A work written and directed by Carmelo Rifici which reflects on language and the eternal quarrel between Logos and Mythos.
Carmelo Rifici is the author and director of Ci guardano – prontuario di un innocente, an idea that came to him while drafting the declaration of intent for Lingua Madre whose structure it reflects in the form of a dialogue. Ci guardano consists of ten “open” monologues in which students from the Scuola Luca Ronconi” of the Piccolo Teatro (Milan) “dialogue” with a hand held camera. This is a work about the theatre and about language in which Rifici reinterprets some of the themes he has dealt with in recent years as a director: the relationship between verbal and physical language, between victim and executioner, between word and gesture. Rifici sets out on journey in time, a stream of consciousness that develops into a continuous play of reflections and mirrorings which the audience is invited to follow, a subtle motif riffing on the theme of the scapegoat, while conjuring up mythical figures and persons who really existed.
conceived, written and directed by
Catherine Bertoni, Alberto Marcello, Giulia Di Renzi
coordination and video editing
Olmo Cerri, REC
with theater school Luca Ronconi students (in alphabetical order)
Catherine Bertoni, Giulia Di Renzi, Sebastian Luque Herrera, Alberto Marcello, Francesco Maruccia, Alberto Pirazzini, Roberta Ricciardi, Aurora Spreafico, Emilia Tiburzi, Giacomo Toccaceli
and with Rachele Gatti, Rita Spatero
and with the participation of (in alphabetical order)
Beatrice Fico, Francesco Fico, Alessia Lenzo Massei, Elena Lenzo Massei, Blue Sofia, Gioia Sofia
Brian Burgan, LAC
Pierfranco Sofia, LAC
Pierfranco Sofia, LAC
Igor Samperi, LAC
Serafino Chiommino, LAC
Andrea Borzatta, LAC
Luigi Molteni, LAC
lighting and video technician
Noray Yildiz, LAC
Giovanni Voegeli, LAC
Mattia Gandini, LAC
Brian Burgan, LAC
Lorenzo Sedili, LAC
Giulio Bellosi, LAC
Alberto Granata, LAC
costumes made at
Tailoring workshop Piccolo Teatro di Milano – Teatro d’Europa,
a special thanks to Roberta Mangano
scenes made by
Matteo Bagutti, LAC
Nicola Fiori, LAC
Vanessa Di Levrano, LAC
video production delegate
Adriano Schrade, REC
images and color correction
Giacomo Jaeggli, REC
Mariangela Marletta, REC
many thanks to Museo cantonale di storia naturale
LAC Lugano Arte e Cultura
The project Ci guardano – Prontuario di un innocente came out in one rush, in a few days, the product of my latest thoughts on the historical period we are living through, on the theatre and on themes that are important to me, such as the relationship between verbal and physical language, the relationship between the executioner and his victim, between words and gestures, the theatre as a substitute for ritual, the theatre as an eye that observes, deriving from the Greek Thèatron orThèa, the viewing place, the place of he who watches. These may seem to be unconnected themes but they are in fact closely linked.
My meditations on language have allowed me to imagine the eternal dispute between Logos and Mythos, between the liberating word that confers meaning and the symbolic narrative of a story, even if it is patriarchal. Language and words, which have come to unshackle us from the primitive sacrificial rite, also conceal a shadow and not only a saving light: often the word (of the father, of God, of the law) merely replaces rites, or creates a new rite, one that is no less violent than the sacrifice. The word which makes its appearance in order to lead us out of chaos and darkness, out of primordial fear, which endows us with rules and signs that can turn our fear into constructive energy, that word also hides its deep penchant to manipulate, to control other human beings. That word has a dual nature. On the one hand, it limits humans and structures them, on the other, it inevitably manipulates them. It complicates the relationship between human beings and their bodies inasmuch as language identifies the person solely with his mind or with his soul. Language is diabolical. While it engenders “meaning” and allows us to exist and to learn from others, but it also exacts from us a tremendous price, that is, that we should forget that we have a body, eliminate it in a frenzy of sacrifice and lynching. This process is clear when we turn to the figure of the scapegoat who is invariably a woman, a child or a non-normative body, or only a foreigner. It demands the sacrifice of that natural, fragile body, still without the double meaning of the word, which must be immolated so that the community can restore its own order and its own law. This stream of consciousness, to which I have attempted to give a theatrical form, follows the vicissitudes of that pure and natural body which is always endangered by the processes of life. Arranged into ten chapters and a finale. This delirium deals with the “passion” of a “disappearance”, the disappearance of the body. It is the story of some children who go in search of their father’s word, because they are sure that without that word, their world will be dominated by chaos, by darkness. But what happens is that often the father’s word does not reach the child and if it does arrive, it has a fatal effect, it burgeons into an infinity of reactions, like the atomic bomb, that multiples its effects after it explodes. The conflict between word and body has been sown intentionally in the hope that human beings will ultimately shed their bodies to become pure language (this hope of the male gender is coming true through advances in artificial intelligence). It is one of the many probable narratives that we have listened to, that our gaze has picked up.
