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Enter the scene.

Conversation with… Elena Polic Greco[1].



Delightful leading actress in ‘The Peace’[2] by Aristophanes in the just ended successful theatre season at the ‘Greek Theatre’ of Siracusa (Italy), Elena Polic Greco has also been one of the daughters of Oceanus  –  as well as Coryphaea and responsible of the Chorus – in the spectacular ‘Prometheus chained[3], so concluding a busy year of teaching in academy which is the ‘Accademia d’Arte del Dramma Antico’ at Siracusa : next September 29 she will committed again with the director Daniele Salvo at Taranto (Italy) in ‘The Spartans’, a modern text by Barbara Gizzi.

“I knew very little indeed at the beginning of ‘my’ academy, which was the Accademia Nazionale d’Arte Drammatica ‘Silvio D’Amico’ at Rome, where I was born : by now I move all year for work, between Rome and Siracusa. But perhaps I knew something more than my classmates, because I often followed my mother on tour… Now however I was so curious, like a sponge, I was thirsty to know, to search in the past, to put some order in what I already knew about cinema and theatre : and I understood that also what I knew until then about myself was not enough, acting required much more of me…

I’ve learned that an actor can be shy, I had Masters who generated in me questions and curiosity about theatre, and it was extraordinary what happened in me : I discovered singing and its richness of sounds and possibilities, and I found my body again – I had lost it, my body, as a young girl because I was convinced that I was not physically adequate… My Masters showed to me that it was not true, and I find myself still thanking them today, because body is fundamental in our work, and it is the body itself that generates the sound when the body is put on the play.

I began to change and to seek, not to give up, to take even advantage of my failures to get to know myself, and to know the other from me. I’ve learned to listen to, and even to laugh on me…”

Do you think that doing theater is therapeutic ?

“I don’t like to think that theater is therapeutic, because a therapy is made to cure a pathology and I would not risk confusing the two professions, a therapist does other studies. Fortunately theatre can be very healthy, and it is my favourite mode. It is a profession that requires continuous study, and a healthy body, a healthy mind. Theater can perhaps be therapeutic in society, but I wouldn’t use the word ‘therapeutic’, I would rather say ‘useful’, also if  there are very few public funding then…

Theater, as a matter of facts, also presents obstacles, and riches too we didn’t know, maybe we wanted to hide… You learn to separate your character, which you even enter, to live with – and with all its quirks sometimes – from the person you are instead, with your history, the contrasts, memory at work, the sensitivity… Perhaps it is in all this that acting offers you a ‘cure’ because it requires you to experiment, to risk, and at last to change.”

As a teacher in Academy, how did your experience change, compared to just acting ?

“Teaching, working with students, I’m passionate about this, it was a revelation for me… The other, in this case, is someone who comes near the same vocation as you : an even deeper experience is looking at the other, listening to him, or her and putting both of them at ease, mainly in the difficulties. Sound, for example is today a neglected experience : little importance is given to sound and a student should be accompanied in his or her discovering.

But, on the other hand, right at Academy sudden new passions are born – there have been students here who are now excellent lyrical singers. In my years as an Academy student I discovered, and suddenly I  became fond of our pleasant Italian language and of the wonderful sound of our talking. The difficult is that often the use of daily speaking – by now it is so synthetized – and the research for ‘truth’ which in theatre is banned by definition, sacrifices sound at the expense of understanding and of concepts : being able to play with vowels and consonants, with the accents of words and the different accents you can place in a sentence, it offers many possibility to communication.    

‘To wet words with sound’ I say, and it is a work I propose, which I gained while carrying on ‘my’ academy in these fourteen years at Siracusa : ‘to learn’ a forgotten Italian as you learn a new language, crossing texts by Alfieri, Tasso, Ariosto about reciting and by Metastasio, according Nicola Vaccai’ method about singing, or Monteverdi with the ‘reciting singing’. And we are able again to speak, so that we begin to ‘talk on stage’ until we enter, we ‘contaminate’ – can we say ? – our everyday life.   

The word then makes itself a ‘significant’ sound no longer singing it, makes itself three-dimensional through the sound, completely new : but getting to understand how the word – and which word – is necessary to convey a message, it takes time, it’s not immediate at all, it takes years…”

What is the goal ?

