Fulvio Fo (1928 – 2010)

Exactly 6 years today (17th November 2010)the great artist Fulvio Fo lost his battle to cancer and passed away in Rome.

He was a great man, who I had the privilege of meeting personally and work with during a ‘basic theatre course’ he held in the evenings in my high school in Sardinia.
Known to many as “animale teatrante e scrittore” (theatre animal and writer) he had a long career working in theatre and cinema mainly in Italy but also has some stunts abroad.
Born in Luino (a small place near Varese, in the north of Italy) in 1928 he was noble prize winner Dario Fo’s older brother.

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He was a scenographer, theatre director in Turin and Rome and wrote several books too. In 1996 he moved to Sinnai, a village in the mountains just outside Cagliari, in Sardinia.
The following is a direct quote from Fulvio who wrote this a few weeks before he died:

“Quando arriverà il mio momento so che seguirò questa schiava-padrona con animo limpido, consapevole di potermene andare serenamente lasciando il mio riflesso, la mia impronta positiva sorridente di gioia illuminata e rassicurante”(Fulvio Fo).

This is my translation of the original Italian version above, although it does not sound half as poetic written in English:”When my moment will come I know I will follow this slave-master with clear spirit, aware that I will be able to leave serenely leaving my reflection, my positive and smiling mark with joy both illuminating and reassuring.” (Fulvio Fo)

 

 

The practical course I did with him in 2008 helped me immensely in winning over my timidness as at the end of it we did a live performance. During rehearsals he kept advising me: ‘speak slowly, make pauses and respect them. The pauses you make are just as important as the words you articulate’. If you think about this it is so true, one just needs to watch a speech from the best orator alive, Barack Obama, to realise the accuracy of Fulvio’s teachings. Pauses makes it sound as if you are stopping to think and give your words an air of importance.
Since that course speaking in public became much easier and the year after, when I got elected ‘representative of the students’ by my fellow school mates, I was able to chair school assemblies with an audience of a few hundred people without succumbing to nerves.
His kindness, good spirit and enthusiasm will always be remembered by those who were lucky enough to get to know him and I know I speak on behalf of everyone in the theatre group who in a short period of time learnt so much from him.

‘Bastu!’ Sweden’s Sauna Culture

Sweden is a country full of surprises and the sauna culture is no exception.

 

First of all what you need  to know is that Swedish saunas have a strict no swimming costume rule and all you can bring is a towel and something to drink. The first time I went to a sauna was in 2013 when I lived in Sweden during an exchange. It was actually on a ferry crossing from Stockholm to Helsinki and that possibly made it worse as the Finns are known for being hard-core sauna lovers who like it extra hot and will pretend not to speak English if you try to ask them to tone it down.

Although my other exchange friends I was with were slightly confused at the idea that I wanted to pay to spend time in a small room full of naked men, my answer was that in Scandinavia it is a big part of their life so I had to try out this cultural experience. I managed to convince a friend and went. The experience was overall good, although I found it too hot and had to run out to have a cold shower every 5 minutes.

 

Three years later I finally returned to Sweden to visit a good friend in the southern most region called Skåne. He’s American but Swedish at heart so he came up with the idea of going for a sauna. At first I was a bit wary, but then I decided to go for it. It was a bit unexpected as we were at a house party playing drinking games and at one point the host shouts out ‘half an hour to sauna time’. So half an hour later the party moved to a small room in the basement with a wooden interior and a special heater on which you would pour hot water to make it steam. Once you surpass the Victorian style thinking process about nudity and British prudishness , you feel quite relaxed.

 

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On my last day  in Sweden, my friend took me to another sauna this time a public one by the sea and that evening entrance was mixed, for both men and women. This was by far the best sauna experience, partly due to the big windows overlooking Malmö and the sea and also for the fact that you could throw yourself into the cold sea water when feeling too hot as opposed to just showering. Funny thing is that nobody seemed to care that people were swimming naked in broad daylight off a pier.

 

This was the ‘real experience’ as you had a bunch of Swedes that did not know each other in the same room, relaxing. And if there is one thing Swedish people are famous for is being shy and awkward around strangers in normal day to day situations, but oddly enough this did not happen there. On the contrary they were chatting away in Swedish, so I did not understand a word, but my friends managed to hold a conversation as they are both fluent in the language. Apparently they talked about everything from cultural comparisons to society and so on, all this whilst completely naked. I was left startled. As you can see the British/Victorian sense of prudishness is something hard to overcome, but I’m working on it!

