By Jessica Robinson
Thorneloe University’s Ernie Checkeris Theatre was nearly filled to maximum capacity for the Saturday night showing of Le Maschere Laurenziane, also known as Laurentian Masks’s latest production, La Sala Verde.
The theatre troupe of the Modern Languages department had the audience, which was made up of Laurentian students and members of the Sudbury-Italian community alike, in stitches throughout the comedy, through lines rife with references to real living situations here in Sudbury.
An original piece, written by Laurentian professors Christine Sansalone and Diana Iuele-Colilli of the Modern Languages department, the audience is taken behind the scenes into the greenroom, the room where actors wait before auditioning or performing, when a joint CBC Italian docudrama project dealing with the Italian experience in Canada brings its auditions to the Sudbury community.
The play itself is trilingual, with lines in English, Italian, and Italiese, the simultaneous English and Italian combination which Italian immigrants spoke when they came to Canada.
Paul Colilli, co-director and actor in La Sala Verde, notes that the play was very much inspired by the way Sudbury has become a hotbed for film production in recent years.
“All of the action in the play takes place not in the audition itself but in the green room,” Colilli said.
Whether it’s a first generation Canadian daughter wanting to prove to her parents that acting can be a real career or a Canadian woman who married an Italian-Canadian man, only for the marriage to fall apart because of her meddling mother-in-law, all the aspiring actors bring their own baggage with them into the waiting room before their respective auditions.
The idea behind the play was to build off of issues that pertain to the immigrants who came to Sudbury: how they came here with their own culture and encountered a culture very different from theirs, and how
the children and grandchildren of these immigrants had to adapt to incorporate both into their lives.
Everything, right down to the title of the production itself, reflects this newly created culture. Colilli said that by purposely naming the play La Sala Verde instead of La sala di attesa, which is the proper term for the greenroom in Italian, they took the Canadian linguistic concept of the green room and married it with how Italians would understand the English language, by translating it literally into their own.
The show itself is relatable to anyone who’s ever disagreed with someone in their family.
“It’s a comedy in every sense,” said Colilli. “It (touches on) relationships (and) the difficulties in certain types of relationships, be it between parents and a child, or between a husband and a wife.”
While the production had the audience in hysterics throughout, those who put the show together claim to have had the most rewarding seats in the house.
The actors cannot speak highly enough of the experience, citing the close bonds made throughout the process as the best part.
“My favourite part has to be meeting new people,” said first-year Laurentian student Olivia Francesconi, whose older brother Andrew Francesconi acted alongside her in the show.
The professors feel the same way about the adventure overall.
“The most rewarding aspect (of working on the play), for me, is seeing a certain transformation in the students,” said Colilli. “It’s the idea that (the students) have understood the potentiality of art, of literature, and that it not only transforms you but that it has the potential to transform other people.”
The Italian play has long since been a tradition in the Laurentian community. “We’ve been doing the play with the students since 1992,” Colilli noted. “In fact, one of the students in the play this year, his mother was one of the original students who were part of this troupe.”