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ANIMATED THEATER

Animated theater is an artistic universe in awakening, research and movement.
With its rich mix of expressive forms it generates multiform and hybrid languages.
Draw fictitious universes that cross unexpected fields and horizons.
His symbolic observational gaze poetically places himself on the border between the non-living and the living.
With his creations he testifies to the complexity, diversity, beauty, fragility of the world.
With his experiments he echoes the most current reflections and gives shape to glimpses of future visions.
It preserves in its roots the trace of its origins, the matrix of its multiple identities, the strength of its possibilities.


Puppetry or figure theater, theater of animated forms, image theater, animation theater, puppet theater, puppet theater: depending on the countries, regions, theatrical cultures, historical time, the hat under which to welcome the 'set of the various forms to which this theater refers, changes its name.
 
Elusive, mobile, in perpetual change: definitions are narrowed to him, categories suffocate him, determinations reduce him.
 
We know how in Italy the expression has been commonly and institutionally recognized for some time now .
 
" Figure, as we know, is the definition that was chosen in Italy at a certain moment (The end of the '70s) to define the" New "puppet theater " [1]
 
Cristina Grazioli, in her article, refers to the exhibition The Theater of Figures between tradition and experimentation  organized by Fiorenza Bendini in Florence, in 1979.
 
This was the first public occasion in which the expression Theater of Figures was used in an official way [2].
 
In the ZERO issue of Dedalo, a magazine published by Unima Italia (three issues issued from 1984 to 1986) Fiorenza Bendini quickly traces its origin, highlighting the etymological meaning of the word figure.

[1] See the article "La marionnette, ou la mimésis complexe & La complexité des« figures "in the théâtre en tant que« mimesis », by Didier Plasard and Cristina Grazioli (page 58).

[2] This passage is quoted in Antonio Attisani, «Possible theaters», Quaderni di Teatro, (Pretending figures), 31, 1986, p. 17-37: 27.

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Today those who practice puppetry are professionally recognized under the voice puppeteer,  differentiating itself from all other bodies of the performing arts.
 
Today, everyone in Italy uses the expression Figure Theater. 
 
However, today, whoever does this for a trade, hardly defines himself as a puppeteer.
 
Actor, author, performer, director, entertainer, puppeteer, shadow maker, builder, set designer ...

If we take a stock of the biographies, the curricula of those who practice this multiple and multifaceted art form, we find all these words, which, taken as a whole, each attempt to describe a piece of the set of skills of which a puppeteer who practices the Figure Theater  today it proves.
 
Does the same rich melange of definitions and possibilities exist in other countries?
 
The terms are never completely fixed in living languages, especially when they try to reflect the declinations of an art form in full development and mutation.
 
In France, for example, there is currently a field of investigation that questions the attribution of contingent definitions to the specificities of the various professional bodies that belong to the family of the théâtre de marionnette and its principal officiant the marionnette player : for example, how to call,  the one who builds the puppets, without animating them ?
 
Words cannot contain the diversity of forms, practices, languages, skills to which this theater refers.
 
We find ourselves confused and fail to fully recognize the terminologies in use.
 
Inevitably, one or more terminology will always escape one or more fundamental elements that denote the profound nature of the practice, or the sense of the poetic or artistic vision that one chooses to put into play.
 
Personally, I perceive the expression Teatro di Figura as a limiting expression.
 
Trivially, the category thus given, recognized in the specific production areas of the sector, here in Italy fails to be part, if not with great difficulty, in the seasons and programs of the theater tout court.
 
There are many reasons, mainly related to economic issues of the Italian production and distribution system.

The fact remains that the  Figure Theater, finds himself excluded, often and willingly, from the Theater.
 
In the expression Teatro di Figura  there is the greater set THEATER and then the subset FIGURE.
 
The FIGURE is a part of a whole, the whole being the THEATER.
 
It is connected to the whole through a preposition of complement of quality, which in fact highlights a distance, a break from the whole.

The preposition DI connects excluding: the wide field of THEATER narrows, decreasing, to the field of FIGURE.
 
I wonder: it is not by chance that, in the very expression Teatro di Figura,  is there a prophetic condemnation of having to suffer from ghettoization and marginalization?
 
Certainly it cannot be just a linguistic question that has determined a difficulty in emancipation and recognition (to be honest, historically found in other periods, even before the terminogy of the puppet theater was in vogue here in Italy).

Currently, in Italy, this theater is mainly considered to be suitable for the public of children: a lot of Figure Theater is objectively programmed in the children's theater circuit.

Personally, I also perceive this fact as a limitation.

This theater, differently recognized and defined in other eras, has reached the attention of writers, philosophers, artists and historically has always been a theater dedicated to the adult public.

It was considered by many visionaries as an art theater.
 
I'm sorry to observe how this theater, starting from the ... 60s? ... 70s? ... 80s? it has been mostly placed inside niches, that of tradition (very noble and wonderful), that of children's theater (very noble and wonderful), from which it now seems difficult to get out.
 
It will be objected that in these niches open, for those who know how to live in them, prairies of freedom, ingenuity and thought.

Of course, but today it would be useful and liberating to try to review some stereotypes and habits.

