One, No One, One Hundred Thousand

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By Chiara Della Rossa

On January 11th, I had the pleasure of leading a drama workshop for a group of CIEE students. Being just a few meters from the beautiful Theatre of Marcellus (the most important amphitheatre in ancient Rome), we retraced the historical roots of performing arts: from the first religious rituals to the greek ceremonial festivities in honour of the god Dionysus, up to latin comedies and tragedies influenced by earlier greek plays. After a brief summary on how this art has evolved over the centuries in Italy and in the West, students actively challenged themselves with the basic principle of acting: the so-called “here and now”.

Facing each other in pairs, they were asked to simply focus on their partners and make observations, without thinking too much about what they would say. Partners had to repeat the statements until new observations arose. It was fascinating to see how they gradually released tension by shifting their attention away from their own self-consciousness. This led them to be more spontaneous and increasingly bright.

After breaking the ice, they made an amazing improvisation inspired on “One, No One and One Hundred Thousand”, a famous novel by Luigi Pirandello, one of the most important italian playwrights of the last century. As in front of invisible mirrors, they mixed their voices, evoking a reflection on Being and Appearing. They looked like one person, and at the same hundreds of different people. Pure magic.