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In Performance: Laboratorio Internazionale del Teatro (Biennale di Venezia, IT)

Il Laboratorio Internazionale del Teatro si presenta, eccezionalmente quest’anno, in agosto (dal 4 al 13), legandosi profondamente alle scelte artistiche delle passate edizioni. Se il percorso avviato nel 2010 prosegue con nuovi nomi – cinque autori di teatro internazionale quali Luca Ronconi, Declan Donnelan e Nick Ormerod, Claudio Tolcachir, Gabriela Carrizo, Neil LaBute – è con le “Residenze” che il Festival pone in luce le tipicità e la continuità di questo triennio, consentendo a giovani compagnie, formatesi in seno ai laboratori del 2010 e 2011, di sviluppare la ricerca avviata. Da quella esperienza si sono formati quattro gruppi, che hanno continuato a lavorare insieme e sono tornati, ora, alla Biennale con un proprio progetto artistico. Un ensemble è costituito da John Romão, Georgina Oliva, Piera Formenti e Damiano Ottavio Bigi – dall’esperienza con Romeo Castellucci – e affronta Pocilga, un lavoro liberamente ispirato a Porcile di Pasolini. Poi è a Venezia la formazione proveniente dal workshop di Jan Lauwers (Emmanuelle Moreau, Nicolas Wan Park, Carlota Ferrer, Francesca Tasini), invece alle prese con i monodrammi di Beckett in Swimming B. Ecco, ancora The Moors of Venice – gruppo formatosi dal workshop di Thomas Ostermeier e composto da Fèlix Pons, Cristiane Mudra, Valeria Almerighi, Valentina Fago, Nina Greta Salomé, Fortunato Leccese e Kostin Kallivretakis – presenta Propaganda, la prima parte della trilogia The Revolution Project. Infine la compagnia Divano Occidentale Orientale, già costituita da Giuseppe Bonifati nel 2010 e impegnata lo scorso anno nel laboratorio condotto da Rodrigo García, lavora a Qui-es-tu? Tu-me-tu (es), una performance che vede in scena Cecilia Di Giuli, Annagaia Marchioro e Caterina Moroni.
La Biennale accoglie questi artisti negli spazi del Teatro Junghans in Giudecca e del Conservatorio “Benedetto Marcello”, dove sarà possibile assistere alla presentazione pubblica dei lavori nelle serate del 9 e 10 agosto.


With the International Theatre Workshop, which will take place in Venice from 4 to 13 August, the director of the Theatre Section Àlex Rigola, explores and expands his thoughts on making theatre today in a programme that includes workshops, conceived as moments in which young people at the threshold of their profession may work with the Masters, and residencies, created to allow young artists to pursue their work independently, developing and consolidating their artistic intuitions. Two moments in a unitary process that intends to establish Venice as a place for artists to meet and exchange ideas, a workshop to build the contemporary.
In fact the residencies were conceived in continuity with the past two-year period: the protagonists are theteams that were constituted around a selection of the 7 workshops that were featured in the first edition of the International Theatre Arts Workshop and the 41st Theatre Festival, and which developed the various phases in the production of 7 peccati, a travelling performance divided into seven chapters created by seven directors. These groups worked with Thomas Ostermeier, Jan Lauwers, Romeo Castellucci. At the Biennale, these young professional actors met from October 2010 through March 2011 and then came back together, cultivating an affinity and an approach to working together, each under the guidance of a director, during the intense week of the 41st Festival, conceived as an “agorà” of theatre. Since then, they have continued to work in a structured manner; today they are back in Venice and, in a sort of changing of the guard, they will become the actors in their own artistic projects. The group formed around Thomas Ostermeier, which includes Cristiane Mudra, Valeria Almerighi, Valentina Fago, Nina Greta Salomé, Fèlix Pons, Fortunato Leccese and Kostis Kallivretakis, will focus its work on a theme of burning relevance such as the issue of European identity today; the group with Jan Lauwers, which includes Emmanuelle Moreau, Nicolas Wan Park, Carlota Ferrer and Francesca Tassini, will take on Beckett’s one-act plays; and finally, the group gathered around Romeo Castellucci, with Piera Formenti, John Romao, Giorgina Oliva, Damiano Ottavio, will work on Porcile by Pasolini.
