www.ateatro.it, Wednesday, February 2, 2022
Digital Residencies, one of the most interesting initiatives born during the pandemic, already a finalist for the Critical Network Award 2021, has launched the call for applications for the third edition, deadline Thursday, Feb. 24 to apply
The project, which is aimed at performing arts artists who want to explore digital space in their authorial journey, is conceived and promoted by the Tuscany Residency Center (Armunia, CapoTrave/Kilowatt), in partnership with AMAT, the Emilia-Romagna Residency Center (L’arboreto – Teatro Dimora, La Corte Ospitale), the Luzzati Teatro della Tosse Foundation in Genoa, ZONA K in Milan, joined this year by two other entities: Fondazione Piemonte dal Vivo / Lavanderia a Vapore and Fondazione Romaeuropa.
This network of 9 partners in 2022 selects and supports 6 artistic projects with a residency grant of 3,500 euros + vat each. Each proposal must include an online return open to the public, to be held in November 2022. On the occasion, Vincenza Di Vita interviewed Luca Ricci and Lucia Franchi of CapoTrave/Kilowatt.
What is theater for you?
Luca – Theater is an art that expresses the ingenuity and sensitivity of human beings. It is an environment in which technical skills merge with craft skills, in which, to experience it as an active participant producing content, one needs cultural, historical, anthropological visions, social and political thinking, as well as relational, psychological, and organizational attitudes: it is precisely this plurality of perspectives that makes it so fascinating, for me, that is, an ever-changing context, and an inexhaustible source of expression of the complexities that each of us carries within.
Lucia – Theater is a place for diversity to come together, including those who have no space and opportunity for expression in other contexts. When I think back to the moment I entered it, when I was 18 years old, I vividly recall the perception that I had found an area in which certain personal “crookednesses” of mine – which had not hitherto found a place where they were comfortable – were instead okay and, indeed, were no longer perceived as diversity, but rather made me part of a group, along with others.
When does theater become community?
Lucia – Theatre’s target communities are always plural, both because of the specifics of the different places in which a theater operates and because each theater chooses which groups of people it wants to meet, to whom it wants to speak. So first of all it has to be focused on who you want to enter into relationship with. The second step is to listen: the needs that each place and each community express are never unique; one must have the ability to grasp and interpret them. Only in third place comes the elaboration of one’s artistic narrative and the ability to know how to convey it. Which is not to subordinate the freedom of art to the other steps that preceded it, but to imagine that art can and should fit within a dialogue with places and people. If these are the steps, it creates a community that feels it is part of a process and a theatrical discourse.
Luca – What Lucia says is the method that we have applied many times and it has taught us a lot and given good results, in the medium and long term. But then we often come to think that true art has within it the pure and innate power to speak to individuals and their time, and that its pull is enough to generate interest and create community. After that it is true that we are not always able to come up with such absolute and crisp art, and therefore creating community around the theatrical action serves to form an audience that is forgiving even with the experiments, trials and errors that art needs to make itself great.
Have you ever thought of doing another profession?
Together – Eeeh… many times!
Lucia – I would have liked to be an ethologist, because it has always come naturally to me to relate to animals, sometimes more than to humans. With animals one uses a language of body sincerity, which does not need the mediation of words, which are often a stumbling block, create misunderstandings, and have such specific weight that it becomes easy to shift the meaning of one’s emotions.
Luca – On the contrary, I have always liked all professions that have to do with the relationship between human beings. I find my most suitable dimension in the exchange of ideas, in confrontation, even in the expression of differences; arguing with people is a very natural thing for me, a way to enter into the point of view of those who are different from me, sometimes so is arguing, which I consider a dialectical option, far from upsetting. Defending one’s positions fervently is a value; I don’t like people who always agree with everyone and on everything, and so they let everything slide by. In conclusion the other professions I could have done are journalist, politician, or priest!
You have been honored with top Italian awards for your work, how did this make you? What kind of responsibility has it generated in you?
Luca – The first Ubu prize, the 2011 one, given to the Visionaries’ action as a special project had been as light and slight as putting a pair of wings on our shoulders and inviting us to fly. Instead, the awards of this 2021 that has just closed, the ANCT Critics’ Award to Kilowatt and the Ubu Award to the two of us as best curators, carry the weight of a much more concrete responsibility: they have come at a time of great crisis for the entire national performing arts system, and they tell us that ideas, proposals, right questions and possible solutions for the restart of our profession and the growth of all the artists, technicians and organizers who work in it are also expected of the two of us.
Lucia – I feel that this responsibility that your question talks about also extends to the female role in leadership. These recognitions affirm a possible way of exercising leadership. It is not at all the case that women should be inspired by a male leadership model. I have different relational attitudes from Luca and I have a different personality from him, and my femininity also has a lot to do with that, but that is not why I have a secondary role in the leadership of our structure. I am so convinced that women can lead a project, an action, a team of people, that I never had the need to exhibit this role of mine: sometimes this attitude of mine was misunderstood, and it was not read as within this joint leadership there was an absolute balance of forces between us. I was pleased that the most recent awards, and especially the Ubu, seize instead this synergistic way we operate as a couple: I live this equality every day, in my co-directing relationship, and that is also why I do not feel the need to flaunt my role, moreover in aggressive forms of claiming it.
Describe in one word what represents you in the everyday business of theater making.
Lucia – Intransigence.
