Main content

The Pirandello Party

By Luigi Pirandello, adapted by David Bassuk
Directed by David Bassuk

Featuring students from BFA Acting Company 47, Theatre Design/Technology, BA in Theater and Performance, BA in New Media, and BFA in Dance.

Performed in the first floor of the Admissions Building (the old Chisholm Estate house) at Purchase College, SUNY

Tuesday, December 14, 2021 @ 7:00pm and 9:00pm
Wednesday, December 15, 2021 @ 7:00pm and 9:00pm
Thursday, December 16, 2021 @ 7:00pm and 9:00pm


Devyn Akers | Franco/Man With The Flower
Noelle Backman | Ernestina/Boffi
Keymer Cuesta | Fabio/ Bruno
Max Garfin | Silvio/Commuter/Salesio
Arielle Moore | Ersilia/Lena
Ndeye Niang | Fulvia/Madwoman
Daija North |Agata/Party Performer
Sanise Lebron | Betty/Woman In Black/L’Ignota (Lucia)
Precious Omigie | Livia/Masperi
Katie Parkinson | Mother-in-Law/Signora Onoria/ Ines
Justin Parrish | Mattia/ Ludovico
Eklan Singh | Angelo /Salter
Eli Gardner | Grotti/Anselmo

Design & Production

Hailey O’Leary & Benjamin Free | Lighting Designers
Lighting Design Team

Costume Design
Costume Design Team

Kasey Waithe | Sound Designer
Sound Design Team

Props Design
Props Design Team

Nicolas Forero | Production Manager
Leah Dollinger | Production Stage Manager
Kristen Benner | Stage Manager

Milan Castro, Tulia Marshall, Leandra Torres, Kasey Waithe | Assistant Directors
Tulia Marshall | Choreographer
Oliver Copeland | Dramaturg

all performances are excerpts from longer scripts – below find synopses of the full stories

THE LATE MATTIA PASCAL (Il Fu Mattia Pascal 1904)

Katie Parkinson | Mother-in-Law
Justin Parrish | Mattia/ Ludovico
Eli Gardner | Anselmo

Written in 1904, this novel touches on some of the themes that reverberate throughout his work: illusion and reality, the enigmas of identity, art, and life. The narrator-protagonist is something of a buffoon, a figure out of comic opera, the impoverished son of a once-rich family stripped bare by a villainous swindler of an estate manager. Living a dreary life as an archivist, tired of his dismal marriage, plagued by an intrusive mother-in-law, tormented by creditors, he slips away to Monte Carlo and hits it big. While he is gone, a suicide in his hometown is mistakenly identified as the very same Mattia, who, being an enterprising scamp, changes name and identity to Adriano Meis, falls in love and gets into trouble leading him to fakes his own suicide on purpose this time. He returns to the original town as his old self, to the anger and confusion of everyone.


THE MAN WITH A FLOWER IN HIS MOUTH (L’uomo Dal Fiore in Bocca, Pr. 1923)

Devyn Akers | Man With The Flower
Max Garfin | Commuter
Sanise Lebron | Woman in Black

Two strangers meet at a train station in the middle of the night. At first, their concerns seem the petty worries of the everyday, but as the two men get to know each other better, the subject turns to life, death, and the meaning of existence. It is the play that inspired Edward Albee’s masterpiece: The Zoo Story. After some polite exchanges, “the man” becomes increasingly agitated until something is deeply troubling him; eventually a secret is revealed that leaves the traveler in tears while the man leaves his life as quickly as he entered.


THIS TIME IT WILL BE DIFFERENT (Come Prima, Meglio Di Prima, Pr. 1920)

Noelle Backman | Ernestina
Max Garfin | Silvio
Sanise Lebron | Betty
Ndeye Niang | Fulvia
Precious Omigie | Livia

It is a comedy in three acts derived from the short stories “La Veglia” The whole plot has its central point of reference in Fulvia Gelli, a free-spirited woman, who was in the past involved in situations that made her suffer and that lead her to split from her husband and daughter… in the past year, Fulvia had become saddened by the meaninglessness of life which led her to seek out the husband and daughter she abandoned over a decade earlier. The daughter, Livia, was told that her sainted mother had died so Fulvia has returned as the new wife of her husband and stepmother to her own daughter. Lies continue to accumulate, leading to explosions of the heart.


