|photo by Stefan Hagen|
Hometown: Udine, Italy 1960, Wimbledon, London 1961-1962, Ealing, London 1962-1966, Orpington, Kent 1966-1979
Education: Warwick University, Studied Acting, Puppetry, Lighting and Set Design while working as Tech Director at Sarah Lawrence College.
Favorite Credits: Touring India and Sri Lanka with The Whale, Concrete Temple Theatre’s adaptation of "Moby Dick".
Why Theatre?: I didn’t choose to be a theatre artist, it came about as an evolution. I was a dancer and I made a living at first as cabinetmaker, then as a Stage Carpenter, then as a Tech Director and Set Designer. The dances I created incorporated voice, stagecraft and puppets. One could say they became more theatrical, but as Martha Graham said - ‘Theater is a verb before it is a noun, an act before it is a place.’ All performance is theatre.
Tell us about Geppetto: The play is about resilience in the face of loss. It is a funny and heartbreaking tale. Geppetto, the puppeteer, has recently lost his wife. He is trying to carry on without her. But, in one of his solo rehearsals, he accidentally breaks the legs of the show's hero puppet. Geppetto makes prostheses for the puppet from tools in his workshop. The stubborn optimism of his puppet finally leads Geppetto to face his grief and the loss of his wife.
What inspired you to write and direct Geppetto: I’m the Co-Creator (with Renee Philippi), Designer, and Performer. The show sprung out of a meeting with a puppet company in Gorizia, Italy (near where I was born). They were planning a festival called Puppet and Design. (They had previously organized Puppet and Becket, which looked to have been really fantastic from the materials they showed us.) Over the next few months, I scribbled ideas down, none of which really fired me up, until I heard Terry Gross interview Hugh Herr on Fresh Air. Hugh is a rock climber, MIT engineer, and a double amputee. He was talking about his different prosthetics (he has 20+), and then he said 'I feel fortunate that I can always look forward to having better and better feet'. I found his statement both compelling and moving.
What kind of Theatre speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?: South African theatre artists have been a big inspiration. Woza Albert (by Percy Mtwa, Mbongeni Ngema, and Barney Simon ) and The Island (by Athol Fugard, John Kani, and Winston Ntshona) for the sheer power of the performances and the impact of underlying messages speak to me. I have been inspired by the ingenuity of Handspring Puppets’ work long before they created War Horse. In addition, William Kentridge has greatly influenced my approach to the use of imagery in theatre.
If you could work with anyone you have yet to work with who would it be?: Bill Irwin
What shows have you recommended to your friends?: War Horse, Swamp Juice by Jeff Achtem, Firework Makers Daughter
Who would play you and what would movie be called?: Roberto Benigni -‘Mr. Crazy Hair’
Biggest Guilty pleasure?: Graphic novels
If you weren’t working in theater you would be_______?: Teaching mathematics and building a schooner.
What is up next?: Concrete Temple has been invited to perform our Bird Machine at the 2013 Puppet Festival rEvolution in August at Swathmore PA. In November, Concrete Temple Theatre will be presenting Geppetto in Verona and Venice, and I will be performing in Italian!