Luca – Passion.
www.dramma.it, Sunday, July 11, 2021
In a few days the 19th edition of Kilowatt Festival will begin, in that of Sansepolcro from July 16 to 24 and with an icastic and very appropriate name. As we know, the Festival is the fruit of the intense work of Lucia Franchi and Luca Ricci, who are also the CapoTrave Company, and their team that in the difficulty of these times has been able to preserve a rare unity of purpose. A typical sign of both realities is an ability to listen to what, in theater society and society tout court, is happening around them. An ability to listen that produces dramaturgical works attentive to the present but able to go beyond the same present to intercept universal and essential themes, and at the same time promotes with the Festival the awareness of otherwise distant and inattentive communities, which are co-opted in the process both organizational and creative, for example with the now famous group of Visionaries, citizens of Sansepolcro who continuously participate in the selection of part of the works to be invited. They are roles and activities that do not conflict but, while distinct, have managed over the years to be mutually fruitful. I meet Lucia Franchi, Luca Ricci being busy rehearsing their latest work, for this intense conversation.
In nearly twenty years of activity, you have managed to gain a prominent place in the national theater scene. On the one hand a dramaturgical creativity that intercepts sensitive themes by aesthetically transfiguring them, and on the other hand what I would call the activity of promoting theater as building a more conscious community. Which of these two elements do you consider prevalent today?
A very challenging question. First of all, even when I say I it will always be a we, because I will also speak for Luca Ricci, as ours is a shared work. Sometimes we have reflected, Luca and I, on this double role of ours, on the one hand that of those who produce their own shows and who have their own company, which goes precisely under the name of CapoTrave, and on the other hand Kilowatt, the festival that we organize and direct, the part of the Artistic Residencies and hospitality therefore. It seems to us, however, that these are actually different faces of the same way of understanding and doing theater. As you rightly focused, with our most recent works like “Piccola Patria”, we try to tell the present, and to filter it through what is our reading of the present, standing precisely in the contemporaneity of the events that are happening. The same thing we also try to do with our Festival, that is, we want our Festival, perhaps by entrusting the voice no longer to ourselves but to other artists, to tell what our time is going through. The two activities, our storytelling as authors and directors, and our storytelling as festival directors, thus by interposed persons, we want them to be an attempt to speak to the community, to create languages that in their diversity and plurality communicate to the people who will then come to see the performances, who will then attend the events. We also believe that this work that has gone through the festival, and then through experiences such as Visionaries, has enriched our work as playwrights and as creators of performances, has made us even more aware of the viewer’s gaze, and therefore of the community and therefore of each other.
Yours seems to me to be a company of research that is very attentive to the world around it, capable of building fruitful relationships for your own and others’ creativity? Is this openness and availability a trait that you recognize?
As people, and this applies to Luca as well, we are very helpful, very open to anything that can happen, not only in art but also in life. We really like to travel and we really like to travel in the unexpected, in improvisation, in discovery, and I say travel, even though it’s not really work, because travel tells a little bit about the way people are, in my opinion. In fact, depending on how one travels, each person also tells a bit about who he or she is in life. This attitude of ours, which is personal, we have tried to bring it into the work as well, or maybe in the work you simply bring your deepest motivations, the opposite is true. All this is reflected in the things we do as playwrights, and which, for example, Luca tries to recreate in the relationship with the actors who will stage our work. But even before that, in the work of writing and dramaturgy, there is a dialogue about the present and of gathering material that is always in the making. And this is precisely because in our works we try to tell things as they happen, so we always have to be listening. That is basically what, in Tuscany, we have tried to do with Kilowatt. That is to say, a listening with the community of San Sepolcro, with the territory that is our first point of contact, which, however, is not just a pour parler, because it is nice today to talk about participation, involvement of the territory, but for us it is something that started as early as 2006, with the first projects, although they still did not call them as they are today as it is an awareness that came later. This is also in terms of the way we work with our team, a way that we seek both a mutual knowledge transfer, and then with our colleagues. So even outside the San Sepolcro area we like to share projects and be within networks, we like an exchange of ideas that also becomes something very concrete. However, we believe this is the right strategy to become stronger, rather than entrenching and always putting the ball back in the middle.
After “La lotta al terrore,” which was a good success, your latest show “Piccola Patria” also deals with the now almost untenable friction between local and global, with reflections on the issue of reception and anything else related to it. Do you think this is an issue for you as well, between communities of reference and that virtuality that now crosses all boundaries?
Let’s say that both “Piccola Patria,” and the work that preceded it “La lotta al terrore”, but also the third and forthcoming one that is still in the drafting stage, is in the writing stage, and is currently called “Le Volpi”, are in fact for us a kind of trilogy that wants to reflect on contemporaneity but starting, as always, from a very local point of view. That is, they are small realities, small communities, small countries from which something is being told but, as you were saying, it goes far beyond the boundary of the small. On the one hand, we also come from a small place like this one in San Sepolcro, where we have not lived for a long time but have always worked. And our families also live in neighboring towns, so we know very well what the dynamics are, both positively and negatively, but especially negatively, because it is in the negative that conflict often arises that stimulates a performance. We therefore know them well, and we know relationships well when they are placed in a small context. At the same time, we always try to create stories that starting from the small reality we know, go beyond and reflect as a whole the society in which we live, the Italian one, but also the Euopean and at least the Western one. These are dynamics whereby, starting from very personal stories, familiar almost, since they were born in precisely small provincial settings, these stories tell something that goes beyond that. There’s this quote by Ernesto De Martino that Luca and I really like, which says that to be truly international, you have to have a small world in your head. We feel it very much ours in that we come from the province even though we live in Rome, and to the province we return with our work, feeding ourselves also on that good, healthy energy that the province gives, but at the same time living in a metropolis like Rome and traveling a lot, both with our work and for the many projects we have in a European dimension, that is, trying to open ourselves up a little more and more to bring precisely this being provincial of ours, and I say this without any negative or positive nuance but as a fact, into an international context. The two feed off each other for us, it is not that the province needs the international or vice versa.
