Tuesday, 28 September 2021 | News today: 0

Luca Cortina, director: The theater saved my life!

Luca Cortina was born in Florence. After his studies in medieval literature and theater, he went to Skopje to study theater directing. He told the story of how he entered the Metestasio Theater in the city where he lived thirteen-fourteen years ago. He says he had to enter to use the toilet, but met the organizer of the theater whom he knew well because his whole life he was surrounded by the theater world. The organizer asked him to come later to the workshop held by director Paolo Magelli, who originally comes from Prato, because of the cancellation of an actor they failed to fill the planned places for the workshop, which was a failure of the organizers. At that workshop, on the question who would like to be involved with directing, Luke raised his hand, and ten days later he told Maggie that he really wanted to direct. “I discovered that there is an academy in Skopje and I told myself – I’m going there” … says Cortina. Then, following his instinct, he finishes the studies, learns the Macedonian language and works in the theaters in Macedonia and the territory of the former Yugoslavia. Currently he is preparing the play “Faith, Love, Hope” at the Drama Theater and we talked to him on that occasion.

Ödön von Horváth’s play “Faith, Hope And Charity” will premiere at the Drama Theater. What’s the play about?

“Faith, Hope And Charity” is having its premiere in the Macedonian theaters, and this project was translated into Macedonian for the first time. Although it is one of the most important authors of the 20th century, Ödön von Horváth, and one of his more significant works, which is otherwise regularly performed in the largest theaters in all of Europe. And not only in Europe. So, I think that this play will contribute to this, I think that it is one step forward in relation to the constant repertoire of the plays that are performed in Macedonia. This play is specific because it tells the story of ordinary people. Of people who live in a world that is recognizable as ours. So it’s not about great heroes of the classics, nor about historical figures, although the play is based on a chronicle of the 30s. I think that it is a very important step that confirms the quality of Macedonian actors. They not only play well the classics, but they also have the ability and courage to face new challenges that have nothing in common with the famous works that are on the repetition.

What do you believe in?

Tough question. I certainly do not consider faith as something that is set in a religious or political context …

Not in a religious, or political context. What do you believe in as a man, as an artist?

I believe in intuition. I believe that creativity and theater have the power to mark the lives of artists and people who visit the plays. I believe that we should not take ourselves too seriously because I think that the need for determining one’s own ego is not far from the basic possibilities of the human being: the ability to empathize, to feel…

What do you hope for?

I hope that soon, thanks to art, people will be able to understand that we need to stop for a second, for a moment. Let’s stop this running towards our own destruction. I hope for the individual’s courage that he will manage to ethically oppose the laws imposed by the system, because only when someone bypasses the given paths, only then new paths and new spaces open.

What is love for you?

Love is everything. Love is to let someone hurt you. Love is something unconditional. It is born only in the context of freedom. In the context of recognizing of one’s own and others’ freedom. Love is when you can say that my life is my life, and his / her life is his / her life. And then we come across a different level that is not just possession, and then all articulations are born: eroticism, sensuality, emotionality, tension …

You were born in Florence. A city rich in history, narrow streets, the throne of art … How do you remember Florence?

I am convinced that, of my rare, but regular visits to Florence through the years since I left, I remember a picture of Florence that no longer exists. A picture based on memories. That Florence does not exist, as the other city where I spent the largest period of my life in Italy, and that is Prato, which is right next to Florence. When I was younger there I could hear the sound of the looms in textile industries. The significance of this sound for me was that there is hope, that through creation, through work, it was possible to participate in the creation of a world which is not only confirmation of personal egoism, but it is also based on the free renunciation of part of one’s own freedom in the name of collective good. I have kept those things that I learned in Florence and the beauty instinct as a priority, and I do not know if I will ever find them. I find monuments, museums, palaces, galleries, but what I keep is in me.

Where did your love for the theater come from? Have you always known that you will be directing?

I think that the theater has saved my life on many occasions. I would not want to sound too tragic, but I would like to say that in several moments I was taken out of dangerous situations that were around me, so in some way I am bound to dedicate my life to the theater. I began to work with an amateur group at very young age, then I worked with theatrical workshops, but the idea to devote myself to the theater came from the further studies and starting to work as a freelance artist in Italy. And the idea to come to study theater directing in the class of the Professor Unkovski in Macedonia was born from a crucial meeting with Paolo Magelli in Prato. From there, the road to the theater began. And when you go on the road, you’re always on the road.

You directed “The Spirit of Freedom” by Goran Stefanovski at the “Trajko Prokopiev” theater in Kumanovo, “Aquarium” by Refet Abazi at the Tetovo theater, “The Braggart Soldier” at the Turkish theater, you were assistant director to Aleksandar Popovski in “Moliere’s Life” at MNT, assistant director to Darko Mitrevski in “The Third Half”, again assistant to Popovski in “Balkan is Not Dead”… What suits you more: the theater or the big screen? Where do you feel better when you are directing? What is more interesting to you?

I believe that theater directing is my priority. My way of expression through which I can articulate something unknown that I often have in myself.

Italy is known for its love of football. Recently I read in a book that there it is like religion. Do you like football? What is your favorite team?

I am mainly following the team from Florence, “Fiorentina”. I often do not have time to follow it live. As a junior I played football, but also rugby, and I learned from them that the game in a team is more important and it is in the service of the individual.

In the “Faith, Hope And Charity” play actors perform live music. Was it really hard to realize that idea? 

Composer of the play’s music is Ljupco Konstantinov. I have already cooperated with him twice and I think we did a great job for this play. Here the actors, who do not have music education, learned to play instruments and to perform Chopin’s “Funeral march”. It happened everything suitable for a serious process that goes with the work of a serious play, so learning to play music is part of the acting abilities that the fantastic artists I work with have. “There’s one instrument in each one of us” – Ljupco Konstantinov often repeats, so one only needs to get it out of the actors. There were neither easy nor difficult moments – it’s all natural.

Do you like poetry? Who is your favorite poet or writer?

I am very curious in terms of art. Let’s say I’m interested in poetic pieces by the avant-garde. And that’s not just the historical avant-garde, but those authors who are exploring. I prefer a work of art that excites me and that raises  questions in me, rather than confirming something that I already know. So, my favorite writer or poet depends on the moment, from the period. When I work on a play I remain preoccupied with the material, with the author, with the play and I do not read anything else. When I had the last free period, I dedicated myself to Danilo Kis, who is an author that challenges me.

Danish writer Jussi Adler-Olsen told me in conversation that he enjoyed listening to the music of the Serbian band “Neverne bebe”. He admitted that he does not understand the text, but he simply finds the language melodious, beautiful … Given that you came from Italy without knowing a single word in Macedonian, how did the Macedonian language look to you? Was Macedonian easy to learn?

It is exciting to learn a new language because it teaches a new mentality, a new culture. Especially the Macedonian language, it has numerous features that make it very charming for me. Starting from the alphabet, through the structure of the sentence. It was a process that I went trough very quickly, but then I articulated it for quite some time. So, it took me a while to start talking, but it took me a long time to start explaining my thoughts.

What kind of music do you like to listen to?

Every morning I try to find a song I do not know. Lately, I am listening to German avant-garde artists, but here is the song I did not know, and I discovered today: “I’m old fashioned” by Paul Desmond.