ImproNati is an amateur theater group affiliated with Pazzi Lazzi. Founded in Boston in 2016 by Alessandro Di Gioia, ImproNati performs in Italian and specializes in staging shows by Italian playwrights. The actors, who come from widely different backgrounds, such as medical science, computer science, the humanities and mathematics, find theatrical acting to be an exciting way to express their creativity and love for Italian culture, tell stories, and nurture critical thinking. During its first year of activity, ImproNati experimented with improvisational theater, while in 2018 the company performed “Questi Fantasmi” by Eduardo De Filippo at Northeastern University and at I AM Book’s IDEA Boston Festival. The group meets every Wednesday in the Longwood area and is open to new members and theater lovers.
La Giara (The Oil Jar) by Luigi Pirandello
A One Act Play with Southern Italian Music
directed by Chiara Durazzini
Performed in Italian with English supertitles
The show was featured in the Italian-inspired festival IDEA Boston, organized by I AM Books, last November 1, 2019.
The Play Pirandello derived his single-act play, La giara (1916) from a short story with the same title he wrote in 1906. The play was originally written in Sicilian A few years later, Pirandello wrote a translation into standard Italian, which was performed in Rome in 1925: this is the version we will perform today. Among Pirandello’s theater plays, La giara is the one that is most indebted to the great tradition of Sicilian theater and literature. For one, it is not set in a city and among the middle class, but in a massaria, a land property in the country; the characters you will meet are farmers, common people whose lives have been defined by physical labor, their small community, and nature. It is indebted to another masterpiece of Italian literature, the short story, La roba by Giovanni Verga. Both texts have a main character who is obsessed with property and are ultimately ridiculed because of it.
The Plot. The play is set in an olive grove in Sicily, Italy around 1890. It is harvesting season, and land owner Don Lolò is anxious to put his freshly squeezed olive oil in a new, shiny ceramic oil jar. Don Lolò is surrounded by his employees, women (Gnà Tana, Trisuzza, Carminella) and men (Mpari Pè, Tararà, Fillicò), who mock his attitude and fear his temper in equal measure, and his lawyer, Scimé, who made the mistake of accepting Don Lolò’s invitation to spend the summer in his estate and is now regretting it, as Don Lolò keeps pestering him with legal questions.There’s a new, unprecedented case waiting for them around the corner. The oil jar has been broken. The farmers convince Don Lolò to call a conciabrocche (“jar-fixer”), Zi’ Dima, to fix the broken jar. Zi’ Dima is famous for having created a mysterious glue that holds everything together. Don Lolò, however, does not trust that glue to work and orders Zi’ Dima to use both the glue and the traditional rivets. Zi’ Dima does as instructed, but he accidentally remains stuck inside the jar. What will Don Lolò do? Will he break his precious possession to set Zi’ Dima free? Or will the oil jar become a prison for Zi’ Dima?
The Author. Luigi Pirandello is one of the most famous Italian novelists, playwrights, and short story writers from the twentieth century. Native of Agrigento, Sicily, he called himself a “son of chaos” and believed that we are all prisoners of roles (“masks”) imposed by society. In his writing, Pirandello explored themes such as the blurred lines between reality and illusion, the trappings of social conventions, the relative nature of our own perspective on life. He won the Nobel prize for literature in 1934.
The Language. Pirandello himself translated the play from Sicilian to standard Italian, using some farmers’ vocabulary and many Tuscan terms. ImproNati is faithful to his Italian, but each actor keeps his/her own regional accent.