When I write, I usually reflect on the reason why I have chosen the theatre medium. Compared to other art forms, theatre has an advantage: it is the only one that allows the spectator to experience in the here-and-now dimension the clash between the words describing the world, the image of the world in our mind and the world created on the stage. Only theatre can shed light on the relationship between logos, idea and matter, showing for instance the limits of language as we try to logically describe reality as it reveal itself before us on stage. In my opinion, theatre is about this kind of experience, and this is the reason why I write.
See below all the activities involving Davide Carnevali in the frame of Fabulamundi.
With Variazioni sul modello di Kraepelin, Davide Carnevali (Milan, 1981) won the German prize “Theatertext als Hörspiel” by Berlin Theatertreffen’s Stückemarkt, the Italian prize “Marisa Fabbri”, both in 2009, and the French prize “Journée des Auteurs de Lyon” in 2012. With Come fu che in Italia scoppiò la rivoluzione ma nessuno se ne accorse he won the prize “Borrello alla nuova drammaturgia” in 2011. The first part of the “Diptych of Europe”, Sweet Home Europa, was premiered in 2012 by the Schauspielhaus Bochum, and as a radio drama by the Deutschlandradio Kultur. In 2013 Carnevali was included among the 35 most representative authors of Berlin Theatertreffen’s Stückemarkt, which commissioned the writing of the second part of the “Diptych”, Goodbye Europa. Lost Words. In the same year he won the “Premio Riccione per il Teatro” (Italian National Prize for new drama) with Ritratto di donna araba che guarda il mare. In 2016 he received a Mention of Honor at the prize “Platea” for Menelao.
He obtained a Ph.D. in Theatre Theory at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, after a period of studies at the Freie Universität Berlin. He teaches Theatre Theory and Playwriting at the Theatre Academy Paolo Grassi in Milan and run workshops in different theatres and institutions. He is member of the Dramaturgy Commission of the Catalonian National Theatre and advisor for IT Independent Theatre Festival in Milan; he is also member of the editorial board of the theatre magazines “(Pausa.)” and “Estudis Escènics”, and he writes for Italian and international journals about German and Ibero-American theatre. He is also editor and translates from Catalan, French and Spanish. In 2017 he published the essay Forma dramática y representación del mundo en el teatro europeo contemporáneo for the Mexican publish house Paso de Gato. His plays have been presented in various international seasons and festivals and have been translated into Catalan, English, Estonian, French, German, Greek, Hungarian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian and Spanish.
SWEET HOME EUROPA
Characters: 2 men, 1 woman – available in Italian, German, French, Catalan and Spanish
Sweet Home Europa is a play about the problem of social integration. About the possibility and the ability to accept the foreign, the stranger, the “other”. It’s a matter of identity, that’s why the three characters haven’t clear one: the Man, the Woman, the Other man always change their roles, thus they can be better interpreted as “figures” rather than “characters”. Figures of different private stories, but at the same time of a great collective Story. The Story of a family, of a nation, of the entire mankind, a Story which seems to recur eternally in a constant clash of civilization. So, even if the three figures could take different personalities in each scene, the spectator has always the impression to deal more or less with the same people. The play is made up by twelve scenes. In the first one a businessman (the Man) invites a delegate of a developing country (the Other man) to a business dinner, served by a silent waitress (the Woman). In the second scene a foreign businessman (the Other man) is on the phone with his mother (the Woman), who still lives in their homeland, a bombed developing country. In the third scene a flower-seller (the Other man) asks for some money from a man who has just gone shopping (the Man). In the fourth scene a man who has just gone shopping (the Other man) has a mystic conversation with the voice of a fish he has bought at the market (the voice of the Man and/or the Woman), in a sort of religious ritual. In the fifth scene a charming stranger (the Other man) takes his first private lesson of language by an attractive teacher (the Woman). In the sixth scene a foreign student (the Other man) is on the phone with his father (the Man), who still lives in their bombed homeland. In the seventh scene an abandoned mother (the Woman) speaks with a silent cat. In the eighth scene a longshoreman (the Other man) ask his boss (the Man) to hide him in a van in order to help him to cross the frontier. In the ninth scene a citizen of a bombed country (the Other man) falls into a big hole in the ground opened by a bomb; upon him, the voice of God (the Man) blames him and the next generations. In the tenth scene Eve (the Women) and a fish look at each other without speaking. In the eleventh scene the voice of God (the Man) blames a couple of cats. In the twelfth scene an immigrant (the Other man) goes back to his house, but he finds his wife (the Woman) with another man (the Man).
