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The Futurist Synthetic Theatre

by F.T. Marinetti, Emilio Settimelli, Bruno Corr
18th February 1915

As we await our much prayed-for great war, we Futurists carry our violent antineutralist action from city square to university and back again, using our art to prepare the Italian sensibility for the great hour of maximum danger. Italy must be fearless, eager, as swift and elastic as a fencer, as indifferent to blows as a boxer, as impassive at the news of a victory that may have cost fifty-thousand dead as at the news of a defeat.

For Italy to learn to make up its mind with lightning speed, to hurl itself into battle, to sustain every undertaking and every possible calamity, books and reviews are unnecessary. They interest and concern only a minority, are more or less tedious, obstructive, and relaxing. They cannot help chilling enthusiasm, aborting impulses, and poisoning with doubt a people at war. War--Futurism intensified--obliges us to march and not to rot [marciare, non marcire] in libraries and reading rooms. THEREFORE WE THINK THAT THE ONLY WAY TO INSPIRE ITALY WITH THE WARLIKE SPIRIT TODAY IS THROUGH THE THEATRE. In fact ninety percent of Italians go to the theatre, whereas only ten percent read books and reviews. But what is needed is a FUTURIST THEATRE, completely opposed to the passeist theatre that drags its monotonous, depressing processions around the sleepy Italian stages.

Not to dwell on the historical theatre, a sickening genre already abandoned by the passeist public, we condemn the whole contemporary theatre because it is too prolix, analytic, pedantically psychological, explanatory, diluted, finicking, static, as full of prohibitions as a police station, as cut up into cells as a monastery, as moss-grown as an old abandoned house. In other words it is a pacifistic, neutralist theatre, the antithesis of the fierce, overwhelming, synthesizing velocity of the war.

Our Futurist Theatre will be:

Synthetic. That is, very brief. To compress into a few minutes, into a few words and gestures, innumerable situations, sensibilities, ideas, sensations, facts, and symbols.

The writers who wanted to renew the theatre (Ibsen, Maeterlinck, Andreyev, Claudel, Shaw) never thought of arriving at a true synthesis, of freeing themselves from a technique that involves prolixity, meticulous analysis, drawn-out preparation. Before the works of these authors, the audience is in the indignant attitude of a circle of bystanders who swallow their anguish and pity as they watch the slow agony of a horse who has collapsed on the pavement. The sigh of applause that finally breaks out frees the audience's stomach from all the indigestible time it has swallowed. Each act is as painful as having to wait patiently in an antichamber for the minister (coup de theatre: kiss, pistol shot, verbal revelation, etc.) to receive you. All this passeist or semi-Futurist theatre, instead of synthesizing fact and idea in the smallest number of words and gestures, savagely destroys the variety of place (source of dynamism and amazement), stuffs many city squares, landscapes, streets, into the sausage of a single room. For this reason this theatre is entirely static.

We are convinced that mechanically, by force of brevity, we can achieve an entirely new theatre perfectly in tune with our swift and laconic Futurist sensibility. Our acts can also be moments [atti-- attimi] only a few seconds long. With this essential and synthetic brevity the theatre can bear and even overcome competition from the cinema.

