Authorship, Staging and Beyond
Cinquième colloque de l'EASTAP
Milan, 23 — 27 May 2022
Piccolo Teatro Grassi, Piccolo Teatro Strehler
23 – 26 May 2022
University of Milan, Department of Cultural and Environmental Heritage, via Noto 8
26 – 27 May 2022
A “principle of order” – more or less recognisable and established – has always been applied in the creation of theatrical events, to intervene with and bring into focus the various planning, organisational and artistic problems that affect the various elements of a performance. Naturally, in each case, this “principle of order” relates with the other operative figures involved in the overall orchestration of the theatrical experience (actors, dancers, musicians and performers, playwrights, scenographers, costumers…). It is therefore unnecessary to look as far as the significant changes seen in the early or late 1800s (depending on differing schools of thought) to recognise the clear central role of the fact that the entire history of Western theatre (European and beyond) is characterised by the underlying theme of a “directing function”, one that takes many forms and is often difficult to identify, eluding set definitions, that aims to conceive and moderate the creation of a performance (in the broadest sense of the term, taking in dance, opera, figure theatre, etc.), coordinating, when possible, the various elements involved on a deeper level, creating an architecture of thought. Drawing on an enlightened theory by Ferdinando Tavani, one could speak, in this sense, of a “theatrical mind”, (a term that the scholar used directly in English); a notion that not only identifies with individual and specific cases but rather expresses “a whole whose action is not reduced to the sum of the behaviours of its aggregates”, thus embodying a form of process that has existed throughout the eras and is intimately linked to the panorama of authorship and to the ways of seeing and articulating theatre in its multiple forms over the course of history. This is a particular approach to “material theatre” that brings together pragmatism and imagination, adapting “to changing conditions, […] correcting the state of things through imperceptible successive changes”; in other words, proceeding by trial, error and discovery. There are many variations that have developed from the “theatrical mind” matrix.
Why dedicate an international convention to such a theme? As is well known, Europe (and more in general, the entire world) is going through a global metamorphosis set in motion by the outbreak of the Coronavirus pandemic and the ongoing health emergency. The historical events currently taking place have radically affected every aspect of our lives, leading to a rethinking of the aspects of European identity and redefining the cornerstones of our way of socialising and of creating relationships with the rest of the world. What has emerged from the long and difficult months of the various periods of lockdown is a more measured awareness of the importance of community, and of the importance of values on which communities are founded. This “absolute” metamorphosis has therefore been accompanied by a transformation of the theatrical experience; the theatre is, in fact, a reflection of the reality that surrounds it, and in which a representation of its present is captured. In light of the current “change in paradigm”, examining the theme of the “theatrical mind” – with all that this notion implies – therefore means venturing into the labyrinth of possibilities from the history of theatre (and beyond) to examine the “play between stimuli and responses” that is often at the base of “new and unexpected artistic solutions”, thus creating a dialogue between the past, the present and the future.
University of Milan, Department of Cultural and Environmental Heritage
Piccolo Teatro di Milano – Teatro d’Europa
University of Calabria, Department of Humanistic Studies