CSUN students give back to Italian American community

Daily Sundial

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Mix the Italian language with a tongue-in- cheek farce and you have the play Una Farsa Di Dario Fo “Gli imbianchini non hanno ricordi,” translated as A Farce by Dario Fo “The whitewashers do not have memories.”

Director Alexia Reilly added her own flare to the 25-scene play by incorporating modern elements into the original minimalist story, written by Dario Fo.

Professor Patrizia Miller, director of the Modern and Classical Language Department, gave insight and helped direct the show.

Anthony Costantini, chair of the Italian department, helped make the play possible.

The project was intended to give back to the Italian-American community, which awarded CSUN a $300,000 scholarship, Costantini said.

The project allowed students to actively use the Italian language in a play promoting the language courses outside of the classroom, Reilly said.

“Gli imbianchini non hanno ricordi” contains comedic elements similar to that of “Saturday Night Live.”

The beautifully decorated set contributed a lot to the time period portrayed.

Gotti Italian furniture, elaborate lamps, picture frames and selective wall paneling transported the audience back to the 1950s.

Performed by nine Italian language students with little-to-no-theater experience, the play was impressively funny with its lighthearted humor.

The students performed their roles successfully, combineing “commedia dellorte,” or art comedy, a 500-year-old theatrical tradition containing gesticulation, improvisation and unexpected plot development.

Since the play was performed entirely in Italian, English speakers had to comprehend the story through action, voice and expression rather than dialogue, relying solely on the acting ability of the performers.

The actors succeeded in getting their messages across by using body language, tone of voice and facial expression.

Italian-speaking audience members definitely enjoyed the performance as they laughed at all the jokes, while the non-speakers in the audience remained quiet.

Within the story of the play set in Rome, a wife (Carmen Palomino) tries to keep an eye on her promiscuous husband (Nick Liceti) by embalming him.

However, she tries to appease his fetish for concubines by allowing three women (Jessica Coffman, Shake Khachatrian and Arshaluys Taymizyan) to stay in their home.

The wife makes sure that her husband does nothing with the concubines by keeping an eye on him and injecting him with a ranquilizer so he cannot move.

Two painters (Michael Stanley and Virginia Mendez) bring comedy to the stage with their physical humor and emotional performances.

The irony of the play is when the wife accidentally embalms herself and the husband gets away with one of the concubines.

Audience members laughed as one painter (Mendez) dressed up as a male painter and fell on top of the husband who sat motionless on a couch.

The two painters mistakenly believe they murdered the husband, so they decide to cover up the murder and put costumes on to pretend to be the husband.

Surprisingly, the wife and concubines fall for the impersonator, inciting more laughter from the audience.

The first scene opened up with a piano solo and was a bit confusing since it was mainly in Italian dialogue with very little movement or action.

However, as the actors expressed more emotion and action in their roles within the following scenes, English speakers were able to catch on and grasp the meaning of the story.

Casting for the play began in October. The students had to first learn the play in Italian and then English, Reilly said.

In an effort to get students accustomed to their roles, the characters had to be analyzed.

The play was a three-part production, making it easier for the actors to get accustomed to the nuances of the characters, Reilly said.

Since the students had to talk about character analyzations to really understand their place, the exercises contributed to the successful outcome of the play.

Although the project was performed last year, it is uncertain whether the performance will reappear next year, Costantini said.

The play was enjoyable and watching it in Italian took audiences on a ride to a different era and a different location.

At the end of the performance, it was surprising to learn that many actors onstage were first timers because the actors were succinct in line delivery and acting ability.