Atechnical. The passeist theatre is the literary form that most distorts and diminishes an author's talent. This form, much more than Iyric poetry or the novel, is subject to the demands of technique: (1) to omit every notion that doesn't conform to public taste; (2) once a theatrical idea has been found (expressible in a few pages), to stretch it out over two, three or four acts; (3) to surround an interesting character with many pointless types: coatholders, door-openers, all sorts of bizarre comic turns; (4) to make the length of each act vary between half and three-quarters of an hour; (5) to construct each act taking care to (a) begin with seven or eight absolutely useless pages, (b) introduce a tenth of your idea in the first act, five-tenths in the second, four-tenths in the third, (c) shape your acts for rising excitement, each act being no more than a preparation for the finale, (d) always make the first act a little boring so that the second can be amusing and the third devouring; (6) to set off every essential line with a hundred or more insignificant preparatory lines; (7) never to devote less than a page to explaining an entrance or an exit minutely; (8) to apply systematically to the whole play the rule of a superficial variety, to the acts, scenes, and lines. For instance, to make one act a day, another an evening, another deep night; to make one act pathetic, another anguished, another sublime; when you have to prolong a dialogue between two actors, make something happen to interrupt it, a falling vase, a passing mandolin player... Or else have the actors constantly move around from sitting to standing, from right to left, and meanwhile vary the dialogue to make it seem as if a bomb might explode outside at any moment (e.g., the betrayed husband might catch his wife red-handed) when actually nothing is going to explode until the end of the act; (9) to be enormously careful about the verisimilitude of the plot; (10) to write your play in such a manner that the audience understands in the finest detail the how and why of everything that takes place on the stage, above all that it knows by the last act how the protagonists will end up.

With our synthesist movement in the theatre, we want to destroy the Technique that from the Greeks until now, instead of simplifying itself, has become more and more dogmatic, stupid, logical, meticulous, pedantic, strangling. THEREFORE:

1. It's stupid to write one hundred pages where one would do, only because the audience through habit and infantile instinct wants to see character in a play result from a series of events, wants to fool itself into thinking that the character really exists in order to admire the beauties of Art, meanwhile refusing to acknowledge any art if the author limits himself to sketching out a few of the character's traits.

2. It's stupid not to rebel against the prejudice of theatricality when life itself (which consists of actions vastly more awkward, uniform, and predictable than those which unfold in the world of art) is for the most part antitheatrical and even in this offers innumerable possibilities for the stage. EVERYTHING OF ANY VALUE IS THEATRICAL.

3. It's stupidto pander to the primitivism of the crowd, which, in the last analysis, wants to see the bad guy lose and the good guy win.

4. It's stupid to worry about verisimilitude (absurd because talent and worth have little to do with it).

5. It's stupid to want to explain with logical minuteness everything taking place on the stage, when even in life one never grasps an event entirely, in all its causes and consequences, because reality throbs around us, bombards us with squalls of fragments of interconnected events, mortised and tenoned together, confused, mixed up, chaotic. E.g., it's stupid to act out a contest between two persons always in an orderly, clear, and logical way, since in daily life we nearly always encounter mere flashes of argument made momentary by our modern experience, in a tram, a cafe, a railway station, which remain cinematic in our minds like fragmentary dynamic symphonies of gestures, words, lights, and sounds.

6. It's stupid to submit to obligatory crescendi, prepared effects, and postponed climaxes.

7. It's stupid to allow one's talent to be burdened with the weight of a technique that anyone (even imbeciles) can acquire by study, practice, and patience.

8. IT'S STUPID TO RENOUNCE THE DYNAMIC LEAP IN THE VOID OF TOTAL CREATION, BEYOND THE RANGE OF TERRITORY PREVIOUSLY EXPLORED.

Dynamic, simultaneous. That is, born of improvisation, lightning-like intuition, from suggestive and revealing actuality. We believe that a thing is valuable to the extent that it is improvised (hours, minutes, seconds), not extensively prepared (months, years, centuries).

We feel an unconquerable repugnance for desk work, a priori, that fails to respect the ambience of the theatre itself. THE GREATER NUMBER OF OUR WORKS HAVE BEEN WRITTEN IN THE THEATRE. The theatrical ambience is our inexhaustible reservoir of inspirations: the magnetic circular sensation invading our tired brains during morning rehearsal in an empty gilded theatre; an actor's intonation that suggests the possibility of constructing a cluster of paradoxical thoughts on top of it; a movement of scenery that hints at a symphony of lights; an actress' fleshiness that fills our minds with genially full-bodied notions.

