World Theatre Day – 27th March 2012
A long time ago, Power resolved the intolerance against Commedia dell’Arte actors by chasing them out of the country.
Today, actors and theatre companies have difficulties finding public stages, theatres and spectators, all because of the crisis.
Rulers are, therefore, no longer concerned with problems of control over those who express themselves with irony and sarcasm, since there is no place for actors, nor is there a public to address.
On the contrary, during the Renaissance, in Italy those in power had to make a significant effort in order to hold the Commedianti at bay, since these enjoyed a large audience.
It is known that the great exodus of Commedia dell’Arte players happened in the century of the counter-Reformation, which decreed the dismantling of all theatre spaces, especially in Rome, where they were accused of offending the holy city. In 1697, Pope Innocent XII, under the pressure of insistent requests from the more conservative side of the bourgeoisie and of the major exponents of the clergy, ordered the demolition of Tordinona Theatre which, according to the moralists, had staged the greatest number of obscene displays.
At the time of the counter-Reformation, cardinal Carlo Borromeo, who was active in the North of Italy, had committed himself to the redemption of the “children of Milan”, establishing a clear distinction between art, as the highest form of spiritual education, and theatre, the manifestation of profanity and of vanity. In a letter addressed to his collaborators, which I quote off the cuff, he expresses himself more or less as follows: “Concerned with eradicating the evil weed, we have done our utmost to burn texts containing infamous speeches, to eradicate them from the memory of men, and at the same time to prosecute also those who divulged such texts in print. Evidently, however, while we were asleep, the devil labored with renewed cunning. How far more penetrating to the soul is what the eyes can see, than what can be read off such books! How far more devastating to the minds of adolescents and young girls is the spoken word and the appropriate gesture, than a dead word printed in books. It is therefore urgent to rid our cities of theatre makers, as we do with unwanted souls”.
Thus the only solution to the crisis lies in the hope that a great expulsion is organized against us and especially against young people who wish to learn the art of theatre: a new diaspora of Commedianti, of theatre makers, who would, from such an imposition, doubtlessly draw unimaginable benefits for the sake of a new representation.
(Translation by Victor Jacono, ITI Italy and Fabiana Piccioli)
Theatre carries at its core the message of eternity.
Theatre assumes an almighty role over the smoke beings that it brings to life on stage, and following their existence as generic characters. They live motionless between book covers and wait patiently for talented hands to set them in motion, make them breathe, fight and die only to be resurrected again whenever somebody opens the Book.
I take a nostalgic look behind me and as I look at the thousands of characters from World Drama I feel extremely sorry that I could only bring to life just a few kings and princes or some simple people who wanted to change the world as I had wished to do so myself. I walked beside them all the way and brought them safe and sound on stage so that they can plead for their cause.
Theatre holds room for anyone who has talent. However, I believe it takes more that talent to make genuine live theatre. Some may say it takes passion, others that it also takes sacrifice. I’d say it takes both, but above all it is about creating strong links between theatre and our daily reality, the analysis of our times, everyday politics. Theatre aims at building a better world, with full rights on the treasures of mankind, which it has to pass on to succeeding generations for good use.
„Culture stops in times of need”, said one of the Romanian finance ministry sadly.
“ No, minister, culture never stops. If you were Polonius, the ministry in charge of life in Denmark, I would have told you just like Hamlet did:
“Good my lord, will you see the players well bestowed? Do you hear? Let them be well used; for they are the abstracts and brief chronicles of the time; after your death you were better have a bad epitaph than their ill report while you live.”
For anyone who is interested..
(Translation by Daniela Oancea)