“Synetic Theatre takes us all to hell”

“Pushing a performer’s body to its limits has always been a Synetic hallmark, along with an eagerness to incorporate elements of whatever other art forms can help to embroider an evening’s subject. Classic mime, movie horror, military formation all come into play in Synetic’s interpretation of the “Inferno” portion of Dante Alighieri’s allegorical epic poem the Divine Comedy. (The production’s title has been changed from the original ‘Dante’ and then later, ‘Dante’s Divine Comedy.’)

“What remains is a narrative that skims the surface of the poem, as Dante himself, in the guise of the Tsikurishvilis’ red-cloaked gymnast son, Vato, ventures through the circles of hell with Virgil (Alex Mills). In Synetic’s version, Dante, suffering from writer’s block, is in pursuit of an afterlife reunion with his love and muse, Beatrice (an angelic Tori Bertocci).

“The story provides the Tsikurishvilis and their longtime collaborators, set and costume designer Anastasia Simes and soundscape composer Konstantine Lortkipanidze, with a canvas for some ghoulishly sinister stuff — another popular Synetic motif. Simes’s hell is decked out like some really durable parlor of sadomasochism, with demons in studs and leather and Lucifer (Philip Fletcher) looking like a sexy roadie for Marilyn Manson.” [. . .]    –Peter Marks, The Washington Post, October 5, 2016.

You can read more about Synetic Theatre and get tickets for their current season here.

Teatro delle Albe’s fedeli d’Amore (2018)

fedeli d’Amore (Love’s faithful) is a ‘polyptych in seven panels’ written by Marco Martinelli ‘about’ Dante Alighieri and our present day. Different voices speak to us in the individual panels: the fog of a dawn in 1321, the demon of the pit where the merchants of death are punished, a donkey that carried the poet on his last journey, the ‘scolding’ imp who incites brawls about money, Italy kicking herself, Alighieri’s daughter Antonia, and ‘an end that is not an end’.

“These voices speak to us of the refugee, of the poet fled from his own city which has condemned him to burning at the stake; and now he is on his deathbed, exiled in Ravenna, sick with ague. First the fog slips in through the window cracks, enters that little room, and it describes him on the threshold of the extreme transition. Those voices are suspended between the fourteenth century and our own day, and Martinelli’s writing accepts, and not from today, the Dantesque challenge to hold together political and metaphysical ‘reality’, chronicle and spirituality.

Love is evoked as the polestar of the fedeli d’Amore, a force that frees humanity from violence, that saves ‘the garden plot that renders us so fierce’. The voices of this ‘polyptych’ are one single voice that can contain numberless voices, that of Ermanna Montanari: air, fire, sound, matter.

“This ‘polyptych’ for the stage enriches the itinerary which, together with Ravenna Festival, Martinelli, Montanari and Teatro delle Albe began in 2017 with Inferno, and which will continue in 2019 and 2021 with the other two parts of The Divine Comedy.

“fedeli d’Amore is one more tessera in their ceaseless dramaturgical, vocal, musical and visual research, alongside such wise folk as Luigi Ceccarelli and Marco Olivieri, Anusc Castiglioni and Simone Marzocchi; and it lies in that furrow where the vocal-sound alchemy of the figure is central.” [. . .]    —Teatro delle Albe, 2018.

Debuting on June 15, 2018, fedeli d’Amore was devised and directed by Marco Martinelli and Ermanna Montanari, and produced by Teatro delle Albe/Ravenna Teatro in collaboration with Fondazione Campania dei Festival – Napoli Teatro Festival Italia 2018 (progetto cofinanaziato da POC Campania 2014-2020) and Teatro Alighieri-Ravenna.

Read more about the details of the production at Teatro delle Albe.

Relatedly, Teatro delle Albe staged L’inferno delle Albe, which you can read about here.

Staging Dante Today by Teatro delle Albe (2019)

“The Center for Italian Studies and the Italian Studies Section of the Department of Romance Languages are happy to announce a three-day residency (2/27 – 3/1) of distinguished actress and author Ermanna Montanari with dramaturg and director Marco Martinelli, founders of the experimental theatre company Teatro delle Albe in Ravenna! They will participate in classes and hold meetings with students and faculty.

