Antonio Rezza and Flavia Mastrella: Two names, one art
by Gianluca Mercadante
It is possible to go beyond. Beyond the dividing line that separates the stage from the audience, beyond the screen that separates the viewers from the movie, beyond the body which is naturally doomed to death. Antonio Rezza and Flavia Mastrella embody this beyond, a unique beyond, exactly like their over 20-year-long carrier together.
Rezza: amazing performer, athlete onstage, phenomenal writer and exponent of a way of doing theatre as no one else in Italy. Mastrella: visual and visionary artist. Without her creations (some of which on show in Italy and in other countries) the stage would not exist, neither would all the things we could see until now thanks to the synergy between two strong personalities who, however, coexist in the same space and time, and who have created dramas representing something that takes shape from life and then expands and becomes something beyond.
Let’s see how.
Antonio Rezza and Flavia Mastrella: two worlds, theatre and installations, which meet and integrate to form a single artistic expression. When has your partnership begun.
Antonio Rezza: In 1987, almost by chance, almost perforce. There isn’t much to do in the Roman districts. And then it happens to attract each other. The oppurtunity was a photographic exhibition on the deformations of my face. Flavia created the space.
Flavia Mastrella: We met at the right time, sure that there is always a new form to discover and that there are endless creative combinations in the human beings. Â
Indeed, your shows arise as a result of the fusion of your skills. What are the steps from there to the final result? How do you interact, if neither of you imposes on the work of the other one?
A.R.: Relational anarchy is fundamental to our way of perceiving the scene. Nobody can say something to the other but everything, hence nobody leads at all. We are both affected by our own will. Our dictatorial attitude forces us into strictness. In two words: Flavia creates the spaces and I end up staying there for one year or even more.
F.M.: After that, it is only about sculpting, you just have to remove excess.
Theatre, but not only theatre: Rezza and Mastrella is a partnership that also involves cinema: from short films (some of them have been collected in their book/DVD entitled “Democratic optimism”) to feature films. What are, in your opinion, the fundamental differences between the stage and the framing of the camera?
A.R.:Â The kind of theatre we do not represent does justice to the body that is going towards the end. Cinema crystallizes the immediate end of the body. Cinema is more untruthful than theatre. But theatre can often be more cowardly.
F.M.: Cinema involves many languages, if you want to do good theatre you have to make cinema, to use the language of image and to dispel the obtusity of the recited words now reigning in the way theatre is perceived.
In all your shows there are references to our contemporary age: two decades have passed from “Pitecus” to “Fratto x”, and yet, ifÂ you see “Pitecus” today it turns out to be as modern and contemporary as your new show, except for the natural evolution of the language. Does this mean that contemporaneity hasn’t changed or simply that your performances on stage are immutable over time?
A.R.:Â It’s because of us. Since we have never been bound up with present, we become the present of every free mind, and of every mind rented to compromise too. We will do good.
F.M.: The need to share emerges from our communicative strut, and this is something now completely missing in our culture: laughs and fragments of everyday life awaken emotions. We act according to emotions, the theatrical act loses therefore its characteristics and becomes a ritual. The fragmentary and poetic ritual is always renewed.
What about your future projects?
A.R.:Â We want to continue our self-exploration and to perform our shows abroad in other languages, in other places, the more the better. And then, finally, we want to become immortal classics. Because it is inevitable.
F.R.: Explore the unexplored.