Theatre criticism of the beginning of the XX century focused on dramatic
texts more than actors, Alessandro Varaldo represents an interesting case.
Dramatist, poet, novelist, Varaldo was the theatre critic of «Il corriere di
Genova» from 1903 to 1910. Here, in his several reviews and in some of his
Profili d’attore (later collected in a book), he appears as a very penetrating
and sharp observer of the scene and, most of all, a passionate critic of the
actors and the acting style of his time. Virgilio Talli, Ruggero Ruggeri,
Antonio Gandusio, Virginia Reiter, Oreste Calabresi, Ugo Piperno, Emma e
Irma Gramatica, Lyda Borelli, Eleonora Duse, in particular, give him the
opportunity to deal with some of the crucial questions of the Italian theatre
of the period: the transformation of the role system; the modernization of
the ‘brillante’; the continuing relevance of the questions raised by Diderot in
the Paradox of Acting (translated by Varaldo for the first Italian edition); the
study of the character by actors and the process of shaping the type; the
break with the XIX-century tradition of the ‘grande attore’ and the need for a
new acting style, but also the critic’s difficulty in evaluating stage
performance and its rules and the work of the actors.


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