Ermanna Montanari

In 1977 Ermanna Montanari marries Marco Martinelli, and together they begin their theatre apprenticeship in Ravenna, where they work with various groups until 1983.
In ‘83, with Marco Martinelli, Luigi Dadina and Marcella Nonni she founded the Teatro delle Albe and worked in the company as playwright, actress and set designer, contributing to the group’s original itinerary, which unites research and tradition, in the invention of a contemporary stage language putting the stress on an original vocal path. Since then the Teatro delle Albe established itself as one of the most important companies on both a national and international level. As actress and set designer she takes part in the company’s shows which she devises and creates with playwright and director Marco Martinelli, participating in important national and international festivals.

In 1986 she wrote and acted in Confine, a one-woman-show inspired by the stories of Marco Belpoliti and shortlisted for the final of the “Opera Prima di Narni” Prize directed by Giuseppe Bartolucci. The judges gave her special mention “for the importance of her work as author-actress”.

In 1991 the Teatro delle Albe founded Ravenna Teatro, “Teatro Stabile di Innovazione” for which Montanari, from 1991 to 1995, was artistic director of the project The Language of the goddess.
At the same time she continued her twofold stage activities: on the one hand actress and set designer in the works written and directed by Marco Martinelli, and on the other as playwright, director and actress with plays such as Rosvita (1991) Cenci (1993) from Artaud and Shelley, Ippolito (1995) from Euripides and Marina Cvetaeva and Lus (1995) – a “canto in Romagnol dialect” written by poet Nevio Spadoni. For her acting in the latter work she was voted one of the best Italian actresses of the season by the ’97 Ubu Prize (in Italy the Ubu Prize is “the Academy Award of the theatre” in the various artistic categories: set up by Franco Quadri and his publishing house Ubulibri, the prize is awarded annually through a referendum in which about sixty theatre critics take part).

In 1998 with Martinelli she created I Polacchi, dall’irriducibile Ubu di Alfred Jarry, doing the sets and costumes (with Cosetta Gardini) as well as playing the part of Mother Ubu. For this show the jury of the 2003 International Festival “Mess” in  Sarajevo awarded her the Golden Laurel as “best actress”. This performance, and its reinventions and changings, toured the whole world, from the United States to Senegal, from Serbia to Iran, and in Belgium, Portugal, Sweden, France, Germany, Switzerland, Poland, Bosnia & Herzegovina.

In 2000 she created the figure of Alcina – the sorceress of the Orlando furioso – for the play L’isola di Alcina, by Nevio Spadoni, music by Luigi Ceccarelli, co-produced by the Venice Biennale and Ravenna Festival. It was received enthusiastically by theatre critics and international intellectuals such as Susan Sontag. In the same year Ermanna Montanari won the Ubu Prize for “best Italian actress”, while at the Mittelfest 2001 she was awarded the Adelaide Ristori Prize. In 2009 the show reappears as a vocal performance entitled Ouverture Alcina, and in this new form it was performed at important international festivals in New York, Moscow, Tunis, Wroclaw, Limoges and Berlin.

In February 2005 she played the lead in La mano, de profundis rock inspired by Luca Doninelli’s novel of the same name, directed by Marco Martinelli and co-produced by le manège.mons-Centre Dramatique, Ravenna Festival and the Festival of the Colline Torinesi.

Between May and June 2005 Ermanna Montanari, with Marco Martinelli and Mandiaye N’Diaye, worked for five weeks in Chicago, with an intense programme of shows and workshops. The heart of the project was a new version of I Polacchi with a group of African students from Senn High School, and opened at Museum of Contemporary Art of Chicago.

In 2006 she won the Lo Straniero Prize dedicated “to the memory of Carmelo Bene" where the jury defined Ermanna Montanari as “the great actress of L’isola di Alcina and La mano, experimenter with the possibilities and power of the human voice, in her way the best continuation of the research which Carmelo Bene began and of which he was a master. Ermanna Montanari is the most reckless and formidable actress in contemporary Italian theatre, but at the same time is a member of a group whose destiny she follows with admirable constancy and modesty; to the shows that are more “hers” she has added participation in those of the group, with other memorable interpretations: from Mère Ubu in I Polacchi to Titania in Sogno di una notte di mezza estate”.

