Some students from Columbia University

– “It is a wonderful idea to learn a language through acting. One builds up confidence in speaking, and learns how to gesture and express emotions.”

– “It was a great semester. I am excited to enroll again.”

– “The course was a lot of fun and I improved my Italian.”

– “Vittorio has the best eyes and ears in the business. He enables us to do the impossible.”

 Marta Dean – University of Padua

Dear Vittorio:

‘…there are things between the sky and the earth’… that remain inside of us and have the power to partially change our DNA! This is how I perceive the International Festival ‘Orlando Innamorato’: an indelible mark.
Because of your passion for the theatre, to assist to your lessons, where we followed the process from reading the script to performing ‘Hamlet in Spicy Sauce,’ has no price.

This “creature of art” grew day by day getting into every single actor and molding him to the character that emerged with its own form and content thanks to your masterful skills and extraordinary creativity.

I cried when I left the stage for the last time and while taking off my costume because I was removing a part of me that you have allowed me to maintain alive.

 Max Sklar – McGill University, Montreal

Studying in the Teatromania Italian Theater Practicum under Vittorio Capotorto and participating in the Orlando Innamorato festival was among the most unique experiences of my life. It enriched my knowledge on both a cultural level through linguistic and cultural immersion like no other study abroad program, and was also an important step forward in my studying performance. Unlike a typical study abroad program in a big city where students just go to language classes, travel, and usually spend time only with each other, Teatromania was a more complete cultural immersion. Being in a small town allowed us to become acquainted with a much more intimate part of Italy than the cities filled with tourists and foreign students. Early on in the program the administration gave us a tour of the city, and we got to know the local actors […].

The work on the play itself was challenging but fascinating. Navigating through the new vocabulary and idioms of the language in the script in the early stages of the process improved my Italian just as much as any class dedicated solely to language learning. Subsequently, bringing the script to life on stage with Capotorto’s masterful direction brought out a level of confidence in speaking that I never knew I had. Moreover, the acting instruction helped me as a student of theatre. Acting in my non native language did not distract me from performance but rather encouraged me to pay careful attention to the meaning of the words and thus the intentions of the character. Capotorto’s passionate direction and his theatrical eye for detail assured us that we were in good hands. […] Everyone came to the program with differing needs and levels of experience, and it was wonderful to see my peers grow in their own journey, as I was growing in mine.

Finally, on a personal level I would like to thank Vittorio and Maureen for this program. It seems now, looking back, to have been a necessary step in my learning about theatre and about Italy. When I remember the last night I gave that speech as the leading role […] I got a bit teary eyed. The little voice of reason in the back of every performer’s head reminded me to keep up the technique so as not to break character, and I did. Still, that feeling I felt that night on stage was unlike any feeling I have felt before in my years of student theatre. When that heaviness was lifted, I felt liberated in a way, like I had completed a long pilgrimage. Then came that good old feeling every actor knows; the feeling of having the audience in the palm of my hand. The whole program was worth it just for that! But it was also so much more; I’ll never forget the friendships, the accomplishment, and deeper understanding that I gained in this trip.

Tara Jamali (Iran) – University of Buffalo

Participating in this year’s Orlando Innamorato Festival was a unique and defining experience for me in many ways. As an Italian major, I got the opportunity to practice my Italian conversational skills, and as a theater enthusiast, I had the chance to immerse myself in a character and perform on stage in front of a live audience. While I am extremely grateful to Vittorio and Maureen for providing this opportunity, I know that the skills I learned as a student in Italian and theater are priceless. The sheer honesty and sense of dignity that I experienced as an actress, and the genuine love and hospitality of the Italians which made me feel as if I were one of their own will remain with me for a lifetime. Regardless of the career path I may take in the future, I know that I will have become a better and more knowledgeable person as a result of the experiences gained during this program.

