The Word Father
Written and Directed by Gabriele Vacis
Scenophony and Staging: Roberto Tarasco
Artistic Coordination: Salvatore Tramacere
Assistant Director: Carlo Durante
Training: Barbara Bonriposi
Technical Management: Mario Daniele, Alessandro Cardinale
Koreja Theatre, Lecce Italy
What I Saw
In the main theater of the Csiky Gergely, the stage consisted of many small stations on the sides: a microphone and costume rack stage right, and computer/monitor set up stage left, with a giant wall of what we discovered were empty water jugs stacked on top of each other.
The Word Father moved so fluidly it is hard to summarize everything I saw in order, but what proceeded was a series of many layers of visual, physical, and text-based stories that started with a series of emails between a father and a daughter, read in one language and translating into Italian (because the piece originates in Italy, most of the time one of the Italian actresses would be translating into Italian if another language was being spoken), and moved into six actresses from four countries, at first moving together, then illustrating communicating with one’s father while traveling, then dissecting the word father itself, which launched them into the meat of the piece: the connection between the father of the family and the father of the country of each of their upbringings in the communist era.
What followed was a back-and-forth of visual, physical, and narrative storytelling exploring Communism and each of their relationships to their fathers. Donning the suits of their fathers (much like in Parental Ctrl), the performers smash the water jug wall and turn those jugs into all sorts of illustrative sets for their stories, which invoke a wide range of childhood narratives: photo albums, Alexander the Great, being the perfect girl/woman, wearing beautiful clothes, and fishing all appear as the women wind and weave their way through story after story, moment after moment, untangling the tight knot of being a girl in a Communist/paternalistic society.
Water, toilet paper, and suitcases also play interweaving roles in the piece, with the jug wall being torn down and built up multiple times, all while the women continue talking, communing…the narration never stops, even for a moment, as though there is too much to say and not enough time to say it.
The show ends like it begins: with the women all together in a simple movement sequence, rocking back and forth on their feet, slowly shifting direction.
Watch The Trailer
Nuts and Bolts
Touring Cast Size: Cast of 5, 9 technicians, 7 escorts (21 total)
Minimum height/width/depth of stage: 5m, 10m, 10m
Load in time: 12 hours
Strike time: 2 hours
Cartage information: The whole set fits in one middle size truck.
Translation options: Eng subtitles available
Touring history: The international dimension is a fundamental part of the artistic identity of Koreja, with a special interest in the south East and the Mediterranean area. Koreja’s productions are presented in Albania, Armenia, Bolivia, Brazil, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, England, Ex-Yugoslavia, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Egypt, Iran, India, Lebanon, Macedonia, Malta, Montenegro, Nagorno Karabakh, Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey, Venezuela. In particular THE WORD FATHER has been presented 3 times in ROMANIA (Sibiu, BUcharest, Timisoara) one time in Albania, once in Croatia. We are planning next year to perform in Bulgaria and Macedonia.
