Teatro delle Albe

In 1983, Marco Martinelli, Ermanna Montanari, Luigi Dadina and Marcella Nonni found Teatro delle Albe. The company develops its way intertwining the search for the “new” with the lesson of the theatrical Tradition: playwright and director Martinelli draws inspiration from ancient authors as well as from present events, conceiving the stories for the actors, who therefore become co-authours of the plays to all effects. In 1988 a group of Senegalese griots enters the company: Mandiaye N’Diaye (who has been ever since and until his death, in 2014, the company’s African “column”), Mor Awa Niang and El Hadji Niang. Consequently, the team becomes a mixture of Africa and Romagna, practising an original theatre blend of dramaturgy and dance, music and dialects, invention and tradition, unique in Italy. The shows, from Ruh. Romagna più africa uguale (1988) to All’inferno! (1996), from I Polacchi (1998) to Sogno di una notte di mezza estate (2002), from Salmagundi (2004) to La mano (2005), earn them several prizes and awards, both nationally and internationally, highligting a rigorous, refined and exciting poetics, which is able to restore to theatre its ancient and powerful narrative function.

Besides Martinelli’s artistic direction (Drammaturgia Infinita Prize for Incantati in 1995, Ubu Prize for the dramaturgy of All’inferno! in 1997, Hystrio Prize as best director in 1999, Golden Laurel as “best director” at the International "Mess" Festival in Sarajevo for his show I Polacchi in 2003), also fundamental within the group are Ermanna Montanari’s visionary acting and disqueting vocal performances (she won the Ubu Prize as “best actress” in 2000 with L’isola di Alcina, in 2007 with Sterminio and in 2009 for Rosvita, she was also awarded the Adelaide Ristori Prize in 2001, the Golden Laurel as “best actress” at the International “Mess” Festival in Sarajevo with I Polacchi in 2003, and the Premio Duse in 2013); Luigi Dadina’s work as author-actor and as President of the Cooperative Ravenna Teatro (Griot-fuler, written with Mandiaye N’Diaye, won a mention at the Premio Nazionale Stregagatto 1995-96); the actors and actresses who participated to the non-scuola (a breeding ground for talents), namely Alessandro Argnani (Ubu Prize in 2006 as “best under-30 actor” with La canzone degli F.P. e degli I.M.), Cinzia Dezi, Luca Fagioli, Roberto Magnani (Premio Lo Straniero in 2001), Michela Marangoni, Laura Redaelli and Alessandro Renda, who since 1998 have marked the company’s path with their stage presence (they won a Ubu Prize nomination in 1999 for I Polacchi and in 2001 for Baldus in the “best new (under-30) actor” category); Enrico Isola’s technical direction; Vincent Longuemare’s stage lights; the collaboration with composer Luigi Ceccarelli, scenographers Cosetta Gardini and Edoardo Sanchi, authors Nevio Spadoni and Luca Doninelli. In 1999 Albe created Cantiere Orlando, a three-year workshop on Renaissance chivalric poems, co-produced by Biennale di Venezia, Ravenna Festival and Santarcangelo dei Teatri. Out of this project were originated the shows L’isola di Alcina (2000), a “concert for horn and romagnolo voice”, Baldus (2000), a rewriting of Teofilo Folengo’s poem of the same name, Sogno di una notte di mezza estate, a rewriting of William Shakespeare’s A midsummer night’s dream.

Between 2003 and 2004 Marco Martinelli directed the course Epidemie-percorso per la crescita professionale dell’attore (Epidemics – A workshop for the actor’s professional developement) organised by Emilia-Romagna Teatro Fondazione and Ravenna Teatro; during this nine-month project, a real breeding ground for young actors, 15 actors were selected and participated to Salmagundi, written and directed by Martinelli, which made its debut at Mittelfest 2004.

In February 2005 Marco Martinelli and Ermanna Montanari debuted with La mano, de Profundis Rock, taken from the novel of the same title by Luca Doninelli and co-produced by Mons-based Le Manège, Centre Culturel Transfrontalier de diffusion et création and by Italian festivals Ravenna Festival and Le Colline Torinesi. Between May and June 2005 Teatro delle Albe are in Chicago for five weeks with an intensive programme of performances and workshops, at the heart of which lies the reinvention of I Polacchi with a group of African-American students from Senn High School. The show is presented at MCA (Museum of Contemporary Art), arousing the enthusiasm of critics and viewers.

In October 2005 Marco Martinelli directs a “public reading” of Elsa Morante’s text La Canzone degli F.P. e degli I.M., which features the four young actors of Teatro delle Albe: Argnani, Fagioli, Magnani and Renda.

In 2006 he stages two shows: LEBEN, a rewriting of Grabbe’s play, and Werner Schwab’s Sterminio – the recipient of 4 Ubu Prizes in 2007 for “best direction” (Marco Martinelli), “best actress” (Ermanna Montanari), “best foreign new play” and a special prize to Vincent Longuemare “for having marked for years Albe’s shows with his stage lights” –, which forms a diptych on the unavoidability and universality of evil. Sterminio has also been shortlisted in the “best play of the year” category, and Enrico Isola and Vincent Longuemare were shortlisted in the “best scenography” category.

January 2007 sees the debut of Ubu buur, a remaking of Alfred Jarry’s King Ubu with a chorus of Senegalese adolescents from the village of Diol Kadd, in the heart of Senegal. Ubu buur had its European première at the Festival des Francophonies in Limousin (France), which also co-produced the play, and its national première at the Teatro Festival Italia of Naples, and then at VIE Scena Contemporanea Festival of Modena in autumn 2007.

June 2008 sees the debut of Rosvita, a reading-concert in which Ermanna Montanari, seventeen years later, returns to tackle the work of the 10th-century Saxon nun-playwright in the twofold role of actress – together with Cinzia Dezi, Michela Marangoni and Laura Redaelli – and author of the text.

