Interview with the winner-Fortunato Calvino

The Italian language winner ex aequo of the third edition of the Carlo Annoni Playwriting Prize, in 2020, was Fortunato Calvino, with his play La resistenza negata. It is going to be performed at the opening of this year’s Lecite/Visioni Festival, on 22nd May 2021, at the Teatro Filodrammatici in Milan, by the Carlo Annoni Prize: a sign of rebirth for theatre, which is going through a painful period.

Fortunato Calvino is a filmmaker, director and award-winning playwright: he won, amongst others, the Premio Giuseppe Fava in 1995, the Premio Enrico Maria Salerno and the Premio Girulà in 1996, the Premio Speciale Giancarlo Siani in 1997, the Premio Teatri della Diversità in 2001, the Premio Calcante in 2002 and 2009, with his plays Cravattari, Maddalena, Malacarne, Adelaide, Cuore Nero.

His plays have been succesfully performed in many national and international theatres.

What do people not understand about diversity and so why is so important to dedicate a playwriting prize on this matter?

The Carlo Annoni Playwriting Prize fills a “dramaturgical” void in a country like ours, full of contradictions and where for some years now there has been a strong return to hating the “different”. Attempting to marginalise him in society.  I think this attempt failed thanks to the Associations that fight against homophobia, thanks also to culture, cinema and theatre, where finally the cliché of the 70s disappears giving a more real image of the LGBTQI world. It is a long way, and increasing the intolerance that now poisons our country (and not only ours). This issue is mainly due to politics (especially the right-wing one), which instigates to hate the different, increasing intolerance, and violence. In this situation, a playwriting prize such as the Annoni gives many authors the opportunity to write on a subject that until a few years ago was only a minority topic. Today, more than in the past, there is a transversal public that is very interested in these issues, a public that filled the theatres until the pandemic erupted. Now, unfortunately, they are empty.

Can you tell me an anecdote about your victory?

When I arrived in Milan I found a busy, vibrant city. But when I went back to the hotel, which was near the Central Station, I found out that I was the only guest there, which made me feel a bit uncomfortable. And I confess that I couldn’t sleep at all that night.

What has your victory of the Carlo Annoni Prize meant to you?

A recognition of a long militancy on these themes where I wrote other plays such as: La Camera dei ricordi staged in Milan in 1995. A playwriting prize such as the Annoni in a context such as the Piccolo Teatro is a great gratification for someone who has written and dedicated himself for a long time to these themes and not only these. It is also a help in finding a production, and La Resistenza Negata will probably be staged in the summer.    

Can you give any advice on how to write a play to the dramatists?

I have always had a goal, that of touching on untouchable, uncomfortable themes, or themes that are still taboo in today’s society: and this has led me to be an author who has earned his own personal space in the world of playwriting. This is my advice: keep away from the usual dynamics, but try to be unique in the themes you address.  

What do you expect from the future after this global situation that we are living?

I expect that all this will end and we will go back to the theatre… and this will happen, not immediately of course. This Pandemic has shown us how fragile we are. That we should love our earth more; I have not stopped writing during this time, and I believe that over the next few years there will be many plays about this terrible moment that the whole world is living.

Interview with the winner-Joseph Aldous

Joseph Aldous won the English Language Award of the Carlo Annoni Playwriting Prize in 2020 with his play Get Happy.

Joseph Aldous is a writer and actor. He completed the Soho Writers’ Lab for 2018-19, on which he wrote his first full-length play, Get Happy. He was also part of the Soho Writers’ Alumni Group for 2019-20, and recently developed a second full-length script commissioned by the Oxford School of Drama.

What do people not understand about diversity and so why is so important to dedicate a playwriting prize on this matter?

I think it’s important to reiterate that diversity isn’t a kind of ‘one-and-done’ vibe – one of the reasons why continued diversity and representation are so important is because so many voices have been – and continue to be – kept out of conversations for so long, that we’re only really scratching the surface; but I think people sometimes feel as though because a certain type of story has been in a theatre or on TV then that’s it, job done. We need more stories, more protagonists, more worlds. It needs to be in constant growth.

