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New York

Isabella Rossellini

21st May 2023.

Yugoslav Drama Theatre

Darwin’s Smile

written by: Isabella Rossellini
directed by: Murielle Mayette -Holtz
costumes & set: Rudy Sabounghi
light designed: Pascal Noël
music: Cyril Giroux
video: Andy Byers, Rick Gilbert
poster design: Andy Byers
Isabella Rossellini’s assistant: Gregorio Franchetti
assistant for costumes and set: Julien Soulier

production: Théâtre National de Nice - CDN Nice Côte d’Azur
distibution: Les Visiteurs du Soir

Isabella Rossellini‘s one woman show “Darwin’s Smile” reconciles two worlds that are often at the opposite ends: art and science. Reading Charles Darwin’s book “The Expression of Emotions on Man and Animals” revealed to her that the continuity between human and animals can also be detected in the expression of emotions. Isabella explores how empathy, that is at the base of acting, is also necessary for the studies of animal behavior (ethology). The show is both a lesson on evolution and acting. In her usual comical tones, she demonstrates how acting could use to understand the mysterious nature of animals and their emotions. With humor and simple, innocent devices she plays on stage dogs, cats, chickens, peacocks, and of course Charles Darwin. The show is an opportunity to learn while being entertained and laughing all about the art of acting and complex scientific theories.

I wrote this show during the lockdown in order to reconcile the two things that I loved the most in my life: acting and animal behavior. Up until now these two worlds were separate, and thanks to this work I finally reunited my heart and my head, theater and science.
Isabella Rossellini

Isabella Rossellini has staged her passions as an actress and ethologist. To pursue her studies on Charles Darwin, she shows how much actors’ necessary empathy is also the key to an elaborate study of the life and behavior of animals. She wishes to reconcile two apparently opposite worlds: researchers and artists. From there we witness a great lesson about the evolution of animal and human life, the transformation of species and the different languages which they share beyond cultures. It’s also a great acting lesson, since the skills used by actors stem from the study and use of all these universal codes. Isabella takes to the stage, acting as a hen as well as Darwin himself, switching from one character to the next to illustrate what she has to say. Her talent as a free actress enables her to access all of the games played by children and offers us the possibility to understand with pleasure, the great complexity of Darwin’s theories.
Muriel Mayette-Holtz

Isabella Rossellini grew up in Paris and Rome. When she was 19, she moved to New York City, working as a translator and a journalist for RAI-Italian Television. She began a modeling career at the relatively advanced age of 28, appearing on numerous covers of magazines such as Vogue, Elle, Harper’s Bazaar and Vanity Fair. An enduring style icon, in 1982 Ms. Rossellini began a 14-year run as the exclusive spokesperson for Lancôme. When she turned 40, an age considered too advanced to represent the beauty industry, her contract was not renewed. Isabella launched her own cosmetics brand, Manifesto, and in 2016 Lancôme hired her again as a spokesperson with the specific intent to promote inclusiveness and fight against ‘ageism’. Ms. Rossellini made her cinematic debut as an actress in 1979 in the Taviani brother’s film “Il Prato” and has appeared in numerous other films since then, including the American features “Blue Velvet”, “White Nights”, “Rodger Dodger”, “Cousins”, “Death Becomes Her”, “Fearless”, “Big Night” and “Joy”. She worked with many different directors like Robert Zemeckis, David O. Russell, David Lynch, Robert Wilson, Taylor Hackford, Marjane Satrapi and Guy Maddin. She is also a successful television actress and filmmaker, with a keen interest in animals and wildlife conservation. Her award-winning series of shorts, “Green Porno”, “Seduce Me” and “Mammas” offers comical and scientifically insightful studies of animal behaviors. She also toured in over 50 cities in America, Europe and Australia with her theatrical monologues. Isabella has a master’s degree on Animal Behavior and Conservation at Hunter College in New York City and has received a PhD from the Science Faculty at University of Quebec at Montreal. Her work on television also includes Master of Photography for European broadcaster SKY and the American series “Shut Eye” for the platform HULU that has been released in December 2016 .She is currently shooting for HBO series “Julia”. Ms. Rossellini’s philanthropic interests embrace preservation of her family’s extraordinary cinematic heritage, including the films directed by her father, Roberto Rossellini, about whom she has written, and those featuring her mother, Ingrid Bergman. She also runs an organic farm in Brookhaven in association with the Peconic Land Trust.

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