logoTHeatralia - Version 2

 

 

Italy and UK press reviews

 

Ricordando Franca Rame (a Londra)

La Repubblica

L’altro giorno il presidente del Senato Pietro Grasso ha commemorato Franca Rame, scomparsa lo scorso 29 maggio, con una citazione di un verso della poesia che le ha dedicato Stefano Benni (”fingere altro che verità”).  E per coincidenza ora una regista, attrice e cantante italiana, che ha messo in scena a Londra spettacoli di Benni, mette in scena nella capitale britannica una serata dedicata alla Rame: “Franca Rame e la sua Eva”, di Filomena Campus, questa sera all’Istituto di Cultura Italiano di Londra (e poi il 28 ottobre sarà a quello di Berlino). La storia della prima donna (e di Adamo, il primo uomo), rielaborata e raccontata negli anni anni dalla stessa Rame, è il filo conduttore di una serata di teatro, letture e proiezioni dedicate a una grande attrice, attivista, militante. Ho avuto modo di conoscere la Rame (e Fo) durante i loro spettacoli in giro per il mondo, a New York, a Mosca, e poi di rincontrarli più volte d’estate, insieme a Benni, a Cesenatico, dove passavano le vacanze fin da quando Dario ci andava in colonia da bambino, affezionati entrambi alla Romagna e ai suoi riti semplici, sinceri, spontanei. Ricordo Franca che in questi ultimi anni giocava a burraco con le amiche in uno stabilimento balneare vicino al mio. Non stava bene, ma era sempre lei: affascinante, spiritosa, curiosa della vita. “Un esempio di impegno e di genio” l’ha definita il presidente Grasso. Sarebbe giusto farli anche in Italia, non solo all’estero, gli spettacoli come quello di Filomena Campus per ricordare questa intramontabile Eva italiana. ENRICO FRANCESCHINI, Repubblica.it  (22/09/2013)

 

 

ITALY VS ENGLAND

Text by Stefano Benni, music by Steve Lodder and Dudley Phillips, lyrics by Filomena Campus, directed by Filomena Campus.

Testi di Stefano Benni con musiche del Filomena Campus Quartet. Regia Filomena Campus.

L'Unione Sarda 24-06-13_2

La Nuova Sardegna 25-06-13

Benni L'Unione Sarda 22-06-13 - Version 2

 

Clicca Qui per Intervista a Campus e Benni su Italy vs England

 

Alison Bentley (LONDONJAZZ) on Italy Vs England premiere in Sardinia, Italy:

“…Campus’ scat solo recalled her mentor Maria Pia de Vito in its agility. She had a warm stage presence, winning the audience over to her refreshingly experimental style: ‘…the freedom to dampen, tonight, to change, to live, to be happy.’ Day three juxtaposed Italian and British culture more broadly, from satire to Shakespeare. Renowned Italian novelist and poet Stefano Benni was there in person. Lodder and Philips had written music in an amazing range of jazz styles to accompany his poems and dialogues. God Save the Queen opened, a comic cavalcade of names and phrases suggesting British culture: ‘…To be or not to be… Beckham, Beckham, Molly Bloom, the Yellow Submarine. Imagine a jazz version of Walton’s Façade. I Gatti, another Benni poem in Italian, had Campus and Benni yowling to the leaping music. Benni read his Queen of Clowns to a funky groove, with an astounding vibes solo from Orphy Robinson, skittish and virtuosic.

 

Benni recited his translation of Romeo and Juliet’s Queen Mab speech, with the vibes accompaniment creating their own magic. Lodder’s music, mysterious and modal, captured the mercurial quality of the original, with its alliterative language. Benni recited part of his translation of T. S. Eliot’s The Wasteland. The shifting music had no obvious tonal centre, expressing the ambiguities of the poem, with its unsettling mixture of high art and comic bathos. Filomena Campus sang Philomel’s part of the poem with music by Sardinian Paolo Carrus, with ‘inviolable voice.’

