Inferno at San Francisco’s Gray Area Festival

“I’m in the middle of the dance floor. The strobe lights above me are popping in time with the thundering kick drums and violent synth-bass rolling out of the speakers at 110 beats per minute. I’m shuffling to the rhythms, but I’m only able to control the lower half of my body. All of my movements from the waist up are being dictated by an exoskeleton strapped onto my trunk like a jacket.

“My arms jerk up and down and twist from side to side with the beat, but my own muscles aren’t doing the work; my flesh is being pushed around in space by the 45 pounds of metal, cable, and hydraulic cylinders running across my shoulders and down my arms. A robot is making me dance.” [. . .]

“The dance show, titled Inferno, is meant to be an experiential representation of hell, and I suppose it is, just maybe more fun. Inferno has been touring the world for a couple of years, and it made its US premiere in San Francisco this past weekend at the Gray Area Festival.” [. . .]    –Michael Calore, Wired, July 30, 2019.

Read more about Inferno and the Gray Area Festival on Wired.

 

La Divina Commedia Opera Musical a Torino nel 2020

“Prodotta da Music International Company, ‘La Divina Commedia Opera Musical’ può vantare un team creativo d’eccezione con 24 cantanti-attori e ballerini-acrobati, più di 50 professionisti eoltre 200 costumi utilizzati dal cast. Ad arricchire questa grande squadra ci sono poi gli oltre 50 scenari che si susseguono sul palco a ritmo serrato e tengono alta l’attenzione del pubblico di ogni età. Uno spettacolo assolutamente da non perdere che andrà in scena a Torino dal 24 al 29 marzo 2020.” [. . .]    —Guida Torino, 2019.

Contributed by Silvia Byer (Park University)

“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.

And the Tenth Circle of Dante’s Hell is …

“Hell, Dante tells us, has nine circles, each one reserved for souls guilty of particular sins. The greedy, for example, go to the Third Circle, while heretics are flung down into the Fourth. If you’ve lived a lustful life, full of debauchery and fornication, you will find yourself in the second circle, writhing and naked with millions of other lustful souls who — wait, how exactly is that a punishment?  According to Dante, the worst Circles of Hell are reserved for fraudsters and traitors, suggesting that he’d had an unfortunate disagreement with his publisher over royalties. But the great Italian fell short in his demonic visions, because there is another Circle of Hell: the Tenth. It is a place of infinite suffering and utter despair, echoing with the wailing of the damned. It is a movie theatre called Cinepolis Junior.” […]    –Tom Eaton, Rand Daily Mail, March 14, 2017

Review: Macbeth and the Bard’s Hellward Braid

“In Macbeth, there are no subplots. It’s ironic that one of Shakespeare’s most well-known plays is absent The Bard’s hallmark illicit trysts and bumbling, disaster-prone duos, but it makes up for it with one of the most lurid explorations of evil, perhaps anywhere.

“Charlie Fee, who directs the Idaho Shakespeare Festival’s production of Macbeth in addition to serving as the company’s producing artistic director, has this on lockdown. So does his Lady Macbeth, played by Erin Partin, who, at the June 5 performance, was a pitch-perfect moral foil to the rather tepid better angels of her husband, played by Lynn Robert Berg.

“Macbeth, for the uninitiated, is the story of how its titular character saves Scotland from invaders, succumbs to avarice with the encouragement of his wife and becomes a murderous, paranoid tyrant. In its first half, the Macbeths talk themselves into committing regicide so Macbeth can become king. In the second, the couple starts to crack under the psychological and political consequences of their actions, fighting to hang on to power—literally for dear life.

“Like Dante’s Inferno, the play hinges on inversions. Power is vulnerability and wickedness is a virtue. The best arguments favor active villainy and pummel passive righteousness. Macbeth the king, a father to his country, kills its sons out of wild-eyed paranoia; and his wife, well, this line says it all: ‘Come, you spirits that assist murderous thoughts … to my female breast and turn my mother’s milk into poisonous acid.’ Partin throws herself into her role as Macbeth’s provocateur, intertwining with him in a hellward braid, and wherever she is on the stage is where audiences can look for the fire.” […]    –Harrison Berry, Boise Weekly, June 13, 2018

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

“Dante’s Nightmares and Dreams” Wichita State Wind Ensemble and Contemporary Dante Theatre (2019)

Dante’s Nightmares and Dreams ​is a stunning collaboration between the Wichita State Wind Ensemble and the Wichita Contemporary Dance Theatre. Featuring live music, film, and dance, Dante’s classic tale, “The Inferno​,” is brought to life in a veritable feast for the senses.”   –Becca Yesner, The Sunflower, April 24, 2019