THE TOTAL IMMERSION OF MADELEINE FAVORINI is a surreal 3-performer piece (some have called it a dramatic poem) in which thirty-eight year old Madeleine Favorini journeys from dutifulness to rebellion on a gynecological examining table that takes wing.
When the play begins Madeleine Favorini, in her slip, has been waiting for her doctor, her feet in the stirrups of a gynecological examining table — for two weeks! Madeleine is a dutiful woman who, all her life, has denied any rebelliousness in her nature. Today, her exhausted body rebels and the gynecological table — the play’s only prop — becomes a kind of magic carpet that takes Madeleine through a series of encounters; with her Italian-American family, her philandering former husband — and out into the realm of mythology, where she meets and falls in love with a Sicilian bandit, El Bandido Grandido — actually a God who, like an earth-bound Flying Dutchman, is doomed to roam the earth, until a speciﬁc woman can release his despairing spirit. Madeleine Favorini is that woman and she must destroy El Bandido Grandido, her ﬁrst grand love, in order to give him his “full out rest;” and in order for her to face an eternity that has frightened her all her life.
THE TOTAL IMMERSION OF MADELEINE FAVORINI is noted for long spoken arias (including the soaring “vacuum vagina” speech) ﬁlled with lyricism and images; and for its outrageous humor, painful discoveries and theatrical encounters.
FROM: “Reflections on a ‘Total Immersion’ Into the Works of Frank Gagliano”
– Greg Holt
“Make no mistake, however, Gaglianoʼs voice is unique. Tennessee Williams never wrote anything like the infamous “vacuum vagina” speech at the end of ‘The Total Immersion of Madeleine Favorini.’ It is classic Gagliano, and in many ways it is him at his best. Itʼs audacious, irreverent, and hysterical in its description of a woman at last being “opened up totally,” enabling her to feel “one long tunnel; from my pasta pit up to my mouth.” When she proclaims herself the “Vacuum Vagina of the World,” sucking in “all the worldʼs debris,” and anointing it all with ‘her lifeʼs fluid,’ you may momentarily fear it has gone over the top. But the genius of it lies in the context. For Madeleine this is her grand ecstatic enlightenment moment. She has been on a heroʼs journey from the beginning and for this previously ‘sewn up,’ ‘depressed and discarded WOP-American lady,’ this is nothing short of Jesusʼ seeing the dove descend on him after his baptism, or the earth trembling beneath Buddha at the moment of his enlightenment sitting at the foot of the Bo Tree. Performed in this spirit it succeeds not only in its audacity, its humor, but in its ecstasy. It takes Madeleine to a place of transcendence that in a few moments will enable her to unmask El Bandido and give him his long awaited ‘full-out rest,’ which then enables her to successfully face what she fears most.”
A SINGER/SONG “CENTER-OF-PAIN” TRACK
An inspiration for “The Total Immersion of Madeleine Favorini” was hearing for the first time legendary Portuguese Fado singer, Amalia Rodrigues. I was determined, somehow, to infuse and permeate the Rodrigues center-of-Pain sound into Madeleine Favorini’s reality-to-mythology journey. Here is a track of Amalia Rodrigues, singing one of her rip-your-heart-out songs: