Internal review Bernhard. Roberto Sturno and the 92-year-old Glauco Mauri stage two monologues by Thomas Bernhard, in an anti-classical reflection on the classic.
Nietzsche, Wittgenstein, Artaud: three tutelary deities of a certain grandeur open the show Interior Bernhard, placed like a triptych to watch over the scene throughout the first act. Inspired by two prose by the great Austrian author Thomas Bernhard, the new work by the Mauri Sturno Company opens with The reformer of the worlda monologue, de factowhere Roberto Sturno takes on the role of an elderly non-academic philosopher who awaits the arrival of an institutional delegation from the city where he lives and, above all, from the university that he had abandoned as a young man in the process of offering him a degree honoris causa. In front of a younger and perpetually silent wife, the philosopher played by Sturno expresses all his intermittences and his hesitations with respect to the honor he is about to receive, at times retreating into the proud and bordering on arrogance memory of « some passages» of his most important work. The fact that this work, even in the fiction of the show, bears the title Treaty lets understand that, of the three personalities whose portraits stand out in the scenography, the philosopher protagonist of Reformer it is closer to Wittgenstein. Not for nothing one of Thomas Bernhard’s most original and indefinable novels, Wittgenstein’s nephewtold precisely of a hypothetical friendship, born in the hospital ward, between the author, the narrator, and the nephew of the philosopher of the Tractatus logico-philosophicus.
“I’ll put the mask back on and play the Lear again that I haven’t played in over thirty years.” After a brief dreamlike glimmer, the scene is handed over to Glauco Mauri who, in the role of the mature Minetti, the fetish actor to whom Bernhard invariably entrusted his texts, pronounces a long interior monologue waiting to be able to go back to reciting the King Lear. Lowered into a much more metaphysical scenario than the other monologue, crossed by dreamlike apparitions that even glimpse Lynchian imaginary, Minetti – Portrait of an artist as an old man presents itself as a reflection on art, on theatre, on death and on reality itself – not for nothing, in one of the last bars of the monologue the old Minetti rushes to the point of promising himself that «in twenty years perhaps I will interpret Prospero», and here it seems to be Glauco Mauri speaking. An actor’s obsession with the King Lear Shakespearean is the narrative trace that allows the monologue to field a broad and not obvious reflection around the classic: on stage Minetti reiterates several times that in his long career as an actor and theater director he has constantly refused to personally grapple with a classic, «apart from the King Lear», however many engagement problems this choice caused him. Towards the end of the monologue Minetti also adds that he has always wanted to act «against the audience», almost like Carmelo Bene, but «to preserve the emotion»: here perhaps the identification between Mauri and his character is not total.
«Thomas Bernhard’s characters featured in the project Interior Bernhard, do absolutely nothing to be loved»: this is the summary given by the director’s notes and, in a world «intact only in appearance, deeply unhinged», similar to Beckett, «the only chance of survival seems to be then the search for perfection in fields that until recently were the place of beauty, of meaning: theatre, music, literature, philosophy». In the face of chaos, the elderly intellectual consoles himself and behaves by remembering his attempt to re-found ethics made in his Treaty, in the face of death, the elderly Minetti continues daydreaming of a new staging of his Lear. As already in Kafka, even more so as already in Beckett, the characters of Bernhard – at least of Interior Bernhard – they seem to be summarized in a single, pounding gesture and a single inscrutable pose that remains unchanged throughout the show – with the important difference that in this case the pose opens up to a perhaps naive hope and that there is an authentic attempt to transcend or at least not to bow to the inauthenticity of the world, trying, at least, not to succumb to its ruthless mystery. It is no coincidence that the two monologues lead to a deconstruction. It is no coincidence that in the second, in the literal collapse of the fourth wall, in a prelude to death, by Minetti, the scene reveals itself as almost a limbo, as already in A pure formalityTornatore’s film also staged by Mauri and Sturno several years ago.
Self The reformer of the world is a high-class aping of some specific components of the work and personality of Ludwig Wittgenstein, particularly significant for ambition and thematic originality is Portrait of an artist as an old man; perfect and fully centered is, ça va sans dire, the interpretation of Mauri, who in his endless career has been able to cross the classic and the anti-classical, the arcane as well as the modern. The Portrait is a long reflection on the classic, in which King Lear it takes on a nostalgic and obsessive position. What is Classic? To what extent can one of its definitions, both unappealable and arbitrary, be supported? Beyond what threshold is the negation of the classic, the parody or its questioning – as in Nietzsche, as in part in Artaud, as in Wittgenstein – itself a classic? Bernhard himself, set in the heart of the twentieth century, who died in that same 1989 of the fall of the Berlin Wall, can he already be considered a classic? These are the questions uncomfortable by Interior Bernhard, from its second part in particular. But if it is true that, as Calasso wanted, the classic is a hybrid between barbaric and neoclassical, Bernhard, and this glaucomaurized Bernhard, represent yet another thing: a phantasmagoria, perhaps, or to quote the show itself, «nothing else what restlessness», the restlessness brought about by the actor, by his irrevocable mask.
The show goes on
Teatro Argentina – Theaters of Rome
Largo di Torre Argentina 52, Rome
until 29 January
Tuesday, Thursday and Friday at 20.00, Wednesday and Saturday at 19.00, Sunday at 17.00
The reformer of the world
Minetti – Portrait of an artist as an old man
by Thomas Bernhard
directed by Andrea Baracco
with Glauco Mauri, Roberto Sturno
and with Federico Brugnone, Stefania Micheli, Zoe Zolferino, Giuliano Bruzzese
scenes and costumes by Marta Crisolini Malatesta
music by Giacomo Vezzani and Vanja Sturno
produced by Mauri Sturno Company