Nov. 8-Dec. 1 will bring the "Festival Of Italian Theatre In New York" to various playhouses in Manhattan. Conceived by Mario Mattia Giorgetti, the event celebrates the 50th anniversary of Sipario, a monthly magazine of theatre, dance, film and other artistic disciplines.
Performances begin Nov. 12 with The Erinyes trilogy, a bilingual (English & Italian) adaptation of the ancient Greek story of Thyestes, Iphigenia and Clytemnestra. Uberto Paolo Quintavalle is the playwright, and the cast includes Broadway actors Randy Danson and Daniel Von Bergen. The Erinyes, directed by Festival organizer Giorgetti, runs at the Sylvia & Danny Kaye Playhouse on Park Avenue, Nov. 12 to Nov. 16. For tickets call (212) 772-4448.
Saturday Nov. 16 is also the night of the Sipario Theatrical Awards, given "to those who make our lives more enriched, more enobled, more appreciated, more worth living." Among the honored will be Dario Fo, Vittorio Gassman, Franca Rame, Anna Proclemer, Carla Fracci, Beppe Menegatti and Beni Montresor. Participating in the event (also at the Kaye Playhouse) will be The Olympic Dance Company's National Contemporary Ballet Company of Italy.
English speakers can take in an evening of "poison, irony, sensuality, intelligence and black comedy" with Arsenic Tonight, Carlo Terron's play at the Miranda Theatre, Nov. 20-Dec. 1. That show stars Claudia Lawrence and Marino Campanaro as an aging married couple and is also directed by Giorgetti. For tickets and information call (212) 582-6697.
Also part of the festival is an exhibition of the Sartoria Brancato company's theatrical costumes. For information on the exhibit, which takes place Nov. 8 Nov. 18 at the Italian Cultural Institute on Park Avenue, call (212) 879-4242. Media will also play a role in the Sipario Festival with "Cycle Of Italian Theatre In Video," running Nov. 10-Dec. 1. Among the presentations will be Pirandello's Enrico IV with Marcello Mastroianni (directed by Marco Bellocchio); Dario Fo directing his own Isabella Tre Caravelle E Un Cacciaballe; Eduardo De Filippo starring in his own Il Sindaco Di Rione Sanita'; and Vittorio Gassman directing his own Camper. The video series is presented by RAI International.
What's the significance of the festival? According to a statement by Mario Mattia Giorgetti, "Italian theatre deserves to be promoted and known throughout the world because both our classical and contemporary literature are...rich in themes, language, content and values. [We want] to encourage actors, directors and writers to be directed towards Italian Theatre. [We want] to commercialize our theatre, to promote it throughout the world."
Of the program itself, Giorgetti wrote that he wanted to produce two contemporary plays, one referring back to ancient Greece, another to everyday life. He also wanted to incorporate the costume exhibition, plus conferences and debates.
Of his adaptation of the Atreus plays, Uberto Paolo Quintavalle wrote, "I realize that I have engaged in an extremely ambitious project...depicting the horrors of war, of public and private hatred, in a world where violence and cruelty extend over everything... I can only humbly re-echo the words of Newton when he declared, `If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.'"
Of the production, director Giorgetti explained, "I chose actors from different countries to create a disorientating, but also a distancing effect. Narrating a tragedy means making it epic, not emotionally involving, but described in each of its elements. The characters are not there in the actual dramatic space but in a space of the mind belonging to both actors and spectators... In other words, I sought a mercurial style of performance aimed at capturing the course of events, like a hurricane that hurtles any obstacle in its path towards its own fury, towards the end."
Founded in 1946, "Sipario's" goal was to provide information on the world of the performing arts, to act as an invitation to a broad spectrum of events. Countless plays by Italian dramatists have been published in "Sipario," as well as translated works by such foreign authors as Jean Paul Sartre, Clifford Odets, Thornton Wilder and Jean Anouilh.
In 1954, Sipario founded the San Genesio Awards for the theatre. In the early 1970's, the magazine moved its offices to Rome but then returned to Milan in 1980.
-- By David Lefkowitz