St. Andrea's Theatre
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  Versione Italiana



(for the studying and spreading of Andreolese culture)


The Andreolesi were always at the forefront of activity in their daily lives. Hard working, industrious, sacrificing, and always looking for a life that promised them security. It was this intense desire to better themselves that led to an outflow of emigration to many parts of the world. The Paese was mired in poverty by modern days standards, but then no one knew that poverty
existed. The Andreolesi went about their daily life accepting all that came their way. It was in this atmosphere that one of the best-kept secrets lies. The "Theatre". It started at the Asilo Infantile by the Suore Riparatrici. The Theatre consisted of a temporary stage set up in the cortile up against the steps that lead to what was once the Refettorio, Madre Pia, Madre Benita e Madre Gioconda were responsible for the preparation of the theatrical production. I remember the stars too!! Nuzza (daughter of  Ndruzzu da Carbinera), her cousin, the sister of Angiolino Codispoti and Mariannina Ranieri.

The success of the plays was such that eventually it was transferred to the Oratorio. There it
became a huge success mostly due to the unquenchable thirst of the Andreolesi for culture and learning. Two people are most responsible for the great success that the theatre enjoyed: Don Bruno Cosentino (Colabati) and Don Ciccio Cosentino (Yes!!! At that time a giant was inside Don Ciccio). Don Bruno was responsible for the construction of the hall, which is adjacent to the Church, and Don Ciccio was the dynamic force behind its development. The one (Don Bruno) led a very austere and frugal life but knew no boundaries in giving in order to give the people of S.Andrea a spiritual map. The other (Don Ciccio) had an undying love for the youth and would anything to create the proper environment for them. Originally the productions were done in the hall on a temporary stage like the one at the Asilo. The audience was required to bring their own chairs. Such enterprises were so successful that once again Don Bruno Cosentino came to the rescue by supplying the funds to build the present theatre. I am old enough to remember the construction. Under the leadership of Don Ciccio the oratorio became a beehive of spiritual as well as entertainment. Plays were staged at rapid pace, sometimes once a month. As one was being performed another was in the rehearsal stages. Yours truly was a member of the group, and although I enjoyed some leading roles, I have to admit that the stars were Nicolino Romeo (now Dott. Romeo) Bruno Lijoi (segretario della scuole medie) Enzo Lijoi (the son of  Ntuani do Tamburrinaru) and my own uncle Vincenzo Iorfida. These guys in drama and tragedies were capable of evoking tears from the rocks in the garden. Each dramatic performance was immediately followed by a comedic sketch, and in comedy the team of Alfonso Dominijanni (Do Panificiu), Gerardo Betro' and Gentile Dominijanni were unsurpassed in comedic skills. The audience would roll in the aisles with tears of laughter. (I understand that Gerardo has since withdrawn from any social life, but at that time he was the reigning monarch of "U Castiaddhu". Life surely changes!!! Bruno Migali was undeniably the champion of makeup artistry.

With the fall of Fascism and the advent of Communism and Socialism, new forces came into the cultural arena. A Centro di Cultura was formed with the aim of exerting cultural influence among the Andreolesi. They too, established a theatre, and had as their star Vincenzo Frustaci who had excellent credentials in theatre work. Upon leaving the Seminary he joined a professional troupe of actors and travelled throughout Italy performing. Vincenzo was the son of Bruno e Veneranda. Eventually their theatre failed for lack of physical facilities in which they could perform. Their actors were as good as we were, and credit must be given them for introducing women to female roles. They had the courage to break the ice, and as result new avenues were opened to S.Andrea Culture.

In 1945 Don Saverino Bevivino (son of Ciccio e Pualita) returned to S.Andrea from Cardinale where he had been Archpriest. He took a very active role in the management of L'Oratorio spelling Don Ciccio, who by that time had assumed a heavy role in the Chiesa Matrice, and did not have enough time to devote to what he loved most, "His Oratorio". Under Don Saverino's guidance and leadership the Palcoscenico underwent a radical change: new lights, new wings and an entire new decor. Leading the way with the artistic work were Gerardo Betro' and Domenico Vitale (the son of Vincenzo), while the carpenter work was contributed by Cece' Dominijanni and his brother Bruno (Sons of  Vincenzino e Colabati) and Saverio e Nicola Bressi (Sons of  Micu e Terramuatu). We all contributed, some of us less talented going to Soverato to purchase the lumber necessary for the project. I am proud to say that we were a close ly knit group and accomplished much with the little we had. The experience gained was priceless, as it became a pool of resources when in later years I was called upon to speak before a crowd. Yes I would be somewhat nervous but always composed and in control!!

Early in 1946,the theatre underwent modernization. The floors were lowered and the Loge was to be changed to accommodate cinematography. I never saw the finished product as I left that fall. I returned in June 2001 and went to l'Oratorio for a visit. I found everything under lock and key. Even the church was barred. I wanted so badly to enter and offer a prayer as I used to as child and as a youth to Maria Ausiliatrice. Memories of a gone by era flowed through the rivers of my mind, and once more I heard the commotion, the laughter, the noise as Don Bruno and Don Ciccio came back to life.

To Francesco Romeo, Alfredo Varano and all the others responsible for this new Cultural Medium, I offer my gratitude and sincere thanks. To Anna my faithful translator, who, better than anyone else, can capture my thoughts and put them in the most beautiful language; "Italian’. To all Andreolesi, wherever they may be "I LOVE YOU ALL". Angelo Iorfida Jan3-2002. If the readers wonder why I choose to write in English, let me assure them that it is not lack of love towards Dante's Idiom as it is my inability to express my thoughts. After 56 yrs my Italian Vocabulary leaves a lot to be desired!! The memories are with me but not the ability to express them. I hope you will find it in your hearts to forgive me.

Angelo Iorfida


The group of study ELPIS ZEROUNO




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