http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00GRCPLZE

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00GRCPLZE

Hello, everyone!  I have some really exciting news!

A while back (maybe about a year ago?), I contributed a short piece to an anthology about Italian North American women and identity.  It focuses a lot on feminism, activism, and sexuality, and is generally the kind of thing I like to be involved in.

It was officially published as an ebook for Kindle the other day!  So I am a published author, in a way, and that’s really exciting!  I encourage you all to take a look at the Amazon page and poke around in the “Look Inside” and maybe consider making a small purchase! 

I wrote the piece called “Though We Are Women,” and though I obviously want people to read that, I also am proud and honored to be sharing text space with so many wonderful Italian-American women authors. 


Getting Serious

Hey all!  I know that my last post was long ago now, and that I promised that more of this project would be forthcoming.  It’s been a while, but I can finally tell you that I’m taking serious steps to get this off the ground again.  And it’s…well, it’s going to look really varied, honestly.

Last week, I sent certain members of my maternal family the following letter:

Ciao, famiglia mia!

            I hope that this letter finds you well.  I am actually writing to ask for your help on a very special personal project.  Let me explain.

            When I was a little girl, Papi (you probably know him as Giose) used to tell me stories about his boyhood in Palmoli.  My mother told me that I should collect these stories into a book called My Grandfather’s Goat, and Other Tales from Abruzzo.  Unfortunately, I never had a chance to record any of those tales, and now that Papi is no longer with us, the task is even more difficult.

            For a long time, I had forgotten about this goal to write of my family’s experiences.  But in college, everything came back to me; I was studying clowning and mask performance and mask-making, and I was in Arezzo, Tuscany, for three months.  While I was there, even though it was far from Abruzzo, I longed to learn more about my family and to tell the world about them.  My final project in college was a circus performance, Ritorno, which took place in Abruzzo during the Fascist era.  I wanted to bring to a mostly non-Italian audience a more accurate representation of the hardships that a farming family would have to face – that my family had to face.

            I know that I am not technically 100% Italian.  But whatever my pedigree is, I can only identify as second generation Italian-American; more than that, I am Abruzzese – Pratolan’ and Palmolese.  I want to be able to pass down this pride and identity to my own children, who will be even more removed from their Italian heritage unless I make every effort to ensure that they don’t forget their roots.

            I am asking, then, for your help and cooperation as I try to put together the pieces of my family history.  If you have any stories, old letters, recipes, songs, photographs, video, or recordings, I would love to have copies.  There are many things I want to do with this information: First and foremost, I would like to publish at least one book, My Grandfather’s Goat.  I also want to create, direct, and possibly perform in more circus shows with the theme of family and tradition, and how it meets with the modern world.  I would like to make art inspired by this history, as well, and have exhibits that depict the strong bond of family and how proud I am to be descended from Southern Italians.

            I know that I have relatives who are not Abruzzese, and I want to hear their stories, as well.  So please, pass this information along to your children, your grandchildren, your aunts and uncles and cousins – anyone who might be interested and able to help.  You can send me materials by mail, or to my email address: morgana.rhalina@gmail.com.  At some point, it is likely that I will want to meet up and talk with you, as well.  Please bear in mind that this is a very long-term project, and it may never really see completion.  But it is important to me that, at the very least, future generations will know the history of their own family.

            Thank you so much for reading this letter.  I look forward to talking with you soon.  Please don’t hesitate to get in touch with any questions or concerns that you have.

 

                                                                        Baci e abbracci,

                                                                                   Morgana

 

And thus, I came out to my family as our historian, haha.  But in all honesty, this is a subject that has inspired endless passion in me, a subject that I cannot escape.  I will certainly take on many other tasks between writing and making art about my family; I have the desire to write novels and try my hand at comic books as well.  These things may or may not have to do with my family history.  I’ve decided to take things as they come, and I am looking forward to learning more about myself through older generations.

My grandmother, God bless her, has already started writing down her personal history for me.  I’m glad to be doing something that makes my family proud, and I sincerely hope that I can honor their sacrifices and their wishes as this project moves forward.


Thoughts After Being Away.

