L’Angelo della Storia

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L'ANGELO DELLA STORIA

una costellazione di aneddoti storici paradossali

It’s not that what is past casts its light on what is present, or what is present its light on the past, rather, image is that wherein what has been comes together in a flash with the now to form a constellation.
Walter Benjamin

In his latest work, philosopher Walter Benjamin describes an angel who flies with his gaze turned to the past and his back to the future: buildings and ideologies rubbles accumulate before his eyes [musical instruments at the bottom of the ocean, malfunctioning radars, beached whales] and the angel would like to stop and mend those rubbles, but a storm swells his wings and drags him relentlessly forward [dead babies, statues in Antarctica, fluorescent rabbits]: we call this storm progress. Although the angel observes the succession of events [hands on piano keys, atomic mushrooms, postcards in the jungle] and tries to resist the storm, he cannot stop and intervene, he cannot glue the pieces together again and rebuild a shared reality, he cannot do absolutely nothing to help us – maybe only because angels don’ t exist [cyanide cocktails, irrational numbers, tales around the fire]. What other conscious being could try to recompose something broken, take stories apart and – flying or not – finally turn around to project their gaze forward?

Credits

created by Sotterraneo
concept and direction Sara Bonaventura, Claudio Cirri, Daniele Villa
on stage Sara Bonaventura, Claudio Cirri, Lorenza Guerrini, Daniele Pennati, Giulio Santolini
dramaturgy  Daniele Villa

light design Marco Santambrogio
costumes Ettore Lombardi
sound design Simone Arganini
choreographic editing Giulio Santolini

producer Eleonora Cavallo
production assistant Daniele Pennati
administration Federica Giuliano
international promotion Laura Artoni

production Sotterraneo
coproduction Marche Teatro, ATP Teatri di Pistoia Centro di Produzione Teatrale, CSS Teatro stabile di innovazione del FVG, Teatro Nacional D. Maria II
with the contribution of Centrale Fies, La Corte Ospitale, Armunia
with the support of Mic, Regione Toscana, Fondazione CR Firenze

artistic residencies Centrale Fies_art work space, Centro di Residenza Emilia-Romagna/La Corte Ospitale, Dialoghi – Residenze delle arti performative a Villa Manin, Armunia, Elsinor/Teatro Cantiere Florida, ATP Teatri di Pistoia

Sotterraneo is part of the Fies Factory, associate artist at Piccolo Teatro Milano and is resident at ATP Teatri di Pistoia

thanks to Gabriele Grossi!

REVIEWS

“The concepts behind Sotterraneo’s refined play derive from Walter Benjamin, Yual Noah Harari, and other thinkers, but then this develops completely autonomously. Before the audience’s eyes, the company shows a kaleidoscope of historical events without them being interconnected […]. Yet, a fil rouge binds these events in “L’Angelo della Storia” together in a rigorous and calligraphic dramatic composition – i.e., a reflection on the power of story telling amongst human beings. Personal convictions, models of reality, self-persuasion […]. “Leaving a tale behind – states the play, in a serious, yet facetious manner – almost always equates to dying”. So what function does theatre have in today’s society according to Sotterraneo? A temple of myths since ancient times, a place of stories par excellence, yet today it can become a place for deconstructing fictions and challenging our certainties. Sotterraneo’s plays are clever, ironic, sulphurous, thus becoming above all a drill in paradox, a training in doubt.”

Maddalena Giovannelli, Il Sole 24 ore

Sotterraneo’s new play is not to be missed. It is called L’angelo della Storia (The Angel of History), and it is a clever, beautiful, and important show.

