BLACKS: a show for whites
a project devised and directed by Luigi Morra
Are we still talking about black and white people? Seriously?!
Yes, we are. It’s happening in this historical moment as well as it happens in this theatrical project that attemps to exaggerate the issue by focusing on the concept of distance. A kind of distance that separates like the one that separates the actors from the audience and keeps away the drama, as if it were a show that can be comfortably watched and commented without the responsibility of feeling involved. The news reports meet references and inspirations to authors like Jean Genet and Harriet Beecher Stowe. Most of the script is drawn from the web, more precisely from thoughts, statements and other materials collected from social networks. The first performance of BLACKS: a show for whites made its debut in 2018, after a creative residence that involved Ebrima Badjie. Ebrima is not exactly an actor: he is actually a young man who crossed the desert and the sea to come to Italy leaving Casamance, Senegal. Now he lives in Carinola where he works as a cultural mediator; along with Alessandra Masi, he is the protagonist of this theatrical project open to different possibilities of set-up and narration. A show that also includes other languages, like the publication of a video series on the web.
The first stage of this artistic project starts in Casanova di Carinola, a small town in the South of Italy. Here, on the 12th edition of the Lunarte festival, on September the 1st 2018, the first studio performance made debut.
Ebrima Badjie is from Casamance and now lives in Carinola. In the show he is “uno de’ chist'”, a dialectal expression used in the territory in which he now lives that could be translated to “one of these ones”. The scene focuses on an atmosphere that deals with themes such as immigration and racism by exaggerating the concept of distance. A kind of distance that separates in the same way theater separates the actors from the audience by keeping them “safe” from the drama, without the responsibility of feeling involved.
The news reports, the majority of which are linked to the recent facts of the Mediterranean, meet the inspiration to authors like Jean Genet and Harriet Beecher Stowe. Most of the script is drawn from social networks, more precisely from people’s posts linked to the themes of racism and integration in Italy and later played by the voice of the protagonist in Italian, South of Italy dialects, English and Wolof.
In the performance there’s a relationship between the performer and the director, a thread that continuously switches from complicity to conflict. Everything happens in an atmosphere of complete sharing with the audience and the relationship between the show and the spectators becomes an active element. At the entrance a tomato is given to each spectator, a symbol that in the theater is a sign of disapproval but, at the same time, it refers to the issue of workers’ exploitation in the farmland.
After the first performance during Lunarte festival, BLACKS: a show for whites has had the opportunity to be replicated in different contexts, and running its way the project has had new developments. Alessandra Masi has joined the cast, an actress who brings a female character to the pièce, adding other possibilities to the narration. Moreover, the language of the video, edited by Domenico Catano, is added. The videos open to other scenarios in which the actors relate to each other in a sort of impossible dialogue.
During quarantine the idea to create a sort of video series starting from the footage was born; it includes various episodes of different duration that focus on different aspects of the matter to be published online without a precise frequency.
During this period, Luigi Morra has come up with the idea of publishing a track by CAMERA taken from the soundtracks and to create www.negri.show
The contents of the play keep on increasing drawing from the present, in fact over the last few months the reflection on the protests and the events that occurred after the murder of George Floyd in the USA is unavoidable, as well as on the relationship these events have with the issues of the Mediterranean.
BLACKS: a show for whites is a also an project in progress that aims at developing, step by step, by attempting to add facts and possibilities linked to the main theme, experimenting with different languages. Every show aims at involving the audience through the performance, in an atmosphere of fruition that keeps on changing. In fact, the performance includes interventions of different duration depending on the different contexts and locations in which the show is set. The events can also include audio-visual installations, projections of films, meetings. Moreover, in specific occasions, it’s also possible to take action in workshop tasks, involving working groups interested in the performance, other artists and the host community.