In this regard, working often with the same performers makes you almost a stable company. Does becoming even with time a so-called “repertory” company fall within your interests?
We are a company with no permanent actors. When it was born there were three members, two of whom were Luke and me. Then the two of us moved on to other roles, other looks and interests on creation, and since then, from project to project, we have worked with various actors. It is true what you say certainly Simone Falloppa has been working with us for many years, and he is one of the three performers in both “Lotta al terrore” and “Piccola Patria”, and this is also true for Gioia Salvatori and Gabriele Paolocà. The first time we worked with them was with “Lotta al terrore” and we really liked the way they understood and understood our way of working. It has created a nice exchange, as all three are also authors and performers of their works, they are creators. All of this greatly enriches our work, but what we envision now is not to want fixed actors but to look from time to time for new people to collaborate with based on the project of that moment and the story we have to stage. So at the moment this stability seems to us to correspond more precisely to a project of the moment than to a choice. Incidentally, as mentioned above, this new play that will close the trilogy, for reasons simply of age of the characters, will currently involve the search for new actors and actresses. But all this is still in the making, however, as we have just finished the writing work and everything can still be changed.
Do you and Luca write together or separately?
We have stages where we work separately, then we connect in this individual path. We work together on the writing, in the sense that we conceive the design of the show together, we talk a lot about it together. Then materially it is I who write the plays, in the writing of the dialogues and to define the characters, however at every moment of writing there is the connection with Luca who reviews and examines it to give me the more purely directorial indications, of staging on the one hand, but on the other hand also to identify certain dramaturgical junctures. For example, if a dialogue goes too fast i.e., if a particular character doesn’t quite understand where I want to take it, etc. Based on those indications I then revise the work bringing it to as shared a completion as possible in defining the characters who then tell the story on stage. So we write together but with different roles and skills.
You have become famous, as Capotrave and as Kilowatt Festival, for developing the intuition of “Visionari”, groups in the audience who choose and select shows with you, participating concretely in both the creative and organizational phases of your work. How much, and whether, is your more purely dramaturgical work involved?
I really think so. The visionaries’ project was also born in 2006 out of the need to create a connection with the local area that was not just superficial and distracting. The festival had started since 2003 but we were quite unnoticed by the territory, whether we were there or not did not bring any reactions, positive or negative. There was in most cases a certain indifference. This caused us to question a lot, to ask why it was happening, and the answer we gave ourselves was to directly involve people in the city in choosing a significant portion of the shows. Even today there are still nine shows selected by Visionari in full autonomy, though coordinated by a very long work with complex steps by Michele Rossi. He is the community team manager. With passages that, in reviewing the nearly four hundred videos that came in this year, almost resemble a tournament, like a European soccer championship, with rounds, quarters and semifinals. Luca and I, however, watch them all again, mainly to get an insight into what is happening in Italian and international theater, but also to guide their processes, because perhaps they may have missed a work that we think deserves a closer look and a second viewing. But in the end they choose independently, sometimes even in conflict with us. In fact, in the final meetings, which lead to the final choices and which we attend, we do not always agree, but the final word is still theirs, not ours. That’s the rule of the game, and that leads to the second part of your question, which is a different relationship with those who will be watching. We do not think that the viewer has the duty or rather the right to tell the artist what to do, however, it is a necessary glance, because it is a glance that goes to complete a work. It is useless for us to make a work that speaks to ourselves or that speaks only to insiders. There is a piece missing, the real audience is missing, the audience that is passionate, and in our opinion this dialogue needs to be taken up, it needs to be taken up as festivals, as reviews, in the whole world of live performance, especially those that do research but not only, and it needs to be taken up when you create your own work. The question that Luca and I are constantly asking is: this thing that we are telling and that is urgent and necessary for us, is it also urgent and necessary for the audience, for the people who will come to see it,? And if it is, how, in this passing through our vision, do we pass interact with their vision? In what form, that is, what is the best language, what is the strength you can convey? This in my opinion comes even before the form of language. What is the force you want to pass with this narrative, what is the way to go beyond it, beyond us, beyond the actors, beyond the directorial and lighting choices? We have this question very much in our minds, and I think it has become much more present over the years than in the past. I think this stems from the exchange that we always have with the viewers. It is difficult to find a balance between what a viewer gives back to you and what you would like to give back to him. It is dialogue, though.
Speaking of what we have said so far, I am reminded of what Walter Benjiamin wrote in the essay “L’opera d’arte nell’epoca della sua riproducibilità tecnica”. That is, in essence, he noted that, for example, in the language of film (and later television we would say) the medium is the same as the technical tool of filming so the actor, quote, “loses the possibility, reserved for the theater actor, of adjusting his interpretation to the audience in the course of the performance.” It is typical of the great critics of the 1900s, from Gramsci and Gobetti, to go for multiple performances at Eleonora Duse’s shows because each night was ‘different’. This is to say that there is an aesthetic relationship, contingent but not subordinate, between actor and audience, an interaction that often overlapping languages and syntaxes tend to make people forget, but which remains unique and inescapably linked to so-called ‘presence. There is a spillover that can only happen this way, in that if there is no audience there is no theater.
