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La Biennale di Venezia

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Introduction by

Antonio Latella

Director of the Theatre department

Drama, in Greek, derives from the verb drao. This short union of letters conceals the power of action; drao, in fact, means I act, and it is interesting that drama acts or requires us to act, that in some way we set the action in motion and that consequently we choose or are chosen.

Drama acts intimately within each spectator, and at the same time we act upon him, every evening, though everything appears to remain the same; yet action in drama is different for the very reason that it is modified by the spectators, who are naturally different every evening, individuals with unique and inimitable private histories. Every evening in the theatre, there are thirty seconds, sometimes a minute, in which different individuals make contact with one other and begin to breathe together, a moment of communion before the curtain rises in the darkness of the venue to set us before a new action, a new drama.


We have now come to the third and next-to-last year of this adventure at the Biennale. The first year we sought to create a focus on directing, putting European women directors under the microscope; we were surprised at the quantity of languages they presented, as if each artist concentrated her research on the need to find her own language, a personal grammar of stage writing.

In the second year we sought to investigate whether there is still a difference between an actor and a performer, and again we ascertained an obsessive search for an original language to communicate with; the relationship with the space of the stage, and the changing relationship established with the audience at each performance, contributed to the creation of new chapters in writing for the theatre, some of them conventional, others drawing from the experiences of the great masters of the twentieth century to build a bridge to that era; works addressed to an audience that has already mastered the new means to decode them.


The most disconcerting comments, even from professionals in the field, addressed the fact that the plays often did not have a storyline, as if no one had never realized that important twentieth-century authors created new dramaturgies long ago; plays that deconstructed or deconstruct a text with a linear storyline or authors who went so far as to destroy what is traditionally called the character, abandoning psychology to make him a sort of literary manifesto, prose that becomes literature.


In my opinion, the sea change came at the moment when, for the first time in the history of theatre, and hence in dramaturgy for the theatre, an entire act was written with no words but just actions, the Act Without Words by Samuel Beckett. I believe that after this play, there was no more going back, because this fundamental work opened new possibilities for dramaturgy; following Beckett’s breach, everything became writing: the actor’s gesture, the stage prop, the set design, the costume, the light, the sound and every other thing that concurs to the production of a theatrical event.


The two first acts therefore lead us to the third act we propose for the Biennale Teatro 2019, Atto terzo: Drammaturgie, a title that deliberately uses the plural 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 performance. We realize, without being presumptuous, that it is not always easy to talk about dramaturgies in contexts where it is still hard to distinguish between an author and a dramaturgist, especially without feeling a degree of subjection towards German theatre, where the presence of the dramaturgist makes the difference; at the same time, we believe that dramaturgy elevates the work of the directors, the actors and even the Artistic Directors. Today, working with a dramaturgist and shaping the dramaturgical development in tandem is fundamental to everyone's growth and to create an authentic connection with the audience.

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, by offering great theatre that is not intended for younger audiences alone.

Biennale Teatro
Biennale Teatro