We overran Italy at the head of a heroic battalion of comedians who imposed on audiences Electricita and other Futurist syntheses (alive yesterday, today surpassed and condemned by u's) that were revolutions imprisoned in auditoriums.--From the Politeama Garibaldi of Palermo to the Dal Verme of Milan. The Italian theatres smoothed the wrinkles in the raging massage of the crowd and rocked with bursts of volcanic laughter. We fraternized with the actors. Then, on sleepless nights in trains, we argued, goading each other to heights of genius to the rhythm of tunnels and stations. Our Futurist theatre jeers at Shakespeare but pays attention to the gossip of actors, is put to sleep by a line from Ibsen but is inspired by red or green reflections from the stalls. WE ACHIEVE AN ABSOLUTE DYNAMISM THROUGH THE INTERPENETRATION OF DIFFERENT ATMOSPHERES AND TIMES. E.g., whereas in a drama like Piu che L'Amore [D'Annunzio], the important events (for instance, the murder of the gambling house keeper) don't take place on the stage but are narrated with a complete lack of dynamism; in the first act of La Figlia di Jorio D'Annunzio] the events take place against a simple background with no jumps in space or time; and in the Futurist synthesis, Simultaneita, there are two ambiences that interpenetrate and many different times put into action simultaneously.

Autonomous, alogical, unreal. The Futurist theatrical synthesis will not be subject to logic, will pay no attention to photography; it will be autonomous, will resemble nothing but itself, although it will take elements from reality and combine them as its whim dictates. Above all, just as the painter and composer discover, scattered through the outside world, a narrower but more intense life, made up of colors, forms, sounds, and noises, the same is true for the man gifted with theatrical sensibility, for whom a specialized reality exists that violently assaults his nerves: it consists of what is called THE THEATRICAL WORLD.

THE FUTURIST THEATRE IS BORN OF THE TWO MOST VITAL CURRENTS in the Futurist sensibility, defined in the two manifestoes: "The Variety Theatre" and "Weights, Measures, and Prices of Artistic Genius," which are: (1) our frenzied passion for real, swift, elegant, complicated, cynical, muscular, fugitive, Futurist life, (2) our very modern cerebral definition of art according to which no logic, no tradition, no aesthetic, no technique, no opportunity can be imposed on the artist's natural talent; he must be preoccupied only with creating synthetic expressions of cerebral energy that have THE ABSOLUTE VALUE OF NOVELTY.

The Futurist theatre will be able to excite its audience, that is make it forget the monotony of daily life, by sweeping it through a labyrinth of sensations imprinted on the most exacerbated originality and combined in unpredictable ways.

Every night the Futurist theatre will be a gymnasium to train our race's spirit to the swift, dangerous enthusiasms made necessary by this Futurist year.

 

CONCLUSIONS

1. TOTALLY ABOLISH THE TECHNIQUE THAT IS KILLING THE PASSEIST THEATRE.

2. DRAMATIZE ALL THE DISCOVERIES (no matter how unlikely, weird, and antitheatrical) THAT OUR TALENT IS DISCOVERING IN THE SUBCONSCIOUS, IN ILL-DEFINED FORCES, IN PURE ABSTRACTION, IN THE PURELY CEREBRAL, THE PURELY FANTASTIC, IN RECORD-SETTING AND BODY-MADNESS (E.g., Vengono, F. T. Marinetti's first drama of objects, a new vein of theatrical sensibility discovered by Futurism.)

3. SYMPHONIZE THE AUDIENCE'S SENSIBILITY BY EXPLORING IT, STIRRING UP ITS LAZIEST LAYERS WITH EVERY MEANS POSSIBLE; ELIMINATE THE PRECONCEPTION OF THE FOOTLIGHTS BY THROWING NETS OF SENSATION BETWEEN STAGE AND AUDIENCE; THE STAGE ACTION WILL INVADE THE ORCHESTRA SEATS, THE AUDIENCE.

