Daniele Bartolini
Daniele Bartolini is a director, installation artist, playwright and performer born in Florence, Italy. He has graduated from the University of Florence and has collaborated with some of the leading Italian companies and artists. In 2006, he co-founded DopoLavoroTeatrale where he is the Artistic Director. In August 2013, he premiered his first interactive creation - MIDWAY ALONG THE JOURNEY OF OUR LIFE in Toronto, at the SummerWorks Performance Festival. The show, designed for one audience member at a time, had a sold out run. In February 2014, Daniele was commissioned by the Bata Shoe Museum to create THE LAST SEVEN STEPS OF BARTHOLOMEW S., an original site specific creation for the four galleries of the museum. The show had a sold out and extended run. In August 2014, he premiered his latest creation THE STRANGER at the SummerWorks Performance Festival.

Daniele has been invited to stage THE STRANGER as part of the youth theatre festival Thespo in Mumbai.

 By Nishtha Juneja

Nishtha Juneja (NJ): THE STRANGER is described as a journey of a lone audience member, in which she/he will be introduced to several characters. How have you conceptualised these characters that the audience members meet?

Daniele Bartolini (DB): I don't have any preconceived plan for creating characters when I start to work on a new iteration of THE STRANGER. I start from my actors. I believe that it is important to begin the process with real encounters with my performers, especially when I don't know them, like in this particular case. I try to pull out the special light of each performer. When I watch them in action I see something, a sort of sparkle that belongs to them and I start to work from there. Then I proceed by creating characters that stimulates the audience in various ways. In this kind of work the characters are not there to say their lines but also to assist the audience releasing their own creativity. During the rehearsals I always keep one thing in mind: generate encounters where the audience is taken outside their normal sphere of perception, and where they experience something new and unfamiliar.

NJ: What made you choose this format of theatre?

DB: I want to give to the audience an experience that isn't filtered or mediated by a stage or screen. You are immersed right at the centre of the story and you are a co-author of it. Without the presence of the audience THE STRANGER doesn't exist. I am interested in shifting the audience's role from a passive listener to an active agent. I started from this idea: what would happen if the audience becomes the protagonist of a narrative that unfolds around them? I have always been interested in the artist-spectator relationship and how they can together have an intimate act of creation.

NJ: Among the various responses from your audience members, which has been the most memorable so far? Why?

DB: I had one particular audience member who came to see the show twice. After a few months I saw him and he told me that ever since he experienced the show, he sometimes walks around the route of the show and he likes to re-imagine it. I remember him saying ''I was born in this neighbourhood and grew up here. I walk here every day on my way to work, but you made me see this place anew, like I had never walked here before.''

NJ: Since the piece requires a fair amount of audience interaction, do you adapt the piece to the place and culture you are performing in?

DB: Absolutely. THE STRANGER is not only a show but also a format. Wherever I go I challenge myself with a completely new creation. I get inspired by walking around a place I don't know. Every time the piece changes completely. The downtown of the city I visit (or a specific neighbourhood) becomes my stage and I always pick different kind of locations. Each time I am eager to have different collaborators that bring their own skills and sensibility to the process. They guide me in the understanding of their culture and how to speak to their audiences. Each and every performance is a completely different experience, depending on the comfort level of the participants. This is why I call this work an audience specific art.

*Nishtha Juneja likes to act and write about theatre. Nishtha Juneja is passionate about dance and food and has completed a post-graduate diploma in Journalism from the Xavier Institute for Communication (XIC).

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