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by Angela Forti
A few questions to begin with.
What can a theatrical criticism column be?
What is criticism?
An unwanted guest, at times, a somewhat unlikely job, a difficult and sometimes unfortunate word, to be accompanied by reassuring adjectives such as "constructive".
So, what are we doing in this beautiful project of magazine, of reflection, of connection?
The bad part?
Beyond the fact that, in reality, a devil's advocate around is always handy, we are here because we like to link the words "criticism" and "judgment" to a further one, one of those severe words that cannot be to do without: the chosen word.
Criticizing here will always mean choosing, selecting.
Especially when it comes to art this may seem like a somewhat superfluous exercise in style, to be done for pleasure.
This column is here, in fact, to show that this is not the case.
We will try - and I borrow a suggested term, which I like very much - an elemental critique, a scientific critique that allows us to go to the bottom, to find the constants in all their simplicity, and which will serve us, here, to select the words for a shared speech, to orient yourself.
We will try to develop a useful vocabulary to explore limits and intersections between definitions. Italian theater is, among other things, a jungle of definitions, near and far, parallel and opposing.
We will investigate some of them to try to build bridges and connections.
We will treat the theater as a living and pulsating organism.
And the theater itself will be the basis for our vocabulary: an animated, lively theater.
A self-respecting language, with a grammar, a syntax, a communicative context.
The reference words, the cardinal points, will be given to us by the numbers of this magazine, and will be the four elements.
What is Acqua in the theater?
We will try to understand where the Earth is, what the force of gravity is and where it takes us.
How does Fire manifest itself, what does Air generate?
Methodologically, we will allow ourselves the luxury of being as free as possible.
We will not assume a priori, geographical or artistic boundaries, but we will consider theater in its broadest definition: as a phenomenon that includes different techniques, languages, expressions and is able to make them dialogue by virtue of the artistic, social and communicative context that it elects as a reference and objective, the synthesis we must strive for in order to experience the highest degree of autonomy.
Thanks to this freedom that we allow ourselves, we will let the shows seen guide us along the path, calling each other with subtle references and connections, almost oversights, hidden references.
Theater criticism has numerous tools at its disposal; here will be privileged those capable of making the work explode, of expanding it and giving it new and unexplored horizons; or those able to go to the bottom, to dig it, to restore a more intimate dimension.
We will use all the tools that the theater makes available to us to articulate the discourse, and we will add others.
We will not only use writing but we will ask for help from images and sounds, from space.
Reviews will hardly be made: the goal here will not be to evaluate the work in its components; but rather to welcome these components as intermediaries for more complex reasoning, to connect different worlds and put them in dialogue.
Always an exercise in style, perhaps, but one that is capable of reserving many surprises.
A word that often recurs in this project is “rhizome”: a strange middle way between the shoot and the root, divided into internodes, a reserve of energy, which on the one hand sprouts and greenens to destroy itself on the other.
A communication channel between what has been and what can be. Well, this we will try to do here.
A communication channel that has the theater as a fertile ground in which something new can sprout.
There is only one way to inaugurate a critical column, and that is with a long series of questions, although the rhetoric advises against it.
But here we mean, by criticism, the rite of confronting and questioning what we are witnessing, what we are called to participate in, so that we too can question ourselves, as observers and witnesses, an active component of the path of meeting and exchange with the work and its artist.
Among the links of our path, for example, it will be our commitment to never stop asking ourselves what we are doing here, what is the role, the weight, the potential of the discourse that we intend to carry out. This column will also serve to explore a bit of itself.
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