Urban Dramaturgies, projects by Sonia Arienta, Milan, Playwriting in the urban space.

My concept and vision about Urban Dramaturgies

includes two areas: one reserved to the plays staged in theatrical spaces or unconventional places, the other to the projects where people is acting without awarness of playing a role, without fiction.

In this second type of projects, I deliberately exclude the “mediation” of one or more (professional or “casual”) actors, the physicality, the gestures of a player conscious of the role, as well as the mimetic or stylized codes and practices of reality peculiar of theatrical context.

Is it an anti-theatrical or anti-performative theater?

No, it’s just a different way of looking at theatricality and concept of performance. As Richard Schechner points out, “there is no historically or culturally fixable limit to what is or is not” performance.

Rather, the lowest common denominator, among the many possibilities of understanding this term, is the idea that “any action that is framed, enacted, presented, highlighted, or displayed is a performance” (p. 3, in Performance Studies. An introduction, 2002-13).

There are other ways and worlds of representations, other plots and characters to show and to look at, beyond the conventions and structures of thought usually linked to acting practice.

The inhabited space hosts our daily life and tells us about it. Therefore, in this context, I wish to investigate human interactions, role-playing games, the use of social masks, the symbolic, dramatic elements – hidden or evident – that we can see every day without noticing them, or without reflecting on them… in short, I wish to investigate everything that is already available around us with all possible contradictions, conflicts, stimuli. In this regard, the writings of Erwin Goffman offer multiple points of research since the end of 1950s.

I am looking for the theatrical dimension hidden in everyday life, the apparently irrelevant stories under the eyes of all, but with a metaphorical or symbolic sense, and strong impact.

The gestures, the context, the situations are there, waiting to be discovered… to be identified, observed and waiting for someone to think about it. So I will identify those that from time to time I will deem most significant to offer to the public: through the most effective techniques for each specific project. In some cases the work needs direct participation with the author and so we can work together to “build” something, that is to say the project; in other cases the viewer is called to observe familiar and everyday images with new eyes.

There may be works involving the inhabitants, invited to actively collaborate according to guidelines (or through a series of pre-established actions as in Codex), to become “reporters” (as in Aiuole Clandestine) or to give a written contribution (as in Observations, where citizens answered questionnaires). In other cases they are invited to walk and reflect along established paths (Private Collections).

In other projects, the protagonists will be the more theatrical conditions of space: for example, the light, the “behind the scenes”, the backdrops, the dialogue between floors … Inhabited and forgotten, beautiful, ugly, squalid, dangerous, melancholy places. The stimuli come from thinkers who have long explored the use we make of space and the relationships we establish with it (Henry Lefebvre, Yi Fu Tuan, Christian Norberg-Schulz …)

On the other hand, since the centrality guaranteed to humans, and anthropocentrism are far too prevalent with catastrophic results in terms of well-being, environmental balance … I think it is fundamental to put all other living beings at the center of attention and – why not? – even inanimate objects … The characters in the stories are countless

Excess of emotions and individualism make people less inclined, respectively, to the exercise of critical thinking and collaboration, availability, solid and deep social relationships, respect for others and the public good.

For this reason, in first I am interested in using the necessary distance filters to encourage people to reflect, to become aware of what is happening, to look around critically. Detachment and distance are necessary for judgment and reflection.

The mere solicitation of emotions, linked to the immediate satisfaction of a desire, of an instinct is exploited by politicians in search of easy consents and by the advertising and marketing machine.

The road to awareness, independence, autonomy of thought, or critical thinking pass from a balance between reasoning and the emotional sphere.

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