Saturday, January 4, 2014

Spotlight On...Maria Riboli

Name: Maria Riboli

Hometown: I was born and raised in Pesaro, a small town on the Adriatic sea in Italy. I toured the Old Boot a lot back then, working with different shows, and in 1998 I arrived in NYC and I finally felt at home. The moment I arrived in New York I knew I belonged here. The energy of the city fed my mind and my soul. I feel very thankful to live in such an amazing place. I’m inspired every day.

Education: I graduated from the Lee Strasberg Theater Institute in NYC, but I’ve always felt very lucky because since I started in this business as a child, I had many opportunities to study with some amazing teachers from all over the world, from experimental theater, to the Japanese “Theater No”, to the Russian masters of the Theater Academy “Viera Kamissergevscaia”, to the physical Grotovsky technique with Ceasar Brie, to the Theatre du Soleil from Paris, just to name a few.

Favorite Credits: Every show I do, whether I’m acting in it or directing it, holds a very special place in my heart. But there are a few who truly stand out in my memory. The first one is BAAAHHH!!!, a satirical comedy that I directed and also acted in. It was bizarre look at bureaucracy that at the end would leave the audience feeling like it could actually happen to them as well. I did the show at the Fringe Festival here in NY and then we extended for a full month in the theater district. After that, I was able to bring the show to London at the Pleasance Theater. Two other shows that I hold dear to my heart are Want & Need a romantic comedy from a male point of view. I directed and acted in that one as well. We had a sold out run here in NY in November 2012, and right after that I directed Family of Strangers written by John Pastore. It was another sold out run here in NY. It was a very compelling drama that touched the audience deeply.

Why theater?: Because there’s nothing like a live audience. In an era where human contact is limited to ‘poking’ someone on FB, I find the reward of hearing an audience laugh, cry and cheer for the characters they meet for just an hour or so, absolutely magical. The power of being able to connect to someone you’ve never met before and who you might never meet or see again, but being able to move them in some way, for me is priceless.

Tell us about Panic at the Riverside Motel?: Panic at the Riverside Motel is a fast paced dark comedy that will keep you on the edge of your seat…unless you will fall off of it, laughing…It’s a very powerful show that will make you laugh out loud and cheer for all the wrong reasons.

What inspired you to direct Panic at the Riverside Motel?: When I read the script, I immediately had a vision for it. I could see the characters and the place they were at. I could ‘feel’ them. I want this to be a wild ride for the audience as much as it is for the characters. I want the audience to leave the theater laughing and wondering if maybe they shouldn’t be laughing at this situation…I want them to talk about the ending and figure out if they are happy for the characters or if they wish it would have gone in a different direction…No matter what, I always want the audience to think. John Pastore’s writing is very inspiring to me. This is the second production I've worked on with him and his words always spark creativity in me. I was also blessed to find some amazing actors to bring this great show to life, and they’ve been inspiring me every day in the rehearsal room. I’ve been known for being a director that will push my actors to their limits…I always do that…because I want them to see that they have none. I’m extremely proud of the very hard work they put into it. And I cannot wait for all of you to see them!

What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?: I like anything that will make me think, that will inspire me. I love to be surprised in art. I have deep respect for creativity. I’m inspired by life. I’m a Method actress myself and a “Method director”, I love to go deep with the emotion. I never stop at the first layer. Passion inspires me as well - To see in people that undivided love for something. The moment I feel someone’s heart beating with hope and vision for something they love…that inspires me.

If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?:
Sir Ian McKellen would be on top of list.

What show have you recommended to your friends?: Many different ones depending on what they are in the mood for. I have to say if they ask me for a musical The Book of Mormon is the first one I suggest. I loved to see something so not-Broadway on a sold out, laugh-out-loud, Broadway theater! Very refreshing!

Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what would it be called?: Oh my…I’m gonna go with Cate Blanchett in “Nothing to lose”

What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?: Not sure I can disclose that.

If you weren’t working in theater, you would be _____?: Wondering how it all went wrong…

What’s up next?:
I have a couple of short films on my plate that I will direct and another one that I’ll be starring in. But you can follow me here trust me it’s a pretty interesting ride.