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-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.