Member Spotlight: Antonia Brancati
Antonia Brancati is an Italian literary agent, translator, and playwright. Her mother was famed actress Anna Proclemer and her father was the great novelist and playwright Vitaliano Brancati. In 1991 she become a Literary Agent for the theatre, representing in Italy, just to name one, Nobel Prize winner Harold Pinter. In 1993 her first play Preoccupazione per Lalla (They All Worry about Lalla) was staged with a good success at Teatro Politecnico in Rome. In 2012 she is one of the founder of CeNDIC (National Centre of Italian Contemporary Playwrights.) Her representative play is PAST IMPERFECT (AKA I Would Prefer Not To.)
What are the joys and challenges of being a playwright?
Creativity is the real joy – I mean the process of it, at any steps: pursuing, tackling, attempting, striving at, working on, missing, failing, conquering for a brief moment of elation, then starting again from scratch. The main challenge is really to find the way to at least show one’s finished work (not as easy as it seems). But doesn’t this go for any field of arts as well as crafts?
Challenges more specific to playwriting I believe are the ones we playwrights pose to ourselves: the one I personally find most intriguing is how to write the subtext without actually writing it, or how to make my characters reveal their intentions while I make them say words contrary to those very intentions.
Are there any special challenges associated with being a woman playwright?
I became a playwright when I was the wrong side of forty. My beloved father was a great writer, a novelist, a playwright, an essayist, a screenwriter – the only trouble being that he died when I was only seven. My mother was one of the greatest stage actresses in Italy. I won’t mention my Electra complex, because you may all well imagine it. Since I was a child I knew I would be a writer. When I was about twenty, I knew I actually was a writer – and also knew better than saying it out loud because I had no publication to prove it. I was a secret writer, alright, and I kept writing and writing and writing for myself.
One day I read that Teatro di Roma was launching a theatre seminar; I thought attending it would do my work as an agent good - and I decided to join in. I vaguely expected we would politely talk about theatre in general, what it is and what it should be. No polite talks, however. The maestro said “Useless to discuss theory: let’s work on your works instead.” – At which, all the other participants around me took their scripts out of their pockets with what seemed to me the sound of a machine-gun. I was the only one empty-handed. I decided I would not be left behind, and started writing my very first play. It was eventually staged. Which made it possible for me to maintain I was a writer.
As for being a woman playwright – a few years back the director of teatro Stabile in Turin sent a letter to various playwrights, including myself, asking us to write a one-act on what theatre was for us. A splendid idea, after which – and before the one-acts could be staged – he was fired by the theatre. Believe me, that explains a lot about theatre in Italy.
For that project, I wrote a piece titled “The Playwright’s Nightmare”, and it was all about a male author, a certain Paolo, who has been granted the permission to see a rehearsal of his work. He wanders about the theatre, disregarded and belittled even by the last of the props men, finds that his play is being completely distorted by the star-director, and keeps wondering why is he wearing a skirt and everybody keeps calling him Anita instead. My mother read the play and was quite amused by the antics I had given to the Director (a quite recognizable character), but wondered why I had added the bit about the Author dreaming he was an Authoress. “Elementary, Mother.”, I said. “What worst nightmare may there be in our xenophile country than to be an Italian playwright – and a woman besides!” And the situation hasn’t really improved much.
What special contribution does Italy give to theatre?
For centuries, Italy existed only as a common culture and language. But in the 18th and 19th century, that language was well known and spoken by intellectuals and in the courts of all Europe. It was the language of Opera everywhere.
Italy was united under the kingdom of Piedmont and Sardinia in 1861. There was a very important Company in Piedmont: Compagnia Reale Sarda founded in 1820 and generously subsidized by the government. Over 34 years the Compagnia produced 591 Italian plays and extensively toured abroad. In 1855 the subsidies were cut and the Company was disbanded. That was the dawning of the new Kingdom of Italy.
Our (exportable) theatre is mainly visual. As for that, we can offer visually excellent shows by excellent directors who tend to believe they are the only real authors of a play. As far as they are concerned, all the actual playwright has to do is to provide a meager excuse for the director’s creativity. Not a text, but a pretext.
What has been your most rewarding experience as a playwright?
