The play is Battle of Anzio, a new work by Chicago playwright Brenda Kilianski. We are currently rehearsing to put on a reading of the play on Sunday, August 19th at 7:00 p.m. at The Theatre Building on West Belmont. Even though it will be a one-time thing, the fact is that a local theatre company is considering mounting a full production of the play sometime next year; this reading will go a long way toward determining whether that will happen.
The play is set in June, 1994, around the 50th anniversary of the D-Day invasion of World War II. It takes place mostly in the town of Anzio Beach, a resort town south of Rome. The lead character is Lavinia “Vinni” Velletri, described in the script as an “American expat living in Milan, English teacher, professional grad student.” The other seven characters are mostly non-Americans, including Francesco (the character I’m playing), described as “Milanese, businessman and Vinni’s English student.”
A good deal of WWII history is spooled out in the course of the play, including a particularly stirring account given by the character Mariangela, who was a young girl during the war and has incredible stories to tell.
I took part in a reading of this play about a year ago as part of a different new play festival. The play has been judiciously rewritten since then, and it really has a lot going for it. I’m very happy to be a part of a literate piece of quality theater, and it feels good to be performing something that’s actually 100% scripted for a change! One of the major challenges I have to contend with here is that my character does not speak English very well. He speaks with a thick Italian accent and occasionally changes from English to Italian in mid-sentence. But that’s part of the fun, you know. I’ve always done pretty well with dialects, but I definitely will need to do my homework on this one!
If you’re going to be in town and available on Sunday, August 19th, come on by and check it out! In fact, drop me a line and I can give you more detailed information on the venue.
Postscript— I mentioned earlier that “It’s not something I went looking for, but, well, it found me.” It was, of course, my friend FP who helped make it happen. The playwright wasn’t inclined to even ask me if I were available, since my schedule is so famously packed, but FP badgered her into inquiring as to my interest and availability. As luck would have it, the Tony n’ Tina show on the 19th has been cancelled, so it all worked out. Sincere thanks to FP for her unflagging support and friendship!