Men, beast, city and things: a day with Elio Germano
Text Michele Corgnoli – Photos by Elio Germano: Giovanni Santi – A special thanks to Andrea Merendelli and to the sta of the E etto K association
Translator’s note: the quotes in bold are taken from Journey to the End of the Night by Louis-Ferdiand Céline, read by Elio Germano in the show the 13th of May at the Anghiari Theatre.
Short account of a lunch and of the reflections which remain written a little on the place mats of Talozzi Bistrot and a little in the soul. Present were Elio Germano and the crew of the reading musical Journey to the End of the Night, Alessandro Fiori and his band, the group of the Anghiari Theatre. We, for The Mag, were also there.
It is midday on a Saturday just at the beginning of the summer, in the shades of the historical buildings of Anghiari it is still cold. A dozen people, coming from different directions, passengers of the day and the night, artists and street acrobats, meet halfway down the long straight road that cuts the “city of the battle” in two. Perfect crossroads in which the lunch, the staging, the entire day, transform themselves in op- portunity to re ect on today’s world, with casualness and yet density.
Right in the middle of the road, an actor, young and determined, by no means acting like a celebrity de- spite his success that he has had in recent years on the big screen: Elio Germano. We sit at a table and we make a small crowd of people, from which a conver- sation starts with many voices and different courses. The reading, re-reading or at least lea ng through the pages of Journey to the End of the Night by Céline, has been a recent experience for many of the present also for the occasion of the elaboration which will go on stage the same evening in the Anghiari Theatre which we know is already full.
For this reason, dark words and mood may be hover- ing over the dining companions in regards to human institutions, which is precisely from the great French romance written during the times of the great Depression, the one of the past, but still powerful even in the present crisis.
A dark, nihilist, twilight and inconsolably disillu- sioned romance about the goodness of human nature, society and life in general. Acting is a survival mechanism, a necessary thing for everyone to live, someone says, we do it continuously, we have to understand that the narration cannot take the place of that which must narrate, answer back to someone else. Politics, for example, with storytelling brought to the extreme, low- ers itself to be empty narration, and politicians, able narrators without quality. Acting, not faking. Identify- ing yourself with someone, understanding the other as you know yourself. If it were possible we would not need any more rules or laws, someone else says. Coffee! A last one ends.
«Everyone, proud of having echoed these useful truths, stayed there, sitting, enchanted, to watch the coffee ladies».
After the lunch and the romance, he stays to speak about the show, the scenes and the sounds.
«Life is this, a shard of light which ends in the night».
On the stage a desk with a table lamp, a half empty scene; at the center, the musicians and the sound track invention which demonstrates itself to be the true crux of the show. Teho Teardo creates an atmosphere that is a fusion of chamber music which looks to a techno- logical future, thanks to the happy meeting of strings, guitars and electronica Elio Germano reads the romance Journey to the End of the Night in an intermittent (natural voice/distorted voice) where the prose comes out of its traditional dimension until it becomes sound.
His vocal performance, always seated, head and shoulders, evolves by way of those that seem to have contents of a jazz improvisation; continues to syntactic and semantic breaks, and carries on embellishing his tones and moods. Germano is principally this: voice. He uses his body only to turn the pages of the text violently and let them y around, while the public with half-closed eyes fol- low the images and the tones in a feverish half sleep.
The strong images evoked from the text, in which farce and tragedy live together, alternate and some- times overlap with the cinematic atmosphere of Teho Teardo, creating a suspenseful and bewildered soundtrack; that of a man in his early twenties. And so, a man of all times.
«When one does not have imagination, dying is a little thing, when one has it, dying is too much»