This text was written in the form of a stream of consciousness, but every chapter is connected to a myth, a character or a person who really existed, who in one way or another I came across in this study of scapegoats.
The first chapter is associated with a voice, a voice without an ego, but also without a self, a voice that is also aware that it is lacking “something” about which it knows nothing. This voice will return at the end of the journey, when it attempts to imagine that this “thing” it is lacking may be none other the “relationship between things”, and so, something that involves no conflict, but is also without any meaning, just a relationship. This tendency of the cosmos to weave relationships, to generate connection and disaggregation only becomes meaningful when we stop to look at it. By itself it is pure relationship between matter, space and time, and, thus, also a relationship with antimatter, with black holes, with anguish and fear. This voice at the beginning reflects on death, in some way defined by the father’s word, then the gaze (violent gaze of the spectator and of the camera) shifts on to Isaac.
Far from being the biblical Isaac, this boy reveals to us the theme of the narrative: the capacity Logos has to hide latent horror under what appears to be acceptable. The son’s body delivers itself up to the word of the Father, just as what happened in Aulis to Iphigenia who shared his fate. Children sacrificed to love of their father, fallen into the trap of believing that his word is the only true one, indifferent to the anthropological substitution of an innocent child’s body with that of a deer or a lamb.
In looking at Iphigenia’s cruel fate, a young woman from Massachusetts in 1870 (she might well be the poet Emily Dickinson) intuits the falseness of her father’s words and seeks refuge in those of a Master, in the hope that they can free her from the enigma besetting her: what is more real, her phantasy or effective reality? Clearly, the master does not answer but her awareness grows that nothing that we know is of itself true, but, at best, only probably true. Philosophical and artistic language, like the words of the Law and of the Father, can only move ambiguously through the world. Knowledge always brings consequences, the first and most obvious being the feeling of solitude.
Art substitutes ritual, but like all rites, its nature remains sacrificial, and it is at this point that a character who wishes to identify with the Christ comes to debunk art and nail it to its own violence. Every attempt by art to look on suffering does nothing more than make the observed sufferer an abstract image of suffering. From Hiroshima to Chernobyl, every child immortalized in a photograph, becomes the reflection of Christ on the Cross. An image of eternal pain. It is Christ himself who cried out to the Father that the method had failed, there is no passion or representation of pain that can “quench” the thirst for knowledge. Any attempt to sate human hunger is destined to falter. Every sacrificial victim, every assassin who founded a new civilization and with it new languages that continue to feed off that dismembered body are destined to fail. That does not take away, rather it enhances, the feeling that humans cannot act otherwise: they desire to know, they desire words, they need them and are ready to make any sort of sacrifice for them. It is as if there were no alternative. And yet an alternative must exist and probably does exist. Every so often this probability realizes itself when we see the actions of a grandmother, who with no paternalistic language, cares for her grandchildren, not just because she loves them, but out of an innate drive to care for others, like any animal does with its young. In the world this practice is identified with love, but is only one of the identifications or simulacra of that “thing”.
The text proceeds in a continuous interplay of reflections and mirrorings, from Telemachus, the right son of the wrong father, down to Alfredo Rampi, the innocent sacrificial victim to the language of television, or in the obsession of a young Antonin Artaud who wandered into a labyrinth of doubles and lost himself in the desperate attempt to have at least one of his words reach the sea shore, like a sperm cell reaches the ovum. Concluding this improbable story of innocents is another journey into art: a grotesque Infanta Margherita, forever frozen in Velázquez’ painting, asks the vampire-like gaze of the audience to desist, to cease its violent act of looking, while waiting for a hand to carry her away in an unlikely escape, but one that might yet be possible in another universe.
