A drama school in the Oltrarno neighborhood
The actor Piefrancesco Favino was the director
Pierfrancesco Favino, actor and director of international caliber, needs no introduction. In November, he was appointed director of the acting school, Scuola di Formazione del Mestiere dell’Attore in Oltrarno,
in Florence, the new flagship of the Teatro della Toscana, part of the Pergola, where the great acting school of Orazio Costa was established. Piefrancesco also returns to Teatro della Pergola April 20 to May 1, to debut with Paolo Sassanelli, twelve other actors and four
musicians with the new show La Controra, inspired by Three Sisters by Anton Chekhov.
How did the theatre school project begin?
The director of the Teatro della Toscana, Marco
Giorgetti, had wanted this years ago when the Pergola was just a Foundation, to
continue training actors, continue the work of Orazio Costa. When I came to Florence for the first time with Servo per due, also fascinated by the project, he
talked to me about it and asked me to be its coordinator.
The starting point?
We started to discuss the project for a slightly
different kind of school, something of the same level as the international
schools that could provide an alternative to the kind of training that already
exists in Italy.
What is different, what is the school’s
philosophy, what kind of acting technique would it provide?
Something closer to the Anglo-Saxon school that puts
the person rather than the technique at the center of the work. The student
appropriates the means but always in relation to the person. There is also a
strong focus on the physical and vocal aspects, the ability to manage the
technical and mechanical aspects of our business, as well as acting, with an
organic training in the subjects it entails. There’s also great attention to
teamwork, to the ensemble and not just the individual. For me, the fact that it
takes place in Florence implies a small recovery of a great tradition that is
rooted in the Renaissance.
Is the training period long?
We’ve chosen a course that doesn’t rush growth, so
we’ve chosen to work with a small number of students who we want to train
closely for three years, rather than
churn out fifteen actors every year, something the market can’t even absorb at this time. Who are the teachers? People I’ve managed to snatch away even from
international schools. There are nine teachers, teachers by choice, who have
headed the chairs of acting and movement at Guildhall in London, people who have
worked all over the world as voice teachers, and Italians, some greats like
Stefano Zenni for music, Gabriele Foschi for singing, and Bruno Fornasari for
acting, who also works with amateurs. I think this is the best team that the
world of education can now offer this craft.
What does this position mean to you?
I’ve always believed that the thing that makes us work
a little harder to keep up with the reality, that in the meantime continues to
evolve, has always been the culture of the virtuoso, rather than the culture of
the system, and instead I believe that a good theater company should not
necessarily need big names.
What can Florence give to the actor’s art?
Florence can lend its beauty. Even the way Florence is
perceived from abroad is positive. It’s beautiful, safe, and unique for so many
reasons, the history, culture, food and wine. Florence manages to be many
things all together and have a unique control.
Pierfrancesco, one last thing. Are you happy
with your career so far?
Yes, I’m really very happy.