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Reviewed by:
  • Tragedia Endogonidia, and: The Theatre of Socìetas Raffaello Sanzio
  • Daniel Sack (bio)
Tragedia Endogonidia. Produced and directed by Cristiano Carloni and Stefano Franceschetti; music by Scott Gibbons. Based on performances by Socìetas Raffaello Sanzio, directed by Romeo Castellucci. Raro Video, 2007. 3 DVD (PAL), 1 CD, and 86-page pamphlet.
The Theatre of Socìetas Raffaello Sanzio. By Claudia Castellucci, Romeo Castellucci, Chiara Guidi, Joe Kelleher, and Nicholas Ridout. London: Routledge, 2007; 304 pp. $150.00 cloth, $35.95 paper.

The bus drops us off in the dusty industrial outskirts of the city, in front of a large warehouse, all tin and rust, far away from the medieval walls and cobblestoned streets where the Avignon Theatre Festival bustles on. We enter the building to see a group of men in coveralls at work on various pieces of machinery. Dressed in their identical garb, it takes some time to recognize them: that young man had been beaten to a bloody pulp in a marble room yesterday evening, and that old man had silently witnessed the event, dressed in a police uniform. Even the director of yesterday's performance is there, hammering away on the long girder-like mechanism occupying the center of the workshop. When the machine starts up, attacking the floor as if to invoke its own local earthquake, we recognize it, too, as the remains of a second performance from the week before. Back then a sudden shivering of the stage floor had brought the naked protagonist to her knees amidst a field of snow, while a trio of yeti-like creatures uneasily entered the space; now it is merely an unadorned piece of stage machinery, the unearthed skeleton of the spirit that so recently lived under the boards. We, the audience to those events, have been invited backstage, welcomed behind the curtain to see the theatrical apparatus at work, its haunting images revealed as products of finely tuned instruments and diligent actor-technicians.

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On the other side of that curtain, the images of the Tragedia Endogonidia cycle (2002–2004) continue to cast long shadows across the international stage. Created by the Italian experimental theatre the international stage. Created by the Italian experimental theatre company Socìetas Raffaello Sanzio, renowned for its distinctive approach to a theatre of image and sensation, the Tragedia Endogonidia cycle pursues an extended rumination on the possibility of staging tragedy in contemporary Europe. The cycle conjoins the tragic drive toward death with a life form that, possessing both gonads (or sexual organs), constantly replicates itself anew—the endogonidic, in biological terms. In performance terms, the cycle spawned 11 interconnected but discrete episodes in 10 different European cities over three years (the first and last episode premiered in Cesena, Italy, the company's base of operations). Each episode presented a mutated incarnation of the same constellation of images and ideas, becoming itself anew in relation to each host city. For example, the white cube or "marble room of the Law" referenced above belongs to the Brussels episode, entitled Brussels B.#04, reflecting the city's role as administrative heart of the European Union. As director Romeo Castellucci [End Page 147] describes the cycle's process: "It is not a finished show that is moved from city to city. Its moving around is the show; a rhythm that strikes; a transformed organism, like the different phases in the life of an animal or vegetable" (29). In other words, this is a theatre that attends to the "passing moment" not so much in terms of its loss or disappearance, but as an organism's move elsewhere, a step aside or a perversion; the performance becomes other than itself.

This concern with performing what, in one of the accompanying dramaturgical notes, Castellucci calls "an organism on the run" carries over into the question of documentation and the afterlife of the work (The Theatre of Societas Raffaello Sanzio 32). As one of a series of shorter site-specific pieces, or Crescita ("tendrils"), created as outgrowths of the cycle's episodes during its lifetime, the warehouse performance described above displays one such...


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pp. 147-151
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