"L'IMPRESARIO IN ANGUSTIE"

PROLOGUE

An abandoned theatre.
A desolate space where the worn-out ritual of staging its umpteenth show is about to take place.

On the upbeat of the music however, someone stands up in the audience to interrupt this empty ritual.

A man who claims the ability to create something new because it is his by right.

The director.
His command gives permission for the Ouverture to begin, for the curtain to open. And the curtain opens.

OVERTURE

The stage reveals itself as sad and abandoned, having been closed for years, centuries.

It is filled of objects, and of mysterious silhouettes buried under cellophane.
The director removes the cellophane to reveal worn-out figures, moldy, torn-apart, frayed, and eroded.
Lost stares of ghosts awakened from a centuries-long sleep: frightened, resentful, frail.
The director, with lucid determination, assigns them character roles, circumscribes them in a space,

gives them a story to tell: “L’Impresario in Angustie”.

The show now can begin.

Nr. 1 INTRODUCTION

A stage stripped of the magic scenery, and rather full of ropes, cloths thrown on the ground, and chairs lying around.

It is filled by individuals covered in their torn-out, old costumes.
These characters with heterogeneous and contrasting personalities, have only the story to which they belong in common,

the cage of their collective paranoia.

A group crumbling without united spirit. Each of them cannot help but reproduce a cliché version of themselves.

The action is unruly, aggressive, polemic.The scene is full of forced and artificial behaviors.

The story does not flow. It gets stuck and ultimately crumples into itself.

CRISOBOLO, Producer. Burnt-out, catastrophic thoughts, anxious. Wishes to avoid the responsibility of being himself.

FIORDISPINA, Singer. Holds on desperately to what she thinks she is: an old heroine of a world far-away.
MERLINA, Singer. Insecure, always needing to define herself, intimately lost, anxiously extroverted.

DORALBA, Singer. Arrogant, conceited, intransigent, polemic. Her silence is heavier than any word.

PERIZONIO, Poet. Presumptuous, insolent, jolly, and superficial. A poet without poetry.

GELINDO, Kapellmeister. Pleased with himself, phony, hypocrite. He takes interest in everybody and cares about no one.

STRABINIO, Patron. Judgemental, negative, strict, and grim. Both a reactionary, and conservative. The status quo.

ANONYMOUS, Dancer. Spotlessly clean soul. Needs to belong to an idea. Pure and catastrophic empathy.

FERMATA and DA CAPO

The Director cannot stand this any longer. He interrupts.

Passionately story-telling, he throws himself on the group,

hypnotizing it with new words and thoughts, with new ideas.
As he speaks, he undresses them: the worn-out costumes fall to the ground,

the characters are left naked, vulnerable and frail.

Undressing oneself of what is old, this is the first step, leaving beliefs and preconceptions.
They are no longer ghosts, but naked souls.
The old dresses fly away, lighting up: empty shells sucked up into the garret.

The characters seem to go along to the director’s line of thought.
Or maybe it is only a temporary surrender?
Crisobolo gives up, already exhausted.
Perizonio accepts the challenge and Gelindo thinks that he will gain something better out of it.

Doralba undresses with disdain, Anonymous with trepidation.

Strabinio categorically refuses.

Fiordspina disappears…

And Merlina?

 

ARIA of MERLINA

She tries to appear not to be.
She searches without ever finding herself,

because she is out of herself.

An artificial identity is a known and reassuring role.
Without a costume on she feels as if she was inexistent.
“So lost, so lonely, who am I, then?”

N.2 DUETTO
The stage is alive, the clothes, earlier abandoned on the ground, resurge, combining themselves into sails.

The stage is the ship which just now docked with Fiordispina on board.
She still wears the antique dress, lives, breathes what is antique, adhering with the hypnotic grace of evocative gestures.

The seducing fascination of a lost time.
Perizonio now wears the director’s clothes, modern, lively, moved by new inspiration.
The parodistic figure of the seventeenth-century poet transforms itself in the alter ego of the director.

ARIA of CRISOBOLO

The stage responds to the action.

The sails, which accompanied Fiordispina’s arrival continue to rise looking like theatre wings, finally becoming a theatre.
The characters take stock of the new situation, while wearing new, modern clothes,

maybe finally ready to face with discipline and ideals the construction of the show.

