Samuel Beckett on Italian Stages. Intermedial Performances Inspired by his Prose and Poems


  • Grazia D'Arienzo Università degli Studi di Salerno



My essay focuses on the Italian theatre of the twenty-first century, examining how digital technology revitalises Samuel Beckett’s non-dramatic work. In particular, I want to explore the collision between live performance and digital devices in the staging of the author’s prose and poetry. I will be discussing two case studies: Qual è la parola (2006), and deForma_09 (2009). The former is directed by Roberto Paci Dalò from the company Giardini Pensili and based on twenty-one of Beckett’s poems; the latter is staged under the direction of Michele Sambin from Tam Teatromusica, and it features fragments from the prose fictions Company and Worstward Ho. Both Paci Dalò and Sambin develop an intermedial type of performance, considering Beckett’s words as the core of audio and video processing, which also involves the actors’ bodies. In these projects, new technologies affect both the soundscape and the visual sphere, composing in real-time on both layers. Qual è la parola employs sampling techniques and live-produced music to generate a harmonious sound flow, together with Beckett’s lyrics. Projections of the performers’ figures appear on two gauzes, one positioned on the proscenium area and one on the backdrop. deForma_09 displays a set of sound contents: electronics, spoken words, and noises originated by the actors’ movements on the stage. While four microphones manipulate these elements, Sambin virtually paints on the performers’ silhouettes using a graphics tablet.

Keywords: Samuel Beckett; Italian theatre; intermedial performance; digital performance; Giardini Pensili; Tam Teatromusica