 

One Hand Jack was a very funny piece of satirical theatre by Benni, and the music told the story. ‘Jack’ wandered round the imaginary streets as funky grooves drifted out of imaginary bars. He wanted a new hand, but was given a bass instead. Phillips’ double bass brilliantly followed the intonation of Benni’s speech. The band played some swinging blues and rhythm changes, sounding with Robinson’s vibes very like the MJQ. Robinson literally played God (with great panache). The piece asked: was there anyone who couldn’t believe that God could be black?

 

The final song was a poignant Phillips arrangement of a much-loved Italian song by de Andre, Creuza de Ma. Lodder’s spacey piano moved back and forth from major to minor, in a rocking motion expressing the sea. Benni joined on the chorus, the bass underpinning the lines beautifully, before the band burst into a final dancey rock groove.

To quote a character from one of Benni’s novels: ‘ I never want that which ends well to end at all.’”

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

DOT DOT DOT

Dot Dot Dot, a multimedia adaptation of texts by DARIO FO & FRANCA RAME directed by Filomena Campus

I Monologhi di Franca Rame e Dario Fo messi in scena con la regia di Filomena Campus in UK

 

 

 

 

 

 

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

 MISTERIOSO

by THEATRALIA

A Journey into the Silence of Thelonious Monk

Written By Stefano Benni, Adapted and Directed by Filomena Campus

 

UK Reviews on MISTERIOSO by Theatralia (to read Italian press release on Theatralia please  click on the Italian flag on the top right – Per leggere la rassegna stampa italiana su Theatralia clicca sulla bandierina italiana in alto a destra)

“MISTERIOSO IS A TOUCHING AND THOUGHT-PROVOKIING THEATRICAL INVESTIGATION OF THE LITTLE-KNOWN LOVE AFFAIR OF A BOHEMIAN HEIRESS, NICA DE KOENIGSWARTER, AND A RECLUSIVE JAZZ GENIUS, THELONIOUS MONK. THE WORDS ARE STYLISH AND THE MUSIC, PERFORMED LIVE BY LEADING JAZZ PROS, IS EXCELLENT.” Jack Massarik (Evening Standard)

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

‘A Crime to miss it” The Times

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Kultureflash Review
29 I 10 I 09
London-based collective Theatralia inject Stefano Benni’s play Misterioso with a dose of beatnik heroin. Misterioso explores the relationship of legendary pianist Thelonius Monk with aristocratic arts patron Baroness Rothschild (Pannonica). Jazz aficionados will by thrilled by the ensemble of seasoned musicians, who will transport them to an NYC Jazz club in McCarthy-era America. Tony Kofi blows away the cobwebs with his sax, Orphy Robinson competes with a projection of a ’50s cartoon character on vibes, and Pat Thomas’ subtle piano invokes the presence of the late Monk, who spent the last seven years of his life in silence. Magical music and audience toe-tapping is given a menacing undertone with Pannonica’s tragic anecdote, about a cop hitting Monk’s hands with a baton after he asks for refreshment in a whites-only hotel. Misterioso culminates with a projection of Monk rotating like a whirling dervish, a metaphor for mounting racial tension. Sympathetic direction and uplifting vocals by Filomena Campus, evoke the feel of the Beat Generation’s Big Apple Ex-drum and bass MC Cleveland Watkiss brings Monk’s narrative to life with his booming voiceover, whilst Thomas is the physical embodiment of the silent Thelonius, chiaroscuro highlighting him like a Zurbaran painting, giving gravitas to the myth of a musical legend.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

TELEGRAPH REVIEW
How Monkish was Monk?
By Sebastian Scotney – The Telegraph October 23rd, 2009

