Sunday, November 13, 2022
At 5:30 in the afternoon darkness had just begun to descend. I had just arrived in Ostia at the Lido Theater where I found many people congregating on the street in front of its box office. I joined the long line and waited patiently to purchase my ticket. I hadn’t entered a theater in a very long time and after being handed my ticket stub I scurried to my seat that was near the stage.
Generation Pasolini was written, directed and performed by Marta Bulgherini, along with the participation of Nicolas Zappa. It debuted at Rome’s 24th Flautissimo Festival devoted to theater and music, which was held from 23 October to 6 December 2022.
The title of the show ran through my mind repeatedly as I tried to predict what I would see performed. Honestly, I didn’t know what to expect. Sure, I had previously met Marta. However, until then I had only know of her work as an actress, but neither as an author nor a director.
I must admit that whenever a theater goes pitch-black I always gasp between the few seconds of that almost embryonic silence that hovers in the air before a show. I gripped myself for the next sixty minutes and Marta immediately took me by the hand as Generation Pasolini unfolded with tongue in cheek derision and moving wisdom.
The first image, which still sticks with me, are her taunt, naked features as she stood standing center stage dressed in simple white attire with her soft long hair flowing down her back that outlined her movements as startling shadows. First, she stood there motionless as if simultaneously welcoming and challenging the audience before launching into an intense monologue on how ultimately, well, someone needed to say it sooner or later: Pasolini was simply boring and incomprehensible, a “beast of burden” who had been imposed upon us and whose works you just couldn’t avoid. These utterances weren’t exactly compliments and I was taken aback and undecided there and then as to whether I should be indignant or instead give into my curiosity in order to see how the show would unravel. Between the actress's demurrals, as when one says not to invoke the gods, the god suddenly appeared, and on stage, played by Nicolas Zappa, entered Pier Paolo Pasolini, who engaged in an intimate exchange with the protagonist. Second, I recall Marta’s stream of consciousness, the words she goes on to exchange with Pier Paolo Pasolini focused on a key tenet of Pasolinian analysis, namely his scathing critique of consumer society. “Will we be happy? How can I be happy?” asked Marta with movements that evoked an imaginary question mark.
Not far from the Literary Park dedicated to Pier Paolo Pasolini, I was happily surprised by Marta Bulgherini’s performance. She unveiled her multiple talents with a strength and generosity that carried a kind of wisdom and truth that brought tears to my eyes. It was too dark to “seek Pasolini” that evening. I recall the paths dotted with the inscriptions of his written words that accompanied visitors to the white monument dedicated to him, which is not far from the seashore and is included in the Italian League for Bird Protection (LIPU) oasis.
Interview with Marta Bulgherini
Ginevra Sanfelice Lilli (GSL): When and how did you realize your desire, your need to devote yourself to theater and were there particular people or places that influenced you take this form of expression?
Marta Bulgherini (MB): I think the seed of my strong passion for the stage is to be found in the years of competitive artistic gymnastics, which I practiced until the age of 16. The adrenaline of the competitions, the enthusiasm, the few seconds to achieve a result, an effect, very soon became the lifeblood in building my character, my essence. In the “unconscious” search for something that would give me the same emotions. When I encountered the stage I realized that I had finally succeeded: I had found something similar, which was colored by many additional nuances however. Undoubtedly, when I chose to embrace this passion and turn it into a profession my mother's closeness and support played a decisive role. Without her trust, I don't know if I would have been able to choose such an impervious path as a future.
GSL: How would you define your relationship with playwriting and writing in general. Are there other genres you would like to explore?
MB: My relationship with writing can be traced back to the rapport I have with my family. A loving family full of respect, protection and well-preserved. Writing has always been a companion of games, crying and reflections for me. Writing has always helped me to give order to the scattered and tangled sheets of my life. Of course, thinking about writing for others is an entirely different story! I still can't believe that people have listened to things penned by my own hand or that my theater partner Nicolas Zappa has memorized words I have put to paper: the excitement is incredible and I don't think it will fade anytime soon. As of now, I just tell myself that I have the will to create and lots of ideas circulating in my head. That said, the page is currently white, we'll see what happens!
GSL: In the show you also danced. How does your relationship with dance bring you closer to the visceral one you demonstrate with playwriting, directing and acting in Generation Pasolini?
MB: Coming from a background in gymnastics and especially contemporary dance, I definitely learned to express my emotions first and foremost through my body rather than with words. The body does not lie; it is a detonator of the psyche, which constitute our deepest layers. The performance ends with a small moment of dance, which perhaps more than being dance is a dialogue transmitted through the legs instead of the mouth. I realize that after the immense sea of words that made up the show, the only possible synthesis for me was one in which the word was not provided, and instead it was the arms, shoulders and feet, with all their honesty, that spoke.
GSL: What feelings did visiting the Pasolini Literary Park arouse in you?
MB: It was very strong. The Pasolini Literary Park is dense with peace, silence and poetry. Nicolas and I felt the need to tiptoe in, fearful and reverential. The Park, on the other hand, in its small size and composure, not only welcomes you, but also embraces you with a warm and reassuring hug, as well as allows you to put your mind at ease and get emotionally close to Pasolini. [It’s] a deeply human space, full of sunshine (although perhaps, as I recall, there was no sunshine that day).
In Memory of Pier Paolo Pasolini
By Ginevra Sanfelice Lilli
It’s you who studies us
from the grey depths of your portraits.
An implacable light falling
on the memory
of these eternal
In the dirt,
on a piece of open ground not far away
from the sea,
in those lost places of yours,
they found you.
In the dirt, near the sea.
But your words
had already been hurled.
Roma, September 5, 2016
(Translation by Julia MacGibbon)
Ginevra Sanfelice Lilli
Riproduzione riservata © Copyright I Parchi Letterari
Immagini di scena di Renato Crivello
ritratto di Marta Bulgherini di Andrea D'Elia
“Che, se n’annamo a Ostia? Fece il Riccetto, “oggi sto ingranato”.
“Eh” fece spostando su e giù tutti gli ossacci della sua faccia Alvaro.
“C’avrai dupiotte, c’avrai...”
Pier Paolo Pasolini, Ragazzi di Vita