“It’s better not to getting caught by vague ‘external’ goals and this is difficult too, both for students and in general in our work. For me it’s necessary to have a dream, but also know what you want, what goal you want to aim for : it’s one of the things I ask my students to write and to keep under analysis; dreams are often unattainable but beautiful to imagine, while clarifying what you would like to be is important in order to adjust the shot in a profession which totally involves the life of each of us. Then theater is training, practice, study, also defeat and even failure, and digging deep is not a game, you don’t have to get hurt : mistakes however offer the opportunity we had overlooked… Until you get that ‘feeling’ that it’s okay, an ease that makes you light, incredibly powerful and almost happy, you just want ‘feeling’ it again.

The applause follows, heartfelt : maybe not the prize, it goes through very particular ways. Here, I am convinced that it’s essential we undertake the academy not as a ‘remainder’, the residual choice but as an opportunity to discover our talent and to offer ourselves a chance to work on it without saving, with intelligence.

In our classes, sometimes you need to be able to reassure them, maybe an attachment to the bad memory of being ‘silenced’ because when singing, or dancing they were said they made ‘noise’ or they were ‘out of tune’, and there they remained. On the other hand, when a student already knows the music or sings, he – or she - must be reassured because what he, or she, already possesses will not be lost, will not be forgotten : because this is often what students fear… So, also a lot of work for them to come to trust! Then satisfaction comes, for me it is to witness the discoveries they make while studying, and their reciprocal contagion, satisfaction is to hear their voices singing in the corridors, in the courtyard of our Academy, and even in the alleys of Siracusa!”                                          

Two works by Aristophanes were staged this year : ‘The Peace’ (421 b.C.) at the ‘Greek Theatre’, and ‘Lysistrata’ (411 b.C.), final essay by the students of III year : is there a connection between the two texts ?

“Perhaps the most obvious connection is the urgency of finding peace : but the least obvious one, and often unobserved, is that of those who move the urgency, they are peasants who make the ground fruitable in ‘The Peace’ and, on the other hand, women in ‘Lysistrata’ as they generate children. How much sadness there is in ‘Lysystrata’, how much she herself is connected to nature and how, she too, would solve everything starting from love, from union, from wisdom. Lysistrata, as well as Trygeus in ‘The Peace’, finally realize that intervening is necessary to avoid the worst. This is also why I said that theater can have a social function.”

What part does memory have in acting, and how is cultivated ?

“Our memory collaborates and opposes itself at the same time : there are sentences, sounds, which suddenly come to the surface while you ‘are’ that specific character on stage, any actor knows that and there are different ways to make ‘memory’. I’m very attached to the movement sequence on the scene that I study with mathematical precision, just as I do with studying the text, I create appointments that I fix with repetition : so I alredy begin to build the character as I study, but it’s the director who helps me make it take shape, and working with the director means also to get to change your method. But more and more often the rehearsal period is getting shorter, then our preparation must be much more intensive to be able to get to the first rehearsal with our memory ready…

Becoming an accomplice to your character is essential, then the phrases come spontaneously and it’s a pleasure! In ‘The Peace’ by Aristophanes, where I actually played ‘The Peace’, the director didn’t like to end with a ‘merry’ party, as prepared - perhaps a little cruelly - by the ancient author : Daniele Salvo preferred infact to express worry, and fear too, the warning to a world that insists on dealing with war, for greed and dominance. So my final monologue is drawn from ‘The Phoenician women’ by Euripides (410 b.C), where Jocasta speaks to her sons Eteocles and Polynices. There is a sentence which remained in my heart, and which perhaps we should remember when looking at what happens around us every day : ‘My children, you are running towards a double disaster : lose everything you own, and fall while trying to take what you don’t have’”. 

The prolonged applause of the audience, the clear and perhaps surprising success of this interesting theatrical edition brings us again, as a matter of facts, to the reality of a daily and well-known experience where very few support the much work required to make civilization.



