Ma

Conception and directing: Romeo Castellucci
Original music: Demetrio Castellucci
Choreography: Gloria Dorliguzzo

With Filippo Addamo

And with: Alexia Dimitrakoulia, Katerina Douvi, Penny Eleftheriadou,
Stefania Gogou, Dafni Kafetzi, Katerina Kalochristianaki,
Stella Kapetaniou, Athina Kirousi, Gabriela Kokkini,
Polena Kolia Petersen, Iro Konti, Christiana Kosiari,
Konstantina Koutsaftaki, Eirini Kyriakou, Laura Mamakos,
Eirini Mastora, Afroditi Michailidou, Faidra Ntagioglou,
Panagiotarea Erofili, Fotini Papachristopoulou,
Kristie Papadopoulou, Katerina Papandreou, Maria Psarologou,
Antonia Pitoulidou, Maro Stavrinou, Serafina Sideri,
Rafaela Tsobanoudi, Eleni Vergeti, Chryssi Vidalaki,
Ioanna Chloe Voulgari, Eleni Zafiri

Dramaturgical collaboration: Lucia Amara
Assistant director: Silvano Voltolina
Assistant choreographer: Camilla Neri

Technical director: Eugenio Resta
Costumes: Chiara Venturini
Stage sculptures: Plastikart studio di Istvan Zimmermann e Giovanna Amoroso
Costume creation: Atelier Grazia Bagnaresi
Production director: Benedetta Briglia
Promotion and distribution: Gilda Biasini
Production and tours: Giulia Colla
Organisation: Caterina Soranzo
On-site technical team: Carmen Castellucci, Francesca Di Serio,
Gionni Gardini, Lorenzo Camera
Administration: Michela Medri, Elisa Bruno, Simona Barducci
Economic consulting: Massimiliano Coli

Ma is an action directed by Romeo Castellucci, specifically conceived and planned to take place on the archaeological site of the city of Eleusis. Due to its essential nature as an exclusive event, Ma unfolds on the remains of a place known to all as the location of one of the oldest religious practices in the West: the Eleusinian Mysteries. Celebrated in the temple dedicated to Demeter, etymologically “mother earth”, this was an agrarian cult worshipping the maternal generation of the earth’s fruits and nurturing eschatological expectations. All that remains of the temple dedicated to Demeter and the sites of the Eleusinian cult are stones. The Mysteries disappeared definitively when paganism came to an end.

 

Romeo Castellucci’s Ma does not engage in an archaeological reconstruction of the archaic ritual, nor is it a contemporary reinterpretation or rewriting of the myth underlying its origin. Eleusis is not only what remains, but it is also an empty place, abandoned by a remote cult that can be considered as one of the sources of Western culture. It is something like the glowing and vibrant core from which certain gestures were transmitted, which appear to come very close to the dawn of the stage, especially considering the fundamental role attributed by the Eleusinian Mysteries to vision. Over the course of the Mysteries’ history, in the imperial age, the strictly spiritual element overtook the aspect involving the agrarian and generative cult, overlapping in certain cases with nascent Christianity and perhaps preparing the ground for it in their shared eschatological hope. For this reason, one speaks of preparatio evangelica. The link between the Eleusinian rites and the birth of Attic tragedy can be seen in the different phases of this cult’s practice. These phases are defined by the ancient sources as drómena (things done, i.e. ritual acts); legómena (things said, i.e. the sacred formulas that were pronounced); deiknúmena (things shown, i.e. the sacred objects displayed during the ritual). An obscure mystery, designed to make it difficult to witness the rite, which was forbidden to those who did not speak Greek but which at the same time could not be disclosed in words, must have occurred at Eleusis. Antonin Artaud (1896-1948), whom we might consider the father of modern theatre, also felt its call, so much so that he perceived Eleusis as the place where the idea first appeared of the actor’s organic life, recovering a universal breath that remained as yet unspent. Artaud wrote in a notebook, dated 1947: It is a technique / which one day / was on the verge of taking place / but which failed / at the time of the / Orphic / or Eleusinian Mysteries / because what was in question / was the fulfilment / of an ancient / crime. Artaud perceived the Eleusinian Mysteries as a point of origin and at the same time a point of no return, where theatre could suffer a failure, because “the fulfilment of an ancient crime”, shrouded in silence, was still at stake.

 

In the irreversible silence of Eleusis, Ma by Romeo Castellucci takes shape and prepares its vision. An initial necessity leads to a saturation of female bodies, like a prologue consisting of matricidal matter and maternal milk that spreads over the ruins of this sacred place and thus saturates the voids left by the abandoned and unquenched cult.

A man, who committed matricide some twenty years ago and has now finished serving his sentence, crosses the expanse of the archaeological site. His entrance undermines, profanes and overturns the original cult, which forbade entry to anyone stained with blood. Only through sacrilege can the sacred be reactivated. However, the matricide’s entrance into the sanctuary also indicates reconciliation and forgiveness.

Ma thus sounds like a child’s way of referring to their “mother”, but still deeper lies the root of the term “matrix”, the womb that opens into the earth to generate, and a mould that descends into the death of matter to give it form. There might also be another hypothesis as to this title. Ma could allude to the adversative conjunction in Italian grammar: “ma” means but, nevertheless, notwithstanding… This title opens up to the ultimate act of matricide, giving it a “furtherness”, a new possibility, a new light.

Lucia Amara
Translated by Brent Waterhouse

 

 

Performances: 1-3; 5-10; 12-13 September 2023

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