I absolutely agree. All works of art whether they are a film, a book or a painting, need someone to look at them, otherwise they do not exist. There are art forms that are individual experiences, such as reading a book, or even watching a painting or a movie. However, I believe that even these art forms, which do not have a face-to-face exchange with those who created them, acquire a different value in the community. Seeing a movie at home alone, as has happened often in this pandemic period, is a very different experience from going back to the theater, as I have been trying to start doing again in the last few days as much as possible, and seeing the movie together with other viewers, because they affect you anyway. Same thing seeing a painting alone, that is, in a museum or even together with three groups of tourists crowding over the same painting, are experiences that change, each, our vision. In theater, in live performance, which is what it is called, and it may sound like a platitude, because in it there is something living, flesh and blood both in those who convey the work of art, the actors, and in those who watch it, the audience that is, this is inescapable. In the theater, never is a repetition the same, never is one evening of the festival the same as the other evenings of the festival, never is the viewing of the same show within the festival on the same day, and there are six or seven repetitions, identical to each other, because each time a different synergy is created, as with Eleonora Duse whom you mentioned. This is the thing that moves me the most in theater, it always moves me. When I go to the theater and see something that even I don’t like, I always have great respect, because there is always a huge amount of work behind it. Clearly when an artist does something they don’t like they are the first to feel sorry for it, so I never get up halfway through a show, whereas for a film I do because there is a disconnect. In the theater, it almost seems like pack violence to me. Because you as an audience are much stronger than the people on stage, the actors being at that moment very vulnerable. Then after the performance, when in a sense we are back on an even keel, then there is also the right, and as colleagues and festival directors the duty, to express your misgivings, when there are any, as well as your enthusiasm, however afterwards. When we are there in the audience, no. It is a form of respect in that the performer on the stage is naked, unprotected, and tries to listen to what the audience is communicating in the course of the performance, and when he has the feeling that the audience is absent then the actor gets depressed, or he tries to re-motivate himself to take it with him, when it works. This is the strength of theater, which is irreplaceable as you say. It’s okay to mix languages, we have also worked with digital for residencies, however, all of this we flank, not replace. Now that the lockdown is over it is not that digital residencies end, they continue but it is a different path. It’s not a substitute for live performance, because it can’t be, it’s not that thing anymore, it’s something else. This has been going on for thousands of years, we could say, and at its basis there is something very natural, and that is interhuman communication. Beyond all the multimedia superstructures with which we articulate communication today, and which nevertheless enrich it as in this conversation of ours, theater is a very, very ancient ritual and is the nature of man. It is “now I’m going to tell you a story and I’m going to listen to you,” you cannot change what is so essential and natural, nor should you.
Perhaps it is just a matter of reclaiming for the theater the role, including the social role, that it has had and, in my opinion, must have again. But coming back to this year’s festival, I am curious how you constructed it, given also the difficulties caused by the pandemic and the consequent difficulty in meeting and exchanging experiences that digital has only partly surrogated. How did you deal with and overcome them?
It is no coincidence that we titled this edition of the Festival “Questa fervida pazienza”, because on the one hand, and I am talking about our industry, it took a great deal of patience on the labor side. It goes without saying that this patience has been had by other sectors, which have been equally penalized, and then often many people in their own lives have been touched by dramatic events that require, in order to be overcome, something beyond patience itself. That said, patience seemed to us to be a word that indicates what we have been trying to put into practice all these months. Along with patience, however, we felt that a certain fervor, in the spectators who also could not attend, was there. Fortunately, in the past months it was still possible to keep theaters open for rehearsals and, therefore, also for doing artistic residencies. We spent the winter in our Teatro della Misericordia, but also in another theater that was given to us to run in Castiglion Fiorentino in the province of Arezzo, and we tried to bring in companies that were looking for spaces to rehearse and to carry on their work. Of course, following all safety regulations. All of this was very good because even though it was work hidden from the public, it was still there. We have also tried to stay in touch with all our networks, both those farther away such as the European project, to carry on, online. We then worked all these months with the Sansepolcro community and also with the other non-Italian referral communities, and that too was a very good experience. A new international workshop was also created with teenagers from Sansepolcro, which is now done in presence but was online until May. All this gave us a lot of energy, although we wondered how we could concretely gather this energy by activating an online-only workshop. Instead, the teenagers who joined had so much energy to express that they exploded anyway. So we and our colleagues remained fervent. So the construction of the Festival obviously had complexities, complexities first of all in contacting international companies but also Italian companies. It also meant relying on and trusting work that, at the time it was proposed, was not yet fully completed. If you sent a vowel they would tell us it was to listen to a piece of the show, or they would say, I’ll send you this little video hoping then to come back with the actors who are now stuck in various locations. This gave us a bit of a sense of building the festival, that is, building it “as if,” since as with the previous year the organizing machine was focused on the still very uncertain months of March and April. And we saw that the companies’ response was at the level of our urgency. There was this mutual eagerness to take a risk and to get back on the scene and therefore to make, on both sides, an effort, and I have to say that in this the work that our team did and does was really invaluable. Because working under this great uncertainty, in the face of events that you cannot predict such as contagions, also created difficulties at the level of motivation, that is, regarding what sense this great work could make. In the theater we are very superstitious and we will be until the last day of the festival, and this year even more so, but I must say that if it was more difficult this year to find the motivation, however we still managed, with our work team and also in our relationships with our colleagues. We did not in essence work less, in fact we worked more in that there was always something more to do, we told ourselves, to make ourselves feel present, to keep alive this need that was not only ours but also the public’s. We during this period in fact also did new participation and engagement projects in Sansepolcro, in addition to the Visionari that have been working online all year anyway. We created a new group of teenagers in Sansepolcro, which we called Videoyoung, young visionaries, then we also started another project in which a group of viewers from Sansepolcro and a group of viewers from Vienna met online for months, in order to get to choose an artist to give, as it used to be, the commission of a work, the same one, to be made here in Sansepolcro and in Vienna. It was a very inspiring experience in which these shut-in people were meeting together with us to tell about their cities, and tell about their needs, which were much more similar than one might have imagined, nostante the differences between Sansepolcro and Vienna. It was a way to keep the community alive, our presence and also to take energy. We indeed give energy but we also receive energy, lots of it from these people who participate in the projects we propose. For me, even personally, these passages have been vital in certain moments of discouragement, tension and fear, even having responsibility for a team. You cannot afford to give in.
