The Comical Nature of Isabella Rossellini

Published January 14, 2014

Isabella Rossellini—model, writer, director, and entertainer—brings her love of animals to the stage this month at Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM). Adapted from the lauded Sundance series Green Porno, her live show of the same name comes in the form of a monologue, a comical conference using images and short videos from Rossellini’s Green Porno, Seduce Me, and Mammas—her three series surrounding the mating and parenting rituals of insects and marine life. While education may seem to be the purpose of the show, this is not Rossellini’s goal: she sees herself purely as a performer who translates her interest in biology into entertainment. In fact, Rossellini, who is earning a Master’s degree in animal behavior and conservation, is not interested in sex or mating rituals so much, “but sex is what people like, it’s titillating and exciting,” she says.

Part of the project was to translate the dense language of scientific texts into something that is both funny and interesting. What first drew her attention was a book on animal parenting that discusses different types of motherhood—mothers who abandon their babies and mothers who nurture their babies. She found it both “modern” and “amusing,” inspiring her series Mammas. It is these kinds of new discoveries about the world around us that she sees almost as a “fantasy” and continually capture her interest in writing about animals in a comical way. Rossellini is a storyteller and, with the help of the puppetry and day-glo costumes in her video series, will go further in depth of the peculiar reproductive habits of various animals, including how the praying mantis consumes its partner during the act or how the male bee loses his penis after copulating.

Rossellini co-wrote the show with French screenwriter Jean-Claude Carrière, who she describes as “wonderfully funny and wise;” he helped her adapt her two-minute shorts into a full monologue. The show was also directed by Muriel Mayette, the general administrator of the Comédie-Française, who added to the comedy of the show in its stage form.

ISABELLA ROSSELLINI’S ONE-WOMAN SHOW, GREEN PORNO, PLAYS AT BAM FROM JANUARY 16 TO 25.