The dream and tragedy of the ‘submerged’ of Palermo live in Franco Scaldati’s theatre

The dream and tragedy of the ‘submerged’ of Palermo live in Franco Scaldati’s theatre

2023-06-02 18:59:00 – “Scaldati was Kurosawa, Fellini, Bunuel, and Alan Ford’s comics: he was the dreamy and tragic soul of Palermo”. Melino Imparato is the heir of Franco Scaldati, the Sicilian playwright, poet and actor that Palermo seems to have forgotten ten years after his death. “Scaldati was my friend, my brother, my teacher”, he tells Imparato, who is carrying on the theatrical project of the great Sicilian playwright with his partner, collecting his spiritual and artistic testament.

“In reality – underlines Imparato – this will should be collected by Palermo, but unfortunately Palermo didn’t realize Scaldati’s greatness even when he was alive. We try to carry on a difficult task, which was already difficult for him. At Scaldati’s funeral, on June 2, 2013, the then councilor Giambrone said that Palermo owed Scaldati a debt, and this debt has never been paid. Today we should do it, and with interest. We should develop an overall project on the figure of Scaldati”.

Born in Montelepre, a small village on the outskirts of Palermo, Scaldati soon moved to the city with his family; here he undertakes his studies, which he leaves before obtaining the elementary school certificate. At just twelve years old – according to a biography on the Cini Foundation website, which has acquired the playwright’s archive – begins working in a tailor shop frequented by theater actors; this profession of his will be the origin of the nickname “il Sarto”and it will prove to be fundamental for the development of his interest in the theater and in the acting profession.

In 1964 he joined Nino Drago’s company and made his debut as a co-protagonist in John Osborne’s Remember in anger; in this period and for four years on the stage of the Bunker Theater he represented texts by Samuel Beckett, Eduardo De Filippo, Dario Fo and Luigi Pirandello, and came into contact with some of the interpreters who would stay with him for a long time: Gaspare Cucinella, Melino Imparato, Ninni Truden, later joined by, among others, Gigi Burruano, Fabio Cangialosi, Toti Giambertone, the La Bruna brothers, Rory Quattrocchi, the Spicuzza brothers, Tobia Vaccaro. In 1974, together with Nino Drago, he founded the Piccolo Teatro in Palermo. In 1975, the day after the first performance of Il pozzo dei pazzi, he founded the historic Compagnia del Sarto, which remained active between the 1970s and 1980s.

In 1984 she starred alongside Franco Franchi and Ciccio Ingrassia in the film Kaos, directed by the Taviani brothers. In this period he staged some of his best-known plays, including Cavaliere Sole (1979), La guardiana dell’acqua (1981), Indovina ventura (1983), Assassina (1984): these are some of his masterpieces together to The Well of Fools, The Guardian of the Water, Eyes. “I would like to be – explained to the director and friend Franco Maresco, according to what is reported by the scholar Viviana Raciti in ‘The devout imagination between mafias and anti-mafia’, (Viella publishing) – the thorn in the side of the Italian theater, only that the others don’t care; mine is a theater that talks about real things, real emotions and constantly asks itself the question of why to do theatre, why be there, ask oneself the question of who to do theater for. Ours is a theater that is the bearer of poetry, a violent poetry in the sense that it continually asks itself what to do, and implicitly asks for a path towards a more supportive relationship between men, and which does not look in the mirror, which is not satisfied of himself”.

Just when success arrives on the national scene, Scaldati leaves to found, in the deepest part of Palermo, a theater laboratory in the popular district of Albergheria. “By narrating, therefore assuming the role of spokesman for an entire oppressed community – explains Raciti, who oversaw the arrangement of the playwright’s archive for the Cini Foundation – Franco Scaldati’s theater gives dignity of speaking to the vanquished, to the least. His theater serves so that we can free ourselves from that condition of misery, from that cultural, social and identity dismay in which Palermo has lived for some time”.

“Even today – Learned says – his works are followed by the public, although that Palermo no longer exists: it was a holy and tragic Palermo, while today, which has lost its truest soul, it resembles other cities in the world, in Helsinki or in London. Palermo was a metaphor, through which Scaldati described humanity, violence, beauty and ugliness, the fantastic and surreal world“.

Scaldati’s characters, who inevitably made use of dialect, are often the ‘shadows’ of cities: loan sharks, prostitutes, police confidants, petty criminals, mafia laborers whom the playwright somehow ‘protects’ because he knows they are also their victims, drowned and unsaved. The massacres of 1992 and the murder of Don Pino Puglisi in Brancaccio also mark a watershed for himwith which to reckon: “At this time – reads the text in ‘The belly of Palermo. On the trail of Falcone and Borsellino’ – the young gentlemen come out beautiful and painted. At the sight of which eyes does the fact happen? Around there, no one c “He was, interested in the thing, but the spy’s soul gets confused in the semi-darkness. Without light, an eye sees unseen. The hand is raised with a ritual gesture. A drop of fire tears the dark shadow. The shot of the gun it was a flash of blood. The lion froze, the flies in the air stopped even the orchestra of angels fell silent. His heart was the lair of one of his arcane stars. At dusk engaged couples meet secretly. A thing begins and another dies”.

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