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Women’s lives in the old country

Italian-American Committee celebrates Women’s History Month

nyt20100506_36d.jpgThe reading cast with the author: (from left) Josephine Maietto, Dr. Aleandri, Rago, Fiorentina Russo, Raola Raflo, Paola Minichino and Lucia Mazzoccoli.

Her book, “Yesterday’s Sky,” was 10 years in the making, but playwright/artist/actress and now novelist Angela Rago’s work was quickly and warmly embraced at the March 26 UFT Italian-American Committee Theatre Group’s dramatic reading. The novel, presented as part of the UFT committee’s celebration of Women’s History Month, looks at the daily lives of women in a post-war southern Italian village. Hanging over their lives are issues related to class, gender and hunger, and the novel succeeds not only as art but as the sociology of everyday life. Among its characters is a store owner who gives credit to shoppers who rarely pay their bills, but would be bereft of food for their large families if credit were denied. Rago, born in Bari, on Italy’s Adriatic Coast, saw her work performed by members of the Frizzi and Lizzi Theater. Included in the troupe was its artistic director, Dr. Emelise Aleandri, who also chairs the UFT Theatre Committee. Among those attending was John Powers, chapter leader of Brooklyn’s Liberation Diploma Plus HS, who said both he and his young son, John, enjoyed the reading immensely. “I think everyone was shocked to learn that the story takes place during the mid-1950s,” Powers said. “A number of us assumed it took place in the 19th century because of the traditional thought patterns and immense poverty.”

nyt20100506_36e.jpgPowers, with son John, talks with Rago.

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