A native of Italy, Fabio Zito has a history of work that has continually been supported and produced by his home theatre but the topic matter of his latest work proved to be too much and for the first time his script was rejected. Not being discouraged, Fabio went of the hunt for a replacement company who could provide them residence and a public performance space – enter the spunky East Village theatre Wild Project.
The Snail is a story about a boy who is locked in a body that he doesn’t recognize until he decides to start living as a woman and while the premise is intoxicating, the execution of the story fell short of making a connection with the audience. The Snail is part Jay & Gloria from Modern Family meets Brandon Teena from Boys Don’t Cry and while Arianna Luzi gave a mesmerizing performance as Andrew, it wasn’t enough to fully bring the audience into the narrative. New York has numerous trans/gender-themed plays (see MDLSX and Boy), some experimental and others very thoughtful, but The Snail was a slow and sticky attempt at telling somebody else’s story and it reminded me of a life lesson my cohort Amy Pearl once told me.
For years, Amy had been trying to get her work accepted into Toronto’s queer Rhubarb Festival but Buddies in Bad Times Theatre turned her down. Frustrated, Amy called up the artistic director at the time (and founder) Sky Gilbert to find out why her work, despite being queer in content, was continually passed over. He told her that it wasn’t what was in her work but rather what wasn’t. Amy’s work was probably gayer then most gays could ever hope to be yet it was lacking the vulnerability and insights that can only come as a result of an actual lived experience. It’s not that Amy couldn’t tell a gay man’s story (she’s gayer then most gays I know), Sky was suggesting that she get comfortable in her own shows before attempting a mile someone else’s heels. It’s sage advice because most people spend their entire lives trying to unpack their own identities and so aiming to do that for another human being just pushes the story that much farther from reality.