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Orchids

Pippo Delbono
Orchidee
Italy 2013 / 106’

Pippo Delbono's innovative show takes the form of a public confession that eventually turns into a manifesto. Screams go hand in hand with whispers, pathos with humor, ecstatic dance is transformed into complete paralysis. Delbono is a master of combining opposites. In his world, everything is turned upside down, "the living are definitely already dead, and there are among us breathing corpses." This is a hybrid show made up of performance art, pantomime, projections of episodes from feature and documentary films, with fragments of classical operas and Shakespeare's plays at the helm, regional dialects and songs, and bold attempts to close the distance between the stage and the audiences. A desperate, rebellious element envelops the stage and tries to expand beyond its limits (the director has said that he dreams of a theater where the spectators get up from their seats and start dancing). Delbono is also the narrator this time - funny, sometimes sarcastic, full of passion and erudition, but also distracted and disgruntled. His monologues feature a sense of longing for love and his beloved, deceased mother. Although Delbono ultimately wishes everyone "a good time," he also asks about exactly what these words mean. Theater is, after all, a "meeting between people; at that point in time, nothing else matters." But why - both in life and in theater - do we still pass each other by? Orchidstries to apply the director's personal relationship to "artistic reality," a reality that is simply incapable of knowing itself when it is true and honest, and when it is artificial (which we are reminded of by the eponymous orchids).

Diana Dąbrowska

Pippo Delbono

As an Italian stage and film director, actor, screenwriter, writer, and producer, Pippo Delbono is regarded as one of the most interesting artists in contemporary European theater. The founder of the Compagnia Pippo Delbono creative collective, he was born in 1959 in the town of Varazze in the region of Liguria. While attending high school, he met Argentine actor Pepe Robledo, a member of Libre Teatro Libre, and they moved to Denmark together in the early 1980s. The young Delbono studied acting with the Farfa artistic group under the guidance of stage actress Iben Nagel Rasmussen from the Odin Teatret. He traveled the world, visiting China and India, among other places. He returned to Italy in the mid-1980s. He made his debut as a theater director with Season for Assassins (Il tempo degli Assassins, 1987). One of the most important meetings of his creative life took place that same year when he joined Pina Bausch and her Wuppertaler Tanztheater for one show. The legendary German choreographer taught him the power that dance can have on stage. Indeed, dance has been one of the constant elements in Delbono's repertoire, having first appeared in The Wall (Il muro, 1992). That same year, he made the only adaptation of a stage play in his entire career, Henry V (Enrico V), in which he played the title role.

Delbono's work is characterized by its "totality," hybridity, use of counterpoints, and thorough reinterpretation. In honor of the late master of Italian cinema Pier Paolo Pasolini, he made Anger (La rabbia, 1995), which was followed by one of his most acclaimed works, Homeless (I Barboni, 1997). The latter play saw the very first appearance of one of his favorite collaborators, the deaf-mute Bobo. In 1998, his company added a former tramp named Nelson Laricci and one of his mother's students, a boy with Down syndrome named Gianluca Ballarè. His subsequent projects became much more complex, particularly in terms of logistics, with as many as 40 actors on stage at once, as inIthaca (Itaca, 1998). Her bjiit premiered at the Biennale in Venice in 1995, a time when the composition of his theater company was starting to solidify.

Delbono combines his private and artistic lives, using his memories, real-life events, and family issues as material for his plays and films. As an artist, he is literally and figuratively stripped down in front of his audiences. Breaking conventions and taboos, he speaks openly about his sexual orientation and his disease. His troupe is extremely diverse. Delbono rejects the label "social theater": the physical and mental differences of his colleagues are a metaphor for his artistic activities and philosophy.

As a director, he is known for his unusual combinations of images and songs. In the case of Plastic People(Gente di plastica, 2002), for example, he combines fragments from Sarah Kane's poetic testament with music by Frank Zappa. In 2006, he made the autobiographical Scream (Grido), for which he received a number of awards both in Italy and abroad. In 2009, he used a mobile phone to shoot the avant-garde film essay Fear (La paura), which he developed further inCarnal Love (Amore Carne, 2011). In 2013, he made the most scandalous of his documentaries, Blood(Sangue), an award winner in Locarno, in which he talks about his mother's death and his friendship with the former leader of the terrorist Red Brigades. The painful loss of his mother provided the impetus for him to make the play Orchids(2014). 2015 saw the premiere of his latest short film, The Visit (La Visite), which was shot at the Palace of Versailles. Known all around the world, the Compagnia Pippo Delbono has performed at the theater festival in Avignon and in other major European capitals. The company has also performed in Poznan and Krakow. His latest play, The Gospel (Vangelo, 2016), will premiere in Wrocław in the fall.

Selected filmography

2003 Wojna / Guerra / War

2006 Krzyk / Grido / Howl

2009 Blue Sofa (short)

2009 Indie, które tańczą / L’ India che danza / Dancing India

2009 Lęk / La paura / Fear

2011 Miłość z krwi i kości / Amore Carne / Love Flesh

2013 Krew / Sangue / Blood

2015 Wizyta / La visite / The Visit (short)