15 Lug Interview with Fiore Zulli…nature, theater and children!
We interviewed Mr. Zulli, the director of Teatro Simurgh, to talk about the “International Festival of the Gnomes”, of the shows that he’ll bring onstage with the Teatro Simurgh and about his relationship as an actor and as a director with the Magic of the Nature.
Director Zulli, what’s the importance of the mythology and the symbology of beings like gnomes, fairies and elves to a pedagogical level?
We have to point out before all that the elvish tales and the mythological ones in general has been created by the ancient societies, depositaries of a Higher Consciousness, to essentially pedagogical aims.
The Myth is a way to communicate the knowledge. The gnomes, elves and the fairies all represent an array of symbols that talks about the mankind’s inner life. Languages purposedly created to fosten the observation of the self and the World through an holistic view, in order to let you perceive yourself totally unified with the nature, as a part made of the same matter as the whole Creation.
We enter in contact with these beings – which, listen carefully to me, really exist! – only through our inner sensibility.
The tales of fairies and elves tell us about an invisible World through which we can actually find the keys of our development as aware human beings. They teach us how to search, how to listen, how to discover the basic and ethernal laws of life.
Maybe the children are better than us “grown ups” in communicating with these forces of nature embodied by the gnomes …
Of course they are, these tales has been conceived to communicate mainly with the children. They are symbolical codification of the forces of nature. The gnomes for instance, they represent what’s invisible yet perceivable with a subtle attention, and the children must be trained to develop it. Today the kids are generally not trained to pay attention, but rather led to distractions and passivity. Too often they are not even given the opportunity to develop a real contact with the nature. But if they are led towards the nature in a proper way, towards the silence, towards a quality of presence, the nature itself will take care of their education. Just quitting them the distractions of a mechanical existence, the children will enter in a state of perfect union with the nature. At the end, this is is the taks of the theatre, when it’s brought inside of the nature and in front of the children.
Many authors embody the strenghts of nature with gods and anthropomorphical beings, symbols of a self-transcending nature. What’s your view on the Nature, Director Zulli?
Nature is God. If you develop a true religious sense, you see God in every thing. God is by no means an “old dude with a white beard sat on a cloud”. God is every beings, animated or inanimated, and if one does not develop an inner eye of his own, if one does not see his own elves and gnomes, if one does not becomes a gnome himself, he cannot enters in contact with the Nature. In the indigenous communities of Amazonas and the Andes I’ve seen children talking with invisible beings, with the “gnomes”, we could say. These children indeed can see them, because their culture keep them acquainted with the invisible since their birth. In the villages of the Chiquitanos that live in the tropical dry woods in Bolivia, I’ve hear children talking with each other about what this or that “Jichi”, told them, the spirit in charge of the forest, of the river or the lagoon. There, the children know that one cannot chase, fish, cut trees or harvest in Nature if you haven’t asked it before to the spirits of the place.
Respect the essence of the place, its spirit and its landscape. That’s what in Classical Europe is known as “Genius loci”, “no place is without a genius”, wrote the latin poet Servius …
That’s a key point. Today, the tales about gnomes and elves are just literature, but all this has a sense only if it becomes once and for all an experience of life. All the great oral cultures of the nature have this deep knowledge of their mind, like the Aborigines, the bushmen of Kalahari, the Guaranì of Amazonas…they all embody this belief with their way of being. It is very important to foster today a deeper contact with the elves and gnomes, and no longer a superficial, just-for-fun one. We are right now dealing with it: how to touch something deeper in the spectator while telling a story, overall if the spectator is a child. When you tell a story, a tale, you have to understand what lies beneath. At the end, in the theatre, what you communicate is the higher or the lower quality of the Being. The actor, therefore, is just a bare mean, as much he manage in becoming invisible, as much the essential of the story he tells appears. The gnomes, the fairies and the elves are alive because they come from our interiority and in this they are an extraordinary mean.
How does it feels like to recite in a natural scenery? Do you perceive the energy of Abruzzo woods? What do you think about the Teatro Ambiente?
Bring the theatre in the green, the Teatro-Ambiente as you call it here, is somewhat really natural for Teatro Simurgh. It’s what we used to do in South America, when, after 7-8 hours-long river navigation, we would reach a village in the Amazonas and to do our show we would lay between the huts, in the clearing, a “carpet” made of waterproof truck curtains. After that, men, women, the elders and the children, many many children, gathered around us to assist to such an unusual event for them. Of course, the Bosco of Sant’Antonio in Pescocostanzo is a very different place and represents a very different occasion, but our task as actors does not changes. Bring the theatre in the nature makes you more open, you sharpen your senses, you listen with your body, because with you there are lots of other sounds. You’ve got to become a part of the whole, you cannot just fight against the nature just because you want to become “the protagonist”. If you want the story to flow in a natural setting, you have to become a part of this landscape, you’ve got to “let it go” and let the story surfaces through you.
What kind of advices would you give to the children that will assist for the first time to the International Festival of the Gnomes? How this fun and merry experience may help them grow up?
I’d advice them to bring with them nothing but their curiosity, and not toys or other kinds of distractions, the ideal would be to arrive at the festival just with their attention and joy of curiosity. When we begin our shows dedicated to children, we call, with our presence, in a delicate but determined way, the attention of the public, to let the silence arrive, because where there is attention, there is the silence, and with the silence comes the tales.
Can we say that the theatre in the nature fosters the positivity in children and the joy in life, so much importants in this our era of great existential crisis?
The children love the natural element because we all are nature. And the children, being closer to the truth “human essence”, they are nature in a more immediate way than us “grown ups”. How can a drop of water be unhappy when it falls into the lake? The elves and the gnomes are never sad, and they shall never bem because they are in perfect harmony with the whole. And if they somedays are sad, it’s just because of the human condition, complaining every day about their bad luck. You’ll never hear a gnome of an elf complain because of his dissatisfaction. It’s another wonderful challenge we’ll face in the days of the International Festival of the Gnomes!
Let’s talk about the shows that Teatro Simurgh will bring onstage in Pescocostanzo on July 11-12 and in Roccaraso on July 18-19 …
We’ll bring two shows, one is “Gaia e il Libro Magico”, Gaia and the magical book, written and interpreted by Carla Robertson. Gaia sings, dances and reads the tales that lives in her book and will talk about the invisible, about fairies and elves. Everyone of her tales talks about the world of the spirits of the nature in the sight of her rich Southern American cultural and symbolical heritage. Gaia, the personification of our Planet, says at the very beginning of the show: “The Earth is my home”, then she brings all the children along with her in an unbelievable and cute travel. With songs and dances from Africa to South America, and from Celtic Europe to the traditional tenor singing of Sardinia, Gaia makes of the literature an amazing story.
The other show is titled “La sorgente nascosta”, the hidden spring. Both Carla and I will be onstage in this show, and here too we sing and play traditional musical instrument of different cultures of the World. The play is based upon an ancient tale of the Dong people, that lives in the southern China. The hero is a long haired girl ready to give her life to save her people from the thirst. It’s a great example of wisdom literature directed to the heart of the children, we adapted it to the theatre. We’ll bring it at the International Festival of the Gnomes for the actual value of its message and the immediate and profound beauty of its on stage performance.