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Biennale Teatro 2019: focus on ‘Dramaturgies’
Theatre -

Biennale Teatro 2019: focus on ‘Dramaturgies’

The 47th International Theatre Festival titled Dramaturgies runs from July 22 to August 5: 14 artists are featured in the programme alongside 28 shows, 6 of which are world premieres.

The Festival

The 47th International Theatre Festival directed by Antonio Latella and organized by La Biennale di Venezia chaired by Paolo Baratta will be held in Venice from July 22nd to August 5th: 14 artists will be featured in the programme, each with more than one production to present a sort of short “artistic biography”; there will be 28 shows with 23 new pieces, two of which are European premieres and 6 world premieres.

After the focus on European directors and the investigation into the relationship between actor and performer, the 47th International Theatre Festival addresses its third act with Drammaturgie, "a title that deliberately uses the plural – explains Director Antonio Latella – precisely because we believe that in the twenty-first century, there are many and very different dramaturgies for the stage and, I might say, for everything that concerns live performances. (...) In this third act we will therefore try to highlight various types of dramaturgy and of being dramaturgists, from the dramaturgical role played by the Artistic Director to the director-author who stages his/her own texts; from the partnership between the directors and the authors who write for them and for the actors of an ensemble, to the artist-performer who traces a direction with his/her stage writing; from the writing typical of visual theatre to that of theatre with a musical matrix or closely linked to theatre-dance. And last of all, but perhaps first in importance, dramaturgy for children's theatre, born to create a new audience, to raise it and protect it from the obvious, offering great theatre that is not intended for younger audiences alone".


And the children's theatre by Dutch director Jetse Batelaan, winner of the Silver Lion, will kick off the Festival on July 22nd, reconnecting to a tradition of the Biennale which has dedicated great attention in the past to this theatre, which can count on a renovated language such that it now shares in the developments of research in theatre. War and The Story of the Story, presented at the Biennale, represent the visionary style that this director and author interlaces with a philosophical outlook to address today's themes and myths.

But the 47th International Theatre Festival will also open in the name of Heiner Müller. The most acclaimed, controversial and vital of German writers is the benchmark for the directorial approach, biography and history of two of the leading figures on the European scene and their ensembles: from the Balkans Oliver Frljic, the author of a biting and provocative mise-en-scène of Mauser, and from Germany Sebastian Nübling, who will produce The Hamletmachine with the Exile Ensemble.

The name Sebastian Nübling – in the ideal partnership between writers and authors presented in this Festival – is associated with that of Sibylle Berg, a cult author translated into more than thirty languages, for The So-Called Outside Means Nothing to Me, which won the Theater Heute award for play of the year in 2014.

Coming to Italy for the first time from Australia, Biennale Teatro will feature Susie Dee – director, actress, theatre manager – and Patricia Cornelius – one of the most powerful voices in English-language dramaturgy – who have enjoyed an indestructible artistic partnership devoted to independent militant theatre, for over thirty years. Courageous in their themes, between moral degradation and social criticism, focused on the present and often entrusted programmatically to teams composed exclusively of women. This is the background for the two plays to be featured at the Biennale: Shit and Love.

Seeking the “recognizable seal” of a theatre classic such as The Cherry Orchard by Chekhov, Alessandro Serra is a craftsman of the stage who addresses every aspect of the play – costumes, lights, sets, music – and for over twenty years has pursued his idea of theatre-laboratory with the Teatropersona company. His appearance here is highly anticipated following the international success of Macbettu.


One of the authors who will be staging her own plays at the Festival is Manuela Infante from Chile, a leading South American writer and head of the prestigious Teatro de Chile, as well as a director, whose productions have played throughout Europe and in the United States and whose plays have been translated into English and Italian. Two of Infante's plays will be shown, two exhilarating but profound reflections – supported by the most advanced currents of thought – for a non-anthropocentric type of theatre: Estado Vegetal, a one-woman show inspired by the revolutionary theories on the life and intelligence of plants by philosopher Michael Marder and neurologist Stefano Mancuso; and Realismo, inspired by the philosophical current of speculative realism that “repositions” the world of objects, upturning the usual hierarchies.

Paola Vannoni and Roberto Scappin, known as Quotidianacom, work on language, making the dialogical mechanism, synthetically indicated as Q/A, a stylistic signature, with dazzling quips and surreal sketches tinged with curare, or incongruous to the limits of the absurd. In Venice, they will present segments of their artistic biography with L’anarchico non è fotogenico, Sembra ma non soffro and the new Il racconto delle cose mai accadute.