Can you tell me an anecdote about your victory?

I was in the restaurant I work in when I found out. I saw an email with a rejection for something else and thought ‘yep, another one, there we go’ – and then 15 minutes later got the email telling me I’d won. Quick turnaround! Then my lovely manager poured out some wine for us all at the end of the shift and I got appropriately plastered.

What has your victory of the Carlo Annoni Prize meant to you?

It’s been such a wonderful thing. More than anything, it’s given me confidence and hope that my work might be enjoyed by people, and might resonate. It’s the first play I wrote, and everyone at the Carlo Annoni Prize has been so supportive about it, so it’s been really special for a writer like me, at the beginning of everything.

Can you give any advice on how to write a play to the dramatists?

I feel like I’m absolutely not the right person to be giving advice on that at this point! But advice which I give to myself (pretty much hourly) is to follow my gut, and write what you know you want to see. All the other aspects will fall into place – but that’s where your essence is.

(I think.)

(I hope.)

What do you expect from the future after this global situation that we are living?

I think that it’s not going to be easy for a while – I’m bracing for that. But I’m hoping that this cauldron will spur on some absolutely necessary change. This situation has exposed so much ugliness ingrained in our society, that I hope that when we move through this current moment, we all remember it, and work towards a kinder, more loving future. And that no-one ever votes for the Tories again. Thanks!

Interview with the winner-Laura Fossa

The second edition of the Carlo Annoni Playwriting Prize, in 2019, had Laura Fossa as the Italian language winner, with her play Shalom, which, as the author herself told us in the interview, is about Universal Love.

During her career, Laura Fossa attended the drama class conducted by actress and director Franca Fioravanti, the drama classes of the “Officine Teatrali Bianchini” from 2014 to 2018 and, from 2013 to this date, the drama writing classes “In aria sottile” held by playwright Marco Romei.

She was a three-time winner of the “Luigi Cardiano” National Poetry Competition with the poem La Maschera in 2014, the poem Psichedelia in 2015 and the play entitled Il Giardino in 2016.

Her staged plays include Il Giardino in 2017 by the “Officine Teatrali Bianchini” theatre company and directed by Alberto Bergamini, and in 2019 Shalom at the Teatro dei Filodrammatici for the “Lecite/Visioni” Festival, promoted by Carlo Annoni Prize.

What do people not understand about diversity and so why is so important to dedicate a playwriting prize on this matter?

Diversity, in every shape and in every field of existence, frightens at first. Always. And the reason is because we don’t know it. Then, when you approach it, analyse it and see that there is no danger, it becomes an everyday occurrence. So it’s important to dedicate a prize to this matter precisely to make it known, to spread it, to make clear that diversity, as natural as it is, exists, but that we are all equal in front of Love and that we all have the right to live it in total freedom without hiding, without giving up, without denying it, without killing ourselves.

Can you tell me an anecdote about your victory?

I received Corrado’s email announcing my victory while I was still in the office. I ran in the meeting room where i knew I wouldn’t meet anyone, I opened the window and I screamed with joy. People passing by in the street raised their heads and my colleagues ran to see if I was ok. I won the first prize. For me it was like winning an Oscar!

What has your victory of the Carlo Annoni Prize meant to you?

Winning Carlo Annoni Playwriting Prize meant really a lot to me. I’m proud of this victory. The jury was composed by illustrious names from the national and international dramaturgical and literary scene and being judged as the best among many other authors and plays of great value by experts in the sector could not and cannot make me other than proud to have won. It gave me the opportunity to let more people know the story of Shalom, a story that I care a lot about and that talks about love. Of Universal Love.

Can you give any advice on how to write a play to the dramatists?