Jade Garisch (South Africa) – Brandeis University

It’s not an exaggeration when I say: the first day that I arrived in Ugento, I knew only the bare minimum of the Italian language – often mispronouncing words to the extent where I’d be saying the complete opposite of what I actually wanted to be saying. However, thanks to Vittorio Capotorto and Maureen Gonzalez, along with their outstanding organization, Teatromania, I now feel beyond confident to perform in a language that I could hardly comprehend just 3 weeks ago. I could never have imagined a better way to spend my summer. Both Vittorio and Maureen have not only challenged and encouraged me as an actor, but also inspired and educated me as a human being. They both have overwhelmingly huge hearts and a rare willingness to share the most profound lessons they’ve learnt in their lifetimes with all their students
[…] For me, this challenging course has not only been about the rich, riveting world of Italian theatre and culture; but also about friendship, growth, humanity, love and life. And I will forever be greatful for this amazing opportunity.

Sharon Findlay – University of Guelph

Participating in this practicum in Diamante was an incredible experience, especially for little Giallo who will remember it for the rest of her life. We left Guelph last June without any idea of what awaited us upon our arrival, but full of high hopes and happy anticipation. I have to say now that this experience has exceeded our expectations in many ways. I had never acted or sung in a play before and the added challenge of doing these in Italian really enriched the acting experience, and increased my absorption of the deep meaning behind what I was both saying and doing on stage. Vittorio, your staging and crafting of each scene was genius and taught me so much about the many and various components involved in constructing a successful theatrical piece. I also thoroughly enjoyed your in-depth analysis of each character and your wise anecdotes about life – I was happy to discover that I could follow and understand them in Italian! Through this process we all learned and understood not only our characters and the play itself, but also a great deal about ourselves. Maureen, you really helped me so much by taking extra time to go over my lines or to address any and all concerns. Your strength and commitment, and your patience and warmth really held all of us together. Your devotion to the play, to each participant and your meticulous attention to every detail, motivated and encouraged all of us. Another highlight was working so closely with local Italians on this project and forming relationships that transcended any cultural, linguistic or age barriers. Being immersed in southern Italian culture gave us the opportunity to appreciate the warmth and affection of the local people and the wonderfully rich cultural traditions that still thrive in that part of the world. In the end, our performances were a success and every one of us felt a sense of pride in being part of such a great show. Naturally it helped a lot that Laura lost her first tooth ever seconds before we went on stage on the opening night of the premier in Buonvicino – this brought us all a great deal of good luck!

It has been my genuine pleasure to get to know you both and to have had this experience together. I sincerely hope that we can collaborate again in the future and enjoy many, many more gelatos together.

William Findlay – Father of participant Sharon Findlay

[My wife] Laura and I very much enjoyed meeting you in Diamante; you are delightful people and it would be lovely to imagine that we might meet again sometime. I was quite impressed, Vittorio, at your achievement in being able to take these young children from their farms and family businesses and turn them into quite a respectable theater company in three short weeks.

International Festival “Orlando Innamorato”

Diamante (Calabria) – Italy – July 2015

 We thank you, Vittorio, our director:

To tell you the truth, we have never met a person as “special” as you are.

You not only showed us how to act and move in the theater, but you also taught us the meaning of life with your extraordinary, very long, but very useful, talks.

We will miss all of this, we will miss your jokes, the rehearsals, the laughs and your reprimands; we will miss not seeing you every afternoon, we will miss your jokes about the Sun, who said his lines too quickly, about Red, about the Little Mountain, and about all the other colors.

It was worth it enduring the hot afternoon weather instead of going to the beach every day. This experience has been one of the best ones for all of us. We have had a lot of fun during these three days of performances, even if we didn’t get all our lines right; regardless, as you say, “we are the best”.

It was touching to hear you say that you have never met kids like us, so full of willpower and desire to make a commitment. Our hearts were full of joy when we heard you say that you were proud of us, so much so that we all wanted to run to you and give you a big hug, like if we were a big family.

Lastly, we would like to thank you for this memorable experience, which has given us so much culture.

We thank you, Maureen:

For your suggestions, for your encouragement before every performance, for your material and moral support.

Thank you for the memory rehearsals, for your patience, and for taking our place when we couldn’t be present for rehearsals.

We thank you for giving us the lines when we would not remember them.

We love you.

Your actors

Federica (Blue)                                             Fortunata (Orange)

Alessandra (Black)                                      Alessandro (Green)

Gloria (Little Mountain)                              Sharon (Queen)

Mattia (Sun)                                                  Stella (White)

Laura (Yellow)                                              Giuseppe (Red)

Aurora (Brown)                                            Luca (Magenta)