Oliviero Ponte di Pino, ATeatro webzine di cultura teatrale

“On an empty stage, on which only two flight cases and a neon-light date display screen stand out in the dark, the company flesh out small excerpts from’ the lives of historical figures […] or unknown and bizarre individuals, […] who are caught in those existential milestones that seem to show the true nature of an era and a world. They are micro-stories, events that – as Carlo Ginzburg and Giovanni Levi taught us – can nonetheless shed light on the darkest and most hidden folds of their time. […] Those stories chase and unravel, flowing into one another, exploding in splinters of real or fantastic lives. […] Erroneous convictions and blind persuasions, ipse dixit, theories to which one must submit – in a more religious than scientific manner – make up, on the other hand, the fil rouge of those dozens of stories. Their constellation outlines a fierce statement on the models of reality by which we interpret the world and are guided in our actions. […] And it is here that The Angel of History deviate further, thus confirming how extensive the scope of the company’s play is and distilling a precious underlying ambiguity. […] The audience are left with doubt, partially silenced by the astonishing perceptive experience, that stories – and theatre itself – are not a salvific art, that the nights of Shahrazād are just an illusion. We are left to believe that this pervasive storytelling – in which we are immersed and which we ourselves feed – is itself a capital punishment. […] Perhaps it is for this reason that when Sotterraneo erect the cave walls on which our ancestors began to draw, Sotterraneo decide to conceal the stage from view – i.e., to erase, for a little while, all those stories that we have been listening to up there for millennia.”

Alessandro Iachino, Doppiozero

Sotterrano’s play knows how to be not only ironic and complex, layered and intelligent, but above all powerful enough to reconnect us with our animal side.

Graziano Graziani, Stati d’Eccezione

What are historical facts? Undoubtedly, they are acts of conscience, through which human beings can define historical changes, regroup the scattered fragments of the past and recompose an ideal present into something that is both usable and plausible. But precisely by virtue of this, historical facts correspond to big delusions, through which we construct a narrative that is different according to our experiences, countries of origin, financial resources, and end results. […] Over the years, Sotterraneo have recast their theatrical vision, triggering a process – right from the company’s beginnings – that is of such complexity that extends to conceptual works on a larger scale and comes to define theatre itself as no longer the end, but the means through which we delve deeper into the depths of our times.

Simone Nebbia, Teatro e Critica

“During their show “L’Angelo della Storia” (The Angel of History), Sotterraneo give body, movement and narrative to a brilliant summary of people’s need to construct a narrative of themselves and the world around them – from the prehistoric age up to the present day. […] Sotterraneo manage to rub in our faces our compulsion to re-run our narratives in search of meaning – a plausible reason for the world’s randomness and evolution. Our lives in this world are indeed defined by a constant attempt to define and re-define the stories we encounter and inhabit. Their actions on stage are executed with great lightness, incredible intensity, and synthesis. And that’s why this play will leave you breathless, give you a sense of pleasure and unease, both involve and repel you, demand your participation whilst intelligently keeping a distance – just like all the great tales in which it is nice to dwell because you both feel like you belong, yet simultaneously a stranger. But isn’t this the situation we humans live in, after all – a guest on Earth, never its lord or master?”

Nicola Arrigoni, Sipario

“We still get a lump in our throat when we see ourselves being represented on stage. We are human beings and, in order to appear to be happy – even if only for a split second – we are delusional about our ability to master life. Truth is, all it takes is a crumb for the gearwheel to stop and plunge us back into the sad reality of being a small, shapeless part of infinity. Will we – sentient beings – ever succeed in trying to reconstruct what we have destroyed over the centuries, dismantling the false narratives we have made up along the way, and turning away, thus projecting our gaze towards a viable future?”

Mario Bianchi, Krapp’s Last Post

By translating what is indeed a complex philosophical thought into a scenic gesture, Sotterraneo in their “L’angelo della storia” succeed in imagining and acting out a subject-history relationship that is open and problematising. It is a relationship which does not turn into a passive acceptance of the given, but which – by creating what Benjamin calls “dialectical images” – shows the processes that have determined them, their profound intentions, their allegorical values and the opportunities they unleash.

Francesco Chiaro, Persinsala

VIDEO CONTENT

L'Angelo della Storia Trailer

GALLERY

ph. © Giulia di Vitantonio courtesy Inteatro festival

TOURING

2022

L’Angelo della Storia

Teatro Sperimentale – Ancona
InEquilibrio festival – Rosignano Marittimo (LI)
BMotion festival – Bassano del Grappa
Festival Le Colline Torinesi – Torino
Piccolo Teatro Grassi – Milano
Teatro India – Roma
Teatro Ca’ Foscari – Venezia
Palamostre – Udine
Teatro Herberia – Rubiera

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