MILAN, PICCOLO TEATRO. An evening in Hell, Purgatory, Heaven… with legendary Colla’s marionettes

The idea of using marionettes to represent the words and images of Dante dates back a few decades, when at the end of the 80s Eugenio Monti Colla asked the then recently formed workshops to design and create the first materials for a possible staging. Now, four years on from his death, the Carlo Colla & Figli Company is finally staging this project. How is it possible to take on a work of such enormity and of a dimension totally out of scale with that of a marionette?

The Carlo Colla & Figli Company has started with this particular dimension, using the marionette as a unit of measurement not only for a matter of proportion, but also, and above all, for the evocative and metaphorical capacities of the small wooden actors, which are moved from a distance by the puppeteers and the writer, and which prove to be the true demiurges of an situation that exists and moves with a form of empathy that allows a reading of “our” reality from a safe distance. The marionette thus becomes the meter for understanding how to cut and reduce the original verses, which episodes to represent and which situations can be highlighted by this extremely particular form of theatrical language. The marionettes take the spectators by the land and lead them through the moments of Date’s Inferno, experiencing the atmosphere of Purgatory and finally ascending to Heaven, interpreted as an “apotheosis” typical of the most traditional of marionette plays.

As well as the writing of the scripts based on the notes by Eugenio Monti Colla, the new staging includes a score composed by Danilo Lorenzini, the creation of new sculptures, new marionettes and new costumes, and the study and creation of new sets, as well as an evolved study of the techniques of marionette movement, which also draws on characteristics and animation techniques from other forms of figure theatre, in a project that has involved the entire Company under the direction and project coordination of Franco Citterio and Giovanni Schiavolin.

The play has the support of the National Committee for celebrations surrounding the 700th anniversary of the death of Dante Alighieri, as part of the “Dante delle Marionette” project, which also provides for the exhibition “Le figure di Dante” at the MUTEF, the Museum of Figure Theatre in Milan and the figure theatre review “Dante in baracca”, organised in June/July at the Stabilimento Base located in the Ex-Ansaldo works.

A project created by Eugenio Monti Colla comes to life in the year of celebrations for the 700th anniversary of the death of Dante. The marionettes are the protagonists in the fantastic voyage into the Afterlife as told by the supreme poet in the Divine Comedy.

from 8 June to 20 June 2021 Piccolo Teatro Grassi

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