A Benefit Performance for Pirandello150. Presented by Helluva Theatre Company BUY TICKETS MORE DETAILS


a year-long festival marking the 150th birthday of luigi pirandello DONATE NOW More Details


a year-long festival marking the 150th birthday of luigi pirandello DONATE NOW More Details


a year-long festival marking the 150th birthday of luigi pirandello DONATE NOW More Details




“Pirandello 150,” a one-week festival celebrating the 150th anniversary of the birth of the great Sicilian playwright Luigi Pirandello, will run at Film Forum from Friday, January 13 through Thursday, January 19. The series is part of 2017’s city-wide “Pirandello 150” celebration.
The centerpiece of Film Forum’s series is a new restoration of KAOS (1984), an omnibus of four Pirandello stories from his Novelle per un anno, by the directing brothers team of Paolo and Vittorio Taviani (Padre Padrone, The Night of the Shooting Stars, etc.). A raven with a bell on its neck weaves through each of the four stories: a mother favors missing sons over the one present; three weeks after the honeymoon, is the husband a werewolf?; a jar-fixer forgetfully does it from the inside, with the legendary comedy team Franco and Ciccio; and graveyard placement is a rural issue – with an epilogue featuring Omero Antonutti as the author himself.
The festival also includes six other Pirandello adaptations, including Marco Bellochio’s HENRY IV, with Marcello Mastroianni, the Tavianis’ TU RIDI, Bellochio’s THE NANNY, Alessandro Blasetti’s LIOLÀ, and Marcel L’Herbier’s silent masterwork THE LATE MATTHIAS PASCAL, which will be presented with live piano accompaniment by Steve Sterner. Three 35mm prints and one DCP will be imported from Luce Cinecittà in Rome especially for Film Forum’s screenings.  
Nobel laureate for literature Luigi Pirandello (1867-1936) has become an adjective for theater around the world via deeply probed themes of illusion and identity, with actors everywhere breaking the fourth wall, and commenting freely on the works they’re simultaneously performing. But further, in his stories and novels, he evoked the sights, the sounds, the smells, the tastes of his native Sicily.  His influence alone has made him one of the seminal dramatists of the 20th century and has been acknowledged by Sartre, Camus, Beckett, Ionesco, Edward Albee, Arthur Miller, and Thornton Wilder, along with the more contemporary playwrights influenced by those writers. 
Pirandello 150” is a city-wide, year-long festival commemorating the 150th anniversary of Pirandello’s birth, presented by the newly-formed Helluva Theatre Company. In addition to the film festival, it will include one-act plays, major theatrical productions, readings, panel discussions, podcasts, and academic seminars.
Says John Martello, artistic director of the “Pirandello 150,” “Our purpose is not simply to celebrate the anniversary of this great playwright’s birth, but to also bring new audiences to his work and to re-establish his place in dramatic literature. The seven Pirandello adaptations in Film Forum’s series are a fine example of his comic genius and represent his power as a dramatist.”


Approx. 188 min. | A Cohen Film Collection Release
Directors: Paolo & Vittorio Taviani
Screenplay: Paolo & Vittorio Taviani, Tonino Guerra
Cinematography: Giuseppe Lanci | Music: Nicola Piovani
 Public Screenings
 FRI/SAT 12:30, 4:00, 7:30*
SUN 6:50
MON 4:00
TUE 2:30
WED 12:30, 4:00
THU 2:30, 8:00
* Introduced by John Martello, Artistic Director of “Pirandello 150”
“Rigorous and eloquent, effortlessly poetic…
the Tavianis at their best.”

