thesalting spotlight: playwright marco calvani

  

1 let's start with "beautiful day without you" please tell us about it (so excited for you btw)

BDWY is my first full-length play written in English and is opening Off Broadway on November 1 at the West End Theatre. Origin Theatre Company, NY’s only theatre company devoted to presenting the American premieres of new works by European playwrights, commissioned the work. Erwin Maas is directing. Set in the suburbs of Chicago, the play tells the story of an odd codependent relationship between a cynical and angry middle-aged white man and a very religious African American woman. The two are brought together by a deadly accident involving their dogs. BDWY is a dark comedy in two acts in which each of the characters represents an aspect of the world we live in, where race and gender still matter and define relationships. The play then becomes both the instrument and the subject for a reflection on America today, at a time when western values are aging, technology is transforming, and inequalities are rising. And asks if we seriously are ready for a positive change, together. 

2 does travel inspire your work? 

Are you kidding? Travel is key to my work. First of all, you need to understand that I mainly travel for work. I’m always working on something. There is always a story that I’m trying to develop or a character that I’m trying to shape. I’m always working on more than one project at a time… That said, travel constantly inspires my work and it’s necessary to find inspiration, and sometimes either distraction or concentration. My stories, my characters, are always an encounter of three big elements: the political conditions we live in, my personal urgency, the people I meet. Needless to say, traveling and connecting with people from different backgrounds and cultures not only opens my mind and expands my knowledge, but it truly allows me to push the boundaries of my own thinking and my own perception of reality. This is fundamental to me.   

3 three favorite cities and why? understand the may be a challenge for you!

Ha! I need to answer quickly without thinking too much… Ok! New York, Paris, Barcelona!
New York has been my base for the last four years and it came at a time when I seriously needed a change, professionally and personally. This city gave me plenty of opportunities, amazing friends and colleagues, and led me to artistic places that I didn’t even think were possible.
Paris has been my beautiful refuge since I was a young boy. A substantial part of my chosen family lives in Paris, and most recently it’s giving me the job of my dreams. [I’m developing a feature film with an award-winning production company]
Barcelona is where I would buy a house tomorrow. This city has always been very kind to me: my plays have been produced in Catalan since forever, I go there to teach every year. In Barcelona, I’m very happy with very little: the sun, the bicycle, the sea.
You must be surprised I didn’t mention any Italian city, either Prato (ten mins from Florence) where I was born and raised or Rome where I moved as soon as I could and lived for 14 years. Well, I’m Italian. I’m always there, even when I’m away. 

4 where do you see yourself in three years?

In three years… Well, I see myself still doing what I do, observing and absorbing this messy reality and trying to translate it into meaningful stories. I certainly see myself more on a movie set than on a stage. I made my cinema debut as a writer/director last year with the short film “The View From Up Here”, starring Melissa Leo and Leïla Bekhti. It was an amazing experience that I immediately wanted to repeat. It helped that the film was very well received and more people around the world started to believe in my work and were ready to support me. Currently, I’m in pre-production with another short film in New York, and I’m working in Paris on my first feature. A French film, a dream coming true. 

5 what was your very first theater experience?

My very first experience was at home, in my bedroom, on Christmas day. I was probably 6 or 7 years old, and my uncle gave me a little theatre, three red walls of plywood painted in red with a big window in the middle wall, with curtains similar to tablecloths: I loved it! It was supposed to be used with puppets but it was big enough for a child (besides that puppets were awfully boring!). So, I remember inventing a story and then convincing (or forcing?) my sister and my cousins to take part in a little performance to show to the rest of the family after lunch. I remember inventing the story and creating the set, the music, the costumes… That was the first one of many “shows” created especially for the family on Sunday afternoons. I think I drove them all crazy! Lol… I hope they never regret giving me that “theatre” because, as far as I remember, that was the first experience I had with the power of creation and it certainly shaped my choices for the future. 

6 we are curious, what drew you to the theater?

The first time I went to see a real show in a real theatre, I was probably ten years old at that time and I went with my mother. She used to go to the theatre every other week with her friend, and one day her friend couldn’t make it and my mom offered me the vacant seat. I still remember that experience vividly. Something magical was happening in front of me, around me, inside of me. I couldn’t explain it but I immediately felt something familiar in that environment, and I instinctively recognized the magic of the act of representation and of the ritual of transformation that only a live performance can ignite in people. I was 14 years old when my mom suddenly died. That was a major turning point in my life. The shock was huge and the instruments to deal with it were given to me without instructions. It was then that I decided to seriously and professionally begin to study acting and take my path in the theatre field, somehow already convinced that it would turn out to be a lifetime journey. In retrospect, I can see how that choice served – unconsciously – as a vehicle of expression of my feelings, all tied up and confused; and, most important, as a spontaneous way to honor the memory of my mother. 

7 was there any one moment that you knew this was your path?

That moment is my entire life. There was never a moment that I wasn’t sure this was my path. I had doubts, of course, I still have them sometimes. I go through those moments where I’m less driven, discouraged. However, even when in the thick of the darkest moments of my career, I always keep going, trying to get better, to understand more, to get closer to the meaning of things, of myself, of the world, of the heavens.
The nature of my approach to the work has changed within me, according to the various steps of my life as a man, before anything else. I’ve been a theater maker out of pure inspiration, I’ve been a writer just out of raw ambition. These days I’m learning that the writing, the directing, is not merely a job for me. It’s a state of mind, of the soul. It’s about listening, it’s about trust, it’s about being a vessel for a story that comes way before me, from somewhere else. And my job is to make myself ready to receive it and, obviously, to write it down.
I never had a plan B. And now it’s dramatically too late to build one, don’t you think?