I have been thinking a lot about Ritorno lately.  Last Friday, I was interviewed about my experience at Hampshire College, and for the first time in a long time, was made to talk a lot about my Division III.  I talk about my show all the time with prospective students and families, since I’ve been working in Admissions all summer, but there’s only so much detail you can get into while walking backwards and trying to give everyone a good idea of what Hampshire is like as a college.

As I’ve mentioned before, my committee chair really encouraged me to continue work on Ritorno after the fact; he said I had a lot of good ideas here that could really become something great with more time and work.  I wholeheartedly agreed with him, and still do.  But for a while, I needed a break.  I had been too close to the project, and I wanted to branch out and try different things.  And I still want to be doing lots of different things.

But at lunch today, I decided to listen to my Italian music on shuffle, and I heard a couple of the songs that I had used in my show.  And I started thinking again.  About ways to make it longer, better, more involved.  About ways to get some of my old cast/crew in on the show with me.  About whether or not conducting this show outside of the safety of a Div III project is feasible or even wise.

I don’t know when it’s going to happen.  I’m not entirely sure how, either.  But I know that I love this show.  After 3-ish months of separation and a lot of time to think about it, I can fully realize how proud I am of the work I did, and how cool some of my themes are.  I want to continue sharing this with an audience.  I want to share new stories with audiences, too.

I want to explore the very thin line between being Italian and being American – and when those lines intersect (because they most certainly do).  I want to reach out to people who grew up in families where what was done in the house was very different than what society projected as the typical American home life.  I want to speak to the Italian experience; I want to speak to the experience of 1st and 2nd generation Americans who grew up in immigrant households.

I want to talk about war, and peace, and poverty, and family, and love, and the human condition.  I want to talk about my ideas of womanhood and being a woman.  I want to talk about mythology, and science, and faith.

I’m not done with Ritorno.  I should have known when I named the show that I would never stop coming back to it, that I wouldn’t be able to leave it be.  This show is too personal to be put on a shelf somewhere and forgotten about.  This show is born of my experience and my knowledge, and those are two areas of my life that are ever-expanding.

So once again – I don’t know how long it will be until the show goes up again.  But I know that I’ll be back here every now and then, with hopefully more regularity than before.  As of right now, I am more officially re-opening Project: Ritorno.


I’ve Updated My Portfolio!

I had largely neglected my portfolio blog in favor of this one.  I encourage any followers from here to check out my work!

http://morganarhalina.wordpress.com/

 

Enjoy!


A Note on Photos/A General Update

Hey all!

As many of you have probably noticed, I just updated the character portraits from Ritorno.  Sorry it took so long!

Photos were taken during a rehearsal and posted on a design board thing during the show.  All photos were taken by Rachel Ithen (the Widow).

Rachel also took some photos of rehearsals, which I have stored in an email somewhere, and which I might decide to share with ya’ll, if I find anyone is interested in something like that.

In other news, I have graduated from Hampshire College!  I now hold a Bachelors of the Arts.  This is all very exciting.  I currently have two weeks off before I have to start work again, and my days…well, honestly, they’re a little boring.  Not having any very specific project to do means I often don’t know what to do with my time.  I’m sure it’s a matter of getting used to having free time and learning how to set my own goals and projects up.  I know that it will come along soon.

I do still think about this project, now and then.  I’m actually trying to come up with new topics to center a show around, and that’s fun and challenging.  With Ritorno, the inspiration was very personal, and therefore kind of…self-fulfilling, I guess?  With any other project, unless I drew upon my own experiences again, it would be a very different thing.

My main issue is finding messages that are important to me, to convey with the themes I’m choosing.  Again, with Ritorno, everything kind of fell into place, was fairly self-evident.  But if I do, say, an ancient Egyptian themed show…what are the important themes within that overarching aesthetic/subject?  That’s my challenge.

Fear not – I have no abandoned this blog!  I’ll be back with more soon.

Ciao for now!


La Strega

Morgana Rhalina Smith (me) as La Strega, The Witch


Il Fornaio

James Perry Hartman as Il Fornaio, the Baker


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