The shocking impact of the COVID-19 pandemic led playwright Mary Mazzilli to create a new play reflecting on how a family living across different countries responds to the challenges of lockdown.
Now that play Bright Azzuro Sea will be premiered at the Mercury Online Festival taking place from Friday 21 August to Sunday 23 August.
Working with Lumenis Theatre Company, Dr Mazzilli has overcome the many challenges posed by lockdown restrictions. The play was produced totally remotely with all cast and crew working from different locations in the UK and in Italy. The final work has then been carefully pieced together from footage recorded on mobile devices.
Dr Mazzilli, from the Department of Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies at Essex, said: “This piece is dedicated to all families and people who have been separated during the lockdown and those who still are.”
She added: “I wrote this short play at the start of the lockdown realising that we were to live with this for the long run and thinking about my country Italy and how many were dying there, worrying when I would see my parents again and my sisters, and what was about to happen in UK.
“I have never written about Italy and what it means to be away from my country, but then back in April, I felt I needed to respond to what was happening to the world outside and in my mind. I know that these are the experiences shared by many others.”
Bright Azzuro Sea provides a glimpse into the lives of an Italian mother and her three daughters, who live in the UK.
With humour and a bit of drama, the play explores family relations during the lockdown, while touching upon themes of freedom, isolation, migration, and the Italian diaspora.
It also invites us to collectively reflect on the challenges presented by the current pandemic and the resilience of families and communities, especially as experienced by women and those living apart, and in different countries.
The professional acting cast includes recent East 15 graduate Faye Bishop while Essex film student Maria Karma Christodoulou worked as film editor on the project and LiFTS graduate Fabiana Sforza was Rehearsal Director.
Dr Mazzilli said: “The Mercury Online Festival is giving me the opportunity to share this story. I have had a wonderful team of creatives and performers from around the country.
“They gave their time and shared their passion for theatre and performing arts to tell the story of these three daughters, who are talking over a digital platform to their mum back in Italy during the lockdown. There have been many challenges in producing this short piece remotely, but it has been totally worth it.”