Interview with Nadia Casamassima and Andrea Santantonio – Theatre Company IAC (Centro Arti Integrate).
Realized by Alessandra Colombo – project manager (Materahub) 

Impara l’arte e mettila da parte … (en. Learn the art and put it aside) says an old Italian adage; a way of saying that invites people to treasure everything that is transmitted and taught to us, because sooner or later in life every teaching can be useful.

Yet this motto generates an important question: can art be “learned”?

To be an artist – we hear – it takes talent, that leap, that genius that make the difference. And yet this is not always the case: genius, the leap can lead to success, to fame for an artist, but to be such it is enough to practice the art and make that art the reason for one’s life. Our vocation – say many coaches or mentors – lies where we are truly happy. It is to be crafts of art, painstaking and constant builders of our own passion, whatever it may be.

This reflection led me to ask some questions to friends and artists of the Materahub network, to understand how to approach the “artistic and craftwork” of the theatre director. Because talent without practice, like practice without passion, can do little stuff.

Andrea and Nadia are a young couple of actors/theatrical directors. They have their own theatre company and school, the IAC (Centro Arti Integrate), and they agreed to answer our curious questions.

First of all, I would like to thank you for your willingness and for your testimony of passion for an art that, in a time like this, is suffering enormously because of the restrictions caused by the pandemic. My first question is, of course: Can you learn art?

A: First you have to learn about yourself and what your art is. It takes passion and discipline. Methodical procedures, hard work and someone who has the patience to teach. You can work together to transfer a method and enhance talent.

How does one become a theatre director today?

N: Good question! First of all with time. The direction, the theatrical direction, is something you get after seeing so many shows, after practising theatres, after meeting hundreds of people, after reading and writing a lot. Then, after all, it comes the moment to make mistakes all the time, to search for a form of which you are never fully satisfied.

Is there a training process?

A: There are some academic ones, the director is not a role like an actor who can train himself infinitely, for the directors the ability to listen, to learn from the events of life is very important. Then you discover techniques, secrets and personal codes.

N: Yes, I agree. And I would add that, as in any craft, it is not enough to read books. It is fundamental to practice.

I understand that practice does this job more than anything else. So how important is a good apprenticeship to learn the “job” of theatre director?

N: You have to know how to learn, read and be curious, but I would say that apprenticeship in our field is very important. Being next to masters and teachers is fundamental, breathing theatre is necessary.

A: Apprenticeship is fundamental. An apprenticeship that looks at all the elements of theatre: from set design to interpretation, from dramaturgy to costumes, etc. … I have collaborated on several occasions with directors as an auditor and, at first, as an actor. From these acquaintances, I have learned what a director is and should not be.

What do you feel like suggesting to those who want to start the job of “director”? How could you help them?

A: Would suggest starting looking for places or contexts where a “process related to the theatre” happens. I could help to open and start these processes and also show how an idea – a text – is translated into a direction.

N: I could teach him some techniques, but these alone would not be enough. The truth is that you learn by doing in our trade. Of course, I would invite the young person to be very careful, curious, to see what is behind things and situations, to look at the details and ask many, many questions.