In November 2006 she debuted with Werner Schwab’s Sterminio (Volksvernichtung) in the role of Signora Cazzafuoco. For this show she once more won the prestigious Ubu Prize 2007 for “best Italian actress”.

In January 2007, with Marco Martinelli and Mandiaye N’Diaye, she worked in Senegal on a new  “bringing to life” of I Polacchi, in the wake of the Chicago experience. The show, called Ubu buur, debuted in the village of Diol Kadd, with a chorus of Senegalese adolescents. Ubu buur had its European première at the Festival des Francophonies in Limousin (France), which also co-produced the play, and its national première at the Teatro Festival Italia in Naples, then subsequently at VIE Scena Contemporanea Festival of Modena in autumn 2007.

June 2008 saw the première of Rosvita, a reading-concert in which Ermanna Montanari, after seventeen years, returns to tackle the work of the 10th century Saxon nun-playwright in the twofold role of actress and writer. This work won her third Ubu Prize for “best Italian actress”: the critics underscored the exceptional vocal performance of Ermanna Montanari, actress-playwright, whose extraordinary qualities set her in continuity with the peaks of Italian theatre.

In 2010 the Teatro delle Albe completed its in-depth inquiry into the work of Molière with a project devised by Martinelli and Montanari, subdivided in two different works. detto Molière, written by Marco Martinelli, debuted in Mons in February with a “chorus” of forty actors and musicians plus a group of adolescents from the outer city areas of France and Belgium.
Molière’s L'avaro, in Cesare Garboli’s translation, involved the entire Albe company, directed by Martinelli around  Ermanna Montanari’s Harpagon, a ghost-puppet of power which she wields like a weapon.

In 2011 Ermanna Montanari was artistic director of the 41st Santarcangelo International Theatre Festival in the context of a working triennial (2009-2011) shared with Chiara Guidi/Societas Raffaello Sanzio (2009) and Enrico Casagrande/Motus (2010).

October 2012 she was on the stage with Chiara Guidi (Socìetas Raffaello Sanzio) in Poco lontano da qui – a performance they conceived and directed together.

The same year in November debuted PANTANI - conceived by Ermanna Montanari and Marco Martinelli (author of the text and director of the performance), where Montanari plays the role of Tonina, Marco Pantani’s mother.

In November 2012 the publisher Titivillus brought out the book Ermanna Montanari: fare-disfare-rifare nel Teatro delle Albe by Laura Mariani.

In 2013 debuted A te come te, by Giovanni Testori, a “stage reading” of journalistic texts by Testori, a choice of three articles tied with one leitmotiv: the violence on women, written between 1979 and 1980 on Corriere della Sera.

In October 2013 she wins the prestigious theatre award "Eleonora Duse", the only Italian prize awarded to a theatre actress who has particularly distinguished herself in the course of the theatre season in one or more shows held in Italy or abroad.

In 2014 debuted Vita agli arresti di Aung San Suu Kyi, conceived by Ermanna Montanari and Marco Martinelli (author of the text and director of the performance), where Montanari plays the role of the burmese politician.

Her last music/theatre projects are: LUS (2015) and Maryam (2017).

She played in the following movies: Lacrymae by Maria Martinelli (1999), Il mnemonista by Paolo Rosa (2000), L’ultimo terrestre by Gianni Pacinotti (2011).

Ermanna Montanari has published in magazines such as Lapis (editor Lea Melandri, La Tartaruga Edizioni, distributed by Arnoldo Mondadori Editore), Riga (editors Marco Belpoliti and Elio Grazioli, publisher Marcos y Marcos), Il semplice (editor Gianni Celati, Feltrinelli Editore), The Open Page (editor Julia Varley, publisher Odin Teatrets Forlag), Lo Straniero (editor Goffredo Fofi, publisher Contrasto).
Rosvita was published by Essegi Edizioni (Ravenna) and Cenci by Il Girasole Edizioni (Ravenna). On the occasion of the 1999 American tour, where the Albe staged Lus and held a series of conferences, Lus was translated into English and published by Bordighera Inc., editor Teresa Picarazzi.

In 2000 and 2008 Montanari, with Martinelli, edited for Ubulibri Jarry 2000 and Suburbia, two books that witness the history and evolution of the company.