Sunday, March 17, 2024

Spotlight on “Bambino Mio — Bright Little Flame”: A Play Exploring the Legacy of Maria Montessori coming in April to Arizona Theatre Matters' YouTube Channel

L to R — Nehemiah Danjuma, Rachel Temitope, Binta Mohammed and Ololade Adekanmi
ATM Sign Language Team in rehearsal

A fiery exploration of love, loss, and the revolutionary educational methods of Maria Montessori unfolds in the two-hander play, “Bambino Mio — Bright Little Flame” by Jeanmarie Simpson. This powerful production by Arizona Theatre Matters, based in Glendale, Arizona, delves into the complex life of the Italian physician and educator, raising questions about family, sacrifice, and the impact of visionary ideas.

A Prolific Voice:

Simpson is a seasoned playwright and actress with a diverse body of work. She is perhaps best known for her one-woman show, “A Single Woman,” which tells the story of Jeannette Rankin, the first woman elected to the U.S. Congress. Simpson has also garnered acclaim for her solo shows, including “Heretic — the Mary Dyer Story,” which explores the life of a Quaker martyr, and “Coming In Hot,” which portrays 19 women who served in the U.S. military. Through these powerful monologues, Simpson demonstrates her ability to bring historical figures to life with depth and nuance, sparking conversations about social justice, faith, and the experiences of women throughout history.

More Than Just a Historical Biopic:

“Bambino Mio — Bright Little Flame” transcends the boundaries of a simple historical biopic. It delves into universal themes of love, loss, and the sacrifices we make for our beliefs. By using Montessori’s life as a springboard, Simpson invites audiences to examine their own choices and grapple with questions about ambition, family, and the legacy we leave behind.

A Sign of the Times:

Theatre enthusiasts can look forward to a unique experience in April when a video of “Bambino Mio — Bright Little Flame” is released on the Arizona Theatre Matters YouTube channel. This production features the talents of renowned Phoenix Metro area theatre artists: Maren Maclean as the voice of Maria, Hira Ismail as Githa, and Chris Mascarelli as the Narrator. The Bridge Initiative’s Brenda Jean Foley directed the voice actors.

Adding another layer of inclusivity, the production features a BIPOC Deaf sign language team led by Ololade Adekanmi. Binta Mohammed signs the character of Maria, Rachel Temitope signs Githa, and Nehemiah Danjuma signs the Narrator. This innovative approach broadens the play’s reach and allows a wider audience to connect with the powerful story of Maria Montessori. Additionally, the video will be captioned in over 300 languages, making it accessible to a truly global audience. The production and video are funded by grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Arizona Commission on the Arts, and the Living History Foundation.

A Must-See for Theater Enthusiasts:

“Bambino Mio — Bright Little Flame” promises to be a powerful and thought-provoking theatrical experience. With its captivating performances, exploration of complex themes, and historical context, it is sure to resonate with audiences seeking a deeper understanding of Maria Montessori’s life and legacy, while also prompting introspection about personal choices and societal expectations.

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