Movie Screening of “Liberi Tutti!” at Seton Hall University

The G. K. Chesterton Institute for Faith & Culture at Seton Hall University, the Rimini Meeting, the Department of Catholic Studies,  in collaboration with Campus Ministry, the Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures, and the Charles and Joan Alberto Italian Studies Institute are pleased to announce that the in-person Screening of “Liberi Tutti!”—a movie based on G. K. Chesterton’s play “The Surprise”—directed by Otello Cenci—will be presented at Seton Hall University on:

Wednesday, November 8, 2023 at 5:30 pm at the Theatre/University Center 

Introduction: Otello Cenci, Director

Remarks by: Dr. Dermot Quinn, Professor of History

The video recording of the stage production is in Italian with English subtitles.

The G. K. Chesterton Institute for Faith & Culture is grateful to the Rimini Meeting for their interest in G. K. Chesterton and in our work and for their invitation to the Institute to be a part of this excellent production. Special thanks to Otello Cenci!

Liberi Tutti! Premiered on-stage in August 2022 at the 2022 Rimini Meeting at special performances held at Teatro Gali in Rimini; in Brescia, Italy in January 2013 and at international online screening event in June 2023.

It has been a privilege for the G. K. Chesterton Institute for Faith & Culture to collaborate once again to bring Chesterton to the Rimini Meeting.  Our past collaborations include the state presentations of Chesterton’s “The Ballad of the White Horse” (2011), “Manalive” (2013) and a great Chesterton exhibit entitled “La Casa di Chesterton” (2013) which received over 60,000 visitors in one week. We are grateful to the Rimini Meeting and Otello Cenci for their invitation to be a part of the 2022 Rimini Meeting.

About Liberi Tutti!

A play inspired by G. K. Chesterton’s play “The Surprise.” The main theme is man and his desire for freedom: sometimes uncomfortable, often risky, but always indispensable. A theatrical production of the Rimini Meeting, directed by Otello Cenci; playwright by Otello Cenci and Giampero Pizzol. Literary consultancy by Annalisa Teggi and the G. K. Chesterton Institute for Faith & Culture.

The protagonist of Liberi Tutti! is a puppeteer with a noble heart who writes a simple fairytale comedy to show that telling a story without bad characters and evil deeds is possible. The bet is won, but the puppeteer is not satisfied. For his puppets, he wants a more ambitious future, he does not want them to interpret his work with obedience: for them, he dreams of the miracle of being, and not just acting.

Liberi Tutti! is inspired in a lesser-known work by G. K. Chesterton, “The Surprise” (1931), written by the English writer for a presentation at the Beaconsfield Theatre, his adopted town. With this text, Chesterton perhaps wanted to respond, in his own way to Pirandello’s Six Characters in Search of an Author (1921); it is the theatre play of the theatre, in fact, this also gives body to Chesterton’s text, which differs from the work Pirandello, for its extreme lightness and irony, which are his trademarks with which he treats deep and important themes. The plot, has been reinterpreted for a contemporary audience by Otello Cenci and Giampiero Pizzol, focuses on man and the intimate questions that that animate him, addressing with wit and a surprising attitude the themes of the free love passions and the desire for happiness.

The theme of last year’s Meeting was “A Passion for the Person.” Otello Cenci remarked: “As I was looking for a work that would deepen the theme of this year’s meeting, I came across the text of Chesterton’s The Surprise. This text has been adapted under the title of Liberi Tutti! which is based on Chesterton’s play written in 1931 for a performance in his hometown of Beaconsfield. Through this text, perhaps Chesterton wanted to answer in his own way to Six Characters in Search of an Author by Pirandello (1921). Otello says: “it is the Metatheatre that gives substance to Chesterton’s text, which differs from Pirandello’s work for its extreme lightness and irony through which profound and important themes are addressed.”

In 1991, Cam Fuller, of the Saskatoon Star Phoenix writes the following: On one level, it’s a simple story about puppets that come to life; perfect children’s fair. One step deeper, it’s a profound examination of the nature of man’s relationship to God, perfect grist for the questioning philosopher in us all.”

In 2015, the Review published a note by the director of the adaptation done by the Storm Theatre in New York: “Chesterton believed that the Incarnation was the idea that was central to civilization. The Surprise is a play, which expresses his conviction in a surprising way. Although incomplete at the time of his death in 1936, it was edited and—perhaps—slightly revised when it was published in 1953 with an admiring Preface by Dorothy L. Sayers

About the director of Liberi Tutti!

Otello Cenci is Director of the Performing Arts Division at the Rimini Meeting and Creative and Artistic Director at Made Officina Creativa. He has produced stage adaptations of works by T. S. Eliot, A. Camus and G. Leopardi as well as TV productions (RAI2), and the stage production of Aldo Finzi’s “La Serenata al Vento,” and has also directed productions of works by Shakespeare, Thomas More and Paul Claudel among others. In 2011, he worked with the G. K. Chesterton Institute for Faith & Culture for the stage production of Chesterton’s “The Ballad of the White Horse” (Rimini Meeting, 2011); and in 2013 for the production of Chesterton’s “Manalive” (Rimini Meeting 2013). Mr. Cenci is currently working with the Institute in preparation for this year’s stage production of Chesterton’s play “The Surprise” which will be presented at the Rimini Meeting 2022 (August).