2008 is also the year of the the staging of Stranieri by Antonio Tarantino, which marks a new attainment for Teatro delle Albe’s contemporary dramaturgy.

2009 sees the debut of Ouverture Alcina, a vocal performance by Ermanna Montanari based on a text by Nevio Spadoni and with music composed by Luigi Ceccarelli. The show has a great success among both the general public and the critics on the occasion of the numerous shows held in various cities of the world: from New York in collaboration with Coil Festival and Under the Radar Festival, to Moscow as part of the international Stanislavskij Season festival, from Tunis at the Journées Théâtrales de Carthage festival to Berlin at the Theater/Teatro festival, to Limoges at Festival des Francophonies en Limousin.

In 2010 Albe immerse themselves in Molière’s oeuvre, creating as a result two different works, which debut abroad and in Italy as well. After a long artistic residence in Belgium, detto Molière, written and directed by Marco Martinelli, debuts in Mons in February 2010, a choral event which sees on stage a “tribe” of forty people, among whom professional actors (both Italian and Belgian), musicians, students of the local Conservatory plus a group of adolescents from the cities in the border between France and Belgium. It is an unusual show, a real theatre party which involves the city and the theatre that hosts it, and during the tour has seen a joint co-production between le manège.mons, the Maison de Culture in Tournai (Belgium) and La Rose des Vents Scène Nationale Lille Métropole (France). 
L’Avaro (The Miser), the second part of the Molierian diptych, debuts in April 2010, produced by Ravenna Teatro in collaboration with AMAT (Associazione Marchigiana Attività Teatrali) and ERT (Emilia-Romagna Teatro Fondazione). Here the whole company is on stage, directed by Marco Martinelli, around the figure of Harpagon, ghost-puppet of power grabbed like a weapon by Ermanna Montanari.

Also in 2010 debuts Rumore di acque (Noise of Waters), written and directed by Marco Martinelli. It is an intense monologue capable of transfiguring into grotesque and melancholy poetry the tragic stories of boats adrift in the Mediterranean Sea. The show, devised with Ermanna Montanari, with Alessandro Renda on stage, music played live by Fratelli Mancuso and with sets, lights and costumes by Ermanna Monatanri and Enrico Isola, gets the patronage of Amnesty International, and the text Rumore di acque (published in Italy by Editoria & Spettacolo) arouses great interest also abroad: in 2011 it is translated into English by Tom Simpson and published by Bordighera press in 2014; in 2012 it is translated by Jean-Paul Manganaro and staged by Theatre Alibi (Bastia) at Avignon Off. The text is chosen by the project FACE À FACE, and several “mises en lecture” are performed in the national theatres of Nancy and Marseille.

2012 sees the debut of PANTANI, an international co-production between Teatro delle Albe and Centre Culturel Transfrontalier le Manège-Mons (Belgium). Martinelli’s text (awarded with Premio Ubu in 2013 as “best playwright”) expresses a yearning for justice while it depicts the last thirty years of Italian history and delves into the mystery of a society suffering from television and media frenzy and preoccupied with creating and destructing its own plastic celebrities, but also able to pillory its true heroes, such as Marco Pantani from Cesenatico, the climber who came from the sea. Ermanna Montanari won the 2013 Eleonora Duse Theatre Prize for the “best actress” for her role in PANTANI.

In 2013 debuts La camera da ricevere, by Ermanna Montanari: a tale from the «disguises’ room», with figures cut out from her repertoire.

Always in 2013 Teartro delle Albe creates A te come te by Giovanni Testori: a “stage reading” of Testori’s newspaper writings, three articles all linked by a specific thread: violence on women, written between 1979 and 1980.

2014 sees the opening of Vita agli arresti di Aung San Suu Kyi, conceived by Ermanna Montanari and Marco Martinelli, who also writes and directs this performance inspired by the Burma leader awarded with the Nobel Prize in 1991. For this performance, Montanari and Martinelli have been awarded with the Premio Enriquez “for a theatre of social and civic commitment”.

In 2011 Ermanna Montanari is the artistic director of the 41st Santarcangelo International Theatre Festival in the context of a three-year work (2009-2011) shared with Chiara Guidi (Socìetas Raffaello Sanzio) and Enrico Casagrande (Motus).

In 1991 Teatro delle Albe founded Ravenna Teatro, “Teatro Stabile di Innovazione”, recognised by the Italian Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities, which has been since its very beginning a “stabile corsaro”, carrying on – with the aid of Ravenna Municipality – an original practice of theatre experimentation, intertwining different programmes: contemporary theatre at Teatro Rasi, traditional theatre at Teatro Alighieri, plus the local non-scuola workshops, to which every year about 400 upper-schools’ students participate, therefore turning each workshop into an important formative experience. Since 2001, Teatro delle Albe have launched the non-scuola project out of Ravenna, in other Italian cities, from Milan to Napoli-Scampia – where it changed its name to Arrevuoto, capturing the attention of the media, of President of Italy Giorgio Napolitano and of renowned authors such as Roberto Saviano –, but also out of Italy, in Chicago (USA), Dakar (Senegal), Caen and Limoges (France), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) and Mons (Belgium). In July 2011, in the context of the prestigious 41st Santarcangelo International Theatre Festival, directed by Ermanna Montanari, there developed a new festive course of Teatro delle Albe’s non-scuola, Eresia della felicità, a “majakovskian version” of this twenty-year experience, with the participation of 200 youths from all over the world, who, under Marco Martinelli’s direction, seized Vladimir Majakovski’s verses in a huge, open-air theatre workshop, transforming Santarcangelo’s sphaeristerium into a glowing field of energy and heretical beauty.