I really feel rewarded any time a piece of mine is chosen and staged. I love having a play of mine staged abroad, as that gives me a perfect excuse to travel. I like to remember how fun it was being in Mexico City for the opening of a play of mine with my husband and my mother – and to see mother peacocking around: “I am the mother of the autora!” (she always had to be the absolute star!)
And of course I like good notices. I am more doubtful about compliments, however. I remember one a very important critic paid me a few years ago: “You write like a man!” – but isn’t it another way to say that if you do not have gonads you’re really not worth much? - He was so patronisingly convinced that I actually did take that as a compliment, even though I honestly found it dubious. How could I object, though? Even St. Catherine used to exhort to “be manly” men and women alike, and she is the patron saint of Italy, after all. Another critic once told me: “I hope you don’t mind if I tell you that I find your play a pièce bien faite.” I still don’t see why I should have minded.
What advice would you give to any playwright?
Write what you enjoy writing. Which really means enjoy without having your creativity hampered by worries of eventual production requirements (you know: small cast, one set, a not too controversial topic, dramedy with a hint of farce, or whatever). Leave also aside any thoughts of possible failure – and any dreams of success. Live for the moment: feel free and enjoy the feeling.
On the other hand – if you are commissioned a piece on an indifferent topic and with lots of production requirements do not turn it down: rather use it as a mental gym – a particular kind of Sudoku. That also can be fun.
Welcome New Members
Wendy-Marie Martin, USA
Wendy-Marie Martin holds a BFA in Acting and an MFA in Playwriting and has taught, directed and performed in Europe and the U.S. Her short plays have been produced in Germany, The Netherlands, Australia, and the U.S and published by YouthPLAYS, Theatrefolk, Polychoron Press and Smith & Krauss. She is creator and Executive Producer of The Red Eye 10s International Play Festival and co-producer of San Francisco Stage & Film's The Future is Female Festival readings. Wendy-Marie is a member of the Dramatists Guild, TCG, and the Playwrights' Center and currently teaches Theatre History for Allan Hancock College/PCPA. For more information about Wendy-Marie's work, please visit her website at www.wendymariemartin.com
Sidra Rausch, USA
Maya Cohen, USA
I am an undergraduate college student at Tulane University with majors in Psychology and Gender and Sexuality who loves writing plays and monologues in her free time. I'm not here to make a professional career out of playwriting, but I love feedback and want to continue to write.
Joyce Fontana, USA
After four decades in healthcare and academia, Joyce Fontana, PhD, brought to fruition a lifelong ambition to write creatively. As a seasoned theater patron and parent of an actor, dabbling in play writing was a natural draw. After one of her first 10 minute play script attempts, 23 Skidoo, was selected for production at the Durango Arts Center 10 Minute Play Festival. She was hooked.
23 Skidoo. Performed at the Durango Arts Center 10 Minute Play Contest, Durango CO, September, 2013
Trail Meetups, Performed at the Manhattan Short Play Lab, New York City, October, 2014
Satellite Buddha. Performed at the Secret Theater One-Act Play Contest. Queens, New York City, September 2015
Exhibitions at a Picture, Finalist, reading at Festival 56 New Works Play Writing Competition, Princeton IL July 2016
Joyce thrives on opportunities to see her characters and dialogues come to life, but seeks constructive feedback, encouragement, and advice from masters of the art. Thus, she was delighted to be invited to the 2017 25th Annual Last Frontier Theatre Conference in Valdez AK. Joyce works, plays, and writes in beautiful Southwest Colorado where she lives with her husband and three dogs.
Vickie Williams, USA
Vickie L. Williams is a playwright from northeast Ohio. She is a Puffin Foundation and an Ohio Arts Council Individual Excellence Award recipient. Her play Angelic Voices In Ritardando was listed as one of the top twelve in the Sky Blue International Playwright Competition, Cambridge, Great Britain and as a semi-finalist in Manhattan’s Theatre’s Estrogenius Festival.
Her productions include: Diamond In The Rough (Cleveland Public Theatre’s Station Hope and Road To Hope festivals), Imagine Freedom (CPT’s Station of Hope festival) and Commemorative
(Karamu Performing Arts Center). Her stage readings and workshops include:
Angelic Voices In Ritardando, Even The Blind Can See, Expendables, and Vigil.
