surreal, adult adaptation

The Annex

January 10 - 27, 2008
Thursday - Sunday at 7:30pm

Tickets $20

Acclaimed Italian company Teatro Del Carretto Led by esteemed director Maria Grazia Cipriani and designer Graziano Gregori

"What makes this production so amazing is the expert use of ancient theatrical tools such as color, gesture, lighting, and sound. "
- Christopher Murray, Backstage

"please go and see one or both shows before they disappear across the Atlantic"
- Daniel Kelley,

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"A unique hymn to humanity." -- La Nazione review of Pinocchio

"Pinocchio is the excellent Giandomenico Cupaiulo who finds such

a bewildered and touching voice for his character." - Il Tirreno review of Pinocchio

Teatro Del Carretto -- the renowned company founded in 1983 in Lucca, Italy by director Maria Grazia Cipriani and designer Graziano Gregori, and widely recognized as one of Italy's most innovative theatre companies -- makes its long-awaited US debut at LaMaMa ETC with its acclaimed adult adaptation of PINOCCHIO, with previews to begin January 10, prior to an official press opening January 13. The beloved Italian company's US debut is a Watson Arts Project presented by La MaMa ETC.

Building on the traditional text of Italian author C. Collodi PINOCCHIO unfolds with contemporary resonance through an imaginative fusion of spoken word, movement, puppetry, masks, large and miniature objects, light and shadows, sound effects and music. Human actors, paper-mache creatures and animated characters co-exist in a seemingly magical world that is part reality and part make-believe.

Presented in the company's signature style, PINOCCHIO is enchantingly dark, surreal adult tale of a wooden puppet who becomes an adventuresome real man in a world full of very real dangers.

PINOCCHIO stars Giandomencio Cupaiuolo in the title role. Joining Mr. Cupaiuolo are Elsa Bossi, Elena Nene Barini, Nicolo Belliti, Carlo Gambaro, Giacomo Pecchia, Giacomo Vezzani, and Johnathan Bertolai. In addition to the sets and costume design by Mr. Gregori, the production has sound design by Hubert Westkemper and lighting design by Angelo Linzalata. PINOCCHIO will be performed in Italian.

An encounter in 1983 between director Maria Grazia Cipriani and designer Graziano Gregori gave birth to Teatro Del Carretto: a creative union that has thrived ever since. Inspired by the relationship between the fantastic and the real, Cipriani and Gregori created their inaugural production, BIANCANEVE (Snow White), which immediately drew raves for the company's unique aesthetic and innovative presentation of one of the world's most popular stories.

In addition to the US premiere of PINOCCHIO, Teatro Del Carretto will present matinee performances of its acclaimed family-friendly adaptation of BIANCANEVE (Snow White) on Saturdays, January 12, 19 and 26; and Sundays, 13, 20, and 27 at 2:30pm. For audiences of all ages, BIANCANEVE offers the enchanting story of a woman whose life is forever altered by mysterious dwarves, a wicked step-mother, and the kiss of a handsome prince, based on the story by the Grimm Brothers. 

Adapted and directed by Maria Grazia Cipriani and designed by Graziano Gregori, PINOCCHIO and BIANCANEVE represent the finest work that Teatro Del Carretto has produced since its inception 24 years ago. While PINOCCHIO is the troupe's most recent work, BIANCANEVE was the first show presented by Teatro Del Carretto in 1983, enjoying success within Italy and throughout Europe, and quickly becoming a staple of the company's repertoire which includes adaptations of literary classics ranging from the aforementioned fairy tales to the works of Shakespeare, Kafka, Omero and others.

Throughout the years, Teatro Del Carretto has developed an award-winning repertoire featuring imaginative, provocative adaptations of literary and dramatic classics, including ROMEO AND JULIET, A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM, BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, THE ILLIAD, and THE ODYSSEY, in addition to BIANCANEVE (Snow White), PINOCCHIO and others.

Teatro Del Carretto has performed within Italy and throughout Europe, demonstrating its capacity to overcome linguistic and cultural barriers at international theatre festivals in Paris, Lisbon, Berlin, Madrid, London, Prague, Budapest, Tel Aviv, Mexico City, Tokyo and Cairo, amongst others. They represented Italy at Italia-Russia 2005 in Moscow and Saint Petersburg, and at Italia-China 2006 in Beijing. The productions of PINOCCHIO and BIANCANEVE mark the company's US debut.

