Letizia Russo

 

For me writing is a way to understand things, especially relationship dynamics. The big and small rivers of power flowing in our lives. I feel I have the chance to really understand people only when I write about them, when a character speaks, gets out of control, lives even if I didn’t decide it. This is why for me writing isn’t saying what I think, persuading someone, but instead looking for the reasons people conceive and sharing with the audience the chance of asking ourselves questions.

Fabulamundi involved Letizia Russo in activities in Târgu Mureș and in Madrid.

Letizia Russo was born in Rome in 1980. She started writing for theatre when she was 18. At 21 she was awarded with the Tondelli prize for her second work, Tomba di cani, that also received the Ubu Award in 2003. She attended the Royal Court Theatre Summer School in London in 2002; in the same year the National Theatre commissioned her a play for the Shell Connections Festival. Her works have been translated and performed in France, Germany, Czech Republic, Portugal, Brazil and Chile. Ubulibri published a partial collection of her plays in Italy. She also works as a translator from English and Portuguese. She worked as a tutor at the Scuola Holden in Turin and Paolo Grassi Academy in Milan.

Theatre works

1999 / Niente e nessuno; first staged in 2000, Festival Per Antiche Vie.
2001 / Tomba di Cani; first staged in 2001, Teatro di Pistoia; published in 2005; Tondelli Award 2001, Ubu Award 2003.
2003 / Binario Morto – Dead End; first staged in England in 2004, Shell Connections Festival – National Theatre, London, in Italy: 2005, Biennale di Venezia, published in 2005.
2004 / Babele; first staged in 2004, Festival Petrolio; published in 2005.
2004 / Primo Amore; first staged in 2005, Rome; published in 2005.
2005 / Edeyen; first staged in 2005, Taormina Festival; published in 2005.
2005 / Os animais domésticos; first staged in 2005, Teatro Nacional Dona Maria II, Lisbon; published in Portugal in 2005. Work commissioned by Artistas Unidos.
2007 / Dare al buio; first staged in 2007, Teatro i, Milan.
2009 / Blitz; first staged in 2010, Teatro Ringhiera, Milan.
2013 / Cooking; first staged in 2013, Officina Giovani, Prato.

Adaptations

2006 / Il feudatario by Carlo Goldoni, first staged in 2007, Biennale Teatro, Venice.
2007 / La trilogia della villeggiatura by Carlo Goldoni; first staged in 2008, Schauspielhaus, Cologne, Germany.
2008 / The Clouds by Aristophanes, (translation); first staged in 2009, Teatro stabile dell’Umbria.
2010 / Quartilla, ae, from Satyricon by Petronius; first staged in 2010, Cascina.
2012 / Ghosts by Henrik Ibsen; first staged in 2012, Teatro Stabile di Bolzano.

Radio drama works

2007 / L’educazione delle Canaglie; broadcasted in 2007, Rai Radio3.

Primo amore (First Love)
Primo amore (First Love) is the story of forty-year-old man who returns to his home town for the first time after thirty years. Once there, he meets by chance his first love in a café in the outskirts: the boy he once loved and was loved by is now aged and alone. Nothing in him reminds the protagonist of their youth, when everything was simple and right. In this man he only finds a painful truth, written on his flesh, that the protagonist would rather not hear.

-Extracts from Primo amore

how did it all start how
when I ran and everything was clear
do you remember
my parents worked the land and smiled
I didn’t know anything
I lived slept ate cried
and everything was clear
how did it all start how
rub
and remember
my parents worked
I ran
it was all the same all clear the shops closed on Saturdays
alone
alone inside another one
do you remember
sweat hair
first hair
the first sperm
the first dream

what was that morning
what was the time
what day and what did the sky look like

school

yes
school desks and little else
chairs cigarettes
I always knew when it was going to rain I would recognize the smell
school prison

during the interval I would walk inside
I liked the electric light
classroom
another one
steps heaviness
walking classrooms people desks cigarettes you

steps
those steps I took
trembled and were so heavy
as I didn’t know
those steps I took
when my body
told me
when my body told me
it was as a scream with a scream
I
it told me
I am
alive

no
I had never seen you before no
neither seen nor looked at
no
never
never
you wore a grey shirt

one day they talked to me about god
absent minded, I listened and smiled
well behaved good I thanked
I went back to playing

it was god
god or more
the one sitting in front of you
and watching you
and
listening to you
and you
in front of god
you
you would make the one in front of you turn into god
you who’d shine on him and he as a mirror would turn into god
you laughed
and you laughed at me
I was fifteen and you were fifteen
you
you too
you too with nails as dirty as mine
you too as bored almighty as me
sitting in front of a guy
you looked at him you talked to him
about Ds at school football nothing
you made him turn into god
and I saw it with my own eyes
and you
you laughed
you laughed without knowing about me
you
fifteen like me
born like me
born where I
you
like me
just like me
alike and god at the same time
you
like me
a boy like me
you
when I looked at you
when you looked at me

silent
dull
dead was I
if not for that fire
that fire underneath quite invisible
ridiculous
ridiculous yes
with flaming ears telling me to pass out
the tongue as a snail
and outside
out of the blue
night

what was that
what

I had seen god
just like me
fifteen like me
black eyes
a god getting all Ds at school
who played football
defender not forward
a god who drank water and then burped seriously
a god with the novelty of hair on his face
and bow legs
and naked nipples in the summertime
and sweat down his hips

strong
pats on the back friendships
also enemies
no particular courage
you didn’t have it god
you’d beat up a guy smaller than you
and beat a retreat if the guy was bigger
I save my energy
you’d say
no particular courage no god
you didn’t have it
fifteen-year-old god who spoke dialect and could not write
fifteen-year-old god I imagined you
sleeping
at night you’d sleep and I’d imagine you
sleeping
I’d imagine you
half-open eyes
the bed too small
by then
and the dreams
the dreams you had
what did you dream of god
what did you dream of
other worlds other lives
your future life
what did you dream of god
you dreamt of the sea
you dreamt of being born of dying
you dreamt of falling down and never getting to the bottom
of jumping and flying ten metres high and you wondered why why you didn’t use that power
to go to school in the morning
so you could get up later and get there on time

I
as to sleeping I didn’t sleep anymore
but there was harmony
between me and the world
there was harmony between me and the air
I imagined you sleeping and then
I imagined you sitting
on a
flower yes
I imagined you sitting on
a flower calling me
you smiled
legs
bow legs hair
new hair nails
broken nails
I imagined your
arms stretching out
your
shoulders
I imagined your back
I imagined
I watched your back
and you didn’t
know it
but above all
I’d imagine you sleeping
I imagined you
as you hugged the pillow
crawled on the corner of your bed
I imagined you falling asleep
there was
harmony

then peace
broke into pieces
when I laid my hands on you