Future performances: just Italy for the moment; at end of January, beginning of February
Available for touring from: 02/01/2017
Representation: Georgia Tramacere, tour manager, email@example.com, 0039 3285615054, via g. dorso 70 (LECCE-ITALY)
Writings and Reviews
A dynamic performance, six actress of high scenic impact, a poetic drama but of rather impetuous and sharp style, an harsh drama writing that revolves around the current dynamics of women at quest of their own distinctiveness. The individuality they are seeking can be successful only through a breakaway, through the negation of the identity of the father and the homeland (in Italian “padre” and “patria” share the same semantic root). These are overcome concepts already under the communism and the patriarchal society from which one can re-start with a defined nothing on the blackboard of History only with women power. Renzia d’Inca – RUMOR(S)CENA
The performance alternates powerful moments together with falls of tension […] among moving bodies, multilingual storytelling with simultaneous translation, lyric instants, screaming voices leaving the place to strong aphasias […] the young girls’ tales bring us in a maze of broken promises, with a striking need to be seen by their own father, among family fights, raped mothers, images of endured lives ( and famine) during communism […] the mute actions talk about pain, distress and a feminine way of the cross, about falls and courage. There is place also for thoughts about time and in-durability. At the end, true tears run down on the face of one actress while the audience applaud attentive and embarrassed frightened of hurting them even more. Surely the characters of irina (Bulgaria), Aleksandra (Poland), Simona (Macedonia) and of Alessandra, Anna Chiara, Maria Rosaria (Italy), in one and a half hour of performance, become familiar. We come back home with them as we reflect on present time that, thanks to live TV programs, force us every day to pen our eyes on the History, delivering to us voices of countries where to become Europe one can even be willing to die. Paola Carmignani – Giornale di Brescia
a very sophisticate linguistic operation but at the same time very effective from a theatrical point of view. It melts together Italian, English, Slavic languages subtitles and captions projected on a screen in a game of interactions and reflections that turns the six characters into an unique voice […]
The word “padre” [father] evokes memories of violence and abuse, freedom denial and lack of love. It generates pain for an inner emptiness where tears and rage come from.
The show proceeds between political considerations and psychoanalytic session into a scenography stage by Roberto Tarasco […] Intense and compelling the female interpreters action. Francesco de Leonardis – Bresciaoggi
The Gabriele Vacis’ narrative theatre gives to the “Teatro della Società di Lecco” audience a memory footprint below which lie six different stories. These six raw and cruel testimonies with a strongly nature through which six different young girls, form different countries, reveal memories close to “Padre” [Father] and “Patria” [Homeland] destroyed by centuries of war, violence, silence and betrayals.
The production is supported by Korejia […] To lead the journey of these six girls […] are the memories and the sad memories of daughters / not more daughters, memories of uncompromising and insensitive and fathers […] the drama is rich of music […] the word is used to evoke feelings and emotions and to denounce the homeland which has not kept the promises as well as the fathers […] the deep and sincere emotion of the six characters lead the audience to the listening […] “So! We have the duty not to omit the pain consciousness; we have the duty to hand down. Culture has this duty
Angelica Greppi – Sipario.it
[…] Six girls […] it’s impossible not to feel the urgent wish of word in their bodies ready to talk […] the first voice seems to belong to everyone and at the same time anyone […] you can’t understand immediately whether it is the story of one or the other but it’s sure that it belongs to every one of them. It’s the e-mail addressed to some fathers, written in the distance, probably into an airport waiting to leave for an elsewhere capable to separate from a fatherland that hasn’t fulfilled its promises. Similar terms, father and fatherland, as in the root as in the sense, and maybe particularly in the question of promising and betraying […]
The excellent synchrony among the girls reveals the semantic affinities, giving birth to a Babel – woman that doesn’t demolish but builds and, if she muddles up, she does it to build again […] The paradox and the irony able to melt the ice and push away the sorrow, live, in Vaci’s dramaturgy, with the soul’s lacerations while music emblematically beats the key moments of
a play long but fluid, giving back an adolescent dimension that keeps living in the background of the imaginary […] Paola Teresa Grassi (Krapp’s Last Post)
Anna Chiara, Ola, Simona, Irina, Alessandra e Maria Rosaria […] three of them were born under communism, the other three are children of the Italian Mezzogiorno. A great man of the theatre, Gabriele Vacis, put them together, […] going on launching new characters, exploring new directions. This last one brought him to Apulia, in Lecce, at Cantieri Teatrali Koreja. More than two months’ work to prepare a play, The Word Father […] it deals with the theme of the big communist experiment, a memory that quite everyone removed. The theme of the devastating lack of values opened to the long season of totalitarianism, but also of the present disappointments […] Aldo Cazzullo – IO DONNA 7th July 2012
