The Orgies Mysteries Theatre is one of the most radical experiences in twenty-century theatre. Hermann Nitsch started his project in Vienna at the beginning of the 1960s. At that time Nitsch was a young painter taken by the idea of writing a drama that would last for six days and that would be staged at a big ritual festival. Nitsch developed his original hypothesis changing the medium of expression in the process: the Orgies Mysteries Theatre does not perform traditional plays, but is rather based on stage writing and body art experience. Nitsch’s performances are composed of actions where the performers use dead animal, blood and other organic matters to create a ritual effect, which evokes the ancestral rites of death and rebirth. The performances have a very strong impact on the audience. The Orgies Mysteries Theatre is a theatre that affects all the senses, in a way that is remindful of Wagner’s Gesamtkunstwerk, a Gesamtkunstwerk of the senses, if you will. Actors, in Nitsch’s theatre have special functions. Nitsch distinguishes between “active actors” (who produce the action) and “passive actors” (who are the recipients of it). The latter are the real characters of the drama, while the role of the “active actors” is similar to that of the ancient Greek chorus: they stand for the audience. Actors, in Nitsch’s idea of Theatre, function as ritual operators who act in reality, as performers that do not simulate but rather use reality directly as a form of writing. Actors also function as a visual sign in the performance, as symbolic evocations of sort. As such they have also an iconic role in the stage writing.


Lorenzo Mango è Professore di Storia del teatro moderno e contemporaneo all’Università di Napoli “L’Orientale”. Ha scritto La scena della perdita. Il teatro tra avanguardia e postavanguardia, Roma, Kappa, 1987; Teatro di poesia. Saggio su Federico Tiezzi, Roma, Bulzoni, 1994; Alla scoperta di nuovi sensi. Il Tattilismo futurista, Napoli, La città del sole, 2001; La scrittura scenica. Un codice e le sue pratiche nel teatro del Novecento, Roma, Bulzoni, 2003; Il principe costante di Calderón de la Barca/Słowacki per Jerzy Grotowski, Pisa, ETS, 2008. lormango@tin.it


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