Interview with Italian Curator Valeria Orani


How did you get started working with the Italian community in New York? 

I arrived in New York five years ago with the wish to connect Italian contempory culture to US and vice-versa.

It is a big challenge.

I’m Italian, I was born in Sardinia, a big and ancient island in the middle of the Mediterranean, plenty of beauty and ancient venues and rituals. I love my roots and my origin counts a lot in my vision of art and life. I started in theatre when I was very young, I feel theatre as home.


Why do you do the work that you do? What would you like our audiences to know about you and your work?

I became passionate about all things theatre since my teenage years. I was initially fascinated by what happened onstage, and then I became more and more interested in all the work that goes on backstage. Theatre production turned into a job when I was twenty years old, and since then, I was in charge of management, having to first focus on all organizational aspects, and then on production. Umanism was set up in New York City in 2015 and puts together two aspects of my job: planning projects on the bases of funds (including philanthropy) and the good quality agency services that I offer to cultural and creative businesses. 

Can you tell us more about the Italian & American Playwrights project?

Immediately after its setup, Umanism has worked side by side with Martin E. Segal Theatre Center of the Graduate Center of CUNY to develop a project whose objective has been the promotion of contemporary drama. Frank Hentschker and I develop the Italian Playwrights Project which has now come to its second edition and which includes a two-year period in which parts of the work of Italian playwrights are presented and read to the audience, then translated completely into English and finally published.

The Italian and American Playwrights Project supports workshops with Italian playwrights in US with the collaboration of American translators, actors, directors and vice-versa.

It also produces public presentations, readings, conversations with the authors both in Italy and in US. Last year we started a collaboration in London.

The initiative aims at producing full performances of the plays and the publication of a translated anthology in English of the selected Italian plays. This initiative is year-round with the mission to support the development playwrights' work over the course of a year.

In 2017, we also started developing a sister initiative which promote the work of American playwrights in Italy. The experience of running the Italian and American Playwrights Project has emphasized how important it is to introduce Italy’s contemporary theatrical work in the US and vice versa. This has also helped us establish a more consistent dialogue between the two arts scenes, which has always been rare and accidental in the last 25-30 years.

In 4 years, the Italian and American Playwrights Project has grown a lot as well as our team and the desire to become a point of reference for dramaturgy and translations, a center where authors can find support and help to spread their work.


What are your upcoming projects? How can we learn more about them?

At this time we’re working on the second edition of translations of our Italian plays, whereas in Italy we’re having a hard time finding funds for the publication of the translations of the American plays.

Among all the projects, one that is important for me to mention is the creation of an artistic residence for the authors and translators in New York and in Italy.

Furthermore, I’m working with Le Albe on their “Dante Project” which sees cycles of conferences, shows, and “calls to the public” around the Divina Commedia.

I invite you all to follow our activities on the website All of our projects are the results of great work but they’re only made possible by our many friends and supporters whose donations are fundamental to continue our growth.

A Notebook for Winter and Events Horizon | Italy

Tuesday May 14 at 6:30 pm

Playwrights: Armando Pirozzi & Elisa Casseri

Director: John Green & Matt Masino

Translator: Adriana Rossetto

In collaboration with Italian & American Playwrights Project and Italian Cultural Institute of Chicago

Instituto Cervantes of Chicago

Nabiha Mansoor2019