Performing a one-woman show, easier said than done: “Isabella Unmasked”

by Chiara Durazzini

Our new original play “Isabella Unmasked – The Legacy of an Italian Renaissance Woman” debuted last July (2017) at the Boston Playwrights’ Theater in Boston, MA. Two nights of hard work, two nights of great satisfaction.

I developed this show starting from a small but persistent idea: wanting to make the American audience aware of this fascinating historical figure that lived in Italy in the second half of the 1500s: Isabella Andreini. The idea was to be alone on stage, telling the story of Isabella the actress, who narrates the story of Isabella the character in her most successful show “The Madness of Isabella”. In it, the actress recites her madness playing all the characters of the comedy… and I would do the same. I teamed up with author Walter Valeri and wrote a quite complicated script, but I thought it could work. However, I decided not to use recorded music, but to have a live musician who would play a different instrument for each different character played by me. I was lucky enough to find Dan Meyers, who can literally play everything! He is specialized in Renaissance music, and can play recorders of various sizes, harp, percussions and even bagpipes! So, now we have a one-woman show, who plays many different characters plus a musician who plays many different instruments.  Actress and musician have different roles, different “instruments” to play, but they always need to be aware of themselves, of the audience and of each other. It is certainly a peculiar “one-woman” show, it offers the good and bad sides of a solo piece and the good and bad sides of a regular performance. The audience loves it!

Written by Chiara Durazzini and Walter Waleri. Performed by Chiara Durazzini and Dan Meyers. Directed by Marco Zanelli. Photo courtesy of Renee’ Kristine Ricciardi




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