October 17, 2015
Saturday at 3pm to 5pm
Curator: Michal Gamily
Moderator: James Levin
Panelists: Dario D'Ambrosi Alessandra Belloni, Manuela Filiaci, Fabio Granato
Performers: Dario D'Ambrosi and members of Teatro Patologico
Screening material from previous shows of Dario D'Ambrosi and Teatro Patologico
Coffeehouse Chronicles celebrates the 35th Anniversary of Teatro Patologico
Teatro Patologico was founded by Dario D'Ambrosi, one of Italy's most distinguished theater artists, who has made a career of productions about people with psychiatric disabilities, devising productions that portray their unique perspective on life. His stunning and visceral version of Euripides' tragedy debuted at La MaMa in 2011. In 2012, it was presented at Wilton's Music Hall in London and was awarded the Wilton Prize as Best Show of the Season. It has also been awarded the "Lupa Capitolina" Award in Rome, a Mayoral honour.
About Dario D'Ambrosi
In the ‘80s and ‘90s, Dario D’Ambrosi marched irresistibly into the forefront of Italy’s theatrical ambassadors, a cohort led by Pirandello, DiFilippo and Dario Fo. In 1994, he received the equivalent of a Tony Award in his country: a prize for lifetime achievement in the theater from the Instituto del Drama Italiano. D’Ambrosi first performed at La MaMa in 1980 and has been in residence there nearly every year thereafter. In the US, he has also performed at Lincoln Center, Chicago’s Organic Theatre, Cleveland’s Public Theater and Los Angeles’ Stages Theatre, among others.
D’Ambrosi’s La MaMa productions include a wide variety of notable works. “Cose Da Pazzi (Mad Things Out of This World)” (1995) was a play on useless technical theories of the psychiatrists and the deep state of alienation in which the psychiatric patient lives. “La Trota (The Trout)” had its American premiere at La MaMa in 1986 and was revived in 1997. In this play an old man, trapped by his fetishist acts, turns the trout he has purchased for dinner into a love symbol and the object of an inevitably doomed passion for life. “My Kingdom for a Horse (Un rengo per il mio cavallo)” (1996) was inspired by “Richard III.” D’Ambrosi portrayed Shakespeare’s villain as a schizophrenic fetus trapped in internal dialogue with his unloving mother. Ben Brantley (New York Times) hailed the production as a remarkable interpretation that “taps right into primal terrain most of us avoid exploring.”
In 1998, D’Ambrosi adapted the Peter Pan story into “The Dis-Adventures of Peter Pan vs. Capitan Maledetto” which critic Randy Gener, writing in The New York Theatre Wire, called “the most utterly charming of D’Ambrosi’s allegorical explorations of the irrational,” warning “You’d be a fool to miss it.” In 2000, D’Ambrosi celebrated 20 years of productions at La MaMa with a serial retrospective with three of his most singular plays: “All Are Not Here (Tutti Non Ci Sonno)” (1980, 1989), a solo performance in which an inmate from a psychiatric ward is victimized by neglect in the outside world, “Frustration (Frustra-Azioni)” (1994), a play on a butcher’s psychotic obsessions, and “The Prince of Madness” (1993), a story of a crippled man selling human beings who in the end are revealed to be his family. “Nemico Mio” (1988, revived 2003) was a maverick Vladimir-and-Estragon-type play in which two inmates of a psychiatric hospital, one speaking and one mute, engage in elaborate, poetic fantasies of being at the beach.
In December, 2007, he revived his “Days of Antonio” (originally performed at La MaMa in 1981), a play based on the real incident of an insane boy who had been raised in a henhouse. Celeste Moratti starred in that play and in its subsequent film rendition, which has recently been completed in Italy. The New York Times (Jason Zinoman) credited her with “a boldly feral performance of a boy stuck between the worlds of the sane and the mentally ill and the human and the animal.”
Mr. D’Ambrosi also sustains a prolific acting career. He played the Clown in Julie Taymor’s film version of “Titus Andronicus” (1999) with Anthony Hopkins and Jessica Lange. He is director and co-author of “The Buzzing of Flies” (2003), a Hera International film produced by Gianfranco Piccioli, with Lorenzo Alessandri and Greta Schacchi (the latter co-starred with Harrison Ford in “Presumed Innocent”). In 2005, he was seen in “Ballet of War,” about the clandestine immigration of Albanian people into Italy. But his most well known film appearance may be as the Roman Soldier who mercilessly whipped Jesus in Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ.” The villainous part caused strangers to glare at him scornfully on the streets of Rome while the film was playing.
In July 2009, D’Ambrosi created an original genre of live performance called “The Drive-In Stage™” and inaugurated it an hour-long thriller, “Night Lights,” which was a site-specific performance on the block between Washington Street between Spring Street and Canal Street in SoHo. The play portrayed a precarious liaison between a female university professor and a male ex-convict in a city street. The audience of 40 viewed the live action from within parked cars, listening with headsets.
In December 2009, his production of a novel version of “Romeo and Juliet” portrayed the marvel of love with the fragility of life, the shock of the moment of total loss and what he calls a “schizophrenia of the world” with innovative and shocking stage effects.
“Any piece by Mr. D’Ambrosi is about each member of the audience. A viewer who surrenders disbelief for a moment will be carried away in an unimaginable world of chaos, wit, bewilderment, mirth, anger, disgust and a kind of sweet sadness, and will leave it with a sense of relief and loss.”
~D.J.R. Bruckner, New York Times
“The yearly appearance of the Italian writer/performer Dario D’Ambrosi at La MaMa is cause for celebration.”
~Rosette Lamont, Theater Week
“His theater is a form of social realism that is also an idee fixe. With unusual openness and frankness, his theatrical aesthetic openly embraces the extremity of their forms, emotions and ideas, and it is, thus, called teatro patologico.”
~Randy Gener, New York Theater Wire