by Roberto Paci Dalò
after Euripides


Notes on the staging of Baccanti

"Tragedy is born of the spirit of music"
A. Schopenhauer

"È la forza della musica comparabile alla forza di Ercole, che giunta nella tragedia alla sua manifestazione suprema, sa interpretare il mito con nuove e più profonde significazioni"
F. W. Nietzsche

0.1 Why Baccanti
This staging fulfils the need to rearrange various concepts and procedures of a series of previous stagings. Those were in part focalizing a few guidelines of our work that here are further expounded in a more complex way, both from a theoretical point of view and from an aesthetic and scenic point of view.
It's about a project bonded to the real necessity (historical, artistical, social) to reassert age-old concepts, nowadays reproposed and used as passwords passed off as modernity. It's in the theatre - and in the thought about the theatre - that in this moment in an odd way we are witnessing a strange propagandistic emphasis given to such practices like the utilization of the various elements that are necessarily part of any theatre work. Then there are continuously invitations to utilize music, image, technology and text together to create today's theatre. And together with this other words are frequently found: multimedial, contamination, multicultural etc.

And why isn't theatre this? And if it isn't this what is it then?
I don't even dare thinking that someone would imagine of dedicating themselves to the theatre and work with it, without the contribute of all these elements together - within diversity - to create something which exists only in the moment of the partecipated testimony of the audience.
It looks strange to me thinking of a theatre in such a partial way and concentrate it exclusively on the text unfolded on the stage, without paying any attention to the 'rest' (if it is possible to call it so). Anyway, no doubt, a cut off theatre, partial, non-musical, in this profound sense of the indispensable relation between Apollo and Dionysus it has no interest, and by doing so it contradicts the essence of theatre itself and of its history.
This aura of dodgy 'modernity' (often linked with some more flaunted technology) contributes to the continuous homicide of the theatre and of one of its primary purposes: the creation of a temporary community of individuals who together observe, participate, enjoy, cry, in front of a process of laying bare a Dionysiac thought, given willingly in its non-completeness and perfect in its perfection.

Joseph Beuys, EURASIA, Sibirische symphonie 1963 32. Satz, 1966

0.2 The operative system of Baccanti
The work starts from Bacchae to explore Dionysus and to point out his figure as forming place of the whole greek tragedy. In doing this it is necessary to start in a non-philological way, there where the myth gets lost. Long before, then, of Euripides' work (out and out grave-digger of the Dionysiac tragedy, guilty of crime against Gods' humanity). Starting from Euripides' dismay, the dramatistic process of the work was born. Beginning with the overwhelming return of the dionysiac 'irrational' force in his last work.

To do this there is the use of devices and techniques starting with the leading role given to music and sound. Guided by Nietzsche's words we penetrate into the mistery of catharsis and of the indispensable theatre.
"Music is able to generate myth, that is among all the most significant example, like precisely the tragic myth: the myth that expresses in symbols the Dionysiac knowledge. Thanks to this pre-arranged harmony, that occurs between perfect drama and its music, the drama reaches a peak degree of evidence, otherwise unaccessible to the simple spoken drama. And then, while the music forces us to see more, and much deeper, and the scene and the action are unfolded as a delicate fabric in front of our spiritualized eyes, if they can look deep down, the world of the scene spreads into the infinite almost because of an inner light that expands outwards".

Guiding scripts of our work are on one side the original text of Euripides (utilized during the performance in anciet greek), the text by Nonnos of Panopoli 'Dionisiache', the works of Friederich W. Nietzsche, the text by Isabella Bordoni.
The Internet is utilized to work on sites that list on-line the complete texts of the Greek tragedy and that grant extraordinary access to the tragic script through hyper-texts that utilize more languages at the same time. In this way they allow compared analysis impossible, on this scale and with this complexity, to do or even to conceive up to not long ago. On the Internet is also published a journal that enables everyone interested to follow the development of the work and - in case - to intervene with their point of view.

One of the distinctive features of this project consists in its being absolutely archaic after all, and to show how the ancientness is nevertheless deeply connected with an idea of development and modernity. To be philologists while accomplishing the total and conscious betrayal. Getting closer but looking like drawing further away. The guide concept of the work is: transformation.

0.3 Apollo and Dionysus, chorus The Dionysiac art usually exerts on the Apollonian artistic faculty two different actions: the music arouses into a symbolic vision of the Dionysiac universality; the music raises the symbolic universality to its supreme significance. But Apollo's work guarantees, has to guarantee a strategy of the beautiful.

But all this cannot begin simply from a theoric notion.
The word has to become flesh, to enable a process of a cathartic kind. To cross all these different states, to generate the combined vision, Apollonian and Dionysiac, that Euripides tried to destroy (and nearly succeded if it hadn't been for the immens strenght of the myth) with his work.
Capitulating, however, right in the end.
We have to conceive the Greek tragedy as a Dionysiac chorus that always and unceasingly results in a world of Apollonian images.
The only reality is precisely the chorus, which generates the vision from its womb and which about this vision talks, with all the symbology of dance, of music and of the word. Baccanti operates in a contest of continuous stylistic contrast: on one side in the Dionysiac lyric poetry of the chorus, on the other side in the Apollonian dreamworld. Language and colour, movement and dynamics of the discourse appears as spheres of expression completely distinct.
The approach with tragedy is an approach in full relief, hence the original text is one of the possible texts and its relevance is more strictly connected with the chance, through it, to create an energy-field of common understanding in which thoughts and irreconcilable reactions are stirred. These arenÕt resolutive, but positive in their desire to create a mood which will give importance to the most exceptional thing that we keep having at our disposal.

