Daniele Bartolini was born and raised in Italy. Specifically, he is from the ‘culla of the Renaissance’ Firenze, known to the anglophone world as Florence; famous for its beauty, wine, Botticelli, Dante Alighieri, the dry humor of its inhabitants, and a soccer team that never wins.
Daniele Bartolini was raised in a basement apartment in the neighbourhood of Bellariva by his homemaker mother and a taxi driver father, and in the apartment of his custodian grandparents inside Palazzo Vegni in via di San Niccolò, neighbourhood of Oltrarno – known for being the home where Andrei Tarkovsky found refuge in Italy.
He spent his adolescence in the Village of Grassina, infamous for the number of socialists, anarchists and toothless Nonnas that chase kids in the street with brooms when they play soccer close to their windows and backyards. Daniele was brought up by several militant nuns and a handful of communist priests, among whom, he remembers Don Sebastiano dearly, who passed to him his love for cinema, Christopher Nolan and Mario Monicelli.
In his ‘past life’, he had a missed career as a waterpolo player. At school, Sister Luigia, his Italian teacher, never believed he could write and suggested he become a hotel concierge. During his highschool years, he was struck by the ‘sickness’ of theatre (to the fault of his French teacher, whom he still curses to this day). Because of this ‘sickness’, he immigrated to Canada in 2012 in hopes of finding a cure and to fulfill his dreams as a young immigrant. He has been working as a theatre writer and director (and sometimes actor, curator and always appreciator) ever since. His unique style of theatre is called audience specific and his productions have been presented in three continents around the world. Since his early teens, he has been involved with avant-garde theatre groups among which he remembers the experience Krypton and the Cauteruccio brothers. Daniele Bartolini is the proud father of his son Niccolò who just turned two and is named after Paganini and the neighbourhood where he grew up in Florence, which brings him nice memories to brighten his winter afternoons in Toronto.
What ‘hood are you in?
I have lived in a lot of different neighbourhoods since moving to Toronto but have always stayed in the West End. My current neighbourhood is the Junction Triangle. Since I do a lot of back and forth (Italy to Canada) I can also say that I spend part of my time in the neighbourhood of Ferrone, Greve in Chianti.
What do you do?
I am a theatre writer, director, producer and sometimes actor. I am the Artistic Director of an immersive and audience specific theatre company called DopoLavoro Teatrale. I like to think of myself as an art and culture disseminator. I have a growing interest in curation and have begun curating a theatre season and festival called Close Up supported by Istituto Italiano di Cultura and Villa Charities where I am an artist-in-residence. I will be announcing details of Close Up very soon.
I have a profound love for visual arts, contemporary performance, multidisciplinary projects and work that questions the basics of any art form and that reinvents it. I like when there are intrusions of different art forms and mediums and how these push the concept of what is considered theatre (or art in general). I am interested in work that is ephemeral and unrepeatable, brought to life by the encounter of audiences and artists. The audience is the centre of my work, and this is why I call it audience-specific theatre. I design experiences/adventures where your role is shifted from viewer to protagonist and where you are invited to let your imagination go.
What are you currently working on?
I am currently working on The Stranger 2.0 (Above & Below), a new iteration of one of my company’s most beloved shows. It runs in Toronto from September 18th – 29th 2019. The show is designed for an audience of two that travels across the city and encounters several performers emerging from the crowded streets. “You arrive. You wait. Someone meets you. Your voyage into the unknown begins”. I am also working on an immersive Christmas production, a new play that addresses the issues faced by parents who work in the arts called Oh My God What Did I do?!?!?!, and a festival featuring contemporary site-specific Italian theatre. Another project I am very excited about is a new city-spanning show called 2021: a Spectators’ Odyssey – o dell’ inferno that we are bringing to life in partnership with the National Arts Centre in Ottawa and other exciting international partners.
Where can we find your work?