PLEASURE OF HONESTY (Il Piacere Dell’onestà, Pr. 1917)

Keymer Cuesta | Fabio
Daija North | Agata
Eklan Singh | Angelo

Fabio Colli, a married man, begins an affair with the young Agata Renni, with the consent of her mother and becomes pregnant. Faced with this situation, a marriage is arranged with an acquaintance named Angelo Baldovino who agrees to the deal, under the strict condition that his wife stops seeing her lover. This was not Fabio’s intention; so, faced with the Angelo’s obstructions, he tries to falsely involve him in an embezzlement matter. This causes a confrontation between the two men. Angelo has every reason to doubt the fidelity of his wife, who finally opts for Angelo and their arranged marriage over Fabio.

This play as most creations by the Sicilian dramatist is impregnated by the philosophy of the relativity of the truth. All the burden of the game falls into one character, called to shoulder the honesty that is to reveal the hypocrites and the scheming men and to behave as a really honest person.


TO CLOTHE THE NAKED (Vestire Gli Ignudi, Pr. 1922)

Devyn Akers | Franco
Arielle Moore | Ersilia
Katie Parkinson | Signora Onoria
Justin Parrish | Ludovico
Eli Gardner | Grotti

At once comic and tragic, Naked is the compelling story of a woman in search of self-identity and the men who use deceit, guilt, and betrayal to impose their view of her into the world. Naked is the story of a young woman, Ersilia Drei, who has recently attempted suicide. She is released from hospital into the care of a famous novelist. Intrigued by her life story, the novelist’s intentions clearly extend beyond genuine altruism. He implants his own narrative upon her to create material for a novel. A series of supporting characters arrive and similarly, force their own stories and perceptions of the young woman upon her. Doubts are even cast about the genuineness of her own account of the events and motives surrounding her suicide attempt. The young woman is twisted out of shape by each character and chaos ensues.

Love forms triangles in Pirandello’s Naked. There’s Ersilia Drei, who loved Franco Laspiga, a naval lieutenant who was engaged to someone else but then decides (too late?) that he loves Ersilia. And Ersilia with Grotti, the Italian consul in Smyrna, and his wife, for whom Ersilia worked as a governess.

The main thread of the play is in the mind of a popular writer, Ludovico Nota, who learns of Ersilia through a newspaper article written by journalist Alfredo Cantavalle. Cantavalle interviewed Ersilia, but did she tell him the truth or fabricate details? Nota rescues Ersilia from a hospital after her attempted suicide and invites her to his home, thinking there’s a plot for a novel in her tragic story. “As soon as I read that article,” he tells her, “The entire plot for a novel took shape in my mind, from beginning to end.” Mrs. Onoria, Nota’s busybody landlady, both helps and hinders Nota and Ersilia. She is alternately scornful and solicitous of the young woman and her problems.


AS YOU DESIRE ME (Come Tu Mi Vuoi, Pr., 1930)

Devyn Akers | Salter’s Man
Noelle Backman | Boffi
Keymer Cuesta | Bruno
Max Garfin | Salesio
Sanise Lebron | L’Ignota (Lucia)
Arielle Moore | Lena
Ndeye Niang | Madwoman
Precious Omigie | Masperi
Katie Parkinson | Ines
Eklan Singh | Salter

Elma is a singer in a sleazy 1930s Berlin nightclub. Having suffered an appalling assault during the First World War, she has no memory of her former life. A man appears and tells her that she is, in fact, the wife of an Italian aristocrat, and a new life awaits her. But when she goes to Italy to pursue this dream, she is greeted only by problems and disappointments. Pirandello uses this story to explore the mysteries of identity and memory, themes that preoccupied him throughout his life.

Its plot certainly intrigues. The focal character, cryptically named the L’Ignota (Unknown Woman), is a dubious Berlin chanteuse who lives with Salter, a rich investor. One night a stranger arrives, claiming L’Ignota is really the wife of Bruno, an Italian aristo, and disappeared for 10 years after a savage wartime rape. Whisked off to Bruno’s Italian villa, the heroine duly becomes his lost Lucia. But when Salter turns up with a madwoman purporting to be the authentic Lucia, the heroine’s identity is once more in question.

The cabaret singer L’Ignota now can recall no memory of a former life. The Italian villa to which she repairs allows for the reverberant mode of discourse that gives the play its title. Whether she is or is not Lucia, wife of the Italian aristocrat Bruno, matters not one whit. The point is that L’Ignota is there for Bruno to be “as you desire me” - or for as long as her Berlin persona doesn’t intrude. Described as “a body without a name,” L’Ignota finds herself the human equivalent of so much lost luggage, tossed this way and that.

Content Advisory

This show contains scenes that some viewers may find disturbing.

