Gabriele Lavia: “Theatre will never die, cinema perhaps will”

The actor also directed for ‘A Curious Accident’ by Carlo Goldoni at the Argentina theater in Rome, alongside Federica Di Martino – “Pasolini wanted me to act for free for him but I didn’t have a rich family…” – “Artists can do very little against wars” – “Violence against women? Men do not keep up with the times and impose force”

“After so much talking out of turn death of the theatrewe have arrived today to prefigure the funeral of cinema. But the difference is clear: theater is ‘logos’, cinema is ‘techne’ and this says it all”. This is the premise of Gabriele Lavia – busy these days as director and leading actor in ‘A curious accident’ by Carlo Goldoni at the Argentina theater in Rome – interviewed by AdnKronos after the appeal on social media posted by Carlo Verdone in relation to the closure of many theatres, in this specific case in Rome.

In general, beyond the specific cases dictated by the city news, Lavia urges us to “not worry and not be surprised, because the theater will remain forever, while the cinema may one day disappear: just as the stone was replaced by the arch with the arrow, this one from the crossbow, this one from the harquebus with bayonet, up to the atomic bomb”. Here then is “the ‘techne’ has a destiny: to always be overtaken by a new ‘techne’ and this also applies to the cinema, even if I sincerely regret it. Not the theatre, the theater is ‘logos’ and the word will not be able never be surpassed, with its cathartic transformation it is and will always be unsurpassable and therefore immortal”.

As for his latest artistic proposal, “I have never performed Goldoni’s famous comedies for two reasons. The first is very simple: ‘they didn’t make me do them… This is the case of ‘Bottega del Caffé’ which I would have loved instead interpret. The second is deeper or, if you prefer, more complex: I like to do minor works which in reality aren’t minor; it’s no coincidence that I believe that the first one I performed by the Venetian playwright, ‘The True Friend’, was the my greatest theatrical success”, explains Gabriele Lavia.

Goldoni for the theater is like Mozart for music – explains Lavia – And his comedies all apparently have a happy ending, but it is a happy ending which on the contrary underlines a defeat, especially a male one given that an Enlightenment aspect prevails in Goldoni: Voltaire, whose friend he was, defined him as the first Enlightenmentist in history “. As for literary loves, “my secret lover is Chekhov – confesses Gabriele Lavia – Then, I love classical Greek authors and I love Goldoni, Shakespeare, Moliere and then how could I, as a Sicilian, not love Pirandello? I have some of my grandmother’s books with dedications by Luigi Pirandello: among my most precious things…”.

Lavia then recalls a youthful episode, on the anniversary of the tragic death of Pier Paolo Pasolinion the night between 1 and 2 November 1975. “I met Pasolini personally, but fleetingly: he had sought me out to do experimental theatre, but he couldn’t even give me a penny, he turned to a group of friends but I I replied ‘Master, I am a great admirer of yours but I can’t afford to make a living with this job by working for free, unfortunately I don’t have a rich family’…”, he says.

Lavia tells the story again, busy these days as a director and leading actor in ‘A curious accident’ by Carlo Goldoni at the Argentina theater in Rome: “Giorgio Bassaniwho taught at our Academy, introduced Pasolini to us, describing him as ‘a great poet and a great friend’ and I always repeat a phrase from Pasolini to my actors: ‘remember that it is better to make the heart beat than to make the hands clap, so don’t exaggerate, a wonderful phrase!”.

‘A curious accident’ by Carlo Goldoni at the Argentina theater in Rome, is a comedy that has a backdrop warthat of the end of the eighteenth century between two breakfasts led respectively by the English and the French, which led among other things to the loss of Canada and the dissolution of the colonialist presence of France to the advantage of England and Holland which gained immense wealth from the wars, as on the slave trade between Africa and the new America.

“The theatre, the artist, the showman, can do very little in the face of… tragedy of wars: they could do nothing in the past as well as almost nothing in current conflicts, except small shreds of momentary reflection”, is the opinion of Gabriele Lavia. “The only thing an actor can do is ‘say the word’ – continues Lavia – The theater is ‘word’ and the actor can pronounce words like ‘war’, like ‘death’, with all the weight that these words carry with them. This may be the only, and indeed great, function of the actor and the theatre.”

Then – he continues – “by its very nature, theater is politics, it is society, it is polis, it is agora… it cannot ignore reality and the great protagonists of the Greek tragedies are those who were unable to say the ‘word’. Oedipus is unable to name the word ‘mother’, Aegisthus the word ‘brother’, Clytemnestra the word ‘husband’. Theater is word and tragedy occurs when this word remains suspended. Today, TV replaces the ‘nuncio from the palace’, the press the ‘messenger of the gods’, and the word ‘war’ is unfortunately pronounced too much.”

Another theme present in ‘Curious Accident’ and more generally in Goldoni’s theater is the role of women. “Men never manage to keep up with the times. And the male, stronger than the woman, unable to impose himself with intelligence, imposes himself with force and force calls for violence. But, in reality, it is the sign and admission of a profound weakness”, underlines Gabriele Lavia.

“This attitude remains valid, beyond all religious faiths, philosophical and moral convictions, cultural and spiritual positions, in every part of the world”, observes Lavia. “Also in this comedy Goldoni, as a true Enlightenment scholar, is led to reevaluate the role of women, often described as smarter and more intelligent than men. After all, my mother was also similar to my father and my wife is similar to me…”.

(Of Enzo Bonaiuto)