PORTRAIT OF ARAB WOMAN LOOKING AT THE SEA
Characters: 3 men, 1 woman – available in Italian, German and French
In Portrait of Arab Woman Looking at The Sea the relationship between the two sides of the Mediterranean, the European and the Arabic ones, is metaphorised in the encounter between a European man and a North African woman. The man approaches the woman driven by a curiosity that will be satisfied; the woman approaches the man moved by a hope that will not be realized. This approach has for each character a different value and changes the fate of the two protagonists and of the brothers of the woman. Man, the European, is used to get what he wants, without thinking of the real value of his actions and the consequences of his behaviour. On the other side, the woman is attracted by what European man represents – a possible escape route from the world where she was born and raised. But is this escape legitimate? Or is it even the woman in the same mistake of evaluation, in imagining Europe as a better place than the one she lives in? The characters open up a fight that is first and foremost verbal, and emphasizes the distance between human beings, cultures and visions from different worlds, starting with linguistic distance. The text seeks this tension between word and image, between said and unmarked, between the clear discourse and the suspended rhythm of poetry. To safeguard not only what the word says but also what it does not say; not only what is already written, but also what the spectator can imagine. How much weight can an action take? What does a gesture really mean? What is the real meaning of a word?
This is a text on surrendering to deepen the knowledge of the other, the foreigner, and hence on the inability to accept and bridge the cultural differences that divide two worlds from ever closer and ever so far away. A text on the subtle line that separates love and falling in love, seduction and domination, giving and desire to possess. But also a text about misunderstanding and the mistake we make when we think we know something without first wanting to really get to it. And so without realizing its real value.
Trans-Siberian Maleducation is a project on the relationship between pedagogy and show, in particular about the influence of television and the mass media on the common imaginary. Starting from childhood through the programs for children and cartoons, up to the role they play in the politics of education and artistic production in contemporary society.
From Mary Poppins to Peppa Pig, from a post-modern re-reading of Cinderella to a socio-economic investigation on Holly and Benji’s work conditions; we will discuss with the children of their dreams and desires for the future, and we will compare ourselves with different points of view on pedagogy according to Fourier, Marx, Brecht and Benjamin, to finally arrive at de-regularization policies of the two presidencies of Ronald Reagan, who have definitively opened the way to the marketing for children in the United States.
The show proposes a mix of different aesthetic codes, which include both the dialogue with the fourth wall and the monologue directed to the public, the video projection and the involvement of the viewer in the debate. Ultimately, it is a matter of exposing – and ridiculing – the construction mechanisms of the narration and the way they are used to manipulate the child’s behaviour, determining his role as a producer and consumer in the market economy.
The theatre is the ideal territory to unmask the artificiality of the narratives and their tendency to return only one point of view on reality. Therefore, through the theatre, we can, in a certain way, return the reality of things to the experience and save it from improper uses of language. Always with a massive irony.
At the beginning of the XXI century, the great project of a united Europe is seriously questioned by the failure of the monetary union and the differences between the countries’ economic political economics. The recent crisis has cast doubt on the welfare state model and the very concept of social democracy. As a result, nationalism is on the rise while the sense of belonging to a community is disappearing. Is there a future for the European Union? What awaits the new generations, and what is expected from them? What kind of society do we hope for our children and are we actually preparing for them?
Men, women, animals and objects are the protagonists of this work, in which speech has no longer its rationalising function and shows, on the contrary, its inadequacy to describe the world – now before our eyes as a blurred reality. Humans get objectified, animals take on human traits and objects come alive. Nature follows an aberrant course, in the etymological sense of the term: it deviates from the route it should logically follow, it leaves the right path and gets lost in the chaos. The linguistic element plays a key role, as it tries to avoid logic and take shelter in the imaginary and poetic. The scenario is apocalyptic and the apocalypse is that of language: the revelation of its own inadequacy and the manifestation of everything words cannot describe.