4. FRATERNIZE WARMLY WITH THE ACTORS WHO ARE AMONG THE FEW THINKERS WHO FLEE FROM EVERY DEFORMING CULTURAL ENTERPRISE.

5. ABOLISH THE FARCE, THE VAUDEVILLE, THE SKETCH, THE COMEDY, THE SERIOUS DRAMA, AND TRAGEDY, AND CREATE IN THEIR PLACE THE MANY FORMS OF FUTURIST THEATRE, SUCH AS: LINES WRITTEN IN FREE WORDS, SIMULTANEITY, COMPENETRATION, THE SHORT, ACTED-OUT POEM, THE DRAMATIZED SENSATION, COMIC DIALOGUE, THE NEGATIVE ACT, THE REECHOING LINE, "EXTRA-LOGICAL" DISCUSSION, SYNTHETIC DEFORMATION, THE SCIENTIFIC OUTBURST THAT CLEARS THE AIR.

6. THROUGH UNBROKEN CONTACT, CREATE BETWEEN US AND THE CROWD A CURRENT OF CONFIDENCE RATHER THAN RESPECTFULNESS, IN ORDER TO INSTILL IN OUR AUDIENCES THE DYNAMIC VIVACITY OF A NEW FUTURIST THEATRICALITY.

These are the first words on the theatre. Our first eleven theatrical syntheses (by Marinetti, Settimelli, Bruno Corra, R. Chiti, Balilla Pratella) were victoriously imposed on crowded theatres in Ancona, Bologna, Padua, Naples, Venice, Verona, Florence, and Rome, by Ettore Berti, Zoncada, and Petrolini. In Milan we soon shall have the great metal building, enlivened by all the electromechanical inventions, which alone will permit us to realize our most free conceptions on the stage.

 

The Plays


UMBERTO BOCCIONI

Bachelor Apartment / La Garconniere

THEATRICAL SYNTHESIS

Idiotic interior of an elegant youth's bachelor apartment--prints on the walls, a very low divan, several vases of flowers, as in all bachelor apartments. A newly-acquired painting is in front of the divan on an easel.

THE YOUTH (listening eagerly near the door): Here we are! (Opens it.) Good morning!... How are you?

THE WOMAN (advancing, with a certain reserve): Good morning. (Looking around her.) It's nice in here...

THE YOUTH (with fervor): How beautiful you are! Very elegant! Thank you for coming... I doubted...

THE WOMAN: Why? Where is the painting? I came to see it.

THE YOUTH: It s this one. (He takes her by the hand and conducts her in front of the painting. While THE WOMAN looks at it squinting, THE YOUTH takes her in his arms and kisses the nape of her neck.)

THE WOMAN (struggling energetically): Sir! What are you thinking of?... These are really cowardly...

THE YOUTH: Excuse me. (He grasps her again forcefully and speaks close to her mouth.) You are very beautiful! You are mine! You must be mine! . .

THE WOMAN (struggling in a way that makes her seem serious): Sir! Leave me alone!... I'll call for someone! I am a respectable woman!... Leave me alone!

THE YOUTH (mortified, letting her go): You are right. I ask your pardon... I don't know what I am doing... I will leave you.

THE WOMAN: Open the door for me! I want to get out of here!

THE YOUTH (going to open the door): Go!

(With this word, THE WOMAN lets her fur coat fall, and appears in black silk panties, with her bosom, shoulders, and arms nude. With coquetry and modesty, she runs to crouch on the divan.)

THE WOMAN: You are timid, after all... Turn that painting, and come here! . .

(1)The formal you ("voi") is used throughout this sintesi, instead of the more familiar form, ’tu’--Trans.


PAOLO BUZZI

The Futurist Prize / Il Premio di Futurismo

THEATRICAL SYNTHESIS

A hall that could be in an Academy. A jury table, a presidential bench. Behind the President's head is a bust that could be that of F. T. Marinetti.

PRESIDENT: Honorable colleagues! And now it is a question of assigning the Futurist Prize. A Blériot "airplane" of the latest model that, as you know, is good for breaking all records,of operation, height, and speed. There are a good many competitors. Poets, painters, sculptors, musicians, architects

1ST JURY MEMBER: I propose a poet. We must reward the audacious free trading of these human eagles* giving them the means really to really fly with proper wings.
[The word "aquila" in Italian can also mean "genius."]