The first advice I can give is that it is not only necessary to know how to write well and to want to tell stories, but to learn the technique of playwriting through many exercises, reading plays from all periods, comparing them and analysing them deeply. Knowing playwrights and being able to capture their secrets; for example, the Mamet’s theory, which with its three laws makes the story tell itself. As regards the creative part, which is the one I like the most, there are no set rules but I follow what I feel inside: I see the characters, the environment in which they move and the music in the background, and my fingers run over the keyboard describing the scene that I am living in that exact moment. I am on the stage and I am each one of them. I can feel their hearts racing, running fast, calming down, even shutting down. I can feel their gestures even before they make them. They dictate the story to me and I simply follow it. I have written about many characters, all different, with problems and situations light years away from me, and I lived all of them without missing a single one. Shalom was born in a natural, fluid way. While I was composing it, I saw Shalom moving on stage, waving, joying, laughing and suffering, and I was doing all of this with him. It doesn’t matter if the story is true or invented, for me Shalom, Jack and Jenny will always exist.

What do you expect from the future after this global situation that we are living?

I learnt not to look too far into the future because otherwise we lose sight of the present. I hope that humanity has understood that us humans are not invincible and that we can really change the things only going all together in the same direction. Specifically for the theatre, I hope that we will soon be able to tell and listen stories again. Because this is also what the soul is fed on.

Interview with the winner-Sergio Casesi

The Italian language award of the 2018 edition of Carlo Annoni Playwriting Prize was won by Sergio Casesi, award-winning dramatist and musician in Milan, with his play Zeus in Texas.

Sergio Casesi has been first Trumpet at the Orchestra Regionale Lombarda, I Pomeriggi Musicali in Milan since 1999.

His numerous awards include the first prize in the competition “Anime Nude” at the Teatro dell’Orologio in 2012, with the staging of the one-act play Traditori, the “Premio per la nuova drammaturgia” of the Teatro la Pergola in Florence in 2015, and the important Cendic Prize in 2017 with #AnAmericanDream.

He worked as a dramaturgy tutor for the Biennale di Venezia, for three years, as part of Biennale College.

What do people not understand about diversity and so why is so important to dedicate a playwriting prize on this matter?

The diversity’s issue is a central theme of our time. Diversity is declined in different ways and for different worlds, but it always concerns the relationship between the individual and society, between the individual and the masses. The care of diversity in love and in general in the private sphere, sexuality but also politics, or the ideal, spiritual and creative sphere, is maybe the most urgent because crucial for the daily lives of millions of people. We often see, in the Western world, legislation chasing society and in countries like Hungary, Poland or Russia (we see) a return to the dogma of hate and violence. In the world there are powers that play with people’s lives and it is the duty of all free people, including writers and artists, to tell, denounce and fight for the right to live unhomologated, unconstrained and untrammelled. The battle for civil rights is then one of the battles for human freedom and, unlike older battles that were won but then lost along the way, we hope it can contribute to the progress of all humanity in a lasting and certain way.

The Carlo Annoni Playwriting Prize is necessary for all of this, as are the thoughts and words of all of those who are fighting and fought. Thanks to the Carlo Annoni Prize, which has become an indispensable international event, more and more people get in touch with the themes of diversity and are forced to come to terms with themselves, their habits, their fears and their truths. Young people and families, audience and artists, opinion and politics. I strongly believe in creativity as a fundamental element for the affirmation of rights.

Can you tell me an anecdote about your victory?

An anecdote… i found out that Carlo Annoni was originally from Agliate, a small Town in Brianza on the banks of the Lambro. Small town that i’m fonded with because my partner’s family still leaves there and, coincidentally, near the Annoni’s home. So, by chance, there was a trace in my experience with that of Carlo, at the center the wonderful romanesque Church of Agliate. I organised with the members of the Prize a concert for Carlo Annoni in the Basilica itself, with musician friends bonded in some way to that extraordinary place. It was a beautiful, rare and valuable moment.

What has your victory of the Carlo Annoni Prize meant to you?

The Carlo Annoni Prize has meant a lot to me. I received the evaluation of great professionals, of great artists. This is important when you give your maximum, when you try to write and live in the same way.

Can you give any advice on how to write a play to the dramatists?