One last question. You take your shows all over Italy. What idea have you gained in recent years about the concrete prospects of Italian theater in general and yours in particular?
We have been doing the Company’s work for many years. Over the years we have seen that many spaces that were important, for the target territories and for the companies they hosted, have been lost. This was because they could no longer feed the work they were doing, and often only because of economic issues. That is, there was no lack of ideas and energy, but there was a lack of resources. This is something we have noticed in recent years, important spaces that were also our landmarks are no longer there. There are so many interesting situations, however, which we feel do not have the right institutional support. Underlying this is probably, at least in my personal view, Italy’s fear of meritocracy, and not only in Theater, there is the lack of courage at the broader, institutional level to distinguish between the deserving and undeserving. Between those who are living off their earnings and those who are building their own new path and deserve more attention. There is a need to ask more of the big Theater Entities, to ask for different work on audiences and territories, to do the scouting that only a big entity can do. In this regard, festivals have been loaded so much with expectations, even in this their opening up to different languages, and becoming places of meeting and exchange, places that however in the end become fires, but then there is no one who, starting from those fires, does a more articulated work throughout the year, accompanying artists who are also very good but who however in the end get lost. This work should be done by institutions, but then they don’t do it. We do festivals, we do theater, but we are not promoters, we are not producers. And also the beauty of being a residency center allows us to value, as far as we are concerned, artists but also forces us to emphasize that we are precisely that and not producers or just promoters of their work. We feel this very much as a Company, and in fact we have chosen to keep the two paths, the Company and the Festival, separate, so much so that we avoid presenting our work at the Festival. We like to avoid it, as we consider it ethical behavior, and when we debut we prefer to debut elsewhere. So as much as the two paths, as our conversation revealed, sometimes overlap, we nonetheless believe they should, from certain points of view, run parallel. This sometimes penalizes us as a Company, because we are often told: we don’t give you residency because you are already a residency, or we don’t invite you to our festival because you already have your own festival. This was sometimes an added effort. On the other hand, our work as Directors also allows us a whole series of relationships and contacts that are not always easy for a Company to maintain. So there is a positive counterpart. However, this dual role has not always facilitated some transitions, and as a Company, only a Company, we see this difficulty. Therefore, talking with other colleagues as well, we would like the courage for real change, meritocratic precisely also on objective criteria. While any committee that has to choose you can only operate in part on subjective criteria, and welcome them, in my opinion, however, it is not so difficult to find objective criteria. Getting down to the merits, which does not mean the like or dislike of quality, but also seeing what is the path, what is the idea that governs a given choice. This can become a fairly objective criterion. That is, how much do I open up, how much do I invest in the younger generation, how much and in what way do I dialogue with Europe, what is my relationship with the territory, etc.? We as a Company also went to places where there was very little audience, while others who perhaps had less means and less staff energy, to situations where a whole living, vibrant community responded energetically to the urgings of the organizers. This happens several times, and you are sorry, because you say that it is not fair that this work that is done seriously by certain groups is not recognized, while maybe work that is not there, is not there anymore, is not there enough in others is rewarded. This is the reflection that Luca and I find ourselves making at the end of each replication, one way or the other. However, I am positive and optimistic, so many good things are happening in Italian theater, so many. There are ideas, projects, new networks, desire to create new spaces, alternative if there are no institutional ones, to do festivals, to do reviews. But sometimes one is left alone by institutions at all levels, starting from the local to the ministerial level.
Perhaps the crisis generated by the pandemic brought problems that were already there to the surface, only making them more dramatic. Thus the need was determined, I think, to address them in some way, starting with the condition of artists who are also workers and if they do what they do out of passion, that should not mean that they should not have the right to survive even economically with dignity. The reactions and protests that have occurred during this closure period, therefore, I hope will lead to the search for positive solutions at the regulatory level as well. However, I am like you hopeful since crisis, the word itself says it, tends to generate reflection that can make things better.
