Luca lives in Naples, Italy, and has been performing Quick Change for quite a few years now. He has written a book on the topic which I am listing here for your consideration. Translated from Italian with all the wonderful nuances found in that process.
I met Luca online as he was perusing the internet for historical information on the art of Quick Change. I had begun writing a book in 1989 title “Quick Change in American Vaudeville” which I researched for over 3 years and had accumulated many volumes of xerox copies (Pre-Internet days).
Having posted a few items on this blog Luca was interested in finding out more about the American history of Quick Change. He is from Naples and only knew the artist from his country and Europe. I emailed him and we set up a time/date for an interview. I thought using Zoom would be great. He agreed but then we realized his English wasn’t up to par (and my Italian was terrible!) to do a thorough interview. I then emailed him the questions I wanted to ask him and he answered them in text. Here is the interview and a video clip of our attempt at a Zoom interview. Along with some videos of his performances.
Interview with Luca Lombardo
Q: You are a magician, quick-change artist, magician, and clown. Can you give us a little history about these skills and where you acquired them? What schools you attended or what teachers you studied with?
Luca: When I discovered the art of magic I was 15 years old and it really moved me. I studied every kind of magic for many years attending workshops and conferences of worldwide fame magicians. I decided it was my path when I watched Arturo Brachetti’s theatrical show. So I studied clownery both in Italy and abroad while I was practicing my magic tricks. I came up with the idea of a quick-change act with magic tricks. At first, I started only as a magician I then evolved in time as a clown developing a much deeper understanding of the audience.
Q: Can you tell us about your thoughts regarding the mixing of all these wonderful disciplines?
Luca: You can use as many tools and disciplines as you acknowledge to tell a story. The message is important. I love being and playing the clown because it is the closest to the truth, you can’t lie to your audience. However, my character is not a pure clown and I like to use my character to create my story.
Q: In a few articles I have read they refer to you as “The Crazy Performer”. Can you tell me why you got that title from the press?
Luca: I got this nickname because I always tried to overthrow all theatrical rules still existing in the conservative Italian theatre scene.
Q: I read a quote that mentioned ‘Fregolian Transformation”. Can you tell us what that is?
Luca: The Fregolian Transformation is a transformation not only in the clothes but also in the character, the moves, the attitude. In my act, there is a story and I have to change character not only a costume. In the Russian quick-change instead, the artist changes the only costume and the effort is more in the choreography of it, the story is less important.
Q: While you were in Rome a few years ago you met with Augusto Fornari who helped you write your current show: “Poubelle – Magic Beyond Imagination”. He also directed you in this new show. Can you tell us about the work you did with him?
Luca: Augusto Fornari is also a film director and he is a very much acclaimed artist in Italy. I owe him everything as he believed in my talent and my creativity since the beginning. We are friends and I am very happy to be his friend.
Q: One of the things I heard about your show was the importance of empathy. Can you tell us how important this emotion is for you in your work?
Luca: Empathy is what makes an artist happy. I think an artist needs emotions and if you are able to pass these emotions on to your audience, those will come back to you and it probably means you did a good job! I like to gift my audience an emotional and maybe surreal performance. I feel more grateful when someone says you really moved me instead of appreciating how quickly I was with the changes.
Q: Why do you think “Poubelle” has been so successful?
Luca: The nice thing about ‘Poubelle’ is that despite the fact that the character never speaks, he still manages to reach everyone. Empathy with the public is certainly the key to the success of this character. It is not a traditional show but a story of my childhood, the story of my life. With my dress changes – from Peter Pan to Mary Poppins to Super Mario Bros – I am able to tell my world. And this world then becomes that of the spectator who identifies with Poubelle. The great success of this character makes it clear that we all need magic and to play again.
Q: What does magic represent for you?
Luca: Magic is the ability to bring others into your dream, into your world. Changing the world is becoming increasingly difficult, but each of us can create one of our own in which to transport people. The magician does this by profession
Q: What are you working on now? Any new shows? Luca: It is very hard to think about future projects right now with the ongoing virus outbreak. I am supposed to be on stage in France at the ‘Avignon Off Festival’ next July. If everything goes further I will preview a new interactive quick-change act where a member of the audience chooses the character I change into.
Poubelle is a multitalented show ( Without words) : magic, poetry, comedy, and solo quick change. In this video the quick change it’s in real-time NO EDITING
Photographs of Characters from Luca Lombardo’s show
Dario Fo, actor, playwright, theatre director, stage designer, political activist, artist and author who, having attained international fame in theatre, produced the first of his six novels at the age of 88 – was there any limit to his versatile genius? He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1997, and works such as Accidental Death of an Anarchist or Can’t Pay? Won’t Pay secured his reputation as the outstanding political playwright of his age. Unlike other writers of a similar mind, Fo’s chosen genre was farce, so his drama is a uniquely engaging mixture of laughter and anger. In 1954 he married Franca Rame, a member of a family-company of touring players. The personal and professional partnership of the two over sixty years was probably unique in theatre history. Her inherited, instinctive knowledge of stagecraft was invaluable to him, but although she was always recognized as an actor of considerable talent, her contribution to the writing of the plays was long undervalued. With the emergence of the feminist movement, she increasingly asserted herself, notably with a series of one-woman works she wrote and performed. She became one of Italy’s and Europe’s leading feminist campaigners, and as such a target for right-wing terrorist groups. In 1973, she was kidnapped and raped by neo-Fascist thugs. Although the subjects of their plays, with their fearless attacks on corruption and satire of Popes and politicians, were often taken from the headlines of the day, their theatre was deeply rooted in theatrical tradition. The Nobel Prize citation stated that Fo ‘emulated the jesters of the Middle Ages in scourging authority and upholding the dignity of the downtrodden’, but this political campaigning came at a cost. The couple’s militant reputation meant that they were for many years barred from Italian television and banned from entering the USA, but their plays were staged from London to Tokyo and they themselves were acclaimed wherever they toured. Joseph Farrell translated many of their works and knew Dario and Franca well. His biography is a complete account of the various activities and multifaceted lives of two extraordinary individuals