In memory of Eleonora Duse
Conceived, directed and performed by Elena Bucci
Première 3rd October 2015 at Theatre Center Na Strastnom in Moscow
International Festival of Monodrama Performance 'Solo'
Lighting designer Maurizio Viani
Light board operator Loredana Oddone
Sound engineer Raffaele Bassetti
Assistant stage manager Gaetano Colella
Road manager Nicoletta Fabbri
Le Belle Bandiere
Co-produced by Nuova Scena Saccisica (Padua-IT)
Supported by Emilia-Romagna Region, Province of Ravenna, Municipality of Russi
Eleonora Duse was born in 1858 and died in 1924. She was an Italian actress, manager and director. Her unconventional life and acting revolutionized the theatrical scene of her time. She hated biographies, autobiographies and celebrations. What remains is a certain amount of professional and personal correspondence, and some indirect testimonials. I think she was a great woman.
There comes a time in one’s life when craft, technique and hard work prove to be insufficient, and you ask yourself up to where they can take you, and what stands beyond. That was my rumination when I realized that I had been accompanied by Eleonora Duse’s ideas and views for my whole theatre life.
I have been working on this performance for several years, in which I was accompanied by intimate colleagues and precious scholars: it changed with me, along the time and locations, from an abandoned country palace near my birthplace, to the places where Eleonora lived and acted.
Here she comes, just been refused by Gabriele d’Annunzio for a role in La Figlia di Iorio, taking the script and interpreting all the characters under Matilde Serao’s insane and insistent eye. Performing on stage was probably what helped Duse heal the wounds inflicted by life, free herself and look beyond theatre with all its sets, costumes and roles, everything she deeply loved and at the same time hated. She may have dreamed of creating a place for theatre - as other arts tried to do in that time - where it could get rid of bodies and voices, free from the impending destruction of the hic and nunc of live performance.
This work is based on letters, notes and memories of those who surrounded her. I chose them relying only on my inner feel, trying to understand Eleonora better and to treat her with an utmost respect. It goes without saying that when you try to speak of what you really love, you speak about yourself as well. I wanted to avoid clichés, stereotypes, false aesthetics to approach her courage and absolute freedom.
While I was learning to understand theatre, I discovered different sides of Eleonora’s personality, from her mystery, turning her into a medium between the living and the dead, to her comicality and political activity, all of which unite in the whirlpool of her revolutionary energy.
Still, the profound lesson I drew, is the unattainable nature of one’s essence, and the never-ending story of all lives.