At the Venice Film Festival, for example, all the distance is already in the color of the accreditation card you wear around your neck. That color tells you which line to stand in to go into the movie theater to attend the preview of the movie that others will see tomorrow. Also it tells you the way to go to the press room where you’ll write your articles.
It’s a clear but also ambiguous distance: you are not public, but you are not part of the system either. Rather you are somewhere in between, in a strange limbo that allows you to judge what you see with no other problems but those of the scientist who observes the world from the top of a microscope.
At the Flipt Festival things, however, things are immediately different. Nothing in the system tells you where to direct your eyes to observe. You get there to be simply a witness, but you do not have a “where” and nobody imposes you a “when” as well. From the beginning, as a matter of fact, you are in the middle of something constantly in flux that carries you as a gentle and yet irresistible current.
I spent the first few days at the Festival in Fara Sabina looking, like Rossellini, for the perfect distance for my camera shots. But every attempt was inexorably vain. Every nook was too far out, every corner from which you could say “I” filled with cold snow that took warmth and color away from everything.
In an effort to do better, rather than keeping a fixed distance, I started then to move around and inside things., zooming in and out to adapt myself to the movement of this world of pure emotions.
But this choice, from a certain point onwards, turned painful because getting away from the magic that it was producing became like useless torture.
That magic was not in the things that were made. It was not in the morning and early afternoon workshops. Nor in the meetings that stretched out like shadows at sundown. Nor, finally, in the performances offered in the evening.
That magic was not even in the people you met. It was not in the actors who studied the techniques nor in the teachers who taught them.
Rather that magic was in the midst of those things.
Like a thread it ran across things with a pinprick and it sewed everything together composing a design that, according to the diversity of every single moment, was just like the concerted ensemble of the many small pieces of a Harlequin’s costume.
The magic was in that listening that at some point walks in the middle of many voices, and turns them into a chorus that, while singing, does not cease to hear.
So, the wonder of this Flipt – they tell me unique in his genre despite the many editions left behind to make history – is not in its accomplishments, but in the spirit that has animated it and in the sincerity that has guided it.
The workshop with Eugenio Barba, for example, was an impressive example of theatrical practice. It gave us the privilege of being admitted into the atelier of the artist who improvises on other people’s material with consummate skill. Yet even this Event seemed smaller compared to the overall tapestry.
The work with the students of Claudio De Meglio on the Commedia dell’arte (shining moment and full of proposals) of Keiin Yoshimura (so rich in history and tradition) of Parvathy Baul (which I unfortunately missed for previous and subsequent commitments) were the columns holding up the vault of a full sky.
The performances themselves were beautiful. None was less then high quality, some of them were amazing splinters of poetry. Designed primarily for actresses, they provided prominent interpretations: from Sarah Gise who, in The Amish Project, shouldered the weight of seven characters rendering them all with no smears, to Emily Rose Duea and Meredith Larson who interweave stories halfway between East and West holding the reins of a rarely inspired script. From Keiin Yoshimura who composed a sorrowful meditation on Hiroshima to Nathalie Mentha who, always with Keiin, turned the sad story of Snow into a delicate dance.
Unfortunately I missed the Touchstone Theatre performance, because I arrived the day after the beginning of the festival, but from what I heard about their artistic practice – their dedication to a civic theater that is deeply connected to the community and capable of dreaming of a contemporary Prometheus in a steel mill or of splitting the audience into two parts to give the sense of alienation of two meeting /clashing cultures – I know I missed something remarkable.
Yet all this would have had made less sense if it was not placed as a seed set up to sprout in the rich soil of this group of Iranian, American and Italian students, beautifully defined in their cultural specificity yet so curious to meet one another.
It is to them that we owe the success of the whole Festival, which has the unique ambition to engage theater practices in a continuous dialogue. It is to their energy, their need to express themselves and to to be able to be together that that we owe our being able to find a Sense.
And from that moment on all categories with which the media portray the world seemed obsolete. The very idea of what it is described as a clash of civilizations seemed absurd. And every need of borders seemed uncertain.
Invisible Cities closed the festival as a gift to the city of Fara and the gentle farewell was filled with smiles.
Now we are left with the difficulty of going back to . But with the image of a seed and a utopia still clear in our eyes.
Translated from italian original