The crisis in which this generation of university students lives ever since we have known, the pandemic, the war, the galloping inflation, runs across every show of this edition of FATAL. It is inevitable. It creates a whirlpool of normalisation of decadence, of acceptance of precarity, of atavisms, snoozes, quarantines, inactions, which the democratic theatre should question. It is not that theatre solves everything, but that the university groups show on stage that we are in a new phase, they do.
There is a light at the end of the tunnel.
The pain of the young, described by Ferdinand Bruckner in 1926, is their transition in time and space. A safe time and space, where everything is still possible and doable, and another time and space where everything has become questionable, censorable and cruel.
A model existential angst of a generation.
The generation of those shifting through roles, searching for their place, the ones that give up before trying, who expect immediate gratification everyday, who integrate and question themselves, who do not integrate, continues, in this time and space, to find reasons to question and censor.
Our time and our space are, nowadays, as dramatic as the time in which nazism rised in Europe, and are we not again, less than a hundred years later, “at war”? We can always compare times and people, and use metaphors, new myths. We can always do it because in theatre everything is possible. We can always do it because in academic theatre everything is still possible. The Academic Theatre, free of the reins of commercialism, of pop culture, of market fluctuations, of the easy likes, can affirm itself as the true theatre of thought, the University and the Academia are its bastions.
The theatre transports with itself the heritage of democracy, both were born at the same time, both are sons of the same Eumenides of which Aeschylus told us about. The Erinyes (Furies) which come to be the benevolent Eumenides. Those human feelings turned gods, placated forever in the altar of the popular tribunal. Aeschylus’s trilogy is not only the only complete trilogy to reach us, it is also the founder of western civilization.
And in this year’s FATAL, there will be very different ideas on stage. The selected groups for the category IN COMPETITION (TUP, NNT, GTL, GTIST, ARTEC, mISCuTEm), all present profound thinking and a profound relation between text and stage. It is the drama being born. The drama, as time and space for thought, of the action without any rational explanation. The drama as a place where individuals and collective imagination meet, with the position of the Other. The real place to inhabit, that of the character.
The matters of the day, inflation, house pricing, individualisation, come up like a therapy session or like an exorcism. There are texts about the lives of the students, there are waters contaminated with sediments, shakespearean myths, servers of two masters (how many jobs do we have?). We also saw the representativity and diversity as a unifying factor and not dividing factor, through the integration of multiple sensibilities, multiple chromaticities, languages and motricities.
All signs of good mental health. All signs that we are all still being studied, that we all remain in treatment. Signs which, we hope, are important to the lives of the spectators of FATAL’s shows this year.
The first step towards the cure is the acceptance of the etymology of the word illness itself.