"We don't see things as they are, we see them as we are" Anais Nin

Η Κόλαση του Δάντη στο Φεστιβάλ Αθηνών 2009

Έπειτα από το έργο Tragedia Endogonidia, που ήταν βασισμένο στο μοντέλο της ελληνικής τραγωδίας, ο Romeo Castellucci μας παρουσιάζει την “Kόλαση” από τη “Θεία Κωμωδία” του Δάντη, ένα από τα αριστουργήματα της ευρωπαϊκής λογοτεχνικής παράδοσης. Η παράσταση έκανε πρεμιέρα στο φεστιβάλ της Avignon, το καλοκαίρι του 2008. Το έργο αυτό αποτελεί την ολοκλήρωση ενός κύκλου του Castellucci, που εξετάζει τον θεατρικό, και όχι μόνο, ορίζοντα του ευρωπαίου πολίτη.

Ο Castelluci συνδυάζει τους διαφορετικούς τομείς τέχνης, χρησιμοποιώντας το ίδιο καλά τις οπτικές και ηχητικές δυνατότητες του παραδοσιακού θεάτρου με αυτές των σύχρονων τεχνολογιών.

Ο θίασος Societas Raffaello Sanzio, που ιδρύθηκε το 1981, ανεβάζει έργα που “ξεπερνούν” τις προεκτάσεις του δραματικού κειμένου, ακυρώνοντας με αυτό τον τρόπο την υπεροχή του.

Περισσότερες πληροφορίες:

Socìetas Raffaello Sanzio

Φεστιβάλ Αθηνών

Societas Raffaello Sanzio-Romeo Castellucci

Κόλαση

2 Ιουνίου 2009, 21:00

Βασισμένο στη Θεία Κωμωδία του Δάντη

Σκηνοθεσία – Σκηνικά – Φωτισμοί – Κοστούμια: Romeo Castellucci
Πρωτότυπη μουσική: Scott Gibbons
Χορογραφία: Cindy Van Acker, Romeo Castellucci
Συνεργάτης – Σκηνογράφος: Giacomo Strada
Γλυπτά, μηχανισμοί και εφέ: Istvan Zimmermann and Giovanna Amoroso

Ερμηνεύουν:
Silvia Costa, Alessandro Cafiso, Maria Luisa Cantarelli, Elia Corbara, Sara Dal Corso, Manola Maiani, Luca Nava, Gianni Plazzi, Stefano Questorio, Sergio Scarlatella, Silvano Voltolina, 50 κομπάρσοι και 7 παιδιά

Jackie Fletcher reports

Dateline: 10th July, 2008

Inferno
Part I of The Divine Comedy by Dante
Romeo Castellucci – Societas Raffaello Sanzio
Cour d’Honneur, Papal Palace
Until 12 July at 10pm

I could write pages about the Inferno, but I won’t, because I don’t want to spoil the surprises for those who might be in the Avignon area and intend to queue for a ticket to see this remarkable work themselves. It is a spectacular performance, rich in sensual experiences, which takes us on a rollercoaster journey through the emotions, with delight, amazement, awe and sense of a sharing welding the diversity of images into a coherent whole. It is an experience, wave after sensual wave of music, sound and image, which provokes reflection and elicits sensual memories, images generated by our own personal experiences, resonances that are profound and that engrave themselves into one’s very being.

Romeo Castellucci, co-artistic director of this year’s festival, has transformed the Inferno into a performance at one and the same time deeply personal, broadly universal and site-specific. Dante wrote the first great masterpiece of Italian literature during a period of considerable political and economic upheaval. Power struggles between the rich and mighty, and the incumbent religious strife, embroiled populations across Europe in widespread uncertainty and often material misery. It is an all too familiar story and one which is apposite to the present day.

At the time of its writing, Pope Clement V (who makes an appearance in Dante’s original) under threat from Italian potentates, was building a palatial hideaway under the protection of the King of France. It was in Avignon, and it is in the courtyard of this fortress-like papal residence that Castellucci’s Inferno is being performed. The building itself becomes a character, one which is evil and menacing. At one point the building seems alive, possessed by demonic forces rollicking from room to room, spitting out light and ferocious noise, pressing against ancient windows and rocking the solid stone walls. The seats on which we are sitting tremble with the vibrations. At another, a huge black and shape-shifting entity escapes from an upstairs casement to loom threateningly over tiny toddlers, playing naively in a Perspex playpen below.

