Wednesday, April 6, 2011

A Day in the City of Machiavelli's The Mandrake

Florence, Italy
Floating above the city of Florence, this is the view Machiavelli had from his days in exile.

   From the top of Pizzale Michaelangelo (a good hike and what feels similar to an eternity on a  stairmaster) the greatness of the city cannot be questioned. From such great heights, any city might be able impress. But it is the history and the legends behind Florence, however, that create the sense of eminence.

  Galileo once questioned the universe in this city. Michaelangelo chiseled a modest self-portrait into the Palazzo Vecchio, after he created one of the world's most famous men out of stone. And above all, our beloved poet and playwright, Niccolo Machiavelli, walked these streets. A political mind, a master of words, he carved a story and place for the city of Florence, and was even banished from it's walls. His love affair with the "Jewel of the Renaissance", is manifested in his work.

La Mandragola, Italian for The Mandrake, comes to life in the streets of Florence. The grandeur of dupery that centers our play, is mastered by street artists on unsuspecting tourists and shop owners wanting to close shop early for their well deserved dinner, and is as grand as the buildings that make up the city. 
The city is as sweet as it is devilsh: 
Machiavellian at it's core. 

The transportation system, for example. The availability and beauty of the buses are so apparently wonderful, it makes the EL look like a rickety toy train. Yet, once onboard, the reality is if you don't already know your stop and its surroundings, the bus route in its entirety, and any side roads the driver feels like taking that day, you don't belong on the bus. Actually, you don't belong in the city. this place is not user friendly. Innate knowledge is the only way of mastering this system. 

A city made of walking, and there are no sidewalks. The customer is never right, at the customer service desk. A country of Slow Food, and quick espresso fuels the chef. 

Florence is as serious as it is satiricial. And maybe part of it is the pride: a pride of history, wisdom, celebrity, and even the no nonsense that begets nonsense. 
It's an understanding that while the world becomes ever more cosmopolitan and ever more global, Florence remains elementary, local, and classically unqiue. 

The world may be changing, but the Florentine ways do not. 

 “I'm not interested in preserving the status quo; 
I want to overthrow it.”
-Niccolo Machiavelli

Classily overthrowing the powers that be, is what makes The Mandrake so Florentine. 
The blurred line of right and wrong, of risk and safety, satire and honesty. 

But as the playwright himself says: 
"Never was anything great achieved without danger."

This fiendish city, is where our story takes place.

A Red Orchid Theatre finishes up the 2010/2011 Season with Machiavelli's satire, 
The Mandrake
Directed by Steve Scott, translation by Peter Constantine. 
Running from April 8-May 22nd

Featuring A Red Orchid Ensemble Members Lance Baker (Ligurgio), Steve Haggard (Callimaco) and Doug Vickers (Messer Nichia), with David Chrzanowski (Friar Timoteo), Brian Kavanaugh (Siro), Cheyenne Pinson(Lucrezia) and Lucinda Johnston (Sostrata).

The creative team includes Grant Sabin (Set Designer), Jeremy W Floyd(Costume Designer), Michael Stanfill (Lighting Designer), Joe Fosco (Sound Designer), Doug Kupferman (Properties Designer). The Stage Manager is Stephanie HellerKelli Marino is Dramaturg, and Machiavelli and Political Theory Consultant is Cristophre Kayser.

For information on tickets and showtimes, visit our lovely website:

Or call (312) 943-8722

Check out our Facebook page for more updates and information, including discounts!

~Pictures and piece by A Red Orchid Abroad: Florence, Italy

1 comment:

  1. Many many thanks to our correspondent on the ground in Florence; former intern and Louis Slotin ASM, Kenzie Siebert. We miss you Kenzie!!!