Marina Bilotta Membretti / Cernusco sul Naviglio – September 19, 2023



[1] Elena Polic Greco graduated in 1999 from the ‘Accademia Nazionale d’Arte Drammatica “Silvio D’Amico”’ of  Rome (among her Masters are Mario Ferrero and Vittorio Gassmann) : as a soprano voice, she perfected herself in ‘Singing’ at the A.N.A.D. ‘Silvio D’Amico’; her fluency in English, Spanish, French languages allowed her to be called (2017-2023) to the simultaneous translation into English of the performances on stage at the ‘Greek Theatre’ of Siracusa during the Theatrical Season. In 2021 she received the award RFA for best actress in the short film ‘Tragodia’ (Cinema, ‘Ortigia Film  Festival’) : among others, her own participation in the movies ‘Bianco e Nero’ by Cristina Comencini (2007) and ‘Quale amore’ by Maurizio Sciarra (2005). With the ‘Orestiade’ by P.P. Pasolini (2008) she began acting in the Classical Performances at the ‘Greek Theatre’ of Siracusa, up to the latest ‘Prometheus chained’ and ‘The Peace’ (2023), ‘Oedipus Rex’ (2022), ‘The Bacchae women’ (2021), ‘The Trojan women’ (2019), ‘Phaedra’ (2016), ‘The Supplicants women’ (2015), ‘Coefore and Eumenides’ (2104), ‘Antigone’ and ‘Women at the Parliament’ (2013), ‘Prometheus’ and ‘The Birds’ (2012), ‘The Clouds’ and ‘Andromache’ (2011), ‘Lysistrata’ and ‘Phaedra’ (2010), ‘The Supplicant women’ (2009). At the Academy ‘Silvio D’Amico’ in Rome she was Assistant to the chair of ‘Singing’ for the Master Claudia M. Aschelter (2003-2007) and teacher of ‘Choral singing’ (2017); again in Rome for the ‘LUISS’ she was teacher of ‘Diction and Voice Education’ (2016-2020). In Siracusa, at the ‘Accademia d’Arte del Dramma Antico I.N.D.A.’ she is since 2010 teacher of ‘Singing, Diction and Reciting’ and since 2020 she is also Teaching contact with role of coordinator of external projects with students and teachers, carrying out in addition theatrical activities in the schools on behalf of I.N.D.A. Since 2013 she works together with the Lyceum (High school) ‘Quintiliano’ of Siracusa as an external expert.

[2] ‘The Peace’, by  Aristophanes (421 b.C.), produced by I.N.D.A. www.indafondazione.org Direction: Daniele Salvo; Translat.: Nicola Cadoni; Scenes : A. Chiti e M. Ciacciofera; Costumes : D. Gelsi; Original music : P.M. D’Artista; Direction of the Singing Choirs : Elena Polic Greco (Coryphaea and Peace goddess in the final monologue) and Simonetta Cartia. Main performers :  Giuseppe Battiston, Massimo Verdastro, Simone Ciampi, Martino Duane, Jacqueline Bulnès, Elena Polic Greco, Federica Clementi, Gemma Lapi. With the participation of the newly qualified students of the ‘Accademia d’Arte del Dramma Antico’ of Siracusa.

[3] ‘Prometheus chained’, by Aeschilous (460 b.C.) at care of I.N.D.A. Istituto Nazionale del Dramma Antico, directed by Leo Muscato – 2023 Theater Season / ‘Greek Theater’ of Siracusa.

in Order.

Medea 2023


Empty chairs on a checkered, wax polished floor : it is the horizon of ‘Medea’[1] nice stage setting by Marco Rossi, for the  ‘Greek Theater’ at Siracusa (Sicily), directed by Federico Tiezzi.[2]



Well introduces the risky mind of Medea the Chorus of young people in white tunics, a rythmic, primitive, children song : and well recalls - that dull thud at the end of each verse – a thin ridge which stands between the pride of the gods and the death of humans.

Not human infact Medea is : nor does she wants to become one. She tried indeed to stay among them, their talent of a self-silence[3] which gods disregards : she raised his own Jason to glory[4] and like a bride she followed him, even giving him two children.

But it occurred that Jason, after landing with her at Corinth, suddenly remembered that he was a Greek man and Medea less than nothing.

