by Tony Nardi



With Tony Nardi

(Film Version in English)

Saturday June 30, 2012 at 12:30pm, TIFF Bell Lightbox, Cinema 3

Screening will be followed by a debate/panel with Nick Mancuso, writer Jim Purdy, director Jerry Ciccoritti, screenwriter Frank Borg, and Tony Nardi, moderated by Laura D'Aprile.

Tony Nardi – Actor/Writer/Producer

Tony Nardi’s acting experience has been diverse and prolific, in live theater, television and film.

Born Antonio Luigi Nardi, in Calabria, Italy, in 1958, he came to Canada at the age of six. As an actor he received his training in Montreal at the Actor's Studio, The Banff School of Fine Arts, The Stratford Festival, and Italy.

He has appeared in over 50 plays, in English, French and Italian, ranging from classics such as Uncle Vanya, Julius Caesar, The Servant of Two Masters, Caesar and Cleopatra, to more experimental and collective-driven works, Pericles Prince Of Tyre, By W.S. by Rene'-Daniel Dubois, Les Guerriers, and La Storia Calvino (Dora Award Nomination for Artistic Excellence in 1985).

In 1979, in Montreal, he wrote his first play, La Storia dell'Emigrante (Story of the Emigrant), in collaboration with Vincent Ierfino, marking the first time, possibly in Canada, that a play, written by Italian-Canadians, in Italian (Calabrian dialect), about Italian-Canadians, was produced by a handful of professional Italian-Canadian actors. A remount in 1980 played (once again) to sold-out houses and received considerable attention from (French and English) mainstream press. Scenes from the play were filmed for television, including the docudrama Caffe’ Italia (dir. Paul Tana). La Storia dell'Emigrante convinced Nardi that creative fulfillment (if at all possible) occurs only when the artist is totally engaged (and anchored) in one’s own experience, one that speaks directly to a ‘specific’ audience. Though the play was inspired by and dedicated to Italian-Canadians, its theatricality did not exclude other communities. In 1982, La Storia dell'Emigrante was mounted in Toronto at the Ontario Multicultural Theatre Festival and received the James Buller Award for best original Canadian play. The experience, the overwhelming audience reaction, and Italian-Canadians’ hunger for theatre made clear, in Montreal and Toronto, that the Italian-Canadian community was not being served by professional (mainstream/non-mainstream) and community-based theatre in Canada.

From 1978 to 1980 he took part in three seminal theatre projects. The first was Alexander Hausvater's Solzhenitsyn, depicting life in the Soviet Gulag. The second was Arthur Kopit’s Indians at Townstage, directed by David Rimmer. The third - a David Rimmer adaptation of Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four. The three projects cemented, in Nardi, the importance of choosing creative projects consistent with one’s deep-rooted convictions and ideas, and brought home Orwell’s words: “The opinion that art should have nothing to do with politics is itself a political attitude.

Through the 80's, Tony Nardi leapfrogged from Theatre 2000 in Ottawa (performing in the world premiere of W.O. Mitchell's For Those in Peril on the Sea), to the Stratford Festival (winning a Tyrone Guthrie apprentice award in 1982), to Halifax’s Neptune Theatre where he played in Filthy Rich, to a cross-Canada tour of Sandinista with the Great Canadian Theatre Company in ’83. The production brought Nardi face to face with many Latin-American political refugees - including actors who reminded him that art should never become a slave to politics, and that political theatre must be theatre first, then politics. He worked with Mike Alfreds of Shared Experience (England) in Toronto’s Masterclass Theatre’s False Admissions, in Michael Springate’s Dog And Crow at Factory Theatre and John Mighton’s Scientific Americans at Theatre Passe Muraille.

In 1985, Nardi went to Rome (on a Canada Council grant) to work and study with commedia dell’arte master, Alberto Fortuzzi. This began a five-year collaboration on both sides of the Atlantic, culminating in the 1990 production A Modo Suo, A Fable ("Each in his/her own way").

In Italy Nardi took part in Fortuzzi’s play, Repertorio All’antico, a five and a half hour trilogy. It was during this time that Nardi rediscovered the importance of improvisation when working on scripted material, modern or classic.

A Modo Suo, A Fable, which Nardi wrote (in Calabrian), co-directed and co-produced, is a tragic comedy about an Italo-Québecois family’s struggle with its past, present and future. It was presented at Canadian Stage (Berkeley Street Theatre) with the intent of bringing those Italian-Canadians living north of the 401 south, to the downtown core, to a mainstream theatre to witness a non-mainstream play. It garnered a 1990 Dora Nomination for Best New Play. An English translation by Nardi and Antonino Mazza was published in The Canadian Theatre Review, 2000 fall issue.

In 2001/2002 Nardi performed in five plays with Soulpepper: A Flea In Her Ear (for which he receive a Dora Nomination); La Ronde, Ionesco’s The Lesson (for which he received a Dora Award); A Winter’s Tale; and Miss Julie.

Leading roles in film include La Sarrasine (dir. P. Tana) for which he received a Genie Award for best performance by an actor in a lead role and La Déroute (dir. P. Tana) for which he received le Prix Guy L’Écuyer for best actor (1998) at Les Rendez-Vous Du Cinéma Québécois and a Genie Award Nomination for best performance by an actor in a lead role. In both films Nardi served as dramaturg and, in the latter, as co-screenwriter. Others films include Angel In A Cage (M.J.Gomes), and My Father’s Angel (dir. Davor Marjanovic) for which he received his second Genie Award for best performance by an actor in a lead role, Mylan Cheylov's Under My Skin, Atom Egoyan's The Adjuster and Speaking Parts, Carlo Liconti's Vita Cane, Brownbread Sandwiches, and Concrete Angels, for which he received a best supporting actor Genie nomination in ‘88, Andre' Forcier's Une Histoire Inventee and Kalamazoo, Johanne Prégent’s Les Amoureuses, Robert Menard’s Cruising Bar, and La Bruttina Staggionata (dir. Anna Di Francisca).

His TV appearances include the miniseries Indian Summer: The Oka Crisis, Il Duce Canadese, for which he received a 2006 Gemini nomination for best performance by actor in a lead role, Bonanno: A Godfather’s Story, and Almost America (dir. the Frazzi bros.).

Other TV credits include Atikka (dir. Euzhan Palcy), Rossini's Ghost and Galileo: On the Shoulders of Giants (dir. David Devine) and In The Presence of Mine Enemies (dir. Joan Micklin Silver).

Rarely mentioned in a CV/BIO are works an actor did not do. Usually, one automatically thinks of projects one would like to have done. In Nardi’s case, noteworthy are the projects Nardi turned down, in theatre and film, because of their racist nature, overtornes, and undertones. These projects, sadly, are too numerous to mention. Most did very well, and were even liked by many Canadians of all ethnic backgrounds. These projects are a constant reminder to Nardi that the only way to decrease their number is to create and produce authentic tales that constantly keep us looking within.

In 1993 Tony Nardi was awarded the Commemorative Medal for the 125th Anniversary of Canadian Confederation, given to those who have made a significant contribution to Canada, to their community, or to their fellow Canadians.