What: Aminta: a 16th century
"Sylvan Fable" by Torquato Tasso
Directed by Alessandro Fabrizi
When: May 27-28 at 7:30 p.m.
Where: Holcomb Gardens,
Butler University, 4600 Sunset Ave.
Rain? Go to Butler University Theatre Lab, Lilly Hall, third floor
Tickets: Free, open to the public;
call 940-9659 to reserve a space.
Why should you wander about Butler's Holcomb Gardens starting at sundown Friday and/or Saturday to witness scenes from a very old play you've never heard about?
Director Alessandro Fabrizi
Perhaps for Love. And the achingly beautiful glimmer of Wisdom breathed into life by reconsidering loving and being loved, "by surrendering to beauty and power of life," by witnessing a story on personal terms.
"I think it will be a moment of sharing openness to a question. A question without an answer, which is the best kind of question," Alessandro Fabrizi offers.
The story of Aminta is straightforward: boy-girl-impediment to true love-death-reconciliation. It's recognizable as Pyramis and Thisbe from the play within the play in A Midsummer Night's Dream, as Romeo and Juliet, West Side Story, even The Fantasticks. The meaning, however, is multilayered because in Aminta the impediment is internally rather than externally imposed, and the ending is happy. No one dies, only seems to. It's the dramatization of the sex act in which lovers feel they are dying at the instant of pleasure.
Fabrizi, an internationally known actor, director and teacher from Italy, is exploring with students and community theater professionals "the transforming power of love in classical theater" during the Butler Theatre Department's fourth summer International Theatre Exchange.
Aminta, written in 1573, "is a debate about love. It doesn't say it's good or bad," comments Fabrizi, whose approach to directing becomes as much a part of the audience experience as does the text of this poetical play about a shepherd's love for a reluctant childhood friend.
Torquato Tasso (1544-1595), Cervantes (1547-1616) and Shakespeare (1564-1616) were exploring similar classical themes during this extraordinary 16th to 17th century flowering of lyrical writing.
Symbols of love across cultures have always expressed a duality - as in yang-yin, lingam, the cross - in which two antagonistic elements reconcile at an unseen point to attain the ultimate goal of true love ... elimination of separation. That point of uniting, the mystic center, which does not really exist in space, is a figure of imagination. It is the driving force in Aminta, which the actors are exploring and reconciling with their own dualities. "In their youthfulness, they bring fresh insights to an old script that is very well-known in Italy," Fabrizi offers.
Fabrizi, and John Green, chair of Butler's Department of Theatre, spoke of love and death during a conversation on May 20. Why did the great Roman poet, Ovid, choose to sing of love instead of battles? Surely battles are more action packed, more the stuff of drama.
"As a director, I don't want to tell actors what the play is about; I want them to discover with me," Fabrizi begins.
"This then translates to the audience, this discovery," Green adds.
Aminta invites us to examine deep ruminations about ourselves, which is why Fabrizi first asks the actors to approach the script through movement, through understanding their bodies, before intellectualizing the text.
"I want to make a wound no one can heal," Fabrizi quotes from Tasso's script. "Aminta demands audience response; the learning curve is greater when everyone is engaged. We invite the audience to re-experience their first love, first loving, their reactions."
"In Holcomb Gardens on Wednesday, you could see students realizing how much is in the text - in words, in muscularity ..." Green adds.
"They touched things, what is specific, what is out of reach ... It's scary and beautiful asking questions about awakening love - what is there about someone loving you and how you respond?" Fabrizi continues. "It is the Orpheus mystery - you feel those words and situations to ask also, 'What is pleasure? How do you define beauty?'"
Fabrizi returns to Indianapolis in September to direct a full production of Aminta at Butler. Call 940-9659 for more information.