Was I in the wrong place? I came to see a play, but all I heard as I approached the darkened room in this ornate building was crying — inconsolable sobbing. As I entered the room, one of the crying women looked into my eyes like the closest of friends, increasing my doubt. And then another pointed me to a row of chairs before a closed wooden coffin with a large cross on its cover.
We soon learned that the acting had begun with the first tear. And that there were two audiences for those tears — us and the invisible, now departed neighbors and relatives at this solemn wake whose parts we had just played without realizing it. And now, it was our turn to become invisible in this empty room where three sisters dressed in black sat on chairs facing the coffin.
This staging is one more example of the inventiveness of InScena, the annual Italian Play Festival that takes place in the five boroughs of New York City, and of Laura Caparrotti, its founding artistic director. The play is Taddrarite (“Hidden Women” English title), winner of 2014 Rome Fringe Festival. InScena has finished its run for this year but will return in 2016.
The tears in this play are real, but they are not for the dead man in the coffin. Rather, they are for the lives of the three sisters, who have suffered physical and emotional abuse at the hands of their husbands. For the men in their lives they have only sarcasm and scorn, delivered before us with humor and passion. Together, they pray “the false rosary” to our amusement but we get the serious message.
It’s not only that things like what they recount have happened to them, but how the shroud of silence, unchallenged by the women themselves until now, has all but institutionalized the bad behavior. But this is their breakout moment. As one of the sister confides: “Silence is the key that closes every door.” But this play speaks loudly.
Written by: Luana Rondinelli
The sisters played with passion and humor by the fiery Claudia Gusmano (who won the best actress in 2014 Rome Fringe Festival), Luana Rondinelli, and Anna Clara Giamponi
Performed in Italian with English supertitles