Julius Caesar. Spared Parts
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Julius Caesar. Spared Parts

Romeo Castellucci / Socíetas Raffaello Sanzio

Dramatic intervention on W. Shakespeare

Venue

The Navy Yard, Building 694
1701 Langley Avenue
Philadelphia, PA United States
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DescriptionInterviewFurther Reading

“The collective need to have a scapegoat is a circle of iron from which contemporary community seems incapable of freeing itself.” Romeo Castellucci

“Since Mr. Castellucci founded his theater company . . . he has steadily won acclaim—and generated debate—for provocative, hallucinatory imagery and often apocalyptic themes.” Tom Sellar, The New York Times

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Famed Italian director Romeo Castellucci re-envisions his groundbreaking 1997 production Giulio Cesare (Julius Caesar) as a series of “fragments” rearranged and positioned against each other—a clash between the ethereal and the obscure, the power of rhetoric and language stripped to its source.

A Julius Caesar who “speaks” only through gestures—an old Caesar, no longer possessing power, his gestures move the air and produce a sound. Mark Anthony’s funeral oration delivered by a man without vocal chords, whose voice is produced solely from his stomach and esophagus. A third actor delivers a dialogue on the state of Rome, an endoscope inserted through his nostrils so the audience can see his vocal chords vibrating in real time. In life, in theater, what do words hide, where does their power emerge from?

Concept and Direction Romeo Castellucci Performers Gianni Plazzi, Dalmazio Masini, Sergio Scarlatella

Previous Festival ShowsThe Four Seasons Restaurant, On the Concept of the Face, Regarding the Son of God.

Photos Luca Del Pia

$38 general / $26.60 member

$15 student + 25-and-under

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Festival Executive Producers David and Linda Glickstein
Festival Co-Producers Maureen and Chris Plagge

Interview with Romeo Castellucci

FringeArts: Where were you when you got the idea for Julius Caesar. Spared Parts?

Romeo Castellucci: I was in Bologna preparing a cycle of performance dedicated to the macroscopic theme of language and to its negative foundation. I had the use of a large room in the Academy Of Fine Arts, the same school in which I had studied as a boy. And it was then that I realized that I could “extract” certain pieces from a play that I had done seventeen years ago, Julius Caesar. The material was the rhetoric and the conception of words as arms, as a process of “invasion” of the other. I had thought that I could work on three monologues. Only one of these exists in the Shakespeare text, that extraordinary speech of Mark Anthony from the Roman dais. Interpreting this piece is Dalmazio Masini, an actor without vocal cords (many years ago he underwent a laryngectomy because he had throat cancer). Masini speaks with a phonic technique that is at once parallel and distinct from ours. It comes from the esophagus as a product of the stomach. This Mark Anthony has a wound in his throat- the “stoma” from the surgical procedure—and can more effectively and successfully speak of Caesar’s wounds, precisely because his own voice comes from a wound.

_MG_9254Another monologue is found in fact in the first dialogue of the drama; that between the Senator Murellus and a man of the people, a cobbler. This is read by an actor using in real time an endoscope inserted through the nostrils as far as the vocal cords. While he is speaking we see—tautologously—his vocal cords vibrating. The third monologue does not exist in the text; in fact it is not spoken. It is the monologue of the old Julius Caesar who “speaks” only through gestures. He is an old Caesar, no longer possessing power. His gestures move the air and produce a sound. They are gestures inspired by the comportment codes in the classic rhetoric of Cicero and Quintilian. They are gestures without words which express the character of victim in the person of Caesar just before the murder. He is no longer a man of power but a man whose power is waning. Shakespeare’s text reveals to us the microphysics of power. These are not men of power but men to whom power belongs.

FringeArts: Did the fragments speak differently to you now that they were without the rest?

Romeo Castellucci: Yes, they speak in a completely different way; as in a process of evaporation certain salt crystals remain, so these spared parts are the chemical deposit of synthesis. There is not here the fascination of a great theatrical production. The spectator is almost forced into a face to face with the rhetorical word exposing him or herself to “the danger from the radiation” in the operation. It is a minimal performance, dry, bare, without any attractions of spectacle. There is a cool harshness, I might even say ‘serene’, in the transition from one part to another.

FringeArts: The idea of Spared Parts indicates the destruction of the rest. Are the destructed parts, or even that sense of destruction, part of the show?_MG_9450

Romeo Castellucci: As I said earlier. It’s not a destruction, rather an absorption or evaporation. The things that there were have been absorbed or remain active in a subcutaneous form. They can no longer be seen, but the energy which they fostered remains contained in the three monologues. The destruction, on the other hand, is thematic and planned in the second act of Shakespeare’s drama, where the action develops in the battle between Sardis and Philippi and where everything ends up in ruins. And it is the drama with the highest toll of suicides in Western dramaturgy. But this second part—appalling in its sense of desolation and the sense of failure that penetrates it—has been absorbed by that which is being seen.

FringeArts: What makes this murder, for you, so enduring a murder?

Romeo Castellucci: The eternal, immutable mechanism of the scapegoat. Caesar, in the portrait Shakespeare has given us, belongs in this anthropological framework. The collective need to have a scapegoat is a circle of iron from which contemporary community seems incapable of freeing itself. Renè Girard has written significantly on this topic.


Further Reading

Questions of Practice with Romeo Castellucci: Full Interview by Carlos Basualdo, The Pew Center for Art and Heritage

Excerpt: Trained as a visual artist but now known for his powerfully expressive theater, Romeo Castellucci extends a tradition of performance with roots in Antonin Artaud’s Theatre of Cruelty. His intent is to affect his audiences as deeply as possible, and that is a responsibility he does not take lightly. Watch the full interview.