I was lucky to work as a dramaturgy tutor at the Biennale di Venezia for three years. And I met many young people from many parts of the world. I learned a lot from many of them. But I see two very common evils in the approach to writing that I, at least I hope, believe I have always rejected. First, the fear of conflict. Dramaturgy is conflict. It is not to be avoided, on the contrary. It is necessary to always investigate it in depth, without succumbing to fear. To understand that imagined conflict what it means for us and why. Secondly, and maybe even worse, I have noticed the tendency of many to refer to pre-existing models, even fundamental ones. But this needs to be clarified. Never write in the way of Titius or Caius. Never ever want to write someone else’s text. If we are lucky, we will be original, otherwise the internalised models will still be visible in the filigree. But I often see a really thorny flattening, humiliating i would say. To write, you have to use your own blood, your own smile and your own pain. Your own experiences and dreams. You have to overcome the fear of living. You have to challenge yourself, knowing you can fail. Talking to scriptwriters or authors, but also to music composers, I have found myself discussing choices based on other works, other writings, other people’s ideas. No, this is wrong. Also ethically. It is vulgar and sterile. We may fail, make mistakes, not succeed. But it will be us. And perhaps, with confidence and strength, we will be able to write something valuable instead, as long as we use what we are and what we have in our veins. And not other suggestions and literary infatuations.

What do you expect from the future after this global situation that we are living?

I don’t know what to expect from the future. It seems to me that theatre, like music and artistic knowledge in general, matters little. We are in a period of the technical society in which economy is the moral horizon to which every man must tend. It seems that the theatre, that for millennia has been the place of secular and civil reflection, no longer has an authentic role. And if it is true that the narcissism of many authors and artists is guilty, at this point I do not feel like blaming us workers in the performing arts. It seems that society, and in particular politics and the media, also because of increasing problems in a context that is indeed only economic, do not care about the future of culture or even the future of actors, set designers, directors, skilled workers and musicians. I feel exiled from the perimeter of what is important, of what is vital. Yet I have always written, and played my instrument in the orchestra, believing I was doing something important, indispensable, for everyone. I don’t know if I am wrong now or was wrong before. But I don’t know what will happen in the future. I have no elements to understand if we are in a phase that will be resolved or if the fate of artists is marked, at least for many years. Theatre is not entertainment, which is important and that we miss, and it is a job for many professionals. But theatre is a manifestation of collective consciousness, it is a shared and free moment. And I do not want to imagine a society in which technology can dispose of everyone’s life without a place where this same life can be staged to search for its meaning, if there ever was any, and anyway its continuous recomposition over the time.

Interview with the winner-Mark Erson

Mark Erson won the English language award on the first edition of Carlo Annoni Playwriting Prize, in 2018, with his play Mark in Venice. Here is an interview with the author.

What do people not understand about diversity and so why is so important to dedicate a playwriting prize on this matter?

While there are many contests for playwrights to enter, we do not always know how gay-centered stories/scripts will be received.  There are many theatres around the US that have to be concerned with how such stories would be received by their patrons.   Another challenge of producing theatre in a hyper-capitalistic system. Contests like these help voices that have not typically been present in the theatre to have a place to be and to be celebrated.  It ensures development of new stories and new voices.

The year after my win, I wrote a play about daVinci that I would have never written if I hadn’t been encouraged by the contest organizers.  In doing so, I learned about daVinci and what a hero the LGBTQ community has in him.  Recently, commercial TV in the US has depicted him with little truth about the man.  A contest like this can also help our community claim and tell a history that has otherwise been hidden and even hijacked.

Can you tell me an anecdote about your victory?

I was able to come to Milano to receive my award and participate in the celebration.  A true high point in my life.  Because I wrote a story that lifted up a coming out story to live in harmony and equivalent to a spiritual story, and since I am a openly gay pastor serving a parish that welcomes LGBTQ people, there was more discussion about me as a pastor than me as a playwright.  But that was okay.  My play, MARC IN VENICE, is definitely born out of my own spiritual journey and coming to terms with my own identity.

What has your victory of the Carlo Annoni Prize meant to you?

It was such incredible validation and affirmation.  I’ve written a good number of plays.  Most have been self-produced.  Winning told me that someone else saw value in what I was writing.  Since winning I have been more prolific and am writing with a greater sense of confidence.

Can you give any advice on how to write a play to the dramatists?

