Isolation fosters Creativity

Over the last two years, we saw many stories on how several well-known geniuses produced some of their masterpieces while in quarantine or another type of forced isolation, in situations similar to the one we lived in 2020.

I was reading this beautiful article Megan Jones on the Reader’s Digest about many geniuses in history who found creativity during Quarantine. Among others, Isaac Newton in 1665 when he was a student in Cambridge, and London was experiencing its last major epidemic of bubonic plague; he retreated to Woolsthorpe Manor, an hour away, where he spent 18 months keeping his nose to the grindstone and doing some serious studying. Shakespeare wrote King Lear while in quarantine. While this is impossible to fully prove, it is true that the Bard experienced many periods of plague during his life. Unfortunately, there’s no evidence that the man himself was ever in quarantine, but throughout some of his most productive times, the city of London was shut down due to bubonic plague outbreaks. Edvard Munch didn’t scream but painted a work called Self-Portrait with the Spanish Flu, of his sickly self, and a few other pieces while ill. Boccaccio worked during the Plague—the Black Death itself. This devastating outbreak struck Boccaccio’s home in Florence in 1348 and killed his father and stepmother. Though sources are divided on whether he ever left the city to isolate, during the years following the outbreak he produced his best-known work, a novella called The Decameron. In it, ten young people flee—guess what—the 1348 Florence plague and spend two weeks in the countryside. 

Chiara and I, during the 2020 outbreak, didn’t follow the model of Boccaccio but we did narrate a unique storytelling about the art of Commedia dell’ Arte: we interviewed the most important practitioners such as directors, playwrights, actors, and critics around the world to connect them and share their creative projects during the quarantine.

The result of this online summit was a series of sixteen episodes titled La Commedia in Quarantena, which showed the art and talents of our international guests: Federico Moschetti from Rome, Italy of Tradire e Fare Teatro, Massimo Macchiavelli from the  Fraternal Compagnia in Bologna, Olly Crick from England, Mace Perlman from Connecticut, (USA), Chiara D’Anna from London, the maestra Claudia Contin Arlecchino from Pordenone, Marco Luly from Rome, I Sebastiani from Boston, then maestro Carlo Boso from Paris, France, the comedian  Maria DeCotis from New York (with a participation of the mascheraia veneziana Alice Bertolini) and then again Didi Hopkins from London and Cristina Coltelli  from Italy, Mario Pirovano who collaborated with Nobel Prize Dario Fo, Fernando Martins and Felipe de Galisteo from Centro de Pesquisa de Mascara in Brasil, Haim Aboud and Barak Gonen from the Compagnia Scapino Theater in Israel, Carlos Garcia Estevez and Paige Allerton from the Manifesto Poetico in Spain and Europe, and in the last episode the Faction of Fools from the Washington, DC (USA).

It is possible to watch every episode of this series on our YouTube channel, including “The Best Of” presented for Commedia dell’Arte Day in 2021.

The 1st Best Of:

The second Best Of:

The third Best of:

The final Best Of:

All complete videos are here

(Emanuele C.)