Rome, January 1 – The lives and ambitions of great women and men from the last century are taking center stage in 2018, in the second half of the theater season in Italy. The first star of the new year is Dutch painter Vincent Van Gogh, the protagonist of the play “L’odore assordante del bianco” (The deafening smell of white) that is debuting at the Naples Theater Festival ahead of a tour across Italy. Alessandro Preziosi stars in the play directed by Stefano Massini. The father of psychoanalysis Sigmund Freud is the focus of “Freud o l’interpretazione dei sogni” (Freud or the interpretation of dreams), a play written by Stefano Massini with Fabrizio Gifuni with a cast directed by Federico Tiezzi to perform at Milan’s Piccolo Theater on January 23 through March 11. Valentina Lodovini and Ivano Marescotti have written a play based on key speeches by greats ranging from Demosthenes to Martin Luther King, Mahatma Ghandi, John F. Kennedy, Winston Churchill, Fidel Castro and Umberto Eco debuting in Gubbio on January 20. The piece is called “I have a dream – The words that have changed history”. Thomas Sankara, one of the most charismatic figures of the 1900s who transformed Burkina Faso just in three years, implementing legislation to promote gender equality, vaccination, education against genital mutilation, Aids, desertification and illiteracy, is played by Alberto Malanchino in “Verso Sankara” (Towards Sankara) at the Franco Parenti Theater in Milan on May 8-20. José Valenzuela Levy, known with the battle name of commander Ernesto, who at just 28 in 1986 organized a failed coup against Chile’s then-dictator Augusto Pinochet, which was followed by a crackdown known as the Matanza of Corpus, is the star of “L’acrobata” by Laura Forti. The play, directed by Elio De Capitani, debuts at Milan’s Elfo Puccini on January 8 through February 4. German-born Israeli author Savyon Liebrecht’s The Banality of Love, directed by Piero Maccarinelli is debuting at Naples’ Mercadante Theater on February 28 until March 11. Italian Nobel laureate Rita Levi Montalcini is the protagonist of “Le parole di Rita” (Rita’s words), written by Valentina Patera and Andrea Grignolio and interpreted by Giulia Lazzarini, debuting at Rome’s Vittoria Theater on May 8-13. Other prominent plays on the 2018 calendar include “Mozart” by Giuseppe Cederna at Rome’s India Theater on January 10-21 and the “Giudizio Universale” (Universal judgement) by Marco Balich, written in cooperation with the Vatican Museums, opening on March 15 at the Auditorium della Conciliazione, just a few steps from the Sistine Chapel.