Lo spettatore e la Sfinge
«Ferai»: trentacinque anni dopo
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Ferai by Odin Teatret, as directed by Eugenio Barba, is one of the most important stage productions of the second half of the twentieth century. Drawn up between 1968 and 1969, it started out from the myth of Alcestis and concentrated on the holocaust and social action as subjective responsibility, but in parallel it por- trayed a regressive people’s revolution, with ambiguous revolutionary leaders and a heroine who, ultimately, was ‘cynical’and aware of the cruel nature of power politics. The noteworthy text by the Danish writer Peter Seeberg was totally reworked in the stage re-elaboration by Barba and his group in the long tightly-woven montage of the improvisations on which it was overlaid in the form of fragments. In terms of its creation as a play, the piece linked hints of Alcestis by Euripides with a medieval story by Saxo Gramaticus relating to the Danish king Frode, who is said to have dominated a vast Nordic empire in the era of Augustus, and whose mummy was long exhibited by his warriors, after his death, as an emblem and cohesive force of imperial power. Thus the deceased tyrant, represented on the stage by the fetish of a shiny wooden egg, became Alcestis’ father and Fere, a city in Thessaly, coincided with the Faroe islands, in a process of intense con- tamination of southern Dionysian atmospheres with icy Scandinavian scenes. The play, as almost always in the work of Odin and Eugenio Barba, drew inspiring vitality and force from the association of extremes and opposites and, in the age of the most terse political drama, it offered a problematised approach as an open work.
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