E R I C
A THEATRICAL PROJECT

 

Eric is a five-act drama written in blank verse composed in 1910 (and, intermittently, over the course of several years) by the Indian Poet-seer Sri Aurobindo (1872-1950). This drama was published posthumously, in 1960, but it was only in 1998 that a definitive critical edition was published, in which the different manuscripts were compared: for each scene, the last version created by the author was transcribed (where the last existing version is incomplete, the scene in question has been completed taking the missing parts from previous versions). In this way, it was possible to reconstruct the entire theatrical text.

The drama is centred on that particular branch of the Eurasian tradition flourished in the fascinating world of the Norse sagas. It is not known from which precise source Sri Aurobindo drew the dramaturgical material, but certainly he read, in Latin and in vernaculars (German and English), the various sagas consecrated to the Icelandic-Norwegian kings. None of these narratives, of course, can reveal the secret of the beauty of this lyrical drama: as usual, Sri Aurobindo transcends the written sources and draws inspiration from deeper sources, freely using names and events in history (in this case in Norway, in a time span between the end of the ninth century and the beginning of the XI: the theatrical action takes place at the beginning of the unification of the Kingdom of Norway, and the protagonist claims to be the first unifier of the country) to weave a sublime metaphor on the importance of harmoniously combining three powers: wisdom, strength, love — represented here, respectively, by the god Odin, by the god Thor and by the goddess Freya.

We want to point out clearly that our way of doing theatre has practically nothing to do with the so-called “bourgeois theatre” now collapsed (or “prose theatre”, if you prefer): if anything, we take a cue from some conceptions of Aeschylus, according to which the théatron is the place where you can access the essential, finding the liberating truth from anguish.

Among other things, we would like to revitalize the epistemic aspect: theatre as a great collective ritual of catharsis and rebirth... A journey inside the mythical Platonic cave, to emerge together towards the sun of true life. In Plato’s aristocratic conception, as we know, only a narrow élite of philosophers could aspire to awaken from ignorance, while Aeschylus intended to offer this possibility to all (this, probably, the reason why he was banned and had to repair in Sicily!).

Moreover, in our theatre the synaesthetic component also has its importance: we try to involve all the physical senses, to mix them together in the highest possible degree — the hearing (poetry and music), the sight (lights and shapes), the smell (aromas), touch and taste.

As a direct result, the need arises to create a continuous contamination between the various types of performative genres — actoral action, music and song, dance, painting, sculpture, architecture.

Nor should we overlook the primary importance we accord to what the philosopher Walter Benjamin called the “auric aspect” of a work of art — that is to say, the hic et nunc of the stage representation, its unrepeatability and the magic deriving from the living presence of actors and spectators. This pushes us to create our shows in scenic spaces where there is no clear demarcation between actors and spectators (the latter will then find themselves within the action of the drama, somehow directly involved).

Needless to say that, to make this possible and create real theatrical magic, absolute importance is given to the creative task of each actor, fed through a long and meticulous work.