Castellucci recognises that it would be impossible to ‘illustrate’ Dante’s original. From the moment a voice speaks the words ‘Je suis Romeo Castellucci’, and a man onstage is attacked by ferocious Alsatian dogs, we know this is the artist’s hell, the inferno to which an artist is condemned, but one which speaks of a common humanity, family attachments and desires that bind us to the flesh, as well as artistic aspirations that assault the walls that confine us, and spiritual strivings that seek to transcend the materiality of mundane existence. At the end of the performance, it is a bewildered Andy Warhol, replete with Polaroid camera, who, rolling around on a wet floor points upwards to the night sky in a gesture reminiscent of a line from Oscar Wilde: “We are all lying in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars”. In this case, however, the stars are a series of televisions, revealed in the casement windows high above the stage, each one showing a single letter, spelling together: “E-T-O-I-L-E-S” (stars).

During this morning’s press conference Castellucci commented that for him Warhol is Virgil (the Roman poet who guided Dante in The Divine Comedy), and, perhaps, he added with a smile, also Lucifer. Warhol was the first to seek hell in the surface of things rather than in the depths of man’s being. Hell is the surface of materialism, the surface of the banal everyday that binds us to superficiality.

Within this framework of the artist encountering hell, the imagery is epic in scale to meet the demands of the imposing environment, but very human and recognisable: numerous individuals, like refugees or displaced persons, lost souls in brightly coloured everyday clothes, men and women and children of all ages, move through a landscape of pain and grief, those engendered by fundamental human needs and desires. In their actions, at times, I couldn’t help but allow an image to enter my consciousness of an aging Jeanne Moreau in Fassbinder’s film of Genet’s Querelle singing “Everyone kills the thing they love.” It is the lot of humanity to suffocate our children, reject our parents, betray our lovers and destroy our blessings, because we are human, with human frailties and contradictions.

The performance is remarkably rich in images, and every single one is a surprise, one that engenders resonances but avoids or transforms clichés. A man clothed only in black trunks scales the walls of the palace, lithely, gracefully, his slender body enhancing his vulnerability, his elegance of movement and wiry strength provoking admiration. He pauses briefly from time to time to look downwards, or emphasise a moment: he stretches out his arms and legs across a rose-patterned window like the image of man by Leonardo so renowned as a symbol of renaissance aspiration, and a few moments later, he crouches on a stone water spout like a demoniac gargoyle, an evil, bat like creature waiting to swoop down on the child below. And indeed, the soundscape of ear-splitting crashing, hissing, rumbling and booming which accompanied the infernal presence inside the building disturbed the bats living in the eaves of the palace, who added their own shrill choir of shrieks to the cacophony as they swooped around above the audience.

As the mass of lost souls moved around the stage, emerging briefly as individuals only to be subsumed again in the crowd of lost identities, we are reminded that death is a leveller. My own personal resonance throughout was a line from the poet John Donne: “No man is an island…so send not to ask for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee”. And yet we were given a remarkable moment in which to rejoice in our distinctness, our togetherness, our very aliveness. A huge white sheet of cloth, silky like a parachute, started its journey from the edge of the stage and was passed by wave after wave of audience hands across our heads and up to the top of the bleachers. Every single one of the 1,800-strong audience was covered by a protective ceiling of white, the lights were on us, the stage obliterated and for several minutes we could only look around at each other, smiling, laughing, taking delight in sharing this magical moment in which only the audience exists. Ordinarily, we sit in the dark, passive and obscured from the stage and each other, but for a few minutes we became an impromptu performance, a living counterpoint to the sorrowful shades on the stage below. It is a happy reminder that our brief lives should be lived to the full.

In many respects this was a fundamental moment in the performance and one which illustrates Castellucci’s contention that in theatre we seek to escape from ‘reality’ into the ‘real’. What exactly is ‘real’ is to be found in each of us, the indeterminate nature of Castellucci’s imagery can only be given concrete ‘realness’, though our collusion. Each of us takes away a unique experience of the evening. Castellucci is a generous director, one with the courage to take considerable risks, one who claims that the performance only has meaning when the audience has taken it home with them, engraved in their hearts and minds. And we can only do that if we are willing to free ourselves from passivity, from the awful power of authoritarian symbols and adherence to traditional aesthetics.

————–

Romeo Castellucci is sometimes referred to as an iconoclast. He himself says that he creates meaningless theatre which has an immediate impact on the spectator. Of course, dear visitor, you have known about him for a long time. For the sixth time you will be able to experience what it is like to be inexorably swept along into his world. This time around the performance is not a tragedy but a divine comedy. Dante’s ‘La Divina Commedia’ is a poem in three parts about a journey to hell, purgatory and finally, paradise. Should we expect a happy ending in Castellucci’s adaptation? ‘Inferno’, part one, will be created on the gigantic stage of the Cour d’Honneur in Avignon, in the palace where the first French pope, Clement V, resided. The pope allows Dante to descend into the inferno. We are confronted with man’s confusion, the fragmentation of the community and the darkness of art.

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