But it will be with five contemporary authors, who have portrayed our times in rather divergent forms – Luca Ronconi, Declan Donnellan with scenographerNick Ormerod, Claudio Tolcachir, Neil LaBute, and Gabriela Carrizo from the Belgian company Peeping Tom – that the young actors, directors, dancers and playwrights will explore the processes that underlie every aspect of a stage production, in dedicated workshops.
Luca Ronconi, the author of great narrations for the theatre, but also a committed educator, as was emphasized in the motivation for his selection as the recipient of the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement, an award that will be conferred during the International Theatre Arts Workshop, will teach a directing workshop. Ronconi has chosen to focus on Questa sera si recita a soggetto (Tonight we Improvise) by Luigi Pirandello, an author who may not be central, but is a necessary experience for someone, like Ronconi, who has conducted an extensive analysis of the drama of the middle-class. The crisis of the family, as told in Ibsen’s plays, which Ronconi has directed several times, merges with the dissolution of form set in motion by Pirandello’s theatre-within-the-theatre.
Born in 1963, a native of Detroit, Neil LaBute is known as one of the most frequently performed contemporary playwrights in the world; he has often had two plays in production at the same time in the same city, with the Fringe Festival in Edinburgh sweeping up the lion’s share of his works. From noir to psychological thrillers, LaBute explores every genre in his plays, using razor-sharp irony to expose the misogyny and chauvinism in the relationship between the sexes, painting the picture of an “acid” world, full of cruel secrets and sinister figures, often at odds with the establishment but clearly empathetic to the public. Bash, written in 1999, is a triptych of one-act plays (A Gaggle of Saints, Medea Redux, Iphigenia in orem) that plunges Greek tragedy into the brutality of our days; The Mercy Seat, written in 2002, the story of an employee in the World Trade Center who takes advantage of the tragedy of September 11th to feign his death and start a new life with his mistress, is the most powerful theatrical response to the American tragedy, which left bitter controversy in its wake despite its success; Reasons to be pretty, written in 2008, won 3 nominations for the Tony Awards. A playwright who may be considered as the heir to Harold Pinter, David Mamet, Alan Bennet, Neil LaBute is equally comfortable behind the movie camera, transforming many of his plays into screenplays: In the Company of Men, a drama written in 1993, became his film debut four years later; it won several awards (at Sundance, Deauville and New York), and made LaBute one of the promises of independent American filmmaking. The movie starred Aaron Eckhart, his classmate and fetish actor in all his later films, in which he appears beside such personalities as Nastassja Kinski and Ben Stiller (Your Friends & Neighbors, 1998), Renée Zellwegger (Nurse Betty, 2000), Gwyneth Paltrow (Possession, from the homonymous novel by Antonia Byatt), Rachel Weisz (The Shape of Things, 2003, also drawn from a play), Nicolas Cage (The Wicker Man, a remake of a cult English film). Neil LaBute’s corrosive pen will lead the workshop dedicated to dramaturgy.
One of the most influential directors in European theatre today, Declan Donnellan has staged the great classical plays from around the world, borrowing from the legacy of Elisabethan, Jacobean and Restoration theatre with Shakespeare, Webster, Etheridge, Wycherley, Rowley, from classical German and French theatre with Lessing, Corneille, Racine, from the siglo de oro of Spanish theatre with Pedro Calderòn; from Russian theatre with Chekhov, Ostrovsky; but he has also addressed great literature with Thackeray, Pushkin, Dickens, De Musset.