2ND MEMBER: I propose, instead, a painter. Imagine the treasures of plastic dynamism that these devils should know how to discover up there with 8 palette!

3RD MEMBER: No, no, I propose a sculptor. Think what modelings of spaces by spirals, what bridges between plastic exterior infinity and interior could be created by a Michelangelo of the atmospheres!

4TH MEMBER: I suggest, instead, a musician. Enharmonics can only be fully conquered 8,000 meters from the ground.

5TH MEMBER: And I am for an architect. The building plan for a future city can only be studied there where the points of the skyscraper's groins reach.

PRESIDENT: Well? Let's decide. The first thing is to vote by secret ballot. Let's first vote for the genus of candidate. Then let's vote for the species, or in other words, for the names.

USHER: Very distinguished gentlemen, here is a new candidate. He asserts that the announcement of the contest did not have a category for the presentation of titles; and since he comes from far away and was unable to hasten his steps...

1ST MEMBER: Ah, for a Futurist... !

USHER: Thus, he asks to be admitted equally to the contest.

2ND MEMBER: And the titles?

USHER: He says he will present them himself, in person.

3RD MEMBER: I quickly withdraw my unfavorable prejudice.

4TH MEMBER: And 1, mine.

5TH MEMBER: And I associate myself with both my colleagues.

PRESIDENT: Good, let's see him.

ARTIFICIAL MAN (enters with slow steps): Honorable sirs, I declare myself to be the most artificial man in the world. I have a cork leg, 8 plaited-rope arm, a rubber ear, a glass eye, and if this is not enough, a wig...

PRESIDENT: And you aspire, for this, to the Futurist Prize?

ARTIFICIAL MAN: Certainly. I was reduced thus by an explosion in a workshop in which I did chemical research into the basis of nitroglycerin... and of prussic acid...

PRESIDENT: What do you say to this? Honorable colleagues?

MEMBERS (unanimously): He wins the prize, by acclamation.

CURTAIN


UMBERTO BOCCIONI

The Body That Ascends / Il Corpo che Sale

An ordinary room on the second floor of o forge apartment building. At the bock, o forge open window.

SECOND-FLOOR TENANT (he is sitting in on armchair near the window, smoking. He springs up suddenly when an elongated body posses rapidly in front of the window going upward from below. Shouting, he leans out the window and looks up. Meanwhile, he hears his doorbell ring. He runs to open it.): Oh God! Hello! Run! Have you seen it! A body rose from the street...

THIRD-FLOOR TENANT (entering breathlessly): You saw it too??!! A kind of gray cloud passed, grazing my window... I live on the third floor.

FIRST-FLOOR TENANT (arriving) : I have gone crazy, or the super-natural is present!... Something passed in front of my window on the first floor... a solid, hairy body that rose dizzily!...

FOURTH-FLOOR TENANT (entering terrified and clinging to the furniture): Me too, I saw it also! But it seemed to me like a soft body, like liquid!...

FIRST-FLOOR TENANT: But no! It was long and hairy!

THIRD-FLOOR TENANT: No! No! No! I assure you... It was evanescent like a gas...

SECOND-FLOOR TENANT: The concierge would have seen it. . call him.

THE OTHERS (in chorus): Yes! Yes! Let s call him! Concierge! . Concierge!...

(THE CONCIERGE enters.)

ALL THE TENANTS (with great confusion'): Have you seen it? Have you seen it? What rose from the street?

THE CONCIERGE (calm, with a smile of compassion): Calm yourselves! Calm yourselves! It's nothing extraordinary! It is the young woman on the fifth floor who every day sucks up her lover with her glance... of course, he doesn't go up the stairs, that dirty pig! I maintain the honor of the building!