Well appreciated but less familiar to the greater public, the director and author Pino Carbone will present ProgettoDue at the Biennale Teatro, a piece that connects two works distant in time and inspired by fairytales and myth. They are BarbabluGiuditta written with Francesca De Nicolais and PenelopeUlisse with Carla Broegg: two texts that reverse the points of view in the composition (the two authors lend their voices to Bluebeard and Ulysses while the director writes the lines for the female characters) and borrow their dramaturgical structure from melodrama. Finally, Pino Carbone presents the brand new Assedio from Cyrano de Bergerac: an adaptation that transports the romantic hero into our own time, against the background of the siege of Sarajevo, when war erupted into life with its devastations, forever changing our destinies.

Lucia Calamaro is the recognized author of a type of theatre founded on language, a prose theatre born on the stage that requires its actors to be “athletes of the word” (Christian Raimo), addressing universal themes in personal stories. At the Biennale Lucia Calamaro presents her new work: Nostalgia di Dio.


The Festival also features names that represent the cutting edge of artists-performers: Julian Hetzel from Germany, now living in Amsterdam, trained in the visual arts and in music, Miet Warlop from Belgium, who studied multimedia arts, the musical theatre ensemble Club Gewalt from Rotterdam. Invited to the most diverse contexts, they are multifaceted figures who push the boundaries of the different disciplines bringing into play their mutual influences and proposing new dramaturgical languages in which stage writing prevails over textual writing.

Coming to Italy for the first time, Julian Hetzel, the author of performances with a political bent, has been invited to bring three works to the Biennale. All Inclusive has been compared to the theatre version of Ruben Ostlund's film The Square: at the center, the aestheticisation  of violence represented by a pile of rubble coming from the Syrian war zone. The Automated Sniper reflects upon the oscillation between real and virtual, upon the “ludicisation” of violence, when wars are increasingly fought at a distance, with drones; when looking into a monitor is equivalent to killing. I'm Not Here Says the Void is a “poem” on absence between visual theatre, dance, sculpture, electronic music, a work about imagination and about reality as a creation of the spectator.

Mystery Magnet by Miet Warlop has toured the world, winning the Stuckemarkt Theatertreffen award in the section for new ways of making theatre, with its pattern of colours, forms and figures that come to life in an extravagant hallucinatory universe. Miet Warlop will also present Ghost Writer and the Broken Hand Break, a performance founded on the obsession for concentric movement: three performers dance on their own axis like whirling dervishes and make their hidden power explode to spread a sense of freedom through the audience.

Monteverdi and David Bowie, Wagner, Scriabin and Kanye West, as well as Andy Warhol and Marcel Duchamp: this is the explosive energy (that is what Gewalt means) of the collective of seven performers, singers, musicians, actors who offer a vital and non-conformist alternative to the world of opera. At the Biennale, where they are appearing for the first time, they will present Yuri, or the rise and fall of the “lord of the rings”, Dutch gymnast Yuri Van Gelder, and the techno-opera Club Club Gewalt 5.0 Punk, a crazy and eclectic night club with explosive musical exhibitions and a bar that never closes.


Finally Jens Hillje, the winner of the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement, recapitulates in various measure all the different ways of being a dramaturgist today. After serving for years as the co-artistic director of the Schaubühne in Berlin, which he revolutionized with Thomas Ostermeier and Sasha waltz, Hillje represents the dramaturgist who is no longer responsible for just writing or elaborating plays. Today Hillje is the artistic co-director of the Gorki Theater, which he has helped to make the hub of the new theatre scene in Berlin, working with the most important names in international theatre and seeking synergies with young artists, authors and directors to discover new talents and create new audiences.


The theme ‘dramaturgies’ will also be the focus of a symposium with correspondents from the leading international theatre magazines; the theme will also be the subject of daily encounters with the artists of the Festival, moderated by Claudia Cannella, a theatre critic and director of “Hystrio” magazine, with simultaneous translation by Ilaria Matilde Vigna.

Biennale College

Biennale College – Directors
Dedicated to young Italians under the age of 30, to give voice and visibility to young people working in theatre in our country, taking into account the generation gap and how difficult it is to break in,  the Biennale College – Directors will take place over the space of two years. The second edition, which covers the years 2018/19, will therefore be completed with the presentation of two plays during the 47th International Theatre Festival, while the third edition is already underway.

