Spaces, Lights and Colors on Fabiana’s Stage

The jour­ney of ‘Fat­to a Mano’ in the arti­san­ship world con­ti­nues. This week, in the post­card, we want to explo­re that ‘Midd­le Rea­li­ty’, bet­ween truth and appea­ran­ce, that invol­ves all the craf­ters of theatre.
Our inter­viewee is, in fact, a roman sce­no­gra­pher, who in the­se last years has desi­gned and rea­li­zed some of the most appre­cia­ted sets for thea­tri­cal pro­duc­tions in Rome and all over Italy.
Her name is Fabia­na Di Mar­co, her sto­ry has to be known!

Hi Fabia­na, let’s start from the very begin­ning. Do you have always aspi­red to beco­me a sta­ge desi­gner? I just ima­gi­ne that it’s impe­ra­ti­ve a per­so­nal talent, but not only, also pro­fes­sio­nal tech­ni­que training.

In Midd­le School, one of my classmate’s grand­mo­ther used to bring us to the Giu­lio Cesa­re Thea­tre (now a movie thea­tre), and in that pla­ce, eve­ry­thing star­ted. In Art School, I had a grum­py tea­cher of Figu­re and Orna­to, who dedi­ca­ted his time to teach me how to ‘read’ a script and desi­gn a sce­ne­ry. At that very moment, I’ve under­stood I wan­ted to be a sce­no­gra­pher, but how to do it… I didn’t know. I have to thank my sister who belie­ved in me and sup­por­ted me. She enrol­led me in a sce­no­gra­phy pri­va­te cour­se, whe­re I had the great luck to have excep­tio­nal tea­chers, still wor­king on sta­ge. They made me brea­the dra­mas, live the sets, they allo­wed me to make appren­ti­ce­ship and com­mit mista­kes. Among them, the­re was Lisa Fer­laz­zo Nato­li, an inspi­ring tea­cher, and direc­tor. How luc­ky I was!

Your fir­st wor­king expe­rien­ce has been as a sta­ge desi­gner assistant.

As soon as I fini­shed my fir­st year at the Aca­de­my, I found a job as sta­ge desi­gner assi­stant for Cri­sti­na Gae­ta­no, Fran­ce­sco Scan­da­le, and Fran­ce­sco Zito, and after a whi­le, I star­ted wor­king as an assi­stant for Ales­san­dro Chi­ti, with whom I have col­la­bo­ra­ted and lear­ned a lot for around twel­ve years.

Who would you con­si­der your men­tor among the direc­tors and the sce­no­gra­phers with whom you have worked?

The Years spent with Ales­san­dro Chi­ti are the right answer. It would not have been pos­si­ble to work for such a long time with a per­son that you don’t admi­re or con­si­der a genius. Among the fir­st sets I’ve signed, none of them lac­ked his supervision.

Howe­ver, all the direc­tors with whom I’ve wor­ked have been men­tors to me. For some of them it has been easy to fall in love with their pro­ject and their visions of the text, with others the love for thea­tre has gro­wn during the sta­ging, whil­st with a few only at the end of the work. Each of them has his inner world to be brought on the sta­ge and my com­mit­ment is to belie­ve, com­pre­hend and ren­der their visions phy­si­cal­ly pos­si­ble. And in them, in their intui­tion, I belie­ve. Gian­car­lo Sepe is like a river in a flood of visions and ima­ges. Mas­si­mi­lia­no Farau brings his ele­gan­ce and kno­w­led­ge of the script. Danie­le Sal­vo has a noir vision that attrac­ts me. I love Mar­co Car­ni­ti for his unpre­ju­di­ced cou­ra­ge and aesthe­tic taste.

Fran­ce­sco Giuf­frè is poe­tic. Lisa Fer­laz­zo Nato­li is won­der­ful­ly “dra­ma”… And more: Gian­car­lo Fares, Gian­car­lo Fer­ro and Mela­nia Giglio, that is not only an all-around actress, but she also wri­tes inten­se, con­ci­se dra­mas and direc­ts them with great strength and passion.

Among the dif­fe­rent forms of thea­tre, your pre­fe­ren­ce goes to drama.

