Volume 78, Number 52 | June 3 - 9, 2009

West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933


Written and directed by Alessandro Corazzi
Translated into English by Celeste Moratti
Through June 14th at La MaMa E.T.C., 74-A East 4th Street
(212) 475-7710, or www.lamama.org 

Photo by Jonathan Slaff

Jessica Kuhne (as Carlotta) & Ira Lopez (as Giulio)

Job loss and self-immolation, Italian style

Sweet, scorching play packs a timely punch

By Jerry Tallmer

No, this is not Burma or Vietnam, and the man who is about to drench himself with gasoline is not a monk. He is a 35-year-old unemployed Italian named Giulio, and the sign he has hung around his neck reads: “I LOST.”

For “unemployed” you could also say laid off, or fired, along with everyone else (except the bosses — “those bastards!”) at a factory that’s gone bankrupt during the financial crisis which hits Italy well before it will smack the United States.

The air is soaked with the stench of gasoline from the can that Giulio has brought with him. Before he can douse himself with the stuff — while he is waiting for the press and TV cameras to arrive — along comes Carlotta, a nervy, pretty girl of 17 who, asking a series of nosy questions (“Did you lose a bet?… Are you a terrorist?”), sniffs the pervasive gasoline and promptly lights a cigarette.

“Aren’t you too young to smoke?” he asks her.

“Aren’t you too young to set yourself on fire?” she ripostes.

She repeatedly lies about her name — as does Giulio about his. For the next 50 minutes of this strangely sweet yet scorchingly short play, Carlotta, who has never before met Guilio — or he her — tries one tactic after another to jolt him out of his intended self-immolation. As for instance:

“Did you know that at the end of the 70s, American Airlines saved $40,000 and balanced the budget by taking away an olive from the first-class meal? I’ve read it in a magazine.”


“Did you know Mussolini wrote poems?”

How true are either of those citations, a journalist asked Alessandro Corazzi — the utterly charming young man from Rome who, hardly himself looking old enough to smoke (despite sprouts of a coal-black beard), wrote “Blue Day” (L’ora della perla”) and many another play and song plus a couple of movies.

On the airline-and-olive-economy item:

“I don’t know how true, how much credibility, but it was on the Internet, where the guy who made the search for me, Federico Vergari, found it, and it’s funny.”

The journalist, who has had a number of personal experiences with corporate restructuring, as well as with airline repast, said he found the olive scoop quite plausible.

“Yes, a joke and a thing for truth.”

On Mussolini as poet:

“Yes, he wrote rhetorical poems. No, they were not very good.” But he made the trains run on time.

“In Italy,” the playwright says, “we have this situation, factories closing, since 2005. But the newspapers didn’t talk too much about it.”

GIULIO: This is the crisis — the Crisis. They call it the Crisis. Negative balances, accounts do not balance, and those great minds, The only thing they can do is lay off people like me.   

It is Alessandro Corazzi himself who directs the American premiere of “Blue Day” — in an English translation by assistant director Celeste.

This is not the first time at La MaMa for 27-year-old Alessandro Corazzi, who since 2003 has intermittently come from Rome to serve as assistant director himself to Dario D’Ambrosi — the onetime youthful professional football (soccer, to us) star turned prolific actor-playwright and founder of a Teatro patologico (Pathological Theater) that believes the mentally backward or slower or scrambled are often a good bit saner than the sane.

“Blue Day” sprang into Corazzi’s mind “when I read in a newspaper,” he says. “a very few lines on an inside page” — he spreads thumb and forefinger one inch to show how few lines — “about a man in Puglia, in the south, who killed himself, yes, immolated himself, because he lost his job,

“Then the playwright is a magician. He invents another character, this girl, to save the man’s life, and invents the man’s past life.”

Alessandro, have you ever lost a job? 

“Not me, but some people I interviewed. One woman in particular who’d worked for a telephone company that started to fire people.”

Corazzi, who graduated from Rome’s La Sapienza (“means when you know things, knowledge”) University a year ago this month, works at a Rome TV channel as a writer of commercials.

“But my real work is writing plays and assisting Dario D’Ambrosi” both on stage and in the making of films.

“The thing I do,” he says like a happy, outgoing kid, “is to write. I love to write. So many possibilities to write a play, a movie, a song. Unfortunately, I am not a good singer.”

He was born September 3, 1982, in Rome, youngest of the two sons of Paulo (“works for the Ministry of Finance”) and Anna (“was a shoe salesman”) Corazzi.

“I played football too, but not as big a team as Dario,”

They first met, D’Ambrosi and Corazzi, “when I had just finished high school, and a friend of my father gave my first play to Dario to read. It was called, Un respiro lungo un sono, ‘A Breath as Long as a Dream’—like ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream,’ you know.

“Dario said: ‘Too many words and no action. But he’s so young and full of energy, I want to meet him.’  ”

Too many words and no action. One can almost hear Ellen Stewart, the mama of La MaMa, saying precisely that. It’s almost her lifelong creed, and a long life it has been. But ask Alessandro Corazzi about Ellen and he just says: “She was kind to me from the first” and touches his heart.

Giulio, the would-be self-immolator of “Blue Sky,” lives with a woman he doesn’t dare go home to with the bad news of his firing. They inhabit a mortgaged house — “The house is small, the mortgage is huge” — and were about to be married within a month.

Alessandro Corazzi, too, is about to be married, at the end of September, “We buy a little house in Rome. The girl Is Irene Rossi, “a teacher of very young children,”

How do you like that, Signorina Carlotta?

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