Tafterjournal n. 78 - dicembre 2014

Staging the change?


Rubrica: Reti creative

Parole chiave: , , , ,

How do we tell the stories and the atmospheres of a revolving world? When nomadic hunters transformed themselves into residential farmers (it was the first radical change ever) language was minimal, painting in the caverns was easy, and new rules were urgent: private property was invented, in order for farmers to hold ownership of their resources; children tracking became paternal and monogamy was introduced, in order for fields not to be bequeathed to anyone else’s child, it was family; there are no stories about this change, although the female representation as mother was clearly generated by the emerging need of rules and regulations aimed at consolidating the existing social framework.


Although it may sound odd, such a social order has been successful for many thousands years, obviously strengthening its backbone and perfectioning its features. However we call it, it survived until the invention of the steam engine and its introduction in a new social and economic paradigm. It’s manufacturing capitalism, and the available tools and styles to tell its stories were highly sophisticated. Literature, as well as music and theatre, had been quite binary until that troubled change: it either celebrated the ruling society telling its stories and adventures, or provided people with a sarcastic, sometimes tragic mirror to acknowledge their miseries and weaknesses, from Aeschylus to Shakespeare, from Pythagoras to Mozart.


The change required a different storytelling; the past order was being irreversibly abandoned, the new world seemed to grant a diffused welfare, if not happiness. Only creative artists could understand that such a change implied extremely high costs: the loss of identity, and the substitution of style and details with aggressiveness and merely material outcomes. Jane Austen focuses upon such a revolution with the delicate elegance of who has read things in depth for many generations, her novels are apparently steady since nothing happens beyond the usual plot of the heroin looking for a suitable husband; but while facts appear irrelevant the magmatic boiling of identites, perceptions and beliefs (in a word, values) overwhelms fragile souls in the awareness that nothing will be again as it used to.


After more than a century, but picturing the same class overlapping, Tomasi di Lampedusa will analyse the sentiments being grown up in different (often conflicting) sides of society. Stories are the background, the core is the ordinary struggle towards happiness and the weights of conventions limiting our scope; not paradoxically, the rising bourgeoisie appears to be much more constrained than the bizarre but creative aristocracy. Like Jane Austen, not occasionaly another islander, Tomasi crafts an ecology of complexity, without too much caring about what is or should be right; the only thing we can do is to profoundly understand and interpret the moves of life, and extract our identity.


Until a few years ago nobody could envisage that we would have found ourselves in a new radical change. After two centuries and some years the backbone of society is changing again. This will shock (is already shocking, in fact) the conventional hierarchy of values, the organisation of our days, the relationship with space and distance. As a first visible outcome, labels are gradually fading and versatility is proving crucial. The world we are kindly abandoning was so detailed in roles, measures and goals, whose dynamics were generated by clear conflict. Now, even wars are difficult to interpret, and also conventional enemies or adversaries are cloudy and unclear. How can we tell our stories? In the plot of our lives, what beginning can lead us to a credible end?


The compass of the present faces some difficulty in pointing at the cardinal points, and new complexities require the release of many commonplace views. The manufacturing paradigm was linear and dimensional, vilains harming innocents in stories were quite basic, and even some theatrical tear did not manage to restore their ethical ruin. Now individuals, groups, cultures and values melt implacably, and the final meal cannot be forecasted only observing the ingredients. In such an unexpected paradigm, with its liquid atmosphere, models and trends are obsolete as a tool to understand; formats reveal their mechanical weakness, and intuitions are asked to face varied challenges. Some examples can give us the perception of such a change, although to draw the whole picture is perhaps impossible.


After many years of loud, glamorous and often cheap language music is experiencing new laboratories; innocence is lost forever, and the excess of spectacular contests is only the symptom of irreversible weakness; x-factors and quests for talents cannot save the (musical) world. The arising ideas simply acknowledge fading conflicts and do not feel ashamed to dig in our secular memory of musical signs and styles. Lorde, Johann Sebastian Punk, maybe Chairlift, in Italy the “Larsen” project by Davide Iodice, build musical trails combining many existing sound cells in new cross-fertilisations. This is creativity. Literature is extremely generous, and tries to identify suitable paths; among some scandinavian darkness and many northamerican shades of every possible colour new views respond to readers’ strong urgencies; the rising orientation seems to be bound towards intimacy, delicacy, evocations and details; it can explain the expectation and success of “1Q84”, last Murakami’s story, where the layers of reality develop a complicated dialogue and characters play life empirically, smoothly, without prejudices. Humans are indulgent towards themselves.


Also theatre is aiming at a more intimate, almost cloisterish framework, where souls are neither isolated nor too much sociable; it is a sum of individual relationships, never able to culminate in group feelings or in tribal beliefs, but sufficiently explicit to create the evolving network of sentiments. Humans accept the risk of offering their weaknesses, in short they advocate the right to fragility that the manufacturing culture had strongly denied and considered a dangerous anomaly. Such a new dramaturgic vocabulary rises from southern Italy, where an ecology of complexity is strongly needed and creative artists firmly own the views and tools to build it. Francesco Saponaro reads the intimacy as a subtle but deep eruption of intuitions and sentiments, extracting the drama from everyday settings such as the interiors of a flat when it rains out of the window: Naples, the magmatic cradle where Saponaro has been theatrically grown up, establishes a dialogue with Barcelona; catalan and neapolitan urgencies merge, pointing at a credible present (and possibly future), like Enzo Moscato does on stage, and Erri De Luca in stories.


A similar syntax is being elaborated by Spiro Scimone and Francesco Sframeli, along a twenty-years action started with the Ubu awarded “Nunzio” then transformed in the movie “Due amici” granting Scimone (author, director and actor) the Lion of the Future award at the 59th Venice Biennale. Coming from a magnificent and hostile environment such as the Straits of Messina, Scimone and Sframeli move along the legacy of Austen and Tomasi and therefore tell stories of a changing world where many labels are lost, the conventional ethical guidelines could sound quite ridiculous, the need for intimacy and the desire of normality finally prevail. The last production, “Giù”, develops around (well, inside) an almost Ronconian water closet that proves a powerful metaphor of life options. Still, indulgence, irony and sour pains, when melted together, can draw the map of our souls.


Maybe the world will not build equestrian statues anymore, but we will use more time in front of our mirror, to substitute the brutal question: “where do we want to go?” with the much simpler and more fertile doubt: “how do we like to live?”. Only a reasonable present can build a credible future.

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