China | Shanghai, ACT Shanghai International Theatre Festival 2019
Croatia | Zagreb, Student Centre 2019
Croatia | Maribor, 54th Maribor Theatre Festival 2019
Spain | Madrid, Conde Duque 2019
UK | Birmingham, BE Festival 2018
Portugal | Lisbon, Teatro Nacional D. Maria II Ciclo Recém-nascidos [INTERNATIONAL PREMIÈRE] 2017
Italy | Modena, Teatro delle Passioni/VIE Festival [NATIONAL PREMIÈRE] 2017
UBU AWARD 2018 for Best Italian show of the year
Best of BE FESTIVAL Award – Birmingham
That’s why we always look lost in looking for something – even when we only make a few imperceptible gestures, glued to small bright bubbles.You do not understand who is listening and talking, who works and who is having fun, who really finds something and who is just confused. Have you come here without moving your gaze? Really? Isn’t this effort to do one thing at a time truly unbearable? Look around you – how many other things attract your attention? Now look at yourself from above – can you see yourself? The surfaces of the most densely populated regions on Earth are covered by a dense fog of messages, images and sounds.That’s where people move, interact, sleep. Sometimes more intense noises are heard, quickly absorbed by this fog as it flashes and resounds. Seen from here the planet seems just too loud and distracted to survive – even the glaciers melt too slowly for someone to pay attention to them. Let’s go back to the ground and look closely – we’re all mutating … into something that’s very, very fast.
In between mass distractions and digital mutations, we move about in an environment augmented by the media. Overloaded by information we live in a state of constant alertness that our ancestors only experienced in battle.The background noise grows all over the planet. Shouldn’t we learn to be quieter to try and understand what is worth paying attention to? Overload is a theatre show which takes on a hypertext structure. As a speech is being delivered, performers relentlessly offer links to hidden contents, which in turn trigger possible actions and images.The audience can choose either to ignore these links – and continue to listen to the speech – or to activate them.This will force them to shift their focus away from the main stage, and get lost in a maze of distractions – in an endless pursuit of fragments which very much resembles our daily routine.
The keynote speaker at the heart of it all is US writer David Foster Wallace. Many of his preoccupations appear to be close to ours – the role of the media in shaping today’s society, the entertainment industry’s pervasiveness, the way new technologies fragment our perception and wean us from deep analysis. At the same time, however, Wallace is the author of – both overwhelming and entertaining – maze-like works in which the reader gets lost, filled with wonder. His books contain long footnotes and flowcharts, taking the reader through the text in a ‘horizontal’ fashion and making them feel lost in the narration. Who better than him could express their thoughts on the ecology of the attention to an audience who is constantly distracted?
concept and direction Sotterraneo
on stage Sara Bonaventura, Claudio Cirri, Lorenza Guerrini, Daniele Pennati, Giulio Santolini
dramaturgy Daniele Villa
light design Marco Santambrogio
costumes Laura Dondoli
sound design Mattia Tuliozi
props Francesco Silei
graphic design Isabella Ahmadzadeh
international promotion Laura Artoni
coproduction Teatro Nacional D. Maria II within APAP – Performing Europe 2020, Creative Europe Programme of the EU contribution Centrale Fies_art work space, CSS Teatro stabile di innovazione del FVG with the support of Comune di Firenze, Regione Toscana, Mibact, Funder 35, Sillumina – copia privata per i giovani, per la cultura artistic residencies Associazione Teatrale Pistoiese, Tram – Attodue,Teatro Metastasio di Prato, Centrale Fies_art work space, Dialoghi – Residenze delle arti performative a Villa Manin, La Corte Ospitale – progetto residenziale 2017, Teatro Studio/Teatro della Toscana,Teatro Cantiere Florida/ Multiresidenza FLOW
duration of the show │1h 10’
photos ©Filipe Ferreira | Alex Brenner
Sotterraneo theatre company began working as a research collective in Florence in 2005. The group is comprised of long-term members as well as a cluster of collaborators whose numbers vary according to the project at hand. The resulting working group aims to investigate the linguistic possibilities of theater – a place characterized by a physical and intellectual time, both old and hopelessly contemporary.
“Overload – Sotterraneo’s most recent production – deals with one of today’s most serious and abstract issues, i.e. information overload and hypertextuality taking hold on the way humans relate to the world and communicate with each other. From their early days, Sotterraneo company’s shows have tackled the demise of narrative determinism and are characterized by an interaction with the audience. This time, Sotterraneo seem to be aiming higher. The aspect of game – always present in their works -, seems to hint at the madness pervading the world of communication and the illusion of knowledge. At last, theatre becomes an instrument of collective thought.”
