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A Day with Romeo Castellucci

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Sep 27, 2016
Sep 27, 2016
Segal Theater
Photo by Luca Del Pia

Photo by Luca Del Pia

Tuesday, September 27
Segal Theatre
5:00pm Artist Talk +
10:00am- 4:30pm Screenings

FREE + Open to public. First come, first served.

Italian theatre director Romeo Castellucci is one of the world’s leading contemporary theatre artists.

Born in Cesena in 1960, Castellucci graduated in scenic design and painting from the Academy of Fine Arts in Bologna. Together with Claudia Castellucci, Chiara Guidi, and Paolo Guidi, he founded the theatre company Socìetas Raffaello Sanzio in 1981. He is internationally recognized—his works having been staged in over fifty countries—for his theatre based on a synthesis of the arts. In 2013 Castellucci received the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement from La Biennale Teatro di Venezia. In 2014 he was assigned an Honorary Degree for the disciplines of Music and Theatre from the University of Bologna, and the European magazine Opernwelt named him Best Opera Director of the year.

Castellucci often re-envisions mythical tales by distilling them to their pure essence and then crafting new meaning with images, sound, physicality, and stunning stage design. His artistic works provoke and mesmerize in their intensity, and provide sensory experiences for the audience.

Presented in collaboration with the French Institute Alliance Francaise (FIAF)/Crossing the Line Festival (Co-curated by Lilli Chopra, Simon Dove, and Gideon Lester), which will present Romeo Castellucci for the first time in New York City with Julius Caesar. Spared Parts, a shortened version of his 1997 production.

Featuring The Act of Seeing with One’s Own Eyes, a selection of excerpts from recordings of Romeo Castellucci’s works. Curated by Piersandra Di Matteo, Italy.


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Romeo Castellucci
is born in 1960 in Cesena, Italy. He graduated with a degree in painting and scenography from the Academy of Fine Arts in Bologna. In 1981, jointly with Claudia Castellucci and Chiara Guidi, he founded Socìetas Raffaello Sanzio. Since then he has produced numerous plays in the role of author, director and creator of scenes, lights, sound and costumes. He is known all over the world, his work have been presented in more than fifty different countries, as an author of theater based on the totality of the arts, aimed at creating an integral perception; he has also written various essays on the theory of directing plays, which trace the development of his type of theater. His directing is characterized by dramatic lines that are not subject to the primacy of literature, but rather make of theater a plastic, complex art, rich with visions. This has developed a comprehensible language in the same way that music, sculpture, painting and architecture can be. His plays are regularly invited and produced by the most prestigious theaters and festivals all over the world.

piersandra-di-matteo-portraitPiersandra Di Matteo. Performing arts theorist and independent curator. Her theoretical research concerns postdrammatic theatre and performative formats as procedural phenomena, linguistics and contemporary philosophy. At the Department of the Arts (University of Bologna) she has been focusing her theoretical trajectory on the politics and ethics of the voice. She has been part of international conferences and lectures dedicated to these topics (Montreal, London, Rome, Amsterdam, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Singapore). Her essays have been published in various international magazines, art catalogues, collections of essays and multimedia projects. Her experimentation with cross-forms of performance and editorial production often involves projects in critical writing, performative writing and moments that intertwine theory and practice, understood as tactics in the configuration of other spaces for the construction of knowledge. She is a theoretical consultant for European artists and performers. She was awarded the UBU Prize for “Best curatorial-organisational project 2014” for the multi-format project e la volpe disse al corvo. Since 2008, she has been working closely with Romeo Castellucci as dramaturge.


Curated by Piersandra Di Matteo

10:00am | Program #1 The Epic of Dust (1992-1999)
Amleto, la veemente esteriorità della morte di un mollusco (1992)
Orestea (una commedia organica?) (1995 > 2015)
Giulio Cesare (1997)
Genesi. From the Museum of Sleep (1999)

The research directions explored in the Nineties and brought together as the Epopea della Polvere / Epic of Dust were for Romeo Castellucci an occasion to radically rethink the tradition of western drama. Denying any legitimacy to a theatre conceived as the illustration of a text, he engaged in a complete and rigorous immersion into the great classics of western theatre from Aeschylus to Shakespeare, discovering a theatre of the body. In Amleto, la veemente esteriorità della morte di un mollusco / Hamlet, the vehement exteriority of the death of a mollusc (1991), we meet a boy with the symptomology of an autistic child. Closed up inside a concentration camp made of electric circuits and stuffed animals that have become simulacra of his family, he incessantly vacillates between being and non-being. Orestea (una commedia organica?) / Oresteia (an organic comedy?) (1995) – recently restaged 20 years after the original – even while maintaining the architecture of Aeschylus’ tragedy in its three episodes – Agamemnon, The Libation Bearers, Eumenides –, derails the text in the manner of Lewis Carroll’s Alice and Humpty-Dumpty translated by Antonin Artaud during the psychiatric internment in the hospital in Rodez. Aeschylus’ language passes into the body, becoming an organic substance capable of bringing to light the sacrificial content of myth, archaic rites and the human animal that is unleashed when the limits of civilisation are overstepped. Giulio Cesare / Julius Caesar (1997), inspired by Shakespeare’s drama, delves into the empire of rhetoric, the exercise of discourse intended to persuade, the morphology of the monument and an obsession with statues, looking towards the origins of western culture and its forms of politics, framing, between simulation and dissimulation, a drama of the voice. Genesi. From the museum of sleep (1999) comes to grips with the first book of the Bible. Structured into three acts – At the beginning, Auschwitz, Abel and Cain –, Castellucci contemplates creation through its most extreme opposite: Auschwitz. Bodies, mechanisms and symbolic figures trace out a “museum of sleep”, a complex itinerary made mechanical by secret and inexorable movements, in which each creature is condemned to dream itself and be dreamed, exhausting itself while evoking a form of suffering that reveals an enormous compassion for mankind.