Look at your own life for ideas.  Not to write autobiographical plays, but to see the themes and passions that have fueled your journey.  Write what you know intimately.  And play the “What if” game.  Take an actual event or story idea and then start to ask: What if this happens or that happens.

What do you expect from the future after this global situation that we are living?

I want to believe that, like the renaissance that followed the plague of the 14th century, we will come out of this with new understanding about what is important, what feeds us, what is essential to our well-being.  May the gift of 2020 be a refocusing (pun intended) and may we come out of it with a better vision of what is valuable.  Of course in my opinion, the arts are at the heart of this re-birth.

Are you curious about the past editions of the Carlo Annoni Playwriting Prize?

The first edition of the prize occurred in 2018. The jury received 122 plays, 100 in Italian and 22 in English. The award ceremony, presented by Corrado Radovan Spanger, creator of the prize, took place in Palazzo Reale (Milan). Among the winners, there were Sergio Casesi, Italian language winner with his Zeus in Texas, Mark Erson, English language winner with his Marc in Venice, and the special mentions’ authors Ana Fernandez Valbuena (Gazali per l’emiro), Lisa Capaccioli (Le probabilità dell’asterisco), Gianni Clementi (Gino, lunedì riposo). The ceremony was enriched by the large audience and by Ferdinando Bruni’s reading of some passages from Zeus in Texas.

In 2019 the second edition of the prize took place. This time, the number of plays in the competition was six times higher than the 2018’s edition, with 689 competing plays, 540 in English and 149 in Italian. The award ceremony occurred in the conference room of Milan’s Piccolo Teatro, and was characterized by numerous talks about the history of theatre and civil rights. These two matters are in fact the soul of the Carlo Annoni prize.

Furthermore, together with some drama themed video projections, a lot of famous personalities, representing Milan’s theatrical context and the attention for the civil rights, spoke about these issues: Yuri Guaiana (Associazione Radicale Certi Diritti), Marina Gualandi (Teatro Filodrammatici), Giovanni Soresi (Piccolo Teatro). The winners of the 2019 edition were Laura Fossa, with her play Shalom, the English language winner Bixby Elliot with his Lincoln was faggot, and Fortunato Calvino (Pelle di seta). Federica Cucco (Orlando), Mark Erson (The unfinished genius), Joe Gulla (Sleeping with the fish) were awarded with special mentions.

The third edition of the Carlo Annoni Prize was in 2020. Despite the very difficult world situation, the number of plays in the competition grew further: there were 759, 70 more than the previous year, in particular 601 in English and 158 in Italian. The award ceremony, presented as always by Corrado Radovan Spanger, took place in Milan’s Piccolo Teatro but, unlike the previous edition, in Nina Vinchi cloister. The commitment of the prize regarding the social rights’ matter was again confirmed by many speeches on the matter (Yuri Guaiana, Daniele Nahum of the European Parliament, Pietro Vito Spina of the Milano Pride) and by the presence of Social policies and civil rights councelor Gabriele Rabaiotti and Milan’s chairman of equal opportunities commission De Marchi Diana Alessandra. There were also Giovanni Soresi (Piccolo Teatro), Mario Cervio Gualersi (Festival Lecite/Visioni), and Andrea Ferrari (Festival Mix).

To enrich the moment, Ferdinando Bruni, Renato Sarti, Fabrizio Caleffi and Dorothy Barresi read some passages of the winners’ plays: La resistenza negata of Fortunato Calvino, Pochos of Benedetto Sicca, Antonio Lovascio’s Calascibetta44 (special mention), Alberto Milazzo York’s Aspettando Manon (special mention), Sergio Casesi’s La peste (short play special mention). The English language winner was Joseph Aldous with his Get happy and the special mentions were given to Gus Gowland and Melissa Li (Musicals special mention).

LGBTheater – Rainbow curtain stories #8: Ode to the Masters

Today we’d like to talk about a great author, known for his peculiar personality, a taste for controversy, and, most of all, a fluffy, orange haircut thatsummarizes his style. Don’t worry: he has never been the President of the United States of America. We are talking about Alan Bennett, an English actor, screenwriter, and playwright.

