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Two Letters ... And Counting!

Two Letters ... And Counting!

By Tony Nardi

Although he has won plaudits and awards for work in film, television, and on stage, Tony Nardi's most recent headlines have been earned by his TWO LETTERS … And Counting!. Two Letters is based on two actual letters sent to “middle-men” of the Canadian cultural scene: a film/television producer and two theatre critics. Letter One articulates an actor/writer's struggle with cultural stereotypes in Canadian theatre/film/TV. Letter Two challenges misconceptions about commedia dell'arte by present-day theatre critics and directors. It explores a history of an 'actor-less' theatre culture in Canada at the hands of 'director's theatre,' in which, increasingly, a tradition of over-trained actors and under-trained directors is encouraged. "...And Counting!" (Letter Three) is a postmortem of Two Letters, and a journey into the present state of theatre, culture (and funding).


Guernica Editions (Essential Drama Series)


300 pages |

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… [T]here is far more theatricality in his presentation than in many plays, because the actor knows exactly how to dramatize his material … a representation of what it means to be in the authentic present, something every actor needs to know. This is a stunning model of period acting, and it is created without fanfare, without absurd artifice, and with such convincing intensity that it absorbs us in its surging current. In England, Italy, Germany, et cetera, Two Letters would be front-page news on the arts or culture page. Not so in Canada, of course.

Keith Garebian

... [A] sweeping cultural critique, a cri de coeur that is perhaps the first extended work of its kind to attempt to decolonize the Canadian imagination ... surely one of the strangest and most provocative pieces of theatre ever staged in this country ... Nardi doesn’t just bite the hand that feeds him; he chews it up and then spits it out.

Michael Posner, Globe and Mail

Nardi uses dramatic acid to burn the rust off truth, and to blister complacency until it turns into awareness. He takes no prisoners ... The questions that troubled him so deeply have to do, not just with identity and cultural stereotyping, but also with the nature of storytelling. To see Nardi in action is a bit like witnessing spontaneous combustion in a cave at night; at first, there is the scent of sulphur; then, a vague crackling in the air; then a flash of light, and the play of shadow on the walls; above all, there is surprise.

Joe Fiorito, The Toronto Star

… [U]n virulent plaidoyer contre la complaisance du milieu théâtral, l’ignorance de la critique, l’incompétence des metteurs en scène et j’en passe … la performance oscille constamment entre la narration et le pamphlet. Et ça frappe fort. À toute allure, comme s’il était maître d’oeuvre d’un véritable bombardement, Nardi attaque de toutes parts. Des prises de parole de ce genre-là, on n’ose même pas en rêver dans le milieu francophone québécois. Pourtant, la situation est bien peu différente … Ceux qui ne voient pas de théâtre dans la série de lettres qu’il lit, ou plutôt qu’il performe depuis plusieurs mois entre Toronto et Montréal doivent être sourds ou aveugles. Passons vite sur les qualités de présence et la fougue du comédien, car ce serait oublier l’essentiel. Ce qui compte, c’est que Tony Nardi dit des choses importantes, que personne d’autre que lui n’ose dire avec autant de passion.

Philippe Couture, Le Devoir


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About the author

A multi-award winner for his work in film, television and theatre, Tony Nardi, born in Calabria, Italy, is a Canadian actor, playwright, director and producer. A four-time Genie Awards Nominee, he has won twice for Best Actor for his roles in La Sarrasine (1992) and My Father’s Angel (2001), for which he had also received a Best Actor award at the Sonoma Wine and Country Film Festival in 2000. He received the Guy L’Écuyer Award for his role in La Déroute in 1998. In 2010, the year marking the 30th Annual Genie Awards, he made the Academy’s 30th Anniversary Top 10 list in the Lead Actor category in Canadian cinema – a ranking based on the number of wins and nominations over the 30-year period. He collaborated on the screenplays for La Sarrasine and La Déroute. In television, he received a Gemini Award nomination in 2006 for his role in Il Duce Canadese and a Best Actor Award at the Geneva International Film Festival, Tous Écrans/All Screens, in 1999, for his role in Foolish Heart. He has performed in more than sixty plays ranging from classics to more experimental and collective-driven works. He received a Montreal Gazette Critic’s Award in 1979 for his role in Nineteen Eighty-Four, a Dora Mavor Moore Award for Artistic Excellence – Collective – in 1985 for La Storia Calvino, garnered a Dora Award nomination in 2001 for his role in A Flea in Her Ear, and a Dora Award in 2002 for Outstanding Performance for his role in The Lesson. In 2007 he received a Best Actor Thespis Award for Two Letters. As a playwright, his first play, La Storia dell’Emigrante – written in Calabrian – in collaboration with Vincent Ierfino, played in Montreal in 1979 and 1980, and in Toronto in 1982, and won the 1st James Buller Award for Best Original Canadian play at the Ontario Multicultural Theatre Festival at Harbourfront. A Modo Suo (A Fable), written and presented entirely in Calabrian, received a Dora Award nomination (Outstanding New Play) in 1990. An English translation in collaboration with poet/author Antonino Mazza was published in its entirety in the Fall 2000 issue of the Canadian Theatre Review. In 2007 Two Letters was nominated for a Dora Award (Outstanding New Play). In 2008 he was nominated for a Siminovitch Prize in Theatre (long list) for playwriting. In 1992 he received the 125th Anniversary of the Confederation of Canada Medal, awarded to Canadians for significant contribution to their fellow citizens, to their community, or to Canada. In 2002, he was included in the Canadian Who’s Who.