Matera 2019

The project The Poetry of Shame has completely reached its goal, which is telling the story of a “redemption” through theatre and performative language. It showed that when we reverse our shameful and vulnerable side we can unlock our human potential.

The project is co-produced by #reteteatro41, with Franco Ungaro as coordinator and Antonella Iallorenzi of ‘Petra’ theatre company as art director. Together with the theatre company ‘L’albero’, ‘IAC Centro Arti Integrate’ and ‘Gommalacca Teatro’, Antonella has founded #reteteatro41, a cultural organisation that develops relations and actions supporting territories, institutions and operators at regional, national and international level.

The project is included in the theme ‘Continuity and Disruptions’ and follows the relevant guidelines planned in the Candidacy bidbook. It investigates the concept of shame as a positive impulse towards a collective process of self-analysis, self-criticism and self-improvement, which can generate new strength and greater optimism about the future.

This important theme is based on the assumption that the investigation on shame, which characterised the history of both Matera and whole of Europe, may lead to change its meaning, by starting up a dialogue among different cultures and creating connections between Eastern and Western Europe in order to build up a common cultural area based on shared values.

Humana Vergogna was staged from 1st to 9th March. It was also performed at Teatro Paisiello in Lecce on 11th March. It is the outcome of a long process of artistic research and creation that has turned shame into beauty. Shame is seen from a range of perspectives – shame for one’s own body, family, failure, sex as well as for being different. The live performance brought art into the jail of Matera and, despite its apparent lightness, it dealt with the innermost features of our identity.

The investigation on the word ‘shame’ starts from a deep analysis carried out by performers which then explodes in entwined bodies that explore every nuance of the theme through dance moves and thundering words accompanied by a soundtrack mixing pop music and opera. Daily fragility, humiliation and embarrassment, private and collective shame – all of them find a place in this sparkling performance that provides a careful and sensitive analysis of the most intimate of human shame and of the relevant poetic visions.

The ad hoc production was entrusted to Matteo Maffesanti and Silvia Gribaudi. The latter has been working for years on the embarassment experienced by people with “conspicuous” bodies. Her work aims at freeing them from stereotypes and desecrating them with beauty. The performers, including actors and dancers, were selected during the artistic residence that took place in Skopje from November to December 2018. Artists include Mattia Giordano, Antonella Iallorenzi and Mariagrazia Nacci, from Basilicata, Simona Spirovska from Macedonia and Ema Tashiro from Japan. On their return from the capital of the Republic of North Macedonia, the artists started to work on the performance in the village of Satriano di Lucania where they engaged the local community in theatre and shared ideas and suggestions on the concept of shame with citizens and students.

‘Humana Vergogna’ is part of the project ‘The Poetry of Shame’. It is the result of a process in performing arts, which was started with workshops held at the ‘Accademia Mediterranea dell’Attore’ of Campi Salentina (Lecce) last year. In this first phase, open calls addressed to international actors, dancers and performers were announced with the aim of giving young artists a chance of training abroad and of contributing with their critical work to the development of the idea underlying the project.

The first workshop, was held from 8th to 12th May and directed by Massimiliano Civica, who was awarded the Ubu Prize in 2016 and in 2017. The second workshop took place from 3rd to 7th November and was directed by Radoslaw Rychcik, one of the most renowned directors of Polish theatre.

In the second phase of the project, the research continued with the workshop ‘Shamelab’, held in the jail of Matera from 19th September to 23rd November by Antonella Iallorenzi, an expert on social theatre and founder of #reteteatro41. The workshop’s aim was to investigate, with the prisoners, the word ‘shame’ and play with the connected stereotypes in order to break the pattern and free the mind. The research ended with a performance open to the public, an intense and evocative moment that joined prisoners and the community of Matera.

During the third phase of the project an artistic residence took place in Skopje at the end of 2018 with the collaboration of partners from the Balkans. The artists to be involved in the performance were selected during the drama workshop led by Sharon Fridman, the top dancer and choreographer in contemporary Israeli dance, and in the dance-theatre workshop led by the former director of the National Theatre of Kosovo, Jeton Neziraj, and the coreographer, director and performer Silvia Gribaudi.

Besides theatre workshops and performances, the research planned in the project ‘The Poetry of Shame’ was carried out also through international meetings involving renowned people in the Balkan and European culture and theatre. The first meeting was held in Matera at the beginning of November. Its aim was to deepen the reflection on ‘shame’ in a multidisciplinary context involving cinema, literature, anthropology, poetry and architecture thanks to the contributions by Mario Desiati, Mario Bianchi, Giuliano Geri, Misumi Misuki, Cristina Amenta, Stephanie Schwandner-Sievers e Fatos Lubonja. The second meeting was held in Skopje and was aimed at talking about the connections between the capital of the Republic of North Macedonia and Matera, moving beyond national borders and shame towards an open Europe. The third meeting was held in Matera at the end of the first performance and focused on the theme of internationalisation of arts. It saw the participation of international art directors and programmers supporting the dissemination of the performance.

This is the end of the co-creation work with #reteteatro41, which started from the long capacity building programme that Matera 2019 created in order to strengthen practices that remain on the Lucanian territory, thus leaving a significant legacy even beyond the year as European Capital of Cuture.