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Venice, 25 July - 12 August 2017

Biennale Teatro 2017

Act I: Director


The 45th International Theatre Festival takes place from July 25th to August 12th following a programme conceived by the new director Antonio Latella. The focus is on direction, with a survey of European theatre to be seen through the works of 9 women directors from Italy, Germany, France, Poland, Holland and Estonia, most of them around 40 years old, with a consolidated artistic career. To each of them the Festival dedicates a sort of portrait, consisting in 2 to 4 performances, almost all of them Italian premiere performances, that trace their creative process.

“This year – stated Antonio Latella – the line-up of productions, and hence the creation of mini solo series have shown that it is easier, even when time is short and especially with women directors, to perceive the birth, or better yet the evolution of languages. This has obviously stimulated us, for our first Biennale, and as we open our doors onto the next four years, to give the entry pass to women directors. Many of them with a deep critical sense, capable of very naturally developing the union of languages that serve as a bridge between the past century and this one. We have found this concentration on research into language, especially in women directors, to be a requirement, a non-gratuitous necessity that never arises from an aspiration to fame or a career, but a sincere creative urgency”.


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), Happy Child (31 July, Teatro Piccolo Arsenale) are the four titles in the line-up.

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 play-manifesto 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 & 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" (A. Latella).

Throughout the Festival – from July 25th to August 12th – an installation by Katrin Brack, a leading European set designer and winner 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).


You know I'm No GoodAmy Winehouse's famous single, is the title of the final marathon to be staged August 11th and 12th, to present the results of the workshops of the Biennale College – Theatre, all inspired by a theme proposed by Antonio Latella, in a single uninterrupted performance to be held in the same space (Sale d'Armi).

Latella asked the masters conducting the workshops "to choose an artist, a woman working in the second half of the twentieth century who tragically disappeared, and to take a magnifying glass to find that which has remained hidden, or deliberately kept secret, for too long.

We wish to open a real and necessary debate, so that this end might also become a new beginning, to raise new questions, be transformed into a fertile ground for strongly generative experimentation... I am convinced that in a Festival for which the leitmotiv remains the creative process of the artists, their development, their research, it is also important to have the courage to stop and think about those who voluntarily, and in many cases I might add with great clarity of mind, have chosen to bid an early farewell to life or to reject their artistic career".

Each master has therefore selected an artist as the theme of his own workshop: Simone Derai from Anagoor has chosen to work on the figure of Norma Jean Baker (Marilyn Monroe), Nathalie Béasse on Jean Seberg, Franco Visioli and Letizia Russo on Unica Zürn, Anna-Sophie Mahler on Aglaja Veteranyi, Maria Grazia Cipriani from the Teatro del Carretto on Amy Winehouse, Katrin Brack on Charlotte Posenenske, Suzan Boogaerdt and Bianca Van der Schoot on Lee Lozano.

A workshop will be dedicated to different communication strategies based on theatre criticism, under the guidance of critic and author of essays Roberta Ferraresi.

The actors, singers, playwrights, performers, dancers, musicians and set designers selected for the Biennale College – Theatre will be in Venice for the duration of the Festival, from July 25th to August 12th, and will work with the masters to take part in a genuine creative process. The workshops will last 10 days, and will be preceded by a work session that will involve the totality of the participants, to be led by the Director Antonio Latella from July 26th to 30th.

A section of the Biennale College – Theatre will also be dedicated exclusively to the figure of the director. "At a time in history when there is a clear break between the past and the new generations working in theatre, the Biennale Teatro is committed to focusing attention on the work of those who have not yet achieved widespread visibility, because of their age and/or the objective difficulty of breaking into the theatre world. (...) The call for the first year is reserved for Italian directors only; this decision was based on our acknowledgment of the difficulties encountered by our young artists seeking to present their works to a wider audience and to the institutions" (A. Latella).

Young Italian directors between the ages of 18 and 30 years old have been asked to submit an original new project or one that has never been performed in its completed form.  This section will be divided into a sequence of working sessions: after an initial selection of no more than 30 directors, 5 will be selected to present the first part of their project – lasting around 30 min. – on August 10th at the Teatro alle Tese, before an audience consisting of the students and masters participating in the activities of the 45th Festival and the Biennale College, as well as professionals in the field. This final trial will lead to the selection of one director, who will be given a production grant to complete his play, defining and developing every aspect of it with the support of the artistic Director Antonio Latella. The play will premiere during the Biennale Teatro 2018.


As a space open to knowledge and debate, the Festival will organize a cycle of encounters with the invited directors – Maja Kleczewska, Ene-Liis Semper, Nathalie Béasse, Maria Grazia Cipriani, Livia Ferracchiati, Anna Sophie Mahler, Suzan Boogaerdt and Bianca Van der Schoot, Claudia Bauer, Katrin Brack - hosted by theatre critic and director of “Hystrio” magazine Claudia Cannella.

We would like to thank the Ministry for the Cultural Heritage and Activities for its important contribution and the Regione del Veneto for its support to the programmes of the Dance Music and Theatre departments of the Biennale di Venezia.


Biennale Teatro
Biennale Teatro