What is Misterioso? First, and simplest, it is a good jazz gig. The theatre is set up as a club. Director Campus, originally from Sardinia, has assembled a classy band. At one point the audience is encouraged to dance. Vibes player Orphy Robinson – who isn’t doing all the performances – is a national treasure. I just love the warmth and humanity he radiates from the bandstand. Winston Clifford on drums and Tony Kofi on alto sax also feed in energy and humour. Campus herself is a highly musical singer. The music was continually bringing a smile to many faces in the audience…. Read more And the music by Monk being showcased is definitely capable of looking after itself. Here’s a safe prediction: new generations of musicians are going to continue to absorb the harmony, the language, the emotional directness of Monk’s evergreen and unique tunes for ever. The dreamy sensuality of “Round Midnight”, the slinkiness of “Blue Monk” are for every season. These are great tunes which simply can’t be uninvented. Last night the band were also digging hard into the hip bravado and swing of “I Mean You” and “Well You Needn’t”. They also took excursions into free jazz, a reminder of that part of Monk’s heritage and influence. Pianist Pat Thomas, who certainly looked the part of Monk, came into his own in these episodes.” “There was also something of the lecture about the evening. The sonorous recorded voice of Cleveland Watkiss dwelt on the politics of the McCarthy era. Campus instructed us at one point to “Listen to the sounds of his last silence,” and occasionally drifted into Italian interior monologue”. “ The best moments were when Tamsin Shasha as Monk’s Baroness Nica was telling the story of some of the more improbable escapades from her travels with Monk. Shasha is both versatile and elegant: not only did she convince with her prim cut-glass Patricia Hodge, and diction to die for, but also was impressive when being lofted upwards as a butterfly”.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

MISTERIOSO REVIEW ****
Misterioso, billed as ‘a journey into the silence of Theolonius Monk’, occupies a genre of its own. Elegy, rather than celebration, the central theme is the unlikely relationship between legendary jazzman Monk and his aristrocratic muse and benefactress, Baroness Pannonica Rothschild. The piece also explores Monk’s descent into self-imposed silence through a series of vignettes fusing poetry, animation, monologue, voice-over, pseudo-documentary footage, semi-improvised musical soundscape , aerialism and blistering live jazz. In Misterioso, what meets the eye (and ear) is much more than a mere play with music.
Defiantly rejecting a linear narrative structure, writer Stefano Benni and director Filomena Campus adopt a deceptively freeform jazz format to recreate the tale of Monk’s decline. The story is told as a series of picaresque vignettes that mimic a set of jazz riffs. When the (often mesmeric) musical fragments that serve as a metaphor for Monk’s disintegration burst into fully formed jazz numbers, the superb talents of Mark Sanders on drums, David Leahy on double bass, Campus’ own scat vocalisations and the sheer brilliance of saxophonist Jean Toussaint truly soar, bringing the joint – and the spirit of Monk – to life. As Monk, Pat Thomas’ mute introspection and edgy piano playing capture Monk as outsider. Acting ‘solos’ are taken by Christina Oshunniyi, exuding charisma and presence as a (non-singing) Billie Holliday and as Monk’s long suffering wife Nellie. Tamsin Shasha as Pannonica embodies a character seemingly straight out of a Waugh novel, charmingly fulfilling the role of interlocutor whilst brilliantly capturing the ease, class and steel of the extraordinary ‘Jazz Baroness’. In a final coup-de-theatre, Shasha, like the music, literally ‘flies’, as she becomes her butterfly namesake by ascending silks, ultimately mirroring the cocoon-like state that engulfed Monk himself. Mysterioso slyly evokes the paranoia of a postwar America, depicting the grotesque surrealism of racial segregation, McCarthyism, fears about the atom bomb and a culture that mistrusts convention as reasons to suggest why a talent like Monk’s could be driven into silence – ending his life, in Pannonica’s words “buried alive”. If you enjoy Monk’s music, searing jazz (and with different musicians scheduled to guest adding to the overall feel of an improvisation), Theatralia’s postmodern, poetic take on musical voice and the sound of silence, this trip could well be the show for you.
Reviewed: Ian Angus Wilkie,LOW DOWN, 4 stars, 4/11/09

