“We stage a theatrical eclipse” – Interview with Marzia Pellegrini and Riccardo Trovato

“Anche il lupo ha paura” (“Even the wolf is afraid”) and “Un’altra notte” (“Another night”) are two figure theatre performances conceived and performed by Marzia Pellegrini e Riccardo Trovato. The two performances will be staged on November 26th at the Teatro Foce, for a day of “theatrical eclipse”.
10 November 2022
by Silvia Onorato
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On November 26th, the stage of the Teatro Foce will host “Eclissi teatrale – il teatro di figura tra sogno e realtà”, an event realised with the support of Percento Culturale Migros Ticino: two performances of figure theatre conceived and realised by Marzia Pellegrini e Riccardo Trovato, who graduated at the Scuola Teatro Arsenale in Milan based on the teaching of the French theatre actor, mime and pedagogue Jacques Lecoq. The afternoon show is entitled “Anche il lupo ha paura” (“Even the wolf is afraid”): dedicated to children and written entirely in rhyme, the show has as its main characters a wolf and a little girl from whom a reflection on fear is developed. The evening show, on the other hand, is intended for an adult audience, focuses on what two apparently distant stages of age have in common. The two shows received several recognitions in the past few years: “Anche il lupo ha paura” (“Even the wolf is afraid”) was selected in the contest Call Giovani Talenti Under 35 – Festival Sirmione in scena 2022 organised by the Centro Teatrale Corniani di Mantova (IT), while “Un’altra notte” (“Another night”) won the Call for Artistic Research 2021 at the Claudia Lombardi Foundation for Theatre in Càsoro (CH), the Best Animation and Figure ConTATTItere 2021 prize at the Latin Figure Theatre Festival ConTATTItere in Rome (IT), and the call for theatrical research at Karakorum Teatro – Spazio Yak in Varese (IT), as well as being selected in the Call Giovani Talenti Under 35 – Festival Sirmione in scena 2021 competition.

Two performances on the same day, called “Eclissi teatrale – il teatro di figura tra sogno e realtà” (“Theatrical eclipse – puppet theatre among dream and reality”). Why “theatrical eclipse”? Why these two shows?
MP: The two shows are both of puppet plays and share the same style. We chose to stage them together, calling the day “theatrical eclipse”, because they share the theme of the double, the opposite, dualism. In fact, there are always four of us on stage: two actors and two puppets. The themes are also always “double”: wolf and child on the one hand, childhood and the elderly on the other, but also dream and reality, fear and courage, life and death.

What puppets do you use? What are their peculiarities?
MP: They are corporeal, human-sized and hyper-realistic puppets, that try to reproduce the human features. I make them myself: the head is made of thermoplastic resin, while the body is made of foam rubber. Riccardo and I wear them, lending the puppet our legs and one arm, while the other is made of foam rubber.
RT: We are behind the puppets, always present on stage. Although dressed in black, we deliberately show our relationship and interaction with the puppet.

The first show is “Anche il lupo ha paura” (“Even the wolf is afraid”), a story designed for children aged 4 to 10 years, featuring a wolf and a little girl. How did the show come about?
RT: Both Marzia and I work with children, albeit in different fields: I run theatre courses for children, while Marzia works at a school. The show originated from a question: what are children afraid of? So, we arrived at the wolf, a recurring figure in ancient fairy tales which has remained relevant today.
MP: There was a time when encountering a wolf while alone in a wood was a real cause for fear; it is surprising to note that even though today there are fewer opportunities to encounter a wolf, the wolf is still scary, the wolf represents the fear. We have therefore chosen to reverse this fear, asking ourselves: what can the wolf be afraid of? If a wolf were to read the tales we tell children, it would certainly be afraid of children: behind children are the hunters, and wolves often come to a bad end.
RT: In our show, the wolf knows a happy ending. We show that the solution for both the little girl and the wolf is to live with fear, not to put it aside, but to find the courage to face it.
MP: Thanks to fear, both the little girl and the wolf discover each other’s world. Thanks to fear you get to discover new things, to be braver, to see the world in a different way.

The performance is written and performed in poetry. Why?
MP: We chose, experimentally, to write the text entirely in rhyme: poetry, in fact, confers a rhythm and musicality that lends itself well to a children’s text, and which is well aligned with a show with an unusual rhythm, slow at first and which gradually sees dream and reality chase each other. The starting point for this choice was also the nursery rhyme against fear, all in rhyme, which we teach the children at the beginning of the show and which we ask them to recite together during the performance. In addition to the nursery rhyme, we give all the children a little bell to ring together.
RT: The nursery rhyme gives a cadence, it is something that comes back again and again; and the children are asked to actively participate in the performance. The nursery rhyme and the little bell are something that remains with them as an amulet, like an aid to face fear.

The second performance, entitled “Un’altra notte” (“Another night”), brings together childhood and old age. What is the message?
MP: Childhood and old age are two apparently opposite moments of life: they are the beginning and the end, two margins of life. Reflecting on them, however, we found many things in common, dwelling in particular on old age, which we interpreted as the phase in which a person who is no longer an adult can afford to become a child again. Often, in fact, as an elderly person one starts joking again, playing again, without the typical adult commitments such as the need to be always lucid, logical. One becomes a grandparent and goes back playing, rediscovering that inner child one has always been and which we often forget. Another reflection present is that on death: we don’t know what happens before death, which are our last thoughts one has. So, we imagined an elderly person who, shortly before dying, wishes to meet just one person to come to terms with before being judged by anyone: themselves as a child, play together and find again their own serenity.
RT: We thought that the two performances could therefore speak to the inner child inside each of us: “Un’altra notte” (“Another night”) wakes him up, “Anche il lupo ha paura” (“Even the wolf is afraid”) brings him to life together with the child spectators.

This show also features music. What role does it play?
RT: The sound of the bass is part of the scene, with its own dedicated space: it supports, underlines and sets off the actions of the puppets. It is therefore not a background or accompanying soundtrack.
MP: In music, the bass is often not heard, but you realise immediately if it is missing. In our case, it is protagonist whose particular vibrations fit well into the dreamy, magical, also disquieting context of the show.
RT: The depth of the bass creates the right melody for the emotional situation in which we place the spectator.

“Anche il lupo ha paura” and “Un’altra notte” will be staged on Saturday 26.11 at Teatro Foce, at 17:30 and 21:00 respectively. A single ticket is available for both performances.
More information: foce.ch

Translation performed

with Google Translate.

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