Darwin’s Smile: Isabella Rossellini’s Monologue to Understanding Humans and Animals

“I combine science and art to explore the secret of empathy between living beings». This is how Isabella Rossellini, actress, model, director and recently ethologist, presents herself one woman show “Darwin’s Smile” scheduled at the Teatro Comunale in Vicenza on Tuesday, January 16. It is a monologue about the affinity of animal and human emotions, which is inspired by Charles Darwin’s book “The Expression of Emotions in Man and Animals”. Rossellini explores how empathy, a basic skill for acting, is also necessary for studying animal behavior.

The monologue, of which the actress is both the author and the heroine, thus turns into an unexpected lesson about evolution, in which “continuity” between humans and animals, especially in the way of expressing emotions. On stage, she transforms herself into a variety of animals, including dogs, cats, chickens and peacocks, and even Charles Darwin, draped in gorgeous and cumbersome costumes.

Isabella Rossellini has an ancient passion for animals that dates back to when she was a child. Her first pet was Yuppie, a Maltese given to her by her mother Ingrid Bergman. But What changed her view was Konrad Lorenz’s book on ethology, “King Solomon’s Ring” given to her by her father. That reading was the epiphany from which he began dream of becoming an ethologist though she would have succeeded much later if she had returned to university well into her fifties and graduated from Hunter College in New York with a master’s degree in Animal Behavior and Conservation and pursued breeding, fascinated by how animals change with domestication. .

Today he lives less than 100 kilometers from New York on his “Mama Farm” with 150 sheep, 10 goats, 20 ducks and 10 beehives and above all 1500 hens of many different breeds“Those who lay more eggs, those with more feathers, those who survive the hottest climate”, as she herself said during the presentation of her book entitled “My chickens and I” (Ed. Jaca Book), in which he told the stories of birds like Amelia Earhart, named after a late nineteenth-century pioneering pilot, or Speedy, who flies fast and never stops. And also the one who called Andy Warhol for the weird white tuft of feathers on his head and who likes to curl up on his feet but hates petting.

A farm where regenerative agriculture is practiced and where environmentally harmful pesticides, herbicides, insecticides and even fertilizers have been banned. The farm also became the setting for the film “Interaction – when cinema looks to nature”, an ambitious project in which twelve international directors, each in their own way, explore on the connection between nature, the world of animals and manchallenging issues from ecosystem protection to biodiversity, from climate change to risks to water resources.

Isabella Rossellini’s life change was also born out of a question the actress has asked her whole life, whether animals were able to think or feel like us: the question he found the answer to.

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