  • Leonardo Manzan, from Rome, aged 26 and winner of the 2018/19 edition, will present Cirano deve morire, freely inspired by Cyrano de Bergerac, as part of the Festival. The play will be produced by the Biennale di Venezia and was developed under the tutorship of Director Antonio Latella.
  • The College offers the Festival the debut of another young director: Giovanni Ortoleva, 26 years old from Florence, and winner of the special mention, will present Saul, freely inspired by André Gide and the Old Testament.

The call for the third edition of the Biennale College – Directors, which covers the two-year period 2019-2020 and was launched in November, received 72 applications for the initial selection.

  • From March 25th to 28th in Venice, the first admitted applicants will participate in a discussion of their projects with Director Antonio Latella: up to 12 directors will be selected at the end of this phase.
  • From April 24th to 26th, also in Venice, the newly selected teams will present a part of their project (5 to 10 minutes); following this presentation, up to 6 directors will continue.
  • During the 47th International Theatre Festival, the admitted directors will present the first part of their work (20 to 30 minutes) before the students and masters participating in the activities of the Biennale College – Masterclass 2019. This final test will lead to the selection of the winner of the production prize as described in the call.       

Upon completion of the selection phase, the winning director will have the entire year to produce his play, defining and developing all aspects of it under the tutorage of the Director of the Theatre Department Antonio Latella. The play will then be presented at the 48th International Theatre Festival.


Biennale College – Authors
Last year La Biennale launched a call, to be developed over the three-year period 2018-19-20, dedicated to playwrights under the age of 40 in Italy, inviting them to work at writing a play that can narrate the present. This call is of great importance considering the significant interest in authorship today in many European and non-European countries, and the centrality of the theme “dramaturgies” to the Biennale Teatro this year.

  • 181 authors responded to the call, of whom 20 were selected.
  • Of the 20 authors who participated in the dramaturgy masterclass held last year by Linda Dalisi and Letizia Russo (tutors for the entire three-year period of the Biennale College – Authors), 11 were selected.
  • These 11 authors were asked to write a play all on the same theme: at the end of this phase, the plays chosen to be read during the 47th International Theatre Festival are those of Caroline Baglioni, Pier Lorenzo Pisano, and Dario Postiglioni.

Biennale College – Authors will end in 2020 when it merges with Biennale College – Directors in the one-time project for the production of one or two unpublished plays staged by the young directors selected from the call.


Biennale College – Masterclass
Artists, actors, authors, dancers, set designers, sound designers, performers, directors are the intended students of the six masterclasses in direction, acting, performing arts, choreography, translation and dramaturgy, sound and set design that will be held during the 47th International Theatre Festival (22 July > 5 August) with Julian Hetzel, Thom Luz, Annelisa Zaccheria and Franco Visioli, Michele De Stefano, Monica Capuani, Susie Dee. The calls will be online starting at the end of February at: www.labiennale.org/en/biennale-college.

Like every year, the Director Antonio Latella offers the Masters a common theme to work on: this year the theme is “recipe”.

The hand of the cook, perhaps, in our metaphorical game, may be compared to that of a dramaturgist, who in writing a play doses his inspirations before serving them up to the public. Like a cook, he can create a recipe almost from scratch or elaborate one with traditional flavours to satisfy the person who chose him or who chose his dish or the restaurant he works for.

Rarely does a chef cook for himself alone and that is true, or should be, the result of a dramaturgist's work; if a story has nothing to do in any way with the spectator or listener, they probably won't pay any attention to it, and easily forget a text that refers only to itself.

We invite the Masters this year to work on a recipe, whatever it is, seeking with the actors and his collaborators to metaphorically build a dish to serve to the public, the dish that will open the Biennale College”.

On August 5th, the traditional final marathon will offer an uninterrupted presentation, in the unique space of the Teatro alle Tese, of all the short performances created by the young artists and the masters of the Biennale College.


Biennale College – ASAC
For the second year, La Biennale will launch the call Writing in Residence reserved for young Italian college graduates under the age of 30, which involves a research experience on the field with participation in the Festival and studies at the Historic Archives of the Biennale – ASAC, under the tutorage of professionals and the supervision of the Directors of the Departments. The call will involve every Department of the Biennale: Dance, Music, Theatre, Cinema, Architecture, and Art.

Like every department, Writing about theatre will choose a specific theme related to the programme of the festival, to be explored with the guidance of a tutor. After attending the performances at the festival, the young scholars will research their own specific theme in the Archives: under the supervision of the tutor, they will look for sources and historical references with the purpose of writing a text.


We would like to thank the Ministero per i Beni e le Attività culturali for its significant contribution and the Regione del Veneto for the support granted to the programmes of the Dance Music and Theatre Departments of the Biennale di Venezia.

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