La MaMa Blogs: Artist Interview: Dario D'Ambrosi / Hamlet Hallucinations

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Artist Interview: Dario D'Ambrosi / Hamlet Hallucinations

Dario D'Ambrosi / Hamlet Hallucinations

Saturday, October 26 – 10:00pm

Interviewer Sam Alper speaks with director/performer Dario D'Ambrosi about pathological theatre, playing professional soccer in Europe and fighting the power.

What led you to create Hamlet Hallucinations? Why Hamlet, as opposed to...

I have a theatre in Rome and in my theatre we have the school of theatre therapy, working with mentally ill boys, so it's very easy to have this approach to Hamlet. Also I think there's a character in Hamlet where Shakespeare describes, in an incredible way, mental illness, the Ophelia character. So, for me, it felt normal to approach Hamlet.

What have been the challenges of creating this production?

I have one actor, Mauro Cardinali, playing the '4th character,' which means the ghost of Hamlet's father, Hamlet's mother, Claudio and Ophelia. So that was difficult. It's really been step by step. Also I needed to change the way that bodies move, that voice is used, in order to find our relationship to Hamlet. The other difficulty was I took the story from Shakespeare but also used the analysis freud did of Hamlet. Freud had many many things to to say about Hamlet.

What has surprised you?

When I work with mental illness, I discover it's so closed, the world of normality is, to the world of mental illness. Hamlet helped me to understand how easy it is to go outside of your normality. How it's very easy one day to lose your reality.

Do you think of this work as political? Or your work in general, with Teatro Patologico?

Definitely, definitely. Many people, especially in Italy, they're against me because they think I just use mental illness to tell an incredible, violent story. But in fact I think [the mentally ill] have the possibility and the strong way how to tell their own stories. And thank god I have the energy to still work with them, because it's very difficult, when they feel sick, it's difficult to work, but I think it's a revolutionary way to tell a story against power and what is crazy behind powerful people. 

... The powerful people. Who exactly do you mean?

Like the president, people who run multi-nationals. People who really want to control so many other people. so it is amazing to work with the mentally ill, because in some way, they don't want somebody to control them. And you never can control one crazy guy, you never can control them. So in some way, in the theatre way, you use this. So many people say you use their sickness because you want to gain the power and I say, maybe, but thank god I have this opportunity.

Right, it's not so much about you controlling them. It's about making the point that no one controls them.


You were a professional football player, soccer player, at one point. What was it like going from that to the theatre?

To be a professionial soccer player, it's what I like to do in my life, it's like a dream. But in some way, the stage is like a stadium… In the stadium, you have eighty thousand people. And some nights on the stage you have 10 people but the feeling and emotion in relation with your body and your mind… your emotion is really the same. 

Because I played in big stadiums, professional stadiums and it was amazing, the feeling. But I tell you it's the same when you go on the stage, the first floor theatre where I started 34 years ago, I've done maybe 24 shows here. Every time it is always the same emotion.

That leads nicely into our last question. What is it like for you to work at La MaMa?

I was born into La MaMa and my relationship with Ellen Stewart was incredible. I knew her since '79, 34 years ago, so it was all my life. I started here when I was 19 years old and so for me she was really like a mother. We fought, we had incredible moments together, we laughed, she slept so many times at my house in Rome, she saw my daughter be born and grow up and… everything. She knew about my life - every moment of my life. So to work at La MaMa, it's like my home. I feel like this my home. And every night I have a dream about Mama. We talk during the night. I never stopped having a relationship to Ellen. I feel her hand as I walk onstage, every night. 

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