Check out this interview with Marisa!
MARROW'S EDGE: How are you involved in Beatrice and what excited you about the project?
MARISA FRATTO: I am playing Beatrice! What excited me about tackling this role is that it’s so funny. I’m not sure this is what you’d expect if someone handed you a script about Dante’s central figure. Also, so much of the play is about Beatrice’s struggle to reconcile what she thought her life would be like (from a wildly imaginative girl) to what it actually requires to be an adult woman in this society. This struggle is one I could relate to fully. In all honesty, I always thought life would be exactly like singing along to Toni Braxton’s first album on my mom’s coffee table in my full dress-up attire. And so facing my adult choices hit me hard - truly understanding that you can’t always go back to right your wrongs. Although Bea is in 13 c. Italy, you find that you can relate more easily than you previously might have thought. How do you keep moving forward? This is a question both Bea and I constantly wrestle with.
MARROW'S EDGE: What resonates with you about your character (or the costume, or set)?
MARISA FRATTO: The complexity, humor, and struggle within each of her relationships – most specifically her father. I, too, grew up with a single, widowed parent. And there is something so deep about the connection between parent and child when the other parent has died. You fulfill (or at least you try) a multitude of roles beyond just child and it makes you mindful of death and notions of what heaven is and your relationship to God (or some sort of higher being) from such a young age.
MARROW'S EDGE: If you could go back to any time and place, what would it be? And who would you be?
MARISA FRATTO: I struggle with two things: would I be Jane Eyre or Claire Beauchamp in Outlander? I would take either, really.
MARROW'S EDGE: What's your favorite Italian thing to do?
MARISA FRATTO: Being 100% Italian on both sides, I’m not sure anything I do or say is anything but Italian, but my favorite thing is to be with my family. My whole family (my mother has 5 siblings) – all my aunts, uncles, cousins, and my grandfather – I thrive in these environments and as a child wished we all lived together in one big house.
MARROW'S EDGE: Have you read the Divine Comedy? If so, what did you think? If not, any plans to?
MARISA FRATTO: Caution: nerd alert ahead! I took an entire class on Dante lead by Dr. Ron Herzman and Dr. Bill Cook at Geneseo (wohoo!). Truly the dynamic duo – they point out the nuances and lessons of Dante with such enthusiasm and humor. It made Dante seem so alive for me. I’m more of a Chaucer girl, but this Dante class is what started my medieval journey, I guess you could say. Wow, that’s so nerdy, right?
MARROW'S EDGE: Beatrice gives a voice to a woman in history we don't know anything about. What's your opinion on the status of the female narrative (or other voices) in today's theatre?
MARISA FRATTO: What I love about Beatrice is that yes, we have scenes where Bea reacts to the men in her life, but Bea is after something else –freedom. This is why my favorite scenes are with Vanna (her best friend). Because Bea wants Vanna to see that there is life outside of this construction that has been set up for them. She wants to bake her own cake – if that makes sense – and then maybe a guy would be the icing – more like a flower decal for Bea. And I get that. Your relationship is a part of you, but not ALL of you. I always say that no one told me about the second act of Into The Woods until it was too late. So I’d like to keep seeing more works that show women wrestling with ALL the things that make them whole. And for Viola Davis to be in all of it.