The winner of the Salviamo i Talenti- Attilio Corsini Award, “Riccardo e Lucia” is coming to New York to take part in the fifth edition of the Italian Theater Festival In Scena! Written and directed by the talented Claudia Lerro and produced by Teatrificio 22, “Riccardo e Lucia,” played by Ivana Lotito and Pio Stellaccio, is an earthly love story that portrays all the ups and downs of a life together that will sweep you away. Claudia Lerro took inspiration by her the diary of her grandfather, who was a poet and activist, and her grandmother, humble and practical woman. A wife and a husband both victims, in different but similar ways, of Fascism and who lived a very simple life, characterized by many sacrifices and their love for each other.
“Riccardo e Lucia” is about living following one’s ideals and the struggle of never compromise to stay true to yourself and live happily, especially during difficult socio-historical times. Eternal love, struggle, noble ideals and antifascism are only of the few themes of this emotional show. Here’s the interview to creator and director, international artist and granddaughter of the main characters, Claudia Lerro.
How was this show created?
I started to write this show the day of my grandma’s funeral. While the hearse paraded through the streets of my town, some of the elderly that were sitting down on the benches stood up and took their hats off. This gesture of respect towards life made me feel the need to write about feelings and values that unfortunately today are in a deep crisis. Moreover, my grandfather’s premature death left an unresolved grief in my family. Telling his story, I wanted to try to “heal” and “stich” this open wound. Therefore, I wrote this show to have a cathartic function for me and my family. After the premiere, I found out that it had the same effect on the audience. Each one of us has a loss to deal with, a scar that needs to be accepted. And I think this show manages to caress the loneliness and grief of whoever is watching it.
The In Scena! Festival allows Italian acting companies to perform in the US. What do you think is a good way to efficiently spread Italian theater in the United States?
I don’t know if it makes sense for me to answer this question, since I know so little about America. I would say that when you stage the good theater, the theater that makes you feel, that sows questions and thought in the audience, theater raises awareness everywhere.
Is this your first time performing in the States? What does being in New York and performing in this city mean to you?
Yes, this is our first time. To perform in New York means to have a stage in the capital of the world at the crossing between various races and cultures from all over the world. Also, the entire America represents for us Southerners the land of hope, but also the farewell to our own mother, our roots and our country. Going as an artist, as a worker that tells the story of those who stayed and believed in our beloved Italy is a small, exciting miracle. It’s an opportunity for eternity for the people whose life we are narrating.
What do you hope to bring back to Italy after this experience, from both a personal and professional perspective?
From a personal perspective, I hope to bring a broader horizon, and experience to be told, and emotion to add to my inner baggage. From a professional point of view, I don’t have many expectations. I am open and listening to anything that can happen.
Why should we come and see this show? What do you think or hope to give to the New York’s audience?
You need to see the show because at the end of it you’ll carry around with you the hope and courage of believing in yourself ‘till the end. It’s an hour of poetry and beauty, a caress to your heart.
The show is an ode to love and the honesty of two simple people in a complex historical time. Does being honest and believing in sacrifices for a better life for everyone still mean something today or is it just an out-of-date ideal?
Often the contemporary theater echoes the deconstruction, the relativism, the ideals’ death, the violence that characterizes our present. It’s true, our show exalts an ideal that doesn’t exist anymore nowadays. And it does it exactly for this reason. In my idea of theater, I need to sow hope, ideas, emotions in the audience’s eyes, things that they don’t see anymore in every day’s life. As I was saying before, a certainty and a seed can sprout and change the present. I go to the theater and I see what I already know, that I live every day. Except for helping me have a better understanding of the reality I live in, how can theater help to change my reality, to freed from it, to shake it, to overcome it? I believe the real revolution is beauty, poetry, gentleness, staying true to ourselves, in order not to get lost. When I go to the theater and I see tortured, naked, weak, violated, dirty, lost bodies, as we often are in this present of ours, I feel even more lost and defeated. And instead, as a playwright, I would like to hug people with the same hug, the same consolation and the same encouragement that I would like to receive when I go to the theater. And that’s what I try to do with “Riccardo e Lucia.” The values I talk about do not belong only to the past, they are what I would like to have in my future.
What is the weight of the socio-historical heredity that our forefathers left to the new generations in Italy?
They left us a huge weight, unfortunately. The rebirth attempt of the post-war generations failed miserably. And in among the reasoning there is the all-Italian thought that “Everyone does it, so why can’t I? On the contrary, if I don’t do it, someone else would do it and screw me over. It’s better if I screw him over first.” And finally, “why do I need to put effort into changing things. Someone else will do it for me.” And then no one does…to quote Riccardo. This is culture its the offspring of all the past domination in Italy. We, as a new generation, need to turn it around. Each one of us has the political duty to better our country. Our show talks about this as well. So come and see it.
The show will be on stage in New York on May 9th at 8PM at NYU Casa Italiana Zerilli-Marimò and on May 11th at 8PM at Bernie Wohl Center at Goddard Riverside.
For more information: In Scena!