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For Mentally Ill, Expression in Puppetry

La MaMa Puppet SeriesSamantha Ku Dario D’Ambrosi supervises preparations for his new show at La MaMa Experimental Theater. His work explores the experience of the mentally ill.

Life-size puppets were perched on stacked chairs at the La MaMa Experimental Theater as Dario D’Ambrosi, the Italian avant-garde actor and director, attended to last-minute details for the opening of his new play tonight.

“Bong Bong Bong against the Walls, Ting Ting Ting in our Heads” opens the fourth annual La MaMa Puppet Series. Mr. D’Ambrosi first worked with mentally ill patients more than 30 years ago, doing research in a mental institution in Milan. Since then, his main avenue of creative exploration has been portraying the experience of mentally ill people through acting and playwriting.

This passion led him to create the Pathological Theater drama school in Rome, which teaches stagecraft to students with a range of conditions such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, autism and Down syndrome.

We caught up with Mr. D’Ambrosi earlier this week as he supervised the hectic construction of the set at the theater.

What was the inspiration for this piece?

This piece came from my work with the mentally ill. You see the set and the puppets, they designed it. We developed the play together. Yes, it’s my play, but it’s also from Teatro Patologico [Pathological Theater].
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