La magnifica illusione (The magnificent illusion) Theater  -  2016


A production by Teatro dell’Argine
by Andrea Paolucci e Giovanni Dispenza

with Sofia Bròcani and in video Yousef Abdel Hakim Benamira
dramaturgy Mattia De Luca and Andrea Paolucci
scenes Giovanni Dispenza, Dario Marcolin Gallerani, Carmela Delle Curti
music Andrea Rizzi
illustrations Jacopo Moruzzi
technical direction Zine Labidine Jahabli, Francesco Massari
technical consultancy Antonio Racioppi, Sergiu Cebotari
video direction Simon Barletti
video mapping Stefano Baraldi
special video-guest Sanaa Selfaoui, Amine Lamraoui, Zine Labidine Jahabli
director’s assistant Giacomo Armaroli
directed by Andrea Paolucci
special thanks to Port Authorities and Coastguard of Cattolica
photo by Luciano Paselli
Award for best set desing at Festival Atelier (Baia Mare, Romania)
Nomination for best young actress, best show and best scenic image at Festival Atelier (Baia Mare, Romania)


The play

Where does that young girl entering shyly from the theatre door come from? What secret is hidden into the huge magical box turning around at the centre of the stage? What mechanisms will be activated by pulling all those levers, by pushing all those buttons, by flipping all those switches? And who is that little prisoner, enchained in the hold of a ship? On the stage, a huge cube is the gate, the secret passage that separates two different worlds: the first one is fantastic, dreamlike, muffled. Here, the little girl looks through and interrogates more and more insistently that machine full of secrets. The second one, that we peek through the eyes of the little child, is made of bombings, dangers, escapes at sea. These two worlds are distant from one another, but destined to collide with fatal consequences. Unless we activate the right mechanisms. The new show by  Teatro dell’Argine, which opened Season 2016-2017 of ITC Municipal Theatre in San Lazzaro (Bologna, Italy), is wordless, dreamlike,
poetic, harsh play. It’s a play about complicity and altruism, about mystery and welcoming, about sea journeys and journeys inside ourselves. The show challenge is that of being enjoyable by many different audiences, by adults as well as children, by expert viewers as well as by theatre beginners, thanks to a mixed language uniting puppetry, video mapping, actor’s theatre and civil commitment.

Director's note

«We have tried to talk about migration in a poetic and universal way. We have tried to talk about us becoming insensitive while reading or watching the news on migration day after day, with numbers of shipwrecks, landings, dead people being reduced to white noise in our brains. It’s so easy to be indignant from our sofa, and it’s so hard to roll up our sleeves and take
action. We have chosen to tell about these tough issues through a tale, through an allegory, through magical realism. This choice wasn’t made to soften the tragedy and to lower the sorrow in front of these events, but to try and find a new way of narrating reality, a way that bypasses the antibodies or defences that many of us set up when hearing everyday about dozens, hundreds, thousands of dead at sea. And we have also accepted the difficult challenge to try and speak simultaneously to many different audiences, be them adults or children, Italians or foreigners, left or right wing, for or against. Because this concerns all of us. And it concerns us now.»
Andrea Paolucci

The dramaturgy

At the centre of the stage a huge cube is turning around, like the world we are all living on. A girl looks at it, a little curious about that, but at the same time detached, in the natural distance that every day life imposes us. Is there anybody still amazed by the fact that our planet turns around? It is exactly by the lure of curiosity – that healthy push waking us up from torpidity – that the cube, that huge mass of tubes, buttons, levers, small multiform doors and strange gears, attracts the young girl and involves her in playing its game. This game has another protagonist: a little boy, that we cannot see, because we see through his eyes. We see what he sees. And his eyes reveal us, through a screen on the cube, that reality that we’ve never experienced personally, but that we hear a lot of: a happy family, the horror of war, the escape, the solitude and the sea crossing, the fight for life. Now it’s the girl’s task to understand why that cube is speaking to her, what her connection with this world’s perspective is: a little human being facing huge problems and dangers; a young human being facing ancient but always contemporary phenomena. Migration told through the eyes of a child: a condition where imagination is the only way to escape from a harsh, sharp, incomprehensible world. Our girl will find a series of challenges to overcome, as in the most classical fairy tale scheme, where a hero and its unaware helper overcome dangers and challenges thanks to ability, intelligence, luck and perhaps magic, in order to be safe. Hopefully. No matters that the two heroes act in different dimensions and that they speak different languages. The cube is a gate, a link between their two stories because the cube, as well as the world, is the same for everyone, it collects all stories in it, although we don’t realize it. We just have to learn again how to be amazed by its turning around.


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Excerpts from reviews

Massimo Marino

The authors Andrea Paolucci and Giovanni Dispenza have decided to tell about migration trying to break the growing insensitivity in our society towards stories of refugees escaping from the war. First, the protagonist is surprised by the mysterious turning cube, but then she is eager to explore this strange object hiding boxes with bursts and sounds, sea waves, handles revealing
unexpected worlds; a place enlightened by voices and faces or plunging in stormy seas putting poor lives in danger. It’s a theatre full of shadows: threatening, but also playful shadows, another way to see reality. The two levels, anxiety and desire to discover, alternate and mix, in a fresh and funny work, able to amaze through the wonder of object theatre, taking difficult
themes near to play, making curiosity and feelings gradually grow. It will find its ideal audience in young people, but everybody can enjoy it. And it asks a question, an urging one, on how we look at the world events that invest us and should generate a reaction in us. It’s a question on how we participate and engage. With the language of shadows, object, tale theatre, through which we discover disproportion of the vulnerable body, of danger, of anxiety, to look for a deep liberation. A must see.

Carlo Magistretti

Those Argine artists try once again something new with this La magnifica illusione, and once again I’m surprised by them. This is a show with no words, but with a very clear narration, interweaving many different languages and levels. The real protagonist is a cube, a very complex stage machinery, a deus ex-machina at the centre of the stage, also used as a screen for video
projections that make it come to life. The cube is alive, then; so who is the cube? The protagonist’s mind? A place? A non place? Is it us? Each viewer can find its answer, and every answer is valid. But at the end, we will all have assisted to the story of a little migrant escaping from war and arriving to Italy, to remind us that each of these so common stories starts from a necessity, the necessity of surviving by escaping from bombings and death, as any human being would do. I hope La magnifica illusione can still develop and get to some international festival, where it will be for sure appreciated. And you have to go and see it.

Teatro dell'Argine Società Cooperativa Sociale | Sede legale via dei Gelsi, 17 | 40068 San Lazzaro di Savena - BOLOGNA | P.I. 02522171202