All images by Alex Brenner
Dir: Marco Chenevier, Smeralda Capizzi
TiDA – Theatre Danse, Aosta Italy
What I Saw
Quintet was performed in the studio theater of the Csiky Gergely, with a traditional separation between the audience and the performance space, with one exception: crammed into the downstage stage left corner, there was a setup of technical equipment for lights and sound that had been moved from the booth, as though the operators would be doing so completely visible to the audience—not an uncommon thing in contemporary theater, but aside from a few black flats towards the back of the performance space, the only visible set in an otherwise blank space.
Before the performance even began, a performer, who turned out to be the only performer (in a show called Quintet) came out to give what seemed to be a curtain speech, but turned out to be the beginning of the show. Marco Chenevier, speaking in English, explained that originally the show was five dancers, and that they were commissioned to create a dance-theater piece that explored the relationship between performing arts and scientific research, and that they had chosen to focus on Nobel laureate Italian scientist Rita Levi-Montalcini, notable not only for being a female scientist who won a Nobel prize, but also for being a Jewish scientist who both survived and continued working in secret in Italy during WWII, being appointed Senator-for-Life at the age of 97, and dying in 2012 at the age 103 (the year the performance was created).
Chenevier went onto explain that although they had started to create the piece and several elements were in place, the government began making severe funding cuts to artists in the middle of their creation, and the performance could no longer sustain supporting five performers or any designers. Understandably, Chenevier said, all his fellow performers left the production since they had no prospect of getting paid. But he said, there was still a performance to create, and so he was going to need our help. And so the performance began.
The “performance” was barely a performance at all: the dance piece itself took up only the last few minutes of the end of the show, with the rest of it being a combination of an ongoing narrative of Chenevier and a comedic circus: Chenevier cast from the audience three sound designers (who had to choose the music for the piece from one of their own smartphones), two lighting technicians (who had to both learn how to use and design the lights for the show while the show was happening), and four other “dancers” who would learn, rehearse, and perform the original piece, all in front of the audience, all in real time, all led by Chenevier, who himself was also the central performer in the dance and seemingly the only trained artist onstage.
Chenevier rotated between performer, director, and emcee throughout the performance, with his nonstop narrative flowing between talking to the audience, training his dancers, alternately encouraging and deriding the designers, and actually accomplishing his goal of creating a performance, all done with soberness and sincerity. The results were dizzying and hilarious, and in the end, the performance did happen, complete with onstage costume changes, improvised dance solos from the four audience dancers, spotlights, and great music choices. Blade Runner, baby powder, science, art, a bit of rehearsed choreography, and old lady clothing all combine to somehow make a performance from nothing but a small bag of props and the random people from the audience Chenevier had at his disposal.
Watch the Trailer
Nuts and Bolts
Cast size: 1 male
Touring size: Cast of 1 dancer, 1 producer (2 total)
Minimum height/width/depth of stage: 8m width by 8m depth (height is not important), No maximum size.
Load in time: 1 hour
Strike time: 1 hour
Cartage information: No need to transport set
Translation options: Can be performed in English
- Torino fringe Festival (Turin, Italy) from 4-12 /05/2013
- Teatro Aurora (Marghera, italy) 17/01/2014
- Teatrino Zero (Venice, Italy) 31/01/2015
- Be festival (Birmingham, UK) First Prize best show 27/06/2015
- Mess Festival Sarajevo, second prize od the audience 7/10/2015
- Lavanderia a Vapore (Turin, Italy) 11/02/2016
- Best of Be festival Tour in UK 06/04/2016 - 06/05/2016
- Carrozzerie n.o.t (Rome, Italy) 17-21/05/2016
- Test Festival, Romania 25/05/2016
- Open Dance (Lecce,Italy) 24/09/2016
- HangartFest ( Pesaro, Italy) 1/10/2016
- Best of Be festival Tour in Spain 21/10/2016 - 10/11/2016
Future Performance Dates:
Teatro Marengo (Ceva, Italy) 27/01/2017 http://www.piemontedalvivo.it/event/quintetto/
Teatro Tedacà ( Turin, Italy) 4/02/2017
Teatro Biagi D'Antona (Bologna, Italy) 31/03/2017
Available for touring from: 07/17/2017
Representation: Smeralda Capizzi, producer, email@example.com, 3474601688, via dei Lincei 101 Rome Italy
Writings and reviews:
Director: Marco Chenevier
Marco Chenevier is a choreographer, dancer, director and actor. He obtained the three-year diploma at the International Academy of Theatre, School of Acting in Rome "Circo a Vapore" (mold J. Lecoq), he attended a three years training course in dance at "Filomarino" school in Rome with Annapaola Bacalov. He has been assistant of Isaac Alvarez for seven years at the Théâtre du Moulinage in Lussas (France). He dances for various companies in Italy and France (Romeo Castellucci and Cindy Van Acker, Cie CFB451 (CCN of Roubaix - Carolyn Carlson), Cie Lolita Espin Anadon, Les Eclats, ...) and he found in TiDA the ideal place to develop his artistic research. His choreographic research crosses genres, exploring the boundaries between the languages of dance and theatre. He is author of fifteen productions with which he participated in, among others: Be Festival – first prize (UK), International Mess Festival (Bosnia), International Ancient Greek Drama Festival (Cyprus), International festival of Sarajevo - Sarajevo Winter Festival (Bosnia) - first prize for contemporary dance, Saison Culturelle d'Aoste (Italy), Barhat Rang Mahotsav Festival (India), Teatro Superga of Nichelino - Theatrical Circuit of Piedmont (Italy), Festival VD'A – Voci dell'Anima (Italy ), Turin Fringe Festival (Italy), PerAspera Festival (Italy), Festival Marato de l'Espectacle (Spain), Pflasterspektakel Festival Linz (Austria ), Namyangju Festival (South Korea), Zdarzenia Festival of Tchew (Poland), the Mediterranean Games (Italy), Spazi d'Ascolto (Italy), Settembre in Danza (Italy), Torino Spiritualità Festival (Italy), Il sacro attraverso l'ordinario Festival (Italy), Differenti Sensazioni festival (Italy). He is in charge of the artistic direction of events including the "Morg-Ex Machina" Festival, the "Roma Street Art Festival" (for two years), the festival "The groundhogs do not sleep" and other special projects.
