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La Biennale di Venezia

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Introduction by

ricci / forte

Directors of the Theatre Department

The sky is blue because you want to know why the sky is blue.

Kerouac’s aphorism was meant to suggest that a puzzle is a problem or an enigma that defies resourcefulness.
So here we are today, defying the rebus, rebuilding, together raising our eyes towards an identical celestial vault and finally asking the questions that each of us need. We are not alone. Let’s start with that. We are not alone.
Let’s start from the origins, from the Masters, from Blue, to establish a party moving towards the Dawn that is beckoning to us. Because this collective listening, this respect for one another contains, in nuce, the essence of a new expressive dignity that sweeps away the solipsistic aphasia that distinguished our pre-pandemic Era. We are not alone. We have to make it.

Collect a cup of water from the ocean: therein you will find me.

An evil curse, like in the cruellest of the Brothers Grimm fairy tales, has frozen us all and forced us to come to terms with a total reversal of our own history as human beings. As a result of the many lockdowns, the economic and health emergency that has afflicted the entire world, which causes us to look at ourselves and others with constant suspicion, forcing us to cover our faces and keep our distance, even we the live-performance workers have lived through and continue to live through a dangerous impasse, in a state of anxious expectation.
A Festival can have no other purpose than to question the fortuitous situations we are confronting. We are not just a rock in the middle of the ocean, “Le monde, c’est toi!” cried Jean-Paul Sartre. Today we more than ever feel a compelling need to cast light on the abyss into which we have fallen, seriously compromising the balance of our civilization but at the same time, in order to come out on the other side, it is extremely urgent that we bear witness to this moment of suspension and to re-establish relations with our fellow humans, before an everlasting night of oppression falls upon us, shrouding our hopes with its thick cloak. We are all vulnerable. No one is safe, no one is spared. People, barricaded within the confines of their domestic walls, in the company of fear and life’s insecurity, faced with crumbling affective and existential conditions, trapped in the armour of solitude, lost in a world of shadows, are losing their sense of Community. Pessimism has now become our daily uniform.
What will happen to us? What will our future look like? What do we want and what are we turning into? Vibrant questions that instil doubts and thoughts.
Despite a profound generalized crisis, intensified by the pandemic, creativity has fortunately never dropped its guard, on the contrary it is growing in strength and vigour, displaying a moving artistic and human Renascence. Going back to “moving” in the original sense of the word, as in “moving” a strong feeling within someone, agitating, unsettling, freeing the imagination, plucking the strings of truth, as was the custom in Ancient Greece. It is inconceivable that we continue to be bogged down in the pauper’s grave of easy and institutionalized lament. Because it is also a public service for society, Theatre is essential to the daily life of a people and for the growth of a country. It remains a pulsating organism, a possible antidote to pull us out of the shoals of cultural banalization, fight intolerance and the desertification of the spirit, and take apart piece by piece, like the Berlin Wall, a double-dealing liberal-totalitarian policy.

That is why the project for the 2021/2024 edition of Biennale Teatro will focus on exploring today’s Man and his multifaceted complexity. The timbre of our poetics will be delineated and take the shape of a tetralogy, consisting in four parts with a different thematic matrix for each year, tied to a specific colour which will act as an active principle to “infect” us emotionally. If we think of colours, we will see the world in a different way. In an endless pageant of nuances, the pigments chosen for each of the four years – enthralling us with their mystery and the labyrinthian peculiarities that cannot be constrained into rigid categories – will be like Aladdin’s magic lamp that, when rubbed, reveal a new perception of the world, the evolution of our own character and behaviour (taboos, prejudices, anxieties, passions, desires, obsessions, etc.), changing the imagination, language, state of mind, biological rhythm and the environment we live in.
In 1925, on an enormous white canvas, the Catalan painter Joan Miró painted an undefined “forget-me-not” in an intense blue with the words: “this is the colour of my dreams”. Thus lending it a mythological dimension, for the Biennale Teatro 2021 we will start with BLUE and its infinite variations to trace the thread of our times, to cast light on the tremors of a humanity that feels the need to invent – without giving in to the conspiracy of nostalgia and being overwhelmed by a spiral of regret – new forms of life, a universal Renascence from every point of view. Before the memories founder into silence, lowering the protective shields, reopening the arrowslits in these fortresses that keep us imprisoned, rediscovering change through intimate and collective memory – a sort of museum of innocence – that drives us all, exiled passengers of the twenty-first century, so that we can be together once again, share our emotions, exchange that grain of magical poetic folly that each of carries inside us.

Crossing views, in which the eleven Italian and foreign plays in the Festival will cross over past the demarcation lines, presenting works of interference in a heterogeneous range of languages, techniques, codes and means of expression that dialogue with the urgencies of the present time. Not one theatre but many possible theatres. As plural as the universe because free thought knows no boundaries or frontiers. By matching unconventional game partners, we will lower the granitic drawbridges to establish real exchanges between disciplines (such as Dance, Music, the Plastic Arts, Architecture and Cinema); we will promote young talents to give them a voice, visibility and the opportunity to experiment, to develop original creations with the help of the creative residencies in the calls for the College Theatre (for directors under 35, authors under 40 and site-specific performances under 40); and with a cycle of Round Tables, Master Classes and Forums – assisted by an international team of scholars, professionals, journalists, artists and maitres d’excellence – we will provide unusual maps to explore unfamiliar lands, hybridising linguistic, gestural, visual, acoustic and material archipelagos, and pull kaleidoscopic enchantments out of the magic hat of the imagination to build the innovative architecture of tomorrow.

Stefano Ricci  Gianni Forte

Biennale Teatro
Biennale Teatro