He decided to come forward with king Creon, and to ask his young daughter to marry him : Medea can thank Jason for the lucky landing, thank the indulgence of Creon who doesn’t think of killing her, and then thank all of Greece offering her Laws and how to administer Justice, instead of the barbarous Vengeance of the lands of Colchis from which she comes from. 

The swerve of Medea is then immediate and without nostalgia : her lineage from Sun god doesn’t bring her affections – neither to her children nor to others – but a disconcerting, criminal reasoning.

Criminal ?

No criminal, Medea is divine! She leaves the maids to wash the blood of that hecatomb, her own Job!

Like the imperial Eagle which never abandons her, Medea stands above humans, whirling over them relentlessly : even when, long gone from the human Court which deceived itself about being able to condemn her, she instead – radiant – mocks the annihilated Jason from above the winged chariot of her own Sun, which already brings her to new life with a future, fragile king. Aegean is infact waiting for her.

The pleasant direction by Federico Tiezzi wisely respects the parts, so taking a qualitative leap to the obscure text of Euripides : excellent as a matter of facts are the choreography and the scenes, the music and the choirs; and very convincing indeed are all the interpreters – the ambiguous Jason, the truthful Messenger woman, the poor Creon, and going up to a hardest Medea, which the skilful Laura Marinoni carries with humility lovingness sensitivity, distancing the memory of that Medea / Callas too poignant and passionate[5], to instead bring back the truth of the outburst of pride which disconcerts, because we imagine it screwed into male virility and not to whom, like a woman, even physically went through a gestation and childbirth.

Gods however do not give birth – it is the message from Euripides, hiding here a sudden, not avoidable weakness of the work which infact earned him an early distrust from the Judges[6] of the time – and the divine Medea turns to the only master who enslaves her, the super-human pride that bends her, and restore her ‘to Order’.

Insanity is rejecting without resistance any bond, but only insanity makes it ‘natural’, because no unconscious - before Freud[7] we didn’t hear about– can ever really be like ‘in the open sky’, as someone still keeps saying.

Very difficult and rare is being able to bring again on a stage – large and open, then, as the ‘Greek Theater’ of Siracusa – that outburst of mind which is indeed a disconcerting passage of pathology, and which can be kept silent, but never removed by one’s memory.



Marina Bilotta Membretti / Cernusco sul Naviglio – July 9, 2023



[1] ‘Medea’, by Euripides / Siracusa ‘Greek Theatre’ 2023 Theater Season   www.indafondazione.org    Directed by Federico Tiezzi; Translation by Massimo Fusillo; Scene designer by Marco Rossi; Prologue original music by Silvia Colasanti, with the children’s choir and orchestra from the ‘Teatro dell’Opera’ of Rome directed by G. Sabbatini and C. Donadio; Stage manager : Nanni Ragusa; Chorus leader : Simonetta Cartìa; Main performers : Laura Marinoni, Alessandro Averone, Roberto Latini, Sandra Toffolatti, Luigi Tabita, Debora Zuin, Riccardo Livermore and with the participation of the students of the ‘Accademia d’Arte del Dramma Antico’ of Siracusa.

[2] Federico Tiezzi is an actor, dramatist, and theater director : he took care of his first direction at the age of fourteen, with ‘The liar’, by Carlo Goldoni; his own points of reference are the ancient classical works, as well as authors like Allen Ginsberg, Federico Garcia Lorca, Pier Paolo Pasolini, Bertolt Brecht. He is graduated in ‘Art history’ : he founded the

The theater company ‘Il Carrozzone’ (Ubu Prize 1979 and 1980 for the best Italian experimental theater company), now company ‘Lombardi-Tiezzi.

[3] ‘Il pensiero di natura. Dalla psicoanalisi al pensiero giuridico’, by Giacomo B. Contri – SIC Edizioni (1998) Cap. III ‘I sessi nella legge’ – ‘Talento negativo’, p. 155.

[4] Thanks to the support of Medea, princess and high priestess in Colchis, Jason – fleeing from Iolcus where his father king was deposed – could take possession of the ‘Golden fleece’, belonged to the winged ram of Hermes, and believed to have magical powers.

