Gothic Network

Rome, monday 14th March 2011

Beings by Artaud in Butoh

The cruel origin of the chrysalis


by Livia Bidoli

From Les Cenci by Antonin Artaud, presented at the theater for the first time in 1935, takes inspiration Beings of Ezio Tangini and Flavia Ghisalberti, a performance in form of theatre-dance butoh at the Atelier Metateatro in Rome on the 11 and 12 March 2011. The bodies bend themselves to the ralenti, the mouvements are insinuated more than acted in a constant reflection of the embodiment in which Artaud met his Theater of Cruelty, along with the sound of sliding on cello improvisations by Frank Heierli.

The approach of Antonin Artaud (1896-1948) to the tragedy of Beatrice Cenci (1577-1599), takes place through works inspired by the bloody chronicle of parricide, after reading the two works by Stendhal and Bisshe Percy Shelley. Shelley wrote The Cenci in 1819 but, unlike Artaud, plays the character of Beatrice as a winner after having killed his father who had raped her and who had abused and molested for years her brothers and his second wife, Lucrezia Petroni, with whom she organized the murder. And in this respect refers about Artaud before the unfortunate and unsuccessful performance of 1935:

Les Cenci qui seront joués aux Folies-Wagram à partir du 6 mai prochain ne sont pas il Théâtre de la Cruauté, mais ils le the préparent” (“The Cenci, which will be represented at the Folies-Wagram  since may 6th are not the Theatre of Cruelty, but prepare him “, transl. mine, the year which it refers is 1935). These words are reflected in his work Autour du Théâtre et son double et des Cenci (in Œuvres complètes, Gallimard, 1964). A few years earlier he had known the Balinese theater that influenced his theories on the Theatre of Cruelty, a theater that would put in stage an one-act play like life, a physical theater whose proliferation on the scene is a torture in the sense that it does not separate from reality but represents it with its same original essence, êidolon:

“A “Cruelty “- from cruor which in latin is ” the blood dripping from wounds “[...] – starting from his own representation, not exorcised in other, believing to remove it in image, but it does it exist for the first and sole time. “(A. Tagliapietra, The Veil of Alcestis. The philosophy and the theater of death, Feltrinelli, Milan 1997, p. 40.)

The movements just alluded on the scene by Ezio Tangini and Flavia Ghisalberti, painted in part of white as the butoh originated in Japan in the ’50s (Ankoku-Butoh, where ankoku stands for darkness), the naked bodies, the continuous thrills as a chrysalis that blooms to the life of Ghisalberti, repeated along with the monotonic carpet of the sound of the cello of Frank Heierli, following the principles both in Butoh and in Artaud:

«We are so suddenly involved in a metaphysical struggle, and the rigid aspect of the body in trance, hardened by the flow of cosmic forces that press upon him, is admirably expressed in a frenzied dance, and yet full of hardships and angles, where suddenly start feeling the precipitous drop of the spirit. As if waves of matter overthrew their crests on each other, flowing from any point on the horizon to take place in an infinitesimal portion of thrill.» (A. Artaud, Le Théâtre et son double (1938), trans. en. The Theatre and its double, Turin, Einaudi, 1972, p.181.)

Kazuo Ohno e Tatsumi Hijikata, initiators of the butoh, would have perceived the painful essentiality of a performance where the bodies are contracted as the faces, where the tortures suffered by the young Beatrice (Ghisalberti) of having killed his pursuer change in a continuous upset of the vertebras, whose sonorous emission is reflected in acid wearing plastic shrillness by way of seventeenth century dress. The concrete approach of its pursuer, Count Cenci (Tangini), is retractable and exhibitionist as a reptile, to demarcate her with his glittering and bloody cloth, symbolically conjugated, like would want Artaud, with the word that constitutes it and determines it as “raw truth”, which is appropriating the stage and the audience itself to become finally ” physical” and no more cognitive, in its bare sensory perception.

Published in GN43 Year III 14th march 2011