Genius is back to Milan from Osaka. Mistero Buffo with Elisa Pistis for Urban Theatre

By Kevin Carrara

On 5th of May at 9 pm Elisa Pistis will bring at Corte dei Miracoli in Milan her re-interpretation of Dario Fo’s play Mistero Buffo. The performance is offered by Paolo Cacciato, director of ASG-Produzioni. Milano Genius 2019 is produced and organized by the Italian Institute of Culture in Osaka thanks to a collaboration with ASG-produzioni. Furthermore, the initiative is patronized by both the Municipalities of Milan and Osaka. In order to present to our readers the point of view of Mistero Buffo’s director, we interviewed Elisa Pistis.

What is Elisa Pistis’ Mistero Buffo and how does it relate to Dario Fo’s play?

My Mistero Buffo is of course no copy of Dario Fo’s work, rather it develops from a very simple starting point: a woman who alone stages Mistero Buffo. My re-worked version starts therefore from a feminine sensibility, that doesn’t exclude the master’s point of view, but which necessarily has a different expressive outcome.

I keep Dario Fo’s vision as a starting point when I begin to approach his texts. However, my goal is to re-elaborate the material at my best in order to perform it according to the needs of our times, which are completely different from the ones when the play was written.

How the Japanese public reacted to the show?

Japanese viewers were very focused and intrigued by the play. The public was large, very silent and respectful. One of the strengths of Mistero Buffo is its physical and gestural language, that allows the comprehension of the play even for people coming from a cultural background very different from the Italian. The work of instant translation made by the interpreter has permitted to everyone in the public to dunk themselves into the world of Mistero Buffo and enjoy it at its fullest.

What is the major insight you gained with this experience in Japan?

Surely, this experience in Japan developed my desire to expand my theatre work to all over the world. It was an opportunity of both artistic and human growth. I could see numerous performances and learn the expressive modalities of this thousand-year old nation. I was fascinated by one of Team Kabuki’s play, five hours of pure show with an active participation from the public. I was intrigued by the fact that at the end of the performance, after the drop of the curtain, the actors didn’t come out to take the well-deserved applause. The exchanges during the play between them and us, the viewers, were enough. Unlike in Italy, it is not common to thank the public and bow while waiting for the applause. So the five hours flew like in a moment and at the end of the show the exchange of emotions and regards was not needed. I dunk myself into the Japanese culture visiting less touristic places and trying to grasp some aspects of the local way of life. During my visit, I realized that few days aren’t enough to fully understand a population and its history. Instead, one should live there in order to do so. Since my work is focused on words, it was beautiful to listen their language. I took home the memory of many acoustics typical of Japanese alongside their way of greetings and playing music.

What should we expect on 5th of May in Corte dei Miracoli?

I hope to find a moment of sharing, since Mistero Buffo is a performance focused on the direct relation with the public. I like the idea to talk straight to each person attending my plays. I believe that a space like Corte dei Miracoli will be perfect in order to create the atmosphere that I seek. I hope to make people laugh lots and maybe make them shed some tears, too. I wish to transmit a part of myself in the play and leave an emotional message with the intent of making the public think while enjoying a beautiful evening together. For me it is very important that performances become a way to get in touch with people.