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

ATN review: Misterioso, Riverside Studios ****
Reviewed by Lindsay Johns
Published, November 2, 2009
Subtitled “A Journey into the Silence of Thelonious Monk,” Misterioso is the Riverside’s October Black History Month offering. Billed (albeit a little disingenuously) as a play, when in fact it is far more of a live musical performance, connected by vignettes and short soliloquies, it examines the life of the musical colossus, iconoclast, legend and jazz pianist Thelonious Monk.
Set against a backdrop of visceral racism in segregated 1950s America undergoing the McCarthy purges, the conversational monologues which link the dizzyingly brilliant displays of jazz virtuosity are narrated by Monk’s white patron, friend and perhaps quondam lover, the self-proclaimed Jazz Baroness Nica Rothschild. Tamsin Shasha’s performance explores with an assured depth the friendship that organically develops between her and Monk, and under Filomena Campus’ direction feels sure and controlled.
The pre-recorded voice of Monk, as spoken by jazz musician Cleveland Watkiss, monologues by Billie Holiday and mention of luminaries Bud Powell and Charlie Parker all complete the period evocation and serve to shed valuable light on the white fascination (and at times dangerous fetishization) of black music and musicians.
With the Italian lyrical interludes acting as a gracious nod to writer Stefano Benni’s background, multi-media visuals projected onto a screen, audience participation which evokes the Harlem jazz club milieu, complete with tables and a hostess who sits, drinks and chats with the audience, not to mention some intriguing, deft aerial work, there is much to admire and entertain in this production.
The band are led by the effortlessly sublime saxophonist Tony Kofi and the hauntingly beautiful solos, be they on sax, piano, vibraphone or drums, fully draw out the pathos of Monk’s tortured plight, his loneliness and the metaphysical dimension of his silence.
Poetic, sensual and brave, Misterioso functions both as a serious contemplation of musical genius and as a fervent celebration of Monk’s remarkable legacy, not to mention the jazz aesthetic in general. Jazz – the greatest musical invention of the 20th century, a music which created and defined an unashamedly cerebral black aesthetic, one that still powerfully resonates to this day, is without doubt the evening’s true protagonist and star.
The mystery of Monk’s silence – a silence which consumed him for the last seven years of his life, is summed up in one of the play’s concluding lines, when he asks: “What is the point of talking, when you can play like that?” Having heard Thelonious’ music, only a fool would argue with the profundity of that rhetorical question.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Thelonius Monk: Music And Silence On The Stage

Interview to Filomena Campus

By Barnaby Tidman published on Thursday, 12 November

A theatre production about jazz great Thelonius Monk, Misterioso chronicles the time when the incomparable pianist became silent for the final seven years of his existence. Philomena Campus of Theatralia theatre company directed, starred and sang in the show, enlisting digital artists Sdna and stage design to evoke the art and the politics.

As the painter Giorgio de Chirico (whose painting adorns the cover of Monk’s Misterioso jazz album) commented, “In the shadow of a man who walks in the sun, there are more enigmas than in all religions, past, present and future.”
As Misterosio’s creator on the stage, did you have much interaction with its writer?
I’ve been in contact with Stefano Benni right from the beginning and he has assisted in every step and development of the project. He’s always been supportive and had a total respect for my directorial choices. He also gave me some very good feedback that I’ve used in the work in progress.

You directed, starred and sang in Misterioso, what was this experience like?
Sometimes I have to fight with the musician in me that would love to be on stage all the time with my colleagues, playing with them all the way through the show, but the director side of me has decided that this time I needed to be mostly off-stage in order to have a proper directorial look at the performance in its complex whole.

