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This is my House: L’Aquila Earthquake at InScena! With Alessandro Blasioli

This is My House arrives at the InScena! Festival, a civil theater monologue on L'Aquila earthquake

This is My House is an award winning play, written, directed, and played by Alessandro Blasioli, a new young artist from the Abruzzo region. In this interview, Alessandro tells us about how the show can talk about the 2009 earthquake going from the tragedy to the comedy "lazzi."

This is My House (an Alessandro Blasioli production in collaboration with Dominio Pubblico) is about the moments following L’Aquila earthquake on April 6th, 2009 and the state choices to address the emergency, all narrated through the theater storytelling techniques. The representation comes from short play that won several prices like the 2017 NUOVOIMAIE award as the best male actor, Best Short Play at the Festival Inventaria, Best Script, Best Shor Play and Best Actor at the II ed. of the Gran Premio 2.0. This is My Home talks about the unfortunate story of a family from L’Aquila, the Solfanellis, after the earthquake; it is the story of the friendship between Paolo Solfanelli and his inseparable friend Marco, sometimes even from nature’s power and human iniquity.

How was this project born?

“This is My Home” comes from my first show entitled “A Vostra completa disposizione!” – At Your Complete Disposition – that I created during an academic internship in 2014. After winning the first few awards and recognition, I was driven by the positive response the show received by the audience at the festivals and the competitions I participated in, so I deepened the topic for two years, researching documentations and interviews onsite. I debuted in 2017 at the Teatro India in Rome, during Dominio Pubblico, a festival where I received the award Best Male Actor.

What are the strong points of the show? Why should people go watch it?

I created “This is My House” as a social complaint with the specific intent of reporting what the population of L’Aquila saw and felt; the uncomfortable truth the mass media never told, disguised under a strong story of a friendship that is mined by the telluric event, but, above all, the managing of the post-earthquake situation. One of the strong points of this show – and I say it with sadness – is certainly that it is still very current, 9 years after the tragedy. Moreover, due to the gravity of the topic, I wrote it so that there would constantly be what I call “emotional elevators:” dramatic moments that follow comic breaks, ramblings, and comedy lazzi that relieve the audience of the buildup tension with laughter, both bitter and joyful.

I would suggest seeing “This is My Home” because, in the European country most at risk from earthquakes, the question is not “if” it will happen again, but “when.” Despite our awareness, no law has been passed so far that will prevent the speculation and the turnover that characterizes all the earthquake emergency situations of Italy; “This is My Home” tries to address this serious lack.

Alessandro Blasioli in a scene of This is My House – Photo by Sergio Battista.

What does it mean to you to perform in New York?

It’s the first time I cross the Atlantic and set foot in the United States and I can’t wait: New York has always been The city of my dreams (I wasn’t spared by the American Dream fever). Being in the Big Apple and having the chance of showing my work to a very foreign audience is a huge satisfaction, also because this is really all my doing; I sincerely thank the InScena! Festival for this opportunity. It will be very interesting to read the reactions of an audience that is “so far away” from the narrated facts. I can’t wait!

What do you want to pass on to the audience with your monologue?

I want to show to the Italian audience how the reconstruction – now in a slow development – and emergency were actually managed, and how much verbal and economical speculation on the dead and on the collective tragedy there was, underlining the necessity of reacting to such injustice, to avoid making the same mistakes in the future. To the American audience I want to tell a real and truthful slice of my homeland that well represents the tragic political and ethical situation that we had to face.

As a person from Abruzzo it must be even more difficult to talk about that day. How autobiographic is this show?

It’s very autobiographic, starting with the friendship between Paolo and Marco, which is a transposition of the brotherly relationship between Antonio, who is from L’Aquila, and I. The desire of telling this story came from the real and actual culmination that I noted in his eyes that summer of 2009; seeing a 16-year-old with a thousand-yard stare, with no will to do anything…the apathy caused by the fall of all certainties, swept away in only 32 seconds, the house, the family, the friends, the city…It’s not a simple situation, even to only think about it. The sense of impotence that pushed me to write about a both private and national tragedy came from all this. Another autobiographical point is Silvi, the city on the coast of Abruzzo where the first part of the show is set and where I actually spent every summer during my childhood and adolescence. In the show I also refer to the Solenne Processione del Venerdì Santo di Chieti – the solemn procession that takes place on Good Friday in Chieti –  that is also autobiographical: the “hymn was sung three times in direction of the city dismembered by Earth’s fury” really happened, so as the differentiation between the “guest” and the “clients” of the hotel. Basically, except for the grotesque characters, it is all true.

What do you think about civil theater in Italy?

I think that, in Italy, civil theater is a great way to talk about our country. If at the movies and on Netflix realities like Gomorra and Suburra that show the worst side of our society are going viral, in the same way civil theater must shed light on the many problems that afflict our nation. I think that today, the ability of reflecting with knowledge is lacking: new technologies, the amount of information that we are bombed with everyday prevent us from taking a moment to think about important matters that need to be protested, discussed, analyzed, faced, and solved. This is the fundamental task of the civil theater in Italy: to make us more permeable and able to suffer together to avoid that brutal tragedies to pass us by, bounce right off, and roll right off our backs like we don’t really care.

This is My House will be on stage at College of Staten Island on May 9th at 4p.m. and at Casa Italiana Zerilli-Marimò on May 11th at 8p.m.

For more information: InScena!

Translated by Giulia Casati.

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