The New York Times
“The Tavianis are like magicians who expose their tricks as they go along but still manage to astound… They appeal to the child in us, but they also appeal to the adult. Childlike marvel coexists with a mature appreciation for the texture of the work, its elegant mechanics and deftly deployed details.”
– Dave Kehr



(1976, Stacy Keach) Who’s disturbing the taping of crusty director John Houseman’s show? Why the eponymous six characters, led by three-piece suited Andy Griffith (yes, that Andy Griffith). Transposition of the legendary play to a TV studio in a rare directorial effort by actor (Fat City) Keach. Produced by Norman Lloyd. Digital.
SUN, JAN 15 1:20


(1926, Marcel L’Herbier) Fleeing personal tragedy, Russian acting legend Ivan Mousjoukine unexpectedly wins a fortune at Monte Carlo, then learns he is presumed dead. A new life? Design tour de force for L’Herbier, who personally talked Pirandello into letting him film the novel. Debut of a very young Michel Simon. DCP courtesy Flicker Alley.
SUN, JAN 15 3:40*
MON, JAN 16 12:40**
*With live piano accompaniment by Steve Sterner
**With orchestral soundtrack; music composed by Timothy Brock


(1984, Marco Bellochio) Delusional aristo Marcello Mastroianni has lived as the 11th century emperor since a 20-year-old concussion, but old flame Claudio Cardinale and shrink Leopoldo Trieste try for an intervention – with startling results. From the director of Fists in the Pocket and China is Near. DCP courtesy Luce Cinecittà. 
MON, JAN 16 7:30


(1998, Paolo & Vittorio Taviani) Literally, “You laugh.” Ex-baritone/now accountant Antonio Albanese wonders why he laughs in his sleep…and then finds out. Lousy disguises for the kidnapper of 19th century Sicilian doctor Turi Ferro, who recognizes former patients, but what if nobody wants to pay ransom – paralleled by a disturbing modern-day crime. 35mm print courtesy Luce Cinecittà.
 TUE, JAN 17 8:00
THU, JAN 19 12:30


(1964, Alessandro Blasetti) In late 19th century Sicily, rich farmer Pierre Brasseur is still hoping for an heir from Anouk Aimée when Aimée’s old flame, Ugo Tognazzi’s Liolà, wanders back in to town. But Brasseur’s cousin and potential inheritor Giovanna Ralli has schemes of her own. 35mm print courtesy Luce Cinecittà.
 WED, JAN 18 7:30


(1999, Marco Bellochio) Early 20th century Rome and shrink Fabrizio Bentivoglio’s wife Valeria Bruni Tedeschi suffers from bad post-partum depression – time to get rural illiterate May Sansa to be wet nurse and nanny. But then she wants to learn to read and write… Steeped in typical Bellochio (Fists in the Pocket) atmosphere, based on Pirandello’s novel. 35mm print courtesy Luce Cinecittà.
 THU, JAN 19 6:00
Repertory calendar programmed by Bruce Goldstein
For more information, links and showtimes, visit www.filmforum.org
For downloadable photos and press notes, go to: www.filmforum.org/press

About the festival


Share in the excitement of the re-discovery of Luigi Pirandello by the theater-going public. Help us introduce this important and influential playwright to students through workshops, seminars and highly-discounted student tickets to all of our events and productions.
Zoe Anastassiou, Associate Artistic Director
Help some of New York’s most talented and accomplished actors and directors to delight in the creation of Pirandello’s world on stage in new and actable translations. Become part of an event that will be an important step in the renaissance of high Italian culture in the capital of the American theater.
John Martello, Artistic Director



His influence on the drama of the 20th century is immeasurable.

The playwrights who follow Pirandello are frequently better artists, but none would have been the same without him. In his agony over the nature of existence, he anticipates Sartre and Camus; in his insights into the disintegration of personality and the isolation of man, he anticipates Samuel Beckett; in his unremitting war in language, theory, concepts and the collective mind, he anticipates Eugene Ionesco; in his approach to the conflict of truth and illusion, he anticipates Eugene O’Neill (and later, Harold Pinter and Edward Albee); in his experiments with the theatre, he anticipates a host of experimental dramatists, including Thornton Wilder and Jack Gelber; in his use of the interplay between actors and characters, he anticipates Jean Anouilh; in his view of the tension between public mask and private face, he anticipates Jean Giraudoux; and in his concept of man as a role-playing animal, he anticipates Jean Genet. The extent of even this partial list of influences marks Pirandello as the most seminal dramatist of our time.

