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“It’s always worth surviving, but on your own terms and doing what you like.” This is the way Elio Crifò starts to talk about himself -paraphrasing Tom Waits in the song ‘ Blues ‘- he is an actor and screenwriter, cultured interpreter and always attentive to humanity. It takes empathy to do theatre, and even more so to write a text that has content and at the same time is able to strike a chord and capture the public.
Emotions inevitably pass through memory. And it’s the same at the theatre. “When the show is finished and the audience leaves with the memory of what people have seen, then a good job has been done.”
And to tell the truth this is what happened to me at the Sala Umberto, with Elio’s last effort entitled ‘ EsotericArte ‘, a show produced by Stefano Baldrini together with Toni Brundu, another young independent and far-sighted producer. Elio investigates the mysteries of medieval Italian art through a journey between esotericism, symbology and numerology. An hour and forty minutes of monologue steeped in signs, symbols and numerical combinations wisely rediscussed by the mathematician Piergiorgio Odifreddi – of course a contradictory spokesman – revealing the secret between man and numbers. Previously, in EsotericArte, Elio had performed alongside Vittorio Sgarbi for the pictorial part.
Tell me about the moment when you started to put on stage what you had written, and your latest productions?
“After years and years spent among on-the-move theatrical troupes, theater managers, leading actors, fiction and festivals, I suddenly felt a need to get away from that world and those protagonists. I had a feeling of not belonging, both from a human and an artistic point of view. And so, from a simple interpreter of texts and productions, I naturally moved on to shows, written directed and interpreted by me. It was the right choice. I did not think I had acquired a mastery of artistic creation until the debut of the first show, when the audience showed me that I had found a very powerful way of communicating. It was the controversy, the reactions and the relationships that were created with the spectators after the replicas that allowed me to understand that I had found a key to communicate with a force and a clarity before unknown. ”
“And so, for example, the work ‘ La classe diGerente ‘ was born, an unsettling political satire show, because satire for many years has just been a form of entertainment, it’s just been about making fun of the government. My satire does not aim to have a laugh about the politicians, but to exploit the humour to ignite a real flame of rebellion against power. The show, in fact, ends with a bolerian crescendo of 8 minutes, in which the President of the Republic apologizes for all the massacres-from Portella della Ginestra to Borsellino- for all the commissioned murders -Mattei, Moro, Pasolini-for having placed and still placing people of low cultural and moral level at the helm of our ministries. At the end, the whole audience stood up, moved, wounded, furious. This reaction led me to write ‘La classe diGerente 2’ e ‘La classe 3’.
What kind of effort is needed to compete with today’s world of theatre?
“Measuring oneself with today’s world does not entail any special efforts; Let’s say it is the natural task entrusted to every human being, from every age. The theatre is the most contemporary form of expression that has always existed. It is, by nature, live and alive. It is not recorded, it is not taped, it is not seen again, at the most it repeats itself, but never in the same way; It is contained in that place, in that moment, in that unique and unrepeatable appearance. That small place in the world is the center of the universe for 90-100 minutes, the rest is dark, silent and insignificant. The theatre is not the usual banality put on stage. It’s not intellectual lucubrations. It is not investing your talent to make someone laugh about a banality. But if it is easy to understand what the theater is not, much more complex is to understand what it is. The theatre is certainly a ritual, derived from the sacred rites: The priest has become an actor, the altar his stage, the audience has come to listen to the script instead of the Divine Word . The theatre unlike cinema or painting does not need to keep up with the times, it is immersed naturally in the present time. But all this escapes the current artistic generations and many think that by using multimedia they are contemporary, but, in reality they are only hiding under their own mediocrity or artistic inability”.
What does the word ‘ excellence ‘ mean to You?
“To ex-cell means to bring out something particular, unique, something that you do so well that no one else can equal that skill, that beauty of execution.
Instead, nowadays the only thing where excelling counts is to make big numbers. If you can drag crowds to your performances, then you’re an artist and a really excellent man, everything else doesn’t matter. The quantity is often the only excellence, and not the quality. This is the embarrassing criterion of assessment of excellence, this is the fierce dictatorship imposed by the market. Speaking with an artistic director of a theatre or festival, or with a culture councillor, is like talking to an entrepreneur: they have the same aspirations and goals. Even a politician is considered excellent by the amount of electoral consensus. Our society cultivates this ridiculous concept of excellence because it needs to have citizens connected online and disconnected from themselves The dismission of Arts education in public schools is a sign that, under the shiny appearance of democracy, lives a ruling class that has chosen to impose on this nation a life filled with ignorance, vulgarity and brutality.
In the cinema those who write, and interpret are called Filmakers and in the theatre?
“In the theatre they don’t have a name. To create a neologism I would call them ‘ autocraino ‘, those who do something without the help of anyone, from the Greek Autòs (Alone) and Kraino (to create).
What can you tell us about the projects you’re working on?
” I already have a new text ready: ‘ The Empires of the Mind ‘, which demonstrates how the so-called control of the masses implies control of the minds of each of us. Through the destruction of a language, Italian, and the imposition of a new language, English; Through the management of sacred thinking, through the imposition of advertising we are locked in an infernal psychic cage.
My plan for the present and for the future is to handle difficult or cultural themes, representing them in the brilliant, public-enthralling way typical of a comedy. Themes defined difficult, elitist or cultured that are not intellectual pathways, but living flesh of pure emotion”.