I met Adriana Rossetto when we were still in university together, struggling to find a balance between the many pages of statistics and a vibrant social life (but really, mostly trying to understand what on earth we were doing). In our many, many, many coffee breaks, we talked about futures that seemed very distant then: I wanted to write, she wanted to act. When we graduated, Adriana was lingering around for the summer, procrastinating to buy her one-way ticket to New York, where she had been accepted at the Stella Adler acting studio. She used to act here in Milan, and I always went to see her, especially when she didn’t want me to, but New York City? Who had ever dreamed of that becoming reality?
This is what went down in the following years.
G: How was leaving Milan, what did you find and what did you leave?
A: I left a city that I love and I found a city that I love. There’s always this terrifying feeling when you land in New York and you go “oh shit, I’m in New York”. The city really hits you with all of its energy, and right there you know it will never be easy. Even now, 3 years later, every time I’m away for a while and then I come back, I still have that terrifying feeling that the city could swallow me up any moment. Then you learn how to deal with it, you learn that New York doesn’t love anybody and doesn’t stop for anyone. On the other hand, Milan is a very charming city, a quiet and loyal beauty, always waiting for you to come back. In the beginning, I used to say that I needed to find my Milan in New York, remember? But there’s never been such a thing. They are very different cities.
G: How are they different?
A: In Italy, because Italy has so much history and we praise so much the old and the ancient, young people have really little value and authority. So it’s really hard to believe, as a young person, that your ideas have any value at all… and it’s really sad because, I mean, who is more entitled to our time than us who are LIVING it? That was what made me leave Milan: for how much I loved her, I couldn’t keep on screaming to be heard.
Then I got to New York, and New York begs you to have a voice. It’s very liberating and exciting for an artist but also scary, because you start wondering what the hell it is that you really have to say.
G: You are producing your first off off Broadway show (I’m so proud!). I’m already in love with the name you guys gave to this show: NowHere. How did you come up with it? What’s it all about? You were born a gipsy…
A: NowHere is the result of a yearlong collaboration with two fellow actresses, Samantha, German-Polish, and and Mouna, French-Moroccan-Spanish-Swiss (Editor’s note: it’s not like Adriana isn’t a beautiful mix herself: born in Mexico by Brazilian parents, she used to live in Germany before moving to Italy). The show is really about what we had to deal with when we came here, it’s a very New York-centric play: adapting to a new culture, always feeling like an outsider, the struggle to stay in a country that bureaucratically makes it very hard for you to stay, and all the fear that comes from that situation. You develop the idea that you have to invest your whole self, because that’s what New York requires from you to stay alive, but at the same time you can never really commit to anything because you never know when you have to leave, if you have to leave. So, that’s a weird position to be in, very anxiety-driven, and also very frequent for our generation, since we navigate the world much more than our parents did. Yet, bureaucracy is still based on the assumption that you’re gonna stay wherever God placed you when you were born.
The name of the show, NowHere, tries to encapsulate that concept: it’s a play on the words nowhere and now/here. For me, it’s the feeling that you never belong to any place but that wherever you are, you have to BE there, present in time and space, and commit your heart fully so that you can really experience life. It’s the blink of an eye, and then that moment is over and you have to move on. But in the meantime, you left a piece of your heart there. How many pieces of that same heart have you left behind so far? How many are you willing to leave?
G: Let us dream: say we catch a last minute flight to NYC. Where do we find NowHere?
A: The show will open with a workshop performance at TheaterLab on the 24th 25th and 26th of July. We are experimenting with a lot of concepts like multilingualism and audience interaction, and lots of unconventional and fascinating approaches. Along fighting our own battle as artists, we are also trying to fight “the theater” battle and take some dust off from this form of art. We want to make it fun for young people, for us really, to come to the theatre, get a break from Facebook and be in a space, here and now, alongside real people to connect with through a fun theatrical experience. So there’s definitely a lot of exciting stuff happening at the same time, and a lot at stake. It’s a very ambitious project, and we are daring a lot. But you know what? It’s a very exciting time to be living in and we are taking a shot at it. Fearing to fail is only bad if it paralyzes you from moving, and we are most definitely going forward. (Editor’s note: I’ve been to one of her very hipster-like Bushwick productions. It was Uh-mazing, you can’t miss it if you’re in town!).
G: Last question: what is, for you, the salt of life? The one thing that makes all the difference?
A: The salt of life is whenever I go to sleep and reflect upon all the people that have crossed my way, all of my friends, all of the people I have shared a moment with… all of those people, I can’t imagine my life without them. And then, also, I look at the future and I can’t imagine how many of those people are still waiting for me just behind the corner, dying to meet me, excited that I’m coming along. And those people too, one day I’ll look back at them and won’t be able to imagine my life without them, but for now they are just shadows. All of that, that’s the salt of life for me.
To read more about Adriana Rossetto: www.adrianarossetto.com
To get more information on NowHere: www.nowhere.nyc
To get tickets: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/nowhere-tickets-17662137930
To support and contribute to this Piece of Art: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/nowhere-now-here/x/10947757#/
To follow the journey: https://www.facebook.com/nowherecollective