The axis of Eurypides' tragedy is the conflict between reason and instinct, intellect and biology, rationalismand mysticism, culture and nature. God Dionysos entered Thebes claiming his rights. The world seems to be out of joint - King Pentheus tries in vain to stop the frenzy of orgiastic mysticism taking possession of his kingdom. He wants to repress what he fears and abhors - the animal inside of man, irrational and wild, uncovered by the god he strives to retain. By argument and by force. He fails mocked by the god, bewitched, made ridicule and humiliated, he ends torn up by his own mother, aunts and other women.
The drama culminates in a virulent scoffing theophany - the triumph of a god being but deceit and sheer strength. With such a god humans can only loose - believers as well as opportunists or incredulous. It is the crowning and at the same time, the bursting of the classic tragedy by saying the unspeakable: gods - or what they personify - are evil, nothing but pain and destruction.
In that conflict we found an analogy with one of the key experiences of people suffering schizophrenia - the antinomy of flesh and spirit which is the core of our paraphrase.
Due to the difficulty and delicacy of the theme we have devoted to it two whole years of work. The performance and the process leading to it were an attempt to go deep into this problem and to become conscious of causes and consequences of rejecting own corporalities.
Our protagonist - feeling himself threatened by the proximity of a girl, stirring up his latent fears - had a vision in which she appeared to him as Dionysos. He saw his sinless paradise profaned by a pack of lascivious, dissolute women; seeked in vain refuge in the temple; was tempted and "raped"; made head against Dionysos - fettered him, entombed but this resurrected, ravished Pentheus who lived then his own passion ending torn up by the bacchants - personification of his own fears and desires.
For more safety we have parenthesised that story by adding the frame of a realistic situation, being the beginning and the end of the performance. Thanks to it the protagonist - once awaked from his vision, could surmount his fear and approach the girl who scared him so much.
Conscious of the role of the religious factor in our patients' "fear of flesh", we superimposed Christian symbology to the Greek myth.
The premiere (June '94) was followed, in September of the same year by a video version,
realised in 9 days only, during a Therapeutic Camp with a wholly new group of patients. None of them had had any previous contact with the theme. This time we reversed the process - instead of working from inside to outside, we gave up the intense intellectual psychological preparation during rehearsals and started from external tasks letting them penetrate the actors and “open” them. On the one hand the aim of the exercise was the liberation – in a short time - of a maximum of energy and expression, on the other one, it was an attempt to approach the theme in a less rationalised and reflected way but in a more empiric one, it means less deeply but more palpably.
But the most important was create such atmosphere of safety as to enable our patients to deal, in brief time, with so emotionally painful a theme. The whole was targeted on elaborate more direct and effective methods of activating our patients, to be applied in our Groups work.
Most of the persons involved in this projectcould latter successfully deepen their therapy, taking part in the theatrical performances being prepared during the years that followed.
2. The temptation of Penteus
3. The entombment of Dionysos
4. The earthquake and Dionysos'resurrection
5. The triumph of Dioysos
6. The sacrifice