Full of sense, identity and with expressive bodies, they are looking for a lost present, the six actresses (a Macedonian, a Bulgarian, a Polish and three Italians from South) on who Gabriele Vacis sewed The Word Father, the play branded Koreja […] it’s a human and harrowing play with pleas and father figures, disturbed affects not always received from the male intransigence. The cue seems to be a Kafkaesque Letter to His Father extended to a Babel of eastern and southern women, until the roots get connected with lyrics for the protective ex-communism […] Rodolfo di Giammarco- La Repubblica- 8 July 2012
[…] a difficult relationship with the father figure, whether concrete or ideal (Alexander the Great or Marshal Tito). The Word Father, a production of Koreja that avail of Salvatore Tramacere coordination, is a group self-therapy […] a wall made up of plastic transparent bottles waits for being broken then put up and broken again. It doesn’t symbolize just the Wall or other “walls” that still separate sexes, classes, economic systems; it brings to mind the starting totem, this paternal- proprietary figure – and implicitly divine – to be contested, destroyed, recomposed […] Italo Interresse – QUOTIDIANO di Bari- 30 October 2012
If Apulia was an actress she would act in many languages. It took a Turinese to prove it: Gabriele Vacis […] in this polyphony of experiences and traditions the six actresses tell about themselves, sometimes with irony, sometimes with tears and laments […] the strength of monologues lays on female bodies always in movement: acting, dance and singing continuously alternate […] every one of them get carried away from the rushing flow of memories, that suddenly spring impulsive reactions, almost irrational. As a scenic symbol of the mood of the six women there are 198 bottles, all empty. The protagonists use them to compose together geometrical structures, destined to be overturned when one of them fly into a rage. The action alternates phases of building and re-building, union and breaking […] and every break occur unpredictably, as unpredictable is the time in Glenn Gould variations of Bach influence, the sound - track that opens the play […] Because memories evoke feelings and feelings turn into verbal and corporeal actions […] Angelo Urgo – affaritaliani.it
[…] a sequence of stories told with anger, rancour, fear and hate, in a kind of scenic showdown where everyone expose and confess herself in a definitive last confrontation with her own father or her country, to succumb or get free […] Giuseppe Liotta - HYSTRIO
[…] a singular exercise of style and reflection that Gabriele Vacis wrote and directed under the aegis of the group Koreja, from Lecce […] languages, from the original ones to Italian that mix with them or English as support, spell out a didactic and narrative continuum, in which emerges above all this removed, deprecated, coveted relationship with an identitarian and often obtrusive father figure […] finally it’s time (time that elapsed both for fathers and their
daughters) to bring back the six components of the play to an intimate and personal dimension, where even the word father is declined with an economy of gestures and words, in the silence and in the shadow […] a play at times very intense, with explosions of energy and rhythm […] very talented and tight-knit the six actresses […] Pasquale Bellini – LA GAZZETTA DEL MEZZOGIORNO- 29 October 2012
[…] The Word Father is a descent, sometimes painful, in the daughter- father- fatherland relationship, with an autobiographical involvement where the family conflict becomes cause to underline the difference in gender and the betrayal of the globalized society…
Authentic infantile and adolescent memories pile up, delicate and pitiless, next to each other, one upon the other, into a thick textual weave […] Maria Teresa Suraniello Quaderni del Teatro di Roma- November 2012
With the performance The word father, written and directed by Gabriele Vacis, you return to the theme of generational conflict, here in the relationship between father and daughter, in a European-wide perspective, underlined by the subtitle, which translates to "father" in three different languages "ojcec, tatko, баща. "The show is appreciated for the originality of the drama, which relies on the narrative function in a plurality of voices, languages, expressive techniques [...] not secondary merit of the show is its flavor-truth, certainly due to a clever drama but also to the fact that, in the scene, we see attractive girls even fascinating, even if normal, genuine: very far from the character of the snowwoman that, unfortunately, is the model of aesthetic and behavioral legions of young girls; an ethical message that should not be underestimated[…] Claudio Facchinelli (Mittelfest 2014) - Corriere Spettacolo
Koreja is a theatre and a theatre company from 32 years, that works in the field of cultural and theatrical production and promotion producing performances for adult and children audience. Since 2003 it has been recognized as Permanent Theatre of Innovation, by an ordinance of the Ministry of Culture and since 2015 it has been recognized as Theatre production center, the only one in the region. Since 1985 up to today it has realized a lot of theatrical reviews and festivals with innovative characteristics, combining the production with the valorization of the cultural heritage.
