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swords over Lear's bier, all that remains is a stark reminder that conflicts are here to stay, hardly much of a statement from the likes of Bergman. What does remain from this production is Gunilla Palmstierna-Weiss's stark scenography and, contrastingly, her richly fabricated costumes that inject some life into a sadly inane and tepid theatrical experience. If theatre is truly a gauge of the cultural propensities of a nation, then the Nordic productions do indeed serve as an accurate barometer. On the one hand, these countries have always prided themselves on their humane social democratic values and progressive modes of conduct. (After all, where else but in Scandinavia do women fight for "erogenous-free zones" in the workplace?) And on the other hand, these same liberating forces have unleashed a marked reaction by entrenched conservative powers, concentrated primarily in the male component of their populations. It is no wonder, then, that their theatre situates itself within this interlocking grid of subliminal erotic tensions and primal forces which mirror socio-political reality. That in most instances the theatre conducts its discourse with objective reality in the guise of nineteenth-century realism is a measure of the theatre's immaturity, although its vitality in dealing with topical issues cannot be denied. But then again, as Huojuva talo amply demonstrates, there is a movement toward newer artistic forms that do lend renewed vigor to ageold concerns as well as to issues of contemporary relevance. Benvenuto: New York-Italy Falso Movimento, Krypton, La Gala Scienza La Mama E.T.C. (New York) Renfreu Neff Like many of La Mama's imported attractions, its recent "Benvenuto," a festival of new Italian theatre, was an event whose significance lay more in affording us the opportunity to see a theatre movement from abroad than in inviting defensive comparisons and the jingoistic tone that have seeped into some reviews of late vis-a-vis the foreign avant-garde. Exposure to outside trends is always, on some level, instructive, as in the weeks just ended when New Yorkers were introduced to the groups Krypton and La Gaia Scienza; Falso Movimento, which made its American debut at La Mama in 1983, returned to open the festival. These are three of the most popular representatives of Italy's "Nuovo Spettacolorita" or "Mediatheatre," a movement started in the late 70s by groups of people in their early twenties, who came from architectural and fine arts backgrounds. Their influences were television and cinema, particularly the American underground films of the 60s. Their names seemed 87 OTELLO more appropriate to rock groups than theatre companies. Magazzini Criminali, 11 Marchingegno, Dark Camera, La Gala Scienza and Falso Movimento were among the most popular of these youthful precurseurs, and their overwhelming acceptance by Italian students and young workers, who preferred rock concerts to theatre, caught the attention of writers on the avant-garde. When mainstream critics began writing about them older audiences came to see them, and soon there were two distinct avantgardes : the traditional avant-garde of the 70s generation Imagist theatre, exemplified by Meme Perlini, Carmelo Bene, Giancarlo Nanni and Luca Ronconi, and a contemporary avant-garde that functioned collectively under fanciful names to create a theatre in which the most prominent role was played by extremely sophisticated technology. A note here concerning the manipulation of language in mediatheatre: language doesn't travel well. In keeping with its cinematic influences, Falso Movimento lip-syncs Otello's fleeting passages of (Italian) dialogue that are interwoven in Peter Gordon's dazzling tapestry of electronic music (which also incorporates Verdi's opera, electronically processed and "mapped"). La Gala Scienza resorts to (Italian) verbalization in a lengthy exchange between the two women and, later on, with some animated remarks directed to the audience by three of the actors. In both instances the dialogue is non sequitorial, simply used to alter the rhythm in the places where it occurs. Language is not a "language" for Krypton. The Naples-based Falso Movimento presented a modern dress Otello that was pared to the three essential characters, with a fourth as Otello's alter ego. This group adopts movie techniques to manipulate environment and 88 rhythm, with Otello's...


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