Damiana Leone is an actress, director and playwright from Frosinone and the artistic director of Errare Persona, but above all, she is an assembler. She puts together ideas, creates bundles of words, and piles concepts upon concepts. I realise this as she is telling me about ethnic singing and her love of Greek, of opera, of acting, of Catalan theatre and of civic commitment. “What interests me is the search for identity, and I chose the name of the company on that basis: PERSONA means identity, but it also represents who we are and who we can be (from the Latin personaggio and from the Greek theatre mask, as well as from Bergman), while ERRARE gives a sense of roaming between the arts, of wandering, of losing yourself”.
After attending the Accademia Silvio d'Amico, Damiana encountered actress and dancer Barbara Mangano at a course taught by Emma Dante, and with her a new direction. She tells me that when Emma Dante confided to her that she'd never been to the Ciociaria area, she'd replied, “You haven't missed anything”, and that it had been that unhappy phrase which had convinced her to try and take back her own history – the history of her family, and the history of a land of which no one speaks. The dialect, the copper amphoras called conche, the Alla mamma ciociara monument in Castro dei Volsci, the Goumier, Elsa Morante's Una serata a Colono and her time as an evacuee with Moravia, De Sica, the deconsecrated church in Vallecorsa, the testimonies, the hard work, and a theatrical piece staged by the grandchildren in the language of their grandmothers: Ninetta e le altre. Le marocchinate del '44, with the actresses Anna Mingarelli and Francesca Reina. More than 70 performances, one of which in New York, telling the story of how a people and an entire land was raped.
Errare Persona is a cultural workshop which, with the support of the Lazio Region, realises shows (Nòstos-Ritorno, Santissima mia, Sangue e neve), projects, exhibitions, workshops for schools, seminars, concerts and dance performances. Speaking to Damiana makes you realise how many things a place can say if it can only find the voice to say them.
The story of Errare Persona has been written by Elisa Casseri, writer.