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.