Chiara Verzola is an Italian contemporary theatre actress. She is currently living in Milan.

How and when did you start being an actress?
I graduated from a nationally famous theatre school in 2005 and there began my professional career.

How was that experience? Did the school teach you how to be an actress?
The school is called Scuola di Teatro Alessandra Galante Garrone, based in Bologna, and it is the only school in Italy which is led by the French master Lecoq, specializing in pedagogy of masks, from neutral to commedia dell’arte mask of a clown. At this school, I had the opportunity to try both classic acting methods and those more experimental… For instance, “researching” the essence of theatre through dancing. It was a good education. The focus was on the diversity of the students and we were given the right concepts to tackle any kind of theatre.

Did the school also teach you how to face the hard life of an actor in Italy?
I believe that any school will teach you to face life, actor or not. But the experience comes through practice, living and working, meeting other actors who share the path with you, living an economically unstable life… A school can provide you with useful tools, but the rest comes from a spirit of adaptation and inner strength.

 

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What are the difficulties of doing this job?
Today there are more difficulties than ever. For sure, the government does not help; young artists are the ones who manage to survive in the difficult Italian theatre scene.
The ones who make it are coming from years of non-stability and inner strength.
Acting is also difficult on a personal level. It is a continuous challenge: staying open, in an eternal search, never quiet and settled. We must stay firm and in balance with ourselves.

What is the role of an actor in the contemporary society?
That’s a good one!
We have to make a distinction between the actor in movies or in television, and the theatre actor. Theater is like an old man, while film and TV are his sons.

Why hasn’t the theater then been completely swallowed up by new media?
People spend an impressive number of hours in front of a screen, but at the same time feel a primordial need to meet with others, with a community. A theatre show is the primordial need of community.
It’s live, like concerts. That is why it is so important for the contemporary society: theatre gives you the opportunity to see people experiencing life in flesh and bones, performing, creating connections, failing, making mistakes and then keeping on with living. The actor is also a communicator and through the years always has to adapt to new ways of communication, transforming himself into a Performer, a Visual artist, a Musician, a Writer…
In this historical period you must rely only on yourself, you must be like in the Commedia dell’Arte, a “factotum”1: writing, reading, and managing promotion, selling. Do it yourself.

What kinds of roles do you like? Any preferences?
I generally prefer strong personalities, a bit masculine, revolutionaries, or fools. I prefer characters from contemporary drama. I wrote my Master thesis on the contemporary English dramatist, Martin Crimp. I love authors like him, who write for a today’s audience, trying to synthesize, through their work, our time, trying to portray something about it. Some classics of theatre literature still speak to me with vivid voice, though. Life experience and time always come back.

Is there a little bit of you in the characters you play?
There is more than a little bit, every part of me, actually: my body, my voice, and my vision. Our individual personalities have so many nuances; we are able to understand all feelings possible. We can somehow be our characters and at the same time be ourselves.

 

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What do you do every day? Do you only work when you have a show?
I have my own theatre company, a newly formed and dedicated team that focuses on the organizational and production part of theatre life. This kind of a job takes quite a bit of time during the day. I rehearse when I can with my group and at the same time I try to do some casting for commercials, some auditions. When you are not working on a show, you are busy working to get a job!

Music, art, and photography are all artistic disciplines you love, but what kind inspiration do they bring to your life as an actress?I Music is the most inspiring one. It’s absolutely the most powerful emotional vehicle, no need for translation or learning; it is a universal language and gives a voice to each inner movement.

What kind of music do you listen to?
Here are my favorites: Anna Calvi, a young English musician; Broken Social Scene, a very eclectic Canadian group; Micah p. Hinson, a young/old singer/songwriter; Cat Power, Black Keys, and another group of Americans I recently discovered called Tune Yards.

How about future projects? Where can we see you next?
I will be on stage in February in Milan, in a theatre space Linguaggicreativi, with a performance inspired by Crave by Sarah Kane. The title is “No.” I consider it as a concerto for solo voice and footage sound.
Soon we will be touring with “Twelfth Night” by William Shakespeare, adapted by a promising young writer Davide Carnevali and directed by Sandro Mabellini. Then I will be touring around various international Film Festivals (Tribeca, Edinburgh, Milan) with the short movie “The red box,” filmed in the Veronese countryside by a New Yorker Chris Hamilton and produced by an Italian girl, Anna Baraldi. With my theatre company, we are applying for a scholarship to support our productions.
Fingers crossed!!

 

Interview by: Agnese Roda • Photo: courtesy of Laura Chiarotto and Sabrina Flocco

 

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