Kairos Italy Theatre Announce Special Events for TOSCA AND THE TWO DOWNSTAIRS


Kairos Italy Theatre Announce Special Events for TOSCA AND THE TWO DOWNSTAIRS

On Thursday, March 27, KIT (Kairos Italy Theatre) will celebrate NYC World Theatre Day at its production of "TOSCA AND THE TWO DOWNSTAIRS" (TOSCA E LE ALTRE DUE), a satirical, behind-the-scenes sister-story to Puccini's "Tosca" as imagined by one of the wittiest and most admired Italian playwright and actresses, Franca Valeri. The production takes stage March 20 to 30 at Dicapo Opera, 184 E 76th Street.

Before the March 27 show, a KIT representative will read the International Message delivered this year by South African playwright, designer, director, and installation-maker, Brett Bailey.

The same night, a group by Works by Women will attend the play and celebrate the work of Italian playwright Franca Valeri and of KIT's founder Laura Caparrotti. Founded by League of Professional Theater Women's Ludovica Villar-Hauser, the organization aims to support theatrical work written, directed, designed by women.

This play-within-an-opera is directed by Laura Caparrotti and its English translation is by Natasha Lardera.

The producing organization, KIT-Kairos Italy Theater (www.kitheater.com) is a rarity: a bilingual Italian-English theater company that presents Italian theatrical works of literary merit. It is named for Kairos, the Greek god of the fleeting moment. The play is acted by Laura Caparrotti and Marta Mondelli. The performance will be in Italian with English supertitles by Prescott Studio. The prologue is acted in voice over by Rocco Sisto (an Italian-born actor know for the film "Donnie Brasco" and his performance as Young Junior Soprano on "The Sopranos"). Set design is by Lucretia Moroni.

"Tosca" by Puccini is based on a drama by Sardou. In this well-known opera, Mario Cavarodossi, a painter who has concealed a dangerous political prisoner, is being protected by his lover, a celebrated singer named Tosca. Cavarodossi is tortured to reveal the whereabouts of the prisoner to Scarpia, the chief of police, who has promised to save the painter by a mock execution if Tosca will give herself to him. She ultimately agrees, but stabs Scarpia at the last moment. The execution is, however, a real one and in grief, Tosca leaps from a battlement to her death. "Tosca e le altre due" shares the 19th century setting and events of the opera, but refracts them through two memorable women characters who share them from the outside. The torture's screams and scuffles are overheard from upstairs by the wife of the torturer and the female doorkeeper of Palazzo Farnese in Rome, where the interrogation is taking place. The play is a wry and humorous character study of these two women, outsiders, who are accidentally close to the passions and politics of the story.

The play was hugely successful when KIT Theatre and The Cell co-presented its American debut in 2010. Backstage (Lisa Jo Segolla, Critic's Pick) called it "enormously appealing on many levels." Huffington Post (Fern Siegel) deemed the production and company "worthy of note," calling the play "humorous and insightful, a novel way to comment on Puccini's examination of politics and passions." The actors were highly commended in all reviews.

Born in Milan in 1920, FRANCA VALERI is an actress and playwright who has enjoyed steady success from the 1950s to today. Her unforgettable women characters--above all "La Signorina Snob," a satirical portrait of a rich girl from Milan--made her very popular. She was born into a prosperous family. Her name was Alma Franca Maria Norsa; her father was Jewish and her mother was Catholic. When the Racial Laws were established and persecution of Jews began, her father and brother escaped to Switzerland but Franca and her mother isolated themselves in a walled-in room in the back of an apartment on Via Santa Marta for a year and a half. After the war, she resolved to become an actress. To avoid "shaming" her bourgeois family, she adopted the stage name Valeri (an homage to the French critic and poet, Paul Valéry). She became popular with satiric portrayals of snobby upper-class women based on her mother's friends. These and her 1962 film, "Parigi O Cara" (Paris O Dear), have made her a gay icon. She has acted in about 53 films with the most famous Italian directors and actors such as Alberto Sordi, Vittorio De Sica, Toto and Dino Risi. In addition, she has written several screenplays and plays. She is an opera connoisseur who has directed several operas and founded a competition for young singers.

Performances are Thursdays through Saturdays at 8:00 pm, Sundays at 2:00 PM. The running time is 1:15; critics are invited on or after March 20. For more information, read http://www.jsnyc.com/season/tosca.htm. Photos are available on my website, www.jsnyc.com.

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