I absolutely agree with you in this, and I think there is a great opportunity now to make those changes that have been talked about for so long. I also believe that part of the responsibility also lies with the thespians, practitioners and professionals. On the one hand, this crisis has brought greater awareness even on labor rights issues, where there was more inattention and superficiality because, as always, as long as the machine goes on I somehow get to the bottom. But in times of crisis all the weakness of not being working with the dignity assured by adequate protections emerges. On the other hand, I hope that this great attention to us, including on television which has talked about us as never before, thanks also to the way in which certain protests have been carried out, and here again I agree with you, will not be dispersed in the future. If then the Society is a bit careless toward what, as you say, is a passion but it is also a job, and a job that is not only about staging but also a job that is not visible to the audience that is behind the staging, then it is also up to us to keep this discourse open. Here again we come back a bit to the beginning of this conversation of ours, and to being able to talk to the rest of society, to not being entrenched within ourselves and within our works, in a kind of self-referentiality not only from an artistic point of view but also from a social and political point of view. Because this, in spite of everything, is a great opportunity that does not happen again, so it should not be lost, and if it is lost then eventually you lose your strength. We know the theater is made up of many gardens, but it is bad that each one shuts himself in his own.
www.liminateatri.it, February 26, 2016
At the Teatro dell’Orologio in Rome, Feb. 16-28, the last two works signed by Luca Ricci were staged: Piero della Francesca. Il punto e la luce and Lourdes.
The director was in 2003 the founder of the CapoTrave company and is the artistic director of the Kilowatt Festival, which was born in the same year in the Tuscan town of Sansepolcro and has become over time an undisputed point of reference for new companies in contemporary theater, dance, performing arts and music. And, I would assert, also a vital place of exchange where each year artists, critics, scholars and “visionari” (specifically not insiders, but simple citizens moved by passion who are involved in the selection of works to be offered to the public) come together to weave the multifaceted web of gazes and perspectives for the “magical encounter” that is theater.
Of the two shows presented in the capital, I have seen only Lourdes . For this reason, instead of offering readers of Liminateatri.it a single review, I thought it appropriate to ask Luca Ricci a few questions, which could make it possible to understand in its entirety a project that sees the birth of two plays in the same year (2015) and that, perhaps, not by chance are proposed (or at least so it happened in the Roman Theater) on the same evening.
I would start right here: is there a coincidence of “urgent expressiveness” between Piero della Francesca and Lourdes ?
These are two projects that chance has placed next to each other: on the one hand there is the desire – mine and Lucia Franchi’s – to finally confront the great creative genius of our territory, namely Piero della Francesca, also on the occasion of our residential settlement in the new Teatro alla Misericordia in Sansepolcro, a place that for three hundred years was a church inside which Piero’s Polyptych of Mercy was kept; on the other hand, there was the opportunity offered by “I Teatri del Sacro,” the biennial selection promoted by Federgat for works that deal with themes related to spirituality and the sacred, and for which I wanted to work on a 1998 book that I had loved very much, namely the eponymous Lourdes by Rosa Matteucci, published by Adelphi.
Piero is a project we worked on for two years and came to fruition in the summer of 2015. The idea for Lourdes was born in response to Federgat’s call for entries in the summer of 2014, and after a year of work and rehearsals the show made its debut in the same summer of 2015.
What was the initial idea?
In both shows we tell a story, that is, a rather linear affair that has a beginning, a middle and an end.
We have a hero at the center of each story: in Lourdes it is the Maria Angulema played by Andrea Cosentino who sets out for Lourdes with the purpose of quarreling with the Eternal Father; in Piero della Francesca the hero who moves the dramaturgical action is Piero della Francesca himself, who, however, never appears on stage, but is continually evoked in the relationship that develops between his helper Paolo and Giovanna, the young sister-in-law of Piero himself. Also in this second work there is a continuous struggle with the surrounding world, which here is the provincial microcosm of mid-15th-century Sansepolcro unable to comprehend the innovative scope of Piero’s pictorial and artistic revolution.
Basically, these are two stories that put at their center isolated individuals struggling with the context in which they find themselves operating: Piero fights against the conventions and conservatisms of his time, Mary fights against a plethora of old women who are whimsical, overbearing, and envious, but even more so she goes against God because he allows evil and pain to exist, and, going even further, she struggles with herself and her own presumptuous ignorance regarding matters of the spirit.
What specifically marked the dramaturgical and directorial journey of the two works?
These are two very different operations.
The dramaturgy of Piero is a long work of chiseling, accomplished together with Lucia Franchi, as we usually do, to study the historical context, find the line of dramaturgical interpretation, invent the two characters present on stage, give breath to this absence-presence of Piero. The direction, then, brought me face to face with two remarkably talented but very young actors (Barbara Petti and Gregorio De Paola) and a virtual set design of video images shot by ourselves alternating with graphic elaborations.
Instead, the dramaturgical adaptation of Lourdes starts from a novel, so the central character was already there, nice and done. The other characters we took from the book or invented, modified, adapted. In this case there is the usual work whereby the force of a piece of writing must be translated into the force of the scene: it is never an entirely linear operation, the rhythms of the page are not those of the scene. They are completely different, but you don’t navigate in the dark like you do when writing an original subject.
As for the directorial work, on Lourdes I was able to rely on the presence of two professionals with a great deal of experience behind them: Andrea Cosentino and Danila Massimi, also the author of the music as well as the performer. There I made a choice of essentiality. A simple setting consisting of a sort of shrine, evoking the paternal tomb from which the whole story takes its start, but also placing the character higher than a descent to salvation that he makes at the end.
Do you share that it is the “deforming rupture” that is the constructive matrix of both plays? In Lourdes, it is the irreverent writing of Rosa Matteucci’s debut novel that constantly takes the viewer by surprise with the unusual comedy and linguistic audacity that distinguish the narrative structure of the author’s work. In Piero della Francesca it is, perhaps, his going “against convention” that generates that “historical fable” you speak of and in which the innovation of the artist’s thinking only generates doubt and perplexity to the point of tragicomedy, and not only for his contemporaries?
