On the concept of the face, regarding the Son of God
Socìetas Raffaello Sanzio
"A must-see for anybody interested in boundary-pushing theater."
Elisabeth Vincentelli, New York Post
"I immediately thought of reproducing this portrait on cloth, and on an enormous scale. It had to be the same size as a highway billboard ad, something you couldn't help looking at."
Romeo Castellucci, director of On the Concept of the Face, Regarding the Son of God
Suzanne Roberts Theatre
Home of the Philadelphia Theatre Company
480 South Broad Street
(at Lombard) (map)
$39 / Members save 30%
Student + 25-and-under tickets $20
Conceiving and staging Romeo Castellucci
Music Scott Gibbons
With Gianni Plazzi, Sergio Scarlatella
together with Dario Boldrini, Vito Matera, and Silvano Voltolina.
Collaboration to the staging Giacomo Strada Object's realisation Istvan Zimmermann, Giovanna Amoroso Sound technician Matteo Braglia, Marco Canali
Light technician Fabio Berselli, Luciano Trebbi
Props Vito Matera
Management Gilda Biasini, Benedetta Briglia, Costetta Nicolini, Valentina Bertolino
Administration Michela Medri, Elisa Bruno, Simona Barducci
Economic consultation Massimiliano Coli
Executive Producer Socìetas Raffaello Sanzio
in Coproduction with
Theater der Welt 2010
deSingel international arts campus / Antwerp
Théâtre National de Bretagne / Rennes
The National Theatre / Oslo Norway
Barbican London and SPILL Festival of Performance
Chekhov International Theatre Festival / Moscow
Holland Festival / Amsterdam
GREC 2011 Festival de Barcelona
International Theatre Festival DIALOG Wroclav / Poland
BITEF (Belgrade International Theatre Festival)
spielzeit'europa I Berliner Festspiele
Théâtre de la Ville-Paris
Theatre festival SPIELART München (Spielmotor München e.V.)
Le-Maillon, Théâtre de Strasbourg / Scène Européenne
TAP Théâtre Auditorium de Poitiers- Scène Nationale
Peak Performances @ Montclair State-USA
In collaboration with Centrale Fies/Dro
The general activity of Socìetas Raffaello Sanzio is supported by the following Italian Institutions:
Ministero per i Beni e le Attività Culturali; Regione Emilia Romagna; Comune di Cesena
Tour in North America: Aldo Miguel Grompone d.i.
Tour manager: Sandra Ghetti
This presentation of On the Concept of the Face Regarding the Son of God has been supported by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage.
Meet Jesus in his most extreme absence.
A massive, iconic portrait of the face of Jesus hangs as a backdrop while human actions transpire that question the nature of faith and the desire to be in the presence of the son of God. But does the face indicate his presence, or absence? A middle-aged man cares for his geriatric father who shits himself; children exhibit their curious violence; and multi-sensory abstractions create a visually transfixing, emotionally harrowing, and deeply felt work has stunned audiences worldwide.
On the Concept director Romeo Castellucci is regarded as one of today's most influential contemporary theater artists. He was spurred by his own fascination with Antonello da Messina's portrait of Christ, and the feeling of being laid bare by the eyes of this image. The show questions what we, as spectators, are yearning to find in a portrait, which is after all a painting of a model, not the actual Christ. How do we react to human actions when that face is present as oppose to when it its not? What is at the heart of the need for such an image?
Interview with director Romeo Castellucci
FringeArts: Why is the title On the Concept of the Face Regarding the Son of God?
Romeo Castellucci: The promise in the title has to create distance and coldness with respect to the content of the show. Jesus's name doesn't appear directly because it's a proper name, it's too familiar for me. I mean, who exactly is this son of God? He doesn't have a name. The generic name of son triggers an analogy with the son of the old, incontinent father.
FringeArts: Do you remember where you were when the idea for this show first came to you?
Romeo Castellucci: I thought of creating this work when I was sitting on a fake-leather armchair one Sunday afternoon. I was alone in the room and it was a bit sunny outside. I was holding a book on art history in my hands and my gaze fell upon this magnificent head, a portrait of “Salvator Mundi.” I realized that this man portrayed by Antonello da Messina was looking at me; in the sense, I wasn't doing it; it was really he who was looking at me and laying me bare. I immediately thought of reproducing this portrait on cloth, and on an enormous scale. It had to be the same size as a highway billboard ad, something you couldn't help looking at.
FringeArts: How did the work progress?
Romeo Castellucci: I take my time, I keep calm. I go to the root of things, I cut deep down. I try to lower the temperature in everything I do. I try to restrain the energy just a moment before it is expressed externally; I reject vitalism in theater because the energy that works on a deeper level is that which is withheld: the katéchon, the restraining force of the ancient Greeks. The contours remain interior, unexpressed; they are interior shapes of rhythm.
