TEDxFirenze - Monica Guerritore - Onora il tuo talento

Uploaded by TEDxTalks on 24.11.2011

Good evening.
My talk has something to do with
the talks I heard before,
they have something in common.
I am going to read as this is a reflection.
It is not a monologue.
It’s different.
I am 16 years old and for an amazing series of coincidences
I have arrived at the most famous European theater,
and I am seated in the stalls, in the dark,
behind the greatest European director:
Giorgio Strehler.
He turns around and asks the head stagehand
to pull some ropes from a batten
that - since the American premiere - holds a very thin white veil
which partly covers the stalls,
like a suspended cloud.
With a slightest movement, the great, buldging cloud
The stage is like a small world,
some pieces of furniture are covered with a sheet,
on the right at the back, there is a grey wardrobe,
the wardrobe of memories.
We are rehearsing "The Cherry Orchard".
The actors chat, I look at Strehler
who is in front of me.
He is quiet, he doesn't say anything, he observes them
for a very long time.
I see figures against the light
forming small groups which then split,
reunite, someone is enwrapped on a stage curtain.
Now he sits down on a child chair.
I look at Valentina Cortese moving, she’s the main actor,
she is bright and generous with her smiles and hugs.
Then, at some point there goes a heavier figure,
bent under the burden of age,
slowly crossing the stage.
Only a backlight cuts off the figures.
Everyone seems like they are moving inside an aquarium.
The effect from below is powerful.
Each character tells about a world.
In the stalls, the director’s assistants, the producers,
the light technicians, Fiorenzo Carpi, the musician,
they are all waiting.
At one point, I don’t know why, Strehler
turns towards me,
the fascinated little me devouring him with my eyes.
And he says: “You see, Monica,
I don’t floodlight them.
I don’t want to see the wrinkles, the smile, the personal expression
of each one of them.
Don’t forget, theatre is the story of a man
which turns into the story of mankind.”
I give a better look and I see a small world
of faint figures that live softly
as the sky, that cloud above us,
And in that veiled whiteness they slowly disappear,
a disappearing world like the garden,
like their time.
Under my eyes, that day - was it in the evening
or at night? -
“The Cherry Orchard” by Strehler was staged,
and it was white, the color of my childhood,
and full of melancholy for that time now gone.
Where has gone all I knew about that text?
The artistic view of Strehler,
his transparent look
had revived a dead text.
The liberated spirit of the text started
[breathing] to breathe, to talk.
And it had a new, unforeseen and original voice.
And it addressed that part of me,
that has always been solitary, not involved,
like another world inside me that talked to me.
I remember that when I saw the veiled Christ in Naples,
I recognized that state of mind perfectly well.
I don’t know if you know it, it is an absolute masterpiece,
it is a body-soul unveiling itself,
and makes things grow inside,
as if another place, another space were inside it.
That’s exactly where our talent awaits.
That other place is inside each one of us,
and is waiting, what is it waiting for? instruments,
scenes, people,
that can free it, honor it and recognize it.
It’s what makes us necessary,
in this beautiful planet.
To recognize it, you need to make silence
and listen to that call
without fear of finding one’s way through clichés,
biases, media impositions,
threads that through time tangle up
and become hanks.
Quantum physics has a very nice word,
which is used to
describe correlations between two particles
that have interacted between one another at a certain point
and are now distant from one another.
However, they left traces of one above the other.
What caused me
to have an attachment to this or that thing,
to this or that image,
to that object, to that ideal,
to that bias, to that person?
Puppets, maneuvered by past experiences that do not belong to us any longer,
due to facts, people
whose eyes color we don’t even remember.
We live among reproductions of things,
people, ideas
whose matrix we forgot.
The copy is not the original,
it gets near, close to it,
it only imitates appearances.
But it has a simple power of impact, penetration,
due to the number and this creates unquestionable submission to the present time,
where the general deceit, if well repeated, wins.
The external signs of reality win
and thanks to their likelihood
they satisfy the careless look upon things,
the absent look,
the look that does not shed light on things.
Even infinitely repeated words
lose their weight, meaning and become sounds.
Quantity precedes meaning.
