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Actor Francesca Ravera combines classic style and bold experimentation
The world of live theater is one of the most dynamic and exciting environments for any player, one steeped in tradition yet also an ever-evolving arena of limitless creative potential.

For actor Francesca Ravera, the stage is like a second home, one where she creates new personas to express the universal truths common to us all. She was recently blessed with a golden opportunity to do just that, cast as the title character in playwright Steven Dietz's engrossing 'The Nina Variations.'

Staged at New York's Chain Theatre and directed by Francesco Campari and Emma Arlauskas, the play encapsulates theater's tandem culture of established classic style and bold experimentation.

'The Nina Variations' is a deftly wrought homage to Chekhov's masterpiece 'The Seagull' wherein characters Nina and Treplev explore dozens of alternative outccomes to the play's famed final scene.

With just two actors and no less than 42 scenes, 'The Nina Variations' is particularly challenging but for the Italian-born, New York based Ravera, it was a true passion project.

"I am so grateful I got to play Nina," Ravera says. "She has always been a dream role of mine and I got the chance to really explore the character, her relationship with Kostya, her love for Treplev, her wants and needs. It's fascinating how her character develops after experiencing love, loss and life."

Ravera met the challenging role head on—while she was preparing to appear in another, entirely different, production.

"I started work on this while I was rehearsing and performing another play, 'North of Providence,'" she explains. "So I was running from one rehearsal to the next, but  I would find something new about Nina at each rehearsal, as the star-crossed lovers explore their relationship and try to write a better ending to their story,to tell each other what they never did."

For Ravera, this was a deeply rewarding production. "Having the chance to work with directors Francesco Campari and Emma Arlauskas was wonderful," she says. "This was a great experience."

Campari agrees. "Besides her natural talent for storytelling, Francesa brings a very subtle grace to her unique interpretation of every role she plays," the co-director says. "It is a very uncommon quality that can be identified in just a handful of actresses her age. She approaches the play with wisdom and tenacity which makes my work as a director even more compelling."

The drive, talent and ability to concurrently develop two completely separate characterizations highlight both Ravera's dedication and deep creative capacity. These traits have made the actor a familiar, popular face in NYC theater—the in-demand Ravera has appeared as the lead in a series of well received productions, including Edward Allan Baker's "North of Providence" at the Chain Theatre, Lee Blessing's "Two Rooms" at the Access Theater, in addition to her successes with "A Thousand Clowns," "Taxi Tales,""Rules of Love" and more.

Naturally, Ravera doesn't limit herself to stage work, with memorable on-screen performances in Kaya Tone's "Creature of the Night"and Andrea Silvestro's "Claire."She was also cast in a pivotal role in the engrossing, offbeat feature "Ulysses: A Dark Odyssey." Directed by Federico Alotto ("L'uomo col cappello," "Spirit Chaser," "Sport Crime"), Ravera distinguished herself alongside such notables as the brilliant German veteran Udo Kier and Hollywood stalwart Danny Glover ("Lethal Weapon," "Highland Park").

She is currently taking on a very different project, starring in the timely science fiction film short 'Osiris.'

Set in the distant future, award-winning director Tamara Hansen helms the bleak topical sci-fi thriller about corporatized health care. After curing many incurable diseases, Osiris leads the world in providing healthcare but it's all about profit, not humanity.

"These advancements don't come with kindness," Ravera says. "I play a very particular type of nurse—a robot who assists in surgery, analyzes data, takes care of patients and detects a significant glitch in the system upon which the entire plot revolves."

Again, the talented actor easily managed concurrent disparate projects, having also just completed a successful off Broadway run starring in drama 'The Way We Get By' at Urban Stages.  Directed by the noted veteran Kim T. Sharp, Ravera played Beth, a young woman who awakens after a drunken one-night stand.

"It turns out to be much more," Ravera says. "The characters share a bond from their past, and it was super exciting to work on this script and be directed by Kim." The show was well received by the city's often tough critics, who praised Ravera's gift for her nuanced yet energetic performance.

The versatile, gifted Ravera's natural talent and hard-earned dramatic skills allow her to move effortlessly between stage and screen, an ability that steadily enhances her already formidable professional reputation.

"I love both theater and film," she says. "There's something magical about theater—you're performing in front of an audience, people are right there with you.  But I also love the intimacy of acting in front of the camera, how it reads everything that the actor is offering."

"They both give me different emotions and very different creative experiences. Ultimately I want to keep doing both in the future. It's a very exciting time for me, and can't wait to see what's next!"

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