UConn Acting Senior Julia Estrada Impresses Audience in One-Woman Show

Students and faculty came together Wednesday night for a one-woman performance from eighth-semester fine arts acting senior Julia Estrada.

The performance, which was part of her honors thesis project, consisted of excerpts from playwright Franco D’Alessandro’s “Solo Anna,” a one-woman show about the Italian actress Anna Magnani.

“My ultimate goal is to share a story tonight, of an incredible actress who embraced her successes and failures in a way that I aspire to follow,” Estrada wrote in the playbill.

Estrada used a projector, screen, a door and two black walls to tell the story of a life seldom seen by the public eye.

While Estrada’s lines were directly delivered to the audience, talking at those who attended as if they were the people Magnani was speaking to, following the scenes was not difficult. The audience’s role shifted from a film director whom Magnani was working with to her husband Roberto Rossellini, as well as Tennessee Williams and other significant people within Magnani’s life.

In one part of Estrada’s performance the audience was able to see into the relationship between Magnani and Williams. According to The New York Times Full Biography of Anna Magnani, “Her [Magnani] relationship with Tennessee Williams continued to be incredibly strong. She was his muse and he based several roles in new works on her life and her acting ability.”

“I think what the greatest part for me lies in the storytelling aspect, one story after another and they all connected to each other,” said Gabriel Aprea, a fellow senior fine arts acting major, after the performance.

Justin Poruban, a sixth-semester Design and Technical Theatre major said in regards to the performance, “The fact that the performance was excerpts of Anna’s entire life was expressed still by her [Julia Estrada] even as she [Magnani] got older.”

Magnani died in 1973 of pancreatic cancer.  Her rise to stardom came about in 1955 when she appeared as the character Serafina in the film “The Rose Tattoo” based on the Tennesee Williams play and won the Oscar for best actress that year. Despite living in a time when Elizabeth Taylor was the biggest name in Hollywood, Magnani was still acclaimed, as seen by her Oscar.

Estrada’s performance served to tell a story that needed telling, and she shed light on the story of an actress who could be seen as a heroine in her own right.

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