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STORIES WE SELL OURSELVES IN ORDER TO LIVE/ teatro metastasio / festival dei due mondi spoleto

Multidisciplinary performance of 14th century Giovanni Boccaccio masterpiece about the plague (eerily written in 2018). The original story, about ten young people who escape from the city to the country to tell stories for ten days (hence deca-) in order to escape the ravaging plague that devastated Florence. Like the Canterbury Tales, or the Thousand and One Nights, the Decameron is a collection of novellas contained within one frame, stories told by its different characters who narrate in turns, providing a structure within which to escape, and exist. The stories' themes are even more current than I had imagined writing it before our covid epidemic: magnanimous souls and ubiquitous minds, noble hearts in instant cynics. Our world has hardly changed, it has simply been updated. We still find refuge in the countryside, sharing our stories, even if it is most often on our phones. We continue to escape reality in times of trouble, finding solace in the realm of the imagination, the virtual component has led us to a place of infinite possibility, but also to a version of ourselves that can easily spin out of our hands.

While we avoid the harsher aspects of the post-modern world by spending more and more time indoors staring at our screens we perpetuate the very thing we are running from; a lack of employment, immigration fears enhanced by the financial and sanitary crises, a lack of cooperation or community values.

The essence of the real is itself fleeing at every corner, evading us, so insidiously that many of us no longer see a need for it at all.

Introspection, the concept of Self and psychoanalysis as a search for truth have given way to Selfie-culture, fake news, a consumerism that knows no bounds, and a heightened preoccupation with popularity, calculated in likes: it is the instant that counts and whatever it is that we are telling, or selling, each other (ourselves) right now, that dictates.

Boccaccio’s stories cannot help us to escape the eternal “loop” we currently find ourselves in;

but they do remind us that it is by continuing to tell stories that we can see our current reality for what it is.












The mirages of fame in-one-tweet, the desire for attention at any cost, the intense fear of aging and death, and the obsession with beauty and perfection.... These are stories that once told allow us to grasp at some truth in order to move forwards, to keep going, where exactly we do not know, all of us exiles aware that we have no real place to escape to, within or without, on or off-line, the important thing being to keep questioning ourselves, and our stories, and to keep telling them.

The libretto is set to a multi-disciplinary music that speaks to our consciences. The original novels, plots and characters are alluded to, invoked and transposed in symbolic form, allowing us to glimpse at reality, without ever losing hope in the human potential for greatness. Its flow of consciousness style narrates the internal worlds of the various characters as well as an impersonal extra-diegetic one. The pestilence is taken as a starting point with which to explore our contemporary conscience. 

Fear of the carnal in favour of the virtual: the filtered, the false, the apparently safe. Extreme interconnectedness leading to the decay of genuine human ties with which to confront tragedy and death. Human misery is unmasked, and laid bare.  A permanent confrontation is made with Boccaccio’s language throughout which runs alongside Thea’s live performance with the video performances of well-known italian stage actresses Monica Piseddu and Monica Demuru who recite the classical Decameron.

The musical sources used are philological, 13th Century ballads, hunts and madrigals that are “ruminated” into original music by composer Yannis Kyriakides and guitarist Andy Moor, whose presence on stage is a vital part of the performance. Two significant arias are sung by Belgian soprano, Lore Binon, in the virtual plane. The Decameron’s characters, such as Guido Cavalcanti, Federigo Degli Alberighi and Lisabetta da Messina will appear in the form of short theatrical stories, but also films, interviews and other contemporary transpositions inserted into the mixed-media context. 


June 2018 / Spoleto Festival / Metastasio Theatre Prato

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