Interview with Isabel Russinova, testimonial for Amnesty International, authoress of “Queens” and “On the steps of the sky”. Her long standing social commitment through the theatre against violence of every type around the world because knowing helps to educate and to evolve.
Di Tiziana Primozich
Fotografia di Carlo Bellincampi
What strikes you as soon as you meet her is her posture and her old style beauty, she is without makeup, her moves are elegant, she is never exaggerated and has an acute intelligent look that comes from two green Asian style eyes. She is beautify and authoritative, but above all determined to fight for what she believes. It is with due cause that Isabel Russinova is one of the protagonists of the 2017 Women of Solidarity Calendar, a work of Art born from the fruitful collaboration between Ezio Alessio Gensini who wrote the texts and cinema photographer Carlo Bellincampi. It was thanks to Bellincampi that we got in contact with Isabel Russinova who, in front of a cup of coffee, told us of the commitment and passion of a great woman of the cinema and Italian television and of the great themes of Human Rights.
Isabel you were recently on stage at Rome’s Palladium with a piece written you and where you were the protagonist together with the young Camilla Coscarella inspired by one of the many stories that have come to light about child brides in the Western world.
In fact it was a choice aimed at educating and inspiring reflection and change. The theatre is an instrument of Culture and, in the field of protests against violence to women that sees me on the front line for Amnesty International, I wanted to deal with a thorny subject with a difficult solution because I am convinced that talking about it is already useful and a way to help the many young girls into premature and forced marriages who often die on the wedding night, or on giving birth later. “Safa and the child bride” produced by Rodolfo Martinelli Carraresi’s Ars Millennia Production is certainly a theatrical act of accusation of the tragic destiny of young girls forced to marry at a very young age and victims of violence, but is also an invitation for hope. The show is divided into two parts, that of the horrible reality and one of the imagination, of the fable through which Safa, a Syrian refugee who had lost her children and husband, tries to find herself once more and that of the little Awa who is only 10 years of age who became a slave after being forced into a horrible marriage with a man much older than her, in an ideal place where there is still the hope for salvation. When I thought of this piece for the theatre I asked myself how could a woman, a mother, who lost everything as Safa did continue to live. Only the love for Awa will save her and so it happens in my text for Dafi and Paki, the rose feathered heron and the silver fish which which Safa’s imagination created a means to exorcise the tragedy of manmade war and horrors committed. Safi and Paki become the dimension of Safa and Awa’s dream to which they are connected by pain. The fable is the means to give back the chance for a dream of love after the violent reality that little Awa had suffered in her short life.
Yours is a social commitment that gathers together every aspect of the world of women. It could be said that as a woman you are the Paladin of the rights of all women that in very way reminds the world of the importance of the feminine presence and the respect of the dignity to which women have the right, just as men do. Thus, there is also the leap in the story as happens in Reinas that glorifies the figure of women that have left so much with the example of their lives.
In effect Queens was the chance to bring back to the collective memory of stories about women that flow through centuries of History. Tanaquilla the noble Etruscan bride of Lucumon who would become Tarquinias, King of Rome. Galla Placidia the Roman Empress kidnapped by Alaric who loved Ataulfus and who wanted to unite the barbarians and the Romans under her own Christian faith. The Judean Princess Berenix, daughter of Herod the Great, who tried to make peace between the Romans and the Jews. Rosina Crocco the “brigand”, protagonist of the great feminist movement on 19th Century Southern Italy. Finally Agatha, the first female President of the Republic of Malta and in Europe in the 20th century. They all have one common denominator, that of choosing a difficult path for achieving the common good. They are women who with their courage gave strength to other women that spurred others and did good and gave added worth that few know and that I wanted to put under the spotlight so they could be an example for all the other committed women. Queens was truly a work of research of everything that History handed down by men did not tell.
An idealistic common thread that then brought you to write “On the steps to the sky” in which you denounce the violence committed on women in the modern world, a violence which worryingly is growing and that shows the male fragility that does not seem to have learnt anything from History.
I have often stated that the world in which we live is in a crisis of values and morals that represents the worst obstacle for the evolution of Men. I also add that Men as such are surely more fragile than women and in fact when women manage through education, training and knowledge to become more autonomous and independent that men often enter into conflict with them. They do not accept and try to destroy she who had hurt his his ego. They suffer a form of envy and confuse possession for love, regresse and become violent. Such is the case of poor Sara, the protagonists of “On the steps of the sky” which tells the true story of Sara Di Pietrantonio, a Roman student barbarously murdered by her ex boyfriend last year in one of the most horrifying cases of recent times. It left me in deep pain also because I knew her and we would catch up during my work at Rome University 3. The theatre production was born together with my partner Rodolfo Martinelli Carraresi and produced by Ars Millennia Production and gives voice to many women who were suffered violence and who have much in common whether they are from the East or the West. Each one of them, it does not matter where they live, often suffers in silence. On the other hand, talking about it, confronting each other, starting debates are the starting points for building a culture of respect and the theater, as well as film and audiovisual communication in general, have a great role to this end. Knowledge, memory, teaching proper behaviour between men and women to the new generations are the proper ingredients for fighting the ignorance that makes men fragile and stops them from growing and evolving.
In Isabel Russinova’s life, what were the circumstances that gave her the strength to defend other women?
My parents were fundamental in my life, they gave me the sense of duty and the importance of contents and choices. Above all my father was a great example for me, he was a doctor who with his taciturn nature and was foreign to any form of vanity. He was born and lived in a border territory that saw one of the great human tragedies of the last world war, the mass migration of the people of Istria from Yugoslavia into Italy He did not like talking about it and he always carried inside the pain of those inevitable episodes of war time. Despite this he was a righteous man, dedicated to others, a true missionary committed to the staff of life and not at all interested in appearances. I miss him a lot, even though I am convinced that he is always at my side in total harmony with my social commitment with which I decided to dedicate the better part of my artistic activities. In his memory and to remember my roots, I am considering a new tale to run through the places of my childhood which tells the story of my family’s origins. To remember not only the unique territory with its legends, but also the evil suffered by its people in the course of the various foreign conquerors. Istria was a land of conquest for many foreign regimes, in reality it was and remains Istria with its own well defined identity.