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Dario D'Ambrosi Directs A Crazy Sound at La Mama

Kat Yew. Photo by Stefano Zazzera

Dario D'Ambrosi. Image courtesy of La MaMa E.T.C.

Jonathan Slaff

Dario D'Ambrosi, the Italian actor/playwright and founder of "Pathological Theater," has, for 26 years, held a mirror up to our nature with plays about society's treatment of the insane. His next New York production will be "A Crazy Sound" in which six patients in an asylum create a symphony using the materials of their beds as instruments. The piece will be his second in which he will not appear, but direct an all-American cast. La MaMa E.T.C. will present the piece in its spacious Annex Theater December 21 to 30.

D'Ambrosi, an actor and former professional soccer player, spent several months in the Paolo Pini psychiatric hospital of Milan in the period after the enactment of Law n. 180, the Basaglia law that closed the madhouses in Italy. His body of work now contains many plays based on clinical cases he watched during the period. "Crazy Sound" is unique among his plays of this genre: first, because it is largely musical, and second, because the author rarely dramatizes women's madness.

In "A Crazy Sound," there are six women with different types of mental pathologies (e.g. schizophrenia, paranoia, catatonic depression). All the patients are controlled by an evil nun. Within this setting, D'Ambrosi is crafting a play that recreates the night-time sounds and the situations of the hospital. What emerges is a bittersweet show, full of funny moments and surreal sounds, as nights in a madhouse are.

He says that this piece will not follow in the genre of his previous works, which were compared to Artaud. "The six characters, they sing, they make music, it's a happy show; there are Christmas trees; at the end, they all escape, with the help of the nun," he says.

D'Ambrosi's last turn as author/director was "The Pathological Passion of The Christ" (La MaMa, 2004), which he staged at La MaMa with an American cast in 2004 and made into a film later that year. This one will rehearse in New York beginning December 1.

The cast includes, as of this writing, Sheila Dabney, Lucy Alibar, Meredith Summers, Celeste Moratti, Emma Lynn Worth and Kat Yew. Music Director is John La Barbera. Sound Designer is Stefano Zazzera. Set and costumes are by Vittorio Terracina. Lighting designer is Danilo Facco. Assistant Director is Alessandro Corazzi.

December 21-23, 28-30, 2006
La MaMa E.T.C. (Annex Theater), 74A East Fourth Street
Thursdays - Saturdays at 7:30 pm
tickets $20; box office (212) 475-7710
Online ticketing available at www.lamama.org.


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