Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Who is who? from David of La Famiglia Dimitri (post 1 of 2)

Hello all of you at the New Vic,

As our long awaited engagement in New York, is coming closer and closer, I thought to give you a bit of inside information about "La Famiglia.” (Pictured from left to right: David, Nina, Dimitri, Kai and Masha)

I'll start with the main man, Papa Dimitri. My father had great parents, both were artists, so the environment there was very creative, lots of sculptures and paintings around. Actually, "Dimitri" was my father’s first name. The family name, until recently, used to be Müller. But Müller is not the sort of glamour name suitable for a clown. So, when my father left the Company of Marcel Marceau in Paris to create his first one-man-show, he started calling himself "Dimitri" tout court. Since that time, about 50 years now, he is the "Clown Dimitri."

To have a clown as a father is quite interesting. People tend to think, that it’s fun around the house 24/7. But it’s true, actually, we really did have a lot of fun. My father has always been very loyal to his ideologies, no compromises when it comes down to his work. Can you imagine, back in the 70's - 80's when my father was often touring the US, he was asked to be on the Johnny Carson Show. Well, the concept of his appearance didn't quite coincide with my father’s ideas, so he refused to appear. (I would have fired my dad's PR advisor on the spot, for not convincing him to do the show anyway!)

My father is such a sweet person, he is so interested in people, in people’s problems. He's interested in almost everything. Dimitri is also a painter, an opera director, supports children in third world countries, helps campaigning (usually for minority groups). He still works non-stop on several projects simultaneously— be it concerts with Simon Rattle, promoting the de-mineing of mine fields or performing his three one-man-shows in repertory— Dad's 73 and still going strong. (-:

My father is married to my mother Gunda since ever. My mother is a very loving, quiet person, but she was feared in the theatre scene in Switzerland because of her honest criticism. My parents live in Ticino, the Italian speaking part of Switzerland. Same place I grew up. It’s about 2 miles from the Italian border, far up, inside a narrow valley called Centovalli. Country paradise.

My mother has been managing my father for almost 50 years now. She did a great job. Organizing tours all over the world. They founded the Dimitri Arts Center in Verscio. The Performing Arts Center consists of 2 theaters, an acting school, a clown museum, an acting company and a restaurant. You should visit some day, it really is amazing.

Stay tuned next week when we meet the rest of la famiglia!

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