When people ask me what I do for a living, I tell them that I’m a clown and I take it very seriously! The term “clown” (or “pajiass” in my local dialect) is sometimes used pejoratively to describe someone who’s useless and good for nothing, but professional clowning is an art form. It’s steeped in a breathtaking blend of melancholy and magnificence, as encapsulated by Fellini’s introspective exploration of circus life and the world in his 1970 film “The Clowns”.
How did all this happen? In the 1990s, I had the honour and privilege of meeting a wonderful person called Father Vittorio Chiari, who was a Salesian from Reggio Emilia. He worked in a home for street kids and juveniles from detention centres, guiding them through a rehabilitation process that involved theatre and a social and educational programme. I took part in the first clown course run by Bano Ferrari and put on a show with all of the other participants that told the story of the circus.
I then went on to do the normal thing and found a “proper” job working for a company. It seemed that I’d found my path in life, but there was a nagging thought eating away inside me and I eventually came to realize that my life wouldn’t be complete without a red nose in it.
I resigned from my job and started looking at things from a whole new perspective, as I forged working relationships and valued friendships with exceptional artists during shows all over Italy. I had a hectic, nomadic lifestyle during my time on the road, but I was always based in Castelnovo ne’ Monti and I always came home to the Pietra di Bismantova.
It never crossed my mind to leave my home town or look for a house elsewhere. My travels have taken me nearly everywhere in Italy and made me realize that our local area is one of the most beautiful parts of the whole country. It’s a great place to rest and recharge your batteries when your body tells you that you need a break and you realize that you’re struggling to laugh with people and fill them with joy during your professional endeavours.
They say that no one is a prophet in their own land and it’s a funny thing that’s always puzzled me, but perhaps it’s been for the best: elsewhere I’m a highly esteemed professional artist, but here I’ve had the opportunity to be plain old Mally.
I think that the time’s come to put down some solid roots. There’s a property that’s belonged to my family for many years and I’d like to use it to host activities for schools, families and youngsters from the Castelnovo area. I finally feel the need to make a valuable contribution to the place where I live. For the first time in my life, I want to take the plunge, grab the common thread running through my life and my love for wearing red noses, and wrap it all around my home. It’s going to be a launch pad for pilot schemes that I’m going to take all over the place with the artist Bano Ferrari, who’s been alongside me in all sorts of shows and adventures. We’re going to invite people and artists to come and see this wonderful place, which is our home.