Fire was the cure



liberamente ispirato a Fahrenheit 451 di Ray Bradbury

“You don’t have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them.”

Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 describes a dystopian future in which reading is forbidden, screens that are always on alienate people’s leisure time and the attempt to think causes physical discomfort. Ironically, the fire brigade is no longer employed to put out fires, but to burn books and, if necessary, their owners.
The book was published around 70 years ago, in 1953, but it is set in the future, that is, in the 1920s – which means today. But you are in the 21st century and you are reading this text, so was Bradbury wrong? It depends on how we understand dystopia: a prediction about the future that is at some point confirmed/denied or a warning about the present that keeps renewing itself?
Fire was the cure traverses and freely reinterprets Fahrenheit 451, consumes it as one does a beloved book, read a thousand times and dragged along to a thousand places, dirties it, forgets it somewhere and then finds it again, while the cover fades, the paper peels and the pages fill with notes, cards, bookmarks, and memories. Five performers retrace the story of the novel, identify with the characters, move horizontally, mapping the shadow cones, the things Bradbury does not explain or does not tell us, creating parallel narrative lines, theoretical deviations, also constructing the chronicles of an intermediate time between our present and a counter-cultural future in which stupidity saves us from the burden of complex thinking.

If Bradbury were only a few years wrong, if Fahrenheit 451 really happened, what would we do?


creation Sotterraneo
conception and direction Sara Bonaventura, Claudio Cirri, Daniele Villa
on stage Flavia Comi, Davide Fasano, Fabio Mascagni, Radu Murarasu, Cristiana Tramparulo
dramaturgy Daniele Villa

light design Marco Santambrogio
costumes Ettore Lombardi
sound design Simone Arganini
dance creation Giulio Santolini

technical coordination of the set-up Marco Serafino Cecchi

staging assistant Giulia Giardi

production manager Francesca Bettalli and Camilla Borraccino
presso office Cristina Roncucci
graphic design and editing Francesco Marini

production Teatro Metastasio di Prato, Sotterraneo, Piccolo Teatro di Milano – Teatro d’Europa, Emilia Romagna Teatro ERT / Teatro Nazionale
with the contribution of Centrale Fies / Passo Nord 
with the support of Mic, Regione Toscana

artistic residencies  Fondazione Armunia, La Corte Ospitale, Centrale Fies / Passo Nord 

Sotterraneo is part of the Fies Factory, associate artist at Piccolo Teatro Milano and is resident at Associazione Teatrale Pistoiese Production Centre


“Sotterraneo look indeed into the fate of our communities, compromised by culture wars or by old and new authoritarianisms, borrowing from Fahrenheit 451 the fictional thrust of a dystopian future, a future from which books, and with them the very culture has been banned. […] The threads of the textual fabric overlap and contaminate each other, transforming the images of Fahrenheit 451 into philosophical questions and anthropological insights […]  as well as into the confessions of a group of actors, gathering in a not-so- unlikely future. Like in a novel, the chapters in the captions projected on the two screens delimit the chronological scope of a work that spans ages and epochs, condensing them in the immediacy of a fact – theatre – that is perennially ancient: ancestral as the tales of the past, pronounced in the darkness that is lit by a fire, and now forgotten as something old-fashioned, a vice to quit, a bad habit that has luckily been defeated.”

Alessandro Iachino, Doppiozero

“What is perhaps most striking about “Il fuoco era la cura”, then, its karstic and powerful message even if one could call it unspeakable, lies in the disposition with which the ban on books and writing is received by the population: with relief. We miss books, yes, just as we miss theatre – and some of the semi-legal evidence that reminds us of it are a fire that remains burning, defying the state of things. But inhabiting the end of hate speech, of cultural diatribes that are more tribal than substantial, of the constant pollution of reality by public language… well, this is greeted with a terrible “at last”. […] How many authoritarian turns throughout history have begun with a “at last”? Being aware of it while empathising with that position is perhaps the most terrible, poisoned gift that Sotterraneo – among the most intelligent companies on the contemporary scene – gives its audience with this show.”

Graziano Graziani, Stati d’Eccezione

“If we were in a country that is capable of enhancing excellence, Sotterraneo would be analysed in national and international cultural contexts, not only performed everywhere but discussed – in newspapers, on TV, radio and the web – along with the release of great books of literature, of great films that are supposed to make cinema history, that is, it would be included in the debate because it says something important about contemporariness with impeccable and refined clarity and quality.”

Simone Nebbia, Teatro e Critica

“The touch of Sotterraneo I’m talking about is precisely this: they can let their insights on the world emerge by amplifying use, mixtures, and abuse of the imagery and languages produced by the cultural system and industry. Which they do in a captivating – so much so that they nearly turn evil into something sexy – as well as intellectually honest way. […] More than the chuckle, one enjoys their wit, their intelligent construction, looking at the wonders theatre can still make to tell the story of the time we are living in. […] I feel an extremely harsh emotion inside, which grows stronger every day. This is a jewel.”

Renzo Francabandera and Matteo Brighenti, Pac Paneacquaculture



ph. © Masiar Pasquali courtesy di Piccolo Teatro di Milano



Il Fuoco Era la Cura

Teatro Fabbricone, Prato
Piccolo Teatro, Milano

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