Editor’s Note: The 32nd Annual International Fringe Theatre Festival will be held May 16-29, 2023 at different venues in and around Loch Haven Park and downtown Orlando. Freeline Media will be previewing the shows right up to the festival date.
ORLANDO — The Orlando Fringe Festival attracts its share of artists from Central Florida, from across the state, even from different parts of the country. Of course, it’s also a popular event with international artists. Just ask Chiara Cimmino, an actress whose theater company who is bringing the show Marathon to Fringe next month — all the way from Italy!
“We will bring Marathon to the Orlando Fringe for the first time and we cannot be more excited,” said Cimmino, a member of the Italy-based theater company Teatro del Disìo.
Marathon is a play about friendship and persistence, written by E. Erba and directed by Valerio Vittorio Garaffa, starring Cimmino and Kimberly DiPersia as two best friends training to run in the New York Marathon. One is Italian, the other an American.
As Teatro del Disio noted in a press release about the show, “The stage will be turned into a running track for these two powerful, determined women pursuing their audacious goal. While the track will be fictional, the ladies’ sweat will be real: the two actresses will run in front of the audience for a whole hour!”
Marathon had its premiere in New York in January 2020, and as the theater company noted, the play is about friends “who have known each other for a long time, and yet discover things about each other that they did not know as they run together. The different ways they look at life clash as the viewer witnesses their fatigue as well as their emotions, creating a situation that is incredibly realistic and yet surreal.”
Garaffa said she’s certain that Central Florida audiences will react positively to the show, as the New York audience did.
“It’s been amazing to come back to work on this text after this time,” Garaffa said. “The same text took on different meanings after the world went through this experience. The themes it deals with, such friendship and survival, take on even more value.”
What’s the Background Story to this Play?
Freeline Media reached out to Garaffa for the Italian scoop on the show’s origins.
Freeline Media: Italy! How is theater in Italy different from in the United States?
Valerio Vittorio Garaffa: I would say that a big difference lies in the role of the director within a show. Kimberly Di Persia, the very talented actress who stars in Marathon together with Chiara Cimmino, explained to us that in the United States they say that theater is a place made for the actors, while cinema is a place made for directors. In Italy it is the other way around! You go to the theater mostly to see what the director has to offer, because what you expect from him is to be capable of showing a unique and personal vision and being in charge of everything, from the play to the acting. This is a great responsibility!
FM: How did your theater company come to develop a play related to the New York Marathon?
VG: It wasn’t planned, but we ended up staging a play about the New York marathon in a theatre in New York! Marathon is an Italian play, and it was initially conceived by the author to be about two Italian friends dreaming of going to the other side of the world to run the marathon in New York. Our version features two friends, one Italian and one American, both living in the USA, and this of course changes everything! We chose this play because it’s very impactful, and it has a very unique flair. it’s a real challenge for the acting but it also tells a beautiful story. If you see this show, it’s likely you will remember it!
FM: Are you hoping to bring a taste of Italian culture to American audiences?
VG: We certainly hope to bring some of our theater culture, because when people think about Italy, theater is not the first thing that comes to mind! However, the Italian character has a lot to say about her life in Italy!
FM: Is there a message in this show related to pursuing your dreams?
VG: This aspect is certainly central to the play, although this show is intended to suggest questions rather than give an unequivocal message. Commitment and dreams are important in the protagonists’ talk, but let’s say it’s a show driven more by imagination rather than by a clear message. The two characters, however, have two very different points of view with regard to this topic. The viewer then finds himself having to make a choice.
FM: What’s been the reaction so far among American audiences?
VG: We did the show in New York, and the reactions were fantastic. They really liked the show and we were impressed by how the audience reacted. American audiences love to feel involved, and when they appreciate something they want you to know about it right away. In Italy you usually realize if people truly liked the show mainly because of the applause at the very end, whereas people in the United States make you feel their warmth during the performance. It’s strange because Italians are known for easily displaying their emotions, but as an audience they are fairly quiet, Americans are definitely warmer! In New York they also gave us one of the nicest compliments a theater company can receive: “Your show deserves to be presented to a much wider audience!”
Where Can I Run to See Marathon?
Marathon is being performed at the Orlando Fringe Festival in the Pink Venue at the Lowndes Shakespeare Center, 812 E. Rollins St. There will be a press preview on Thursday, May 18 at 3:45 p.m., and then the show will be performed on the following dates:
- Friday, May 19 at 9 p.m., discounted to $6
- Sunday, May 21 at 10:10 p.m.
- Tuesday, May 23 at 9:35 p.m.
- Thursday, May 25 at 6:15 p.m.
- Saturday, May 27 on 12:30 p.m.
- Sunday, May 28 at 8:05 .p.m
Tickets, which are $15, can be purchased at https://orlandofringe.virtuallyfringe.com/show/210833/Marathon
Discounts will be available for Fringe Artist, Fringe Volunteer, student and seniors.
Michael Freeman is an Orlando journalist, playwright, and author of the book A Christmas Eve Story. Contact him at Freelineorlando@gmail.com.