For this work in particular, I accumulated a series of ideas that I didn't end up using. I thought about working with diapers for the elderly. I looked to compare this supermarket item, which is laden with existential meanings, with a portrait, the one by Antonello da Messina, that represents the highest expression of humanist culture in the Italian Renaissance. This was the starting point for the first outline of the show.
FringeArts: What is it about absence that keeps you returning to it as a theme?
Romeo Castellucci: Absence is the best condition of art. Not being is the best thing for art. Each art has to face its own possibility of not existing. Absence is a plea, a strain towards the dissolution of every residual image. The stage only shows images at the moment of the fire. The images are the fuel of a greater incendiary operation. The image that remains, and that we are talking about, is the one that is not shown: it's the third image, the one that doesn't exist and the one that counts. The third image is the one produced by the mind of the onlooker, the one that finds itself in that empty space created between two given, perceptible images. I don't know the third image because it's the part that's missing, the best part, the irreducible part of the image. Absence must be shown with something because nothingness is not nothing: it's something.
About director Romeo Castellucci
Romeo Castellucci pursued his theatrical path through Hey Girl!, 2006 followed by Inferno, Purgatorio, Paradiso, from the Divina Commedia by Dante Alighieri, an imposing existential and theatrical overview which made its debut on the occasion of the 62nd edition of the Festival d'Avignon in July 2008. Between 2010 and 2011 he embarked on a cycle dedicated to the human face, culminating with "The Minister's Black Veil", a drama freely inspired by Nathaniel Hawthorne's short story, of which "History of Africa. Vol.II" and "On the concept of the face, regarding the Son of God" are the premise.
In 2002 he was awarded the title of "Chevalier dans l'ordre des Arts et des Lettres" by the Ministry of Culture of the French Republic. In 2005 he directed the 37th Edition of the Biennale Teatro di Venezia, entitled Pompei. Il romanzo delle cenere, with a view to making room also for forms contiguous to staging, such as performance, installation and theatrical forms of music and architecture. In 2007 he was appointed "Artiste associe" by the Management of the Festival d'Avignon for the year 2008. In 2010 Le Monde selected Divina Commedia as best performance in the decade 2000-2010. In 2011 he tackled Parsifal by Richard Wagner at the Theatre La Monnaie - De Munt in Brussels. In 2012 the cycle dedicated to the face has been completed with the creation of The Four Seasons Restaurant.
About Socìetas Raffaello Sanzio
The Societas Raffaello Sanzio, since 1981, includes Romeo Castellucci (1960), Chiara Guidi (1960) and Claudia Castellucci (1958) who share an idea of the theatre based on a predominant plastic and sound dimension, which - during the first few years â€“ they also interpreted. Romeo Castellucci is an author and director; he is also in charge of staging, costumes and lights, according to a unified principle of dramatic compositions, which also includes the graphics for books and programs of the Societas. Chiara Guidi, author and director of a sound theatre, has been in charge of the dramatic rhythm and vocality of almost all performances by the SocÃ¬etas; she is interested in an art shared with children, which is why in the 1990s she started an experimental Children's Theatre School; she directs the performances which are held at Teatro Comandini, an old iron turning school which in 1989 became the Company's headquarters. Claudia Castellucci is a teacher, decorator, author of some dramatic and theoretical texts; she has started numerous free research school cycles based on gymnastics and philosophy.
The Societas has produced performances which have been staged all over the world in major international festivals and theatres: Santa Sofia, 1986; La Discesa di Inanna, 1989; Gilgamesh, 1990; Amleto. La veemente esteriorita della morte di un mollusco, 1992; Masoch. I trionfi del teatro come potenza passiva, colpa, sconfitta, 1993; also that year, Hansel e Gretel, a children's play, the same as Buchettino, 1994 and Pelle dâ€™Asino, 1998. Then Orestea (una commedia organica?), 1995; Giulio Cesare, 1997; Genesi, 1999; Voyage au bout de la nuit, 1999; and Il Combattimento, with music by Claudio Monteverdi and Scott Gibbons. Tragedia Endogonidia, 2002-2004, is a cycle consisting of eleven Episodes named after as many cities; it is a gigantic overview of tragedy in Western reality, a journey through the main cities in Europe which became the focus of drama. After this intensely participated enterprise, the Societas Raffaello Sanzio has been following an individual work specification by the founding artists.
