Italian Theatre Guide

Are you interested in the theatre of Italy? Perhaps you’d like to watch a theatre performance on your next holiday to Italy. Whatever it is, our guide to theatre in Italy gives you the facts & information you want to know.

Early 20th Century Theatre in Italy

Undoubtedly the most famous name in Italian theatre during the first half of the 20th century, and perhaps the most famous in the history of theatre in Italy, is Luigi Pirandello.  Pirandello was originally from Sicily although he studied in both Rome and Bonn in Germany where he obtained his PhD in philosophy. This background in philosophy was later to show itself in many of Pirandello’s theatrical works which grappled with basic human questions.  Pirandello did not start out as a dramatist working in theatre but was rather a novelist and only later did he convert some of his novels into plays that would be performable in the theatre. Probably his most famous contribution to theatre in Italy is Six Characters in Search of an Author , written in 1921. This theatrical play explores the constraints of the conventional stage and the unknowable subtleties of the human personality.  Pirandello won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1934 only two years before died in 1936.

Modern Theatre in Italy

One of the most well known figures in Italian theatre during the 20th century was the playwright Eduardo De Filippo. Filippo had a life-long connection with the theatre in Italy as he originally started out acting in the theatre of his home town of Naples at a young age.  In later years he began to write plays for the theatre in Italy both in the Italian language as well as Neapolitan dialect.  Filippo had an extensive career as a writer of theatre in Italy which spanned decades and his total number of plays stands at over 20. One of his most memorable productions in the theatre in Italy was a play called Saturday, Sunday and Monday. Far from the romanticism one might associate with theatre in Italy, this play deals with the harsh realities of daily life and social problems in Felippo’s hometown of Naples.  Filippo was even involved in translating plays into his native Neapolitan dialect so they could be performed in theatres in Naples to the locals. Among his theatre translations were works by William Shakespeare.

Theatre and social critique in Italy

Another Italian playwright who has been instrumental in developing theatre in Italy is Dario Fo who has been working as a playwright in the world of theatre in Italy since the 1950’s. Many of Fo’s theatrical productions are known for their biting social commentary and criticism of the political system in Italy. Amongst his most famous plays are can’t pay won’t pay and more recently an anti war play titled Peace Mom which is based upon American peace activist Cindy Sheehan. Fo was awarded the Nobel Literature prize in 1997 for his contributions to theatre in Italy.