[5] ‘Medea’ (1969 film) was written and directed by Pier Paolo Pasolini, with Maria Callas as Medea.

[6] Up to five Judges were called for the Theater competition : Euripides got  only the third place for ‘Medea’, which was part of the trilogy he presented to the contest among Tragedies, at the ‘Grandi Dionisie’ in 431 a.C., year of the opera’s premiere at the ‘Dionysus Theater’ in Athens.

[7] ‘Das Unbehagen in der Kultur’ (‘Discomfort in Culture’), S. Freud (1929-1930).


Divide and unite.

In the picture : the Introductory Room. ITER – which in Latin language is translated with ‘way, journey’ – is located at Saint-Paul-lez-Durance / Cadarache, France : it is to date the only machine in the world, whose size and equipments (currently the civil works are at 85% of realization, the assembly stages started in 2020) allow you to explore the unknown territories of nuclear fusion which replies the reaction taking place on the Sun, so enabling a non-fossil energy production and with a minimum presence of radioactive waste. Through the fusion machine ‘Tokamak’, a hydrogen plasma is brought up to a temperature of 150 millions degrees C at which the fusion reactions can take place. ITER’s actors are : China, European Union, India, Japan, South Korea, Russia, U.S.A. : more than 500 manufacturing Companies from different Countries are active on the site. Since 2022 the general manager of ITER is the Italian engineer Pietro Barabaschi/ www.iter.org  



Maybe the two alternative procedures to treat the atom nucleus for production purposes will live together for a long time : the one, through a seemingly convenient division of the nucleus which it counterbalances the activation of complex and very expensive security systems; the other one, through a hard-working trigger of the fusion reaction, with instead rapid and cheap security systems.

The stated goal for both the procedures which already prepare this coexistence, is to accelerate both knowledge and competence about materials which so far didn’t proceed readily.

Now the chance of a fact-finding mission organized by Cise2007[1] in the largest site in the world where a state-of-the-art nuclear fusion reactor is under construction, opened as a matter of facts to an informal and educational meeting among senior technical engineers as pupils – on one side - who came up according the theory of a productive effectiveness of nucleus division and, on the other side, junior technical engineers as teachers because currently applying to the research of energy production deriving from union – better : fusion – of hydrogen nuclei.

The meeting first pointed out the talent of attention in listening by the Italian technical engineer teacher – born in 1991 – who was able to grasp the prudent climate of a generation of Italian technicians grown up cultivating at University first the energy production from nuclear source, and then themselves updated on its decommissioning in favour of traditional energies already financed in the previous years[2].

Right the applied research has been able to solve some knots in favour of an advance in the feasibility of a nuclear fusion reactor which can prove much less invasive than the traditional nuclear fission reactor, i.e. through the division of nuclei.

The young teaching also pointed out the excellent capacities of a remote work which has been going on for decades now and which involves technicians from different - not always politically related - Countries, called to a stable agreement for scientific purposes, and to a de-facto partnership. The industriousness of an interpersonal afflatus which allows collaboration even if without the traditional attendance of classrooms and laboratories, was severely tested in the years, and well refined in order to make it sufficient just to see and hear your colleague through the monitor which, we felt, could have only tired the whole communication… ITER experience overcame previous beliefs, right going through unexpectedly events, like the pandemic Covid19 and - unfortunately - also sudden terrible wars that subjected to a fatiguing ‘passivation’[3] one’s work, when it is inextricably substantiated on both individual and social application.

An experience that remains an excellent testimony for those who prefer strenuously resist the opportunity of ‘distance learning’.


Marina Bilotta Membretti / Cernusco sul Naviglio – June 12, 2023



[1] ‘Centro italiano per la Sostenibilità e l’Energia’, in the short form CISE2007.

[2] ‘Gli anni dell’atomo. Storia dell’industria elettronucleare in Italia’, di Flavio Parozzi (2021), ed. ‘Biblion’.

[3] The ‘passivation’ is an electrochemical phenomenon which reduces or stops the corrosion reaction of metallic materials corrosion to which they are exposed.

The passion I didn’t know.

You tube:

Conversation with… Franca Centaro.


