A key theatre-maker, Romeo Castellucci has developed an original stage art, a meeting of all artistic expressions, by freeing himself from the primacy of text in favour of the energy of bodies, movement and material. Regularly invited to Avignon, he was an associate artist in 2008, proposing three shows inspired by Dante’s Divina Commedia. With “Inferno”, the first part of the triptych, he was faced for the first time with the stage of the courtyard of honour of the Papal Palace. His challenge here was to occupy the space and organise his visual inventions with the architecture of this monumental place. Thanks to a spectacular stage device – some sixty adult and child extras, dogs, a horse – he stages the solitude and stupor of humans facing the world, aware of how insignificant and fragile they are.
“Inferno” is a memorial to pain. The artist has to pay. In the dark forest into which he is plunged from the outset, he doubts, he fears, he suffers. But what sin is the artist guilty of? If he is lost in this way, it is because he doesn’t know the answer to this question. Alone on the large theatre stage or, on the contrary, walled in the crowd and confronted with the rumour of the world, the man depicted by Romeo Castellucci bears the full brunt of this experience of the loss of self, bewildered. Everything assaults him here, the violence of the images, the fall of his own body into matter, the animals and the ghosts. The visual dynamics of this show has the consistency of this stupor and, at times, of this terror, that takes hold of man when he is reduced to his insignificance, powerless in the face of the elements that overwhelm him. Yet, this fragility is a resource as it is the condition of a paradoxical gentleness. Romeo Castellucci shows each spectator that at the bottom of their own fears there is a secret space, tinged with melancholy, where they cling to life, to the “incredible nostalgia for their own life”. This “Inferno” is also the first encounter between Romeo Castellucci and the Courtyard of Honour of the Papal Palace. The artist had dreamt of it, writing about it three years earlier; “We want to imagine a series of events, an occupancy of space, that would be able to encounter this architecture, not as a theatre set but as a “remainder”, as a past demanding to be taken up and resuscitated, as the accomplishment of what remained unfinished, senseless, aborted”. Here at last Romeo Castellucci is faced with the impossible task he both feared and desired. Faced with the challenge.
Romeo Castellucci was born in 1960 in Cesena, Italy. He graduated with a degree in painting and scenography from the Academy of Fine Arts in Bologna. In 1981, jointly with Claudia Castellucci and Chiara Guidi, he founded Socìetas Raffaello Sanzio. Since then he has produced numerous plays in the role of author, director and creator of scenes, lights, sound and costumes. He is known all over the world, his work have been presented in more than fifty different countries, as an author of theater based on the totality of the arts, aimed at creating an integral perception; he has also written various essays on the theory of directing plays, which trace the development of his type of theater. His directing is characterized by dramatic lines that are not subject to the primacy of literature, but rather make of theater a plastic, complex art, rich with visions. This has developed a comprehensible language in the same way that music, sculpture, painting and architecture can be. His plays are regularly invited and produced by the most prestigious theaters and festivals all over the world. The Socìetas Raffaello Sanzio inspired the four founders of the company Dewey Dell, created in 2007.
Choreography : Cindy van Acker, Romeo Castellucci
Interpretation : Allessandro Cafiso, Antoine Le Ménestrel, Gianni Plazzi, Jeff Stein, Luca Nava, Manola Maiani, Maria Luisa Cantarelli, Sara Dal Corso, Silvano Voltolina, Silvia Costa, Stefano Questorio
Stage direction : Romeo Castellucci
Original music : Scott Gibbons
Costumes : Gabriella Battistini
Production / Coproduction of the video work : La Compagnie des Indes