The first part of the Journey: Saint Petersburg

Hoppet St PetersburgThe first part of the trip took us from St. Petersburg,sailing in the Baltic Sea, between the Finnish islands to Hanko. In this first diary I’m going to write about St. Petersburg, before entering the theme of travel and navigation.

As we expected, the journey and the ship, the landscapes and meeting people have restored a full feeling of the world. When we allow ourselves to places, they give us back to ourselves, and we get to know them more,and more we discover traces they have left in our memories. And the ultimate meaning of travel and discovery is all wrapped up in the meeting with the multitude of people and with the differences of people, architectures and landscapes.

On the 22nd of May this journey offically started: in the next three years it will take us from St. Petersburg to Icaria, from the Baltic to the Aegean Sea, passing through 11 countries on our continent.

We will meet many faces: hundreds of artists and citizens . Here, at my side, Anna. The companion of my life. And Matilda, Nicke, Andrew, Mary, Peter, Tania, Olga, Sasha, Juliet and Kristian, Klodianna and Olesya, Manon and Frost, Lenka, Rado and Oskar Viktor and Tilde, Antonia, Angelica and Giancarlo. And many more.

St. Petersburg is huge and wonderful city . Colorful and with a look on landscape like few other cities in the world. Old women in uniform live eight hours a day in small cages at the bottom of the escalators in the underground. Many films are made in this metropoli among of the myriad of people who go up and down in the lymphatic system which moves thousands of people to the rhythm of huge watches. This magnificence and greatness sometimes make a strong contrast with sense behind the surface, behind the patina. But what is impressive, seeing all nationalities mixed here from the vast empire stretching from the Strait of Berjing at the heart of Europe, is coming from the international centuries, the history of the city built by Peter the Great .

The first major meeting happens to me during the press conference of the project at the Theatre Skorohod. The guest of honor is Slava Polunin, the great Russian clown. During the press conference every words Slava says leads away the audience of journalists and students. An anecdote, a look. But above all, the passing of the baton between his project, MIRA CARAVAN (The Caravan of Peace), and our project Meeting the Odyssey. On 22 May 1989, 25 years ago, Slava leaded this great caravan of clowns and circus performers from every part of Europe, anticipating the revolutions of that year, peacefully knocked down the walls between East and West. Slava tells us how this caravan of artists, children, dogs and caravans arrived on the Red Square. The direct intervention of the then Foreign Minister Shevardnadze to avoid military intervention. Or even about thousand of anecdotes of daring passages borders without visas , meetings with artists from around the world, the reception given in their honor by the Minister of Culture in Paris Mitterand, Jacques Lang. At the end of the press conference, after we confirmed the direction of our journey, a journey of peace and sharing between North and South Europe, between East and West, in a moment of tension and no longer tied to the visible boundaries and obvious, but the interests of the financial speculation that fuels so dangerous flames of nationalism to divert attention from the real heart of the problem – the profit at any cost, Slava passes the baton and the sense of his message. A glass bottle with a message inside, to be thrown into the sea. And we’ll meet Slava again next year in Milan for the start of the second year of the Odyssey.

May 23 is the day of the debut of Memories for Life, the first of the four major co-production Meeting the Odyssey. Committed artists, technicians and performe viirus Theater, ScarlattineTeatro designers, actors and performers of Asterion Hus Ranked # 99 Art and Profit A The nice mixture of languages ​​and experiences have made the show even more interesting. You will read about Memories for Life in the blog and on the website of Meeting the Odyssey. At the same time I started to collaborate with Giancarlo Biffi and Alessandro Mascia for the Instant performances in St. Petersburg, the show is built from the workshop with a group of 15 young artists of the city. Giancarlo and Alexander are two of the founders of CadaDie Teatro,a theatre company of Cagliari in Sardinia. Giancarlo is a Sardinian for adoption, he was born in Trezzo d’Adda in Lombardia, North of Italy. But you can feel in Giancarlo the importance of this dual identity so particularly strong in him, that he feels to be Sardinian, but he still uses the Milanese dialect in his shows.Giancarlo e Alessandro come from a theatrical and militant history and their point of view on the project is political. They want to gather and tell stories, beginning with the Odyssey. The workshop with the young Russian artists is held in a room with cardboard windows in a modern building in the heart of one of the central districts of St. Petersburg. Giancarlo heats up participants doing yoga and, in the next hours, he works on the island of the Cyclops. I ask the students to write their impressions of this experience and their point of view on Odyssey.

Mary writes in very personal terms. For her, this Odyssey is the chance to live her dream as an actress. In a way, she is going to the stage as Odysseus was in Ithaca. A trip. A personal deep research.

Evgenia thinks the Odyssey as the story of becoming mature, adult. Telemachus had to become the master of the house and for this he had to leave the child he was and learning to believe in himself, in his power. The power he recevied by gods and his father.Contemporary Telemachus is a boy who fells the difficult to believe in his father and in himself. The Odyssey is the story of the desire to find adventure and self-discovery. And is the story of how we can change ourselves during the path. And therefore it’is current as ever. The person is constantly in contemporary research. More intense, perhaps, of the one of ancient Odysseus. Contemporary Odysseus is looking for himself travelling (exploring himself, first of all, discovering the world around him). He search for his home in dangerous journeys. He Works in hot countries and in cozy bars and he rests in his small and cold hometown, under an old blanket, in a wild forest, in a tent under the rain. But, and it’s the most important thing, sooner or later he finds the strength to overcome his loneliness and to open to the encounter with others. He is contemporary Odysseus, exhausted and worn out, which has his greatest fear in Meeting others, but it is the only way to find himself.