11:40am | Program #2 Tragedia Endogonidia (2002-2004)
A.#02 AVIGNON (2002)
BN.#05 BERGEN (2003)
P.#06 PARIS (2003)
C.#11 CESENA (2004)

The Tragedia Endogonidia is the colossal dramatic cycle conceived by the Socìetas Raffello Sanzio over a period of three years (2002-2004), producing 11 Episodes in 10 European cities (Cesena, Avignon, Berlin, Brussels, Bergen, Paris, Rome, Strasburg, London and Marseille). Envisioned as an organism in a perpetual state of flight, founded on an auto-generative idea that revolves around the city, the cycle’s dramatic structure retraces the exoskeleton of Greek tragedy in order to probe into the presence of the tragic in today’s world. The most obvious dissimilarity is the presence of raw facts, with no possible catharsis. The Hero’s solitude and anonymity, and his inability to die, are explored through figures and acts that seem to rotate endlessly and pointlessly, no longer being surrounded by a polis and a chorus, a collective capable of embracing death, rejecting it or accepting it. The cycle of films, created by videoartists Cristiano Carloni and Stefano Franceschetti, encompasses 11 films which retrace the biological and morphological life of the entire project. Here, we have proposed a viewing of 4 Episodes.

1:30pm | Program #3 Inferno / Purgatorio / Paradiso (2008)
Inferno (Cour d’Honneur, Papal Palace, Avignon, 2008)
Purgatorio (Parc des Expositions, Avignon, 2008)
Paradiso (Église des Célestins, Avignon, 2008) / (Chiesa di Santo Spirito, Cesena, 2008)

Nominated as associated artist of the Avignon Festival 2008, one of the most long-standing and significant European theatre festivals, Romeo Castellucci staged Inferno, Purgatorio, Paradiso, a trilogy freely inspired by Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy. Filmed extracts allow us to revisit the three performances: the Cour d’Honneur of the Papal Palace hosted the Inferno in which the artist, choosing to “be Dante”, takes upon himself the sense of confusion involved in finding oneself at the outset of a voyage through what it is to be human; Purgatory, set in the interior of an upper-bourgeois residence, portrays a small family unit whose routine expands into a series of tableaux with psychological and dreamlike overtones; and, lastly, two visions of Paradise, one in Avignon’s Église des Célestins in which the impossibility of representing the Visio Dei is fixed in the blink of an eye affected by a gravitational collapse, and the other in Cesena’s Holy Spirit Church, in which the spectator is propelled towards a region to which the human eye cannot gain access.

3:50pm | Program #4 The Act of Seeing. A Selection of Extracts (2006-2014)
Hey Girl! (Festival d’Automne, Paris, 2006)
Sul Concetto di volto nel Figlio di Dio (Theater der Welt, Essen, 2010)
Io penso (Taipei Arts Festival, Taipei, 2010)
The Phenomenon Called I (Tokyo Festival, Yumenoshima, 2011)
Le Sacre du Printemps (Ruhrtriennale, Duisburg, 2014)

This program is made up of extracts from a few recent creations by Romeo Castellucci. In the performance Hey girl! (2006), which pivots around the truth of the body of the actress Silvia Costa, a threshold between dream and wakefulness is developed in which the flow of gestures and images condenses the feminine exteriority of a state of consciousness. In Sul Concetto di volto nel Figlio di Dio (On the Concept of the Face, Regarding the Son of God) (2010), framed between an enormous Salvator Mundi by Antonello da Messina and the spectator, a hyperbolic amount of excrement is produced by an old and incontinent father, lovingly cared for by his son, turning the degradation of the body into a sublime reflection on mankind and transience. The sublime aesthetic shock of the installation Io penso reveals all of the western asymmetry of man’s ancient conflict with nature, reawakening the enigma of its mute power. An unprecedented vision follows of the site-specific performance The Phenomenon Called I (2011), conceived en plein air for the park of the artificial island Yumenoshima (Island of Dreams), made out of urban waste and found in the bay of Tokyo, in front of an audience of approximately 3,000 people, roughly six months following the disastrous tsunami that struck the country. The sequence ends with a short extract from Le Sacre du Printemps (2014), a choreography for 40 machines in which the molecular dance of 30 tonnes of animal bone dust, industrially produced as agricultural fertiliser, nebulised into gaseous masses, incarnates the idea of dance, composing a rhythmic score that is closely related to the static ostinatos and the dynamic accents of Igor Stravinskij’s music.