Maria Nadotti

  • Venezia salva

    THE ONLY PLAY by the French philosopher Simone Weil, Venise sauvée (Venice saved) was written and rewritten at different points of an exile that began with the Nazi occupation of Paris, in June 1940, and ended, with the play unfinished, at Weil’s death, in London, in August of 1943. With her parents, Weil, a Jew, had fled Paris, her birthplace, for the south. When she began Venise sauvée, she was “twisted with rage”1—stretched out on a sleeping bag in the kitchen of a small rented apartment in Vichy, with an injured leg that wouldn’t heal.

    Earlier this year, at Turin’s Teatro Carignano, the

  • Les Atrides

    Created and conceived by Ariane Mnouchkine for the bare and vaguely churchlike sheds of the Cartoucherie in Paris, the stage for the Les Atrides tetrology was as essential as a ritual space. Directly in front of the audience, and arranged along bleachers, the stage was enclosed on three sides by a low crenelated wall, the wall of an ancient city, a perimeter, but also a line of communication territorially distinct from the central auditorium. From one tragedy to another, radical and unexpectedly contradictory transformations occurred. Mnouchkine arbitrarily provided a prologue for the Aeschylean

  • Dario Fo

    For the Expo ’92 in Seville, Dario Fo, the Italian playwright and actor, revived his own historical performance, Isabella, tre caravelle e un Cacciapelle (Isabella, three caravels and a con man), which, back in 1963, had parodied Spanish history and annals, pointing out the many misdeeds carried out by the Catholic queen of Spain in the name of holy causes or in the name of the marriage of private interests and ideological-religious propaganda that is fundamental to colonialism.

    With the lights on, before getting to the actual performance, Fo proceeded with an introduction, which is both a

  • Enzo Cosimi

    The stage, grazed by the beam of the floodlights that divide it into zones of shadow and golden light, is empty. There is a single, bulky presence—a large egg—this too is golden. Fetish, totem, primordial mineral amulet, it seems to allude threateningly to a monstrous, imminent birth. But it also refers to the self-sufficiency of that which, not being procreated, doesn’t know how to procreate. The movement of this disturbing body, pushed diagonally across the stage, seems, through some paradoxical cloning, to bring into being the surreal shape of a creature, both horrible and enchanting. Similar

  • La Trilogie des Dragons

    La Trilogie des Dragons (The dragons’ trilogy), produced in 1987 by the Théâtre Répère and directed by Robert Lepage, is in the midst of a long international tour. First presented as a work in progress and still under constant revision, this complex cooperative venture is both grand theater and a delicate, erudite historical fresco. In three acts that stretch over six hours, La Trilogie des Dragons actually depicts a time span that lasts beyond any of the many private and individual stories it contains. Seventy-five years—from 1910 to 1985—of Canadian history are structured according to a fourfold

  • Two Tempests

    THEATRE VERSUS CINEMA: this is the most obvious difference between the Tempest directed by Peter Brook in Paris last autumn, from a translation by Jean-Claude Carrière, and Prospero’s Books, Peter Greenaway’s recently released film version of Shakespeare’s play. But their different media are actually the least important divide between these two polar-opposite productions. Instead, the distance between them lies in the way each revises Shakespeare.

    Brook’s vision is apparently the more respectful, and also the more traditionally linear. It preserves the play intact, just barely modernized by

  • Markisinnan de Sade

    Tatsushiko Shibusawa’s biography of the Marquis de Sade led Yukio Mishima to a historical character with apparently unfathomable motives. Renée de Montreuil, de Sade’s wife and faithful long-distance companion during his lengthy imprisonment, refused to see him when he was released and sent back home. In the eighteen years he was gone, the French Revolution had taken place, and she had withdrawn to a convent. Why? Biographers, historians, and scholars have viewed this final act with either incredulous silence or inconsistent suppositions.

    Provoked by this anomalous and historically marginal female

  • Dramatizing Dante

    Midway in our life’s journey, I went astray
    from the straight road and woke to find
    alone in a dark wood. How shall I say
    what wood that was! I never saw so drear,
    so rank, so arduous a wilderness!
    Its very memory gives a shape to fear.
    Death could scarce be more bitter than that
    But since it came to good, I will recount
    all that I found revealed there by God’s

    —Dante Alighieri, Inferno, trans. John Ciardi

    THREE YEARS AGO the director and actor Federico Tiezzi, along with his group Magazzini Produzioni (originally named Magazzini Criminali, and formed by Tiezzi, Marion

  • Township Fever

    THE VILLAGE VOICE, democratic organ of the New York white guilty conscience, showed its usual resourcefulness in a headline it ran last December to kick off an article on the recent musical by the South African playwright, composer, and director Mbongeni Ngema. In a malevolent twist on the production’s name, Township Fever became “Broadway Fever”—telling the magazine’s readers, even before they had read the article, that the most relevant feature of this new work was its author’s desire to repeat the global commercial success of his 1988 musical Sarafina!. For Ngema, the article’s subtitle

  • Stephen Frears

    Stephen Frears, creator of a handful of small, snarling, memorable films that bridge cinema vérité, political satire, and social criticism (The Hit, 1984, My Beautiful Laundrette, 1985, Sammy and Rosie Get Laid, 1987, Prick Up Your Ears, 1987), is evidently a man of common sense, aware of his talents, but also of his limitations. During the ’60s he was part of the English school of “free cinema” in a country that was sliding toward economic collapse and the crisis of traditional forms of political representation. Recently, he has been catapulted into the heart of Hollywood thanks to the widespread

  • Juan Darién, A Carnival Mass

    Adapted from the story by the Uruguayan Horacio Quiroga, Julie Taymor’s and Elliot Goldenthal’s Juan Darién, A Carnival Mass, presented by the Music-Theater Group, demonstrates that theater provides an ideal means of expressing that duplicity between reality and magic that has come to seem characteristic of the literary production of Latin America.

    As the action begins, we are in a fabulous jungle. Darkness envelops the stage at the center of which lie a jaguar and her cub in a tangle of liana. A hunter enters, disrupting the charged atmosphere of the scene, and slays the jaguar. The little one

  • Robert Wilson's Orlando

    Nineteen eighty-nine was a strange and densely packed year. At its end, History acted out a scenario bizarrely symmetrical to the one designed by Robert Wilson, in collaboration with Darryl Pinckney, for his interpretation of Virginia Woolf’s Orlando. The production had its world premiere in November at the small but sumptuous Schaubühne theater in West Berlin. Outside the theater, the Berlin Wall, shocking signifier of separation and prohibition since 1961, was replaced by a festival of reconciliation both euphoric and anxious. Inside, Wilson’s rigorously dualistic stage design congealed in