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La Gioia


Premiere: Teatro Arena del Sole, Bologna, 01/03/2018

About this event

This work by Pippo Delbono becomes a new journey towards “joy” which keeps on with his extraordinary group of performers with a renewed mood concerning the void left by Bobò passing by. Bobò has been Delbono’s faithful stage companion since they met in 1995 in the psychiatric hospital in Aversa (Naples, Italy). He has been Delbono’s main performer for over twenty years as well as the poetic icon of Delbono’s art in all the theatre, opera, film works they did together. Bobò will be still a strong presence/absence in and out of the stage in this journey toward a “joy’s hymn”.
To stage a piece on joy is a search for that singular circumstance, it’s crossing rivers of extreme sentiment — angst, happiness, pain, enthusiasm — to try and capture [witness] at last, in the instant, the explosion of joy. Rather than freezing into images, sounds, or stage directions, Pippo Delbono and the actors of his Company try to push one step further each night in the direction of that unbound exaltation, this scorching intuition.
So bring in the clowns, the circus and its dance. And here’s the memory of a shaman who through madness sets souls free. Here’s tango’s melancholy chords, and stifled cries from the floor of the house. Here’s a bounty of visions chasing one another, forming and morphing and fading one into the next: hundreds of little paper boats; colored rags, strewn as waves of that Mare Nostro, “Our Father Sea who art not in Heaven” of Erri De Luca’s secular prayer; up until the finale, the floral explosion that Pippo created with Thiérry Boutémy, the Norman “fleuriste” who lives in Bruxelles and works worldwide.
Delbono’s actors go up on stage, one by one. Taking the audience by hand, each in his way, they make of each one a travel companion, a part of this endless search. Personal stories, masks, clowneries, memories, all fleeting images of people [humans] reaching for joy.
Each night, ready for surprise, to the rhythm of this company, on the path of this never-ending quest for joy.


«I have chosen to give this title to my new theatre production “Joy” – a word which scares me, which reminds me of some joyful family pictures, of joyful children, of joyful landscapes. All of them are dead, all of them are fake. I was very impressed by “The death of Ivan Ilyich” by Leo Tolstoy: in this novella the main character, in the last
days of his life, reconciles with his whole existence including the saddest moments of his life with a new gaze full of peace and sweetness. But later the creative process of “Joy” moved towards different paths.

“Joy” is the last landmark of a path I have been going through for over twenty years with my theatre Company. This Company of mine was born through meetings with actors, with dancers but primarily with people. Coming from different places of life.
Above all I’m thinking of Bobò, recently passed away, who lived for over forty-four years in a psychiatric asylum. Deafmute, illiterate. He became the main actor of my theatre works, of my films of my opera productions. To him I dedicated a large retrospective of my work which was exhibited at Centre Pompidou in Paris in October 2018. I am talking about a man who has actually completely transformed the language of theatre. His being different has strongly changed my work and attitude towards theatre and life itself.
This theatre production is the heart of this story.

In this production Bobò brings the circus’ soul and that specific innocence. He brings, as I say in the performance, the deep secret of Theatre. And then, there are the other ones. There is Nelson, that I met in the streets of Naples. There is Gianluca, the Down syndrome boy who has been working two decades with me since when he was a

Some other Company members are people I met in the streets of a lifelong journey around the world: actors from my country, actors from far away countries, homeless, refugees. Each of them embodying a personal story to tell, with a very specific performing art to share with the audience through their presence, their experience of live, their bodies, their words.
This “Joy” or, as I call it “A Path Towards Joy”, is a performance which walks through pain, proceeding and fighting in search of that joy. As it always happens in my theatre productions, I tell the audience about this path.
Through words, but also through dance, through the body.

“Joy is no result, no fact, no thing, no place.
Joy engenders space, it loosens, it makes a void.
To preserve joy, you don’t need a jar, you need a pact.
You have to decide that joy is the path of your life.”

In the creative process of this latest production, I wanted to go back to a set aesthetic which is more similar to my previous theatre productions where the set war poor, more essential, more similar to an empty space. This space is covered step by step with simple elements which lead us to different places, as if they were the season of a time passing by. It is so that, at one point, I tell Gianluca which embodies in that moment the circus’ poetic sign: pain will go by, sadness will go by and joy will come back again.

In this production you can find the whole story of my company. The meeting with them. I could say: it is about meeting each other. But the prevalent topic could also be “going through madness”. My madness, our madness in our times. But, in today’s madness, made of darkness, black sceneries, black holes, I still want to shout: more light, give me more light».

Pippo Delbono


Pippo Delbono is an author, actor and director, who founded his Company in the early 80s. He has been working with this Company on each of his shows, from Il tempo degli assassini (1987) to Vangelo (2016). His productions have won many awards and were presented in more than fifty countries. He has also directed several films like Guerra (2003), La paura (2009), Amore carne (2011) and Sangue (2013) and Vangelo (2016) which premiered in prestigious film festivals such as Venice Film Festival and Locarno Film Festival. He was part of the cast of many films, including I am Love by Luca Guadagnino, Me and You by Bernardo Bertolucci, Goltzius and the Pelican Project by Peter Greenaway.

Delbono has written and co-worked on several books: “Barboni – Il teatro di Pippo Delbono” published by Ubulibri; “Mon théâtre” by Actes Sud; “Le corps de l’acteur” by Les Solitaires Intempestifs; “El teatro de la rabia” by Punto Aparte; “Récits de juin” by Actes Sud; “Racconti di giugno” by Garzanti; “Ecrivains de plateau” written by Bruno Tackels and published by Les Solitaires Intempestifs; “Teatrul Meu” by Fundatia Culturala Camil Petrescu; “Corpi senza menzogna” written with Leonetta Bentivoglio and published by Barbes.

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Artistic Data

conceived and directed by Pippo Delbono
with the actors of Pippo Delbono's Company: Dolly Albertin, Gianluca Ballarè, Margherita Clemente, Pippo Delbono, Ilaria Distante, Mario Intruglio, Nelson Lariccia, Gianni Parenti, Pepe Robledo, Grazia Spinella and with the voice of Bobò
floreal composition Thierry Boutemy
music by Pippo Delbono, Antoine Bataille, Nicola Toscano and various artists
lights Orlando Bolognesi

electrician Orlando Bolognesi/Alejandro Zamora
sound Pietro Tirella/Giulio Antognini
costumes Elena Giampaoli
set and props Enrico Zucchelli/Mattia Manna
production and touring manager Alessandra Vinanti
organization during the creative proces Silvia Cassanelli
organization Davide Martini
production assistant Riccardo Porfido
technical manager Fabio Sajiz
production Emilia Romagna Teatro Fondazione
co-production Théâtre De Liège, Le Manège Maubeuge – Scène Nationale

Thanks to Enrico Bagnoli, Jean Michel Ribes, Thierry Boutemy’s assitant Alessia Guidoboni and Théâtre de Liège for the costumes

photo Luca Del Pia

a production of La Gioia • Production Emilia Romagna Teatro