Linguistic bottlenecks - by Alessandra Amicarelli

At the beginning of 1984, Figura da Burattino, a reasoned hundred of Italian artists and companies, was released.

It can be considered the end of a long and passionate debate and the beginning of the accredited use of the term Teatro di Figura.

For the first time, in a public document, Maria Signorelli uses it to present the set of languages and techniques of this art.

The term is immediately used to name the Festival Arrivano dal Mare, various Centers that carry out research and culture, the long work for the institutional recognition of our profession.

Born and adopted by the semiological alliance e  semantics between Cervia and Florence (inspired by German-language companies and festivals that already used it and by the activity of our production realities), quickly became commonplace.

The first recognition and ministerial funding are born by indicating this lemma as a reference for the entire area of activity.

The document is a very important historical testimony.

Consider that the more than 200 subjects presented in the "Map", all the members of Unima Italy, the Unima Centers throughout the  world, plus a mailing list of onlookers / scholars / amateurs / institutions, received one or more copies of the book (which also had several presentations).

It was the largest dissemination and promotion operation of the TdF ever before (in addition to the festivals that were starting to join "Arrivano dal Mare!".

Shortly after, the magazines "Dedalo" (March '85) and "Burattini" (April '85) began to be published.

What years, dear girls, what years ...

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Figure from Puppet - by Stefano Giunchi

The shape of water - by Marianna de Leoni

I dedicate my thoughts to water in the sections of this fantastic space in the form of a magazine. 

The shape of water, paraphrasing both the novel by Andrea Camilleri and the cinematographic masterpiece The shape of water , by Guillermo Toro.

The unknowable shape of the fluid, the multifaceted shape assumed by water, compared to the container, the deceptive appearance, perhaps, as in Camilleri's book, or the powerful ductility of love in a mythical dream?

Both things.

The continuous fluid of years of reflections and words on my Animated Theater ...

An incessant jet, which started thirty years ago.

Intuitions, shifts of meaning, research, of me, a young man at the time, who lived in a continuous conflict between word and sign and also the plasticity of joyful and surreal works ...

Theater as an absurd unifying principle of my tensions and my need to do and write.

The semantic fields oscillated continuously between two poles: space and the body.

Perhaps because like Pessoa (I always pride myself on saying it) I was born on June 13, under the sky of Castor and Pollux, of two eyes turned to two different ones elsewhere.

The Theater falls in love with me and enters my life, but only what we called Figure Theater marries me.

There the theme of the body and space unify: doing, saying, sign and word, body and object, being and not being, the unresolved dualities thus left me a space to dream before and act later, or sometimes in reverse order.

I have worked and written for years, traveling alone, often littering a path like Tom Thumb with words and sometimes finding that others had eaten my crumbs.

The continuous duality of artistic thrusts has led me to work for years on the theme of s oglia , of limen , the transition from one state to another of artistic making and between proposing a work of art and having it finished.

The Teatro della Figura also embodied limen , with meat not meat, but with a powerful body.

I then tightly closed a part of my life with an association, twenty years ago, with a company, Specchi Sonori, meeting the music of my life partner Claudio Rovagna among my mirrors.

They were shows and researches ...

Why write all this? Does anyone care after the emotions of my audience?

I am writing this to say that all my work has the shape of water.

It flows into an underground Styx, except for happy and temporary emergencies, along with the water of many others.

In the last twenty years I have not found a hollow where to pour my work, where to think with tranquility that it was collected, that it could sprinkle other roads ...
 
Festivals and Showcases, bombastic associations, groups, symposia, comparisons ...
 
You are there or you are not there, they love you or they cancel you, you find money or you can't find it and money in our country is very political ...

For many, the water of decades of experience seeks its form.

… You don't have a container anyway.

There is no place / SPACE to lay the time of your flow, the drops that have carved out shapes in a cave, the fast streams left out of possible solutions, of possible shapes ...

The institutions of art, education, meeting places need to be written, they also have an urgent need for written memory, container of form.

Our Art is ephemeral, without a critical editing it passes and does not replicate.

The fleeting moment of a happy emotion in a show is the only alchemy of many elements which then return to lie in memory boxes.

The work in our Art of the Animated Theater, above all, is the living moment, it is the temporal occasion of the show, with those lights and that energy.

Memory seals its replicability.

Then everything becomes fluid in the shape of water ...

Many younger than me appeal to doing, as if doing were distinct from saying ...

It is because some have only said and perhaps have built fences of words.

But this appeal is deceptive ...
 
Art does and thinks and says at the same time and is not afraid of thought.

Doing, or creating (our creature, for example, the physical body of our Figure) does not resist without the shape of water: it flows away, like a raging river, or like fertile rain, but which finally disappears again. dried.

I follow this metaphor to begin to say, to give shape to a thought that I have been following for some time and that suffocates in too many schemes: training, or research, or creation ...

My desire is to weld these experiences, but to indicate, before ceasing to teach ... 

To point out with conviction that a living and versatile container is needed for the fluid of experiences to be seen and regenerated.

We also need an editorial staff, a story, a loving silence to be listened to all…. 

I would like to write more about this.

Thanks Animatazine.

Marianna de Leoni

Osimo, November 4, 2021