An hour with Dante – Inferno

My basic desire is to share with the public the joy that an unsophisticated reading of Alighieri can give and the discovery that his poetry can accompany us and nourish us throughout our lives.

I tackle the Divine Comedy from the point of departure that is best suited to me, the theater, feeling authorized to do so by the title chosen by Dante for his poem, who is also its protagonist.

Dante actor and composer of his Comedy

The Divine Comedy is a long subjective vision in which Dante presents himself to us as an actor (i.e. as someone who acts) and we go on a journey and see things only if we identify with Dante, mime his gestures, repeat his words, listen to what he hears…

Dante translates the action of his journey into a language, i.e. a code, that makes it accessible to others (us), shareable. This code is the Italian tongue, both written and spoken. In fact I think that the language here is intended to be spoken, or at least it certainly was in 1300, when the majority of the population was illiterate; and it is no accident that Dante wrote in the “vulgar” tongue. This is why Dante is an actor who turns into a writer.

But there is more. On his journey Dante sees and perceives, hears and listens. Often we even have the impression that hearing prevails over sight. The whole of Dante’s journey becomes both visual and aural for us… Dante is also the composer of his Comedy.

There is no “music” in the Inferno. Hell is a cacophonous, discordant, deafening place, where the sounds are deep, ear-splitting, grating noises… There is no harmony at all. When music does appear it is distorted or a dismal parody of itself.

But since Hell is an awfully dark place, Dante first hears and then sees or rather glimpses. The Inferno is a world of sound rather than sight… We cannot defend ourselves from our ears, they have no “lids we can close.” The ears oblige us to deal with the world outside…

performed and directed by Marina Spreafico