At the limits of performance: Cottimisti or everyday life bursts in

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Cottimisti premiered at the Teatro in Trastevere (Rome) in March 1977. This work – true to the authors’ innovative approach – disputes the logic of traditional theatre, disrupting some of its coordinates, including the notion of performance and the temporal codes of the mise-en-scène.

The scene is a construction site. Two workers interrupt their lunch break as they suddenly begin to quarrel. The oldest construction worker runs across the stage and climbs up a pulley hanging from the ceiling, while the younger one builds a brick wall underneath him so that he can step onto it and come down. Using this brick pier as a pretext, the two performer-construction workers – in an action that lasts forty minutes – build a real brick wall on stage that begins to look like a proscenium. When the work is done, and the performers disappear behind their construction, a metal sphere descends from above and moves towards the spectators.

It is at this point that Cottimisti appears as a radical challenge to theatre: on the one hand there is literally nothing to stage or to perform, the text is not established in advance, but is the result of a detailed and articulated set of instructions about gesture, space and context, which mark the rhythm of the actions on stage. On the other hand, the time of theatre is banished: the only time is the time of the real action that is taking place in front of the spectators. The time of the wall’s construction is a time made of slow monotony and toil shown to the public. The theatre no longer condenses the time of life, but unfurls it and shares it in common with the spectator.

Cottimisti (1977) by Claudio Remondi and Riccardo Caporossi.
Actors: Riccardo Caporossi, Claudio Remondi.