Shakespeare at the Napoli Teatro Festival Italia 2011. The Tempest (dir. Declan Donnellan) and Richard III (The Bridge Project, dir. Sam Mendes)
Declan Donnellan, a British theatre director and writer of international fame, arrives in Italy for the first time with his production of William Shakespeare's The Tempest, in Russian with surtitles in Italian. Students and scholars of English literature, Shakespearean studies and Russian language, as well as enthusiastic theatregoers, sit among the audience in a hot evening of the Napoli Teatro Festival Italia, now in its fourth edition. The play begins: Prospero, an old man in belt and
... sits downstage in front of a white, curved wall with three doors. As if to concentrate, he conjures a storm, which is only glimpsed through the partially opened doors. Thunder, lightning, water. The latter element is predominant throughout the play: during the storm scene, real water cascades onto the mariners' heads while waves periodically foam and tumble, through projections, on the white wall; when Miranda and Ferdinand become sexually excited, Prospero douses them with a bucket of water, as if they were copulating dogs; poor Trinculo, in this production an effete dandy interested in fashion and diamonds, is pursued by the several Ariel(s) who continually drench him with a watering can. When Prospero recounts to Miranda the reasons for their exile, the usurping Antonio and his Neapolitan accomplice emerge like speechless wax statues from two of the three doors, to silently give body and presence to their past treachery and powerfully draw Miranda's attention to the narration. Miranda actually sees them and becomes more interested in her father's story. "Dost thou attend me?", Prospero frequently asks his daughter; his very long narration could have put Miranda off, hence the narrative device of the repeated questions to Miranda throughout the scene in the Shakespearean text. In Donnellan's production, the appearance of Antonio, Prospero's brother, and Alonso, the king of Naples, becomes a 'multimedial' -and to a certain extent even 'intermedial' -device whereby theatre simulates cinema, to bring to life Prospero's articulate retelling of the past events that brought him and Miranda to the island twelve years earlier. The Tempest is a play in which invisibility and visions, magic, music and 'quaint' devices play an important role for the development of the story, yet there are no 'apparitions' at the moment of Prospero's recounting to Miranda in 1.2; it was the director's choice to add those 'apparitions' in his production of the play. Donnellan could have used a video installation, or a projection on the white wall, to show Prospero's past in a more vivid way, but he decided to have the actors on stage, 'embodying' the past as in a tableau vivant; perhaps, the choice 92_ Shakespeare at the Napoli Teatro Festival Italia 2011.