Director’s Note

Pirandello’s plays, said one writer, are a single drama in a hundred acts. And indeed, he returns to the same themes: relativity of truth, fluidity of identity, deceptiveness of reality and the need for accepting or creating personas to hide our real selves. So appropriately we have offered you an immersive theater performance which draws from multiple texts to generate a project in which the audience moves through various encounters with characters and scenes that together weave a shared story. The event is situated in the Purchase College’s admission’s building, once the Chisholm Estate among thirteen spaces throughout the first floor of the house. The proximity of the audience in real spaces will afford an adventure into an intimate narrative between a drama, a haunted house and a LARP. In the 21st century, in an era when multiple editions of our identity appear throughout both the virtual and real worlds, Pirandello continues to offer solace, appreciation and guidance to us confirming the difficulty of shifting personas and assimilating our many roles and settings.

–David Bassuk

Dramaturg’s Note

“Masks, masks. They disappear in a breath, giving way to others” -Luigi Pirandello
The playwright Luigi Pirandello was absolutely fascinated with how humans perform for each other. This may come across as obvious, given his reputation as a cutting edge theatrical innovator, but his infatuation goes far beyond merely writing witty plays and short stories. Pirandello took an analytical, methodical, and even anthropological approach to understanding the falsity of human interaction. Your assigned persona cards exemplify various traits found in many of Pirandello’s writings. One can choose to hide and mask the attribute, or even transform the attribute into a mask itself. Masks as a metaphorical device play a vital role in Pirandello’s work. In his eyes we are all wearing masks for ourselves, and even those facades are walking contradictions.

–Oliver Copeland

Creative Team Profiles

Devyn Akers (Franco/Man With The Flower) WHATS GOIN ON! I’m Devyn Akers I’m from DC. I’ve been acting since the 6th grade. I would like to thank the production team for their hard work and dedication on this process. I would like to thank my company who I love dearly and thankful for to be doing this show along side them! Last I would like to thank Dean for opening up a door for all of us to understand and enjoy the world in which we have embarked on! Fun Fact: I am a basketball phenomenon!

Noelle Backman (Ernestina/Boffi) is a third year actor in the BFA Acting conservatory. She has played a series of lead females, from Ismene in the Greek trilogy Oedipus, Hippolyta in Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Nights Dream, as well as Bosnian Woman in Truth and Reconciliation. In Babette’s Feast, Noelle appears as the elder sister Martine.

Keymer Cuesta (Fabio/ Bruno) is a third year BFA acting major from Brooklyn, NY and of Afro-Dominican descent. His past credits include Jean-François Millet in Is He Dead? and most recently in Truth and Reconciliation.

Eli Gardner (Grotti/Anselmo) is a third year BFA actor from Annapolis Maryland and Brooklyn New York. Purchase credits include Serbian Man 2 and Northern Irish Man B (Truth and Reconciliation). Some outside credits include Adam (DNA) with Piper Theatre and Judas Iscariot (The Last Days of Judas Iscariot) with LaGuardia High School. Eli would like to give special thanks to his family, his teachers Jill and Hank, and everyone who’s supported him along the way!

Max Garfin (Silvio/Commuter/Salesio) is a third year BFA actor from Manhattan, NY. Past Purchase credits include Truth and Reconciliation (Man 1 and Man A), Ivanov (Ivanov), and Three Sisters (Tuzenbach), and has appeared in several professional independent films. He would like to thank his friends and family for their continued support.

Sanise Lebron (Betty/Woman In Black/L’Ignota (Lucia)) is a third year acting major in Purchase’s Theater Conservatory program. She is from the Bronx, New York and has the pleasure of playing Young Lowenhielm and Lief. Past Purchase credits include: Truth and Reconciliation (Wife). Other credits include: The Bennett Academy of Performing Arts, King of the Rodeo (Bobby Lynn). She would like to thank her family and friends for their constant support and love. Dinner is Served.

Arielle Moore (Ersilia/Lena) is a third-year BFA acting major from Harlem, NY. Past Purchase credits include: Truth and Reconciliation (Man/Mama). Other credits include A Little Night Music (Petra) at LaGuardia High School. She sends so much love and gratitude to her supportive family, friends and mentors.

Ndeye Daro Niang (Fulvia/Madwoman) is a third year BFA actor from Harlem, New York. Purchase Rep credits include: Truth and Reconciliation (Daughter/Woman). Other credits include the Stella Adler Studio of Acting, and placing third in the New York Shakespeare competition. Many thanks to all her close friends and companions who support and uplift her!

