Theater for the New
City (TNC) joined with La
Piccola Brigata of L'Aquila for a theater exchange in the 1988-1989
theater season. The Italian company brought a realistic play by
a local author to TNC and Crystal Field, Artistic Director of TNC,
wrote and directed a play that she thought would tour well in Italy.
It was a vaudeville musical, "One Director Against His Cast,"
filled 1920s songs, Smith-and-Dale routines and physical comedy.
We flew to Rome via Alitalia and rode by chartered bus to the ancient
walled city of L'Aquila, capital city of Abruzzi, where we spent
about two weeks as guests of the Italian company and the citizens
of the town.
publicity photo, staged in the Piccola Brigata's rehearsal studio,
was taken to publicize the show in the local newspapers. It
shows Crystal Field and me (center), surrounded by members of
the TNC company, in the musical number, "Get Out and Get
Under." The photo was probably snapped by Arthur Abrams,
our musical director, using my camera.
to the city of L'Aquila, Italy, 1989 (entering the city from
the north). We drove through this gate to enter the walled city
on a chartered bus that picked us up at Fumicino Airport in
Gate from the inside, going toward Via Roma. Note the blue
cast in this photo. That was due to the high elevation of
the city, which tends to make photographs blue.
Some of us slept as guests in the homes of
members of the Italian troupe, but most of us were lodged in the
Grande Albergo (Grand Hotel) in the center of the city. It was a
very old hotel, with plain rooms and no private baths, but it was
the best we could afford. There was a telephone in the lobby. The
hotel's atmosphere was like a prewar scene from Lina Wertmuller's
"Seven Beauties" or any number of Fellini films, and memories
of Italian films flashed though my mind throughout my stay.
|Lobby of Grande
Albergo (Grand Hotel) in L'Aquila.
|Grotto seen from
the lobby windows (to your right in the picture above).
I couldn't carry much camera equipment since
we traveled light on personal possessions. (We packed our props,
sets and costumes in our luggage.) I brought only one camera--my
Leica CL with a 40mm f2.0 normal lens and a 90mm f2.8 mild telephoto.
But I knew from experience that my color correcting kit would be
needed in such high elevations as this mountain city. I used a color
meter and color correcting diopter filters, including ultraviolet
filters, in most of my daytime shots.
Despite these precautions, the high elevation
of the city tended to make many photographs blue. Other photos turned
out violet because of the prevalence of ultraviolet light on cloudy
Over the years, color shift in the slides
has become another problem. My slides were carefully stored, but
time has caused some changes in them. In scanning them, I have tried
to restore them to the colors I remember. (I'm a perfectionist when
it comes to color.) But I have been largely unsuccessful in replicating
the delicate yellow of many walls and the neutral grey of many old
stone structures that live on in my mind's eye.
Most of these pictures were taken with Kodachrome
200 film. My Agfachrome 100 slides were slightly better at capturing
the yellow tones of Italy, but this and other E-6 films are not
archival. My E-6 slides have not retained their colors too well
over the years. I shot no print film. The only black and white I
shot was the publicity picture you see above.