Teresa Mannino: “Let’s defend empathy”

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His first shows were so marked on Milan that, now that Teresa Mannino she returned to live in Sicily with her partner and her daughter, asking her if she misses the city is almost a must. «Of course I miss him. I spent my last 25 years in Milan, the funniest part of my life. That’s where I realized myself and I became someone else », Mannino tells on the phone from the Madonie, one of his favorite places. “After a while, however, you feel the need to get away from the city and find contact with nature” resumes Teresa, who in her latest show at the theater, I feel the earth turn, interrupted after the reruns in Milan due to the outbreak of the pandemic (it was February 2020), he dedicated it to Nature that changes in the face of our indifference and carelessness.

“When I started this path I was doing political satire, but I wasn’t quick to write and it wasn’t easy for me to keep up. Now it is as if I have reached a maturity that allows me to tackle delicate topics like this. Although, on the spot, it can be difficult to understand what there is to laugh about as you talk about the end of the world. Laughter is the only tool that allows us to talk about things we would never talk about because it would be too difficult “resumes Mannino who, Friday 10 September in prime time on the Nove, will bring this last show to TV, followed on 17 and 23 by I was born on the 23rd e Terribly Extravagant, his previous sold out shows written, as always, together with his friend Giovanna Donini.

Now that you are no longer in Milan, have you already got used to the Sicilian rhythms?
«I have always preferred to do long things,“ Sicilian style ”. This is why I have never been a long weekend: I prefer to spend my months in the mountains to isolate myself from everything. Then, as regards Milan, I always say that if you resist the first year, then you stay. The first year is terrible for those coming from the South ».

What was his terrible at?
“I was crying all the time, it seemed to me that everything I was was wrong. Once I understood that the things I received were not all to be thrown away, however, I was able to welcome what was beautiful and reinvent myself ».

Have you ever thought of going back down that year?
“Never that. I was trying to understand what the solution could be and, since I love myself and I am positive, at a certain point I said to myself “enough”, now you have to do something. There I started doing theater, and I saved myself ».

What saved you, however, from the inactivity of the last year and a half?
“All in all my core has done well. When everything closed, we had just arrived in Sicily: just looking out and looking at the square was beautiful. I spent the time reading, writing, studying, exercising in the morning. We took care of ourselves in those months ».

What did he read?
“Many essays on botany and philosophy”.

Philosophy, his first love.
«An eternal love that I always carry with me. My formation”.

Did she have any idea what she was going to do when she entered college?
«My peers always asked me: ‘What are you doing then?’ As if it were all a function of what to do next. As if it were useless to study something that has no obvious outcome. Meanwhile, I was studying something that I liked: maybe I would have taught, who knows. I remember, however, that I was in doubt between Philosophy and Physics ».

Not Medicine? He comes from a family of doctors.
“I got it from my mother, the only non-doctor in the family: the way I speak and behave is hers. I felt I had to leave a marked path. Being the third daughter, I wanted to break the mold ».

In I was born on the 23rd she said she was “hypochondriac”: is that true?
“Not really even though, always hearing about cut pieces and various diseases at dinner, I’ve always felt a minimum of alertness.”

The fear of the plane, however, is true.
«Very true. Those few steps forward I had taken have gone up in smoke with the pandemic: who knows when an airplane will see me again. There must be the desire for a distant journey, for another destination. Otherwise I won’t take it anymore. For now I’m going up and down in the car. That hour and a half to get to Milan has always been a monstrous physical effort ».

But the plane took him, he didn’t give up on departure.
“I’ve always been there without getting stoned: without whiskey or anxiolytics. I preferred to suffer, tremble, cry, be afraid and enjoy the moment of landing. When I saw land I already felt better. Maybe I was anxious because I don’t drive the plane, due to an excess of control ».

Is she control freak?
“A little bit yes, especially at work. That’s why I prefer the theater: I control most things there. I write, produce, stage, and I’m also on stage. In short, a delusion of omnipotence ».

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The thing that strikes me is that on stage she is always very calm, relaxed.
“I’m in my house at the theater: I’m a psychopath who likes to be in front of two thousand people. There I never feel anxious, maybe at the first performances I just have a memory problem because I’m a bitch and I don’t study so much. Being in front of the public is healing for me, it’s the right place. Even on the plane, if there is someone who gets scared I always try to give him courage: if I’m in company, everything passes. This is why the Covid period has made us head sick. Especially the boys: not being able to see each other was inhumane ».

She exorcised the distance a bit with her Dad lessons on Instagram.
“It was a way to help the parents understand that they weren’t the only ones who thought they were crazy. Dad was dehumanizing for the pupils, unnerving for the parents and exhausting for the teachers. Fortunately, my daughter made very little of it. He has always liked to study, to know, but in front of the screen it was another: he was silent, he did not interact, he did not want to ».

I think back to that joke he said in the theater about the hyper-attention of parents today towards children compared to thirty years ago: at a guess, it seems to me that that sketch has aged very well.
«The trend is that. We are becoming more and more anxious and worried about kids by chasing things that are useless and not thinking about the really important things. This lack of care and responsibility is linked to a humanity that does not see the future, something that saddens me a lot. No one, for example, has raised the problem of reducing the number of pupils in classes. An absurd thing ».

She is very funny. But does she laugh easily?
“No. In private life I am very serious, unbearable. With my partner and my sister I laugh a lot. It’s good to laugh. Laughing, in addition to giving joy, makes you stronger and more beautiful, but there aren’t many who manage to make me laugh ».

The first time did you laugh?
«I have a very small memory of myself, I must have been 4 or 5 years old, with my grandfather’s straw hat with a wide brim while I was doing the Pink Panther and my uncles, under the fig tree, were laughing. I was one of those who made us laugh so much at home and at school ».

What did you do at school?
“The buffoon, I was a delinquent. For many years I went to school to entertain, then I realized that it was time to start studying. I was terrible: they questioned me and, if I didn’t know anything, at the first question I pretended to faint and I skipped the question. Other times, if I had studied, I would answer with the speech of one of my companions and the others laughed ».

On the Nove we will review his 3 shows, written and represented at different moments in his life. In general, do you see each other lightly?
“If I can, I never care. In this case, however, I was forced: I saw the first show with great tenderness: I saw myself as a novice girl. At the last one, however, I felt pride because the theme was complex and very topical. Generally I am very strict with myself, I look at everything: the dress, the make-up, the joke, the movement ».

This autumn we will see it again in the 3 episode-events dedicated to Zelig: does it foresee the nostalgia effect?
“In my opinion Zelig it has nothing nostalgic about it: it changes constantly. The comedians who build it are the pieces of an ever-changing mosaic. Those who go there are those who want to be with the public and express themselves. It will be very contemporary and new, we are all ready to do something Zelig ».

Are you bored answering the question, very popular with journalists, about the fact that there are things today that can no longer be said for fear of offending someone or something?
«For me there are no limits in the arguments: to guide you must be the common sense and the place where you are. There are some things that we Italian comedians would never say as a matter of empathy, while Americans say the same. In my house, to say, I say things that I would never say in public because we must always take others into account. We need freedom, but also not to forget about empathy: doing so is one of the worst risks we are experiencing and that the pandemic has unfortunately accentuated ».

(Opening photo by Giuseppe La Spada)

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