Italian actor and writer Marco Paolini, one of the great surprises of the last theatre season in Italy, will be back on national television Sept. 10, when the national channel Rai Due will air his new show, Il Milione, live from Venice.
The show will take place in the magnificent setting of the old Arsenal, nowadays a military base closed to the general public. The actor and his band will perform on a floating stage surrounded by a myriad of Venetian gondolas, rowing boats and "mototopi," the large motor boats used for delivering goods in Venice.
Il Milione is a monologue about the city of Venice. Paolini, considered by some critics to be the "new" Dario Fo, talks about its history, everyday life, people, about the tourists who arrive daily from every corner of the world to discover such a unique and extraordinary place. The show opened in April 1997 in Mestre and was performed to sell out audiences in many Italian cities until May 1998. Last June, Paolini traveled to South America, where he performed Il Milione in Santiago, Montevideo and Urusanga (Brazil).
Marco Paolini became a star overnight last October when a record audience of more than 3.5 million watched his three-hour, award-winning monologue Racconto del Vajont, televised live by Rai Due from the Vajont Dam, in North-Eastern Italy. The show, which he had been performing all over Italy for more than four years and was, till then, seen by no more than 30,000 people, was a careful, almost journalistic account of the Vajont disaster.
Back in 1963, a gigantic landslide fell into Lake Vajont, an artificial basin formed by the Vajont Dam, completed in the early 60's for hydroelectric purposes. The landslide caused an enormous wave that overflowed the dam (which ironically remained intact) and fell in the nearby River Piave valley destroying five villages and claiming more than 2,000 lives. Paolini, who was a little child when the disaster took place, thought it was important to revive the memory of one of the most serious catastrophes that took place in Europe after the end of World War II. His purpose was to explain that the Vajont disaster was not a natural catastrophe like an earthquake or a volcanic explosion: There were clear signs that the landslide could have taken place from one day to even years before it actually happened, but no one seemed to take any notice, because the economic interests at stake were far too important. No one was held responsible for the catastrophe and the lawsuit against the society that built the dam has not yet finished. A transcript of Racconto del Vajont, written by Paolini together with director Gabriele Vacis, was published in October 1997 by Garzanti and remained for several weeks on Italy's bestsellers list.
A recording of Marco Paolini1s Il Milione is available on a compact disc published by Consorzio Produttori Indipendenti and distributed by Polygram Italy.
Two open rehearsals of Il Milione took place Sept. 7 and 8. The show is a co-production between Comune di Venezia, Moby Dick -- Teatri della Riviera and Rai Due. Tickets for the three nights are sold out. For further information call +39 041 5600212 or +39 041 2747609 or visit the Rai website.
--By Stefano Curti