BACCHAEAugust 3, 2021
Siracusa The Greatest and most BeautifulOctober 5, 2021
I’m Carmelinda, a knowingly diabolical actor
Carmelinda Gentile’s name has crossed my mind on various occasions recently. It happens to those of us who move to another city for work and meet many new faces in a short span of time. I had never actually met her except on one of those strange customs that shape our lives in recent decades, a so-called ‘friendship’ on a famous social media platform. Until very recently I hadn’t even linked her name to the fine interpretation of Beba, the woman Andrea Camilleri had written to stand alongside Mimì Augello, in the TV series Il Commissario Montalbano. What had caught my attention was a Medea where she was director and actor for just one night at Siracusa, and as I read about her career, I immediately thought that her story as a woman of theatre was a passion to write about. Having seen her act, I said to myself I just couldn’t not meet her and when I met her briefly to arrange an appointment, I was enchanted by her clear eyes that seemed to scan the horizon, set in a sculptural face full of light.
Her artistic life began with dance when at 8 years old she realised that her place was on stage; "When the curtain opened, the lights went on and I heard the audience breathe", I said to myself “I want to stay here, I feel good here”". She stopped dancing, but when she went to the Greek Theatre of Siracusa, she realised that theatre was the love that would change her life for ever. When I ask what being an actor means to her, she replies with a voice full of emotion, as if she had suddenly stepped on stage: "Being an actor means I am there to observe life and people, to search for the meaning of things, often to examine myself, to try to understand what I am and what I can give to others, it means doing a job I love and can share with others, everything I do is always related to the theatre, living life fully means being an actor, you can’t do theatre if you don’t live, because theatre is nothing more than a reflection of life".
As often happens, great passion is affected also by great conflict, by escapes and returns, and Carmelinda’s passion for theatre is an example.
By 14, she had already read all the plays by Eduardo De Filippo and was ‘totally besotted’ with theatre. She looked for a school in Rome but the waiting lists for auditions were too long, both at the school directed by Gigi Proietti and at the Accademia d’arte drammatica Silvio D’Amico. She discovered almost by accident that in her hometown there was a theatre school run by INDA, where despite attempts by the director of the day to discourage her, she was admitted as an auditor. This was her real beginning, the one that marked her profoundly: «After a month, Professor Giusto Monaco summoned me and said “From now on you will be a student like all the others on the understanding that you will always honour the name of INDA and what INDA represents”: what a responsibility for a nineteen-year old! But Giusto Monaco had taught many generations and had clearly seen Carmelinda’s talent and character. When she talks about it, her eyes fill with tears, and I feel that she’s carried that responsibility with her, even today as an actor with quite a long career behind her. She can’t hide the bitterness that “INDA creates orphans above all”, unlike other schools which support and promote their former pupils.
In scena con Giorgio Albertazzi per Edipo a Colono 2009 - Ph.F.Centaro
Fedra 2010 - Ph.F.Centaro
Her first escape from INDA and Siracusa is also an escape from theatre. She goes to Holland on holiday for two months and stays there for five years with a plan to do other things, but then she gets the part of Beba in Montalbano. Later Luca Ronconi chooses her for Bacchae and The Frogs at the Greek Theatre where she had made her professional debut, so she returns to her hometown and starts acting again. Too many obstacles and a child to look after convince her to return to Holland in 2015 and make a break with the stage, but this break only lasts for two months. She organises a theatre course at the end of which the participants ask her to make it permanent, and they create a show full of citations from films, musicals and plays, but wordless.
In 2016 she starts all over again. She founds the Korego Theater Group at Amsterdam which today has a permanent company of professional and amateur actors; she directs them drawing on her deep reserves of artistic experience and expertise. “Korego was created by a reciprocal contamination of passions which inspire us and give us very special moments” she enthuses, “by people who have a great soul and great talent and which I have only helped to reveal. They are marvellous, damned dreamers who dream about the magic of theatre with me, each in their own different way. As a professional, I can be more critical, more analytical and I know what I want to achieve - they do it unconsciously, I am knowingly diabolical".
In scena con Giorgio Albertazzi per Edipo a Colono 2009
This is Carmelinda’s passion. It springs from deep roots in the city/theatre where she was born and where her idea of theatre matured: "Theatre is a mission, it’s something you shouldn’t do for yourself, it means sharing, it’s something to bring people together, it makes them better. Theatre for me is giving not taking. Compliments, exaltation, self-referentiality - this isn’t theatre. Theatre is the exchange of emotions between you and the people who are watching you, otherwise it’s self-celebration”.
That’s why at this point of her life her great passion as an actor and director has the dimension, also the existential one, of the Korego Theatre and the city of Amsterdam, keeping her away from the town she loves most and never cancelling her nostalgia for it, and keeping her from Italy where “in order to work you have to belong to a clan; it’s horrible to say this but it’s true”.
That’s perhaps why she seems less passionate when she talks about cinema and television with a trace of irony, “They often say I have a face for film, but first they don’t call me because I’m too fat, then I’m too young, then I’m too old and I ask myself “Aren’t the Italians the greatest Oscar-winning make-up-artists in the world?”.
But then Carmelinda, the knowingly diabolical actor, has a dream - she wants to go back to doing ‘her’ theatre.
A lifetime spent telling stories with words, the pen, the typewriter, the computer, the camera lens, most recently he's written Il patrimonio degli equivoci. Allarme beni culturali in Sicilia. I couldn't resist the idea of leading SiracusaCulture, as director and chief editor.