About Chiara Guidi
Chiara Guidi developed her work of vocal dramatic composition through advanced Specialization Course and Seminars on vocality which she conducts in several towns in various countries. She composed, with the American musician Scott Gibbons, the musical theatre work Madrigale appena narrabile, 2007; the vocal performance Augustinian Melody, 2007; Night must fall, another musical work in 2008; Flatlandia, 2008, a dramatic reading which she interpreted herself; Ingiuria, a series of imprecatory songs in collaboration with the musicians Blixa Bargeld, Alexander Balanescu and Teho Teardo, and Lâ€™ultima volta che vidi mio padre, 2009, a musical drama with animated images. She was artistic director of the Santarcangelo dei Teatri festival in 2009, where she introduced the idea of a theatre extending towards the outside, including various audiences, careful or casual, in a joint comparison with music, the reference art for that year's edition. Taking music as the paradigm, starting in 2008, she has been directing Mantica. Esercizi di voce umana, a theatre and music programme at Teatro Comandini in Cesena. She was in charge of the staging of the children's show Buchettino (1995), abridged from "Le Petit Poucet" by Charles Perrault, all over the world, directing local companies in Japan, Taiwan, Chile, and Denmark. Also for a children's audience, in 2010, she produced 2010 Bestione. She runs seminars for artists and pedagogists on art with children, which include Lâ€™arte del gioco nel recinto del testo fiabesco at the Campbelltown Arts Center, in Australia. In 2011 she inaugurated and directed Puerilia, a festival of theatrical puericultura teatrale which always takes place at Teatro Comandini. In 2012, with Ermanna Montanari from Teatro delle Albe, she produced the performance Poco lontano da qui.
About Claudia Castellucci
Claudia Castellucci's role within the SocÃ¬etas is associated with theory and teaching. She has taught her fifth course with Stoa, a rhythmic movement school (2003-2008), with which she formed five Balli, dances based on a metronome interpretation of movement on a music tempo.
Claudia Castellucci has specifically studied rhythmic movement in relation to music, with particular reference to folklore experiences. Thanks to a study tour at Tanchaztalalkozo in Budapest she discovered the dances of the Moldavia region in Romania, which she visited during the summer for two years. Because of the same interest in rhythm she started studying Gregorian aesthetics, following the non-measurable principle of rhythm, indifferent to quantity, with which Claudia Castellucci experimented in her Balli.
In 2009 Claudia Castellucci established Mora, a dance company which specialized in the relationship of movement in time, leading to Homo Turbae, with organ music by Olivier Messiaen. In 2010 she inaugurated another school of rhythm: Calla. In September 2011 she managed the Ecole du rythme, a school of rhythmic movement lasting one month, in the city of Bordeaux, on the occasion of the Biennale di Arte Urbana 2011 directed by Michelangelo Pistoletto. In 2011 she started a study, based on Le Sacre du Printemps by Igor Stravinskij, with musc rewritten by Scott Gibbons, where dancing is steered towards a finalistic dimension, stylistic and real at the same time, as well as being a discipline of the mind. The study was completed in 2012 with the ballet La seconda Neanderthal. Claudia Castellucci still occasionally recites her own texts, the latest of which is Il Regno profondo, (2011) structured in the form of a sermon.
Alongside its performances, the Societas Raffaelo Sanzio has published:
Books on theatre theory, including: Il teatro della Societas Raffaello Sanzio, dal teatro iconoclasta al teatro della super-icona (Ubulibri, 1992); Epopea della polvere, il teatro della Societas Raffaello Sanzio 1992-1999 (Ubulibri, 2001); moreover: Rhetorica. Mene Tekel Peres by Romeo Castellucci (Aldo Miguel Grompone, 2000); Uovo di bocca. scritti lirici e drammatici di Claudia Castellucci (Bollati Boringhieri, 2000); Epitaph (Ubulibri, 2003); Idioma, Clima, Crono, quaderni della Tragedia Endogonidia (Societas Raffaello Sanzio, 2004); its publications abroad are: Les pelerins de la matiere. Theorie et praxis du theatre, Ecrits de la Societas Raffaello Sanzio (Les Solitaires Intempestifs, 2001); Romeo Castellucci, To Carthage then I came, exposition (Actes Sud, 2002); The Theatre of Societas Raffaello Sanzio, (Routledge, London and New York, 2007); R.Castellucci, E.Pitozzi, A.Sacchi, Itinera, Trajectoires de la forme, Tragedia Endogonidia, (Actes Sud, 2008)
As for its video productions, mention should be made of: Diario Sperimentale della Scuola Infantile anno I by Chiara Guidi, Romeo Castellucci and Stefano Meldolesi (1996, 58'); Diario Sperimentale della Scuola Infantile anno II by Chiara Guidi and Romeo Castellucci (1997, 49'); Genesi, from the Museum of Sleep (2000, 60') by Cristiano Carloni and Stefano Franceschetti; Epitaph by Romeo Castellucci (2000, 8'); Le Pelerin de la matiere by Cristiano Carloni and Stefano Franceschetti (2000, 45'); the Ciclo Filmico della Tragedia Endogonidia, by Cristiano Carloni and Stefano Franceschetti (2002-2004, 5 h. 25'), published in May 2007 by Rarovideo Productions; Inferno, Purgatorio, Paradiso (2008, 190'), published by Arte and Compagnie des Indes.