Daija North (Agata/Party Performer) is a Brooklyn native, in her third year at Purchase’s Conservatory of Theatre Arts. Past Purchase credits include Truth and Reconciliation (Widow). She sends love and hugs for all the support.

Precious Omigie (Livia/Masperi) is a third year BFA actor from Brooklyn, New York. Purchase Rep credits include: Truth and Reconciliation (Child/Grandma)! Thank you to her family and friends and those who have been supportive!

Katie Parkinson (Mother-in-Law/Signora Onoria/ Ines) is a third year BFA actor from Seattle, Washington. You may have previously seen her in Truth and Reconciliation as Woman. She is sending lots of love and thanks to her family back home, especially her dogs.

Justin Parrish (Mattia/ Ludovico) is a third year BFA actor from Los Angeles, California. Purchase Rep credits include Truth and Reconciliation (Granddad). Some of his other credits include HAIR (Berger), The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (Ed), DNA (Richard), and The Dream of the Burning Boy (Dane) at Valencia High School. He thanks his parents and all of his friends who support him!

Eklan Singh (Angelo /Salter) is a third year student in the BFA Acting Company 47 of SUNY Purchase. He is very excited for everyone to bear witness to this heartwarming tale of a kind and loving community. He has had a divine time working with his cast and hopes that the audience can charge in the fun we have had in rehearsing this show. Enjoy the performance!

Nicolas Forero (Production Manager) is a fourth year design/tech student from Niskayuna, New York. Purchase credits include: As You Like It (Asst. Sound Designer), Senior Showcase 2020 (Stage Manager), The Misanthrope (Asst. Sound Designer) and The Colored Museum (Asst. Sound Designer) Many thanks to Hadley for always being there for me.

Hailey O’Leary (Lighting Designer) is a fourth year BFA lighting designer. Past Purchase Theatre credits include Purgatorio Wonderland (LD), Dialogue of the Carmelites (ALD), and The Misanthrope (SD). She sends her love to those who journeyed with her.

Ben Free (Lighting Designer) is a third year lighting design student from Tolland, CT. His past credits include Asé – Eliana (ALD), Fleeting Touch (ALD), A Little Woman (ALD), and Dialogues of the Carmelites (Master Electrician). He would like to express thanks to his family and friends for their unconditional love and support.

Leah Dollinger (Production Stage Manager) is a third year BFA Stage Manager from Livingston, New Jersey. Her past credits include The Misanthrope (ASM) and As You Like It (ASM). Her other credits include Camp Morning Wood (Production Run Crew), as well as NYC Pride Broadcast (PA). She would like to thank her friends and family for supporting and encouraging her throughout her theatre career.​

Milan Castro (Assistant Director) is a fourth year theatre and performance major originally from Brooklyn, New York. Milan’s Purchase credits include: Dance Nation (AD), Springtime (Director), Disgusting Is My Middle Name (Director) and A Walrus In The Body Of A Crocodile (AD). Her upcoming project is The Christians (director), opening on March 31st, 2022. She’d like to thank her family, friends, and God for their endless support. She’s tremendously grateful for the cast and crew of The Pirandello Party for giving their all to keep Pirandello’s magic alive

Leandra Torres (Assistant Director)is a senior in theatre and performance major concentration in directing. Leandra’s Purchase credits include: Purgatorio wonderland (AD), No Child (Director). Her upcoming project is The Silent Observer (director), opening on February 24,2022. Leandra has worked with Roundabout Theater company in the past as a lighting designer. Leandra would like to thank you for the support system- Gabby, Lui,mom/dad and her sister and niece.

Tulia Marshall (Choreographer/Assistant Director)is a dancer and choreographer from New Paltz, New York. She received her training from Laguardia Highschool, Manhattan Youth Ballet, and Hubbard Street Dance Chicago. Currently, Tulia is a third year student at SUNY Purchase as a double major— a BFA in Dance at the Conservatory of Dance (concentration in choreography) and a BA in Arts Management. Tulia has worked with notable choreographers including: Rena Butler, Peter Chu, Robyn Minekko Williams and has performed works by William Forsythe, Crystal Pite, and Ohad Nahirin. This is Tulia’s first time choreographing outside of the Conservatory of Dance and would like to thank the Pirandello cast, her friends, family, and IMT class for their support!