With a degree in literature and a graduate of the Scuola dello Stabile di Torino, Rifici collaborated with Luca Ronconi in directing Progetto Domani, the theatrical event of the 2006 Turin Winter Olympics. He also accompanied Ronconi in directing Fahrenheit 451, Ulisse doppio ritorno, Turandot, The Merchant of Venice. He has directed dozens of works including The Turn of the Screw, La tardi ravveduta and Miss Julie for Milan’s Litta theatre (2003–06), Long Day’s Journey into Night for the Teatro Filodrammatici in Milan (2006). Napoli Teatro Festival commissioned him to direct Chie-Chan e io, from the novel by Banana Yoshimoto (2008). For the Piccolo Teatro in Milan he directed I pretendenti by Jean-Luc Lagarce, Puss in Boots by Ludwig Tieck (2009) and Nathan the Wise by Ephraim Lessing (2011). In 2010 he directed Dettagli by Lars Norén at the Piccolo and Phaedra by Euripides in Syracuse. He directed Buio by Sonia Antinori for Teatro Due Parma, Medea by Luigi Cherubini for the Ponchielli Theatre in Cremona, I puritani by Vincenzo Bellini for the Circuito Lirico Lombardo, Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare and Visit to the Father by Roland Schimmelpfennig for the Piccolo in Milan. Since 2014 he has been artistic director of LuganoInScena where he directed The Seagull by Anton Chekhov Ifigenia, liberata, Purgatorio by Ariel Dorfman, the opera The Barber of Seville, Avevo un bel pallone rosso, I Cenci music and text by Giorgio Battistelli which in 2020 was included in the programme of the Biennale Musica di Venezia and of the Festival Aperto in Reggio Emilia, Macbeth, le cose nascoste. In 2019 he directed Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi and L’heure espagnole by Ravel at the Teatro Grande in Brescia. In 2020 he became artistic director of the LAC Lugano Arte e Cultura, cultural centre of the City of Lugano. Since 2015 he has been head of the Scuola di Teatro Luca Ronconi at Piccolo Theatre in Milan. In 2005 he won the Premio della Critica as best emerging director, in 2009 the Eti Olimpici del Teatro as director of the year, the Premio della Critica, the Golden Graal and was nominated for an Ubu award as director of the year. In 2015 he won the Premio Enriquez for the theatre season of LuganoInScena, in 2017 he again won for directing Ifigenia, liberata. In 2019 he won the prize I nr. Uno awarded by the Italian Swiss Chamber of Commerce for his work at the LAC. Together with Paola Tripoli he conceived the project Lingua Madre – A Time Capsule.
Bertoni was born in Orte in 1994 to a Belgian mother and a Genoese father. She began her training in Rome, graduating from the Fonderia delle arti directed by Giampiero Ingrassia. She attended courses in theatre at La Scaletta with Andrea Pangallo, Fabiana Iacozzilli and Francesco Zecca. She is currently a student at the Scuola Luca Ronconi del Piccolo Teatro (Milan) directed by Carmelo Rifici where she is working with Mauro Avogadro, Massimo Popolizio, Fabio Condemi, Antonio Latella. She played Masha in the Three Sisters, directed by Carmelo Rifici and is the voice of the audio text of Balzac’s Une passion dans le désert for the Piccolo Teatro (Milan).
Giulia Di Renzi
Di Renzi was born in Rome in 1997. Her father is Roman and her mother Australian. She completed a secondary school diploma in classical studies in Rome. She attended various theatre workshops and in 2017 was admitted to the Scuola Luca Ronconi del Piccolo Teatro (Milan) directed by Carmelo Rifici, where she is pursuing her studies with great theatre masters like Mauro Avogadro, Carmelo Rifici, Antonio Latella, Fausto Paravidino and Tindaro Granata. She is studying movement and performance with Alessio Maria Romano, Marta Ciappina, Michele Abbondanza, Maria Consagra and Alessandro Sciarroni.
Sebastian Luque Herrera
Born in Milan in 1997 to an Italian mother and a Chilean father, Herrera studied at the lyceum for Human Sciences, F. Besta. He has been working as an actor since 2017 at the teatro Officina with Massimo De Vita. Right after completing his secondary school education he entered the Scuola Luca Ronconi del Piccolo Teatro (Milan) where he met Carmelo Rifici, Alessio Maria Romano, Antonio Latella, Massimo Popolizio, Fausto Paravidino.
Born in 1996, he began his artistic career with the director Lea Gramsdorff, working frequently at the experimental theatre Akròama. In 2017 he began studies at the Scuola Luca Ronconi del Piccolo Teatro (Milan) where he met Carmelo Rifici, Alessio Maria Romano, Antonio Latella, Massimo Popolizio, Mario Perrotta, Paolo Rossi.
