llegal Helpers is a theatrical text composed of interviews and dialogues recorded by Maxi Obexer in four different European countries. The respondents help migrants and asylum seekers, saving them from deportation as well as offering them protection and accommodation or help them crossing borders. Some interviews have already been convicted, others are jeopardizing their work and existence. The text investigates their deep motivations, difficulties, fears and failures. They are the voices, testimonies, necessarily anonymous, which pose an ethical question: what would we do in their place? The conclusion that the author reaches is a pretty harsh one: we are at war and genocide is underway. From Fortress Europe we could pretend nothing is happening, but we are in the middle of it. And by doing nothing we become accomplices to the acts. We are overwhelmed with information but despite, perhaps even because of, such an excess of information, we are deadened, immobilized on our sofas looking at images and hearing news to which we are desensitized. This information never becomes knowledge, it does not bring us closer, in fact it distances and alienates. The text prioritises action: only by leaving the solely information world it is possible to start acting.
Paola Rota works as a theatre actress with various directors including Gabriele Vacis, Elio De Capitani, FerdinandoBruni, GiampieroSolari as well as in cinema with Carlo Mazzacurati, MatteoGarrone and Eugenio Cappuccio. As a Theatrical Director she has produced various shows by contemporary authors for the Teatro Stabile in Turin, the Venice Biennale and Milan’s Teatrodell’Elfo. In 2005 she met Luca Ronconi at Umbria’s Centro TeatraleSantacristina, and began collaborating with him as a director on his shows “Troilus & Cressida” and Lo Specchio del Diavolo (The Mirror of the Devil), and as his assistant director on Puccini’s “Turandot”. From 2008 to the present she has collaborated many times with Mario Martone. She is the director of “Due Partite” by Cristina Comencini and “Lingua Madre Mameloschn” by Sascha Marianna Salzmann. Rota has worked under the auspices of the Fabulamundi project and alongside Giuseppe Battistonon Winston versus Churchill.
Simonetta Solderis an Austrian-Italian actress and translator. After graduating as an interpreter/translator she began working as a dialogue-coach in Italo-German TV co-productions. She studied in Vienna with MaresaHoerbiger and UweFalkenbach before moving to the United States and studying at the Herbert Berghof Studio in New York and Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theatre. Theatrically she has worked with Giorgio Pressburger, Israel Horovitz and Francesca Comencini and is a member of the Horovitz-Paciotto Company. Solder has translated the plays Lebensraum and The sins of the mother by Israel Horovitz. With the Gruppo Rep, she has participated in the translation and adaptation of ”One Man, Two Guvners” by playwright Richard Bean, directed by PierfrancescoFavino and Paolo Sassanelli. Among the directors with whom she has worked in TV & Cinema are GiacomoCampiotti, Giacomo Battiato, Riccardo Milani, Marco Tullio Giordana and Ivan Cotroneo. She is often involved in international and German language productions such as Diederik Van Rooijen’s TV series “Heirs of Night” which is coming out later this year. Currently, she is collaborating with Manuela Cherubini and Gaia Saitta on a project entitled “Burning Play”.
TehoTeardo was born in Pordenone, north eastern Italy. Teardo is a composer, musician and sound designer. His commitment to the world of cinema is significant, he has created soundtracks for important Italian directors such as Gabriele Salvatores, Paolo Sorrentino, Andrea Molaioli, Guido Chiesa, Daniele Vicari and Claudio Cupellini. Alongside actor ElioGermano he produced the show Viaggio al termine della notte (Journey at the end of night), based on Louis-Ferdinand Cèline’s masterpiece. Since 2012 he has collaborated with photographer Charles Freger with whom he released the album “Music for a Wilder Mann”. He has been collaborating for years with the singer Blixa Bargeld (EinstuerzendeNeubauten) and Irish playwright Enda Walsh for whom he composed the music for “Ballyturk” (National Theater). Among many accolades claimed during his career are the David di Donatello and Golden Arena Awards, the Ciak d’Oro, and the Premio Ennio Morricone.
text of Maxi Obexer
project by Paola Rota, Simonetta Solder, Teho Teardo
recorded voices Luigi Diberti, Luigi Di Majo, Pietro Faiella, Silvia Gallerano, Giorgio Marchesi, Orietta Notari, Irene Petris, Francesco Bolo Rossini
scenography Andrea Violato
translation Sonia Antinori
production Festival delle Colline Torinesi–Torino Creazione Contemporanea, TPE (Teatro Piemonte Europa), PAV/Fabulamundi Playwriting Europe–Beyond Borders
© Fabio Lovino
Notes on Short Theatre 2020
What else is your work about, besides what is already told in the synopsis?
Teho When I started playing in a group I looked to the Alps knowing that beyond was Europe and I always wanted to escape. And I did it by playing.
I had no drama to escape from, but the desire to build a life that was as close as possible to what I was looking for in music.
It should be enough to be able to move freely across borders.
What for us could only be a privilege for others is a matter of life or death, we have no excuses when we look at the mountains.
Who or what—real or imaginary, present, past or future—do you think contributed to the creation of this work? Is there any object/trace you own that can make this clear?
Paola There is a possibility of choice in the face of a human catastrophe. We feel like spectators of an event that seems to make us helpless, but perhaps feeling helpless is an excuse. We are faced with a choice that can bring us back to a less paradoxical dimension of humanity. We are powerful.
Simonetta As a Friulian and an Austrian I recognize myself in the mountains, there is a point where the three countries meet and enter Eastern Europe. As a child when we approached the border, I had the impression that we would crash into the Alps. We had to climb over them, cross the border to get to the other side. We always had a slight sense of guilt, as if we had escaped perhaps because the car was full of Italian food. I fantasized about what was in those mountains, other than hiding the krampus and guarding the ghosts and trenches of the great war. Reading Illegal I thought back to those woods, which revive at night, I associated faces with the story and the refugee took on the appearance of our Nigerian friends from the Esquiline. Lukas’s living room is the TV showcase of the shop in Piazza Vittorio where the images of the news scroll and we accelerate the pace to get out and everything has become real. But most of all I think I stopped to ask myself what I have become.
What do you imagine you will say about this work in fifteen years time? Would you ever have imagined making such work fifteen years ago?
Paola and Simonetta and Teho In fifteen years we would like it not to be so current, we would like to think that it is a relic of a world that no longer exists. This show is a meeting between three people and a text, a theme, fifteen years ago could not have existed.