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La classe operaia va in paradiso

(The Working Class Goes to Heaven)

Premiere: Teatro Storchi, Modena, 31/01/2018

About this event

Lulu the Tool (The Working Class Goes to Heaven) is a film directed by Elio Petri in 1971. The efficient and productive Lulu Massa is an exemplary worker well admired by his employers but hated by his colleagues. In a period of turbulences occurring in the factory because of the union and the radical student movement fighting against the management, Lulu accidentally loses one of his fingers. This will cause him to change his mind and behaviour and join the student movement promoting a strike in order to stop the factory work in the framework of the class conflict. Unions, on the other side, would prefer a partial strike to reclaim working class benefits. When Lulu is fired, he gets even more confused about the new situation. The union includes his readmission as a subject to be discussed with the owners and Lulu is hired again.
Petri is one of the emerging most politically committed filmmakers of the 1960s European cinema. His sleek oeuvre bears witness to a rare melding of Marxist ideology and cinematic sophistication. Petri became a master of both dry, caustic humor and political outrage. Managing to create films that were both wildly entertaining and harshly critical towards modern capitalist society, he sliced deep into the heart of the Italian zeitgeist and of universal human psychology.
When the film was released, it was strongly criticized by industrial and union representatives, students, young gauchistes intellectuals as well as by all the most influential film critics of that time. Some people even suggested to set all his films on fire. As the director often stated, the film aimed to neutrally depict the real world of the working class. The film opened a violent debate among the Italian left party, by radically questioning its ideological identity and its ability to represent the proletariat. Especially during the so-called “Years of Lead”, the Italian political situation was difficult. Even if the cast included famous actors and actresses, the film was unpopular in Italy. Nevertheless, it was awarded several international prizes, among which the Palme d’Or in Cannes.
Almost 50 years after the premiere of La classe operaia va in paradiso on the big screen, ERT brings back on stage that scandalous, heterodox and alienated point of view. The show aims to reflect on our country’s recent political and cultural history. Through a sharp dialogue between past and present, director Claudio Longhi’s style inspires from Pietri’s “capriccio”, which is a mixture of a grotesque, dramatic and fantastic realism.
The reassembled dramaturgy of Paolo Di Paolo is innovative but at the same time keeps some traces of the original screenplay, including the materials about the creation of the film and its reputation among the audience.

Claudio Longhi worked as assistant for Pier Luigi Pizzi and Graham Vick and, between 1995 and 2002, he steadily collaborated with Luca Ronconi. Since 1999, he has also directed his own theatre productions for Teatro di Roma, Teatro de Gli Incamminati, Piccolo Teatro di Milano, Teatro Stabile di Torino, Teatro Due di Parma, Istituto Nazionale del Dramma Antico, Emilia Romagna Teatro Fondazione. Among his recent theatre productions, one can quoted The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui by Brecht (2011 Critic Award as Italian show of the year), and Aeschylus’ Prometheus (2012). In 2013, Longhi was awarded the Ubu Special Prize for The Abduction of Europe, based on an original dramaturgy issued from the dialogue with the audience and with the territory of Modena. Then, he has directed Dear fathers…, a re-interpretation of the years that led to the outbreak of World War I. Since January 2017, Claudio Longhi is the artistic director of ERT.

Artistic Data

from the film directed by Elio Petri
original screenplay by Elio Petri e Ugo Pirro
scriptwriter Paolo Di Paolo
direction Claudio Longhi
set design Guia Buzzi
costume design Gianluca Sbicca
with Donatella Allegro, Nicola Bortolotti, Michele Dell’Utri, Simone Francia, Lino Guanciale, Diana Manea, Eugenio Papalia, Franca Penone, Simone Tangolo, Filippo Zattini
production EMILIA ROMAGNA TEATRO FONDAZIONE

photo Giuseppe Distefano

a production of La classe operaia va in paradiso • Production Emilia Romagna Teatro