(Lost Words) is the closing work of Dittico dell’Europa (Europe Diptych). Sweet Home Europe’s main theme is the birth of Europe. Starting from a new interpretation of the biblical myths in the books of Genesis and Exodus, it deals with emigration and immigration, the clash of civilizations and the shaping of one’s identity and above all with the fear of the “other”, of the unknown.
By contrast, (Lost Words) is a work on the decline of Europe. It recaptures from the Gospels and the Apocalypse of John a mythical substrate and a symbolism allowing to understand the strong connection between the market system and the hegemonic vision of the world that have emerged in contemporary Western society. Both are based on the need to assign an unambiguous and certain value, be it economic or linguistic, to all elements, in a stable system imposing an order to reality. For this reason, both lack the capacity to understand reality in its entirety.
(Lost Words) was written with the support of Berlin Theatertreffen, that commissioned the authors invited to the Jubiläum des Stückemarktes 2013 to compose a short work on the theme Verfall und der Untergang westlichen Zivilisation (Decline and sunset of Western society).
Variazioni sul modello di Kraepelin (o il campo semantico dei conigli in umido)
Variations on Kraepelin’s Model (or the Semantic Field of Stewed Rabbits)
Emil Kraepelin was the doctor who, during the Twenties, named as “Alzheimer disease” the form of dementia senilis discovered and theorized by his colleague Alois Alzheimer.
The three persons who appear in this text are a supposed alzheimer sufferer (Primo Uomo); his son (Secondo Uomo); his doctor (Terzo Uomo). The Primo Uomo is losing his memory, and tries to remember a detail in his life happened in the past, during a war. The Secondo Uomo and Terzo Uomo try to discover what has marked him so deeply, that comes to surface as an obsession at the end of his life.
Anyway, this is not properly a text about alzheimer disease.
The idea at the base of this text is the attempt to face the problem of the reconstruction of a story in both levels: as on the one of the content (for the characters), as on the one of the form (for the spectators).
An alzheimer sufferer often names persons with different names; he changes the roles they have had in his life; he misunderstands the function of objects; he confuses epoques and years. In his memory, real and imagined details cohabit without problems. These imagined details break into the past from the present: a newspaper article, the television news, a painting hanging in the living room.
How does the mind of an alzheimer sufferer work? Which kind of associative processes does it follow in the “semantization” of words? In which way does the imagination influence memory? How can an alzheimer sufferer maintain his identity, when his memory and his story are not stable and defined?
The identity of a person – as the one of a nation: Europe, for example – is structured on the memory, the retentiveness, the possibility to maintain a logic coherence in the chain that connects events. The chain of a “story”, as the chain of the “Story”.
This text tries to face these problems as formal-dramatic problems too. The text is dis-organized in different fragments, as they could appear in the mind of a person who suffers alzheimer and loses his identity. Some of the fragments could be seen as temporal consequent, someothers can not, and they present themselves as alternative each other. Some of them repeat themselves, someothers sharply interrupt.
The text tries to follow the degenerative process that takes place in the mind of the alzheimer sufferer: as the text goes on, words loose little by little their signify, and they are replaced with images, those do not “signify” something, but “suggest” something.
In this way the spectators, as the characters, are called upon to formulate hypothesis of reconstruction of the story, in a free game of interpretations, to build up a truth that could only be uncertain.
Confessione di un ex presidente che ha portato il suo paese sull’orlo della crisi
(Confession of a former president who led his country to the edge of the crisis)
In Confession (2012) a former president talks directly to the people, explaining what he didn’t want to say during his mandate. The former president speaks to the audience as if he were speaking in front of the court that has to judge him. Thus the spectator will be called into question, invited to play the role that every theatrical event, explicitly or implicitly, ask him to play: the one who use imagination as a weapon of criticism. In this sense, theatre is politic: a theatre for the polis, the assembly of citizens.
Confession is a play about how we use the language, or rather about how the political power uses the language, in order to create a certain image of reality. An image which subtly imposes on others, turning into hegemonic; and as hegemonic it justifies a precise use (or rather misuse) of language.