The Theatre: TIDA
TIDA's artistic project identifies itself with a critical vision of the society, entertainment, conventional aesthetics and the artistic production in itself.
The Company's research is focused on language and context in a vision which is contemporary for both aesthetics and content. The main instrument is the body; its nature of earthly and temporal vehicle makes it the chosen field from which we can explore the art of the present and contemporary times, exactly because of its ephemeral nature. The Company's productions have toured to festivals and theatres both nationally and internationally, including:
International Theater Festival Mess (Bosnia), Be Festival – Birmingham (UK), Teszt Festival (Romania), Open Dance (Italy), HangartFest (Italy), International festival of Sarajevo – Sarajevo Winter Festival (Bosnia), International Ancient Greek Drama Festival (Cyprus), Settembre in Danza (Italy), Torino Spiritualità (Italy), Festival Il sacro attraverso l'ordinario (Italy), Festival Differenti sensazioni (Italy), Maratò de l’Espectacle (Spain), Festival D’Avignon (France), Pflasterspektakel Festival, Linz (Austria), Seoul Festival (South Corea), Zdarzenia Festival, Tchew (Poland), Giochi del Mediterraneo (Italy), Barhat Rang Mahotsav Festival (India), Teatro Superga of Nichelino - Circuito Teatrale del Piemonte (Italy), Festival VD'A – Voci dell'anima (Italy), Torino Fringe Festival (Italy), Peraspera Festival (Italy), Saison Culturelle of Aosta (Italy).
TIDA is supported by the Regional Education and Culture Department for Valle d'Aosta and by MIBACT – Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities and Tourism (Italy).
Reflections from Susan
I’ll be honest: this performance in my schedule was the third show of the day, being performed at 11pm, and from its serious description I went into the studio where it was being performed already exhausted. However, I left anything but: by the end my notes are huge, sloppy, all over the page, trying to capture my thoughts as fast as I could think them and as fast as the layers were revealing themselves in Marco Chenevier’s revelatory, joyful, poignant explosion of a piece of what is called theater, but what really should be called a communal revival.
To try and untangle all the layers of the relationship between content and structure here is impossible; the metatheatrical elements of the piece weave their way through heartbreaking realities, hysterical comedy, and the beauty of a community coming together at the same time. But clearest and most poignant theatrical statement that came through to me is also the most difficult, which is what makes the piece so profound: the twisted paradox of both art and science is that when our resources are the most scarce is when our communities become the closest, but to create only out of scarcity is to stifle the possibility of monumental creative/scientific leaps forward that only monetary resources can provide. While the show that is created is in turns hilarious and profound when performed by unsuspecting audience members, the small amount of gorgeous choreography performed by Chenevier leaves you longing to see what the entire piece, performed by trained dancers and designers, could have been.
At the center of why the performance works so well is Chenevier himself: his combined Lecoq and dance training allow him to be present with each audience member in every moment, to allow his body to be shaped by the people who show up on stage with him. His frantic but self-effacing stage presence allows his fellow “performers” to relax and laugh at him while he maintains a serious artistic character; he is unflappable to any chaos, allowing each moment, each mistake, to become part of the performance, to the audience’s delight. In addition, the choice not just to cast dancers from the audience but also technicians and designers highlights for the audience exactly how many people and how much collaboration and consensus it takes to make a theatrical performance.
Of all the pieces we saw, this was the piece that, intellectually, American audiences would understand the most, and not just theater audiences. One of the communicative struggles I’ve found with Eastern European artists is that they are only recently experiencing the crunch of lack of resources, whereas American artists have worked within a non-supportive governmental system for decades. So the essential problem that Chenevier proposes—the expectation to produce mind-blowing results with little preparation and barely trained team members—is one that could resonate with all sorts of American audiences: artists, scientists, educators, non-profits…any community of people who is and has long been expected to create something from nothing with a smile on their face and not knowing who will show up to help or if any compensation or credit will be coming in the future.
And ultimately, that crossover is the greatest success of the show: Chenevier has created a piece that ironically answers the question he and his collaborators were supposed to answer in the beginning when they had funding, trained artists, and resources: what is the connection between performing arts and scientific research? The answer is: the process of creation doesn’t depend on government funding, politics, or oppression; creation is something a government can’t control, something that those who feel called to it will do, with joy and resiliency, no matter the circumstance.