The logic of the inter-media image: Leo and Perla between stage and screen

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On April 21 1967, at the Teatro La Ringhiera in Rome, Leo de Berardinis and Perla Peragallo premiered their first production La faticosa messinscena dell’Amleto di William Shakespeare. Met with a certain degree of perplexity at its Roman premiere, the production was later consecrated at the conference in Ivrea, which in June of that year gathered the most radical and innovative experimental theatre under the banner of “new theatre”.

Leo de Berardinis e Perla Peragallo, La faticosa messinscena dell’Amleto di William Shakespeare, fotogramma di uno dei film proiettati, 1967. Pubblicata in Gianni Manzella, La bellezza amara. Arte e vita di Leo de Berardinis, La Casa Usher, 2010, p. 15

The emblematic nature of the work testifies to aspects of innovation that deserve careful consideration in our day.
This was Leo de Berardinis and Perla Peragallo’s first work, and the obstacles they encountered in the production are reflected in the title, ‘The arduous staging of William Shakespeare’s Hamlet’. Within the theoretical context of those years, La faticosa messinscena dell’Amleto di William Shakespeare delineates a series of aspects that are worth highlighting. On the one hand, it is presented as a practice that seeks to disrupt the logic of the dominating economic and productive concerns, in order to bring to the stage – as Gianni Manzella recalls1 – the power of poetry, and likening the stage to a happening, to make different languages interact. This leads us to the second pivotal theme, the cross-fertilization between different devices.

Leo de Berardinis e Perla Peragallo, La faticosa messinscena dell’Amleto di William Shakespeare, fotogramma di uno dei film proiettati, 1967. Pubblicata in Gianni Manzella, La bellezza amara. Arte e vita di Leo de Berardinis, La Casa Usher, 2010, p. 13

The authors define the work as a “cinema-theatre production”, thereby highlighting their incessant research focused on experimentation and a cross-fertilization between languages. In this case, the film projection – initially entrusted to Alberto Grifi, a leading figure in visual experimentation, and later to Mario Masini, only to be completed by De Berardinis and Peragallo themselves, who were also responsible for the film editing – is dramaturgically embedded into the composition of the image on stage which, with the live presence of the actors, doubles the images projected onto the screens and gives them a voice. The logic that begins to emerge would distinguish their later productions: the screen-stage comes to life theatrically, it becomes a space of light for the stage, inhabited by the gestures and words of the actors on stage who dialogue with the words and the images on film. 2

Leo de Berardinis e Perla Peragallo, La faticosa messinscena dell’Amleto di William Shakespeare. 1967. Fotogramma di uno dei film proiettati. Pubblicata in G. Bartolucci, La scrittura scenica, Roma, Lerici, 1968, p. 296

La faticosa messinscena dell’Amleto di William Shakespeare (1967)
A cinema-theatre production by Leo de Berardinis and Perla Peragallo
Camera operators: Alberto Grifi, Mario Masini, Leo de Berardinis, Perla Peragallo
Film editing: Leo de Berardinis and Perla Peragallo
Starring: Leo de Berardinis and Perla Peragallo
Premiere performance: Rome, Teatro alla Ringhiera, 21 April 1967
Significant performances: Ivrea, Centro Olivetti in Palazzo Canavese, 12 June 1967