Tonight We Play “A Soggetto” a celebration of theatre, Italian-style

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The genuine enthusiasm and energy with which Alessandro Mercurio, the director of Concordia’s upcoming production of Tonight We Play “A Soggetto”, speaks about the show is palpable. It’s obvious that much care and effort has gone into creating a magical world where theatre, in its entirety, can be explored, expanded and celebrated.

Tonight We Play “A Soggetto”—or Questa sera si recita a soggetto in Italian—opens on Wednesday, February 12 at the F.C. Smith Auditorium. Written in 1928, it’s the final part of Nobel Prize-winning writer Luigi Pirandello’s “theatre within theatre” trilogy and is a script that Mercurio has much experience with. As a student at the Accademia Nazionale D’Arte Drammatica Paolo Grassi in Milan, he worked on the play with Massimo Castri, one of Italy’s most renowned Pirandello scholars. With Castri he spent months analyzing the script, something that has also been part of the process with his Concordia cast.

“The script for Tonight We Play ‘A Soggetto’ is a text that you have to change every time you work on it” he explains. “It’s very linked on the present moment. You have to understand who you are, who is your audience, what kind of society will see this show.”

“It’s the story about a company who is playing a play” Mercucio says. For this reason “every actor has to create two characters: the actor involved and that actor’s character.”

“The script is a celebration of theatre,” he continues. “I wanted to celebrate theatre not only as an art but as a physical space.”

The result is a translucent realm of visibility. The actors are always visible to the audience and to each other; their costumes are translucent and there is a transparent curtain which exposes everything behind it. The entire theatre is in want of the audience’s attention.

Mercurio also celebrates theatre by weaving a variety of theatrical forms throughout the show. Each scene will pay tribute to different cultural theatre traditions, such as Commedia dell’arte, German expressionist theatre and Indian shadow puppets.

In one scene, Mercurio uses a miniature puppet theatre and shadow play to subvert associations of largeness and grandeur that are often attached to the opera. This choice also explores another theme of the show: the permeable boundary between fiction and reality. The small-scale puppet theatre is a playful representation of an opera house, but the audience will still experience a display of abundance through the oversized shadows cast on the wall.

The F.C. Smith Auditorium is an intimate theatre, one that Mercurio says is ideal for this show. “The whole space is used. Theatre is the main character.”

Tonight We Play “A Soggetto” plays at the F. C. Smith Auditorium (FC Building, 7141 Sherbrooke Street West, Loyola Campus) on February 12, 13 and 15, 2014 at 8 p.m., with matinee performances at 2 p.m. on February 15 and 16.

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