Yes, in both cases the perception of the two “heroes” differs from that of the surrounding context, and this is where the comedy of one ( Lourdes ) and the irony of the other ( Piero ) comes from.
To understand this, I cite an example found in Piero della Francesca : the young assistant Paolo tries to explain to Giovanna the innovation brought by the artist’s studies on perspective. To do so, he picks up a chair and explains that that chair looks the same for everyone, but it is not. Giovanna, with irony, asks him how it could happen that the chair changes, and then he explains to her that the chair enlarges and shrinks depending on whether one looks at it from near or far and that it, in its naive simplicity, would be the basis of Piero’s studies on perspective. This gives rise to a funny game of misunderstandings whereby Joan asks what sense there is in making rules for making things bigger or smaller according to one’s whim. In short, it is understood that it is the perceptual deviation from the consistency of reality that determines the isolation of the “heroes” and places them in situations that sometimes give rise to amusing misunderstandings and other times to dramatic loneliness.
Last curiosity: what was it like working, as a “director,” with Andrea Cosentino? Does an actor usually distinguish himself by a natural autonomy to “carve out in his skin” the characters he plays? In fact, I seemed to notice that it “lived an actor’s life of its own,” apart from the direction and to the point that even the evocative musical creations performed live by Danila Massimi were a stretch to punctuate the timing of the narrative.
Andrea, when she works on her own, is an artist who sews her characters into her skin to such an extent that she never writes the scripts for her shows, but shapes her stories on stage, rehearsal after rehearsal. In this case, however, he agreed to work from two levels of text: Matteucci’s literary one that we read many times together, and then my adaptation, which I brought to Andrea from day to day and which he learned by heart in a process that was completely new to him as an actor. If, then, the final impression is that those characters seem to have come out of his usual stories, I take that as a compliment: it means that I-as playwright and director-and he-as actor-have brought to life the literary material from which we started.
With respect to Danila Massimi’s musical grafts, for me they do not have the function of punctuating the end of one scene and the beginning of the next, but rather illuminate, from the very beginning, the inner and spiritual dimension of Mary’s character, who even when she appears furthest from faith and critical of God, already has within her that germ that allows her to open up to the final revelation. I did not want this divine vision to come as a surprise, but I was looking for something to prepare it in a way that was not too obvious. Danila’s music is like the breadcrumbs left behind by Hansel and Gretel along their path: some people pass over them without noticing them, some people glimpse them as a trail to salvation.
www.recensito.net, October 24, 2013
It was an interesting, exciting and engaging meeting with Luca Ricci, a brilliant and courageous theater director who deeply loves his work, who is not afraid to invest in unusual, courageous projects, who always tries to go beyond the limits of the known to undertake ever new challenges, supported by great talent and a lot of commitment.
A boundless passion Luca’s for theater, an art form but above all a complementary expression of life, a world that allows him to give new identity to someone or something.
In 2003 he founded with Mirco Ferrara, Lucia Franchi and Enzo Fontana the Capotrave company; since then year after year he has worked on many projects and shows always searching for new ways and new means of expression. Now his latest show “Misterman,” for which he signs the direction, starring the very talented Alessandro Roja, is on stage in Milan at Teatro Litta.
How did the idea for this show come about and how did you work with Alessandro Roja, the stage performer of Thomas Magill?
Alexander and I had worked together in “I supermaschi” in 2007. Since then he wanted to return to the theater with a monologue but we could not find a common project; Alessandro proposed Roman characters, but I was not convinced, I wanted to look for something that would challenge him, something that could shift his balance. By chance I came across this text by Enda Walsh and realized that it could be the right opportunity for me and for him; this character could force Alessandro to find something that was both fragile and violent, a weak figure who develops a deep form of aggression. Together we worked on the text; I leave a lot of space for the actor, in this case with Alessandro even more because I trust him. I never came to rehearsals telling what needed to be done or how to play a scene. I let him be free to find things; I went from there and worked on that, trying to fix elements and bring him back on the chosen path. Alessandro is a very intelligent actor so he grasps suggestions and directions on the fly; he is a lot of fun to work with.
Enda Walsh’s text is a difficult but very brave one to perform, following the spirit of the Capotrave company’s shows, always searching for the line between real and unreal, between what is seen and what is not seen; a complex job to bring such a text to the stage.
Our company (Capotrave) chooses texts that are out of the ordinary, sustained by our spirit of independence. For me it is not the text that has to fit you but you the text; I choose to work on a text because I find something important in that author and his words. Lucia Franchi and I, with whom I carried out all the work of dramaturgical adaptation of Walsh’s text, were very interested in investigating the breaking point, that fine line between what is seen and what cannot be seen, between what is said and then what is done. This is the first time we are bringing an author’s text to the stage; we usually write the texts for our shows. In “Robisonade” we wanted to investigate the b-side of the world, the place where all the things we get rid of end up; in “Virus” (inspired by Camus’s “La Peste”) we set the scene in a kind of underground, where forms of resistance to an epidemic were being created that were rampant in the world above; here two individual protagonists interfaced, one trying to eradicate the virus, the other trying to spread it. A similar thing happens in “Nel bosco” a place that can represent a new beginning, an alternative to everyday life. In “Misterman,” too, there is this suspended place in relation to society; I wanted to tell, though not explicitly, about a Thomas who runs away after committing a heinous act and finds himself alone in this place far from the community, and the La Cavallerizza Hall of the Litta Theater fits this reconstruction well; here he takes refuge and this constant fear of being discovered, found, emerges. He almost endlessly relives this tremendous day, culminating in a tragic denouement. I am interested in investigating what is not said explicitly. This is what theater must do, because there are already other mediums that can entertain.
