Tuesday, November 10, 2009

KITCAFFE’, Italian Literary Salon, Debuts in Montclair, NJ

On Sunday, November 8, 2009, Kairos Italy Theater (KIT) in Manhattan collaborated with Trumpets Jazz Club in Montclair, New Jersey to debut a literary series in Italian and English: KITCAFFE’. In centuries past, beginning in Paris and then all over Europe, Cafés and Salotti Letterari were meeting points for artists and intellectuals to discuss ideas as well as everyday facts. While the Cafés were open to the public and attended mostly by men, the Salotti Letterari were private events, organized by culturally refined women, often aristocrats. The Salotti brought people of different backgrounds together to exchange opinions and knowledge.

Kairos Italy Theater is now recreating its own Salotto-Caffe’ Letterario series, hosted by Laura Caparrotti and Marta Mondelli. Sunday afternoon was a two-hour event, where we were introduced to two wonderful Italian writers, Leonardo Sciascia and Gesualdo Bufalino, both from Sicily. Excerpts from Sciascia’s Il Giorno Della Civetta (The Day of the Owl) and Bufalino’s Le Menzogne Della Notte (The Lies of the Night) were read to us by our hosts, first in English and then in Italian. Copies of the reading material were provided to us so we could better follow the Italian reading. Since Caparrotti and Mondelli are both professional actors with KIT, the readings were beautifully done and communicated the emotion of the pieces, regardless of the language in which they were read.

Leonardo Sciascia, born in Racalmuto, Sicily and died in 1989, is considered one of Italy’s most important modern writers. His writings include The Dark Wine Sea, Salt on the Wound and Todo Modo. He was also a controversial political commentator within Sicily. The Day of the Owl is a short novel denouncing the Mafia’s powerful hold on a Sicilian town. A man is shot running for a bus in the piazza and the investigating officer finds himself up against a wall of silence.

Gesualdo Bufalino was a modern novelist (1920-1996) who found literary fame after his retirement from teaching in 1976. A recipient of the Campiello Prize for his first novel, Diceria dell’untore (The Plague Sower), he also won the Strega Prize in 1988 for Le Menzogne Della Notte (The Lies of the Night). Lies of the Night is a story of four men accused of sedition and sentenced to die in the pre-Risorgimento Bourbon kindom of Southern Italy. Their only chance to survive is to reveal the identity of the mastermind behind their crime. What ensues is a night of stories both revealing and obscuring the identity and existence of the mastermind.

The evening’s readings were followed by a Q&A and accompanied by wonderful Italian pastries, coffee and wine, compliments of Trumpets Jazz Club.

I have wanted to explore contemporary Italian literature, but didn’t know where to begin. KITCAFFE’ provided the perfect opportunity to sample important works from famous writers. Another KITCAFFE’ is scheduled at Trumpets Jazz Club in Montclair, NJ for Monday evening, December 7, 2009.

To learn more, visit kitheater.com and trumpetsjazz.com.

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