Thursday, October 29, 2015

ALBERTO BASSETTI'S 'DEALERS IN SOULS' @ NEW CITY

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OFF BROADWAY
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Vito LaBella Examines The Deed



NEW YORK -- In Italy, theaters are under real estate pressure; their precious locations and spacious buildings are eagerly sought by developers who try to convert valued cultural assets into commercial buildings. This clash of artistic idealism and commercial opportunism has been dramatized by Italian playwright Alberto Bassetti in "Dealers of Souls," a new play whose American premiere will be presented November 12 to 29 by Theater for the New City in collaboration with Kairos Italy Theatre. It's a supernatural drama in which two men are negotiating the sale of an old theater. The buyer, a clearly corrupt theater entrepreneur, promises to restore it but actually, he intends to turn it into a supermarket. Can his intrigues be stymied by a strange actress who squats in the building, who seems to be part hobo and part phantom of the theater? Can she save the day?

Bassetti's three-character drama, written in 2001, received a staged reading in 2013 at Casa Italiana as part of Kairos Italy Theatre's In Scena! Italian Theater Festival. Now newly translated by Carlotta Brentan, it will be directed as a full production at TNC by Laura Caparrotti, Artistic Director of Kairos Italy Theatre, who also plays the actress.

Ms. Caparrotti writes that the play presents a situation that Theater for the New City narrowly avoided in real life. "In January 2013 I was at the Theater for the New City when Crystal Field burned the mortgage declaring the Theater for the New City completely paid off and therefore safe. That meant safe from becoming a supermarket or a condos; safe to remain a theater… maybe even forever! In June 2013 we presented the first reading of the translation of 'Dealers of Souls' and I couldn't help to think that this play, so much about the necessity of theaters staying theaters, was somehow telling the story of TNC. Of course, it was also the story of many other theaters: some who survived and some which unfortunately we have lost."

She adds, "According to Alberto Bassetti, theater is necessary to look inside ourselves. Theater gives us courage to face our fears and doubts; to make ourselves better people. And 'Dealers of Souls' is also about the choices we make, who we are and what we do with our lives."

Alberto Bassetti is an award-winning and much-produced playwright in Italy, Spain, France, Czech Republic, Croatia, Venezuela, Chile and Austria. His "The Burrow" has been staged in Italy and in Spain (1997 Grec Festival in Barcellona and tour) and France (Theatre Nationale de la Colline in Paris, Italian festival). "Dealers in Souls" has been presented at the Teatro di Roma, at the National Drama of Croatia, and in Prague at Narodni Divadlo in 2005, in both Italian and Czech versions. In 2012 his "The Cage" was selected by Burgtheater Kasino in Wien for the "Fine settimana italiano." His works have been featured in Festivals in Chile (Festival of European Drama) and Venezuela. In September 2005, his first movie, "Above and Under the Bridge" (based on his own Giuseppe Fava Prize winning play) opened at the World Film Festival of Montreal. He has directed documentaries for the Italian national TV RAI. In 2012, his plays "Two Sisters" and "Two Brothers" were presented in New York at Theater for the New City.

The three actors are a mix of Italians and Italian Americans. Vito LaBella (Old Man) began his professional theater career at age 12 when he played the paperboy in "Our Town." More recently, he has played Caesar in "Julius Caesar," Creon in "Antigone" and the lead in a short play contest on Theater Row in the semi finalist play, "Labor Pains." He’s worked regional, stock and dinner theatre throughout the country,as well as in store fronts and lofts throughout the city. Francesco Andolfi (younger man) is an Italian actor who's been working in NYC for more than five years. He has been classically trained at the Stella Adler Studio of acting. His roles include the title role in "The Picture of Dorian Gray", Ferdinand in "The Tempest" and Orestes in "Iphigenia in Tauris." He recently performed his own play at the Fringe Festival in Italy, and its success brought him the chance to become a bi-continental actor. Laura Caparrotti (Ghost, director) has a Masters degree in Performing Arts, Cinema and Theatre History from the University La Sapienza in Rome. She also studied independently with Nobel Prize winner Dario Fo and Annie Girardot. After ten years of professional theater in Italy, she relocated to New York, where she has directed or performed at The Kitchen, The Fringe Festival, The Walter Reade Theater at Lincoln Center, the cell, the Flea and Casa Italiana Zerilli Marimo', among other venues. She was Assistant to the Director of the Off Broadway production of Eduardo De Filippo's "Souls of Naples" featuring John Turturro. She is world-wide representative of the De Curtis Family and curator of "Excerpts of a Prince Named Totò," the official traveling exhibition on the Italian iconic actor Totò. She is also a playwright, journalist, teacher, lecturer, consultant, dialect coach ("Boardwalk Empire"), curator and panelist for NYSCA. She belongs to the Director’s Lab at Lincoln Center, Stage Directors and Choreographers Society and League of Professional Theater Women. She is Founding Artistic Director of Kairos Italy Theater (KIT), an Italian Theater Company in NY that is in residence at Casa Italiana Zerilli-Marimo’ at NYU. In 2013, she started KIT's annual In Scena! Italian Theater Festival NY, which takes place in all five boroughs.

KIT- Kairos Italy Theater was founded in 2000 in New York to spread Italian Culture and create an Italian Cultural Network in order to support and further increase the knowledge of Italy in the States. KIT has produced more than 40 performances and events over the years, collaborating with organizations including The Kitchen, The Fringe Festival, the Abrons Art Center, Casa Italiana Zerilli Marimo’ at NYU, Italian Academy at Columbia University, Film Society at Lincoln Center, Dahesh Museum of Art, NY Hall of Science, the Flea Theatre, Theater for the New City, Montclair State University, Suffolk County Community College, the Bernie West Theater at Baruch College, the cell theatre and many others. Works never translated before by Ennio Flaiano, Franca Valeri, Eduardo De Filippo, and Pier Paolo Pasolini have been presented to the US audience, which has grown in appreciation and in number. Since May 2003, KIT has presented the Double Theatre Experience: one act performed first in English and then in Italian. The organization has curated "Fellini-Flaiano: a different take," "Caricatures from Tolentino" and "Fellini and The Myth of I Vitelloni in Italian Cinema." KIT organizes classes of Italian and Theatre for children and adults in NY and NJ. In 2012, KIT created Teatro Italiano Network, a theater consulting agency, and the YoungKIT, a youth division, with which it began the series ItalianClassics@KIT. Recent productions include "Decameron" by Giovanni Boccaccio (performed in NYC, Baltimore, Washington DC and in NY state), "The Mandrake Root" by Nicolo' Machiavelli and "The Cloven Viscount" by Italo Calvino (produced with the Eastman School of Music in Rochester). In 2013, KIT began the In Scena! Italian Theater Festival NY, an annual Italian theater festival taking place in all the five boroughs and is the resident theater company at NYU's Casa Italiana Zerilli-Marimo'.

Lighting design is by Alexander Bartenieff. Assistant director is Ilaria Amadasi.


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