DI ESPERIENZA – Michael Brusasco

A month ago I was sitting in the men’s chorus dressing room at Pioneer Theatre Company with nothing but a t-shirt, tights, and a pair flip-flops when I learned that Jesse Harward, a fellow cast member, tore his MCL and ACL playing basketball on his day off. This meant that not only were the Watchmen of Verona short one Chief, but Plan-B also lost their Leonardo da Vinci. Three days later (once again in a t-shirt, tights, and a pair of flip-flops), Jerry’s on the phone asking me to step into the production. I had played Leonardo in the workshop production at the Utah Shakespearean Festival last summer, so depending on how you look it at it was rather fortuitous that I was nearby. I’m new to the area, and I appreciate the work. I’m also glad Salt Lake City has a Jimmy John’s, but that’s a different story. We just completed our first week of rehearsal of DI ESPERIENZA. It’s been awhile since I’ve worked on a new play. I’m usually the Shakespeare guy: my resume is virtually all classical, save for the occasional part where I get to wear jeans and pretend to smoke pot. I’m hoping that part will soon return again. I miss sitting on couches on stage. I’m immersing myself in a process kind of foreign to me: working with a playwright who is alive and in the room for rehearsal. I get to ask as many questions as I want. I get to inquire about writing, storyline, and character development knowing that I can get answers from the guy who wrote the damn...

DI ESPERIENZA – Matthew Ivan Bennett

Two types of knowledge exist: intellectual knowledge and knowledge of how-to. The two are obviously related, but simply because I know that guitar has six strings, that they’re arranged in Perfect Fifth intervals, and that a spectrum should be dragged across them at an angle close to ninety degrees, definitely does not mean I know how to play. There’s knowledge about and there’s knowledge in. Knowledge is only acquired through action, through daring, through living out a sensory experience. Leonardo da Vinci was certainly no intellectual slouch, but he was clearly preferential toward knowing how-to as opposed to knowing-about. He called himself, in his notebooks, “the disciple of experience.” I stole the title of my play, DI ESPERIENZA (which means “of experience”), from that quote. I feel that that quote is the golden key to understanding da Vinci’s genius. So easy it is to say he was celestially gifted, a prodigy, a born talent; but saying so is to ignore the hard work he did: the long work of observation, contemplation and experimentation. It’s so easy to look at his wonderfully graphic anatomical sketches and forget the hours he spent squinting at corpses by candlelight, gagging on their fumes. It’s so easy to feel chest-expanding awe for “La Gioconda” (“Mona Lisa”) and forget that he never stopped futzing with it – he died without delivering it. He is hailed as a pioneering geologist, but again, think of the many hikes he took in the hills, sketching the landscape, collecting fossils. To be sure, an argument can be thrown out that he had higher than average spatial skills from a...

2008/09 SEASON

There’s a thread that runs through all three plays for the upcoming season. An adaptation of FRANKENSTEIN, a play about Japanese-American internment camps, and a play about Leonardo da Vinci – what could they all share? As I was writing them, I realized that what they all share is a subtle reminder to me that the Shadow within will devour us if we fail to acknowledge it and deal with it quickly and decisively. The Shadow of FRANKENSTEIN is the monster, and the monster is a metaphor for the part of ourselves we think is ugly, evil and undeserving of love. But the monster is us. …The monster is us… We ignore it and spurn it at a cost. The monster thrives on our inattention and is urged on by our (self-) hate and will kill everything we love in order to get us to love it. The Shadow of BLOCK 8 is racism. The racism against the Japanese Americans in the 1940’s was totally out of touch with reality. Yes, Japanese soliders killed many, many American soldiers. They bombed us by surprise. They flew planes suicidally into our warships. They captured and tortured young men in the Pacific. And it’s tragic. I weep thinking about it. I also weep, however, thinking about the fact that Americans failed to distinguish between Japanese nationals and Japanese Americans – as if a yellow face meant you were a traitor.120,000 people of Japanese descent were forcibly incarerated during the war and no one was convicted of espionage. The hate was out of touch with reality. The hate was a projection of America’s...

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