Under the artistic director Mary Fulham, Watson Arts has been a resident company at La MaMa ETC since 1994.

Backstage Review (Pick)
by Christopher Murray
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In its United States premiere, Italy's Teatro Del Carretto brings a revelatory theatricality to the tale of an innocent beset by scoundrels who survives by dint of his capacity for whimsy and wonder.

Never mind that the production is entirely in Italian. Carlo Collodi's fable of a puppet turned into a boy and then turned out into a terrifying world is the stuff of mythology, and director Maria Grazia Cipriani creates a unique and somehow familiar dream world of great intensity and beauty with the help of inspired scene and costume designer Graziano Gregori. On a half-circle stage, a small troupe of commedia dell'arte performers in black, white, and red costumes and masks use simple, repetitive, almost palsied movements to convey not only specifics of character but also the impact of surviving through traumatic experiences.

Giandomenico Cupaiuolo, who almost never leaves the stage during the 75-minute piece, presents Pinocchio as a classic clown in a tour de force physical performance. He mewls and cowers before his tormentors at one moment and then the very next is playing with abandon and glee, his skinny legs splayed out at crazy angles. He brays when turned into a donkey under the whip; tumbles out torrents of excited words to his protector, the Blue Fairy (or Fata, as she is known in Italian, played by Elsa Bossi); and puffs with exasperation in a wonderful Chaplinesque scene in which he is caught between two tasks: polishing shoes and delivering glasses of milk to his offstage father.

What makes this production so amazing is the expert use of ancient theatrical tools such as color, gesture, lighting, and sound. For many audiences, the performances of Cirque du Soleil are perhaps their only exposure to a heightened theatricality of undeniably great emotional power. Pinocchio brilliantly presents such techniques in the service of an exploration of what it means to be fully human and of the mystifying impact of swinging from one adventure and mood state to another with dizzying if often exhilarating speed. Review
by Daniel Kelley
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Italy's Teatro del Carretto has taken up shop at La MaMa this month for the company's U.S. premiere, and it would be folly to miss it. The company is presenting two massively different fairy-tale-inspired works that demonstrate their awesome range and creativity as theatre artists. Their Pinocchio is physical theatre at its finest—alternately hilarious and horrifying with an ensemble that is so in tune and energetic as to leave you breathless. Their Biancaneve (Snow White) is quite the opposite: it's a puppet show that demonstrates the company's precision and creativity in miniature. The only caveat is that both are performed in Italian, without any English translation. However, given the familiarity of the stories, and the dazzling visuals Teatro del Carretto presents, translation hardly seems necessary.

Teatro del Carretto's Pinocchio is a show for adults only. It presents Pinocchio's journey through a world full of very real dangers. Throughout the show are images of hanging, whipping, and torture played with strong theatrically that can be, at times, quite frightening. These images of brutality ring true and are in stark contrast to Pinocchio's unswerving optimism, making his survival against all likelihood that much more hopeful and inspiring.

The show itself is a series of evocative theatrical portraits of the events in the story of Pinocchio, making the experience more of a visual odyssey than a strict narrative. The show as a whole is held together by a relentless performance by Giandomenico Cupaiuolo as Pinocchio. From beginning to end, Cupaiuolo is a fountain of energy, as he seems to literally fight for his life throughout the performance. Behind it all, however, is a genuine humanity that makes Pinocchio sympathetic, relatable, and funny.

What is most powerful about this Pinocchio, however, is its visual scope. Through a simple series of doors and windows arranged in a horseshoe around the stage, and an evocative series of costumes, designer Graziano Gregori is able to transport Pinocchio from the gallows to the circus and back again. The performances by the ensemble take full advantage of the size of this adventure—presenting larger-than-life characters in a grandiose way that still feels honest. Director Maria Grazia Cipriani does an excellent job of organizing it all, creating some truly beautiful stage pictures.


If you're not convinced already, please go and see one or both shows before they disappear across the Atlantic— though I sincerely hope that this is the first of many visits New York will be getting from Teatro del Carretto.

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