Cult of food, carnival amusement and earnest passions on the stage…

Maxim Gorky National Academic Drama Theatre premieres Italian-Belarusian Viva Commedia

By Olga Pimenova

Maxim Gorky National Academic Drama Theatre premieres Italian-Belarusian Viva Commedia

perfomance.pngIn line with the cultural programme being implemented during Italy’s presidency of the European Union, the Embassy of Italy to Belarus has presented the Italian-Belarusian theatre project Viva Commedia (Long Live Comedy). Based on the namesake play Viva Commedia, staged by Italian Matteo Spiazzi and written by Riccardo Pippa, the production is the joint work of the Italian Embassy and the Maxim Gorky Drama Theatre.

One of the main goals of the project is to familiarise Belarusian audiences with the traditional Italian theatrical genre of Commedia dell’Arte (masked comedy). The idea to stage the play was voiced following a master class and lectures given by Matteo Spiazzi and Riccardo Pippa to Belarusian actors this April in Minsk. The pair taught Belarusian actors how to work with masks which, according to the laws of the genre, dictate a particular manner of movement on stage.

Belarusian actors also worked with the Italian pair to create text for the play, with help from teachers of Italian from the Belarusian State University. Riccardo Pippa explains, “Ideas were born during rehearsals. We improvised and, in the evening, I wrote down the text, sending it straight to translators, for presentation to the actors the next morning.”

As a result of joint theatrical experiments, Pantalone speaks with an Odessa accent while Capitano and Zanni exchange phrases in Lithuanian and Polish. However, the performance preserves truly Italian features: romantic guitar music, songs in Italian, phrases in Latin, reflections on the cult of food, carnival amusements and earnest passions.

While comedic, the genre also encourages the audience to treasure ‘the moment’, lifting the spirits and urging us to set aside unnecessary regrets about the past. The Maxim Gorky National Academic Drama Theatre will add the performance to its repertoire, taking it on tour across Belarus and abroad.
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