Ninni Bruschetta and that sacred profession: the actor

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By John

That the theater speaks to the intellect and that the true creation, the Greek poiesis, in the theater is that of the actor who thus becomes the officiant of a rite, “our” Ninni Bruschetta, from Messinahe has always thought so, in his long career in which, being one of the most loved faces as an actor and director, between theatre, cinema and TV drama (from “Boris” to “Squadra antimafia”, from “Fuoriclasse” to “I one hundred steps”, from “Quo vago” to “The mafia kills only in summer”, from “Don Matteo” to “Paolo Borsellino. Now it’s my turn”, from “The bastards of Pizzofalcone” to “The investigations of Lolita Lobosco ” to “The Lions of Sicily”, just to name a few of his many roles), he slipped into the lives of others, those others who could be us.

And he, a skilled weaver of characters, mediator of lives and dreams, aware that the actor is the bridge between the text and the spectator, he could only write about “Considerations on the actor’s profession and his social function”, as stated in the subtitle of “The Officiant” (Luni editrice) his beautiful and cultured treatment which follows “On the actor’s profession” (Bompiani, 2010) and “Survival manual of the supporting actor” (Fazi, 2016). “The officiant”, in which Bruschetta knows how to generate emotions by dilating the word with the same intensity as when he recites, was presented at the Rome Fair “More books, more free”; tomorrow at the Bonanzinga bookshop at 6pm the actor will do a copy signing for his many fans.

After “On the actor’s profession” and “Survival manual for the supporting actor”, “The officiant” reflects again on the role of the actor. A fascinating and demanding term that dates back to the Latin meaning of officium as duty, task, function. A very high value.
«Exactly: a very high value, but also and above all a great responsibility, of which the actor must be aware. Officiating a rite means asking for the sharing of many people in the presence of the representation, and sharing, the real, physical, personal one is a great gesture of trust, something sacred, in short.”

What is this treatment for you, so full of references to other cultures such as the oriental one, to philosophy, to great theatrical texts?
«It is a short discussion that concerns my entire life and my two great passions: theater and metaphysical philosophy. I found countless analogies and correspondences between theatre, ritual, in fact, and metaphysical thought in general. The greatest honor for me was being able to publish it with Luni Editrice, which has the most important metaphysical philosophers in the world in its catalogue, often in the first Italian translation. I’m talking about authors like Guénon, Koomaraswamy, Fabre d’Olivet and many others.”

The actor is the officiant of a rite, that is, of a symbolic action. Once upon a time he had the task of awakening the spirit of the place or situation. What needs to be awakened today?
«The same thing, although it is objectively more difficult. The theatrical tradition now has a catacomb role compared to the narrative art of cinema, television or literature. And it disappears when faced with the numbers of virtual communication. What happens, however, is that an important show, even if it is seen by a relatively small number of people, manages to influence the culture, customs and feelings of its time. As if the place where the theater is performed, or the ritual is officiated, was only the starting point, the origin of a much broader and deeper communication, which passes through feeling, intellect and which remains alive for a lot of time”.

René Guénon defines the theater as one of the most perfect symbols of universal manifestation. An incontrovertible truth.
«Theatre is like play. Everyone knows that at least in French and English the verb is the same: jouer and to play mean both to play and to act. And the theater, just like the game, is inherent in man. Nobody teaches a child to play, he does it spontaneously, just as acting and representation are already human qualities, before turning into discipline. Which means that theater represents the entire universe, seen from the eyes of a man.”

If the actor is the bridge between the text and the spectator, in your theatrical and cinematographic experience what did it mean to enter into a character?
«As I was saying, it’s a game. A game full of strict rules, but also full of great freedom. Playing a character means moving and acting in a new space-time condition, therefore “being” the character in that limited part of time and space which is the show itself. Perhaps this is why the actor’s job is considered the most beautiful in the world, because it allows you to realize everyone’s dream: to live many lives.”

Rhythm, as the result of balance between space and time, listening, not asserting oneself within a character: what should the actor’s action be?
«It’s all these things together. But the approach must be the simplest. The actor’s action must be only that strictly necessary for the performance: “say the word as I told you, with agility of tongue and do not saw the air with your hands…” says Shakespeare in Hamlet . It being understood that virtuosity ennobles the art of the actor, exhibition, redundancy and vanity, however, disqualify it.”

Regarding the “mystery”, Shakespeare writes that Hamlet’s famous monologue is a real manual, a working tool for actors. In what sense?
«Precisely because it talks about pure action, separated from the result. He talks about action and contemplation, which are complementary in the actor’s work. And he speaks, above all, of the “pale wax of thought” that clouds the action and work of man, when it creeps into our path, even daily ones, when it prevents us from detaching ourselves from worldly banalities. In the actor’s work, detachment is not a choice but a necessity, because only by freeing himself can he make room for his character.”

What would you tell anyone who wants to be an actor today, other than to read this important manual?
“I would say do what you do at school: study a lot and have even more fun.”