Bérénice

by Romeo Castellucci
freely inspired by "Berenice" by Jean Racine

A monologue
With Isabelle Huppert

And with the participation of Cheikh Kébé and Giovanni Manzo
And the presence of twelve local persons – (insert names of local extras)

Concept and direction - Romeo Castellucci
Original music - Scott Gibbons
Costumes by Iris Van Herpen

Direction assistant - Silvano Voltolina
Technical direction - Eugenio Resta
Stage technician - Andrei Benchea e Stefano Valandro
Light technician - Andrea Sanson
Sound technician - Claudio Tortorici
Costumes - Chiara Venturini
Hair styling and make up ideation - Sylvie Cailler and Jocelyne Milazzo

Stage sculptures and automations - Plastikart Studio Amoroso & Zimmermann

Production direction - Benedetta Briglia, Marko Rankov
Production and tour - Giulia Colla
Organization - Bruno Jacob, Leslie Perrin, Caterina Soranzo
Contribution to production - Gilda Biasini
Technical headquarter team - Lorenzo Camera, Carmen Castellucci,
Francesca Di Serio, Gionni Gardini
Costume intern – Madeleine Tessier
Movement double – Serena Dibiase
Lines repeater – Agathe Vidal
Administration - Michela Medri, Elisa Bruno, Simona Barducci
Economic consultant - Massimiliano Coli

Executive Producers
Societas, Cesena
Printemps des Comédiens / Cité du Théâtre Domaine d’O, Montpellier

Co-producers
Théâtre de La Ville Paris, France; Comédie de Genève, Suisse; Les Théâtres de la Ville de Luxembourg; deSingel International Arts Center, Belgium; Festival Temporada Alta, Spain; Teatro di Napoli – Teatro Nazionale, Thalia Theater Hamburg; Onassis Stegi, Greece; Triennale Milano, Italy; National Taichung Theater, Taiwan; Holland Festival, Netherlands; LAC Lugano Arte e Cultura, Switzerland; TAP - Théâtre Auditorium de Poitiers, France ; La Comédie de Clermont-Ferrand – Scène Nationale, France ; Théâtre national de Bretagne – Rennes, France ; Yanghua Theatre, China.
With the support of Fondation d’entreprise Hermès


"Red Lilium" by Tine Poppe
Pictures from the show by Alex Majoli

The complete untimeliness of Racine’s poetic verses, written in alexandrines, is what makes him contemporary. The dysfunctional language we know today comes from Beckett, Artaud and other poets, whereas Racine nullifies language through an excess of technique. He puts form under such a strain that nothing remains that is merely communicated. Thanks to the constraints of metre and rhyme, Racine gives technique the task of capturing meaning. He relies more on the pure form of the word than its content, and the form is what remains of the body, a mute body. Here, the alexandrines are like diviner’s tools whose purpose is to extract meaning, a meaning that comes only from the outside, from an outsider, and not from mere opinion, not from an easily accessible knowledge. Thus, with Racine, technique becomes an arcane greenhouse where unheard-of flowers, not born out of nature alone, are cultivated.

 

In Bérénice, the character only truly appears when the time has come to exit. Exiting the stage, like a Triumph, is enormously more important than entering. How else to describe “Berenice”, if not as a long, drawn-out exit strategy? It takes an entire art of rhetoric, along with an iconography and an impossible Christian usage of Greek tragedy, to conceive such a principle of movement. At the end of the tragedy, all the characters take their leave of one another without shedding a single drop of blood; the haemorrhage is internal. But even I, the spectator, at the end of the play – or the reading – am left speechless. Where is the drama? I felt it at every step, at every moment, but I cannot say that I witnessed it.

 

All the postures, the chastity, the politeness, the modesty, the love that loves – and for this very reason, abandons – serve to represent the Theatre of the Cruelty of love. Love as the Orient, the Land of Hope. Chastity, as the supreme form of morbidity. Everything is restrained and slowed down; in a word, the field of desire opens up before us in all the devastating virulence of this theatre. Here, renunciations carry more weight than actions, bloodshed or copulations. A paralytic theatre. One sole object: I don’t think there is anything more static and unnerving in the entire history of Western dramaturgy. And yet, it brings us to tears.

 

The words become concentric, like drug-induced fumes, and the dialogues are actually feverish monologues. “Bérénice” is a text that says nothing, and this is its oblation. This, in the end, is its madness, its way of being “contemporary art”.

On stage, like a fixed star, Isabelle Huppert portrays Bérénice, in the peculiar and ontological solitude of the theatrical character and the human being. Only two other actors will be present, appearing as Titus and Antiochus, and a few Roman senators. All of their words will be unintelligible, and blurred by Bérénice’s own voice. The sounds of the performance – all of them, both heard and unheard – are generated by Isabelle Huppert’s voice, elaborated by artist Scott Gibbons.

Isabelle Huppert is the synecdoche of the art of Western theatre; she is the actress, but also the actor, by definition. Isabelle Huppert is “representation as such” (one goes to the theatre to see Isabelle Huppert play Berenice), she is the flame calling us to gather. She is Theatre.

29/09/2024 - 30/09/2024

LAC Lugano Arte e Cultura - CH

Bérénice

https://www.luganolac.ch/

05/10/2024 - 10/10/2024

La Comédie de Geneve, Geneva - CH

Bérénice

https://www.comedie.ch/fr

18/10/2024 - 20/10/2024

Grand Théâtre de la Ville de Luxembourg - LU

Bérénice

https://theatres.lu

07/11/2024 - 10/11/2024

deSingel internationale Kunstcampus, Anversa - BE

Bérénice

https://www.desingel.be

16/11/2024 - 17/11/2024

Thalia Theater, Hamburg - DE

Bérénice

https://www.thalia-theater.de/

23/11/2024 - 24/11/2024

Festival Temporada Alta, Girona - ES

Bérénice

https://temporada-alta.com/

24/01/2025 - 26/01/2025

Teatro di Napoli – Teatro Nazionale, Napoli - IT

Bérénice

https://teatrodinapoli.it/

15/05/2025 - 17/05/2025

Théâtre National de Bretagne, Rennes - FR

Bérénice

http://www.t-n-b.fr

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