Born in 1934, he wrote his first success in 1960: Beyond the Fringe, a satirical revue who built his fame of a loose cannon, as it contained tons of caricatures of the authorities of the time under the rain of the audience’s laughter. 

The first steps of an author who showed many times not to fear to be misunderstood or considered offensive: the proof will show up in The History Boys, written half a century after Beyond the Fringe, in 2004. Maybe his hair color faded, but his talent didn’t: the play got enthusiastic reviews all around the globe, becoming a true modern classic in Italy at the Elfo Puccini, directed by Ferdinando Bruni and Elio De Capitani.

Alan Bennett.

Eight students, preparing themselves for the admission tests in the main United Kingdom’s universities, face a principal who considers their success a sign of prestige for the whole school. That’s why he decides to hire a new teacher to train his boys for their exams: Irwin, who we will discover to be gay and involved in an affair with his students, along with his elder colleague Hector. 

In a minimalist plot, brighter rather than provocative, a trait peculiar of the queer literature emerges: the guide’s figure. A kind of character who starts his journey in the poetries dedicated to the ephebes of Ancient Greece, ending in the thoughts of Mario Mieli, founder of the homosexual movement in Italy unrightfully accused to be a pedophile by the catholic right-wing, for saying children are free creatures, untouched by a society that promotes heterosexuality. Hector goes against an education that just helps to achieve good grades in university tests, pushing his boys towards an open mind instead.

That makes us think about an era in which the pandemic and the economic crisis affected education and civil rights. Closed schools, banned culture, and even more fuel into the wrath for business are sold as the parachute to save society. So, here it is our eighth challenge for the Carlo Annoni Prize participants: when your characters are drowning in their life, who helps them swim back to the top?

LGBTheater – Rainbow curtain stories #7: Ulysses in Italy

As it took 20 years for Ulysses to come back to Ithaca, it took us seven episodes to come back to Italy. Not because the Mediterranean country needed more time to come out with an LGBT+ playwright, but because we couldn’t decide which one to start with.

After two needed honorable mentions to Pier Paolo Pasolini and Mario Mieli, we went for one of the most controversial Italian authors of the last century: Giovanni Testori.

Giovanni Testori (ph: Valerio Soffientini)

Testori was born, like Sarah Kane, in a deeply religious family, who pushes him towards fascism. He collaborates with some fascist student associations during the years of WW2, in the meantime devoting himself to painting. His real, homosexual identity will be hidden for years until meeting the director Luchino Visconti, gay as well.

It happened during the Fifties’ when Testori focused on narrating the suburbs of Milan, which at the time was all but the modern, European city it is today. L’Arialda, set in the periphery, is the first drama in Italy about a homosexual couple, born from love and not from perversion, as the catholic misconception about the LGBT+ community dictated. That brought to a court both Testori and Visconti, who directed the movie.

The more one tries to shut a genius, the harder it springs back, like a water tube closed with force. A second friendship, with the actor Franco Parenti and one of the first great female directors in Italy, Andrée Ruth Shammah, let Testori see onstage his Trilogia degli Scarrozzanti (roughly Trilogy of the Tramps). The first chapter, Ambleto (from Shakespeare’s Hamlet), written in a fake 17th century French-Lombard creole, contains gay versions of Bard’s characters, surrounded by a surreal and tragicomical, Copi-like atmosphere.

After fascists, Milanese gangsters, and homosexuals, Testori finally met Christians: in the sad years after the death of his mother (1977) he felt an urge for a companion, even a religious one, and he thought anyone else needed to. His last works are religious plays, similar to the ones of the medieval age, still enriched by his style made of a blur distinction between reality and the stage.

Testori dies in 1993. Like Ulysses, who saw mages and sirens before coming back to Ithaca, the contemporary poet sailed through every sea of thought and expression, suspended between the two opposite forces of individual and sexual freedom and the catholic sense of guilt. So, here we are at the seventh challenge for the participants of the Carlo Annoni Prize: when comes the time, for an author, to experiment in its theatre?

LGBTheater – Rainbow curtain stories #6: Pink new year!

