The Blameless Vestal’s Lot

The 2nd International Forest Festival opens its curtain on Thessaloniki’s stages with a highly controversial and allegedly experimental play by Italian director Pippo Delbono, who brings over the Mediterranean his most mature and at the same time puerperal work, Vangelo, causing quite a stir among the seats of the Royal Theatre.


Italian Abstract

Il 2° Festival Internazionale della Foresta apre il sipario con il controverso e presumibilmente sperimentale spettacolo del regista italiano Pippo Delbono, il quale attraversa il Mediterraneo con il suo lavoro più maturo e al contempo puerperale, Vangelo, facendo sensazione tra le poltrone del Teatro Reale di Salonicco.

Greek Abstract

Το 2ο Διεθνές Φεστιβάλ Δάσους ανοίγει την αυλαία του με ένα εξαιρετικά ανατρεπτικό και δήθεν πειραματικό έργο του ιταλού σκηνοθέτη Pippo Delbono, ο οποίος διασχίσει την Μεσόγειο κουβαλώντας το πιο ώριμο και ταυτόχρονα ερασιτεχνικό του έργο, το Vangelo, προκαλώντας μεγάλη αναστάτωση ανάμεσα στα καθίσματα του Βασιλικού Θεάτρου.



Pippo Delbono, perhaps one of the most beloved Italian artists in Europe, has finally made his way to Greece with his latest production, Vangelo, a show in which, as with his previous works, we witness the dominance of a forcibly non-structured improvisation. Here, Delbono surrenders himself and his urge to be at the centre of attention in order to formulate a (partially) “poor and shouted language that, completely vexed by fleeting moods, takes on the form of an intimate stage grammar regretfully subjugated to a both “incoherently” linear and bashfully non-verbal lexicon.

In his attempt to mould the antithesis of his own biography into a poetic and experimental dimension, which he himself considers to be one of the best transfigurations of the spirit and the flesh, Delbono tinkers with an explicit alternative to the current context of cultural blindness which, on the scene, is compared to the fusty smell of the churches he used to go to as a child and of those very same theatres that so generously host him.

Based as it is on a wonted and recurring stylistic hallmark, Delbono’s theatre regrettably takes on the features of rules and standards, thus slipping into the norm, by indulging on the non-staging of placid themes (from the Love for mothers – the biological and the artistic one – to Transcendence and Aids) and by exposing monotonous personalities, the absolutely Last personified with substantial stigmatisation by Bobò, Gianluca Ballarè and Nelson Lariccia, Shakespearean fools, disciples and fellow travellers.

Despite the ado, Vangelo is a dramatically superfluous play that provokes embarrassment and shyness at the same time, but not because of the pedagogic cadence of a sought-after and much cherished textual fragmentariness which, moving between Pasolini, Saint Augustine, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John and leading to the identification of an «eye disease» (his own) with the suffering of Christ, proves to be redundant and not poignant within an artistic development focused on self-centred cross references. Not even, though, because, by dramatizing Sympathy For the Devil and creating an unholy triptych with Led Zeppelin, De Andrè and Andrew Lloyd Webber, he expresses his own propensity for the Devil/Dionysus instead of the God of hypocrisy and massacres with costumes, stage dynamics and music driven by an unbearable, predictable and never lyrical immediacy, nor because the whole play degenerates un-poetically into a self-forgiving tool of dramaturgic nullity vexed by a clumsy acting which incites tenderness rather than actually moving the audience, an acting that by no means can justify the suggested family resemblance with Pina Bausch (Delbono’s second mother).

What the Italian director accomplished with Vangelo is thus the sad and common fall of the cultural industry where those who were once able to upset and attempt in the name of the avant-garde are now unable to question their own certainties and representations, accepting and confirming the most widespread and ideologically platitudinous tropes.

Believing that he can manage to create a connection with the basic existential issues by identifying himself with an “authentic” humanity (i.e. made in his own image and likeness) and flaunting his crushing self-certainty (transgressive only on the outside) that narrating the humanity in the world via his own individuality can truly promote emancipation, Delbono shows what it looks like to run aground on the shallows of banality, filled with those who believe to have unveiled – once and for all – their own art as a social event and an autonomous act, those who think that they can resist the age of homologation by offering the miraculous remedy of being devoid of any conditioning, sons of freedom and, consequently, indispensable in order to critically challenge the status quo. Abandoned all demystifying leanings, the outcome of this sadness is the assumption of a celebratory function of the existence which, as irrational as it is depicted, is never quite thrown into crisis.

Nevertheless, despite the moralistic aspects of Vangelo and notwithstanding the inconsistency of this umpteenth operation of emotional deconstruction of the representation, what causes disconcert is that the once anarchic and revolutionary artist turned into priest of his own persona now represents the generation gap without any merit other than the historical ones, casting a long shadow on those new experimenter who took up his legacy and are still strong enough to be defined unknowing trailblazers.


The show was played at
Royal Theatre
Leof. Meg. Alexandrou – Thessaloniki
Thursday 28 July 2018

Pippo Delbono Company presents

conceived and directed by Pippo Delbono
with Gianluca Ballarè, Bobò, Margherita Clemente, Pippo Delbono, Ilaria Distante, Simone Goggiano, Mario Intruglio, Nelson Lariccia, Gianni Parenti, Alma Prica, Pepe Robledo, Grazia Spinella, Nina Violić, Safi Zakria, Mirta Zečević
with the participation – in the films – of the refugees of PIAM reception centre in Asti (Italy)
images and films Pippo DelBono
original digital soundtrack for orchestra and polyphonic choir Enzo Avitabile
set Claude Santerre
costumes Antonella Cannarozzi
lighting designer Fabio Sajiz
technical manager Fabio Sajiz
lighting/video Orlando Bolognesi
sound Matteo Ciardi/Pietro Tirella
chief stage technician Gianluca Bolla
stage technician Fabrizio Orlandi/Enrico Zucchelli
wardrobe Elena Giampaoli
management Silvia Cassanelli, Alessandra Vinanti
tour manager Raffaella Ciuffreda
set and costume workshops Hrvatsko Narodno Kazalište- Zagabria (Croatia)
photos Luca Del Pia
special thanks Fabrice Aragno, Antoine Bataille, Francesca Catricalà, Teatro Nuovo di Mirandola
production Emilia Romagna Teatro Fondazione and Croatian National Theatre – Zagabria
co-production Théâtre Vidy Lausanne, Maison de la Culture d’Amiens – Centre de Création et de Production, Théâtre de Liège


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