The Lazzo of the Fly and Other Stories

DIRECTION: Fabio Mangolini

July 24, 2021, 6 p.m.

Art knows no boundaries. It expands itself, penetrating into the interstices, rooting itself into liminal spaces to crack them open. Art goes beyond artificial separations; it fosters hybridizations and exchanges – even undesired ones, which transform and blend themselves into their surroundings. Art is a borderland, a permeable area in which different languages and poetics blend . It is an area rife with ‘raids’, in which ‘theft’ does not mean plundering or spoliation, but a new source of inspiration, the burgeoning of something new. Theatre is like that, the art of the encounter. Instead of national theatres, we need to think instead about a broader nationhood of theatre, which, historically, may indicate a form of ‘transnationality’. We can speak of ‘theatregrams’, dramatic and dramaturgic units: combinatorial units; we can also speak of ‘theatremes’, that is, units of the dramatic play, the secrets of the actor’s craft, and spread themselves throughout an age, pollinating places and, above all, people. 

The performance by Fabio Mangolini, The Lazzo of the Fly and Other Stories, presents a journey into these relationships. It is a path which leads us to discover characters who circulated all over Europe from the end of the sixteenth century to the beginning of the seventeenth century – a promenade along an actor’s shared craftmanship. 

We could keep interrogating ourselves for centuries on whether William Shakespeare was familiar with the companies of the Italian Commedia dell’arte or not. From the second half of the sixteenth century, these companies travelled across Europe, spreading a successful type of theatre which deeply influenced Shakespeare, whether directly or not, especially in terms of combinatorial modalities and the contributions of his best and most loyal comic players such as William Kempe. It would be risky and perhaps not too interesting to postulate direct convergences between Bottom in A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Zanni, between Dogberry in Much Ado About Nothing and the Doctor in the Commedia dell’arte, or between Shylock in The Merchant of Venice and Pantalone (although both of them are Venetian Jews). And yet, that theatre was typical of Shakespeare’s time, therefore contacts, connections, and cross-pollinations are somehow commonplace.

During the show, which presents an adventurous journey into the Commedia dell’arte and its characters, Fabio Mangolini will focus on its diffusion, its relentless metamorphoses, and its possible links with Shakespeare’s universe. The Commedia dell’arte, then, as a space of hybridisation, the physical place for cross-pollination and mutation, the organic stuff to be moulded, performed, staged; the theatre of the professional players, who could use all its resources: the mask as a synonym of stock character; linguistic variety and also the variety of different sounds; the repertoire and an actor’s skill to utilise through improvisation; the scenarios as a prototypical dramaturgic form; the interconnection between dramaturgic aspects and performative skills; lastly, the paramount importance of the stage enabling the encounter with the audience.