Francesco Andolfi on La Mandragola

The rehearsals for this project are a continuous work in progress with just as much room for improvement.

As per most classical pieces, The Mandrake Roots provides a text that doesn’t need anything else but the actor’s dedication to understand the purpose of the play. The message, the idea, the spine if you will.

During this work I found myself trapped in the challenge of giving truth to the character and maintaining the aim of the playwright. Embodying the character is usually how I start, and in order to do so I indulge in the help of props, costumes and, with this project, improvisation.

So far we’ve had our opening night and there is another performance ahead of us. Certainly I do not consider those a rehearsal, but nevertheless I am aware of how my cast mates and I have been finding new things here and there along the text, and as the plot was unknotting the characters were also becoming more human.

It is important not to forget, like Stefano Albertini said in his introduction to our show, that Machiavelli was first and foremost interested in people; therefore these characters, though at first sight a way to tell a story full of subtext and political references, are actually people that the author might’ve met on a street in Florence. Consequentially it is a duty to humanize these characters so that an audience member doesn’t just see the impotent old geezer who doesn’t understand what is happening around him, but a man with lost hopes about having a son and willing to do just about anything to have one.

If you were old, impotent and constantly reminded that there is no future to your family and that your legacy is going to be lost in the billions of lives that populate this planet, what would you do?