theaters that exist to stage Italian nor Italian American plays.
In contrast, Jewish Americans (2 percent of the U.S. population), Irish Americans (10.8 percent of the U.S. population), Hispanic Americans, and African Americans have eight (or more) well-funded theaters apiece to stage plays and sponsor theatrical achievement within their ethnic communities.
Most unfortunately, the major Italian American non-profit groups have mission statements focused on filiopietism instead of on support for homegrown authors, scholars, theatre groups, and dramatists.
Into this void stepped Laura Caparotti, who created KIT Italia in 2001 to promote Italian theatre there and abroad. In 2013, KIT [a.k.a. Kairos Italy Theatre] leapt forward by inaugurating In Scena! Italian Theatre Festival NY, the first Italian theatre festival offered in the five boroughs. Starting with a modest menu of three staged readings five years ago, In Scena! has grown. Its sixth annual fest, May 7th — 21st, 2018, will feature a dozen shows imported from Italy.
Though her taste is eclectic, Ms. Caparotti, a performer and director as well as a presenter, has not selected scripts that “go gentle into that good night.”
Here are two highlights. KIT followers will see the thriller “Echoes,” written by Lorenzo De Liberato, set in an Orwellian dystopia in which one man interviews the villain responsible for the murder of a million people. Another drama is “This is My House,” Alessandro Blasioli’s tragic tale of a powerful friendship destroyed in the ruins of the Abruzzo earthquake of 2009.
Since the current stagebill has more in common with Henrik Ibsen than Oscar Wilde, it was apt that a formidable first night focused on a mental patient roaming Cherry Lane Theatre. Reprising his 1980 hit “Tutti non ci sono,” which received its premiere at La Mama on East 4th St., actor Dario D’Ambrosi capered, complained about voices urging suicide, and cajoled women to disrobe and have sex with him. Essentially an improv piece, “Tutti non ci sono” depends a good deal upon audience responses.
It’s interesting to speculate if Mr. D’Ambrosi’s play seemed more outrageous thirty-eight years ago, when Andy Warhol saw it three times and when debates about insane asylums — — such as the talks that led to the Italian Mental Health Act of 1978 — — were just beginning. Certainly, in 2018, middle-aged theatre-goers in Greenwich Village are rather nonplussed by experimental interactions from their aisle seats. And since the translators coyly softened the roughest Italian vulgarities, therefore, the American attendees did not always catch the full force of Mr. D’Ambrosi’s rawness.
There will be another chance to meet Dario D’Ambrosi this month at a Conference on theater’s changing relationships. Do check the schedule.
* * 6th Annual IN SCENA! ITALIAN THEATER FESTIVAL NY, May 7-21, 2018
LINK to the Festival: https://inscenany.com/