Fringe Festival Showcases Sicilian Stage Drama

Fringe Festival, Sicilian Stage Drama, San Diego, italian culture, italian heritage, italian american, italian news, italian traditions

Federica Carruba Toscano, from the play “Nothing with nobody”

 

The second annual San Diego International Fringe Festival launched on Thursday, July 3. Boasting more than 75 shows, 200 artists and close to 400 performances in various downtown locations,  continues the inaugural festival’s tradition of bringing “the beautiful, the bizarre and the unexpected to America’s Finest City.” 
 
The award-winning festival’s mission is to “focus on the artists and creating community” by “encourage[ing] the development of San Diego as a destination for innovative artistic expression — and a great opportunity to witness local, national and international emerging artists.”
 Joele Anastasi, from the play “Nothing with nobody” 

 Joele Anastasi, from the play “Nothing with nobody” 

 
Representing Italy – and more specifically, Sicily – is a trio of actors in a stage-production entitled “Nothing with nobody” (“Niente con nessuno”). The production won Best Show at the Rome Fringe Festival 2013 with special awards including Best Drama and Best Actor. This win last year is what gave them the opportunity to travel across the Atlantic and perform for the first time in front of an international audience. 
 
The play – spoken in the authentic Sicilian dialect with English subtitles – is set in Sicily in the late 1980s. Narrated by three actors – Joele Anastasi, Enrico Sortino and Federica Carruba Toscano, the story 
follows twenty-something Giovanni, his older cousin Rosaria and their dance instructor Giuseppe as they struggle with various social obstacles and come face-to-face with their own mortality. 
 Enrico Sortino, from the play “Nothing with nobody” 

 Enrico Sortino, from the play “Nothing with nobody” 

 
Giovanni lives in a time and society in which homosexuality is taboo and homosexuals are forced to hide who they really are – but he doesn’t care. He has three loves in his life: his cousin Rosaria, dancing and his dance instructor, Giuseppe. He lives his life in complete disregard of the social implications his lifestyle has and is the embodiment of naivety, innocence and personal freedom. 
 
The lead role is played by writer and director Anastasi, who says the most important aspect of Giovanni’s character is his “pure and unconditional love.” 
 
Playing the role of dance instructor Giuseppe – who is torn and plagued by his homosexuality – is Sortino who says this of his character: “The most important aspect of my character is most certainly his duplicity. My character is essentially an actor playing an actor. In the 80s in Sicily, being gay was completely unacceptable and because of this, my character pretends to be heterosexual and covers and hides his homosexuality because he fears judgment…and being himself.”
 
Carruba Toscano plays Rosaria, a young woman dreaming of escaping to a place where no one knows her. The only light in her life is Giovanni, yet she sometimes feels overwhelmed by the burden of protecting him from the world and its harsh judgments. 
 
“I think for my character, the most important thing to share with the audience,” says Carruba Toscana, “is the suffering that comes from the judgment of the other people. When you are constantly, every day judged by someone else, then you are unable to even live your life, to dream your dreams, to try to overcome something. Then maybe if you are really in love with someone else – like Rosaria is with [Giovanni] – then maybe you have a chance to overcome this suffering. But at the end of the day, sometimes you are not so strong. So judgment is really something that – not only in Sicily, but all over the world – is something that can kill people. “
 
While preparing their show for an international audience, the actors briefly considered translating the script into English but ultimately decided to leave it in Italian and provide instead the English subtitles. “We chose the subtitles because the dialect is too strong,” Anastasi explains. “If we hadn’t used the subtitles [and left it in Italian], we would have lost a huge form of expression [in the play].”
 
During their stay in San Diego, the trio is staying with a local host family rather than staying at a hotel because, Anastasi says, “this is an opportunity to meet another culture and it gives us strength to do this job.” 
 
“Nothing with nobody” will continue to run throughout the duration of the festival, which ends on July 13. Show times and tickets – and event information – is available at the Fringe Festival website (www.sdfringe.org). 

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