In 1981, with the inseparable Nick Ormerod, he founded one of the most highly appreciated companies on the British scene, Cheek by Jowl; Donnellan, winner many times over of the Laurence Olivier Award, has worked with the most prestigious institutions: from the Royal Shakespeare Company, for which he directed many productions, to the Royal National Theatre, where he has been associate director since 1989, from the Bolshoi in Moscow and later the Maly Theatre and the Chekhov Festival to the foundation in Moscow of a company of actors modelled after his British group. It is in Russian that he first published his essay, The Actor and the Target, later translated into English, French, Spanish and Italian. And his “school”, where style derives from substance, has produced some of the most brilliant talents: actors such as Michael Sheen, Daniel Craig, Adrian Lester, Matthew Macfadyen, Saskia Reeves. “Great acting”, says Donnellan, “is something that takes place in the space between actors and not in acting as such”, just as the director’s job is not “to have a vision about how to stage a play” but to help all the actors as if they were one, so that each part grows in unison with the others. His workshop in Venice will be dedicated to the actor’s job.
Thirty-six year old Claudio Tolcachir, actor, playwright and director, a leading exponent of independent Argentine theatre, burst out onto the stages of Europe and abroad with a surreal and tragicomic trilogy begun in 2005 and ended in 2008: La omisión de la familia Coleman, an adaptation of All my sonsby Arthur Miller, Tercer cuerpo, El viento en un violin, totally original, are a ruthless vivisection. The trilogy rapidly toured around the world, with performances in over thirty countries, including Italy, hailed as the real triumph of the last Festival d’Autumne in Paris. A result which surprised even Tolacachir himself, who began in a literally home-made theatre in Argentina during the years of the economic crisis, when at the turn of the millennium he founded the original nucleus of his company, Timbre4, which is the number on the doorbell of his theatre-home. If the Argentine scene is an extremely vital environment, and Buenos Aires can count on more than 600 debuts per year, to the point that “living in Buenos Aires or visiting the city without going to the theatre – it has been written – is like living in New York and not going to the MoMA” (Jorge Dubatti), today his exponents advocate a theatre that has little in common with European models. From Ricardo Bartìs, the champion of the Argentine theatre renascence in the world and in his own country, who participated in last year’s edition of the Workshop and the Festival, to new directors Rafael Spregelburd and Daniel Veronese, and starting this year Claudio Tolcachir. “Theatre is a complex process the mechanisms of which should not be visible, a process in which the parts should merge into a unity that runs through our body, stirs our emotions and then makes us think – states Tolcachir. But the theatre is first and foremost its actors and I have the good fortune of working with magical people who give their all unconditionally to the acting game and stoke this sacred fire day after day”. The workshop led by Claudio Tolcachir will naturally be dedicated to the actor, who will be stimulated to provide his indispensable participation in the creative process.
Crossing the boundaries into the areas of possible contiguity with the forms of contemporary production, Rigola completes his exploration into the different theatre practices of our day with Gabriela Carrizo from the Peeping Tom theatre-dance company, one of the most remarkable new groups to emerge in recent years. A native of Argentina, Gabriela Carrizo was trained in the prolific area of Flemish dance and theatre, with Alain Platel’s Ballets C de la B and Jan Lauwers’ Needcompany, before creating her own Brussels-based company with Franck Chartier, at the dawn of the new millennium. Peeping Tom established its name on the European scene with the trilogy Le Jardin, Le Salon, Le Sous Sol, productions that transformed everyday idiosyncrasies and neuroses into theatre and dance, in a language that ranged from the crudely realistic to the oneiric. Like in their most recent production, 32, Rue Vandenbranden, which brings to the stage a parallel world in which anguish is multiplied and the dream is in danger of becoming a horror film. Gabriela Carrizo will lead a workshop on gesture dedicated to actors and dancers.
Some of the workshops and the residencies in the programme will have a public showing, to demonstrate the “stage materials” of their work, thereby offering specialists and amateurs, the simply curious or theatre buffs the possibility of developing their awareness as an audience. (Source-

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She has a First Degree in Language and Literature and a Master’s Degree in Theatre Theory and Criticism. She has worked at the Sala Beckett, the Sitges Teatre Internacional Festival, the Sitges Film Festival and for several Catalan theatre and dance company. She has also worked as a book critic for Time Out Barcelona. She is currently Head of Publications at the Teatre Lliure in Barcelona.

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