On the tortoise shell





Year: 2014 / Director: TTB Teatro tascabile di Bergamo

"On the tortoise shell" is an open space performance based on a symmetrical exploration of Eastern and Western theatrical traditions: different ways, sometimes complementary, sometimes quite opposite, of envisaging theatre, make theatre, dream theatre.
The project design of the Teatro Tascabile di Bergamo originates from the desire to research on the form and perpetual motion of the myth.  "Sobre el lomo de la Tortuga" is a show whose title recalls the Hindu myth of churning of the universe. It is said that the god Vishnu turned into a huge turtle to hold the mountain Mandara on its back, thus allowing the divine ambrosia to be recovered from the waters of the ocean.

This is a travelogue written by apparitions, sounds, drama and wonders. It is the chronicle of a journey which starts from the marvels (East is exotic to the West and West to the East) and ends up with the recognition of a professional brotherhood discovered by respecting each other’s difference.
But if this journey is imagined towards the Orient, at the end it’ll return to Europe again, through circuiting and winding routes – the old way of the actors always around, always on tour.
And it’s during this comeback home that one meets our Arlequin, another figure belonging to the myth of the “Commedia dell`Arte”, which turns out to be a really close relative of Bharata Natyam dancers with their poses that seem stolen from the statues of the Hindu temples, while the rhythm of Mozart`s “Idomeneo” cheeky balinese monkeys performing their chaotic and joyful dance in a shower of golden petals. The legendary churning of the universe is repeated in the theatrical space: the only place where myth can still occur.

The trait d’union is an Arlequin, who follows the great travelers of former times, like Corsali, Duarte Barboso, Pedro Alvares, Ludovico di Bathema. This Arlequin takes the role of a guide and leads the spectators to discover fabulous and marvellous Oriental lands.
Characters and scenes from the East intertwine with his presence: a dancer performs a traditional Indian song while the Arlequin dancing with vigour and lightness becomes the mirror imitating the movements in the company of a Balinese monkey.
As in a great montage of attractions, other characters on stilts come up, from the deep end of the square. In the shape of a fabulous pageant, peopled by aristocratic and folk masks, king and queen come on with their dignitaries and servants who stride through the crowd with the dignity, boldness and winks. They advance at the sound of their drums and curvy trumpets, of the steel flutes of Japanese nogaku and of the enchanted ones of Turkoman music.

In this dimension where fables seem to be coming true, Kathakali performers dance with their famous wooden crowns with inlaid gold illuminated by flaming torches, while a shower of multicolored confetti settles on the scene and the public . Right now the shrewd ape himself turns out to be an oriental Arlequin.
The performance is eminently lyric, with grotesque and narrative intermezzos; it can be viewed as a reunification of the scattered members of theatrical Art, divided between East and West.

The special project of the Teatro Tascabile di Bergamo could be enriched by the prestigious presence of Maestro P.Praveen Kumar (Bangalore-India) - one of the emerging young dancers in the panorama of Indian dance-theater style Bharata Natyam. Art runs through his veins as Praveen hails from a family of artists and  it’s no wonder that he chose dancing as if born to dance.  He honed his skills under guru  Smt. Narmada and continues to learn from Prof. C.V. Chandrashekar.

With the contribution of: Regione Lombardia - Progetto Next Laboratorio delle Idee

Photo: Alessandro Brasile

Download: ON THE TORTOISE SHELL_Artistic dossier





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