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Italian Theatre Workshop Romantic Comedies Sure to Charm

Tatiana Spragins | Thursday, April 8, 2010

The Italian Theatre Workshop will premiere April 15 and run through April 17. An annual production, the workshop is the production of a class that performs a play acted and organized entirely by students — all in Italian. This semester, the class, Italian Theatre Workshop: Amore, onore, tradimento (love, honor, betrayal) put together a production that examines the theme of marriage and infidelity in two different stories: Goldoni’s “L’Osteria della posta” and Pirandello’s “Bellavita.”
Italian is Notre Dame’s second most studied language, Rome is one of its most competitive study abroad programs and Bologna is one of the few locations that offer a year-long study abroad experience. This workshop, a unique class offered only by the Italian department, aims to get students involved in not only the opportunity to further enhance their Italian but also to use their acting skills, engaging the students with the literature and the language both by speaking it aloud and performing in accordance to the text. This theatre workshop offers the challenge of having to study a complex play and then also perform it – all in a foreign tongue. However, it is also one of the few unique opportunities for the students to become completely exposed to Italian while still studying the language at Notre Dame. There is no option but to become completely involved with the work, as performing the text involves studying, reading, speaking and acting.
Michelle Keefe, a senior and the play’s student director, describes the class as “one of the few classes that offers an Italian immersion experience. It is a great place to experiment with speaking, listening, and understanding Italian; with the end result being something to be proud of, knowing that we were able to put on a successful show, and it was all done in Italian!”
Both plays to be preformed are short comedies. The first, “L’Osteria della Posta,” is about a woman who is about to meet the man she has been arranged to wed, yet when her husband-to-be sees her, he pretends to be someone else to find out what she’s actually like. What he finds out isn’t too pleasing, since she does not like the description of the person he actually is (her future husband) and in fact, already has a lover. Confusions and laughter galore, it is a much lighter play than the second one, “Bellavita.” This play deals with the relationship between the lover and the husband of a woman who has recently died and their dispute over her son — whose father no one is sure of.
Professor Lawrence Hooper, the class’s teacher and director explained that since the plays are in Italian, students have to focus on the text and study it more than normal. Consequently, this dedication helps make the acting come naturally due to the intense involvement of the student with the text, which is an interesting approach to take on acting. Although previous acting experience is not required, and in fact many have never studied theatre before, students must have taken at least one year of Italian. Most students in this year’s play have studied abroad in Italy, either for a semester in Rome or the entire year in Bologna. As part of their course requirements, the student actors keep journals and make analyses of the text, although classes consist mostly of rehearsals. In fact, the workshop can also count for FTT credit.
Although aimed at a narrower audience due to the language barrier, if anyone has even a slight interest in Italian or in theatre, it will surely be a fun experience to watch fellow Notre Dame and Italian language students execute their work of a semester on stage. Not to mention, it’ll be a challenge for the audience to keep up with complex and typically Italian plot, packed with love triangles, disputes and scandal.
Tickets are $3 for students and $5 for non-students, and can be purchased at the Center for the Study of Languages and Cultures in DeBartolo Hall.