THE MANDRAKE ROOT
Jacopo Rampini, Francesco Andolfi,
Irene Turri, Carlotta Brentan,
Lenny Ciotti, Laura Lamberti.
Presented at NYU Casa Italiana Zerilli-Marimo’,
The Bernie Wohl Center and Vassar College.
The Mandrake Root is a satirical play by the author of The Prince, Niccolò Machiavelli. Although the five-act comedy was published in 1524 and first performed in the carnival season of 1526, Machiavelli likely wrote The Mandrake Root in 1518 to be performed at the wedding of Duke Lorenzo de’ Medici and Maddalena de la Tour d’Auvregne. KIT is reviving this seldom-produced play with its youth division, the YoungKIT. The production features only 6 actors, a handful of props and a few costumes, and Macchiavelli’s masterpiece translated into English, while retaining some elements of the original Italian version.
Niccolò di Bernardo dei Machiavelli 3 May 1469 – 21 June 1527) was an Italian Renaissance diplomat, philosopher and writer, best known for The Prince (Il Principe), written in 1513. He has often been called the father of modern political philosophy and political science. For many years he served as a senior official in the Florentine Republic with responsibilities in diplomatic and military affairs. He wrote comedies, carnival songs, and poetry. His personal correspondence is of high importance to historians and scholars. He worked as secretary to the Second Chancery of the Republic of Florence from 1498 to 1512, when the Medici were out of power. Machiavelli’s name came to evoke unscrupulous acts of the sort he advised most famously in The Prince. Machiavelli considered political battles, not through a lens of morality, but as though they are a board game with established rules. His experience showed him that politics have always been played with deception, treachery and crime. He also notably said that a ruler who is establishing a kingdom or a republic, and is criticized for his deeds, including violence, should be excused when the intention and the result is beneficial. Machiavelli’s Prince was much read as a manuscript long before it was published in 1532 and the reaction was mixed. Some considered it a straightforward description of the evil means used by bad rulers; others read in it evil recommendations to tyrants to help them maintain their power. The term Machiavellian often connotes political deceit, deviousness, and realpolitik. Even though Machiavelli has become most famous for his work on principalities, scholars also give attention to the exhortations in his other works of political philosophy. While much less well known than The Prince, the Discourses on Livy (composed c. 1517) is often said to have paved the way of modern republicanism.