—Robert Brustein, “The Theatre of Revolt,” pg. 316

Advisory board

Our Advisory Board provides artistic direction and advises on the selection of works, venues, casting and scheduling. These noted actors, authors, producers, directors and scholars help us engage a cross-section of NYC organizations.

Eve Best
Robert Brustein
Lynn Cohen
Mario Fratti
Bruce Goldstein
Andre Gregory
Joe Grifasi
Italian Cultural Institute
Judith Ivey
Stacy Keach
The Living Theatre
Norman Lloyd
Medicine Show Theatre Ensemble
Fabrizio Melano
Sherrill Milnes
Brian Murray
Pirandello Society of America
Bill Pullman
Annabella Sciorra
Martin Scorsese
John Turturro

Helluva Theatre Company

The Helluva Theatre Company is dedicated to producing the finest plays of American and world literature and developing the new work of playwrights working in that tradition. Our productions will give actors the unique opportunity to perform in rarely done plays of the theatrical canon and to experience the various styles of play (Greek tragedy, Jacobean, Restoration, et al) that they are rarely given a chance to do. We are also dedicated to the development of the next generation of theatergoers.  We commit to doing this through free or heavily discounted tickets to our productions and events, special student matinees of our productions followed by discussions, and by bringing the theater to life in classrooms through performances and workshops.

Projected timeline

  • Jan

    The Film Forum Pirandello Series highlighted by a restoration showing of “Kaos” by the Taviani Brothers

    • 209 W. Houston St, New York, NY 10014
  • Feb

    The One-Act series kicks off, presenting all 14 one-act plays by Pirandello, in four separate programs with Off and Off-Off-Broadway companies

  • Mar

    The Living Theatre revival of their landmark production of “Tonight We Improvise”

  • Apr

    Productions 1 and 2 of full-length and one-act plays in recent or new translations open in April/May

  • Jun

    Gala celebrating the 150th Birthday of Luigi Pirandello for the benefit of Festival sponsors and participants

  • Sept

    Productions 3 and 4 of full-length and one-act plays in recent or new translations open in September/October

  • TBD

    Lectures and panel discussions on Pirandello’s life, work and influence; readings of full-length plays not given full productions; podcasts of noted actors reading selected short stories, plays and segments of novels; outreach to tri-state high schools and colleges through workshops and academic conferences

    • Throughout the year

Artistic Team

JM Headshot Color 300 px sq

John Martello

Artistic Director

John Martello has been an actor, producer and director for over 35 years. As an actor, he has appeared in regional theaters and Off-Broadway in everything from Shakespeare to “Sugar Babies.” He starred in the Off-Broadway production of “The Lodger” at the New York Workshop Theatre and received critical acclaim for his solo performance in Conor McPherson’s “St. Nicholas.” at the Irish Repertory Company. As Artistic Director of the Double Image Theatre, Mr. Martello produced, wrote and starred in the acclaimed one-man show “Damon Runyon’s Tales of Broadway.” At the Double Image, he also produced the musical revue “Daugherty & Field Off-Broadway” which ran for a year and was nominated for the Outer Critics Circle Award. He produced Simon Gray’s “The Old Masters” starring Sam Waterston, Brian Murray and Shirley Knight at the Long Wharf Theater.

As Executive Director of The Players for 20 years, Mr. Martello produced hundreds of presentations, including evenings honoring Jason Robards, Julie Harris, Christopher Plummer, Gregory Peck, Marian Seldes, Peter O’Toole, Tony Bennett, Carol Burnett, Gerald Schoenfeld, Angela Lansbury, Edward Albee and dozens of other theatrical luminaries. He was the recipient, in 2001, of the Pirandello Medallion presented by the Pirandello Society of America to acknowledge his performing, producing and directing the work of that great playwright.

