​Interview: Gran Consiglio (Mussolini)

As Brighton Fringe gears up for 2016, Broadway Baby offers a preview of the shows, the people and the world that is Brighton Fringe. We’ve been speaking to participants from around the Fringe and asked them to give us an insight into their shows.

Lots of people gave me excellent pieces of advice for this show, but Gaulier left me with that stingy sensation I'm going to be hit very hard if I do not stand committed 100% to the character

Name Tom Corradini

Show Gran Consiglio (Mussolini)

Tell us a bit about yourself

I'm an English-Italian bilingual actor and writer. I'm Lecoq trained and I've also attended clowning workshops with Paolo Nani and Philippe Gaulier. Currently I live in Turin, Italy. Mostly, I tour with my solo shows in Italy and abroad and I occasionally collaborate with theatre companies. I like to experiment with different comic languages (physical, textual, absurd) and usually in the shows I write I have a strong theme which is embedded within a comic framework. For instance, my previous show Superheroes dealt with the consequences of childhood trauma in adults but all of this was presented in comic way through the story of the childhood of Superheroes (Spiderman, Batman, etc.). My objective is mainly to take the audience that come to see my shows into an emotional journey and let them identify with the story.

Can you tell us a little bit about your show, what can we expect?

It's a show about the darkest time of Benito Mussolini's life, when he was removed from power by his own Fascist Party in the night of the 24th of July 1943. Shut inside his office Mussolini recalls how destiny led him from poor and humble origins to being the supreme leader of Italy, and how much of his sanity he lost in this formidable journey. It is a clowning and satirical show which, however, wants to show the human nature of this controversial leader who was equally admired as well as loathed within the span of two decades. A complex and polyedric personality who a lot of people found fascinating, like Winston Churchill (who for instance in the 30s declared “Mussolini is the greatest living legislator”). I spent about a year and a half researching his personal life: his childhood, his women, his love for cars and technology. It is not a show about politics but rather a show about the man hiding behind the mask of the Duce.

Why did you decide to perform your show at the Brighton Fringe?

It happened almost accidentally due to a set of lucky circumstances. I graduated in Brighton (from Brighton University) and I lived here for almost 4 years. One of the partners of the venue where I will be performing (Rialto Theatre) saw my previous show at the Prague Fringe Festival a couple of years ago and offered me a slot for the Brighton Fringe. I knew him back from my Brighton student years and the offer was too tempting to resist.

What makes your show different?

It is a historical-comic show which offers a view of Mussolini's life which is not known by the public (including Italian audiences). Furthermore, although set in the past it is very much related to the current events taking place in Europe right now. Like in the 20s-30s we're living through a period of fundamental transformation in our continent where we see the utter disintegration of social structures and institutions. I can cite the migrant crisis, the Brexit, the Greek-crisis (which will re-emerge right after the UK referendum), just to name a few.

Who would enjoy seeing your show?

I'm already touring in Italy with this show, following its première at the Prague Fringe Festival, where it was short-listed for the Performance Award (best performance). Usually the people that come to see the show are interested in modern history, satire, Mussolini's life, and kind of feel the period we are going through resembles so much the events described that they want to have a different perspective or simply want to know more about that past.

What has been the best advice you have been given?

That's a tough question. I actually began writing the show right after a workshop with Philippe Gaulier in Berlin. For the people that don't know Gaulier let me just say he can be a very hard and demanding person (there is actually a Facebook group called “Philippe Gaulier hit me with a stick”). I guess that whenever I'm on stage as Benito Mussolini his French accented voice always rings behind my ears “Do not move that much or I'll hit you hard”. Lots of people gave me excellent pieces of advice for this show, but Gaulier left me with that stingy sensation I'm going to be hit very hard if I do not stand committed 100% to the character when I'm on stage.

What show, apart from yours, would you recommend at the Brighton Fringe and why?

There's so much going on that it's difficult to make a pick (it's a condition called the “Paradox Of Choice”). Firstly, I'm going to see some shows of people I know like Memories of a Lullaby by Saras Feijoo. Secondly, I would recommend shows by performers I had a chance to see in the past or connected to clowning and unconventional comedy like Tatterdemalion, Que Sera (Louise Reay), and The Establishment (Dan Lees).

What do you think audiences will enjoy the most about your show?

The story, the style with which it is staged, the mixture between the lightness of clowning and the depth of the theme exposed.

Gran Consiglio (Mussolini) is appearing at The Rialto Theatre, 27-30 May 18:00 25-26 May 18:00

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