CURTAIN


UMBERTO BOCCIONI

Genius and Culture / Genio e Coltura

In the centre a costly dressing table with a mirror in front of which a very elegant WOMAN, already dressed to leave finishes putting on rouge. At the right a CRITIC, an ambiguous being neither dirty nor clean neither old nor young neutral is sitting at a table overburdened with books and papers on which shines a large paper knife neither modern nor antique. He turns his shoulder to the dressing table. At left the ARTIST, an elegant youth searches in a large file sitting on thick cushions on the floor.

THE ARTIST (leaving the file and with his head between his hands): It's terrible! (Pause.) I must get out of here! To be renewed! (He gets up tearing the abstract designs from the file with convulsive hands.) Liberation!! These empty forms, worn out. Everything is fragmentary, weak! Oh! Art!... who, who will help me!? (He looks around; continues to tear up the designs with sorrowful and convulsive motions.)

(THE WOMAN is very near him but doesn't hear him. The CRITIC becomes annoyed but not very and going near her takes a book with a yellow jacket.)

THE CRITIC (half-asking the WOMAN, and half-talking to himself): But what's the matter with that clown that he acts and shouts that way?

THE WOMAN (without looking): Oh well, he is an artist... he wants to renew himself, and he hasn't a cent!

THE CRITIC (bewildered): Strange! An artist! Impossible! For twenty years I have profoundly studied this marvelous phenomenon, but I can't recognize it. (Obviously with archeological curiosity.) That one is crazy! Or a protester! He wants to change! But creation is a serene thing. A work of art is done naturally, in silence, and in recollection, like a nightingale sings... Spirit, in the sense that Hegel means spirit...

THE WOMAN (intrigued): And if you know how it is done, why don't you tell him? Poor thing! He is distressed...

THE CRITIC (strutting): For centuries, the critic has told the artist how to make a work of art... Since ethics and aesthetics are functions of the spirit...

THE WOMAN: But you, you've never made any?

THE CRITIC (nonplused): Me?... Not me!

THE WOMAN (laughing with malice): Well, then, you know how to do it, but you don't do it. You are neutral. How boring you must be in bed! (She continues putting on her rouge.)

THE ARTIST (always walking back and forth sorrowfully wringing his hands): Glory! Ah! Glory! (Tightening his fists.) I am strong! I am young! I can face anything! Oh! Divine electric lights... sun... To electrify the crowds... Burn them! Dominate them!

THE WOMAN (looking at him with sympathy and compulsion): Poor thing! Without any money...

THE ARTIST (struck): Ah! I am wounded! I can't resist any longer! (Toward the WOMAN, who doesn't hear him.) Oh! A woman! (Toward the CRITIC, who has already taken and returned a good many books and who leafs through them and cuts them.) You! You, sir, who are a man, listen... Help me!

THE CRITIC: Calm down... let's realize the differences. I am not a man, I am a critic. I am a man of culture. The artist is a man, a slave, a baby, therefore, he makes mistakes. I don't see myself as being like him. In him nature is chaos. The critic and history are between nature and the artist. History is history, in other words subjective fact, that is to say fact, in other words history. Anyway it is itself objective.

(At these words the ARTIST, who has listened in a stupor falls on the cushions as if struck by lightning. The CRITIC, unaware of this turns and goes slowly to the table to consult his books.)

THE WOMAN (getting up dumbfounded): My God! That poor youth is dying! (She kneels in front of the ARTIST and caresses him kindly.)

THE ARTIST (reviving): Oh! Signora! Thank you! Oh! Love... maybe love... (Revives more and more.) How beautiful you are! Listen... Listen to me... If you know what a terrible thing the struggle is without love! I want to love, understand?

THE WOMAN (pulling away from him): My friend, I understand you... but now I haven't time. I must go out... I am expected by my friend. It is dangerous... He is a man ... that is to say, he has a secure position...

THE CRITIC (very embarrassed): What's going on? I don't understand anything...

THE WOMAN (irritated): Shut up, idiot! You don't understand anything... Come! Help me to lift him! We must cut this knot that is choking his throat!

THE CRITIC (very embarrassed): Just a minute...

(He carefully lays down the books and puts the others aside on the chair.) Hegel... Kant... Hartmann... Spinoza.

