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?



creation Sotterraneo
conception 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
dance creation Giulio Santolini

producer Eleonora Cavallo
production assistant  Daniele Pennati
administration Federica Giuliano

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 Associazione Teatrale Pistoiese Production Centre

a special thanks to Gabriele Grossi


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

“È ancora uno spazio scenico in divenire, sembra farsi nel mentre accade, mentre prendono parola i performer, anzi la orchestrano (la danzano), uno spazio “esposto” quello de L’Angelo della Storia dei fiorentini Sotterraneo […] Spazio apparentemente neutro, di primo acchito, che va definendosi nelle repentine “inquadrature” e azioni, decisamente dinamiche e coreografiche, lì a organizzare e a disfare gli elementi di cui si servono in una cornice, nella tradizione d’autore che li contraddistingue, di una messa in esposizione di sé e del loro portato teorico che si fa drammaturgia. […] Il testo detto, allora, quella parola protesa verso lo spettatore è portatrice di segni che si assommano frantumandosi subito dopo in un puzzle di immagini evocate come in una tessitura alla Aby Warburg;[…] parola mai imbonitrice in quel loro modo tra prossimità e nocumento, tra docufiction e rappresentazione, una parola pronta a imbastire la complessa e stratificata dissezione di argomenti per riportarci all’attenzione di un nostro tempo prossimo in scadenza […] Sul fondale in alto un grande display manda a ciclo continuo una serie di date, simbolicamente tarate sugli avvenimenti presi in considerazione quali detonatori di un fraintendimento di senso che fissa una geografia possibile e dove il non detto e la verità relativamente alla Storia “organizzano” una linea di demarcazione opaca e personale del suo racconto, quel racconto fatto di biografie e scossoni epocali e che il pensiero estetico di Walter Benjamin ha delegato a suo tempo all’opera d’arte […] Sono soltanto opzioni, si diceva, nell’opacità della Storia, informazioni temporanee che il gruppo “rilascia” allo spettatore in un crash della memoria, soggettiva e collettiva.”

Paolo Ruffini, Limina Teatri

“Political and meditative theatre about contingency and necessity, choices and decisions, moment and conjuncture, individuals and community, the sense of participation in the moment that sums up the astonishment, the threat, and the responsibility of all of us to continue and transmit knowledge, our debt to the next generations. […] A living and dynamic process of affective reflections on myths and values, culture, society, time, nature, the future of humankind, and black holes. A sense of the world in its totality and particularity, a complete journey into the field of the unconscious, into the landscape of memory and identity, life and death, peace, war, mass atrocities, progress.”

Angela Mantziou, City Portal


L'Angelo della Storia Trailer


ph. © ph. Giulia di Vitantonio_courtesy Inteatro festival



L’Angelo della Storia

Teatro Toselli, Cuneo
Teatro SOMS, Racconigi
Teatro Bonci, Cesena
LAC, Lugano
Teatro Camploy, Verona
Teatro Ariosto, Reggio Emilia
Teatro Pergolesi, Jesi
Teatro De Filippo, Cecina
Teatro Sociale, Bergamo
Maribor Theatre Festival, Maribor


L’Angelo della Storia

Teatro Koreja – Lecce
Teatro Laura Betti – Casalecchio di Reno
Teatro Sperimentale – Ancona
Teatro Sperimentale – Pesaro
Theatre of The Society for Macedonian Studies – Thessaloniki
Terreni Fertili Festival – Gualtieri
International Festival of Theatre, Geochang
Scenario Festival, Bologna
Città delle 100 Scale Festival, Potenza
Enduring Love, Centrale Fies
Teatro Politeama, Poggibonsi
Teatro Municipale, Piacenza
Teatro Astra, Vicenza
Teatro Cantiere Florida, Firenze
Teatro Manzoni, Pistoia
Wonderland festival, Brescia
Teatro della Tosse, Genova
Teatro Alfieri, Asti
Teatro Il Mulino, Piossasco


L’Angelo della Storia

InTeatro – 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
Fuori Luogo Teatro – La Spezia
Cinema Teatro Excelsior – Reggello
Teatro Bolognini – Pistoia

Would you like to know more about this production?