Statues, like the human beings they glorify, are prey to a life cycle. They have their moment in the sun, presiding over city squares and gardens, until their subjects fade from public memory or are summarily tossed into the ash heap of political history.
This was the subject of Monumenti Generali, the latest theatrical work to be staged in the imposing Barghetti marble quarry at Seravezza by the Evocava production company. Structured around a series of “conversations” between familiar monumental personalities – Napoleon Bonaparte and Giuseppe Garibaldi, V.I. Lenin and Giuseppe Verdi (and a cardboard pigeon who baptized his operatic head) – the spettacolo was set in an imagined cemetery for discarded statues. Some of the talk was comic banter, some of it a kind of stonework nostalgia. But all of it, finally, revolved around a single theme: celebrity and its power are always fleeting.
Lenin, ably portrayed by Silvio Castiglione, was literally toppled from his perch in the first act of Monumenti (much as he was in the last act of the Soviet Union), only moments after a rousing chorus of the Socialist Internationale. “Don’t you know who I am?” Gabriele Carli’s marble Napoleon asks a young punker (Giulia Solano) who wanders into the quarry graveyard, aerosol paint can in hand and graffiti in mind. “No,” she says with a shrug, and nonchalantly tags him.
So it goes, as the late Kurt Vonnegut might have observed: one day you dream of ruling the entire globe and the next you’re a patsy for teenage vandalism.
Indeed, according to Barga’s own Andrea Tessieri, co-founder of Evocava with Maurizo Guidi in 1996, the self-blinding arrogance of globalization is the critical subtext of Monumenti Generali. Bonaparte symbolized globalism’s imperial expression. But its idealistic alter ego was the spettacolo’s most fully-drawn portrait, in the person of Giuseppe Garibaldi, who led the 1860 uprising that unified Italy and made it a nation-state. The brilliant, controversial Italian actor Paolo Rossi made a special one-day trip here to play Garibaldi, mixing improvised riffs on contemporary politics and foibles with stentorian readings from the memoirs of Garibaldi himself.
Rossi’s fellow performers also included Marco Azzurrini, Giulia Gallo, Enzo Illiano and Monumenti writer Giovanni Guerrieri, from the accomplished Sacchi di Sabbia (“Sandbags”) theater group, based in Pisa. – Frank Viviano – barganews staff reporter –
The sound quality on the video is not that wonderful but you can hear Paolo Rossi’s contribution to this event in full by clicking on the link below[display_podcast]