THE WOMAN (goes near the youth, crying irritably): Run!... come here, help me to unfasten it.

THE CRITIC (nonplused): What are you saying?

THE WOMAN: Come over here! Are you afraid! Hurry... back here there is an artist who is dying because of an ideal.

THE CRITIC (coming closer with extreme prudence): But one never knows! An impulse... a passion... without control... without culture... in short, I prefer him dead. The artist must be... (He stumbles, and falls clumsily on the ARTIST, stabbing his neck with the paper knife.)

THE WOMAN (screaming and getting up): Idiot! Assassin! You have killed him. You are red with blood!

THE CRITIC (getting up, still more clumsily: I, Signora? How?! I don't understand... Red? Red? Yours is a case of color blindness.

THE WOMAN: Enough! Enough! (Returns to her dressing table.) It is late. I must go! (Leaving.) Poor youth! He was different and likable! (Exits.)

THE CRITIC: I can't find my bearings! (Looks attentively and long at the dead ARTIST.) Oh my God! He is dead! (Going over to look at him.) The artist is really dead! Ah... he is breathing. I will make a monograph. (He goes slowly to his table. From a case, he takes a beard a meter long and applies it to his chin. He puts on his glasses, takes paper and pencil, then looks among his books without finding anything. He is irritated for the first time and pounds his fists, shouting.) Aesthetics! Aesthetics! Where is Aesthetics? (Finding it, he passionately holds a large volume to his chest.) Ah! Here it is! (Skipping, he goes to crouch like a raven near the dead ARTIST. He looks at the body, and writes, talking in a loud voice.) Toward 1915, a marvelous artist blossomed... (He takes a tape measure from his pocket and measures the body.) Like all the great ones, he was 1.68 [meters] tall, and his width... (While he talks, the curtain falls)


PAOLO BUZZI

Parallelepiped / Parallelepipedo

THEATRICAL SYNTHESIS

An empty room. On the floor, a mattress in a parallelepiped form. On one side, a taut curtain.

LADY IN BLACK (enters accompanied by a POET, occupant of the room): But let's understand each other. I am not a woman who comes to a young man's bachelor apartment. I am a curious intellectual coming to see the house of an enigmatic poet.

POET: Good heavens, of course! It's natural!

LADY (looking around her): Where do you write?

POET: On the floor.

LADY: Where do you eat?

POET: On the floor.

LADY (looking at the mattress): And you sleep on the floor, very simple, but what a bizarre form your bed has!

POET: Parallelepiped.

LADY (noticing the curtain): And behind that curtain... the toilet?!

POET: Furniture.

LADY (with surprise, ironically): You have furniture?

POET: Parallelepiped. (He pulls the curtain back; a straight, rigid, upright bier can be seen. He opens the cover by the hinges like a door of a closet. Inside one sees a hat, coat, and a pair of pants hanging up, and a pair of shoes at the bottom.) As long as I stay on my feet, it also stays on its feet. When I sleep, I use only the bottom: it's soft, as you can see. (Points to the mattress.)

LADY: You are right. It is a very bizarre thing... and this mattress?

POET: Deliciously soft.

LADY: Wool? Moss?

POET: Hair. Woman's hair. The hair of all my women.

LADY: You don't say! You plucked them well, your little hens!

POET (with sudden ardor, hugs the LADY around her waist): I have been waiting for the day to pluck an eagle.

LADY (in an imperial manner): Stop there. I am the one who will pluck you! (Goes to close the door.) Now, you must do everything that I want! (Leads him near the upright bier, from which she takes the hat, coat, pants, and shoes)

POET: Command!

LADY (as if exercising a hypnotic power over the man): Carry it!

(He places the bier horizontally on the floor.)

POET: And then?

LADY: And then, thus. (She makes him put the mattress in the bier.)

POET: And then?

LADY: And then, I AM DEATH. So let's hear no more! You must get in there.

POET (with a last glimmer of hope): With you?

LADY: You will see!

