Jannuzzi, Luigi 1952-
JANNUZZI, Luigi 1952-
PERSONAL: Born November 12, 1952, in Bound Brook, NJ; son of Louis (in construction) and Virginia Ann (a homemaker; maiden name, Curcio) Jannuzzi; married Patricia Christensen (a teacher), June 20, 1987; children: two sons. Ethnicity: "Italian American." Education: Attended Raritan Valley Community College; Salem University, West Virginia, B.A. (philosophy and theology), 1975; University of Notre Dame, M.A. (ethics), 1977. Religion: Catholic. Hobbies and other interests: "Comedy and fishing."
CAREER: Teacher and playwright. Immaculata High School, Somerville, NJ, teacher of drama, creative writing, and public speaking, 1978-2004. Also worked as a claims adjustor and realtor. Acted in and directed one-act plays A Bench at the Edge and The Barbarians Are Coming. Member, Metropolitan Theatre Company, New Jersey Repertory Theater, Waterfront Ensemble of Hoboken, and Genesis Repertory Theater.
MEMBER: Dramatist Guild.
AWARDS, HONORS: Goshen College Playwriting Peace Prize, 1986, for The Barbarians Are Coming; New Jersey State Council of the Arts fellowship, 1987, for A Bench at the Edge, and 1999, for Night of the Foolish Moon; Samuel French One-Act Competition winner, 1995, for The Appointment, and 1996, for With or Without You; National Endowment for the Humanities grants, 1995, 1998, 2001; Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation grants, 1995, 2001; Best One-Act in Ireland designation, 1999, and Best One-Act in Scotland and the United Kingdom designation, 2001, both for A Bench at the Edge; Walt Whitman Cultural Arts Center grant, 2001.
A Bench at the Edge (one-act play; produced in New York, NY, 1982), Samuel French, Inc. (New York, NY), 1982.
The Barbarians Are Coming (one-act play; produced in New York, NY, 1983), Samuel French, Inc. (New York, NY), 1986.
The Appointment (one-act play; produced in New York, NY), Samuel French, Inc. (New York, NY), 1996.
With or Without You (one-act play; produced in New York, NY, 1996), Samuel French, Inc. (New York, NY), 1997.
Night of the Foolish Moon (full-length play; produced in Somerset, NJ, 1998), Samuel French, Inc. (New York, NY), 1999.
For the Love of Juliet! (full-length play; produced in Long Branch, NJ, 1999), Samuel French, Inc. (New York, NY), 2004.
Coauthor, with Kent Bateman, of screenplay A Bench at the Edge. Contributor of comic monologue to National Public Radio, 1999; contributor to poetry anthology Antologia del nuovo mondo, Edizioni Algol, 1992.
SIDELIGHTS: An award-winning playwright of oneact theater pieces as well as full-length plays, Luigi Jannuzzi combines romantic/absurdist comedy with serious themes of love, truth, and the need to rise above it all. His one-act plays, such as A Bench at the Edge and The Barbarians Are Coming, provide staple fare for college productions. A long-time drama teacher, Jannuzzi left teaching in 2004 to devote himself full time to the theatre.
Jannuzzi's first produced and published play, A Bench at the Edge, was described by Gina Shaffer in the Los Angeles Daily News as a comedy "depicting a semi-surrealistic confrontation between a suicidal man and a sociable eccentric parked on a bench 'at the edge of the abyss.'" For Shaffer, Jannuzzi's "comic allegory is refreshingly offbeat." Robert Koehler in the Los Angeles Times similarly praised the "ingenious narrative turns" that help this play avoid "pretension." Reviewing a 1984 production, Drama-Logue's T. H. McCulloh called the work "a thought-provoking piece played in high comic style" and "a fine piece of writing." Almost two decades after it was written, Januzzi's one act won awards in Scotland and Ireland. Reviewing a Scottish performance in 2001, a contributor for the Caithness Courier called it an "intense, absorbing play."