Born in 1994 in Salento, Maruccia grew up in the province of Rome. He was interested in theatre and after finishing secondary school began attending his first courses in theatre in Rome and Ostia. His first working experiences were in small theatres in Rome and the surroundings ((Teatro lo Spazio, Teatro dell'Orologio, Teatro del Lido). In 2017 he was admitted to the Scuola Luca Ronconi del Piccolo Teatro (Milan) led by Carmelo Rifici who directed him in The Three Sisters.
Pirazzini is from Romagna and was born in 1997. Passionate about illusionism, having earned a diploma in Music Theory, after attending the Scuola di Teatro A. Galante Garrone, he studied at the Scuola Luca Ronconi del Piccolo Teatro (Milan) directed by Carmelo Rifici. Along his educational path he has encountered Chiara Bersani, Fausto Paravidino, Paolo Rossi, Serena Sinigaglia, Mario Perrotta, André Casaca, Massimo Popolizio, Marta Ciappina, Lisa Ferlazzo Natoli, Antonio Latella, Alessio Maria Romano. He took part in Happiness directed by Alessandro Sciarroni, Specie di Spazi directed by Fabio Condemi, Three Sisters under Carmelo Rifici, Cavalleria Rusticana by Emma Dante and Peter and the Wolf overseen by Vittorio Sgarbi.
Born in 1997 she began her artistic career in 2017 at the acting school Teatro a Vista in Rome, directed by Francesca Rizzi and Riccardo Bocci where she participated in workshops conducted by Patrizia Hartman, Chiara Cimmino and Valerio Vittorio Garaffa, Federica Bern. Six months later she began studies at the Scuola Luca Ronconi del Piccolo Teatro (Milan); her teachers include Carmelo Rifici, Alessio Maria Romano, Antonio Latella, Massimo Popolizio, Mario Perrotta, Paolo Rossi, Fausto Paravidino, Andrea Chiodi, Tindaro Granata, Chiara Bersani.
Spreafico was born in Lecco in 1997 and lives in Milan where she is attending the Scuola Luca Ronconi del Piccolo Teatro directed by Carmelo Rifici. She is studying with great theatre masters like Massimo Popolizio, Antonio Latella, Declan Donnellan, Paolo Rossi, Serena Sinigaglia, Fausto Paravidino. She is also training in the dance with choreographers Alessio Maria Romano, Marta Ciappina, Cristina Rizzo, Michele Abbondanza, Simona Bertozzi, Maria Consagra. She has recently published her first collection of poems Cavallucci.
Born in Rome in 1996, after graduating from the Liceo Classico T. Tasso she participated in different theatrical workshops given by Enrico Zaccheo. In 2017 she began studying at the Scuola Luca Ronconi del Piccolo Teatro (Milan) directed by Carmelo Rifici where she has the opportunity to learn from great masters like Mauro Avogadro, Giovanni Crippa, Carmelo Rifici, Antonio Latella, Fausto Paravidino, Paolo Rossi, Tindaro Granata. She is perfecting the study of movement and performing arts with, among others, Alessio Maria Romano, Maria Consagra, Michele Abbondanza and Marta Ciappina. She took part in the last production of La tragedia del vendicatore directed by Declan Donnellan.
Toccaceli was born in Milan in 1997 and began life in the theatre in 2009 playing the co-lead in the Teatro del Buratto’s Deserto Nero, directed by Renato Sarti. Later he attended the theatre school Quelli di Grock until completing his matriculation in the sciences. In 2017 he was admitted to the Scuola Luca Ronconi del Piccolo Teatro (Milan) directed by Carmelo Rifici. During these years he had the opportunity to perfect his theatrical skills under such masters as Mauro Avogadro, Giovanni Crippa, Carmelo Rifici, Massimo Popolizio, Antonio Latella, Fausto Paravidino and Tindaro Granata and to approach the world of the dance and performing arts through Alessio Maria Romano, Maria Consagra, Marta Ciappina, Michele Abbondanza, Chiara Bersani and Alessandro Sciarroni.
Set designer, painter and engraver, Buganza graduated in set design from the Accademia di Brera and has undertaken a career in theatre alongside his vocation as a painter/engraver. He has some eighty theatrical productions to his name that include prose, opera, ballet and cinema, but also exhibitions and installations. He has been a finalist for the UBU prize many times. Of fundamental importance is his nearly twenty year long collaboration with Carmelo Rifici with whom at the LAC he did the sets for Rossini’s Barber of Seville. He also works with Monica Conti, Piero Maccarinelli, Andrée Ruth Shammah, Claudio Beccari, Peter Greenaway, Andrea Chiodi, Jacopo Gassmann, Massimo Navone. He curated the production of Arti liberali in collaboration with the RSI.