by Carlo Michelstaedter and fragments of Eraclito and Eschilo
adjusting Paolo Musìo and Theodoros Terzopoulos
direction Theodoros Terzopoulos
staging of a work by Jannis Kounellis
music by Bruno de Franceschi
played by Tacite Voci Ensemble
lights Robert John Resteghini
with Paolo Musìo e Theodoros Terzopoulos
chorus in alphabelical order Daniele Bonaiuti, Bruno De Franceschi, Andrea De Luca, Franco Fornara, Francesco Gabrielli, Claudio Tosi
produced by Emilia Romagna Teatro Fondazione, Teatro Stabile dell’Umbria, Teatro Cucinelli togheter with Attis Theatre Athens
Running time 1h
POET AND PHILOSOPHER CARLO MICHELSTAEDTER was born in Gorizia into an old Italian-speaking Jewish family of Mitteleuropa. In 1910, aged only 23, he committed suicide.
A tormented soul blessed with an exceptional and lively intelligence, he was a rather undisciplined student, but very enthusiastic about the Classics, and he studied the pre-Socratic writers, Greek tragedies, the Bible and the great Italian poets in depth.
TWO ARTISTS RENOWNED AND ACCLAIMED ON THE INTERNATIONAL SCENE:
Jannis Kounellis was born in Athens. He has worked in Italy since the late-Fifties and was one of the founders of Arte Povera. He is a Painter, Sculptor and Performer, as well as a Creator of ANIMATE LIFE, as opposed to the tradition of still life, as illustrated by his untitled live installation (12 horses) of 1969, in which the animals were tethered to the walls of Rome’s L’Attico gallery.
Theodoros Terzopoulos was born in Greece. He also trained in his native country, then went on to complete his theatre studies in the early Seventies at the Berliner Ensemble under Heiner Müller and other great masters. A pinnacle of contemporary Greek theatre, in 1985 he founded the ATTIS theatrical company in Athens. His work as a director spans from ancient Greek plays to works by such contemporary playwrights as Samuel Beckett, Bertolt Brecht and Heiner Müller.
TERZOPOULOS and MUSÌO spent over two years working on the dramatics and staging of this project. After a first reading of “Persuasion and Rhetoric” (published by Adelphi) - the final draft of the thesis that Michelstaedter had been completing that fateful 17 October 1910, which was also the last day of his life - they felt they should explore the text by recovering the archaic tragic form that pervades classical culture in all its expressions.
During various experimental phases they selected and tried out elements of the text for staging, which aside from excerpts from Michelstaedter’s posthumous work, also include extracts of writings by Heraclitus and other pre-Socratic figures.
The work was also shaped by various stages of audience approval, both in Athens at the ATTIS Theatre (the headquarters of Terzopoulos’ Company), and in Italy.
Now the project is complete and the thoughts of Carlo Michelstaedter will resound in the theatre, orchestrated by Terzopoulos, who also appears onstage with the other players, against the stark realism of the set created by Kounellis.
EXCERPT FROM DIRECTOR THEODOROS TERZOPOULOS’ NOTES:
The actor. His body is a polyrhythmic machine taken up with the basic forces of nature, such as gravity. In him we find two diametrically opposed forces that nevertheless complement one another and which may be interpreted, on the one hand, as a crystallization of the rational element, and of the instinct and impulses on the other. The conflict between these two forces, which in myriad forms is also a pivotal theme in Greek tragedy, may also be seen as the struggle of a weary body on the threshold of death, with its last, yet still so very powerful expressions of vital energy.
His gaze is unfathomable and distant, his mind lost in a world filled with obscure images, fragments of events, violent tirades, expressions of a desperate, yet clear voice in the act of creating the labyrinth in which he will lose himself in an adventure of disturbingly intense thought.
Deeply rooted in ancient Greek tragedy, Jannis Kounellis’ work provides common ground for the performance in a unique form. This collaboration with Jannis Kounellis has been a great pleasure and honour and has led us directly to the core of things. In keeping with this attempt at a faithful interpretation of the text is the participation of the chorus of opera singers, which represents the hero’s moments of madness via the classical music tradition.
For Michelstaedter "persuasion" is an attempt, albeit ever thwarted by the imperfection of life, at achieving self-possession; "rhetoric" is the system of words, gestures and institutions that conceals the impossibility of attaining “persuasion”. The texts written by Carlo Michelstaedter for his thesis entitled "Persuasion and Rhetoric" constitute a heterogeneous whole whose powerful poetic unity lies in a clear and desperate voice that spans and implies different styles and languages in an adventure of thought that is disturbing by virtue of its intensity.
The dramatics in EREMOS rely on the piecing together of fragments identified as originating from this inner voice, in one of the plausible routes of the themes of the Poetry of Michelstaedter, who was blessed with a vision imbued with European culture, yet deeply rooted in classical thought.
The nature of Carlo Michelstaedter’s thought, whose deepest roots reach into eastern and western European culture between the twentieth century and classicism, constitutes ideal fertile ground for our work.
Michelstaedter unhesitatingly descends into a labyrinth from which there is no exit and his existence, disputed by life and death, triggers our investigation of the contemporary context of tragedy.
A secret theatre of tragic proportion in which the young poet-philosopher’s thought loses all connotation of dialogue and expression of speech to become a body, a cage, energy, a flame, conflict in action, in the present on a stage action against a backdrop of contemporary devastation in which all proportion is lost.