J. Avella Talks to
Actor Francesco Andolfi
June 8, 2012
is a theatrical talent on the rise here in New York
City. An Italian actor who grew up in Rome, Francesco,
21, now calls NYC his home. He was a vital part
of the ensemble for the recent benefit staged reading
of my play, “Vatican Falls” and I hope
to work with him again in the future.
What made you passionate about acting?
It all began in Rome in 2008 during a conference
regarding the relations between New York and Roman
theatre. I met La Mama, the legendary director,
actress and musician. She was quite the lively spirit,
despite her age and she took an interest in me—telling
me all about the very alive American theatre and
how it has its roots in European culture. She said
it was everyone’s duty to preserve the flame
of this relationship and help enforce it. At the
end of my studies in Italy, in 2009, I decided to
study acting in New York. I was accepted into the
prestigious Stella Adler Studio of Acting--where
I happily graduated in 2011.
What are your thoughts about
working and living in New York City and working
in U.S. theatre?
When I first came here I was living on my own and
I thought that would be a very challenging experience.
But as time passed, I found that the lifestyle of
this city matched my spirit and, therefore, I didn’t
feel alone or lost at any point.
I’ve been lucky to work with a very diverse
bunch of professionals. It has been amazing because
everyone contributes with his/her native culture
and I understood how much my classical heritage
could enhance my performances. I’ve toured
the US as Orestes in Euripides’s “Iphigenia
in Tauris,” travelling from Oregon to Texas,
from Chicago to Broadway. I always felt a great
connection with American audiences and have been
happily shocked by the great passions found on the
I find myself at ease working with Americans, perhaps
because of their open mindedness…perhaps because
I was lucky enough to find respectful colleagues.
I have not had one bad experience. I’ve actually
only received positive feedback from both the audience
and the crew and most of those I have worked with
have asked me to work with them again; that’s
one of the most rewarding feelings—in addition
to the addictive applause of the audience.
Are you interested in film acting or do you see
yourself doing mostly theatre?
I’ve always been very fond of theatre. Theatre
is the reason I started acting in the first place.
I’ve always been more comfortable on a stage
than in front of a camera. I wouldn’t say
that one is better than the other but I’m
addicted to the momentum and the “live”
experience that one has on stage. It is where I
I would like to do more film work but theatre will
always bring out the best of me and I want it to
always be a part of my life.
What are the differences between working in the
theatre here in NYC and in Roma?
I haven’t worked in Rome as much as I have
in NYC but there’s one thing I can tell for
sure: Rome, and Italy, have completely forgotten
the idea of Meritocracy. Here you don’t need
to know anybody to become someone and/or pursuit
and fulfill your dreams. If you’re good, you
will get what you deserve; some people call it karma
but I’m not sure how much that has to do with
this business. I work therefore I deserve to.
Who are your heroes?
Heroes? I don’t think I ever thought of anyone
as a hero per se. Once a teacher of mine asked me:
“Who’s your favorite actor?” and
I replied, “I’m a huge fan of Al Pacino,
but if I had the chance to see them live I would
say either Peter O’Toole or Marlon Brando.”
At that point the teacher said: “That’s
too bad. You should be your favorite actor.”
Since then I always lived by that idea. If I were
to mention people who inspire me I’d say everyone
who in the past, in one way or another, have fought
so that I could have the rights and the freedom
to be here and live what I am living as I am living
What are your favorite
places/things to do in NYC?
They say that New York is the city that never sleeps.
The view from the roof cafè of the Metropolitan
is beautiful at sunrise. I love that I was treated
as a friend from the shop owners just after a few
days…the taste of a flying hot dog grabbed
while running to rehearsals…the existential
struggle of choosing whether to go to MoMa or the
Guggenheim…the warm caress of the Hudson river
from a bar at sunset, the warm embrace of Broadway
lights as you leave the theatre post-performance…the
brotherly love shared with multicultural friends
as we speak of our hopes and dream in a Lower East
Side lounge…surely it would be nice to find
some time to sleep at some point.
You were recently involved in a staged reading
of my play, “Vatican Falls” here in
NYC. Can you speak to that experience?
When I first read “Vatican Falls” I
was immediately drawn to the theme of this play
and I wanted to be a part of it very badly. I researched
the play and its history and I found out about the
other readings and especially the scheduled, then
cancelled opening in Italy. Well, that did it; the
motivation that I gained from that episode moved
me to put as much of myself as I could into the
play. As rehearsals started I realized how much
this play could be very dramatic and challenging
for it requires a good amount of energy to do it
This was the first time that I ever played such
a role. Gianluca, Claudia’s brother, is an
Italian man who really wants revenge against the
church and in the play he speaks both Italian and
English--sometimes simultaneously. The character
wasn’t as challenging as the back and forward
between the two languages--made more complicated
by how much I’ve worked on an average American
Once we performed the piece, my heart was filled
with pride as soon as I found out how much we raised
for the sex abuse survivors.
This play needs to be seen…to be out there.
People need to know what happened and what I’m
sure is still happening all over. The lack of information
is what led to what happened when this play was
supposed to be performed in Rome and this is something
no one should ever allow to happen ever again.