Additional one-act plays from Jannuzzi include The Barbarians Are Coming, The Appointment, and With or Without You. In the first of these, two medieval lords are arguing over the type of tea to drink while barbarians are invading the castle and attacking its inhabitants. The play won the Goshen College Playwriting Peace Prize in 1986. The Appointment is another absurdist comedy, this time set in another world. A play about pettiness, understanding, equality, and God, it features a man with a three o'clock appointment with God. However, in the waiting room are two women also with three o'clock appointments. Trying to manipulate the situation, the man misses his own appointment with God. In With or Without You, a young woman meets with her ex-boyfriend who says he has all the inside information on her current boyfriend. George R. Hubbard, writing in the Louisville, Kentucky, Courier-Journal, praised the plot line of the play, noting that "one really wanted to know what happens next."
Jannuzzi's first full-length play, Night of the Foolish Moon, is a "modern-day takeoff on the Don Quixote story of 'Man of La Mancha,'" according to Thomasina Emory, writing in the Kalamazoo Gazette. In the play, Roger, an actor looking for new meaning in his life, takes a break from the theater. Meanwhile, his mother stages a community production of Man of La Mancha, a musical featuring the character of Don Quixote, who, in his quest for "the impossible dream," turns to knighthood. These dual missions cause a time warp to open between the medieval period of Don Quixote and the contemporary world of Roger. Don Quixote's sidekick, Sancho Panza, manages to slip through this warp to the modern day, but only Roger and his mother are able to see him. The play's production brought praise from many quarters. C. J. Gianakaris, writing in the Kalamazoo Gazette, found that it "provided plentiful laughs," and that "most of the standard ingredients of comedy are to be found" in it. Jim Breetveld, reviewing the same play in the Home News Tribune of East Brunswick, New Jersey, considered Night of the Foolish Moon a "highly imaginative comedy." Breetveld concluded, "this 'Moon' really shine[s]." And Stuart Duncan, writing in Time Off, noted that Jannuzzi's play serves up "good fun, plenty of chuckles and a couple of big laughs." For Duncan, the production was "something quite special."
Jannuzzi's second full-length play, For the Love of Juliet!, also takes a look back at theater history. In the comedy, Julie is an actress auditioning for the role of her life as Juliet in Romeo and Juliet. She has dedicated herself to an imaginary muse named Romeo, and now must choose between him and her real lover, who wants to come back into her life after a five-year absence.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Caithness Courier (Caithness, Scotland), February 28, 2001, "Making a Drama out of a Crisis," review of A Bench at the Edge.
Courier-Journal (Louisville, KY), May 24, 1996, George R. Hubbard, review of With or Without You.
Courier-News (Somerset, NJ), December 4, 1997, Debbie Mura, "Jannuzzi Takes Time out to Pen Plays," p. D8; May 14, 1998, Debbie Mura, "Jannuzzi Updates a Timeless Tale for Villagers," p. F4.
Drama-Logue, November 22-28, 1984, T. H. McCulloh, review of The Bench at the Edge.
Home News Tribune (East Brunswick, NJ), June 17, 1998, Jim Breetveld, review of Night of the Foolish Moon.
Irish Times, February 14, 2001, "The Tellings in the Tale," pp. 4-5.
Kalamazoo Gazette, February 17, 2002, Thomasina Emory, "'Foolish Moon' Has Fun with Don Quixote"; February 23, 2002, C. J. Gianakaris, "Play Fuses Farce, Sophisticated Comedy," review of Night of the Foolish Moon.
Los Angeles Daily News, November 25, 1984, Gina Shaffer, review of A Bench at the Edge, p. 20.
Los Angeles Times, December 14, 1984, Robert Koehler, review of A Bench at the Edge; July 30, 1999, Leslie Berger, "'Stories at the Moth' Wings Its Way from New York to L.A.," p. 29.
Time Off, June 5, 1998, Stuart Duncan, review of Night of the Foolish Moon, p. 10.
Official Luigi Jannuzzi Web site, http://www.jannuzzi.org (August 22, 2004).