 

Greeting People

The first thing that happens in a group situation, with people from different parts of Europe that gather in one place for a training course, is a meet and greet session. In my books, this was also the most entertaining part of the first few days of the course I followed, as you can tell cultural differences a mile away.

As the course was in Spain, the organisers used the Spanish way to greet the participants so a hand shake and two kisses on the cheek. Most entertaining was seeing the reaction on people’s faces, the majority of which could not mask their sense of surprise and slight unease to all this southern affection. Most taken aback were the Palestinian girls who were totally shocked by the forwardness of the spaniards.

Also I had some difficulties: when greeting one of the city councillors I went in for kissing her right cheek first whilst apparently in Spain you start from the left.

Overall very entertaining, I strongly recommend this experience just for the fun of it.

Student Traditions

The concept of ‘Student Tradition’ is something that if one asked me a year ago I would never have imagined it being of such importance let alone a possible topic to write one’s dissertation on!

What are these traditions?

They are a series of rituals, costumes and ‘ways of being’ that have distinguished the student population from the ‘normal people’.

In some old universities you can still feel this atmosphere but it is not easy to get into these closed communities and if you are not a student you can see only the outside of it.

J.K. Rowling in Harry Potter captivated the world with beautiful the castle and student traditions songs and rivalries that pick up a lot of authentic traditions in the university world.

My mission is to try to uncover the past of these traditions and comparing the differences between the various universities and the different countries.

Did you have student traditions in your university? What were they like? What did you enjoy most?

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Art. 3 of the Italian Constitution

Articolo 3

Tutti i cittadini hanno pari dignità sociale e sono eguali davanti alla legge, senza distinzione di sesso, di razza, di lingua, di religione, di opinioni politiche, di condizioni personali e sociali.

È compito della Repubblica rimuovere gli ostacoli di ordine economico e sociale, che, limitando di fatto la libertà e l’eguaglianza dei cittadini, impediscono il pieno sviluppo della persona umana e l’effettiva partecipazione di tutti i lavoratori all’organizzazione politica, economica e sociale del Paese.

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Article 3 (translation done by me)

All citizens have equal rights and dignity in front of the law, without distinction based on sex, race, language, religion, political opinions or personal and social conditions.

It is the Republic’s duty to remove the economical and social barriers, that limit liberty and equality of the citizens and prevents them from fully developing their persona and the effective participation of all workers to the political, economical and social organisation of the country.

This is one of the key principles on which the Italian Constitution is based on and from which all laws and political operations in the country’s legal code. Shame that most Italian laws and actions done by notorious Italian figures do not follow this ‘golden rule’, Can you think of any examples? If you can, leave a comment bellow!!

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Questo é dei punti fondamentali della Costituzione Italiana.
Invito tutti a fare uno più esempi su come questo articolo venga o non venga rispettato.
Potete citare una legge, un politico, un esempio storico, un’azione vostra, di un amico, di un parente..

The Departure Lounge

The last few weeks of my exchange in Uppsala have been full of ‘goodbye BBQs’, emotional songs and people leaving ‘the city of students’ to go to different parts of the globe. It felt like being in a massive departure lounge where everyone was melancholically remembering their best moments of the exchange whilst waiting for their flight to be called. When time came for the big goodbye many gave each other one last hug and said ‘keep in touch see you soon’ or at worse: ‘it was nice meeting you, have a good life’.

My words of wisdom in this case stress the fact that time, distance, cultures and borders have no importance now and that technologically we can have high quality communication that allows us to keep the people we care about up to date with everything, for free.

People are shocked and start glaring at me when I tell them that ‘almost everyone I met will remain my friend for life’. Why is everyone so shocked? Unless something unforeseeable happens we will always be ‘friends on Facebook’, obviously! On a serious note, not everyone whom we are friends on Facebook are even friends that you would chat to in a few weeks time. No way of knowing now who will remain friends with and who not, only timeline will tell!

I’ll share a mixture of great goodbye songs most of which were popular at ‘goodbye parties’ and others which I think would suit well and should be added onto the playlist.

Andrea Boccelli ft Sarah Brightman – Time to say Goodbye

 

Bear – Goodbye Song

Coldplay – Fix You

Eagle Eye Cherry – Save Tonight

John Denver – Leaving on a Jet Plane

Oasis – Wonderwall

Spice Girls – Goodbye

To be honest, in the greater scheme of life although it has been an amazing experiance it has only been 5 months and you could say that it is as if we just me each other. And in that case…