I was lucky enough to see Dina Morrone’s fabulous, highly entertaining and aptly named solo show, The Italian in Me” a couple of times now…it’s hard to stay away! The last time was at Theatre West, before the world turned on its head. This year, the show opens Theatre Wests’s Solopoloozola 2.002 festival, with another nine solo shows performing over the next couple of months.
“The Italian in Me” tells the story of Dina Morrone’s love affair with Italy. As a young woman determined to follow her dream to be an actress in Italian cinema, she moves from Canada to Rome. This show is a hilarious account of her exploits and adventures. Dina Morrone is truly talented and her performance in this poignant, thrilling and utterly unforgettable show is a triumph!
Since I have already reviewed the show, I thought I would have Dina herself tell us more about it. I will also be hitting her up for a couple of tickets…
You can read my review here.
Hi Dina! What inspired you to create this show?
What a great, loaded question. The inspiration came from a series of things. But let’s say that after living and working in Rome, Italy, for several years while I pursued an acting career, I moved back to North America with my head and heart full of stories and experiences from my time in The Eternal City. Whenever at dinner with old or new friends, parties, or auditions, I always found myself telling and retelling snippets of stories of things that happened to me in Rome. My stories made people laugh. They were different. After all, they involved a foreign country and culture. Often, I was asked if I considered doing a one-woman show. Of course, I had no intention of ever doing a one-woman show. That was something so far and remote from me and my goals. When I first started acting classes in Toronto, I was introduced to Dario Fo and Franca Rame’s work. I read his plays and solo shows and thought to myself, how can one woman do all of this all by herself on stage alone and act out all of these emotions? It seemed impossible. My mind was always set on working as an actress in movies and TV, not doing a solo show.
After living here in L.A. for several years and attending various writer/actors’ workshops, I finally sat down and started writing out the stories I was sharing with friends. I joined Theatre West and became a part of the Tuesday night writers’ workshop, where I put up several of my stories. I started with an evening of storytelling of five of my stories. After that, I started turning those stories into a solo show, where I became the characters, and it all fell into place like a puzzle. I had some great people who were a huge part of my journey, my dramaturge/director Peter Flood, Debra Lemon, the first director who worked with me prior to the world premiere, the great late Don Eitner, and of course, Theatre West and the writer’s group.
That’s a long-winded answer to your question, but I wanted to make sure I set it up as it isn’t such a simple answer. Ultimately what inspired me to write and create The Italian In Me finally was my need to tell THIS story about my time in Italy that no one else could or can tell because it is my life, my story, and I wanted to share it with everyone.
Why a solo show and not a short film or a bigger production?
I have been asked that question so many times. I really don’t know the answer, but I will say that I love being on stage telling a story. I love to be LIVE. I belong on a stage. I feel that is where my art should live. Just like a painter paints on canvas or a sculptor sculpts with clay or marble, my matter is a stage with a group of people sitting in front of me so I can feel their energy and emotions.
How long did it take you to create “The Italian in Me?”
Years. LOL. Some of the events that are in my show happened to me over ten years. So, technically first, I lived the events, and then what followed with the workshops, writing, and re-writing, I would say another three to five years to fully perfect it.
You are producing Theatre West’s Solopoloozola. So, what is it about solo work that you find so compelling?
SOLOpalooza 2.022 is the third solo series event I am producing at Theatre West. I love solo shows. I love performing them. I love going out to the theatre to watch them. I love to hear and watch an actor tell a story. To watch them all alone, creating a world out of nothing, excites me because I never know where the show is going to go. It’s not predictable, and I like that.
Has the show made you think differently about yourself or all these moments you have used in your life?
The show has made me appreciate all that has happened in my life – the good and the bad. Out of some strange circumstances that at the time seemed so impossible and challenging, I created a show I am proud of. Now I can LAUGH out loud about some things that once made me angry or cry. The moments in my show bring me back to that place, where I was, and how I was, who I was, and I get to relive those moments repeatedly, only this time, they are not going to affect me because they are not real but reenactments. I do think differently now in that everything that happens to me is a possible short story, part of a new solo show, or full-length play.
Do you have any words of wisdom for anyone thinking of taking their own story and creating a solo show?
Yes. If you think you want to do it, you should because NO ONE can tell your story—only YOU. So, if you feel you are itching to share your story with the world, do it. It’s an incredible journey.
Any funny anecdotes or stories about the show or audience reactions to you?
I play Federico Fellini and myself during a meeting with the maestro, which took place in his office at Cinecitta’ film studios in Rome. He is the centerpiece of my show! I was always worried people would question whether I really did meet Federico Fellini. My conversation with Fellini is verbatim on his part. Our encounter was longer than in the play, but as a writer, you have to get to the pulp and the juice. I did not put any words into Fellini’s mouth. Yes, those are all his words.
When I first did the show, I had a friend sitting in the front row, and when the audience stood up at the end to cheer and give me a standing ovation, he overheard two ladies sitting next to him say, “I don’t think any of that stuff she talked about, happened to her.” He laughed out loud and thought, if they only knew, the real version is even wilder than her play.
Yes, sometimes truth IS stranger than fiction!
Don’t miss Dina Morrone’s “The Italian in Me” on May 21 at 8PM and Sunday, May 22 at 3PM.
“The Italian in Me” at Theatre West’s Solopalooza 2.022
Dina Morrone’s “The Italian in Me”
May 21 at 8PM and Sunday, May 22 at 3PM.
Theatre West’s Solopalooza 2.022
May 21 – August 7, 2022
3333 Cahuenga Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90068