Our words, Brecht once wrote,
have become confused,
our enemy has distorted them
to the point they are unrecognizable now.
Vittorio Foa said
that when he saw a picture of the concentration camps in Auschwitz,
he felt pity for the suffering and horror
to see those bodies waiting behind the wire.
He saw a copy of that picture on some billboard
once, twice, three and four times.
There was nothing left of the horror that was once there.
Photographing reality
means to replicate it without looking at the invisible,
it does not have the insight of reality and all its infinite effects.
It gives me the illusion to know it all.
In that illusion of a whole that does not hit you,
never gives you an emotion, never bites you,
indifference to everything grows.
Not everybody knows that facts
are stored thanks to
the existing link between two synapses in our brain.
But not everybody knows that you need
another fundamental chemical element to create this link.
It is a liquid helping the neuron in its journey,
not through the tunnel of neutrinos.
The sending of information,
this humus is secreted only by the glands of fertility,
without warmth, without emotional participation,
nothing remains.
I want to abandon speed,
to give time to introspection and
That empty time that allows facts,
as Keats said, to become experiences.
In that place that he called the place of “soul making”.
I am inside a cinema in Rome,
I went to watch “The Kite Runner”.
After the film has started, a boy and a girl seat next to me,
they sprawl out in their seats, they eat popcorns,
they text with their mobiles uninterruptedly.
He plays the tough guy and she does the stupid girl.
And they make noise.
They don’t care about the film.
I say, “Be quiet”, giving them a scathing look.
“Be quiet and still”, I repeat to the young boy
who looks at me as if I was an alien,
while the little girl sniggers,
crouched in her seat, like she would do at home.
He only says: “Eh?”
A generic “Eh” is his interjection, for lack of better words.
“I would like to watch this film
which tells a great story, by the way.
If you don’t, please change room and go to watch some stupid comedy”.
“Do you hear me?”
“Be good!” and I’m through with him.
It worked!
They shut their mouths for as long as it was necessary
for the movie to talk to them
with a delicate, almost unknown language,
the language of feeling;
and for them to enter into the story of those two kids.
They remained silent during the break.
At the end of the movie, he cried, keeping his head down,
he did not want to be seen.
I realized it and I glanced at him with a smile while leading toward the exit.
At the end of the movie, that boy
made the experience of
the feeling of pain,
of suffering for betrayal,
abandonment, war
In those two hours, he made his soul.
Bergam wrote:
“They teach us geometry, geography, the life of fish in the ocean.
They don’t tell us how we are made inside.”
Have you ever heard a teacher saying to a child
“Here is a feeling”?
the pictures become more and more powerful and visible,
they shake us briefly,
like wounds that appear suddenly but are immediately healed,
a series of small scars.
And what does the emotional weave do for self-defence?
It becomes more sinewy, thicker – maybe not to hear anything?
Not to hear the sense of inadequacy
that the sterile and indifferent concept of the world
we live in has imposed on us during these years?
An adaptation that separates us without totally cancelling
the existence of that calling from depth
which makes our lives flat,
bidimensional at the most.
Interestingly, women, who by nature
are constantly moving,
are the ones who most suffer from this imposition
to homologation.
Dissolution and rebirth according to the moon’s phases
during adolescence, motherhood and old age.
That’s what we are.
This is possible if we pander to our flesh.
As we do when we let our thoughts free
and welcome something new every day.
I lived my 20s,
30s and 40s,
I want to live my 50s, 60s and all the years
in first person, consciously and with awareness, with my eyes wide open.
Looking at other people, not just me.
Without paying attention at every moment
to my failures, my scars, my lips,
my cheek bones, to the way I look, I feel
To how he looks at me.. I, I, I, I.
This appeases the absence of a “we”.
As emotional illiterates, we watch wars;
the sadness of fathers and children the world crisis
is stopping from living their own lives;
children dying of hunger, in distant
yet very close countries;
our neglected country, Italy;
men and women who are rolling in corruption
and obscenity; and no one sees beyond the surface.
Everything looks like a picture a flat truth,
without depth or insight and without consequences.
Being so absorbed by ourselves,
we carry forward the world out of habit.
