Annibale Ruccello, the voice of the Neapolitan theater of the late twentieth century

by Claudia Colella

Born in 1956, originally from Castellammare di Stabia, Annibale Ruccello is one of the most authoritative voices of Neapolitan theatrical scene of the second half of the twentieth century.
Torn from life and art only thirty years after a car accident, he managed, in the short time of his life, to leave us real dramaturgical masterpieces.
Annibale Ruccello tells one in his works Colorful and controversial Naples, in the cultured and original way that is well suited to the city. His work starts from one anthropological, historical and linguistic study of Neapolitan culture e is dripping with popularity.

Annibale Ruccello, playwright from Stabia
Annibale Ruccello, playwright from Stabia

Difficult to appear on the theatrical scenes a few years after the peaks reaches from the theater of Eduardo, in years when the critics were still devoted to the work of the great playwright. Annibale Ruccello, however, with the energy and the sincerity of a talented young man manages to unanimously win the judgment of critics, fascinated by flexibility and the creativity of his poetics.

A look at the texts of Annibale Ruccello

His work began in 1977 when, with the collaboration of Lello Guida (with whom he founded the cooperative in the same years The cart), he writes The pomegranate tavern, a work that has remained unpublished.

His first self-employment is in 1980 and is called Jennifer's Five Roses. The work is set in the 70s and has as its protagonist a restless and melancholy transvestite who lives in a studio apartment in Naples. Emblematic description of the "different" and marginalization to which this feature forces. The most surprising quality of the text is that of being a single act with the depth, the unsettling intensity and the engaging rhythm of a multi-act comedy.

The other masterpiece of Annibale Ruccello is Ferdinand, written in 1985. The work has won two awards Ides (Istituto Dramma Italiano): one in 1985 as a theatrical text, the second in 1986 as the best staging.
The setting this time is nineteenth-century, the Bourbon dynasty has just fallen and with it all the nobility that was faithful to it. Far from wanting to write a historical drama, as the author himself stated, the work unmasks, through the figure of the young Ferdinand, tall the hypocrisies, hatred, cowardice and degradation of the characters that go around it.

Among other works we mention: A quiet summer night (1982); Naples Hollywood… an heiress (1982), which has remained unpublished; Nocturne of woman with guests (1983) and Weekend (1983) with which he won the Idi under35 award and which with Jennifer's Five Roses they form the trilogy of the "chamber theater"; Maria Di Carmela (1985); The phone call (1985); The Ciociara (1985), theatrical rewrite of Moravia's novel; Mom (1986) and Anna Cappelli (1986), which form the duo of “small minimal tragedies”.

As in an amazing storytelling device, the great myths of twentieth-century culture end up coexisting in a single universe. There is no Ruccello show in which this complicated alchemy of expressive means is not reproduced. Proust, Genet, Strindberg, Pasolini, De Roberto, Tomasi di Lampedusa are together with Patricia Highsmith and with the films noir, integrate without forcing with the suspense to Dario Argento, they interact with Mina and with Lucio Battisti, with the shows trash of the most vulgar television and with Raffaella Carrà.

From the introduction by Matteo Palumbo to the volume “ANNIBALE RUCCELLO AND THE THEATER IN THE SECOND TWENTIETH CENTURY”, ESI editions.

Annibale Ruccello, the regret of a life torn too soon from art

The characteristic of Ruccello's texts is that of combine the tradition of Mediterranean theater, from classical to contemporary, to a whole new point of view, outside the established schemes.
Fascinated by the level reached by his dramaturgical production in so few years, which continues to live only in the representations of his pieces, we just have the bitterness of not being able to know how far his talent would go.

Claudia Colella

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