Human Use of Human Beings
Duration: 50 min.
The premiere took place on 18 July 2015.
Warning: One of the performance elements, the smell of ammonia, might aggravate allergies
The ‘Human Use of Human Beings’ performance is in Generalissima, a made-up language invented in 1985 by theatre company Societas Raffaello Sanzio (and painstakingly developed by Claudia Castellucci).
Generalissima is based on a number of studies into Creole languages and the rough speech used by children of slaves. It is also derived from research into ‘Ars Magna’ by Ramon Llull, the 13th century scholar who invented a universal language based on numerology.
Generalissima is a language which can express multi-layers of meanings, saving time and giving a more abstract and telepathic level of perception. The language is structured into four stages of knowledge, a common level which consists of 400 comprehensive notions, gradually rising to higher and more refined levels until you reach the purest and most concentrated final level, which consists of just four words. Communication is possible at each of these four levels.
The performance itself is based on the gospel story of Lazarus rising from the dead, as depicted in Giotto’s famous fresco, which shows Christ approaching the grotto. Lazarus’s corpse is surrounded by relatives holding their noses against the stench emanating from the already decaying body. The slight odor of ammonia is intended as a reminder of decomposing human flesh which the strength of thought resists, demonstrating the miraculous power of the word.
The story is repeated five times, each time on a different level of the Generalissima language. The plasticity and gestures of the actors, which vary from one level to the next, gradually uncover ever deeper meanings in this meeting between man and God.
The empty space where the action takes place is not divided into separate zones; it is one space uniting the actors and the audience. In muted daylight, the spectators move freely amongst the actors, and become witnesses to astonishing miracles and transformations.
Production: Socìetas Raffaello Sanzio, Italy
Co-production: The Stanislavsky Electrotheatre, Russia / Kunstenfestivaldesarts, Belgium
Text: Claudia Castellucci
Assistant Director: Silvano Voltolina
Props: Vito Matera, Giovanna Amoroso, Istvan Zimmermann
Music by PHURPA and Scott Gibbons