Shared from www.youtube.com - ‘Accademia d’Arte del Dramma Antico’, ‘I Convegno degli Studi coreutici sulla danza e messa in scena’ December 15/17, 2016 / ‘Lezione spettacolo di Dario La Ferla’ – Photo and video by Franca Centaro.



“When I turned fourteen, my father[1] Orazio Centaro gave me my first camera : I had recently moved from Rome, where I was born, to Siracusa, which is my father’s hometown. Maybe he gave that camera to me as a joke, I myself had always seen him grappling with equipment and materials for photography, at home we even had the darkroom for developing the film. Indeed, that process of creation really seemed like magic to me, reserved for him!”

However, when what your father puts in your hands is something resembling his own work equipment, it may happen that you feel like putting yourself to the test : Franca Centaro did just that, initially for herself, but little by little realizing that photographing allows you to draw to affections you had never known and that nobody imagined indeed.

To her, as a young girl grown up somewhat in the shadow of her father’s exuberance and professionalism,                     it seemed unrealistic that photography becomes also ‘her’ own job : for example she wouldn’t leave the security of her administrative employment to focus on the camera, also if in the meanwhile her own production began to emerge, differing from her father’s. The passion has always been for Franca towards the reality of people, the specialty of everyone, in deep respect for what she encountered.


In 2008 a further gift – this time by her husband Vito Ancona – a digital camera with potentials to her unknown, then the experimentations about dance and about ‘tango’ with the novelty of those movements and lights, and finally the unexpected success in the first photography competitions, definitely convinced her to a professionalism that only a few years earlier she couldn’t have imagined. In 2010 she was accredited as stage photographer at I.N.D.A.[2] Foundation of Siracusa that takes care of classical performances at the ‘Greek Theatre’.

“In theater, photography asks me to know the text of the play, this year for example ‘Medea’ will be represented, directed by Federico Tiezzi : it is a tragedy that still today questions us because Medea remains a shocking character, difficult to empathize, and her drama, her massacre, still remains almost a twist of events… But it is indispensable also for the photographer to go into her, before shooting I focus on what I want to achieve, that’s how I can catch a detail that becomes a photographic shot.”

The word itself, ‘pathos’, which in the ancient Greek language opposed to ‘logos’ as generally ‘emotional and not rational’, today is synonymous with ‘Theatre’ and closely concerns the capacity to excite ‘pathos’ in the spectator who watches the work.[3] And it is in this astonishing human laboratory which is the ‘Accademia d’Arte del Dramma Antico’ that photography turned for Franca into the demanding profession she never suspected.

“Here photograpy comes into as a component of rehearsals, the students work knowing that I am photographing them and perhaps, from the result of a photo, of a short video from the lesson, they learn about their own preparation, they set out to correct, to redo, to perfect…”

Participating to the representations of the ‘Teatro Antico’ season is for the students an essential value offered by the Accademia, even if the time professionally required to rehearse a play which will be performed is just a few weeks.

“I myself witness an absolute transformation, when in about one month each one of them ‘becomes’ his own, or her own, character… And the top of this ‘human’ transformation is experienced in the backstage, just before going on stage : it applies to both students and professional actors.

Working with them you realize that technical reliability is one with the person ‘fixing’ their emotions, their working hours, their frailties too. Until you build trust, even just a nod, and sometimes even friendships that remain.”  


At care of Marina Bilotta Membretti / Cernusco sul Naviglio – May 25, 2023



[1] Orazio Centaro was born in Siracusa, but for decades he has lived in Rome where he has been an excellent professional photographer in the cinema and theater environment.

[2] I.N.D.A., acronym of ‘Istituto Nazionale Dramma Antico’, was established in 1998 but their cultural activities about the ‘Greek Theater’ of Siracusa had begun since 1914, thanks to the promoting committee desired by Mario Tommaso Gargallo.

[3] You can see also https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qtEa4vZi4XU&t=198s  ‘Anime e pathos’, Video fotografico di Franca Centaro per la Mostra fotografica 6 dicembre 2017 - Università degli Studi di Roma ‘Tor Vergata’, Facoltà di ‘Lettere e Filosofia’.


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