(The man gets in the bier and falls as if struck. The woman closes the lid, turns the key, and puts it in her pocket, leaving silently.)


FRANCESCO CANGIULLO

The Lady-Killer and the Four Seasons / ll Donnaiuolo e le 4 Stagioni

SYNTHESIS OF TWENTY YEARS OF LOVE

(I am sorry but I absolutely cannot give the names of the characters--and it is also necessary to forbid the actor-manager to give them.)

Neutral stage--side and back entrances--three seconds after the curtain rises a SCHOOLGIRL in uniform enters from the left, reading a small book, Month of Mary [A missal and appointment book]. With her eyes on the book, she comes slowly forward to the stage apron. A sacred picture falls from the pages. With great simplicity she picks it up and places it back between the pages. She begins to read again, remains in front of the footlights until the end.

After ten seconds, a BATHER enters from the rear. Of course she is in a swimming suit; blue trunks, sailor's blouse. Wearing a life jacket, the BATHER swims until the end always in a circumscribed space reserved for her on the stage.

After ten seconds a WIDOW also enters from the back, bringing in a tomb furnished with a wreath and lighted church candles. Arranging it with the back almost in the right corner, she kneels and bows her head and remains motionless like someone who is being photographed at length from behind.

After ten seconds, a BRIDE enters from the right, with her face hidden in a bent arm. She is dressed in white satin, with a long veil, and a garland of orange flowers around her head. Timidly she comes forward to the apron and remains there until the end.

After twenty seconds, a very chic LADY-KILLER bursts in from the back with great ease, smoking a cigarette. Nimbly and very selfconfidentIy he throws himself on the edge of the stage apron, spreads his arms out with great openness to the audience, encases his head in his upper arms (the actor will remember Renato Simoni at the fourth curtain call) and, with a diplomatic smile, he fixes the whole audience with a sweeping and precise glance--then says:

Voila!

and agilely draws back electrically on his toes.

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FRANCESCO CANGIULLO

The Paunch of the Vase / La Pancia del Vaso

THEATRICAL SYNTHESIS

Act I

The laboratory of a scientist. In the middle, a cluttered table on which a glass vase is seen. Seated at the table, the SCIENTIST, with the eyes of an idiot, mummified, looks through the paunch of the vase. Immobility of the surroundings. After three minutes--

CURTAIN

Act 2

Repeat Act 1 identically.

Act 3

Like the first and second acts, except shot: a minute after the curtain rises, I come out... with a cudgel, I split the head of the SCIENTIST who, very coldly, without losing his composure, his eyes still staring at the paunch of the glass vase, says to me:

SCIENTIST: Would you please leave me your visiting card...

(I throw it on the table, light a cigarette, and exit.) (A minute later, without hurrying, the SCIENTIST rings a bell.)

(TYPIST appears.)

SCIENTIST (always intent): Sew up my head and wrap it up well...

(TYPIST takes the materials, disinfects them, sews, wraps his big head until she covers his eyes.)

SCIENTIST (hasn't moved): Sit down, write.

(TYPIST sitting at the typewriter.)

SCIENTIST (looks as best he can at the visiting card; then says, turning to the glass vase): Signor Francesco Cangiullo, paragraph, Sirignano district, comma, Naples, Italy, in parenthesis. Dear Sir, comma, and paragraph, Italians, comma, especially Neapolitans, comma, are always very generous, period. Therefore, comma, I will be eternally grateful for this, comma, dear sir, comma, that you split my head rather than the glass vase, period and paragraph. With regards, comma, your...

(TYPIST takes the letter to be signed.)

(SCIENTIST looks at it with what are left of his eyes and signs.)

(TYPIST leaves with the letter.)

(SCIENTIST turns, amazed and blind toward his glass vase.)



FRANCESCO CANGIULlO

Detonation / Detonazione

SYNTHESIS OF ALL MODERN THEATRE

CHARACTER

A BULLET

Road at night, cold, deserted.

A minute of silence.--A gunshot.

CURTAIN

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