“On Thu., 2/28, at 5:30, at the Annenberg Center Live (Montgomery Theatre), Montanari and Martinelli will present the show Staging Dante Today including ‘Cantiere Dante,’ sharing with the audience the experience of Inferno performed in 2017 in Ravenna with the participatory support of its citizens, first part of the project “Divine Comedy 2017-2021,” also featured at Matera 2019 (European Capital of Culture). This will be followed by ‘Il cielo sopra Kibera,’ a photographic report from a piece directed by Martinelli recently performed by 140 children and teenagers in one of Africa’s largest slums in Nairobi. In addition, Ermanna Montanari will read canto XXXIII from Dante’s Inferno as well as the poem ‘Ahi serva Italia,’ drawn from the Albe’s latest show fedeli d’Amore, for which she recently won the prestigious Award for Best Actress/Performer ‘Premio Ubu 2018’ of the Associazione Franco Quadri!” [. . .]    –Penn Arts & Sciences, University of Pennsylvania, 2019.

See more about Teatro della Albe’s show here.

Classic Serial: Dante Alighieri – The Divine Comedy

BBC Radio 4’s Classic Serial program offers a reading of the Divine Comedy by professional actors, as well as a few behind-the-scenes clips on the making of the radio program.

“Blake Ritson, David Warner and John Hurt star in Stephen Wyatt’s dramatization of Dante’s epic poem – the story of one man’s incredible journey through Hell, Purgatory and Paradise.”     –BBC Radio 4, Classic Serial, 2019.

You can see more of the Classic Serial episodes and behind-the-scenes extras on the BBC Radio 4 site.

Le LA du Monde a film directed by Ghislaine Avan

“Tap-dancer, choreographer, and video artist, Ghislaine Avan has been working since 2006 to achieve a choreographic and transmedia work inspired by Dante’s Divine Comedy.

“The diptych includes a choreographic ensemble of 10 pieces entitled Seuil (Threshold), and a film entitled Le LA du Monde, the result of filming, since 2006, people around the world, from all backgrounds, nationalities and in all languages, reading an excerpt from Dante’s poem.”

Of the project’s goals, the artist lists the following:

  • “Celebrating on September 14, 2021, the 700th Anniversary of Dante’s death.
  • “Realizing/Creating a worldwide installation entitled Divine Babel: the simultaneous screening of the film Le LA du Monde with the 100 cantos of the Comedy projected on 100 screens, located in 100 different places around the world.
  • “Representing all continents to make this Babel truly divine.”

View the English trailer for “Le LA du Monde” on YouTube.

Contributed by Ghislaine Avanghi

“Circles of Hell… A Dysfunctional Family Tree of British Cinematic Misery”

Film Comment 47.6 (November/December 2011), pp. 40-41

Film Society of Lincoln Center

BenDeLaCreme’s Rising Up Into Dante’s Inferno Down Below

“I must confess, and not in a catholic kind of way, because that kind of on your knees religion has nothing to do with the uproarious show, BenDeLaCreme’s Inferno-a-Go-Go currently damning us all to hell at the Laurie Beechman Theatre in Hell’s Kitchen, naturally. But it does have a lot of a lot to say about the other kind of on-your-knees kinda praying. My confession revolves around the simple fact that I do not watch RuPaul’s Drag Race, nor have I ever heard of one of the most well known contestants, the heavenly smart and witty BenDeLaCreme, the creator/performer/writer and all around mastermind of the show.  I only came to this show because one of my best friends was sitting next to me when I got the press invite, and he squealed like an excited pig when I asked him if I ever heard of a creature called BenDeLaCreme. (I can write this statement, because I’m pretty darn sure he’ll never read this review as there are just far too many words for his liking.)” […] –Ross, Times Square Chronicles, May 25, 2018

Bryan Waring’s guide through Dante’s Inferno

“Picture yourself in a dark castle high upon the Scottish hillside, as you rest comfortably in a tall red velvet chair alongside Dracul-the Master of Ceremonies. Sounds gothic? Bryan Waring’s senior composition on Sunday, April 15, 2018 fulfilled a partial degree requirement for Bachelor of Music Performance. The eerie theatrical program was “a pleasant surprise,” says Waring’s mother, Bonnie. The Corthell Concert Hall located on the woodsy USM Gorham campus was the quintessential location befitting the hellish operatic overtones that played into the night from 8 p.m. to approximately 9:30 p.m.

