To each of them the Festival will dedicate a sort of portrait, consisting in 2 to 4 performances, that will trace their creative process.
The Festival's opening
43 years old, from Krakow, Maja Kleczewska, considered one of the most significant figures in Polish theatre, in a line that leads from Kantor to Lupa and Warlikowski (for whom she served as an assistant), has been awarded the Silver Lion 2017. In Venice, she will inaugurate the Festival with The Rage (25 and 26 July, Teatro Piccolo Arsenale), from the eponymous play by Elfriede Jelinek, who began to write it after the massacre of Charlie Hebdo in Paris.
"A dangerous heroine of ritual performances and videos centred on the body, (...) whose fascination is based on the physical reactions provoked in the observer": this is Ene-Liis Semper, born in Tallin in 1969, an acclaimed video artist, performer and director who represented Estonia at the Visual Arts Biennale in 2001. Her interdisciplinary work was critical for the development of Theatre NO99, founded in 2005 with Tiit Ojasoo, co-author of most of the company's productions for the theatre, invited to Festivals throughout Europe, from Avignon to the Ruhr Triennale, from the Wiener Festwochen to the Golden Mask in Moscow. She has been invited to the Biennale Teatro with two productions. Filth (26 July, Teatro alle Tese) and El Dorado, the Clowns' Raid of Destruction (27 July, Tese dei Soppalchi).
A sequence of four productions will be presented by French director Nathalie Béasse (Angers, 1971), who like Semper can rely on a multidisciplinary education which led her to experiment with the sculptural and performing arts, before carrying out her research with her own company, founded in 1999, which questions the relationship between body and object, the structure of narration, the boundaries between theatre and dance. The legacy of her artistic training may be seen in her attention to theatre as a material that can be shaped, a vehicle for feelings and images, in a constant shift between reality and the imagination. Le bruit des arbres qui tombent (28 July, Teatro Piccolo Arsenale), Tout semblait immobile (30 July, Tese dei Soppalchi), Roses (29 July, Teatro alle Tese), and Happy Child (31 July, Teatro Piccolo Arsenale) are the four titles in the line-up.
Italy and Germany
The trilogy by Maria Grazia Cipriani covers a creative span of over 30 years. Founder of the Teatro del Carretto with costume and set designer Graziano Gregori, together they have toured the world with her unique theatre, based on the concept of metamorphosis, of the fusion between the world of fairy-tales and reality, between the flesh and blood of actors and the mask. With her stories that span the centuries, from myth to fairytale to the origins of theatre, Maria Grazia Cipriani has built perfect theatrical machines to reveal unexpected turns in these stories and to transform theatre into "a very serious game" (M. Grande). The trilogy will include the signature play Biancaneve (1 August, Teatro alle Tese), then Pinocchio (1 August, Teatro alle Tese), interpreted as Geppetto's dream, a journey into the darkest zones of the conscience, and finally Le mille e una notte (2 and 3 August, Teatro Piccolo Arsenale), the endless, elaborate story, as complex as Chinese nested boxes, told by the Vizir's daughter.
Livia Ferracchiati, thirty-one years old, studied directing at the Paolo Grassi school in Milan, from which she graduated in 2014, and after earning a degree in drama from the Università La Sapienza in Rome, made her debut with the original plays Ti auguro un fidanzato come Nanni Moretti, and Sex Workers. These plays trace a path divided into "themes", themes that can be easily mystified, that are unfamiliar, and require documentation, investigations in the field. Todi is a small town in the center of Italy (2 August, Tese dei Soppalchi), for example, is an investigation into the Italian province, into the limits that social control imposes on individual freedoms. In Venice, there will also be a performance of the first two chapters of the Trilogy about identity, a step by step sequence that explores the experience of the dichotomy between the body and the mind in terms of gender identity, focusing more precisely on the anxiety of living in a body that one does not perceive as one's own: Peter Pan guarda sotto le gonne (3 August, Tese dei Soppalchi), a semi-finalist in the Premio Scenario competition, and Stabat Mater (4 August, Tese dei Soppalchi).
A director of prose theatre and lyric opera, thirty-eight year-old Anna Sophie Mahler, who lives in Zurich, founded her own company CapriConnection in 2006, with which she experimented with an original idea of play-score, distinguished by the use of documentary material interwoven with music and images, which she presented in the major theatres in the German cultural area. Tristan oder Isolde (4 August, Teatro alle Tese) is professedly a pastiche, developed on the basis of the remnants of Anna Viebrock's set for the opera by Wagner directed by Marthaler, for whom Mahler served as an assistant. Mahler's second play, Alla fine del mare (5 August, Teatro Piccolo Arsenale), based on Fellini's film E la nave va, brings to the stage a group of declining lyric opera stars on a cruise.
Forty-two years old, from Holland, Suzan Boogaerdt and Bianca Van der Schoot have worked together since 2000 after they both completed the same theatre school in Amsterdam. Since 2011 they have been working on a series called Visual Statements, performances dedicated to the "entertainment society" and to the role of the image in today's culture. The two plays that will be presented at the Biennale belong to this series: Bimbo (5 and 6 August, Teatro alle Tese) and Hideous (Wo)men (8 August, Teatro alle Tese). Their works have been shown at the Ruhr Triennale and at the Theatertreffen. They are currently working on a new production for the Volksbuhne in Berlin.
Claudia Bauer, born in 1966 in Landshut, Bavaria, has built a solid career as a director, not only by creating productions for the most important theatres in the German-language countries, but also by serving as artistic director for the Theaterhaus of Jena from 1999 to 2004, among others. At the Biennale she will present Und dann (8 August, Tese dei Soppalchi), based on the text by Wolfram Holl, playwright of the year 2014 for the magazine Theater Heute, and Der Menschen Feind (9 August, Teatro Piccolo Arsenale), a re-interpretation of Molière's Misanthrope. These are plays in which the grammar of the theatre is deconstructed to be recomposed in a new perspective, "magical boxes in which acrimony and grotesque nightmares bring a sense of ruthless post-Modernism to today's society" (Antonio Latella).
Throughout the Festival – from July 25th to August 12th – an installation by Katrin Brack, a leading European set designer and the recipient this year of the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement, will adorn the foyer of the Teatro alle Tese. Air, light, time are the themes in Brack's work, "themes that enhance the space of the stage to bring it to life, constantly moving, bringing a performance value to the place which, because of the minor variations offered by the context, make it unique from one night to the next" (from the motivation).