Even for Elena Odyssey is a very personal journey. Each of us have his own Odyssey, she writes. For Helen’s Odyssey is the Journey. The Inner Journey. The reason of Destiny and the God that lives within and outside acts. The recurring motif of the ‘Anticipation of Loyalty’, Faith in humanity ‘. Ajax waited and then died ‘near Ulysses … It’ a very strong metefora. And then there’s also the part of Penelope … It ‘a heroic act … The power of’ love so great. It seems to me that you have made the strongest action, spiritual, that she resides in the inner heroism. She has not denied. But it ‘s so hard. Waiting is even harder then to do heroic acts .

The sea, the ship, the wind, the sail, life. Eternity ‘. The trials, temptation, struggle, choice and research. Finding himself in the world and peace within himself. The search for another person, trying to become one. The union. It seems to me that the Cyclops is not a physical dimension. For me and ‘the lump of pain, despair and denial of reality’. They are the inner demons that do not allow people to live and to experience joy in life. And each of us fight against the cyclops. How can. Some people give up, someone else don’t. But this fight lasts a lifetime. It is just another human being that can help us.

When people come together, in love or in any creative practice, loneliness decreases and our inner Cyclops recede.

In these days of May, I was in a lucky position. As artistic director of the project and as a spectator, among audience. When the day of departure arrived,on the 1st of June , Meeting the Odyssey comes out from theaters and it mixes with citizens of St. Petersburg. In a wonderful location, between St. Peter and Paul Fortress and the Palace of the Hermitage, the Neva river, our ship is ancore: the Hoppet. On the beach, in the pouring rain, more than 500 people gather to see the Instant St.Pete, danced an excerpt of Meories for Life, and the performance of Wet Wedding Akhe Engineering Theatre, art collective known and much appreciated in Russia.I interview Ilona, one of the 4 performers in Akhe. Ilona is from Georgia and she was married to an Italian artist. We speak in Italian together. I ask what is the Odyssey for her and if there are any similarities to the role of Medea (Georgian) who has just starred in the show. She replied that for her acting in the role of Medea, or talk about the Odyssey in theater means doing policy without talking political issues directly. The speech of Medea is pure policy, and it is an indictment of power and power management. As it has happened few years ago in Georgia, now it is happening the same in Ukraine according to Ilona. In Georgia, the Russian Army came to show to each of the nationalities of the Russian Federation what would have happened if they required independence. In this time in Russia you can not complain, you can not gather without permission, you can not swear on stage. Theindictment and police are always lurking. Ilona has produced and is touring with a show on the history of a woman, the most powerful woman in Russia at the time of his father Tsar Peter the Great. This woman died of consistency with respect to her own political and religious beliefs. Talking about this Ilona proposes a metaphor of the present. And in fact, for an artist, this situation of censorship and state violence, paradoxically, is challenging. You can not sit and wait, you can always find new images, metaphors, and tools to communicate. The discussion with Ilona open me a new gaze upon Russia which does not seem so repressive, but in fact don’t tolerate dissent to real power.

Olga Starkova is responsible for the entire project of identity and graphics, along with Maxim Zhuravlev. In addition to doing a great job Olga also has a ‘definite opinion of what this Odyssey. For Olga’s Odyssey is a book on decision making. During his entire journey Odysseus makes decisions continuosly, he makes choices that open up to hundreds of possible scenarios to the reality that will follow. Sometimes in an arrogant way, as when he reveals his real name, fleeing successfully from ‘Island of the Cyclops. Sometimes so brightly, as if on a raft in a stormy sea, he managed to reach the shores of the island of the Phaeacians. All these decisions are very human . The Odyssey is an hymn to the complex of nature, of human beings, in which greatness often goes hand in hand with stupidity.Is Odysseus really login to return to Ithaca?May be,with the desire to leave it back again . What is really important is that Ithaca has lived in his heart, because a journey without a goal is meaningless. The first half of my life was spent with a military father and every three years we were moved from one city to another, from one apartment to another. So I found out very quickly what is the meaning of loss and separation. And luck is to treasure the present moment. This is what brings forward and it does not make you lose your way in life. And I’m incredibly happy to be part of this modern Odyssey.

After the show, the night between the first and the secondo f June ,at two o’clock in the morning, the bridges of St. Petersburg open. We are on the Hoppet, which sails slowly between the magnificent palaces built by Italian architects called Peter.the craft with the Russian captain approched. To pass through the bridges and canals of the city to gain the open sea it takes about two hours. The captain and crew of the Estonian Hoppet are proud of their ship. The first ship from Estonia to stay at anchor in the heart of the great capital of the North since immemorial time. The captain is of few words. He’s just like I’ve always imagined a captain.

It’s cold in St. Petersburg tonight. It has rained non-stop from six o’clock in the morning to ten o’clock at night, when Wet Wedding has finished the sky has opened and the sun has flashed the facades of buildings on the banks of Neva. I fall asleep in my small boat bad. For ten days it will be my cave. The big trip has finally started. I wonder how it will be, what will be the Odyssey we are going to live.

Michele LOSI

Michele LOSI

General Manager and artistic director for Mediterranean at Scarlattine Teatro
Michele LOSI

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