Translation Letizia Russo
Direction Antonio Latella
Marco Cacciola, Annibale Pavone, Maurizio Rippa, Massimiliano Speziani
Scenery and Costumes Annelisa Zaccheria
Sound and Music Franco Visioli
Lighting Design Giorgio Cervesi Ripa
A production of the
Teatro Stabile dell’Umbria
in collaboration with the
Spoleto 52 Festival dei Due Mondi
The participation of the Teatro Stabile dell´Umbria in the Spoleto 52 Festival dei Due Mondi arose out of the strong ties that link the two organizations, which have always been closely involved in sustaining and promoting theatrical productions. In this context, the Teatro Stabile dell´Umbria will present their production of Aristophanes’ comedy The Clouds for the very first time at the 52nd edition of the Spoleto Festival, under the direction of Antonio Latella.
In 423 BC, when The Clouds was performed for the very first time, Aristophanes (ca. 450 BC - ca. 388 BC) was already a recognized young playwright, and The Clouds was perhaps his greatest success. Even today, The Clouds is one of the most popular and most frequently performed among ancient Greek plays, together with The Birds, Lysistrata, and The Frogs, written much later in Aristophanes’ career.
Aristophanes had made his debut approximately four years earlier when Athens, exhausted from a violent epidemic of the plague, was already in the midst of the war with Peloponnesus. We do not have access to his first two works, but we are aware of their subject matter, and we know that from his very beginnings, Aristophanes interpreted his times in a comic vein. What is more, on more than one occasion public figures of the period angrily demonstrated in his theater after he had portrayed them in his aggressive satires. The young Aristophanes experienced his times as the decline of the golden age of Athens, opposing political supremacy at all costs and rejecting any philosophical approach or poetry that moved away from tradition in the search for new methods and new expression. Socrates, although he was nearly twenty years older, lived during the same period and is the main character in The Clouds. Aristophanes depicts him as a funny old man with a sophistic attitude, a master of intellectual dishonesty. Socrates’ involuntary starring role in this comedy has always provoked a great deal of curiosity and amusement in readers and audiences alike.
“THE CLOUDS represent everything … and nothing at all, they are our hopes and our fears, our joy and our horror, and they become everything we desire but can never hope to be. And yet in that extreme final action performed by man (destruction for survival), the only aspect that will be saved will be THE CLOUDS which have never been, have never existed, and therefore are indestructible, like concepts, LIKE IDEAS....
Theatrical subterfuge is doubled and tripled in this human comedy, and the door that leads to knowledge and understanding has been reduced to a tiny opening. To pass through it is a demanding task, but behind that red velvet barrier one can learn the tricks and artifices of make-believe, how to conceal the truth or how to recognize it....
This ancient comedy does not present a character on stage, but rather the ICON of a famous FIGURE by the name of SOCRATES. The location where he finds himself, THE THINKERY, is the true character that Strepsiades must face: a place that is not an actual place, a space that has a door that must be passed through, but which has no walls, a room where the Maestro can swing in the air, far away from the banality of the force of gravity. Only in this manner can he think, reflect, create, prepare his orations on right and wrong. It is a place where the elusive takes on a form but remains incomprehensible because of its constant metamorphosis. The Thinkery, a character that is neither male nor female cannot be, as Aristophanes has Socrates ironically declare, neither rooster nor hen.....”
was born in Castellammare di Stabia in 1967. After his studies at the Theater School of the Teatro Stabile di Torino, directed by Franco Passatore, and the La Bottega Teatrale in Florence, directed by Vittorio Gassman, he began his professional life as an actor.
Between 1986 and 2000, he worked with, among others: Pagliaro, Di Marca, Ronconi, Gassman, Castri, De Capitani, Syxty, Bruni, and Piscitelli. In 1997 and 1998, he directed his first theatrical performances.
In 1999, Latella approached Shakespearian theater for the first time with Othello, followed by the staging of Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet, and Hamlet. In 2001 he was awarded the special UBU prize for his project “Shakespeare and Beyond.” He returned to Shakespeare in 2001 with an exploration of Richard III; in 2003, he staged Twelfth Night, The Tempest, and The Taming of the Shrew. Parallel to this work, from 2001 to 2004, he also focused on Genet (Black Mirror, The Blacks, Querelle de Brest) and Pasolini (Pilade, Pigsty, and Beasts of Style). In the spring of 2004 he produced Monteverdi’s Orpheus at the Opéra de Lyon, his first lyrical opera, followed later in the same year by Gluck’s Orpheus and Eurydice at the Piccinni Theater in Bari. In July 2005, he produced Puccini’s Tosca at the Sferisterio Theater in Macerata. In 2004, he was awarded the Vittorio Gassman prize as best actor of the year. In November of the same year, with Edward the Second, he made his debut in a play by Christopher Marlowe. In October 2005, he staged a philosophical text by Giordano Bruno never before produced on stage, Ash Wednesday Supper, and was awarded the prize for “Best Show of the Year” by the Italian National Association of Theater Critics in September 2006. In June 2006, at the Festival delle Colline Torinesi, following an intense period of experimental work begun in the winter of 2004 in Berlin, Latella presented his Study on Medea to the Italian public, a play in three episodes on the myth of Medea. This earned him the UBU prize in 2008 for “Best Show of the Year.” During the summer of 2006, he conducted a Workshop on Pericles in the context of the third edition of the Thierry Salmon project, directed by Franco Quadri for L’Ecole des Maîtres. The experiment of this workshop led to a performance of Shakespeare’s Pericles, adapted and directed by Latella, presenting it as “A Creation of the Thierry Salmon project – The New Ecole des Maîtres 2006-2007 directed by Franco Quadri,” which made its debut in July 2007 at the Theater Festival at the Venice Biennial–39.
During the 2006/2007 theater season he staged the Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant by Rainer Werner Fassbinder, starring Laura Marinoni and featuring some of the actresses from his second leads group, as well as Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett, with four of his actors in the lead roles. In October 2007, he made the very first debut at the San Nicolò Theater in Spoleto with Moby Dick by Herman Melville. The stage version of the 1851 novel was adapted by Federico Bellini. This performance marked the encounter between Latella and Giorgio Albertazzi. Albertazzi, ideal in the role of Captain Ahab, was surrounded by a talented group of actors who worked frequently with the director.
In March 2008, Latella directed The Holiday Trilogy in Cologne with Italian and German actors. Meanwhile, at the beginning of 2007, he had begun to work with his entire group on a project dedicated to the study and destructuralization of Hamlet, which opened in June 2008 at the Teatro Astra in Turin, as part of the Festival delle Colline Torinesi, under the title: OR NOT TO BE project
Antonio Latella has always considered his work to be a basic need. He approaches an author, his world, his period, and he remains there for a long time. In any case, he always reaches the final production stage by moving through a sort of analytical laboratory until he is aware of every detail. The result of his work method is that each individual production is a performance to be enjoyed in its own right as well as a part of a wider research project. That project has led, over the years, to the formation of a group of actors and collaborators with whom Latella enjoys a relationship that is both exceptional and rare.