May­be becau­se it has been my fir­st true love. It has a thou­sand faces, aspec­ts, spa­ces, and pla­ces. The scrip­ts fasci­na­te me, the actors tur­ning into cha­rac­ters, the lights whi­spe­ring, tal­king, or screa­ming and beco­me roles, too. I like it becau­se in Dra­ma thea­tre we all know each other, During the sta­ging you can discuss with the sta­ge­hand, the light desi­gner, the sound tech­ni­cian, the dress­ma­king depart­ment… You know eve­ry­bo­dy by their names. And, for a whi­le, you live under the same roof, at lea­st until the ope­ning night. In short, you are part of a team that has faces and names.

If well balan­ced, the coo­pe­ra­tion among sce­no­gra­pher, costu­me desi­gner, and direc­tor can bring ama­zing resul­ts, even when the sub­jec­ts are a bit “bor­der­li­ne” (just think about dan­cing heads and blood buckets).

A thea­tre is a machi­ne that invol­ves eve­ry­bo­dy. And if the pro­ject is clear, the idea has fun­da­men­ts and the craf­tsmen are com­pe­tent, it will be a suc­cess for all. If it doesn’t occur (and it could depend on many fac­tors) you will try again with more expe­rien­ce, more skill. Thea­tre is a hie­rar­chy. The direc­tor is at the top of the pyra­mid, but below the­re are all the others, and eve­ry­bo­dy works with the same tar­get, adding their pro­fes­sio­na­li­sm, in order to crea­te the magic. I often remem­ber to my stu­den­ts not to think of the sce­ne­ry as the show itself. Our job is well done only if it coe­xists with the other sec­tors and does not betray the ini­tial inten­tions. It should give, not deprive.

You had the oppor­tu­ni­ty to meet and work for qui­te a long time with Gigi Pro­iet­ti in his Glo­be Thea­tre. Up to you tal­king of him, a memo­ry, a part of him you car­ry with you…

With me, I car­ry all I’ve been able to take from the most gene­rous and gif­ted per­son. And still, I’d like to have. I’ve wor­ked for his pro­duc­tion, Poli­tea­ma S.r.l., for seve­ral years. I’ve had the chan­ce to work in a uni­que, mar­ve­lous thea­tri­cal spa­ce loca­ted insi­de the Vil­la Bor­ghe­se park. A very spe­cial pla­ce, becau­se so it was for him. He has loved, pro­tec­ted, sup­por­ted it. He couldn’t get enou­gh to look at the spa­ce whe­re the dark wal­nut wood and the whi­te rei­gn, whe­re the sign is the­re, without exclai­ming “Indeed, it is strong!”. For the direc­tors that have wor­ked at the Glo­be things were not always coming easy. How can you bring on sta­ge the Sha­ke­spea­rean scrip­ts without cove­ring the Glo­be struc­tu­re? Each of them, had, at lea­st once, the thought of “chan­ging” it. My job as a sta­ge desi­gner at the Glo­be, has always been to me like a “gho­st”. I have made some alte­ra­tions and have tried to meet the needs of the direc­tors without diso­w­ning it. I’ve tried using iron, or small mar­king inter­ven­tions. For exam­ple, the sce­ne­ry for Gigi’s “Romeo &Giulietta” was invi­si­ble, but it was the­re. Some lit­tle alte­ra­tions that were then resul­ted as func­tio­nal and have beco­me fixed parts for all the fol­lo­wing sho­ws. At that time I was disap­poin­ted. I was still young and I’d like to show what I was able to crea­te. Gigi taught me to love the Glo­be and to see it as he was seeing it, to respect it. And I hope I have not failed.

To Gigi, to your father, a valua­ble black­smith, to all the peo­ple that you ‘mis­sed’ during 2020, you have dedi­ca­ted some hearts sewed with colo­red fabrics…

They are not dedi­ca­ted to them; I’ve dedi­ca­ted them to me. Facing the dif­fi­cul­ties to grie­ve in this very com­pli­ca­ted year when sha­ring, hug, the other’s help is “bloc­ked”, I’ve tried to find some alter­na­ti­ve paths that allow me in pri­mis to remem­ber, to lau­gh, and cry in the memo­ry. They let me give open spa­ce to my crea­ti­vi­ty and to offer a heart to whom like me want to bring it and talk. It’s not inten­ded as a sad sign, abso­lu­te­ly not! In the hearts that I’m sewing the­re can be a sen­ten­ce, a memo­ry, names, emo­tions. The idea is to custo­mi­ze them. At the moment I’m custo­mi­zing mines.

