HISTORIC TRIANGLE — “Ten Questions with” is a series that allows readers to get to know local business leaders, volunteers and community members in the Historic Triangle.
This week, meet Michael Pedretti.
What is your job title and description?
Officially, I am retired. I write several hours every day and have had nine books published since relocating to Williamsburg in 2016. My most important job was as Artistic Director and Founder of Movement Theatre International, where I produced the longest-running international theater festival in America.
Who do you interact/work with on a regular basis?
I am active member of the programming committee of CIAO, the local American-Italian organization. As a writer, I spend a lot of time researching.
How do you/your organization interact with the local community?
I give presentations about my writing and about clown-theater. I will be presenting a program about both on Sept. 20 at the Reves Center for International Studies, where I will talk about one of my latest books, “The Inside Story of Movement Theatre International’s Mime and Clown Festivals” which covers the work of hundreds of clown-theater and mime-theater artists who redefined the art form in the latter part of the 20th Century.
I have donated eight of my books to the Williamsburg Regional Library. All are available for general circulation.
What is something about your job most people wouldn’t know about?
The opportunity to meet and become life-long friends with creative people.
How do you define success?
Giving more than you take.
What is your most successful accomplishment to date?
Being genuinely happy in marriage for over thirty years, and raising four kind, talented, and gifted children. Professionally, the work I did to present and promote mimes and clowns both as a producer and writer had extensive influence on the development of the art form and the public’s awareness of the art form.
How long have you lived/worked in the Historic Triangle?
Since March 2016.
What is your favorite part of being in the Historic Triangle?
The wonderful people I have met and come to love, the great restaurants, and the fact that friends and relatives come to visit to see the historical sights.
What do you do for downtime/to relax?
I enjoy all creative activities — most of all writing poetry. The most challenging (therefore fun) writing during the past five years was completing the book about the amazing clowns and mimes that performed at the festivals I directed.
[The book, “The Inside Story of Movement Theatre International’s Mime and Clown Festivals” tells the story of ground-breaking movement theater performers of the late twentieth century. It explores how the virtuoso stage clowns and mimes drew on all the performing arts to create and star in shows to reveal our deepest thoughts and feelings. They ignored taboos and busted boundaries to redefine the relationship between performer and audience, making a theater of kindness — a theater of joy.]
What is the next step in your journey?
My very first step will be a presentation about mimes and clowns as transnational artists at Reves Center for International Studies. I will show the audience clips from some great clown-theater artists and read from my book.
I am working on the next book in the series titled The Story of Our Stories, a twelve-volume epic that tells the story of an immigrant family (six volumes are published and
available at the library). I am also putting the finishing touches on my second book of poems which is titled, “Twenty Poems written in 2020.” The book will be published in October.
Pedretti will speak about the history of mime and how it transcends borders and nationality at the Reves Center for International Studies at William & Mary on Wednesday, Sept. 20 at 4 p.m. in the Reves Room. The talk is free and open to the public. Copies of his book will also be available for purchase.