For me the writing process is tightly connected with the creative process behind the mise en scène. I work as a “playwright” for Teatro Sotterraneo when I autonomously write an original text and as a “dramaturg” when I recompose words and texts improvised with the actors. My style cannot be defined as narrative, with characters acting according to a linear narrative structure. My works are strictly related with the scenes that inspired them; I wouldn’t describe them as pure texts but rather as examples of “scenic writing”. I analyse different themes drawn from our present time and from the post-pop imaginary of the declining Western culture.
Daniele Villa was born in Florence on 2 May 1982. After a degree in Media and Journalism, in 2005 he joins the contemporary theatre company Teatro Sotterraneo as co-director and dramaturg. Among his works 11/10 in apnea (Winner of the Generazione Scenario Award 2005), Post-it, La Cosa 1, Dies irae, L’origine delle specie, La Repubblica dei bambini and Homo ridens. Teatro Sotterraneo’s projects with texts by Daniele Villa won the following prizes: Lo Straniero Award and Ubu Special Award 2009, the Hystrio-Castel dei Mondi Award 2010, the Silver Laurel Wreath Award at the Sarajevo Mess Festival 2011, the Eolo Award, the ACT Festival Prize and the BE FESTIVAL 1st Prize at the Birmingham Be Festival in 2012.
2005 / 11/10 in apnea; first staged: Teatro Furio Camillo, Rome.
2007 / Post-it; first staged: Festival Armunia Inequilibrio, Castiglioncello.
2008 / La Cosa 1; first staged: Festival Fabbrica Europa, Florence.
2009 / Dies irae; first staged: Festival Vie Scena Contemporanea, Modena.
2010 / L’origine delle specie; first staged: Teatro Metastasio, Prato.
2011 / La repubblica dei bambini; first staged: Teatro al Parco, Parma.
2011 / Homo ridens; first staged: Festival Santarcangelo dei Teatri, Santarcangelo.
Homo ridens exemplifies the presentation above. The show has been conceived as a series of tests on the mechanism that make us laugh, and the spectators are the guinea pigs of the experiment. There are no characters and no plot, the show proceeds including information, thoughts, short scenes between realism and absurd. Words play a fundamental role and can be found displaced throughout the different scenes composing the performance, they keep their specific weight and also become part of a wider theatrical grammar.
– Extracts from Homo ridens –
(Homo ridens features a series of tests. The audience members – here playing the role of guinea pigs – have to answer questions that are supposed to provoke laughter. The “tests” are true exams or true scenes, in both cases provoking laughter is the goal as well as doing it in a complicated contradictory way).
Test of the horror pictures
(The actors are lined up on the forestage and show a few boards with horrifying pictures attached to them. One of them asks the questions and invites the audience to raise their hands according to the chosen answer:
Figure n.1. In this picture you can see a mass grave with decomposing bodies)
Bergen-Belsen, 15 April 1945. What title would give to this picture?
A) Promised land – B) Unauthorized camping – C) This is no laughing matter
Raise your hand if you answer A. B. C. Thanks.
Figure n.2. In this picture you can see a cut-off hand, with the index finger unnaturally pointing forward.
New York, 11 September 2001. What title would you give to this picture?
A) You are here – B) I want you for the U. S. Army – C) This is no laughing matter
Raise your hand if you answer A. B. C. Thanks.
Figure n.3. In this picture you can see an African child laying on the ground, a vulture looking at him.
Sudan, 26 March 1993. What title would you give to this picture?
A) Grandmother’s footsteps – B) Distance adoption – C) This is no laughing matter
According to the different answers (the number of raised hands), the actor will read the corresponding profile
– Majority of As: Serial Killer, top predisposition to black humour
– Majority of Bs: Cartoonist, mild predisposition to black humour
– Majority of Cs: Conscientious objector, minimal predisposition to black humour
– Same number of As, Bs and Cs: Swing voter, confused approach to black humour
NYC and dying friend
A (talking about another actor who has just left the stage) He has left the stage, but he has actually reached the nearest airport and got the first flight to New York.
He landed at JFK airport. He went to Brooklyn by taxi where he ran into a group of newyorkers jogging and killed them shooting them in the back.
He got back into the taxi and went to Coney Island’s Luna Park and deliberately shot the children.
He got back into the taxi again and reached the Brooklyn bridge and walked across it: there he shot a group of tourists, some of them died as they threw themselves into the East river.
He then walked from Manhattan up to Little Italy: he went into a pizza place and shot the customers, the barista, the owner and – on his way out – the waiter who had invited him to go in.
He headed to Chinatown: he found a group of Chinese practising tai-chi in the open air and killed them one by one.
He went by underground to Wall Street where he randomly shot into the crowd.
He walked all the way from Broadway to Times Square and entered a theatre: he killed all the female dancers and a few costume designers.
He went up to the Empire State Building and killed all the tourists, some of them died as they threw themselves off the 102nd floor.
He then walked down the shopping streets and randomly shot inside Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s.
He went to the Metropolitan museum and shot the gift shop assistants.
At that point he heard the New York Police Department’s sirens and went to Central Park: he wandered where the ducks went when the lagoon got all icy and frozen over and shot those that moved too slow.
He got to Harlem, entered a church and shot the preacher who was officiating a gospel mass, the choir, the faithful and the tourists.
He went up to the Bronx, went into the Yankee Stadium and shot at the baseball team bus, the match was cancelled.
He took a taxi to Newark airport, tipped the taxi driver, shot him in the neck for a total of 71 victims (14 of which are ducks) and took the first flight back…
(The actor who had left the stage, now enters wearing an I LOVE New York t-shirt. He holds a gun in his hand, cleans it with a handkerchief, he walks up to the audience, hands the gun to a spectator so as he/she leaves his/her fingerprints on it. He thanks the spectator, takes the gun back using a plastic bag and leaves the stage.)