Anna Bandettini, LA REPUBBLICA
“Overload by Sotterraneo is “just” a playful, chilling show revolving around a solid anthropological fact. In this age of a myriad digital devices, human attention span is inexorably decreasing and fragmenting […]. This idea, in a nutshell, is the starting point on which Sotterraneo’s new show is based. This is constructed as a game which actively involves the audience, and characterized by sharp wit as well as mockery, depicting – not quite reassuringly – how humans are evolving (or involving?).”
Claudia Cannella, HYSTRIO
”Overload is delivered by Sotterraneo a multi award winning theatre collective from Florence, a city which if the tourist brochure pictures of domes and pan-tiled roofs are to be believed is a peaceful and serene sort of place. But beneath those tranquil rooftops is a vibrant city in which no day goes as planned when there is a constant stream of distractions and interruptions. It is the nature of these distractions and interruptions that Overload, a work that is performed on the basis that it is still under development, seeks to explore. The performance is suitably fast-paced and free-flowing with lots of audience interaction. At one point an Italian swimmer in rubber cap, goggles and budgie smugglers launched himself from the stage directly at me in my front row and centre seat. At another point an Italian senorita invited me to the stage for a slow dance. Fairly-conventional audience participation stuff really. What is not so normal, is allowing the audience to decide the pace of the show, which effectively removes control of the performance from the performers. If we had been of such a mind the performance could still have been going at breakfast. Overload compares the supposed attention span of a goldfish, (no fish were harmed in the performance) with the supposedly reducing attention span of human beings. The performance asks us to wonder whether it is our attention span that is reducing or if instead it is the increasing number of distractions and our willingness to give in to those distractions that is creating the impression that we cannot concentrate. Excuse me I have just received an email… I am back, sorry that took a while the telephone rang and someone came to the door, Etc etc. It’s easily done and hard not to give in. Overload is comedic, at times bordering on farce but always fast paced in a way that reflects the overload of interruptions and distractions that have become part of living in a connected world. At times, it is also emotional as we discover that for each detraction to be able to start, something else must also come to an end, perhaps prematurely, even life itself. One thing it is not is distracted. Throughout the performance, which is both polished and on point, it is hard to believe that this is a work that is still being developed. I ask myself whether such a commentary on modern life will ever be able to reach a point of completion, or if it will just continue to evolve as the way in which we live changes. Overall Overload is great fun. Scratch beneath the surface though and you will be asking yourself if the number of distractions you allow yourself at home, at work and in every aspect of your life is justifiable or something that you need to have a serious word with yourself about. Attend a mainstream theatre production and you arrive with the expectation that you are going to be entertained. Attend an experimental theatre production and you will be no less entertained, but you will also be challenged.”
Michael Millward, theculturevulture.co.uk
”My favourite performance of the evening has to be Overload, however. (The title has been changed from Reload since the programme was printed.) The whole show is witty, irreverent, smart, and cute. Its visual landscape goes through revolution after revolution. Each fast change brings a laugh, gasp or some other exclamation, and somehow a half-man half-fish, while still facilitating plenty of gags, ends up as the most profoundly touching character. I would have gladly watched Overload two or three times over its 30-minute running time, which is surely the mark of an impeccable piece. The four performers from Teatro Sotterraneo involve the audience in ways that feel novel, far removed from hokey or pantomime inclusions that one might see in other shows. The same can be said of Stuff, which gives its audience members the chance to have their own shining moment on stage, where everyone leaves a star. Indeed, each performance seemed to have put considerable time into thinking about the ways in which the audience might react to the material, and how to engage as many different persons as possible, in an original manner. I cannot praise the festival organisers enough, for they positioned the shows in ways which not only seemed to build on one another, to tug you in this direction and that with purpose, but also to leave you in the right frame of mind for exiting into the festival space proper. By the end of Overload, I’d have found it difficult to locate any person not then willing to spend some Karma tokens (the Festival’s unique payment system) on a beer, and cut loose. The space itself is decorated wonderfully. The programme introductory notes suggest that “the variety in the stage programming aims to provoke reaction and stimulate dialogue about the role of art and how it can inspire, mobilise, move, make is laugh, dream and ultimately change us.” Such high aims are met, and then some. Timely, and alternately uproarious, emotive, and challenging, the Festival events are the perfect antidote to what has been a long week, a long few months even. Good times with friends and strangers alike, from every corner of Europe, sounds ideal.”
Will Amott, www.stagetalkmagazine.com