Dear readers, we’re sorry. It has been five weeks since the first LGBTheater episode and still, nothing about female playwrights! Not that there is a lack of them: according to a 1996 survey by AMS Planning & Research Corp., the majority of the American theatre audience is female.

How many of them do you know? Write it in the comments!

Also, there is a huge number of brilliant playwrights around the world: Yasmina Reza, Elfriede Jelinek, Lucia Calamaro, Biljana Srbljanović, Lucy Prebble, to quote a few…

It’s quite a cliche to begin with Sarah Kane, and Sarah Kane was all but cliche: the fact that a highly explicit work about war and rape such as Blasted was written by an English 24 years old girl coming from a well-being family clearly shocked the UK theater back in 1995.

Blasted, despite not truly having homosexual characters (the sex moment between Ian and the soldier is non-consensual), undirectly addresses the traditional heteronormative relation Kane stood against: the one involving a dominant man and a submissive woman. To find real love among her plays we have to wait until a gay couple appears: Carl and Rod’s relationship in Cleansed, to quote a metaphor in the text, springs through the flames of hell like a flower in the cement. Which, by the way, doesn’t prevent the whole story to end in blood and tears. 

Kane’s anty-heteronormativity is also a peculiar trait of the greatest British female writer. But, speaking about her, the Guardian’s critic Michael Billington omits ‘female’, placing her on top of an Olympus of contemporary authors, mainly men. We’re clearly referring to Caryl Churchill. In Sleepless, the last goodbye to her naturalistic period, three couples talk in their respective bedrooms: the only one who seems happy is the last, also the one made by two women, both of which we have seen in the previous scenes along with their ex-husbands. 

Also, the surrealist era reaches its top with a gay couple. The characters in Drunk enough to say I Love You? are engaged in a relation which is even too much happy, them symbolizing the USA and the United Kingdom, keeping alive their love even through wars in the Middle East and tortures with metal wires between the teeth of the dissidents. A taste for moderation Sarah Kane would have appreciated for sure.

Let’s leave 2020 with a sigh of relief and let’s start 2021 with a question for the authors wanting to participate in the Carlo Annoni Prize: which themes should face and which targets should aim to someone who wants to shock the audience? 

LGBTheater – Rainbow curtain stories #5: A nativity scene under the rain

Holidays, but being sober. After a noticeable win streak from capitalism in the yearly tender for the Christmas period, made of sugary candy canes, Coca-Cola commercials, Mariah Carey and Home Alone, the Dickens ghost of the Traditional-25th-of-December comes back on the throne. Stuffed turkey vs M&Ms, 18th century carols vs Jingle Bells Rock and, most of all, Jesus’ saga vs Macaulay Culkin.

Every religious person knows: the tale found in the Bible is a gem, written years before the Hollywood hero’s journey. The chosen one from Nazareth born into the deepest misery becomes the archetype of both Oliver Twist and many of the Star Wars characters. Every person who suffers from discriminations can identify itself with the Messiah, regardless of its faith.

Bernard-Marie Koltès

Bernard-Marie Koltès, a homosexual playwright coming from the same era and place of Copi and Lagarce, knows how it is to be emarginated from the society. Died of AIDS in France in 1989, just 41 years old, he is today remembered for a one-of-a-kind style, widely built on a sense of suspension. Rather than the fast dialogues that became a trend among his British contemporaries, he preferred long, unnatural monologues.

The characters are often immigrants: one of the most well-known is the protagonist of Night Just Before the Forests, who can’t find anyone to host him on a rainy night. Also, the people in West Pier belong to many different races, made one from their desperation and armed with opportunism to make some profit from tragedies that happen to someone else. Black battles with dogs is often considered an African Antigone. Koltès moves the sense of loneliness and suffering deriving from his condition on people he feels are even less lucky: as an outcast takes care of other outcasts, narrating their lives (is there anything more human than that?), and doing so he speaks about his pain as well.

We wish you happy holidays and we suggest you, if you haven’t done that yet, to use them to dive into the world of this great author. When you’ll be done, you will be ready for this week’s challenge: which other social and political themes may meet a LGBT-related play?