Naples, january 1998

s Joseph Beuys & Nam June Paik In Memoriam George Maciunas, Klavierduett in der Kunstakademie DŸsseldorf, 1978

0.4 About music
The music of Baccanti is build on the relation between one pillar of the Western music system - the string quartet - and the sampler - that is the digital recorder that grants access to audio data in real time through a keyboard, a computer or interfaces.
An in-depth work is carried out on the "spatialization", the projection of sound in space thanks to the utilization of interactive systems also developed by the STEIM Foundation of Amsterdam.
In this acoustic space the actors' voices, the musical instruments, the sounds of the scene, are mixed live with pre-recorded sounds and other voices.

0.5 About image
Various years of co-operation and the realization of a series of projects with Oreste Zevola, (inspired by his drawings), have made possible the realization of performances based on his works. Drawings endowed with great visionary strength and often created starting from out and out clutches between human bodies and machines. All this blended with a Southern aesthetics intriguing and disquieting at the same time. Drawings which are upsetting and thought-provoking. Theatrical in their simplicity, based as they are on the contour, on black and white, on the outline and on contrast.

0.6 Theatre and new technologies
In Baccanti there is the utilization of digital and mechanical technologies to transform the scene in a single machine reacting to the various dramaturgical situations that are developing. The interpreters in the scene are relating to images and sounds in constant mutation.
Computerized systems control in real time both the images and the sounds, and so create a continuous visual and sound-movement which provides a sense of three-dimensionality. Buildings are evoked, and with them, collapses, suspensions, movements, fluctuations, tremors.
There is the creation of anamorphosis through computer graphic, and the images are continuously changing into other images.
Thanks to the software of the STEIM Foundation of Amsterdam, there is the utilization of various systems for the conversion, in real time, of image into sound and sound into image. The interpreters' bodies are equipped with mechanical clutches, like plants are grafted into other plants so bodies are grafted into other bodies.
The space of the scene becomes a perfect whole with the interpreters and the interpreters a whole with their digital and acoustic images.

The architecture of space. The relation with volume
Utilization of the canonical theatrical space: the italian theatre with its frame, the two separated spaces of scene and audience, but with the sound that, used around the audience, provides three-dimensionality and plunges the spectators into the performance.
The interpreters' voices are sampled and distributed in the space through a multichannel acoustic environment controlled live via computer. By doing so, the whole space is controlled, but the customs of the classic theatrical space and of the frontal vision of the scene are 'respected'.

Heiner Müller phographated by Patrizio Esposito, Neaples 1993

0.7 Networks
The on-line work: use of the Internet for the creation of the performance. Theatre in itself is always been deeply 'multimediatic', therefore it isn't necessary to coin labels or neologisms to define what we do.
A praxis of enlarged multimediality is that of realizing works in different areas and languages, while using the chances and the instruments provided by each place at their best. Hence we can place the theatrical performance side by side with the radio production, the Internet site, the realization of a sound/visual environment/installation created starting from works materials.

The Internet is used in Baccantiduring the preparation of the theatre piece. This means the elaboration of projects together with people physically located in different places and connected through the telematic net... In its 'classic' way - since a classicism of electronic space already exists - The work proceeds through email (for example a lists that includes all the participants of the project) and the creation of an in-progress home page (Internet site) of the work. In the home page there are files of text, of images, audio-files and of any other type of hyper-textual material which can contribute to the creation of the work. The page is constantly modified and allows to follow the work in real time even from a distance. This allows everyone connected to be present right in the centre of the state of things. To be continuously updated and to contribute on the basis of common data to the deepening of the work.
Gradually the page, the site, become a paraller project in electronic space. Not so much the on-line version of a performance, but rather the place where all the suggestions, the references, the sub-texts can emerge in their full complexity and ramification. That's exactly what Theatre is: the great mnemonic machine that we know and love. The creation of that place which motivates our work.

Joseph Beuys The Pack, Kölner Kunstmark 1969

Roberto Paci Dalò (Rimini 1962) director and composer. Founder together with Isabella Bordoni of Giardini Pensili Theatre Company in 1985. Awards: Djerassi Foundation San Francisco 1987, DAAD Berlin 1993-1994. Collaborations: David Moss, Oreste Zevola, Gerfried Stocker, Gabriele Frasca.
Among his works: Corrispondenze Naturali (Santarcangelo 1986), Nodas (Kronos Quartet, Wiener Staatsoper 1993), Auroras (Hebbel-Theater Berlin 1994), Many Many Voices (Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin 1995), Lost Memories (ESC, Graz 1994).

Giardini Pensili
phone + 39 541 759316
fax + 39 541 759316

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[ English Translation by Daniela Leardini ]