Vickie has earned a B.A. in communications and has contributed works to several anthologies, the latest being, “365 WOMEN A YEAR: A PLAYWRITING PROJECT."
Sabrina Binte Masud, Bangladesh
Sabrina Binte Masud is a BBC award winning playwright, screenplay writer, fiction writer and poet writing in English in Dhaka, Bangladesh. She is one of the founding members of Brine Pickles, first English performance literature group in the country, founder of Golpokotha bilingual writer's group, an assistant professor, and a Fulbright Scholar.
Part of her development as a writer is due to BBC international playwright’s residency in London, creative writer’s workshop at University of East Anglia, UK and learning about screenplay writing while working for BBC Media Action, from Sophia Rashid, screenwriter for the East Enders.
She is one of the founding members of Brine Pickles, the first ever English Performance Literature Group in Bangladesh, as part of the Connecting Futures Project launched by the British Council. In 2005-2006, the project culminated into the Connecting Futures Creative Writers Workshop between UK and Bangladeshi young writers that resulted in the publication the English anthology Maps and Metaphors (2006). Over the years, Brine Pickles endeavors have enabled her to stage couple of her one act plays – How To Be A Monster (2004), Messed Up Me (2005), Escaping Paradise (2007), Obviously Thou Art A Hoax (2006), and Do Not Push (2014). She has done her BA in English and MA in Applied Linguistics and ELT from Dhaka University and MA, Department of African American Studies, Temple University, Philadelphia, through Fulbright Scholarship.
At present she is working as an Assistant Professor, Department of English, Eastern University. Sabrina is one of the editors and members of the publishing committee of the anthology entitled 9th Edge, Creative Writing from Bangladesh. She is also the project director for Brine Pickles for an international creative writing project (2011-2014) funded by the American Center. The project ended with the publication of an anthology Patchwork Pages (2014).
Now Playing & Coming Soon
If you have a play or a reading between May 1 – May 31, please email Amy (firstname.lastname@example.org) before April 15 and it will be featured in the NOW PLAYING column of the May newsletter. Any play or reading in June will appear in the COMING SOON column.
A Heroine Free Summer by Jennifer Decker. Mildred’s Umbrella Theatre Company, Houston, Texas, USA. March 30-April 15, 2017
By Sandra de Helen
Sandra’s ten-minute piece A Grave Situation will be performed as part of SWAN Day, April 8, Athena Cats New Works Festival, in Santa Monica, California, USA
Sandra’s monologue, Common as a Loaf of Bread will be read April 11 as part of Diversionary Theatre's WordPlay Tuesday series. San Diego, California, USA
Alan Woods’s ten-minute play Not the Delany Sisters will be performed by THAT’s for Seniors in Holland, Manitoba, as part of “Gettin’ On” on April 9, 2017.
April 24-27, Robin Rice’s And Then The Elements Spoke Articulate Theatre, Articulating the Arts, T.Schreiber Theatre, New York, NY USA
Member Melba Larose’s ”marathon multicultural, multidisciplinary, multimedia play” After the Wall about walls around the world and throughout time is being read at Plays & Pizza at Lucky Jack's the next being April 24th at 7:30 pm. They are also read at Times Square Playwrights every Tuesday night. New York, NY USA
In the Restroom and Rosenblooms (Full length comedy) by Ludmilla Bollow April 21, 22, 23, 28, 29 - (7 performances) Memories Ballroom Dinner Theatre, Port Washington, Wisconsin USA
An Elizabethan Progress by Amy Drake at the South-Central Renaissance Conference, Austin, TX, Apr. 21, 2017.
Jamie Pachino’s play Other Than Honorable opens at Geva Theatre on April 29th. Previews begin April 26th. It's directed by Kimberly Senior. Rochester, NY USA
Articles of Interest
Broadway World provides a window into world theatre, with tickets to shows in Europe, South America, Asia and Africa.
Theatre in Paris makes French productions accessible to English-speaking audiences via projected subtitles.
The Goethe Institute celebrates the creativity and diversity of German theater and performance.
Spain’s Microteatro began a micro-theatre trend that’s spreading abroad.
The National Theatre of Greece offers an eclectic mix of classics and modern experimental work.
Yours for innovative, engaging and equitable theater,