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Zoe Anastassiou

Associate Artistic Director

Zoe Anastassiou is a current working professional actress. She has worked in Theater, Film, TV, Online and in Voiceover, within the USA and Europe, professionally over the last 13 years. Zoe studied acting and theater in the UK with honorable awards from LAMDA and within her GCSE and A-Level degree examinations. She was also awarded the Theatre Cup of Excellence upon graduating Wycombe Abbey School. She then came to the USA to further her education with a Double BA in Theatre and Psychology at Middlebury College, in VT, and an MFA in Acting from The New School for Drama, in NYC. During and after schooling, Zoe performed in many notable projects but also produced a number of productions she became involved with. She was selected by The 24 Hour Plays Company and Kevin Spacey’s outreach program to be a member of the first Old Vic New Voices group in NYC. She was also selected as a TS Eliot US/UK participant to perform in the UK at The Old Vic. Through acting and producing, Zoe became a founding member of At Play Productions and today is a member of the Old Vic New Voices, the Cry Havoc Theatre Company, and Loom Ensemble. She is also on the artistic and advisory board for the Medicine Show Theatre. In addition, Zoe is also a professional dialect coach and a 365 blogger with video blog selections being broadcast on networks in NYC and London. More of Zoe can be seen at www.zoeanastassiou.com.

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Luigi Pirandello


Luigi Pirandello was born in Agrigento, Sicily on June 28, 1867. He studied philology at Rome and at Bonn and wrote a dissertation on the dialect of his native town in 1891. From 1897 to 1922 he was professor of aesthetics and stylistics at the Real Istituto di Magistere Femminile at Rome. Pirandello’s work is impressive by its sheer volume. He wrote a great number of novellas which were collected under the title Novelle per un anno (15 vols., 1922-37). Of his six novels the best known are Il fu Mattia Pascal (1904) [The Late Mattia Pascal], I vecchi e i giovani (1913) [The Old and the Young], Si gira (1916) | [Shoot!], and Uno, nessuno e centomila (1926) [One, None, and a Hundred thousand].

But Pirandello’s greatest achievement is in his plays. He wrote a large number of dramas which were published, between 1918 and 1935, under the collective title of Maschere nude [Naked Masks]. The title is programmatic. Pirandello is always preoccupied with the problem of identity. The self exists to him only in relation to others; it consists of changing facets that hide an inscrutable abyss. In a play like Cosí é (se vi pare) (1918) [Right You Are (If You Think You Are)], two people hold contradictory notions about the identity of a third person. The protagonist in Vestire gli ignudi (1923) [To Clothe the Naked] tries to establish her individuality by assuming various identities, which are successively stripped from her; she gradually realizes her true position in the social order and in the end dies naked, without a social mask, in both her own and her friends’ eyes. Similarly in Enrico IV (1922) [Henry IV] a man supposedly mad imagines that he is a medieval emperor, and his imagination and reality are strangely confused. The conflict between illusion and reality is central in La vita che ti diedi (1924) [The Life I Gave You] in which Anna’s long-lost son returns home and contradicts her mental conception of him. However, his death resolves Anna’s conflict; she clings to illusion rather than to reality. The analysis and dissolution of a unified self are carried to an extreme in Sei personaggi in cerca d’autore (1921) [Six Characters in Search of An Author] where the stage itself, the symbol of appearance versus reality, becomes the setting of the play.

The attitudes expressed in L’Umorismo [Humour], an early essay (1908), are fundamental to all of Pirandello’s plays. His characters attempt to fulfill their self-seeking roles and are defeated by life itself which, always changing, enables them to see their perversity. This is Pirandello’s humor, an irony which arises from the contradictions inherent in life.

Pirandello was nominated Academic of Italy in 1929, and in 1934 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature after he had been nominated by Guglielmo Marconi, member of the Royal Academy of Italy. He was the last Italian playwright to be chosen for the award until 9 October 1997. Pirandello died in his home at Via Bosio, Rome, on 10 December 1936.

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