This show fits perfectly into the complex project of the Capotrave company, which over the years has brought to the stage shows that are meant to be not just a performance but a moment of life, of sharing, of reflection; a moment of confrontation with the audience.
I am a great believer in politics, in engagement, in the fact that we all need to find a space to reflect on our time and engage in building something, each in our own sphere; I do this work because in this way I contribute in my own way to the growth and development of social thinking.
You are also the artistic director of “Kilowatt,” a festival dedicated to emerging companies on the contemporary scene (theater, dance, performing arts, music, literature, visual arts),a project that goes beyond economic logic and aims instead for deep communication related to art.
A festival is a political act par excellence; it is a work done with the community, in collaboration with local authorities and the city; it is a social act.
We wondered about various issues, including investing in a project at a time when little confidence is given to young people. We therefore made scouting our strong point, looking for, in the new, proposals to enhance and make known; a job that is certainly complicated because it is easier to focus on what is already known. It is a project always in progress because every year you have to start over; it is definitely a challenging activity because you have to select so many titles (almost 400 videos we receive), so the work is long and tiring but definitely very interesting; you have to look for those flashes of light that can be the new paths to follow and enhance
For us, another important aspect is the viewer; to try to involve the citizenship of San Sepolcro (the city where the Festival takes place) we wanted to create a section of shows chosen by the “visionari” about 30 people, not insiders, who select the videos that come in through the call for entries that Kilowatt publishes every year (www.kilowattfestival.it, call for entries deadline Dec. 13, 2013); they are people who meet every Thursday, discuss and choose what struck them, what they loved and what they want to share with the public. A fundamental aspect, in the spirit of the Festival, because here theater becomes a horizon of their daily lives once again.
Immediately after the show “Misterman” here in Milan on October 23, 24 and 25, you and Alessandro Roja will meet the audience; an unusual and important moment of confrontation
The point is to overcome that false thinking that a performance cannot be understood or understood by everyone; it is necessary to recover the idea of using theater not as an aesthetic end, something that is only about itself but about our daily lives and our time.
www.altrevelocita.it, June 2008
There have been questions for a long time now about how to bring the performing arts and educational institution into dialogue. In addition to the natural tension of theater to go to impure places, traditionally not devoted to the stage tradition itself, the special relationship that might be established between the growth of the individual ( and thus also in a scholastic sense) and theatrical expression should be considered. We believe that theater is a place where energy can be freely allowed to flow and on the other hand rigorously channeled, the place where the imagination of “otherness” (other worlds, other truths, other realities) is made possible. Perhaps one of the few left, with these characteristics, in the entire society. Theater legitimizes “the other” because he himself is other, irreducible to schematization and inclusion.
Therefore, if theater enters the school it must do so as a stranger, like the patron of an inn in an unfamiliar country: the newcomer may converse, meet, stimulate, but always “other” will remain. Therefore, theater and school can and must meet, and at the same time must by necessity remain different. Theater, the real kind, can enter schools as a guest, without having anything to do with teachers and principals, who will have to pose as bridges, or as levees facilitating a passage.
The same argument can be made about the school theater we see. Trouble teaching theater! Diction, presence, movement are all issues that perhaps need to be hinted at, but they cannot and should not become the heart of the work. Just as it is nonsensical to think that in order to do theater in school one must take a text and respect it by using children as serious puppets: this is not theater, but an archaeology operation that has created (and continues to create) “disenfranchised” people. Forcibly taking kids to see the classic Pirandello in matinees, or forcing them into a discipline imposed from above to play the playwright of the day, is tantamount to creating people who will never go to the theater again.
One can only praise, then, the work done by the group from the Camaiti Vocational Institute in Pieve Santo Stefano and the hotel school in Caprese Michelangelo led by Luca Ricci of the CapoTrave company. Here, the starting point was provided by the satirical drama I satiri alla caccia. Stories of Dionysian passions and irrepressible urges, in antiquity as today: the stories of those boys, convicts on the hunt for an encounter with the village girls, is the same as that of the Greek Satyrs. Little matter, then, of fidelity to a text, philology, more or less learned theatrical techniques: this theater creates a short-circuit between art and life, constantly mixing the two planes, showing on stage something simple and too often forgotten in school theater operations: truth. On stage are the lives of the boys, their ways of speaking, their dialects, their movements (each one different from the others and profoundly “true,” therefore “beautiful”): in this way, and only in this way, magically the satyrs of Sophocles and fifth-century B.C. Greece are also presented. Luca Ricci was able to set himself up to listen, emphasizing first of all the boys and their passions/pulsions, then bringing them back into a realm of overt theatrical discipline, in which strict choreography marks the entrance of the girls, dressed like provocative little cubists (just as we see them on a Saturday afternoon strolling through our cities), and a seemingly anarchic handful of boys concoct wacky plans. Significant, in this context, is the presence of the teachers: not “top of the class” to take public honors for having led a theater workshop (which can never be their specifics!), but on stage to sweat and play along with their students just as the foreign theater dictates, which doesn’t give a damn about pre-existing hierarchies and roles.