The Metopes of the Parthenon

Conception and direction: Romeo Castellucci
Text: Claudia Castellucci

With: Urs Bihler / Sergio Scarlatella,
Dirk Glodde, Gina Gurtner, Zoe Hutmacher,
Liliana Kosarenko, Maximilian Reichert

Artistic collaboration: Silvia Costa
Special effects, make up: Istvan Zimmermann and
Giovanna Amoroso - Plastikart studio
Technical direction: Paola Villani

Production: Theater Basel
In coproduction with: La Villette, Festival d’Automne à Paris
In collaboration with: Societas

Musical piece in the performance: “Blazhenstva” by Alexander Knaifel
Photo: Societas

A long sequence of actions based on first aid techniques passes by in front of the spectator, like a collection of allegories. Using a hyper-realistic mechanism, a series of accidents that have just occurred are staged, without ever showing the event that gave way to them. The agitated interventions of the paramedics, struggling against time, do not have any effect and all lead to a tragic outcome. The actors must identify with the victims, engaging in a faithful illustration of the aftermath of the accidents and in a psychophysical phenomenology of various traumatic states. A series of professional nurses, equipped with an assortment of medical instruments, come to the aid of the “victims” with the typical urgency seen in these cases. The human tableau, which slowly but relentlessly passes across the stage, is a mirror of things which come about and can be seen in our houses and in the streets of our cities. The use of devices such as prostheses and sophisticated cinematographic effects must ensure the utmost verisimilitude of that which is seen and heard. A series of ambulances appear, one after the other, on the scene of the accident. The feverish scenes narrate, without offering the slightest explanation, an endless procession of human pain. But above this Epos of pain there is a parallel line of counterpoint, consisting of a series of riddles. The questions – to which no solutions are given – that some life-Sphinx or another offers, are projected in the upper part of the space in which the actions take place. The spectators can see, that is, the agitated first aid scenes at the same time as the questions, like in two frames, one above the other. The riddles are intended to suspend the radical realism of the actions, unmasking them to show what they actually are: the plan of an artist, or a metaphor, or a series of mute sculptures, like Friezes of life in our cities. The riddles shift the spectator’s attention from the bloody primary scene towards a tendentious linguistic game, giving the mind the power to penetrate reality and at the same time transferring human pain into the field of metaphor. And, vice versa, the implacable scenes of first aid transform the riddles into questions of life and death, as is the case with any good Sphinx. The relation between the first aid actions and the riddles displays the need for a reconciliation between human beings and the fact of having a body. The performance calls for six interventions of various kinds and durations, for a total duration of roughly 45 minutes. Six actors, several ambulances with nurses, prostheses, cinema blood, medical instruments, riddles.

(Romeo Castellucci, June 2015)