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Coffee break: After 40 years, zero hour has arrived.

A PLAY which has never been performed before, despite being written more than 40 years ago, will be premiered in Wales this week.

The Zero Hour is something of a new departure for Cardiff-based Everyman Theatre, which is staging the play at Chapter Arts Centre. Writer Antonio Alessio has resisted showing his work until now as he had never felt the time was right for it to be performed.

The Italian, who now lives in Cardiff, was a friend and contemporary of novelist Umberto Eco and he has taught drama in this country and in Canada.

One of his early plays - The Case of Mr Fabris the Builder - was performed by Everyman back in 1966. Speaking of The Zero Hour, Alessio says: "It is not a traditional play, it is a visualisation of thoughts and ideas - a journey through the human mind between despair and hope, values and self-destruction, turning allegory and realism into a living experience."

Born in Alessandria, Italy, Alessio's interests in theatre started as a student doing satirical reviews with Umberto Eco.

He won the golden medal for best dramatic performance at the Interregional Amateur Theatre Competition in 1955 and lectured at the universities ofGenoa, Cardiff, Bristol and Leicester. He was professor of Italian for 28 years at McMaster University in Canada.

He was founder of the university company The Italian Masks, which was invited to the International Pirandello Theatre Festival in Agrigento, Italy in 1980.

Having discovered that Pirandello'smain interest was painting and art, Alessio was instrumental in the organisation of the first painting exhibition at the Pirandello Museum in Agrigento in the summer of 2003.

As for The Zero Hour, Alessio quotes Kandinski, saying: "The composition for the new theatre will consist of these three elements: musical movements, pictorial movements and physical movements.

These three, properly combined, make up the spiritual movement, which is the working of an inner harmony."

The Zero Hour. Chapter Arts Centre, Cardiff, from tomorrow until Saturday.

The box office number is 029 2030 4400.

Karen Price

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Apr 16, 2008
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