In my old theater blog, I featured interviews and profiles with performing artists I had known or worked with over the years, including Celeste Holm (All About Eve), Julie Wilson, and George Marcy (original Bernardo in West Side Story). I decided to revisit these profiles and include some of them on this new blog.
Today I begin with Francesco Pireddu and an interview from 2014. Francesco is originally from Sardinia, Italy and has worked his way through Rome, London and finally New York City as first, a dancer, and now a dancer and an accomplished actor.
JT: Thank you for sitting down with me, Francesco. Let’s begin with dance. I saw you performing with Balasole Dance Company. What I most remember is your decision to do a piece with absolutely no music at all. It was only movement. Can you tell us your thinking behind that? Why did you choose to do it without music?
Francesco: The solo I performed at Live Arts Dance Theater in New York City is called: Silence? I was always inspired by the work of the great actor and mime Marcel Marceau. He referred to mime as the “Art of Silence” and my piece was an homage to his fine art and immense talent. The idea of not having music was quite challenging and, at times, uncomfortable but I am always drawn to what scares me and pushes my boundaries as an artist and as a human being. Not having music, in my opinion, creates also a deeper relationship with the audience; there are not filters, the movement is very much exposed and presented in its rawness.
You went to HB Studio, one of the most prestigious acting schools in New York City. Do you still consider yourself a dancer?
I will always consider myself a dancer. Artistically, I started as a dancer, The Ballet training, with its rigor and discipline, still represents my foundation whether I am on a stage or a movie set. The transition into acting came smoothly and naturally. I wanted to improve my skills and grow professionally and personally as well. It was an honor to be accepted at HB Studio, one of the most famous Acting schools in New York City. The training was truly well rounded and included: scene study, acting technique, voice and pronunciation, and movement. Artistically, I became more grounded and complete.
I’ve seen you perform at the “Actors Acting for Actors” event in New York City. Can you tell us more about that experience?
The “Actors Acting for Actors” was a special event for actors and many professionals of the entertainment business such as producers, directors and writers were invited. I was asked to perform a solo. I chose to dance a neoclassical piece, which is a style I feel very comfortable with because it incorporates the Ballet training I undergone for many years. It was truly a beautiful experience.
How was your experience in the Off-Broadway musical: The Raja’s son and Princess Labam?
Oh, thank you for asking me about my off-Broadway-debut at the Medicine Show Theater. The producer and director were looking for dancers and actors for the musical, not only singers. I wanted to be part of it and I was called in for an audition, which was demanding and quite different from the type of auditions I am used to. At the audition I was asked to dance and to perform a monologue. I was also asked to improvise a dance routine based on the personality of one of the characters of the musical. I eventually got the job and was very happy about it.
The rehearsals were grueling and demanding. The Raja’s Son and Princess Labam is an Indian fairy-tale for both children and adults and was very well received. The cast was huge: singers, actors and dancers. The pace was fast and I learned a lot in terms of implementing different styles and delivering a well-rounded performance.
I was thrilled to make my off-Broadway debut in such a glorious production.
You just finished shooting a commercial for JA BANK, the Japanese investment bank.
Yes, and I had a wonderful time. My role was the lead choreographer. I created a modern, Broadway-style dance sequence and eventually performed it in the commercial. The production company Mt. Melvil had a very high budget, the crew was very professional and there was no rush whatsoever. We had all the time we needed to shoot all the scenes; I totally trusted Mr. Motoki Tomatsu, the executive producer who chose me at the audition, and I felt confident in my performance.
You have so many projects in so many different art forms. What would you like to achieve in the nearer future?
Before moving to New York City I lived in London where I performed at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, in Boris Godunov and La Forza del Destino, two of the most important Operas. I was honored to have the opportunity to perform on such a prestigious and world-famous stage. I would love to create the same situation for myself in the US and perform at the most important and glorious theaters. And I have no doubts I will.
It certainly requires discipline, dedication and hard work. And it is my intention to keep working on my craft and nurture my talent. Stay tuned!
Francesco Pireddu, interviewed by John-Richard Thompson