ITALIA: June 12, 2007

We have arrived in Italy. Actually, we arrived almost two days ago now, but owing to jetlag I am only this moment become self-aware again. It is just as we’ve left it (although, okay: with more construction on the highway) and it feels like home. Today we took our first visit to Orvieto, home of last year’s extravaganza, and it really was wonderful to revisit. Prior to that, when heading to the car rental place attached to da Vinci airport, each of us purported to feel as though we had never left…we just took a year to get lost before finding where we were supposed to be again.

Our occasion to visit Orvieto, as though we needed any excuse, was to meet David’s friend, Andrea Brugnera, and plumb the prospects of collaboration. The meeting, it was agreed, went very well. This was not merely because Andrea fed us coffee and ice cream, nor because the ice cream was topped with rum, nor because his rooftop porch faced onto the duomo. No, the meeting went well because we discovered that our interests were quite similar and we established times to work (read: play) together during the week that Todd is still here in order to discover one another as actors, improvisers and general old people. Tomorrow we’ll host lunch here at the agriturismo, then we’ll head to a gorgeous little theatre nearby to run through the patented Zuppa del Giorno™ technique. Later in the week we’ll get a taste of what Andrea’s been up to, and we’ll all discuss possible future collaboration. The important agreement between us all is valuing commedia dell’arte as a living tradition. We’ll see if the specifics enforce or betray this commonality.

One other very interesting thing Andrea showed us was a DVD of a Spanish program done on a fellow actor of his, Adolfo, who has been doing traditional commedia for years. It was fascinating, and in no small part due to the fact that what he does is so similar to what we do! Working in somewhat of cultural isolation as we regularly are it has been easy to imagine we were getting off track with our updating and transposing of the commedia tradition into contemporary (relatively) forms. It turns out we seem to be more in keeping with what the modern traditional commedia performer values than we could have hoped. There were moments in the DVD when his workshop looked exactly like one we would run. Basically the only difference is that we don’t adhere strictly to the stock characters, but venture to use them as inspiration for more complex or contemporary types.

There’s a lot to be done, a lot to explore. We ended our time out today by driving around the area we’re staying, trying to find a road to a castle you can see from our front porch. We made it to the nearest town and had a look around, never quite getting to the castle proper this day. But we got a hell of a view of it. Tomorrow, maybe, we’ll walk its walls.