Fratellanza means brotherhood

And we are indeed brothers. But beyond that, we lead a troupe of theater artists. We start each project with an ensemble and a question about one of the corners of the human heart. Making the show is our way of satisfying that curiosity. But we are never sated. That is why we do live theater. That is why at some point along the way, we welcome audiences to search with us.

Fratellanza was founded in 2012. What started as two people with a desire to create has grown into a larger family with each project. All of the company’s shows are made from scratch: on day one, there is no script, no design, no story, no form. What we do have is a question about the world and a team of artists – be they actors, musicians, puppeteers, visual artists, videographers. The rehearsal period is a long, curving, sometimes painful, always joyful process in which each artist opens their heart to the question at hand and applies their particular craft to generate material.

Because each project has a different team and set of themes, there is not a Fratellanza “style”; each show emerges from its unique ingredients. War and Peace (2011) and The Mute Quire (Best International Production 2014, Galway Fringe), are acrobatic responses to works by Tolstoy and Shakespeare; String Up the Moon (2013) is a lean, shadowy adaptation of Russian stories; Zealous Whig (2011 & 2016) and Charlie Blows a Bulb (2015) are solo shows based on ideas about Declaration of Independence and Walmart.

We know that we make theater. But not everybody does. After our first show, a man in the audience came up to us and said, "I hate theater. But I love whatever that was." Sometimes our shows don't feel like traditional theater because the form of the work, the artistic language in which we speak is created alongside the content that we develop. We develop that form in an effort to impact contemporary audiences most deeply.

Our next show will be our most here-and-now yet. Reacting to the current moment of change in Detroit and in the Midwest as a whole, we’re turning our focus to the automobile – once King in Motown – now giving way to a new space as people find other ways to move. Our project is a poetic look at life in the Rust Belt, involving an array of characters who meet in a Michigan town in 2017.  

Paul Manganello co-founded Fratellanza and his work with the company has taken him from undercover investigations in America's first vineyards to acrobatics in a church in Galway. Recently, he created and directed short works for the Detroit Dance Race and Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind (UnTheatre at Matrix Theatre Company); last year, he revived his one-man show Zealous Whig in Chicago under the auspices of Pursuit Productions. As teacher: the Professional Performing Arts School in New York City; the Detroit School of Arts; Planet Ant. Training: 2012 Fulbright Arts Scholarship to Scuola Teatro Dimitri; École LASSAAD.

photo by Costa Sirdenis

photo by Costa Sirdenis

James Manganello co-founded Fratellanza and the company has had him dangling from the catwalks of a former film studio in Detroit and tumbling on the cobblestones of Edinburgh. In addition to developing the new Fratellanza show, he continues developing theater and opera projects in the UK. He's created intimate operas for Scottish Opera and Fulham Opera. And he's currently in the process of developing an ensemble of dancer-actors in Glasgow.