Playwright Profile

Luigi Pirandello (1867-1936) was born in Girgenti, Sicily. He studied philology at Rome and at Bonn and wrote a dissertation on the dialect of his native town (1891). From 1897 to 1922 he was professor of aesthetics and stylistics at the Real Istituto di Magistere Femminile at Rome. Pirandello’s work is impressive by its sheer volume. He wrote a great number of novellas which were collected under the title Novelle per un anno (15 vols., 1922-37). Of his six novels the best known are Il fu Mattia Pascal (1904) [The Late Mattia Pascal], I vecchi e i giovani (1913) [The Old and the Young], Si gira (1916) | [Shoot!], and Uno, nessuno e centomila (1926) [One, None, and a Hundred thousand].

But Pirandello’s greatest achievement is in his plays. He wrote a large number of dramas which were published, between 1918 and 1935, under the collective title of Maschere nude [Naked Masks]. The title is programmatic. Pirandello is always preoccupied with the problem of identity. The self exists to him only in relation to others; it consists of changing facets that hide an inscrutable abyss. In a play like Cosí é (se vi pare) (1918) [Right You Are (If You Think You Are)], two people hold contradictory notions about the identity of a third person. The protagonist in Vestire gli ignudi (1923) [To Clothe the Naked] tries to establish her individuality by assuming various identities, which are successively stripped from her; she gradually realizes her true position in the social order and in the end dies «naked», without a social mask, in both her own and her friends’ eyes. Similarly in Enrico IV (1922) [Henry IV] a man supposedly mad imagines that he is a medieval emperor, and his imagination and reality are strangely confused. The conflict between illusion and reality is central in La vita che ti diedi (1924) [The Life I Gave You] in which Anna’s long-lost son returns home and contradicts her mental conception of him. However, his death resolves Anna’s conflict; she clings to illusion rather than to reality. The analysis and dissolution of a unified self are carried to an extreme in Sei personaggi in cerca d’autore (1921) [Six Characters in Search of An Author] where the stage itself, the symbol of appearance versus reality, becomes the setting of the play.

The attitudes expressed in L’Umorismo [Humour], an early essay (1908), are fundamental to all of Pirandello’s plays. His characters attempt to fulfill their self-seeking roles and are defeated by life itself which, always changing, enables them to see their perversity. This is Pirandello’s humour, an irony which arises from the contradictions inherent in life.

Director Profile

David Bassuk, Creative Director and Professor working in Immersive Performance, Transmedia and Game Design in USA and China.
Creative Director of White Horse Immersive in Hangzhou, China – working in immersive interactive work in performance and interactive media. Previously, AD of Novel Stages Theater Co. in Phila and Ark Theater Company in L.A. – Worked at Lincoln Center Theater, American Place Theater, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Dean of Theater Arts & Film at SUNY Purchase College and Professor of Theater from 2003-present. Teaching explores integration of theater, transmedia storytelling, gameplay, and the design of immersive narratives and storyworlds, teacher and mentor to students working in pervasive and alternate reality games as well as transmedia narratives.

About the Conservatory of Theatre Arts

In our teaching and art, the Conservatory values inclusiveness, equality, and excellence. Upholding all of our training is our aim to train and graduate citizen artists: multifaceted people with a strong sense of purpose in approaching an arts education.

What is a citizen artist? Citizen artists seek to discover how their unique voices can contribute to our world. They understand what it means to be an artist, and what they are here on earth to say and do and make.

The Conservatory trains future citizen artists in three degree programs:

+ BFA Actor Training. The BFA is an intensive professional training program offered to a highly select and diverse group of students. The professional training is anchored in four years of study in acting, voice, speech, and movement, complemented by offerings in dramatic literature and analysis, history of the theatre, stage combat, improvisation, mask work, acting for the camera, and the business of acting. As one of five schools in the Consortium of Professional Theatre Training Programs, Purchase is one of a handful of colleges in the world capable of training artists at this level—and of drawing a faculty from the ranks of professional theatre

+ BFA in Theatre Design/Technology. Emphasizing studio and classroom training, our professional training program in theatre design/technology gives students the guidance and support of established and theatre industry professionals. Many of our alumni are recognized at the top of their field, and have received Tony, Emmy, Obie, and Drama Desk Awards, among other honors. Quite literally, Purchase grads are working in or have worked in every theatre on Broadway, in all tristate venues, and with countless touring productions

+ BA program in Theatre and Performance. From traditional theatre to cutting-edge interdisciplinary work, the theatre and performance major encourages creativity, intellectual curiosity, social engagement, and critical thinking. The core requirements combine scholarship and practice to provide students with a strong foundation in theatre history and dramatic literature, with mandatory stagecraft/production courses. Theatre and Performance majors are encouraged to expand the scope of their education by studying abroad, as well as pursuing coursework in other programs of study within the School of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Purchase College