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Claudia Donadoni Brings Stria to InScena!, an Earth and Blood Noir

The show Stria comes to New York under the direction of Sergio Stefini and the supervision of Marco Baliani

We interviewed Claudia Donadoni, author and actress of Stria, a show that through monologues, dialogues, and vocal and musical improvisations by Giovanni Bataloni, takes us to a women's world in the Saint Inquisition era. A current show with a social function.

“Stria” (a TDA teatro production), written and played by Claudia Donadoni, directed by Sergio Stefini and supervised by Marco Baliani, is a show that uses the storytelling technique with live music by Giovanni Bataloni that goes from folk to a more contemporary. The piece has the melologue structure: the script is incorporated in a musical score in which music is simply never only an accompaniment. The voice of the actress and the language aspects have an important role in the show: the characters speak a common language that mixes the native language of the region Lombardy with Italian. The show is about Rusina, a girl that actually existed and lived around the city of Varese and who grew up among arboreal medicine, superstitions, and arboreal celebrations, under the Saint Inquisition’s careful control. Cosima, Rusina’s childhood friend, is violently raped by a man accustomed to such acts; the women seek revenge, but Rusina is accused of witchcraft and burned at the stake.

How was this project born?

There is a historical document from 1520, one of the few that escaped from the Saint Inquisition, that is now property of Università dell’Isurbia di Varese. This text collects the records of the trials against eight women who lived in that area. When I read it, I was stunned by the “beauty” of one of the women. For a year I looked for sources: procedural documents, anthropology and historical texts on the phenomenon. I read “Chimera” by Sebastiano Vassalli again, a book I love. I visited the detention sites, the squares, where the pyres were lit, the woods where they organized the female meetings, visiting these places in order to take in their suggestions. After a year of research, I wrote the script.

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

One of the strong points of the show is certainly the intertwining of themes: the female persecutions, the phenomenon of the scapegoat, the sense of justice, the religious doubts. And all the research on the language.   The experimental dramaturgical-musical structure. It really deserves to be seen because these are themes that are extremely modern. History repeats itself. And there is a need of actions against these evils. The theater has a use value, it’s a collective rite. Today, it’s one of the few places where we are summoned to experience something that breaks down separations, creates bridges between individuals. It’s a precious opportunity that reminds us art can make the world a less awful place through a consciousness that is anchored to the experience of whoever benefits from it. To light hope for the future. Not to forget.

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

I think that for an author and an Italian theater actor, going on stage in New York –  the international home of theater – with their own work is a dream and a great result. For me it’s like that and more, because I believe in the social mission of “Stria.” Moreover, this opportunity is a great chance of creating discussions and meetings with other great professionals. An artistical and human enrichment.

Claudia Donadoni in a scene from Stria – Photo by Massimo Alari.

The show has a melologue structure, what does that mean?

In “Stria” music and words are intertwined in a single score in which my body, my gestures, and my voice tell a story. Giovanni Bataloni, who will follow the music live during the show, has privileged three repertoires: electronic, contemporary, and folk music. We worked together: sometimes the music was born out of the suggestions evocated by the text; other times, it was the opposite. We experimented a lot before we reached the final draft.

How did you approach the drafting of the script under the language aspect?

The main character, Rusina, is a young farm girl. In the 1500s, people of that social class couldn’t even write their names. Having her speak in Italian would have been historically inaccurate. Truthful to Dario Fo’ and Giovanni Testori, I make an aesthetic choice: this is a noir production that smells like earth, like blood. Italian wouldn’t have had the same dramatical strength. I created a common language made up of dialects of southern Lombardy and I complemented it with a language that is between vulgar and elevated Italian with some Latin influences for the cold prose of the law. When writing in third person, I worked with the poetic Italian that narration required.

What role do women have in your show? What do they represent in the play?

Rusina and the other women in “Stria” represent the marvel of feminine and masculine in balance. Innocence, sweetness, strength, intelligence, courage, firmness, determination, sense of justice, retaliation. Figures that can change the world. Or at least, that can try to. Even if their life is the cost they have to pay. Because women are the strength of the earth.

Stria will be on stage at Casa Italiana Zerilli-Marimò on May 15th at 6 p.m. and at The Brick Theater in Brooklyn on May 16th at 8 p.m.

For more information: InScena!

Translated by Giulia Casati.

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