To paraphrase Clarissa Pinkola Estes,
when a spirit submits to his predator,
it is captured or confined.
instead of living freely, it starts to live untruly.
The deceptive promise of the predator consists in the idea that
the submission will make the prey a king or queen
but actually his/her killing is planned.
When human beings open the door of their existence
and examine the massacre in those out-of-the-way places,
they discover the murder of
their most important dreams, objectives and hopes.
They find lifeless thoughts and feelings and desires
and talents.
Something greater,
deeper, brighter penetrates, fills,
permeates every atom of the universe,
through sporadic bursts of conscience,
and if we let ourselves go to change,
we perceive this powerful strength.
Which angel indicated the road to follow to Jeanne d’Arc?
Who whispered to her and to many men and women
who were able to gaze into the distance:
“This way.”
How did the young student in Tiananmen Square succeed in stopping
the tanks of the Chinese army?
“Courage starts”, Dorfman says,
“when a voice is heard.”
Thank you.
All of us like a shapeless mass
perceive a full immaterial universe
that sometimes
gets populated with images, visions, whispers,
calls from a mysterious place, from our self,
which we keep distant but about which we feel nostalgic.
I am in Città di Castello, a few hours before the show,
I am in the theatre and I look at the post where Jeanne d’Arc will die,
it is still and powerful, it looks like it is waiting.
The silence seems to be waiting too.
It will leave the place to her warmth and strength.
Every corner of that empty theatre will soon be filled
with her courage.
I raise my eyes to measure the space
while I am seated in the stalls and above me
I see an affresco with a sun and a moon,
and in the middle, this extraordinary sentence:
"Videor ut video"
“To be seen to see”
“To see”
Not “let me see”
“To see”, this is the talent I honoured
and defended with all my strength.
To see,
the strength and the greatness inside every man and woman
when they hear their calling.
To see the fear within each one of us
and the victory of fear, the sense of destiny
and through this immaterial look on the invisible
to become conscious again of the spiritual aspect
that makes us marvelous beings.
This consciousness must face the despair
coming from the idea of meaningless lives.
I’ve also heard it before.
No future, since that is
what makes us fearful, fragile.
No cathedral to build
no work of art
no personal talent contributing to the material,
civil and intellectual development of our society.
No self memory in a place where we are taught
that there will be no memory of us.
We raise our gaze, we are surrounded by small and great works
of those who came before us.
The end doesn’t bring an end to everything,
nor can stop advances.
The building of the future world does not make sterile, useless
every effort or natural thing
which is characterized by the principle
of the realization of its inner essence.
It all has to do with the perception
of the spiritual aspect of existence
which lives through time thanks to the artwork.
In this life without the limit of shortness,
of the passing of the existence,
we try to recover the sense of becoming,
and the destination of movement.
One of the great gifts of life is, not happiness,
but to move and be moved.
To move and being moved by the blows received,
and to recognize in other people the same tender feelings.
This is the imperative law of being human.
This is what matters and makes our living together meaningful.
Someone who
was in New York on the morning of the Twin Towers attack,
told me that he went out in the streets,
he instinctively felt the need to stay together with other people,
no one knew what had really happened,
but everybody felt
that something really awful had occured,
there was silence everywhere,
people walked slowly on the sidewalks,
but he was struck by the fact that everybody looked at each other in the face.
People’s eyes looked for passer-bys’ eyes
and before they outpaced you, you could recognize
a similar dismay.
This friend of mine told me that
that morning everybody felt close to one another, for the first time,
like intimate bodies and not like strangers that slightly touch or cross each other,
or who live in their own world,
but everybody felt to belong to that world, and they all felt united but at loss.
You just have to raise your eyes and cross someone else’s eyes
to enter into contact, to be part of a neighborhood,
a city, a state, the world.
It is not hard.
[We are] citizens of a world we all can make nicer.
In Italy, some days ago, without any organization,
a thousand kids, spontaneously arrived in Genoa.
And what did they start doing?
Shoveling. Shoveling mud.
And they did it spontaneously.
If you observe existence, Kafka said,
you participate to life, you keep pace with the wind.
The new wind knocks the windows in these hours.
We can breathe again in a short while.
Thank you.