About The Production
Ever since Shakespeare's observation that "all the world's a stage," the theater has provided writers and artists an irresistible metaphor of the human condition
Ever since Shakespeare's observation that
"all the world's a stage," the theater has provided
writers and artists an irresistible metaphor of the human condition.
In ILLUMINATA, director/writer/actor John Turturro explores the
classic theme with a surprisingly contemporary love story set
in turn-of-the-century New York.
"It's a slender curtain between theater and life," observes
the tempestuous diva Celimene (Susan Sarandon), one of the many
colorful characters around whom the story of ILLUMINATA swirls.
Appropriately enough, ILLUMINATA began as a theater piece, inspired
by co-screenwriter Brandon Cole's experience working on the play
which eventually became MAC, Turturro's directorial debut and
winner of the Camera d'Or prize at Cannes. "I knew there
was something about an acting company worth looking into,"
says Cole, and that was the beginning of a play called 'Imperfect
Love,' subsequently re-titled 'Illuminata."' Turturro was
immediately attracted to Cole's script, which combined a romantic
love story with the structural elements of a classical farce.
In ILLUMINATA, Turturro explores how one co-exists in a relationship
that is both public and private and encompasses love and work.
"It's a story I know something about," says Turturro,
who worked extensively on stage before embarking on a film career.
"It's the world I love; it's something that is obviously
close to myself, my co-writer Brandon Cole, my designer Donna
Zakowska and just about everyone else involved in this particular
project. Much of the film is drawn from personal experiences,
past and present. If one person becomes famous and the other person
goes unnoticed (and not for lack of talent, let's say), what does
that do to a relationship, a friendship? I wanted to take the
themes of the play and some of its dialogue that we could reapply
and turn it into pure cinema. For me, Katherine's (Borowitz) face
and sensibility, delicate but strong, intelligent and graceful,
and her modesty were the inspiration, the soul of the piece. I
tried to build everything around her," continues Turturro.
"I looked at "Rules of the Game"- Jean Renior's
masterpiece, read the script of it and was struck by the fact
that he was inspired by Georges Feydeau's farces and then took
that structure to explore serious themes. This and the intensity
of Michael Powell's "The Red Shoes" were the starting
points for inspiration for me. If you can entertain someone, make
them even laugh perhaps, (and that's a big if) then they, the
audience, are open to traveling to new places, new emotions. The
world of the theater allows you instant metaphor. Of course, I
knew it was all very ambitious but it was a force that took me
away and never let go. And we invented a whole new cast of characters
to come along with us. We laid out a structure, that I continued
to revise after many readings."
"We set it at the turn of the century because it was a time
here in America and all over the world when the stage was the
dominant form of entertainment... when the theatre was as popular
as cinema today." In 1905, New York was teeming with live
theatre, including serious drama, musicals, vaudeville, and burlesque.
"It's a story that is universal, that could be placed anywhere,
that is as modern as it is historical. One that celebrates life
in all its forms. And this is what interested me in trying to
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