“With friends, family and 35 supporting musicians at his fingertips, Waring directed his show through the gates of hell into Dante’s Inferno, the prevailing theme. In a pre-performance interview Waring made it clear that his intentions to include “elements of opera, death, Broadway, rock and roll, and jazz” for the subliminal background connected the “nine Circles of Hell.” It’s tempting not to label the recital as a play or concert since a few pieces of music involved at least five other instruments in addition to a piano or two. Vocals were exchanged between a chorus and a quintet as Waring made a ghostly passing through Circle I-Limbo into Circle V-Wrath.” […]    –Jamela Lewis, The Free Press, April 22, 2018

L’Inferno delle Albe, Ravenna (2017)

Inferno-delle-Albe-Ravenna-2017“Ecco, presa con le dovute pinze la schematizzazione, una situazione analoga si presenta con il nuovo progetto del Teatro delle Albe. Va vissuto come spettacolo o come chiamata cittadina al teatro? Perché Inferno è entrambe le cose. Quale dunque la sintesi? Andiamo con ordine.

[…]

“Quello delle Albe non è un inferno filologico alla maniera dantesca, è una contaminazione di immaginari: passati e presenti. L’Inferno si fa veramente il luogo della perversione dell’io, quello in cui ciascuno si accanisce sul suo prossimo, bercia la propria ossessione, si strugge nella pena,  ma non sa dialogare, non riesce in alcun modo a stabilire una relazione. Ed ecco allora che la presenza purissima di Montanari e Martinelli più che una guida viene a rappresentare una fulgida luce nel buio eterno. Ecco che quell’unità pervicace, serena, limpida, nonostante le masnade di anime perse, marca la traccia di un ritrovarsi che è l’unica possibilità di vita, di vita vera, a questo mondo.” — Giulio Sonno, “Ma io, perché venirvi? Arte e partecipazione nell’Inferno delle Albe,” paperstreet.it (June 23, 2017)

Ravenna16 giugno 2017

INFERNO
Chiamata pubblica per la “Divina Commedia” di Dante Alighieri

ideazione, direzione artistica e regia: Marco Martinelli e Ermanna Montanari
in scena: Ermanna Montanari, Marco Martinelli, Alessandro Argnani, Luigi Dadina, Roberto Magnani, Gianni Plazzi, Massimiliano Rassu, Laura Redaelli, Alessandro Renda e i cittadini della Chiamata Pubblica

Of the plans for the project, artistic directors Marco Martinelli and Ermanna Montanari explain, “The key with which we have translated the Dantesque ‘transcendence of human nature’ is to think of the work in terms of sacred mediaeval representations and the revolutionary mass theatre of Majakovskij: the whole city is a stage, all the citizens are called upon to ‘becoming a place’, to make a community.” For more information, including press releases and awards, see the Teatro delle Albe website.

See also the review by Massimo Merino on doppiozero.it.

Performance for the Millennial Celebration of San Miniato al Monte (2018)

san-miniato-1000-terzine-dante“In occasione del Millenario di San Miniato, sabato 26 maggio, dalle h. 19.00 (partenza via dell’Erta Canina ang. via Monte alle Croci) centinaia di cantori saliranno dal quartiere di San Niccolò fino all’abbazia, recitando e interpretando le terzine dantesche dedicate al tema del cammino e della salita.

“‘A salire a le stelle /Legato con amore in un volume ciò che per l’universo si squaderna’ è una performance corale i cui protagonisti sono 306 cantori, il pubblico e le strade di Firenze, che tornano ad essere luogo di incontro per i cittadini, grazie a una esperienza culturale comune. I 306 cantori sono infatti di varia estrazione: ragazzi, professionisti, detenuti, personalità della vita pubblica, studenti, educatori, persone in stato di disagio psichico e/o economico, migranti, persone con la sindrome di Down, ragazzi che praticano il Parkour, i musicanti della Filarmonica di Marcialla, persone comuni e fuori dalla norma.” — Gonews.it

The performance was organized by the association Culter as part of their Piume | Dante 2021 program.

Contributed by Irene Zanini-Cordi (Florida State University)