The international dimension is a fundamental part of the artistic identity of Koreja, with a special interest in the south East and the Mediterranean area. Koreja’s productions are presented in Albania, Armenia, Bolivia, Brazil, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, England, Ex-Yugoslavia, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Egypt, Iran, India, Lebanon, Macedonia, Malta, Montenegro, Nagorno Karabakh, Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey, Venezuela.
Reflections from Susan
The curators of the festival placed this piece, The Word Father, directly after Parental Ctrl, and at first glance it almost seemed like they were just cramming all the “women’s pieces” into one day, but watching the one after the other, it felt more like an evolution. We were seeing both progression and regression: watching first a younger generation with their younger adult questions morph into an older generation of women whose suits literally fit better and who were making more mature artistic choices, but whose lives had been vastly different from the women we saw earlier in the day, which meant that the younger women were looking into the future while the older women were dwelling in the past, but on another level the second show was a glimpse into the kind of sophisticated work that the young women might be making in 10 years. So I’m giving a shout-out to that phenomenal curatorial choice.
The Word Father is hard to capture in a few paragraphs. The artistry of the show is sophisticated, layered, and communal. At times it feels unhinged and over-emotional, while those same moments are punctuated with sharp self-effacing understanding that reaches to all levels of metaphor in content and design (at one point there is this line of text: “The women in this production never stop crying.”).
The performers, working in collaboration with director Gabriele Vacis, take the obvious connection between the word “father,” and the concept of a Communist father-figure and weave together stories, movement, and tableaus with a few striking types of objects that seem to create an endless series of visual metaphors. Like the best work I saw at the festival, the creators of this piece clearly have a sophisticated understanding of the relationship between dramaturgical and physical structure, and between dramaturgical structure and content.
By constantly layering together the women bonding over the commonalities of their communist childhoods with individual stories of fathers, ranging from loving to traumatic, from longing to delighted to raging, the piece reaches for something beyond the understanding that women seem to have globally: that most of our governing systems are based off the patriarchal family structure, and that women are asked as mothers (both literal and in the patriotic sense) to be complicit in those establishments and be the negotiators with those who try to rise up against them. There are moments of brilliant levity (there is an impossible-to-describe moment of visual and narrative storytelling that involves a spa, Wuthering Heights, and the movie Shrek), and moments that touched the hardest-to-articulate nerves of women (a lament that not having ever been raped, the performer is not allowed to be crazy, as though it is only through rape that women have permission to be disobedient).
But ultimately, the piece relies on and grounds itself in the relationship between fathers and daughters. The last few minutes of the piece are spent in a series of movement sequences peppered with questions about aging, meant both to embarrass and to discover, capped by a final monologue in which one of the women, recently turned 35, now half her father’s age, and comparing the past and present: her father at her age, and now she wondering what she’ll be like at his age, leaving for the audience to finish the sentence of what her (and therefore our) father will be like when she is his age now. It is ultimately this grounding in the humanness of our seemingly superhuman fathers (and governmental fathers) that made this show one of my favorites of the festival.
Though much of the humor and meaning of the piece relies on basic knowledge of Communism, I think American audiences would certainly be able to relate to the deeper metaphors of the piece, and certainly to the gender explorations of it. While a huge piece to tour, this company, Koreja Theatre, is one to put on the American map, and this piece would find an audience in many places in the States.