Sicily as a Theater of the World

A Conversation with Playwright and Director Emma Dante moderated by Teresa Fiore

Wednesday, November 15, 2017 - 6:30-8:30pm
Lecture Hall 101, Feliciano School of Business

RSVP required here by Tue. Nov. 14
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Van service free of charge from NY

Internationally acclaimed and multiple award-winning director Emma Dante will visit the United States for the first time to present her play Le sorelle Macaluso (The Sisters Macaluso), which brings to a summa her exploration of the dialogue between tragedy and comedy in its intense and refined treatment of family and death. Represented for too long as an enfant terrible in a country like Italy that considers even 40-year-olds still unripe, Dante has now reached a unique form of maturity that weaves together themes, sensibilities and influences that are as universal as they are local. In her work, Sicily, her (is)land of origin and a lush source of inspiration for her art, turns into a theater of the world. A place between geographies and civilizations, a light-filled space replete with shadows, a baroque corner plagued by paucity, Sicily — and in particular its capital, Palermo — is for Dante the home of a profoundly local humanity, often a vibrant lumpenproletariat. She delves in the dark meanders of this quotidian, through plays that explode into excess despite their minimalistic mise-en-scène and plots. To learn more about Emma Dante, read Dr. Fiore's article on the 2017/18 Peak Performances Catalogue (pp 28-31).

During her stay on campus, Emma Dante will participate in several activities including a public conversation about her artistic trajectory, moderated by Teresa Fiore, Inserra Chair in Italian and Italian American Studies. This event represents a unique opportunity to meet Dante and learn about her versatile career in theater, opera, cinema and literature. The evening will feature excerpts from selected theater pieces, scenes from her movie Via Castellana Bandiera as well as an exchange focused on Le sorelle Macaluso, to be presented as part of the Kasser Theater's Peak Performances calendar (November 16-19, 2017), which is fully devoted to women innovators and the gender gap in the arts.

The surtitles for Le sorelle Macaluso were actually developed as part of a Montclair State University project back in 2015, when the play was part of the EXPO calendar at the Piccolo Teatro of Milano, Italy. In a somewhat unforeseen turn of events, those very surtitles have "returned home" with the presentation of the play on campus. The story of how the English surtitles were produced by University student Marta Russoniello under the supervision of Marisa Trubiano and Teresa Fiore (Italian Program, Department of Modern Languages and Literatures) will be included in the program in order to highlight the pleasures and challenges involved in rendering into English a text written in Sicilian and Apulian dialects, which interestingly relegates Italian to a secondary role.


  • Introductory remarks: Jedediah Wheeler (Arts and Cultural Programming, Executive Director, Montclair State University)
  • Special guest: Emma Dante, Acclaimed Playright Theather and Film Director
  • In conversation with: Teresa Fiore (Inserra Chair, MSU)
  • Presentation about the surtitling of the play by Marisa Trubiano (Associate Professor of Italian, MSU)

Free of Charge Service Van

A van service, free of charge, will be offered to people coming from New York to attend the event. The van will leave from Port Authority at 4:30pm and return to the same spot after the event. Reservation required at by Fri Nov. 10.

Born in Palermo in 1967, Emma Dante explores the themes of family and exclusion through a poetics of tension and madness, imbued with tragedy and humor. Before becoming a well-known playwright and director, she received her diploma in 1990 at the Silvio D’Amico National Academy of Dramatic Art in Rome. In 1999, in Palermo, she founded the company Sud Costa Occidentale, with which she won the 2001 Scenario Prize for the show mPalermu and the Ubu prize for Innovation. In 2001, she was awarded the Goffredo Fofi Lo Straniero Prize for a young artist. In 2003, she won the Ubu Prize for the best new Italian work with Carnezzeria and in 2004, the Gassman Prize for Best Director as well as the Critics Award (National Association of Theatre Critics) for dramatic art and direction. In 2005 she was awarded the Golden Graal Prize for Best Director for the play Medea. She published Carnezzeria: Trilogia della famiglia siciliana with a preface written by Andrea Camilleri (published by Fazi), in 2007. Her first novel, Via Castellana Bandiera (published by Rizzoli, 2008), won the Vittorini and Super Vittorini Prizes in 2009. In the same year, she won the Sinopoli Culture Prize and opened the season at the Scala Theater with her setting of Bizet’s Carmen, directed by Daniel Barenboim. Between 2000 and 2010, the following shows were presented in Italy and abroad: mPalermu, Carnezzeria, Vita mia, Mishelle di Sant’Oliva, Medea, Il  festino, Cani di bancata, Le pulle. Two stories for children and adults, published by Dalai and adapted for the stage, are currently on tour: Anastasia Genoveffa e Cenerentola and Gli alti e bassi di Biancaneve. In January 2011, an Italian and international tour of La trilogia degli occhiali, published by Rizzoli, began - it comprises three chapters: Acquasanta, Il castello della Zisa and Ballarini. In April 2012, she produced La Muette de Portici by Auber, directed by Patrick Davin, at the Opéra Comique in Paris. Photo credit: Carmine Maringola.

Teresa Fiore is the Theresa and Lawrence R. Inserra Chair in Italian and Italian American Studies at Montclair State University. She is the author of Pre-Occupied Spaces: Remapping Italy's Transnational Migrations and Colonial Legacies (Fordham UP, 2017) and the editor of the 2006 issue of Quaderni del ‘900 on John Fante. Her numerous articles on Italian American culture, migration to/from Italy, Sicilian culture, and 20th-century Italian literature and cinema appeared in Italian, English and Spanish in both journals and edited collections. She coordinates a regular program of cultural events and educational initiatives on campus, through which she has also presented performances, workshops and talks linked to Italian theater.

Marisa Trubiano is Associate Professor of Italian at Montclair State University. Her current research projects include the translation of Flaiano’s theater into English. Il caso Papaleo (The Papaleo case) was published in the Journal of Italian Translation. Another translation project began in 2015, Translating Voices Across Continents, supervising students' preparation of surtitles in English of a number of theatrical productions offered by the Piccolo Teatro di Milano on the occasion of Expo 2015, and has continued, with a number of operas for important venues such as the Teatro dell'Opera di Roma, Opera di Firenze and Maggio Musicale Fiorentino. This project, in partnership with Prescott Studio (Florence) and facilitated by the Inserra Chair in Italian and Italian American Studies, is part of a larger translating/titling initiative. Last year, she supervised a student cooperative education project, editing full translations and creating surtitles for a well-known Italian theater festival in New York, InScena!

Further resources

Emma Dante's BIO (in English)
Interview with Emma Dante (Rai TV, in Italian, 5 connected episodes)
Emma Dante and the Compagnia Sud Costa Occidentale by Spedalieri Francesca in TheatreForum. Summer/Fall2014, Issue 45, p31-40. 10p. (Scholarly article in English available through libraries)
Peak Performances 2017/18 Season: Women Innovators in the Performing Arts (includes Emma Dante's Le sorelle Macaluso, Nov. 16-19 2017)
Emma Dante – Sud Costa Occidentale, a documentary by Clarissa Cappellani (2011)
Fiore's article on Emma Dante on the 2017/18 Peak Performances Catalogue (pp 28-31)

Further resources about Palermo as Italy's Capital of Culture and of European Contemporary Art in the Year 2018

Press release and videos (Italian Ministery of Culture official website)
Palermo Capitale Italiana della Cultura 2018 (official video)
The City of Palermo, Italy is the host city of Manifesta 12 in 2018 (Manifesta official website)

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