Need an excuse to come to Southern Italy? Here is a great one – a production of the story of Santa Giocondina. The play is produced every four years – so if you miss it there is a long wait to see it again. Every four years, residents of Pontelandolfo come together to share the story of this Christian martyr. The catalyst for the production is a relic of the Saint that the parish is privileged to own . It is a huge undertaking! The cast of twenty six plus people rehearse two nights a week for months in the village’s theatre. Elaborate costumes are made. Sets are built and the community gathers to see the life and torture of the Saint. This year Gabriele Palladino, the artistic director is putting the cast through their paces.
I snuck into a rehearsal and was impressed with the caliber of actors I saw on the stage. They were in the moment, took the roles seriously and we’re obviously committed to bringing realism to the stage. When I mentioned that to Jack he reminded me where I had been a few weeks ago and why the actors were comfortable on the stage. You might remember, I went to the Scuola dell Infanzia to see an end of year production called “Paese Mio Che Stai Sulla Collina.” In case you missed the story – 5 Year Old Actors Rock The Stage. The ritual of performing is ongoing throughout all grades. As are class trips not to theme parks but to wonders of art and architecture. Residents as young as three years old perform with the folklorico dance company – Ri Ualanegli Di Pontelandolfo. The arts are a part of life in Pontelandolfo. (Hmm – maybe that explains my families artistic bent.)
During the rehearsal, I heard actors question Gabriele about their motivation. Gabriele gently led the actors down the path to the through line of the story. The narrative places in context the antithesis between good and evil – salvation and damnation. I witnessed characters growing under his guidance. The cast includes a cross section of the community and all take their roles seriously. Become their FaceBook pal and see more pictures.
Eleonora Guerrera (I don’t think we are related) is doing a stellar job portraying Giocondina the tortured Saint. I asked her how she felt about creating the character –
Quando mi è stato chiesto di recitare nel dramma sacro di Santa Giocondina come protagonista, è stato per me un grande onore accettare la parte, nonostante i miei tentennamenti!! Il gruppo che si è creato è molto affiatato, come una famiglia; lo svolgimento delle prove una boccata d’ossigeno; far parte di un gruppo come questo può solo farmi crescere. Sono felice dell’esperienza che sto vivendo e ringrazio Gabriele Palladino per la fiducia riposta in me e per aver tirato fuori qualcosa che non ero al corrente di avere!
When I was asked to perform the sacred drama of Santa Giocondina as the protagonist, despite my hesitation, it was a great honor to accept the part!!
The group of performers that has been created is very close-knit, like a family. The development of the work as been a breath of fresh air for me. Being part of a group like this can only make me grow as performer. I’m happy that I’m living the experience and thank Gabriele Palladino for the confidence placed in me and for having pulled out something in me that I was not aware of having!
The 2016 production features Eleonara Guerrera, Paolo Tranchini, Michela Delli Veneri, Gianmarco Castaldi, Antonio Addona, Giovanni romano, Gennaro Del Negro, Salvatore Griffini, Davide Cocciolillo and Antonio Silvestre. Angels are played by Serena Romano, Paula Corbo and Margherita Sforza. There are countless others in the cast in supporting roles. The assistant directors is Dolores Del Negro. Director, Gabriele Palladino wrote an article on the back story for Pontelandolfo News – which can be read in English.
The production is slated for the end of July – just before the week long festa of San Salvatore. Buy that plane ticket and come visit Pontelandolfo in time to see the Dramma Sacro Di Santa Giocondina!