Synopsis by Bhob Stewart
Mario Martone (L'amore Molesto) wrote and directed this drama about the tragedy of war, beginning with acting exercises in a garage rehearsal area and then intercutting between the lives of Italian stage actors and scenes of their rehearsals on Seven Against Thebes. Director Leo (Andrea Renzi), in 1994, arranges to have his Italian company, as an act of solidarity, do a show in Sarajevo where theaters have remained open. With the support from actor Vittorio (Marco Baliani), Leo seeks a key to staging the Aeschylus play about a civil war and a city under siege. Theater in Sarajevo is shown in contrast to the mainstream theater in Naples with a lavish production of The Taming of the Shrew staged by pompous Franco Turco (Toni Servillo). Actress Luisella (Iaia Forte) leaves Leo's Greek drama for Turco's production. Even though the actors are going without pay to Seven Against Thebes, young talent Diego (Roberto De Francesco) and diva Sara Cataldi (Anna Bonaiuto) both turn away from Turco to work with Leo, while set designer (Sergio Tramonti) contributes to both. Outside the rehearsal space, Neapolitan life goes on with neighborhood disputes, drug deals, fights, a police round-up, and murder -- events drawing parallels with Sarajevo. Some street scenes are unstaged, adding a documentary authenticity. Martone spent several years on this project by filming the rehearsals of a Seven Against Thebes stage production he directed in 1995-96 (featuring the same cast). Martone wrote his screenplay around that material, and then he filmed in the infamous Spanish Quarter of Naples, shooting in 16mm with a blow-up to 35mm. Shown in the Certain Regard section at the 1998 Cannes Film Festival.