Thanks to your pre­cious co-wor­ker Gio­van­na Stin­ga, who helps you even when in a sce­ne­ry some fabrics inter­ven­tions are nee­ded, you have crea­ted son arti­stic masks that can be custo­mi­zed: they will pro­tect from pan­de­mic without renoun­cing to our won individuality.

When I under­stood that, qui­te for a whi­le, we would have nee­ded the masks, I’ve thought to ren­der them uni­que. I’ve lear­ned to sew thanks to the onli­ne les­son by Gio­van­na last March. I have emp­tied dra­wers and linen baske­ts to get fabrics. My aunt gave me pre­cious linen deco­ra­ted by Enzo Rus­so, a sty­li­st acti­ve in the ‘70s, for whom she wor­ked. I’ve lear­ned how to sew and embroi­der, and at last, I depic­ted them. The last one I’ve made, in the word of my psy­cho­lo­gi­st Sara Eba di Vaio, is the “Masks of Emo­tions”. Each of us is having trou­ble get­ting us kno­wn. The masks can be a tool in order to com­mu­ni­ca­te what the eyes, only, can­not do. They can also help in making a lau­gh, as the last one, dedi­ca­ted to Gio­van­na and deco­ra­ted with the word CNOFEUSD. (con­fu­sed), after having for­got­ten the case on the sidewalk, and sub­se­quen­tly having come back, she didn’t find it anymore.

It seems that with the loc­k­do­wn the world of thea­tre has stop­ped. Actual­ly, the­re is great tur­moil, wai­ting to reo­pen. Seve­ral thea­tres have been refur­bi­shed in order to host the public in a safe envi­ron­ment and many pro­duc­tions have kept on working…

Thea­tres have been stop­ped, but not thea­tri­cal peo­ple. We have tried to look for new expe­dien­ts. We have demon­stra­ted and plen­ty of peo­ple has inve­sted money in order to ren­der thea­tres safe, but we could not open, no way! We could have fasci­na­ted Ita­ly if the govern­ment has let thea­tres, cine­mas, and museums open after 6 pm. It would have been a dream:” Do you want to go out, go to the theatre!”

The Glo­be Thea­tre in Vil­la Bor­ghe­se with the arti­stic direc­tion of Gigi Pro­iet­ti, thanks to the finan­cial efforts of the Poli­tea­ma Pro­duc­tion, the stub­born will of Gigi, Car­lot­ta, Susan­na e Ales­san­dro Fio­ro­ni and with our sup­port and joy, has had a show sche­du­le from July until Octo­ber 2020, pro­po­sing new dra­mas and reper­to­ry, all con­cei­ved in order to respect the safe­ty rules. And they had great suc­cess! They have given a lot to the public, which returns all the good to us becau­se for him we are.

You in par­ti­cu­lar have been wor­king until December…

I have wor­ked until the ‘dress-rehear­sal’ in the sta­ging of the “Mala­to Imma­gi­na­rio” by Molie­re, direc­ted by Gugliel­mo Fer­ro, and with Emi­lio Sol­friz­zi in the main role. It was sche­du­led at the Tea­tro Qui­ri­no during the holi­day sea­son. Thanks to the pro­du­cer, Rosa­rio Cop­po­li­no, we have com­ple­ted two weeks of rehear­sals at the Tea­tro Qui­ri­no and the dress rehear­sal on Decem­ber 13th. The pro­duc­tion has given us all the instru­men­ts use­ful to stay safe, even the quick swab. But… the ellip­sis is dedi­ca­ted to this stran­ge sta­ging that, after the last rehear­sal with sce­ne­ry, costu­mes, lights, sounds, actors’ memo­ry, has been pac­ked up wai­ting to be pre­sen­ted to the public.

For you one last que­stion: have you got a wish? A new come­dy on the sta­ge, a direc­tor with whom work?

My grea­te­st wish is that this mar­ve­lous world of the Ita­lian thea­tre, that I’ve been brea­thing and living for 19 years, return to dazz­le and make peo­ple dream again, and again, and again. Ali­ve, with the last minu­te unfo­re­seen. And I would have so much liked to sta­ge the ‘Amle­to’ direc­ted by Gigi Proietti.