Premio VittoriniApril 7, 2022
Autumn on the Anapo RiverApril 22, 2022
Livia Gionfrida in Gioia Ph. Enrico Gallina
Theatre for Life
“For the extraordinary cultural and emotional density of the creations of Livia Gionfrida, director, playwright and actress of a magical expressive force”, and for “her courage, in the extreme faithfulness to her own poetics. For putting herself to the test each time in new fields of research, sensitive to all forms of art, and her ability to make “popular” even the most cultured and refined citations”.
These are the motives which led the National Association of Theatre Critics to award the young artist the prestigious prize in 2018. And they seem to me the most apt words to start with as I write about her, here in Siracusa, her hometown, which gave a name to that gift which burns in her: theatre.
Like many great talents, her story starts in the classroom, in the theatre group of the Liceo Gargallo. From her box of memories, photos appear which were taken during the performances in Palazzolo Acreide, for the Festival of Classical Theatre for Young People, the start of a tenacious journey which would lead her to study with I.N.D.A. and later at the D.A.M.S. in Bologna and finally to perfect her craft on the stage with Luca Ronconi and Elena Bucci, with workshops held by Emma Dante and Davide Iodice. Many are the experiences Livia has come a long way and had many experiences, as an actress and later as a director of unpublished plays which tell of a sensitive and polymorphic artistic world.
For Livia, theatre means research, something rarely found in authors today, where exploring possible languages in the name of a refined aesthetic with which to give voice to “spaces and boundaries” and to new generations. Gioia is the play with which she bursts onto the national scene, winning the critics’ prize, and revealing her artistic soul. As a director and an actress she shares with the spectators the experiences on stage which have defined her career, together with the group of artists of the Teatro Metropopolare which she invented and has directed since 2007 in Prato. In the words and actions of Gioia, who fights for a difficult son, “wooden top”, there are women victims of abuse, old people, asylum seekers and above all the inmates of the prison of Prato, with whom she built her theatre: “I work at the prison, where for a long time I have led a unique experience of theatrical research - she says - I have met many inmates over the years and I know the hard work put in by agents and operators, people who work inside these institutions. The desire which gave birth to Gioia wasn’t about marking an easy line between good and bad people but rather to tell the stories which in these years I have felt have maturing in me.”
Inedito Scaldati © Rosellina Garbo
Inedito Scaldati © Rosellina Garbo
Under her touch, the male prison of Prato has been transformed into an “artistic residence” and the project Teatro Metropopolare has become part of the National Organisaiotn for Theatre in Prison, which demonstrates that the miracle of widespread culture for everyone, without barriers, “poetic and popular”, is possible.
Like energy which transforms itself, Livia’s theatre changes: in recent days she has come to public attention again for her Inedito Scaldati staged at the Biondo Theatre of Palermo from the 23rd of March to the 3rd of April, in the Sala Strehler. After Pinocchio at the Teatro Massimo of Catania, the journey inside the world of Franco Scaldati, a Palermitan artist, continues, a shakespearean world of fables which she has recently rediscovered. Livia takes our hand and leads us through a laboratory-journey:
“ “it’s a work which wants to be unedited not only because of the use of texts, which are truly unpublished, but also for the approach towards the teacher. Scaldati loved a theatre which is able to betray itself, to change, to experiment. The performance is “unedited” on the basis of a desire to experiment with the poetic word together with the new generations”.
It is the first step along a research path which will definitely be enriched by new, itinerant works. In the meantime a ghost poet of macbethian memory, a mouse and a populous post-atomic condo are destined to travel together around Italian theatres, overcoming the too-restrictive borders of Palermo and Sicily.
And Siracusa? While waiting for her to return, and not only as an acting teacher for our Accademia del Dramma Antico, we can read some of Livia’s thoughts on her Siracusa, the city which she left but to which she returns with her heart. The city where, perhaps, she could return as a director of an itinerant Inedito Scaldati.
“Siracusa is many memories, me and my schoolmate who would walk into the Ear of Dionysius to touch the dark walls at the back and sit there, imagining all the people who had been there centuries before. I could hear their voices, the smells…
The memory of my roots is tied to the sea. In front of the Liceo in Ortiga. I would stop to look at it and would read Ovid, sometimes before the bell rang signaling us to come in.
Moreover Siracusa is like the “hyper-popular” poem of some unknown writer who would recite it around the streets of Ortigia, I think it went something like this:
“Aretusa, Aretusa, the love you brought to this fountain singing and dancing like a soprano, Alfeo passed by this street to meet this nice and beautiful girl”.
Then it shifted to Alfeo’s direct speech “Aretusa, Aretusa I would like to talk to you and I would like to tell you that you are as beautiful as a rose” and then he also imitated her voice “Alfeeeo! You are handsome and charming too and perhaps even in this pain you can become my lover.”
She teaches history of art, is President of the Association SiciliAntica for the province of Siracusa. She took care of the formation and applied teaching of cultural heritage, she worked in an Ethnographic museum in Noto, was expert on the subject at the Faculty of Architecture, curated various publications on the theme of technological innovation applied to cultural heritage. She writes for SiracusaCulture.