“The Art of Comedy,” by Eduardo De Filippo, is on stage in Rome at the splendid Teatro Argentina, from May 7th to May 19th, adapted and directed by Fausto Russo Alesi.

The comedy was written in 1964, included in the collection “Odd Days,” and has been rarely performed, unknown to the general public compared to other much more famous theatrical works by Eduardo. Yet, it seems to have been written today. Indeed, it is so current that it appears more courageous, more dramatically emblematic than what contemporary artistic expressions dare to be today.

Eduardo de Filipp

It is Theater in its highest form: it denounces, makes us reflect, represents, in fiction and parody, that harsh reality that reality itself can no longer explicitly express. In this sense, theater has an essential social function and rightfully demands its recognition, its redemption.

The burned-out warehouse of a troupe becomes the terrible situation of entertainment and cultural venues closed during the pandemic, degraded to places of anointment. The censorship to which culture is subjected becomes the current tragic self-censorship of critical thinking, subjected to the blackmail of the impossibility of advancing in one’s career, of having dignity, even if one does not conform.

Eduardo de Filipp

Eduardo addresses all the themes of the relationship between power and culture, through the ambiguity of a constant struggle between institutional interests, represented by ridiculous and petty masks, and the actors, who are not masks. The head of the traveling company asks the new prefect to attend one of his theatrical performances, where 15 situations drawn from the reality of the people will be staged.

At the prefect’s refusal, who recognizes only a circus-like function to theater, as entertainment and mass distraction, the actor challenges him. The prefect will no longer be able to distinguish between his “postulants,” the true from the false, reality from fiction.

On stage, all the contradictions of this society unfold: the relationship between science and religion, bourgeois ethics and divorce and abortion, the role of school, church, and healthcare. All in an unceasing desperate whirlwind in the search to represent the incompatibility between being, appearing, having to be, having to seem.

Everyone demands a recognized role, guaranteed by socially recognized dignity and channeled into categories, but at the same time they deny it, suffer from it, ridicule it, question it. The pre-packaged role becomes a cage for those who should guarantee it.

Eduardo is immense, anticipating the dramatic transition era we are experiencing, daring to ask questions, doubts, denouncing the conflict between power, institutions, and the role of culture. The director and the entire excellent theater company are exceptional, and I thank them for having the courage to stage a denunciation that transcends time and space.

“It’s not Pirandello,” De Filippo says at one point to his troupe leader. “These are not characters in search of an author: it is the actor seeking his authority.”

It is the theater that claims its fundamental role. Brecht said that theater cannot change the world, but it can change the spectators, and they, if they wish, can change the world.

The Art of Comedy
by Eduardo De Filippo

adaptation and direction
Fausto Russo Alesi

with (in order of the poster)
Fausto Russo Alesi, David Meden, Sem Bonventre, Alex Cendron, Paolo Zuccari, Filippo Luna, Gennaro De Sia, Imma Villa, Demian Troiano Hackman, Davide Falbo

set design Marco Rossi,

costumes Gianluca Sbicca,

music Giovanni Vitaletti

lights Max Mugnai,

stage movement consultancy Alessio Maria Romano

assistant director Davide Gasparro,

costume assistant Rossana Gea Cavallo

stage photos Anna Camerlingo

Where and When
From May 7th to May 19th, 2024
Teatro Argentina in Rome
Largo di Torre Argentina, 52
00186 Rome RM
Capacity: 720 seats
Phone: (+39) 06 6840 00314

Tuesday, Friday at 8:00 PM
Wednesday and Saturday at 7:00 PM
Thursday and Sunday at 5:00 PM
Closed on Monday

Translated with AI

By Agata Iacono

Ha studiato Sociologia presso Libera Università di Urbino.

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