Reinventing theatre through the intimacy of storytelling: Echoes

Picture of By Gilda Bruno

By Gilda Bruno

[mks_dropcap style=”letter” size=”48″ bg_color=”#ffffff” txt_color=”#000000″]I[/mks_dropcap]laria Forciniti is an Italian actress, theatre director, singer, and vocal coach based in Amsterdam. Although her career started in a traditional theatre company, her work has recently evolved towards a more contemporary form of art that sees voice and physical movement as its cores. Together with the rest of Scriccioli Theater Lab, a group of actors featuring diverse cultural and professional backgrounds, she performed in venues such as Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, Toon and private events.

Breaking with tradition
What is the very first thing that comes to your mind when thinking about theatre? Some of you might say art, considering theatre is one of the countless artistic expressions that shaped society since its birth in ancient Greece. Some others might immediately picture themselves in one of those red, pompous historical theatres, waiting for the beginning of their favourite play: a few hundred seats, old-fashioned armchairs, and stage curtains to mark the threshold between fiction and reality. “Masks, mimes, and opera!” – You’re right, these are all related to theatre somehow. But would you believe me if I told you that a house and three young actors are enough to tell a story that is worth listening?

The importance of memories
Echoes is a theatrical and storytelling performance that takes place in people’s homes. Disregarded the convention of the fourth wall, traditionally separating actors from the audience, it involves the public in a familiar atmosphere, pondering the true value of memories. The story is simple: a girl and her boyfriend decide to move in together into the house where – ten years before – she used to live with her best friend Ilaria. Despite the initial excitement, soon the domestic partnership turns out to be more complicated than expected by the couple: things have deeply changed since the last time they had been there, but none of the characters seems to be willing to accept it, stuck as they are in the “echoes” of the past.

Surrounded by the warmth of their audience, the protagonists, Nina and Marco, retrace the moments spent with Ilaria. Many years have passed, yet the expressions on their faces succeed in transmitting the light-hearted joy of those days to the public. As the plot develops, they will both come to understand how objects are unnecessary when it comes to preserve the memory of something that has truly been lived. Although intangible, this will always stay alive, ready to be revived when the difficulties of the present make them nostalgically wonder of the past.

A new way of living theatre
The play is intended to be performed in presence of a small group of people. The idea is to readapt the scenes from time to time, depending on the house hosting the event, in such a way as to mould the result in harmony with the space available, thus making it an everlasting and unpredictable discover. In Echoes, the audience is anything but passive, called to subtly interact with the actors in a game deliberately suspended between reality and fiction. Taken by surprise, the public is indeed lead to dive progressively into the story, embrace the actors’ memories and reflect upon their own ones. The aim is to provide those present with a safe place, free from the problems characterising ordinary life.

A common good to be preserved
The willingness and necessity of reinventing theatre stems from the decline in the revenues of such an institution, provoked by the spread of other forms of entertainment in the past decades. Ilaria Forciniti, actress and director of the play, together with her Scriccioli Theatre Lab, wanted to create a theatrical experience accessible to everyone. Specially designed for an indoors-performance, Echoes takes a different shape each time, thanks to the generous hosts welcoming actors and audience within the walls of their houses. Combining fragments of real life with fictitious elements, the story captures the public gently, making it active part for the development of the plot. The underlying intention is to preserve theatre as a phenomenon capable of telling the truest essence of human nature merely relying on the illusory conflict between fiction and reality: two, inseparable faces of the same coin.

Cover: Gilda Bruno / Final Editing: Kyle Hassing


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