Only Fiordispina seems lost, so different in her costume made of the past, Perizonio undresses her, her dress flies away.

Fiordispina presents herself with a new dress, but pale colored and worn-out.

Her presence remains creepily tied to the past.

The director, in the audience, observes with satisfaction the positive consequences of his ideas...

...and downplays the growing panic-attack which is overwhelming Crisobolo.

N.5 QUINTETTO

The company reconvenes in the audience, they decide to read the text written by Perizonio.
The director is the cornerstone of the group, discreet but an active participant.
The polemics, the free criticisms, the personal jealousies, the internal competitions aggressively arise.
The stage responds, as if empathic with the dynamics of those who inhabit it, and the wings which formed the theatre crumple on themselves, they withdraw upward and almost disappear.
At the peak of the tension, the orchestra manager calls for the break.
The musicians stand up and leave, the singers scatter, and emergency lights turn on.
The director’s protests are useless, the machine of institutional rule gets the upper hand.
End of the first part, the intermission begins.

SECOND PART

Continuing where we last left off.

But something on the stage changed: it is full of ladders, forgotten during the set change.

A plafond now looms over everybody’s heads.

The friction and discussion start up again even more violent.

Maybe it is the stage which is rebelling, when the plafond falls on the entire company imposing silence.

After the silence,

a long and creepy orchestra’s tuning follows,

during which the plafond is sucked down into the stage’s central trapdoor,

dragging with it the costumes worn by the characters.
Naked again, and appalled.

ARIA of FIORDISPINA

Conspiracy groups form.

The hatred and the resentment from the instability of the situation grow into intentions of revenge.
Fiordispina allies with Perizonio to impose herself with the director.
With her desperate obstinacy she manages to climb up a ladder, to get her old dress back and adhering again to a role,

which may be frayed, but is reassuring.

The director gasps but resists stubbornly.

He does not want to admit the unravelling of all his principles.

ARIA of PERIZONIO

The consequences of Fiordispina’s actions are disastrous.
The director is subjected to interventions of Strabinio, who was stirred up by Doralba’s resentment.

Merlina, a tormented soul on the verge of hysteria, is labelled mad.
Anonymous wanders lost, looking for the fragments of her broken hopes.
Gelindo isolates himself from the group, protecting himself with coldness.

Perizonio unexpectedly reacts.

He looks for solutions and reassurances.
His ideals and his impulse, however, are not those of the director, and he looks for an easy way,

which is going to make everyone agree.

“The matter is not so serious at last: it is only theatre!”

THE GETAWAY

Anonymous gives up and silently slips away in the trap-door in the middle of the stage.

Crisobolo follows her, crushed by the weight of a role he never wished to interpret.

Gelindo walks away scornful to the back of the audience.
Doralba and Merlina lose themselves in the darkness of stage’s crannies.
Strabinio, cynically looks at the foreseeable fall.
The director in the audience has no more words, waits for a sign, a reason for him to stay.

Perizonio is still there, so is Fiordispina, but it is a relationship made of misunderstandings.
Perizonio would like to try to do theatre, what else could a poet and a singer do together?
Fiordispina, instead, dreams of a happy ending in the style of a pastoral drama: "Let love win!"

The stage transforms into a theatre again, the wings come down making the desire of both come true.

What is realized, however, is full of cracks, and the scene falls apart.

FAREWELL

“I leave you with the idea of making theatre in a different way.

This will not be very useful.
Rather, it will make you suffer even more.
But it will also be the mark of your pride.

Bring with you the example of a theatrical morality for a world that will be better and more just.

Do not forget: in dark ages the fainter lights shine like stars.
And remember also that, in spite of everything, the World does not end here.
That Theatre does not end here.”                                  
Giorgio Strehler

    THE FINALE
The director decides to leave.

Although he is directionless and without certainty, his ideals remain intact.

Perizionio would like to stop him,and goes down to the audience.

Fiordispina,

alone on stage, is surrounded by the empty costumes which belonged to the ghosts,

and keeps performing her scene undaunted.

Perizonio understands: he does not want it this way, and he abandons the audience as well.

The cloths and the empty casings that lie around, slowly wilt to the ground.

Curtain?