Our director Tony Lauria had us stand in a circle before the show, radiating outward in the order that we were cast. Some have been in Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding since the beginning or close to it – 25 years. This is New York’s wedding. We should make a wedding book, with photos and essays from over the decades reflecting on all that’s changed and all that remains the same.
First, archetypes. Tonight I got to keep alive in me, through being Grandma Nunzio, all the strong women in our ancestry. I thought of my aunts, my godmother, my grandmothers and great-grandmothers, my mother most of all – as I primp and dive into the wig – I become them. I take on their stories and their rock solid spirits.
Second, gioia di vivere, joie di vivre, the joy of living. Tonight a young man proposed to his girlfriend, there on the spot, on Tony n’ Tina’s dancefloor. He took the microphone, spoke his truth and sprung open a box with the diamond ring. She said yes. The whole crowd erupted with a cheer. We are here to celebrate the cycle of life. Love, amore, is the heart of this show.
Third, Italian American dramatic culture. We all grew up with drama. Sore, frati, cane, gatti, our proverbs tell us: Sisters, brothers, dogs, cats. We fight. We let it out. We yell. We throw things. One audience member, non-Italian, observed that this show “exposes the mind.” You mean other people don’t express themselves this way? Seriously? They don’t give each other the evil eye and say exactly what’s on their mind? Come on people, that’s what curse words are for. Curses are our way of barking. If you don’t like to curse, try vowel sounds. My grandmother used to yell, “Eeeeeeeeeee!” with her right arm shooting straight up into the air. Try it. Feels great.
Fourth, this is real. Interaction. Watch dogs in a field. Puppies in a box. Clouds in a windy sky. Interaction. We are here at Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding and it is reality. Last night, I found a gorgeous silver bracelet on the dance floor near a table. I asked several women if it was theirs – no. I handed it to the manager who was going to make an announcement. Later I asked another lady, “Did you lose a bracelet? I found one.” “Oh my God,” she said, “yes. Really. No for real.” I said, “I know, I found it.” She said, “No, for real. For real.” I had to convince her, with witnesses, that I wasn’t joking, that this was real, that I was real, that this wasn’t part of a play. I had to calm her. I am thinking of Magritte’s “Ceci n’est pas une pipe.” This is a wedding. This is not a wedding. As an artist, the art becomes more real for me than life, a strange hyper-reality. I am more me, playing Grandma Nunzio, than later, make-up washed off. More on this later.
Come join the love.
Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding.
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Bring your friends.