The hall, La Pergola di Firenze, is a classical theater from the end of the seventeenth century. But the audience inside is different: men and women sitting in armchairs with strange helmets on their heads. In silence, heads move, one goes one way, one turns the other. They are watching, each on their own, a show – So it is (or I think) – which has the narrative trace of Pirandello, but which is made entirely in virtual reality. The idea, with the direction and interpreting the “skeptical” part of Laudisi, is of Elio Germano, who has just presented a preview, which will be followed by a Florentine event on July 14 and then in October the programming for everyone.
The Teatro della Toscano Foundation, Infinito and Gold Productions produced it together.
The story of Pirandello tells of a village where a man and his mother-in-law arrive. And a woman who could be his daughter-wife, or a second wife of him. The truth to know is difficult, and perhaps not even exist, or in any case it is not necessary. Yet everyone wants to know. A strong theme that Germano – fresh from the victory of the fourth David with I just wanted to hide – confronts the helmet-fitted spectator by lowering them into a living room where all the protagonists move. And the audience turns to follow the words of one, to peek at the gaze of the other, to observe hands and feet, which are not his own but those of the virtual mannequin on which the camera was placed intent on shooting 360 degrees. A lot of technology, made possible by VR supervisor Omar Rashid, but also many existential questions: who am I? How much of me is made up of my real identity and how much of the gaze of others?
Germano, you have always said that you are refractory to social media. But what relationship does it have with technology?
«It depends on the point of view, technology is many things. I may have a good relationship, but for me, members are tools of mass alienation that I try not to frequent because I think they steal the most precious thing we have: time. I don’t understand how people can be interested in reading and writing things to people they don’t see. I’ve never run into this type of toxic addiction “
What is the “good” technology instead?
“For example, I have an electric car. And I’m curious: I really like this possibility that they will send you photos from Mars, something that shocked me “
Would you like to go to Mars?
“If the journey didn’t last all that time, gladly. I already can’t stand to travel too many hours on the train, let alone months in a spaceship ».
This with Pirandello is not his first time in virtual reality.
«I have done several things, always with the Gold Vr company and with Omar Rashid. We were among the first in Italy to shoot a virtual reality documentary on reception centers for migrants, we took the viewer inside them. Virtual reality is perfect for the documentary: by now we are used to the wars seen on TV, instead in this way of being right in the middle of the bombings. After some experiences we instead started to mix virtual reality with written things, the last show for VR we did is Warning signal».
In that show an actor becomes a barker and thus a kind of dictator.
“It was a denunciation of how much we can be manipulated by one person on stage, when around us we have other people applauding. Technology, if used to manipulate people, becomes an even more powerful weapon ».
In this So it is (or I think) rather than manipulation we speak of identity and truth.
“When we go to the theater it often seems to us that things that happen on stage happen to others, whereas once we spectators reflected on what we saw, we felt involved. Here, here I have tried to make the viewer live in the midst of the characters, who are not something different from him. This is why the relationship between who I feel I am and who I am for others is central. And it is immediately evident, as soon as I put the viewer on: I know who I am, but then another person is reflected in the mirror (thanks to virtual reality), and that’s what others see ».
As an actor, do you feel this distance between who you feel you are and how others see it?
“I don’t know if as an actor or as a human being: I realized that what we perceive is dictated by a sort of montage of things that are known, seen, and above all imagined. It is useless to try to be in control, constantly dealing with what others think of us is without purpose and makes us live badly: you keep looking at yourself from the outside instead of living inside you and you miss the only beautiful thing, that is life . You become your own puppeteer ».
At the end, So it is (or I think) – shot with a movie camera but interpreted in real time as a show, without cutting or editing – would you call it a film or a play?
«A spherical film, something between theater and cinema, being neither of them. Or spheroscopic film ».
Are you making linear films instead?
«Yes, I’m shooting the new one by Gianni Amelio».