English Theatre of Rome celebrates 20 years

Gaby Ford's English Theatre of Rome celebrates 20th anniversary.

The English Theatre of Rome celebrates its 20th anniversary on 9 April. Formerly known as Off Night Repertory, the company was founded in 1996 and is based at Teatro Arciliuto near Piazza Navona.

Each season it covers five categories: a classic, a world premiere, a work by a woman author, an Italian premiere and bilingual events. In addition to providing a regular stream of diverse English-language productions, the theatre is recognised for taking risks and embracing the avant-garde.

The force behind the operation is Gaby Ford, a free-spirited and straight-talking New Yorker who has been acting in Italy since 1985. Although perhaps best known for her work behind the scenes, this director and drama professor is celebrated for her onstage work too.

Those who have seen Ford's one-woman autobiographical show over the years will attest to that. Described as "a wild and wacky adventure across four continents”, A Broad Abroad is candid and brave, bittersweet and funny, unpredictable and unsuitable-for-minors.

Gaby Ford in A Broad Abroad
Gaby Ford in A Broad Abroad

Ford's acting career in Italy, in her own words, has involved “mostly cameo character roles in films and television, typecast usually as a maleducata or malvestita foreigner – whether Brit, Yank, Irish or German, I’m the girl who doesn’t get the boy.”

Personal highlights over her theatre's two decades include working with deaf British comedian Steve Day and collaborating with actor-directors such as Dustin Wills, Douglas Dean and Dyanne White. As Ford's theatre company nears its 100th production it shows no signs of slowing down.

It is currently staging an all-female adaptation of Hamlet which runs until 10 April, and is holding its 20th anniversary bash at Teatro Arciliuto on 9 April.

This article was published in the April 2016 edition of Wanted in Rome magazine.