On August 10 & 12, 2012, IATI Theater hosted the European Theatre Ensemble j33tre for their performance of Nella Foresta at the PAM Festival, marking an important cross-continental collaboration between IATI and j33tre, based in Rome. Learn more about this unique performance below…
Nella Foresta: A Review
By mercilessly preying upon our subconscious fears and manipulating archetypal storytelling cues, Nella Foresta is both an expansion of traditional folklore themes from the world over and a meditation on them. It’s in this primordial fairytale forest that the spectacular puppetry comes to life. A dark but not cynical show, Nella Foresta is more than the sum of the folklore tropes at its disposal.
The show straddles a blurry line, neither recommended for kids nor composed of necessarily adult content. Living this for us, protagonist Marc (Adriano Saleri) is struggling in his relationship with his mother and attempting to come into his own as a writer, clamoring to emerge into emotional and artistic independence. His writing is filled entirely with the resonant concept upon which most Western fairy tales are based: innocent children becoming lost deep in the woods. Despite drawing from the same stylistic underpinnings as storybook re-telling of Hansel and Gretel or Red Riding Hood, Nella Foresta does not fall into fairytale forest cliches. Rather, the audience is invited to explore these archetypes from a novel perspective, through the lens of a son and struggling artist.
While the cast is likeable and convincing, the residents of these nightmare woods are the true stars of the show. The puppets of Giles Smith are at once charmingly innocent and gratuitously abused, non-threatening in affect and articulation but necrotic in appearance. Bare wire is exposed on their heads, their clothes are torn or poorly patched, their fur is inappropriate for their flesh, and yet they deliver helpful messages or engage Marc in lighthearted conversations on mortality. This dissonance lends itself to the impending sense of beautiful unease that permeates the show, as does a rich sound scape of emotional instruments and ambiguous sound effects.
In whole, Nella Foresta is a charming and eery production, skillfully drawing upon archetypal imagery to engage its audience and contributing original texture to the experience. Any fan of puppetry would be remiss to avoid a night in these woods.
- Written by Shane Reader