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Actor Training in Italy

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  15 January 2009


‘Fools and graceless buffoons’ was one Italian playwright's view of Italian acting at the turn of the nineteenth century – and the political and linguistic fragmentation of the country continued to prevent any national approach to the problems of actor training. By the beginning of the present century the situation was beginning to improve, but until the ‘sixties the National Academy of Dramatic Art in Rome remained the single major training institution in the country. In this article, Roberto Tessari looks at the explosion of opportunities for actor training – and the wide range of approaches to it – which then occurred, largely since the ‘events’ of 1968. He quotes directly from the teachers involved to illustrate the aims of the various schools, which are now beginning a necessary process of consultation – over such matters as assessment procedures and the placement of students – through the annual ‘Prima del Teatro’ meetings hosted by the Pisa Theatre.

Research Article
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1988

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Notes and References

1. Letter from dé Calsabigi, Ranieri to the author of his four first tragedies, in V. Alfieri, Tutte le tragedie, Vol. 1 (Milan: Rizzoli, 1955), p. 271Google Scholar.

2. Ibid., p. 272.

3. Ibid., p. 271.

4. This is the date of the founding of the first professional theatre company of which the constituting document is still in existence (signed in Padua in the same year).

5. Poesio, P. E., ‘Ragioni (e interrogativi) di una pedagogia teatrale’, Quaderni di Teatro, VIII (1986), p. 11Google Scholar. The principal section of the journal, entitled ‘Passoporto per il palcoscenico’ (‘Passport to the Stage’) is devoted to an investigation of the problems of contemporary actor training schools.

6. These are the same ‘sins’ that Pirandello railed against in his Six Characters in Search of an Author. The two best-known Italian playwrights of the early twentieth century, Pirandello and D'Annunzio, both stressed the need to move beyond the stage conventions of the national companies.

7. Radice, R., ‘L'accademia Silvio d'Amico’, in Aa.Vv. Prima del Teatro (Pisa: Pacini, 1985), p. 30Google Scholar. This volume was published at the instigation of the Pisa Theatre, following the first conference at Pisa of Italian theatre schools. The volume contains a number of essays, together with information on the history, organization, teaching methods, and entrance requirements of the seven principal national training centres.

8. A. Trionfo, ‘Chi sarà di scena: curiosità e certezze’, in Aa.Vv. Prima Del Teatro, p. 34.

10. Ibid.

11. Ibid., p. 34–5.

12. Programme of Piccolo Teatro's School of Dramatic Art, in Aa.Vv. Prima del Teatro, p. 76.

13. O. Ferrante, ‘L'educazione teatrale’, in Aa.Vv. Prima del Teatro, p. 77.

14. ‘Qualche cenno storico sulla scuola di recitazione del Teatro di Genova’, in Aa.Vv. Prima del Teatro, p. 92.

15. Ibid.

16. Ibid., p. 93.

17. A. Galante Garrone, ‘La scuola di teatro di bologna’, in Aa.Vv. Prima del Teatro, p. 101–3.

18. Ibid., p. 101.

19. Ibid.

20. Ibid., p. 101–2.

21. Ibid., p. 102.

22. ‘Il Centro di avviamento all’ espressione’, in Aa.Vv. Prima del Teatro, p. 112.

23. ‘Prassi dei seminari di divulgazione del metodo mimico di Orazio Costa’, in Aa.Vv. Prima del Teatro, p. 115.

24. In the 1984–85 production of Rostand's Cyrano de Bergerac, Proietti played the lead himself, with his students in all the supporting roles. In Piccardi-Tessari's Oh, Luciano (1985) he appeared in a walk-on part, with the production presented entirely by young graduates from his and other schools. In the case of the Florence Workshop, Gassman-Guerrieri's I Misteri di Pietroburgo (1985–86) was played by a company of newly graduated actors from the school, working first with Adolfo Celi and then, after his death, with Alvaro Piccardi.

25. V. Gassman, ‘La bottega teatrale’, in Aa.Vv. Prima del Teatro, p. 134.

26. Ibid., p. 133.

27. Ruffini, F., ‘ISTA’, in Anatomia del Teatro (Florence: La Casa Usher, 1983), p. 85Google Scholar.

28. Fersen, A., Il Teatro, Dopo (Bari: Laterza, 1980), p. 141Google Scholar.

29. Ibid., p. 160.