Peter Brook's Depopulator: an empty space that does not become a "scene" [Review]

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Teatro Sannazaro, last date of the show The Spopolatore for the Naples Theater FestivalRegia di Peter Brook, the undisputed master of the international theater scene, from the original text of the Irish playwright Samuel Beckett.

So much was thewaiting to attend the latest piéce by the English director, also fueled by the atmosphere of enthusiasm that has been enveloping for months the sixth edition of the Neapolitan kermesse that presents its protagonists as real stars who have chosen Naples to present their latest works in a world premiere or national premiere.

And this is the case of Brook, chosen by Luca De Fusco, artistic director of the festival, to carry out a "creative residency" in the shadow of Vesuvius. A month of rehearsals with the actors to build the spirit of the scene and find the right interpretation of the text.

The Peter Brook Naples Dep

A text certainly "difficult", distressing, gloomy, difficult to understand at first reading, symbolic and material at the same time, rich in visual details, described with precision and perfection by Beckett in his Spopolatore. It can be said that the protagonist of the original text is space, and its relationship with the bodies that inhabit it.

Un cylinder of 50 meters of conference and 16 meters high, whose walls are covered with hard rubber, is populated by two hundred "beings" of all kinds and ages who do nothing but use three stairs to climb and descend continuously and enter and exit some niches. Anguish, pure existentialism, metaphors of the human condition in the constant search for a meaning of one's life and a way out. The cylinder is a prison, the "beings" are us, everything is described by a voiceover that observes and "treats" the situation as a scientific phenomenon.

The theatrical text is rich in expressive potential, it could range indefinitely, use the scenic and visual means to convey the profound meaning of those, sometimes incomprehensible, cold and detached words of the verbal score.

Instead, when Brook's show begins, there are only an empty stool and three stairs, the actress takes the stage Miriam Goldschmidt and he has a script in his hand. All the while, about an hour, he does nothing but read Beckett's text, occasionally crossing the stage, going up and down a few rungs of the wooden stairs, sitting on the stool or on the proscenium. Definitely an expressive interpretation of the words but whose meaning, unfortunately, does not reach the viewer.

"If you show too much, you can not see anything" it has always been the "creed" of Peter Brook, the main advocate of the "empty scene", freed from scenographic trappings that obstruct the view and hide the truth of the drama. His scenic texts usually contain a few, very simple objects that "evoke" the sense and atmosphere of a situation or state of mind and that guide the public's imagination towards the theatrical dimension. But in this case the scene has become really too "minimal" and reduced to the essential that does not reach the eye of the spectator who, on the contrary, gets lost and ends up looking elsewhere.

Although it may be true that in the theater nothing should be too similar to the reality that is outside, it is also true that the reading of a text in the absence of visual "support" elements turns out to be inconsistent, and folds in on itself.

The "text" understood as "meaning" remains entangled in the words of the actress that do not become "scene" . The audience listens distractedly to a language that is not their own (French) by reading the supertitles, and hopes that sooner or later something on stage will be revealed, that the space carefully described by Beckett sooner or later comes out, in the form of light, of visual projection, of noise, of bodies, of shapes, of color, of movements and gestures that are significant and suggestive as well as allusive. And of emotions, of course.

We end up in Beckett's top hat, oppressed by the desire to climb those stairs and to discover that on a parallel stage there really is a stage space where the "drama" takes place and where the theatrical magic takes place ...


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