Totentanz. Black dance, black death
March 2020 in Bergamo. Ambulances run through the city streets, overloaded hospitals turn into dying rooms. Despite the situation, Francesca and Luca, a bourgeois couple, working in fashion and television, invite their neighbours to a dinner party. Five people show up, and each of them turns out to be slightly different than it seems at the beginning. A light drama of manners turns into a comedy dell'arte, an opera, a TV show, but everything is framed by a funeral mass. It is full of erudite references to Italian history and culture, and there are two invisible plagues hanging above the stage: the coronavirus is dancing with the virus of fascism.
Botticelli in the Fire
The story of The Birth of Venus and the emerging love between Botticelli and Leonardo da Vinci, transferred to the world of contemporary decorations and props. The perspective from which this story is told is the time of radicalization of moods in the Medici Florence and the publicity that Savonarola is gaining as he demands greater rigor in interpreting the Church's ethical teaching. The fight for the final appearance of the painting is combined with the fight of the characters for their place in the private and public sphere.
An old mother and her forty-year-old daughter live in a house with a garden. The first does not go out anymore, the other could go out and meet people, but she is afraid – years of care have tightened their mutual relationship. Condemned to each other, irritated, bizarre, they nurture their obsessions and act out scenes from home theatre, sometimes surprising and funny. They both fantasize that the older one will die, but death is stubbornly not coming. The subtle, psychological text of the debutant reveals in understatements the dynamics of relations which is very common in our culture.
The Birth of Venus
The ostentatious grace of Anadyomene’s pose on a gilded shell in the rose rain evokes joyful admiration, hence probably so many later travesties and reproductions. On Lady Gaga’s dress or on a mug from the Ufizzi it is simply kitsch, a cliche of reproduction. However, Botticelli's gesture itself was not kitsch: it must have appeared rather innovative, perhaps eccentric. Giorgio Vasari, who in his “Botticello's life" included barely a mention of this painting, did not know the word “queer” yet.
„Botticelli”, or what would an anachronism do?
In the context of Jordan Tannahill’s Botticelli in the Fire directed by Blanche McIntire about the attitude of queer historiography to an anachronism, i.e. a gesture consisting in combining phenomena or facts that could not happen simultaneously. The author of the play deliberately enters into a dialogue with Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects by Giorgio Vasari, one of the most important normative texts for the image of the Renaissance period, deliberately exploding its linear, teleological and progressive perspective of history and proposing instead a phantasmatic biography of Sandro Botticelli, constructed in accordance with the principles of temporality characteristic of queer texts.
LGBT+ is ideolo
The language of the homophobic witch-hunt is constructed of menacing-sounding, little-understood dummies, touching on sensitive and important topics for many people: children, family, pedophilia, tradition, gender, and social bonds. It brings to life in the public space terminology that sets the discussion in an unequal way: the minority has to explain itself to the majority, but also makes it difficult to get out of this snare of false phantasms. All of this is reminiscent of a discussion in which the question "have you stopped beating your wife" can only be answered with “yes” or “no”.
Long year experience, however, shows that honour is not always a good weapon. It humiliates and excludes the punished and hinders understanding between the parties. It is not conducive to civil virtues that need patience, diligence, conciliation and pragmatism. During the occupation, there was no room for these virtues, and the following decades of another occupation did not favour them either. And although foreign troops left our country long ago, civic virtues are still hard to find.
Not only about infamy
Today, discussions about Fame and Infamy can move freely in a completely different direction. This does not mean that Małgorzata Szejnert’s book will completely free itself from the debates that have taken place so far. After all, infamy will not disappear from the history of 20th-century Polish theatre, and nobody intends to erase it. Nor is it that the older generations now have to reevaluate the events that shaped them. But the history of great gestures and fervent disputes has become history itself.
Community and disgrace
A conversation by Stanisław Godlewski, Agnieszka Haska and Małgorzata Szpakowska
A conversation about the contemporary understanding of the concept of disgrace and betrayal, about examples of shameful behavior, and about who decides about its being shameful.
Marek Beylin, Justyna Drath, Pedro Pereira
Notes on plays:
Marta Sokołowska Kamionna. Opowieści rodzinne
Mark Langham Water