Each of us has been influenced in some way by Russian culture which for me is reflected in the mathematics, music and literature of three particular moments in my life.
When I was young, before the stroke changed the priority in the brain hemispheres, I loved mathematics madly. I completed my first two years of engineering in the blink of my wings and I was almost thinking of changing faculty and staying within the sphere of logical abstractions.
There are many jokes about mathematicians, physicists and engineers and all of them are about the proofs of the absurdity of mathematicians and the problem solving capability of engineers.
Have you ever dreamed of living in a world of thousands of dimensions? Why limit yourself to the 3 or 4 we studied at school? I loved these possibilities and found mathematical absurdities similar to poetry.
Today the best mathematics schools are in India, but when I was young I had fun in 3 different ways: if I wanted to understand mathematics I listened to my Italian professor, if I wanted to understand what mathematics is for I bought a book from Oxford University but if I wanted to play with the most improbable abstractions I had Demidovic's workbook. At that time, Russia was the India of today.
And now we come to Tchaikovsky's music and his Piano Concerto No. 1.
At university I studied in the library, so I could solve the more complex exercises with friends. The headphones with the Walkman had recently come out (memories of those of my age) and the day before the exams I was only listening to Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto at full volume.
A charge of pure adrenaline. No other music is as powerful, not even Wagner's Ride of the Valkyries (which has also been used in many films such as Apocalypse Now).
And then we come to Russian literature. Heartbreaking as few, it tears the soul apart with a Fantozzi-esque desperation. Novels that move to a bitter smile, and we remember that Paolo Villaggio (the author of Fantozzi) won the Chekhov Prize with his books.
At 21, I had semi-paralysis which also made it difficult for me to speak and concentrate. A few days after the event I was still sleeping over 20 hours a day and even a single definition of a crossword tired me.
I was a student and I couldn't wait to go back to university so I started my mental rehabilitation with crosswords, then with short stories and finally with reading. I started with English novels with their passionate love stories and when I was able to read Dostoevsky, I decided that I might be able to read an engineering book and go back to studying.
Yesterday I attended the show The Slums by the Teatro della Fama company of Gubbio (in Umbria Region) during the National Review of the Amateur Theater in Colleferro.
The show was taken from Maksim Gorki’s The Lower Depths and had been adapted in a very original way. In fact, the company had started rehearsals during the pandemic, so it had turned the show into a series of monologues that each actor played as a solo.
The president of the company Michele Pastorelli (who played the hotel owner) tells us: “We chose the show before the geopolitical problems, and we could never have forecasted the future. In the meantime, during the pandemic, the idea of dismembering the text into monologues allowed us to bring our students deeply into these suffering characters and in a certain sense the constraint of the pandemic helped ".
An intelligent but also very difficult choice for an amateur theater company.
Some actors have reached very high levels of interpretation knowing how to express the drama of life in an engaging way. We interviewed the director Riccardo Tardoni: “Before being a director, I am an actor and I read many texts before choosing the one to bring to the stage. When I chose Gorky they called me crazy because it is a strong text, but precisely this intensity leads you to see the best and the worst of the human being. I felt almost like Quentin Tarantino when he chose to do Pulp Fiction”.
I must confess that the greatest emotion was the original soundtrack with the musicians Paolo Ceccarelli, Ewma Grace and Michele Fondacci who wrote the music taking care of the combinations with the different characters. The musicians were on stage and the live music increased the intensity of the performance.
Congratulations to the creativity of the company that has been able to continue making theater during the pandemic. I find it difficult to mention all the characters but each of them has left something in the hearts and minds of the spectators.