Uomini e no

Duration: two hours and 18 minutes with interval

Created as a play with which the pupils from the Luchino Visconti course at the Piccolo Teatro Luca Ronconi School of Theatre graduated, Uomini e no, directed by Carmelo Rifici, was conceived and created - explained the director of the play and the school - “to give a group of young people the opportunity to take on an untraditional repertoire, with a stage play written by Michele Santeramo and based on the novel published by Elio Vittorini in 1945”.
Set in Milan between the spring and autumn of 1944, the piece tells the story of a group of partisans involved in a series of actions against the Nazi-fascist occupation of the city. “The choice of Uomini e no - continues Rifici -, with the agreement of Stefano Massini and Sergio Escobar, forms part of the Piccolo Teatro’s offering of contemporary playwriting. We were interested in a piece which was linked to Milan, and which was also perhaps a fertile terrain for an examination of the Italian language, in a period in which dubbing, cinema and TV often mars the relationship that the younger generations have with the literary language. The young actors, just like many of the characters in the novel, are not Milanese, but in the three years spent at school, they found themselves living in this city. I took their individual experiences as a starting point to “move” them in a Milan which no longer exists, creating parallels between how those places were seen and experienced by the partisans of the past, and how they are seen nowadays by us. Milan is a realistic and metaphorical place which is both the location of the historic events narrated, as well as the story of Enne 2, the lead character - behind which the ideas of Vittorini himself can be sensed - involved in a fight against an ever-less human version of themselves”.
The characters in Uomini e no are young adults of around twenty years of age who have been plunged into the tragedy of civil war, in a world rendered terrible chaotic by conflict. And yet, incredibly, the tragic events which strike them provide these young adults with a kind of wonder.
“Do the twenty-five-year-olds of today - concludes Rifici - have that same sense of wonder? I wanted them to regain an element of ancient richness of imagination, provoked by historical facts which should still affect us. Vittorini helps us to discover a kind of sense of marvel for the love, friendship and human relations which formed part of an era as complex as the first half of the twentieth century was, but which is now being relentlessly lost”.
When his novel was published, Elio Vittorini was heavily criticised, beginning with the title itself, which seemed to divide the two sides involved in the conflict into “human” and “inhuman”. In reality, Vittorini’s work, anything but simply Manichaean, is complex, at times ambiguous, and therefore extremely up-to-date.
“The text - concludes Rifici - is able to show the epidemic of violence, a disease which infects both factions, leading them towards a dangerous similarity. Nowadays it is very difficult to find such extreme ideological contrasts: unfortunately, that seed of indifference which Vittorini spoke of has exploded in full force”.

Piccolo Teatro Studio Melato
dal 24 ottobre al 19 novembre 2017
Uomini e no
by Michele Santeramo
from “Uomini e no” by Elio Vittorini
directed by Carmelo Rifici
sets by Paolo Di Benedetto, lighting by Claudio De Pace
costumes by Margherita Baldoni, music by Zeno Gabaglio
with (in alphabetical order) Giuseppe Aceto, Alessandro Bandini, Alfonso De Vreese, Salvo Drago, Caterina Filograno, Yasmin Karam, Leda Kreider,Marta Malvestiti, Benedetto Patruno, Matteo Principi, Marco Risiglione, Elena Rivoltini, Livia Rossi, Martina Sammarco, Francesco Santagada, Sacha Trapletti, Annapaola Trevenzuoli
a Piccolo Teatro di Milano – Teatro d'Europa production

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