Credit; Samuel Ravelo

Credit; Samuel Ravelo

June 19, 2014

In a sense, a reading is a greater test of a script than a full-fledged play, precisely because in a reading all you have are the words. But what could be more appropriate for a figure as invested in words as Oriana Fallaci?   She is the subject of “Fallaci, a Woman Against,” one more performance in the eclectic two-week run (June 9 -24) of In Scena, the Italian Theater Festival taking place in all five boroughs of NYC. Go here for the calendar:

I hesitate to call her a journalist because she so completely rejected that characterization. Hear that rejection in her own words convincingly delivered by actress Andrus Nichols whose portfolio of characters includes another strong woman – Bernard Shaw’s Saint Joan.

Instead of journalist, the writer’s words in the mouth of the actress carefully explain that the moniker she prefers is historian in the moment. She imagines interviewing historical figures like Joan, Caesar, and Napoleon with the same intensity, challenge and distrust she applied to Henry Kissinger, Golda Meir, Willy Brandt, Nguyen Van Thieu, Ayotollah Khomeini and other elusive, prominent figures of her day.

Imagination and poetry are at the heart of this production. Playwright Emilia Costantini has weaved Fallaci’s own words together to create an interview that never took place. Two women sit on chairs facing each other, interviewer and interviewee, exactly the kind of free-ranging discussion of herself Fallaci never agreed to in life.

The poetry is in the depth of the subject matter and artfulness of the words that make up Fallaci’s responses. She will tell us that writing is the most strenuous job in the world and that only written words have lasting value, that disobedience to the arrogant is mandatory – the only justification for the miracle of being born, if we do not protest injustice we are like leaves dragged in the wind, that war is the bane of human existence, that politics as a career is destructive to the world, that love is unknowable, that there is no reality like the death of a mother because it anticipates your own. She is a professed atheist, an eloquent spokesman for the soul, a woman at one with and against the history of her times.

All of this comes through.

Written by Emilia Costantini — translated and adapted by Dave Johnson and Laura Caparrotti with help from Carlotta Brentan

Fallaci played by Andrus Nichols               Full In Scena Calendar: