Thursday, March 17, 2016

What's the blog equivalent of a latergram?

That's a great set up for joke, but sadly I don't have one.

It's a real question.


Basically a cool thing happened at the beginning of February, I wrote 3/4ths of a post about it and Blogger is convinced it never happened.

Curse you interwebs!

As I was:

In my last post I mentioned (in a fly-by, passing sort of way) that virtually all my time in the gorgeous, magical town of San Miniato is spent either making masks or playing masks. Some of the masks we play are ones we've made ourselves, and many are made by Matteo Destro (master maskmaker and head of this program). But we started with the Neutral Mask. If you've never heard of the Neutral Mask, you are probably not a Lecoq nerd, but otherwise you're okay. Bottom line: this mask is a remarkable training tool for the physical performer. Humbling, clarifying, full of beauty, and many other words as well. Anyway, the Neutral masks we use were made by Donato Sartori; masks that are descendants of the neutral masks his father, Amleto Sartori, created for Jacques Lecoq.

Yeah, okay, I'm not even scratching the surface here, so let's agree to treat the aforementioned as a placeholder for the Lecoq/Sartori lecture that I am not remotely qualified to give, and simply focus on the upshot: the Sartori family and the influence of their work is a big deal. Other people copy the Sartori Neutral Mask, but it's darn close to universally agreed that there is nothing like the real thing. I mean, look:

Neutral Masks by Donato Sartori. Beautiful, no?
Sartori is also the benchmark (The benchmark? What's higher than a benchmark...the gold standard? The definitive? Talking about this stuff is freaking hard.) for masks in the Commedia dell'Arte style.

Marco Zopello as Arlecchino in a Donato Sartori mask. Ba-Bam.
Armed with even this tiny tiny sliver of information about the formidable Sartori legacy, it may not surprise you at all that their work has a museum dedicated to it. The Museo Internazionale della Maschera Amleto e Donato Sartori is located in Abano Terme, in the province of Padova (likely Padua to y'all American folks), adjacent to the city of Padova, which also happens to be the hometown of both Paola and Matteo, and just a few hours from San Miniato by car...

So it came to pass that a field trip to the Sartori museum was arranged for the Sunday between weeks four and five of the eleven week program.

Why on a Sunday?

Well, our regular classes are on weekdays, so an event out of town on a Sunday means we don't miss any. Fine and good. Owhever, Padova is also next door to Venezia, and it was the last weekend of Carnivale. 

My life, you guys.

So, of course, we packed a van and a large car with thirteen people and drove to Padova Friday evening, crashed with an assortment of Atelier connections Friday night, and then Saturday morn we all met up again in good old Venezia, at the height of Carnevale. I didn't grab any photos of the Carnevale masks I encountered, but suffice it to say that I am now far harder to impress than I was before Matteo exploded my brain for a month.

No costume this time around, but my butterfly earrings from Andre made it back to their roots. 
Blue button boots! Venezia, why you gotta tease me like this?
After wearing ourselves out stomping all through the Venetian fesitivites, we headed back to Mestre, where Paola's friend Annarosa hosted us all for dinner, and made us ALL THE DELICIOUS THINGS. I ate them all and took no photos. Radicchio cannot possibly really be that amazing. And perfect risotto. And vegan, gluten-free gnocchi that even I would eat forever. Yes. I know. It makes no sense, but there it is. 

Then on Sunday morning there was even time to see a bit of Padova before we raced off to our appointment with Mask-topia.

Here is Sara, our hostess. Alum of Helikos and the School-for-Theatre-Creators, and provider of my greatest Italian coffee and pastry experience yet. Which is saying something. Also, she's just plain lovely.

It is the last Sunday of Fritelle, seasonal fried and filled italian pastry of deliciousness. If I don't die of overeating today I am likely to die pining for them in the near future...

Then at last, the Museum. No pictures allowed inside, but basically, wow. Paola Sartori herself led the tour (oh yeah, Matteo and Paola totally know the Sartori family and have worked with them, etc. Because obviously.) and even though the museum is relatively small in size, I suspect it will require several more visits before I feel I've even started to take it all in.

Sculpture from the museum courtyard, the only Sartori work on the premises that is fair game for photographs. Much detail is lost in the photo, but you still get a sense of the total expressiveness of body, the beauty of his lines, and more.  
Anyway, just another reason I'm so grateful to be studying this stuff in the birthplace of so much of it. Padova, I am not done with you. This is just goodbye for now.

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