Reviewed by on    All the world's a stage, Theatre in Canada   ,

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Photo: Festival TransAmérique

The Motus theatre was founded in 1991 by Enrico Casagrande and Daniela Nicolò Francesconi in the Italian town of Rimini. It took them only five years to achieve international recognition and to earn the name of the Romagna felix of experimental theatre for their innovative approach to theatre. Consisting of big projects encompassing a few shows each, Enrico Casagrande describes it as a form of theatre that aims to be an instrument of investigation, knowledge and action.

The Motus characteristically takes on classics like a Becket, Camus or, in this case, Shakespeare, as a base for an exploration of the contemporary world. Their aim is to draw the audience into the play as active participants, rather than passive spectators. Their latest project, Nella Tempesta, concentrates on the future and has been built through several workshops held in Rome, Dro, Ghent, Brussels and Tunis. The final stage of the project takes place in Montreal where all the gathered energy and ideas should fall into place and all the threads are put together.

In “Nella Tempesta” – based on Shakespeare’s “Tempest” – Casagrande and Nicolo create an imaginary island where the survivors of a shipwreck land in search of security and a better future. They seek out a long lost utopia and try to impose it on today’s world of greedy power. The massage is very simple, but is said in a bit of a complicated and, seemingly, unconnected fashion. Nevertheless, their artistic approach, helped by simple but wonderfully executed choreography, creates a convincing atmosphere of hectic reality. A very simple setting, which consists only of numerous blankets masterfully manipulated by the actors, complements the idea.

In following their vision, they build the perfect metaphor for today’s shattered socio-political universe by skilfully intertwining passages from Shakespeare’s “Tempest” and quotes from revolutionary artists, writers, and philosophers who concern themselves with alternatives to a dehumanised future. To the credit of the Motus Company, it should be said that they give a brilliant performance in an attempt to bring, explore and react to the plights of the modern world. They take an active approach trying to offer a solution to financial crises, dehumanisation of the human race, and to our world, which is slipping from our fingers, enslaving us in the process. Nella Tempesta explores our possibilities to escape that kind of future and asks us to take a part in this endeavour. A central character played extraordinarily by a sensual and ethereal Silvia Calderoni commands the stage and leads us to pondering about the issues presented.

While all elements are excellently incorporated and beautifully performed, some moments, due to the fact that this was more a project built on open-ended questions, went astray. The use of English from time to time was surely a miss, as it didn’t seem to add anything to the performance and, indeed, was more often distracting than not. Likewise, the attempt at audience interaction consisted of an awkward break when guest actors from the Montreal acting community went around and conducted a poll, asking audience members whether and what they would change in their city. Since there were no microphones, the rest of us in the theatre could not hear any of the questions or answers, so the purpose was lost. In both cases, the tools overpowered the ideas and become the purpose instead of being the means.

A much better attempt to include the audience in the project came at the end when the actors asked all present to write their thought on the wall in the foyer. So, did all the company’s efforts put into the Nella Tempesta project come together in Montreal? Although the reaction to the show was not that of a standing ovation, many spectators still decided to leave their thoughts in the entrance hall and, in that way, become a part of the project. Although there were parts of the show that were confusing and distracting, the theatre project certainly reached a number in the audience.

PRODUCED BY Motus
CONCEIVED AND DIRECTED BY Enrico Casagrande + Daniela Nicolò
PERFORMED BY Silvia Calderoni + Ilenia Caleo + Glen Çaçi + Fortunato Leccese
+ Paola Stella Minni
DRAMATURGY Daniela Nicolò
ASSISTANT DIRECTOR Nerina Cocchi
SOUND AND VIDEO Andrea Gallo + Alessio Spirli (Aqua Micans Group)
COPRODUCTION Festival TransAmériques + Parc de la Villette (Paris) +
Kunstencentrum Vooruit (Ghent) + La Comédie de Reims – Scène d’Europe +
Théâtre National de Bretagne (Rennes) + La Filature – Scène Nationale
(Mulhouse) + Centrale Fies – Drodesera Festival (Dro) + Festival delle Colline
Torinesi (Turin) + Associazione Culturale dello Scompiglio (Vorno) + L’Arboreto
– Teatro Dimora (Mondaino)
IN ASSOCIATION WITH Teatro Valle Occupato (Rome) + Angelo Mai Occupato
(Rome) + Macao (Milan) + S.a.L.E. Docks (Venice)
WITH THE SUPPORT OF ERT – Emilia Romagna Teatro Fondazione + AMAT + La
Mama New York + Provincia de Rimini + Regione Emilia-Romagna + MiBAC
CREATIVE RESIDENCY Place des Arts