There were projected videos playing during Misterioso, as well as jazz-bar style tables for the audience. How visual does a musical performance need to be?
In Misterioso I wanted to engage the spectators’ senses as much as possible, and recreate the atmosphere of a jazz club, a way to introduce people to jazz (who is totally neglected by the media, TV and radio), and also to create an experience where the story of Monk was proposed through many codes of communication, not only through the text and the music.

Misterioso is set in the 1950s. Would you consider your evocation of that period on stage to be one of detailed archaeology – digging up the exact styles and replicas of clothing etc?
The idea is to reflect on that period and what it represented for jazz artists and also to compare it to today, and if we think how still difficult it is if for most jazz musicians to earn their living,  having to teach or do other things to pay the bills, while pop artists have a very different ‘status’, then it means we still have some work to do. If we think of the racist groups developing in Europe at the moment, as artists we need to do as much as we can to raise awareness about it.

The elements that you see on stage- Thelonius at the piano, a video backdrop, the hanging drapes- where did these come from?
They were my ideas, as the original text consists basically of short monologues/poems. I’ve worked with digital artists Sdna for years and I love their creative and open  approach. The idea of the silks came after seeing Tamsin Shasha performing on the silks, in my mind that was a perfect and moving image of Pannonica ‘Butterfly’ [the rich heiress who was friends with the jazz greats, who features in the show as a character]- a surreal interpretation of her name and her life, always flying high as a woman in the 50′s, challenging conventions and supporting black jazz musicians in the McCathy era when they were not accepted by the society.

Have you been involved in any other stage productions that make use of live music is so prominent a way?
I am a jazz musician myself , and in my theatre productions I’ve always used live music, it’s part of my style. I love the energy and the chemistry that exists in the jazz gigs or music concerts, and I’m trying to use the same idea in a theatre production, fusing the two of them into a new form of performance. This is sometimes difficult for critics to label, but that’s not our problem.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

ANSA  Italian Press Agency London

Triumph of Misterioso. The play by Stefano Benni about the life of jazz pianist Thelonious Monk, was sold out each night and totally charmed its enthusiastic audience’ (ANSA).

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

‘The poetry of Stefano Benni’s words debuts in UK’ La Repubblica.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

‘Monk’s Mysterious Silence Gets Multi-Media Treatment. A fascinating night of music and verse to commemorate the creative struggle of jazz musicians during the McCarthy era is taking place at the Riverside Studios, in Hammersmith, London on 22, 23, 24 November. Entitled Misterioso: A Journey Into The Silence Of Monk it brings together leading UK musicians Guy Barker (pictured), Jean Toussaint, Pat Thomas, Rowland Sutherland, David Leahy and Kenrick Rowe in a work adapted and directed by singer and theatre director Filomena Campus and based on a work by top Italian satirical writer Stefano Benni’ JAZZWISE

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

‘A night of music and readings inspired by Thelonious Monk’s self-imposed seven-year silence, maintained until his death as an act of protest against the oppressive McCarthy era. With readings from Monk’s innermost thoughts – voiced by Cleveland Watkiss – interspersed with music from a superlative cast of top UK names and poetic words from acclaimed Italian satirist Stefano Benni. This should prove a thought provoking and entertaining mix of words and music. RECOMMENDED - TIME OUT

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Theatre’s night of Monkish magic
EDITORIAL – herts.advertiser@archant.co.uk  Misterioso
Was it a jazz concert, was it a play or was it an art show? The answer is it was a stunning fusion of all three. Recreating the setting of a 50s’ jazz club, Misterioso explores the magic of jazz through the story of pianist Thelonious Monk, a genius and an outsider who spent the last seven years of his life in complete silence. An evening of notes and verse about the struggle of jazz musicians in the McCarthy era, it alternated poetic words written by Stefano Benni with Monk’s spellbinding notes. It was a fascinating mix of live music by a splendid jazz ensemble and stunning projected art works. Nothing is as it seems in this production although we did guess the exotically-dressed black girl at the next table might be “a plant”. Christina Oshunniyi played Billie Holliday but this lady not only did not sing the blues but didn’t sing a note. However, her feline sensuality dominated the stage and held every eye as she undulated and padded around it. It was the white woman Filomena Campus who sang to us – often in her native Italian. The multi-talented Ms Campus also translated and directed Misterioso. Her fellow musicians included the illustrious Jean Toussaint on tenor saxophone who has worked with all the greats. His “golden fire” filled the theatre like a wrap-around embrace. Pat Thomas, who played the piano, could have been Monk himself with his rangy frame bent over the keyboard in a trademark hat. Pannonica Butterfly – a reference to a Monk song – was played by Rachel Snider in a very stylised, stylish manner.(..) Her clear ringing tones successfully accompanied the action in an evocation of another era. Sophisticated, soigné, cool and classy, the evening managed to simultaneously entertain, engage, educate and enrich which is a rarity for a theatrical experience. MARY BROSNAN

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

‘A truly magical experience that, through the almost seamless weaving of text by and about Monk, together with his music beautifully, sensitively and joyfully played, really does take its audience on a journey through his life and into the silence. A highly impressive, colourful, truthful and uplifting show. The audience left beaming, as did I’ (Jonathan Salisbury – Trinity Theatre Artistic Director)

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

ANSA Press Agency – London
Theatre: London, Misterioso by Stefano Benni, Monk between jazz and silences. Filomena Campus presents the art and life of a giant of jazz. A giant of jazz among music, racism, silences and the hysteria of McCarthyism against an art perceived as subversive: this is Monk’s life told in Misterioso by Stefano Benni, presented by Italian director and jazz vocalist Filomena Campus at Riverside Studios in London. A polished and tasteful play, with great jazz and the text about America in the 50s, with its dramatic context of black and white, which becomes the chromatic theme in Misterioso. Among stunning projections, live music and the story of Monk’s life, Campus, excellent jazz vocalist, with her company Theatralia present -in English and Italian – Benni’s reflections mixed with the notes of the great pianist. On stage, like in a smoky 50s jazz club, spectators sit on tables, with a waiter offering them a drink. Together with the singer and director, an amazing ensemble of top jazz musicians such as Guy Barker, Jean Toussaint, Orphy Robinson, Pat Thomas, Rowland Sutherland and Monk’s voice by Cleveland Watkiss. Campus, Sardinian artist very active in the London jazz and theatre scenes, uses Benni’s text not only to tell about Monk’s life. In her Misterioso there is room for a philosophical and musical reflection upon “silences”, which Monk embraced in the last seven years of his life.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

RUN-RIOT – Theatralia: ‘Misterioso’ at the Riverside Studios
Set in an American 50s jazz café, the genius of one of Jazz’s greats, Theolonius Monk is brought alive amidst the historical and political issues of the era, with live music and visuals. Monk spent his last seven years in complete silence. How would you be able to describe this through music? No matter how paradoxical the question is, Theatralia attempts to sort the challenge out. With the stars of the UK’s jazz scene all re-united, the international theatre collective presents its personal tribute to Monk, an insight of the artist’s personal issues together with an open political and historical debate. The play, adapted by director Filomena Campus is based on the written work of Stefano Benni, both a very well know Italian writer and an estimator of jazz music. The stage is set as a jazz club where the music performed by incredible names such as Guy Barker (we have seen him in The Talented Mr Ripley), Jean Touissant and many others mix up with short acting inserts and video projections. Monk’s character and his notes come back to life, what is seen as craziness and dementia is recognised as part of the artist’s productive flow. His silence, as we understand in this work, is a response to a sense of disgust and rejection to the discriminations during the controversial McCarthy era. Although the final interpretation is left open to you whether the mystery of Theolonius Monk is solved, one thing is certain, the show has a triumphant ending – the music reigns, and the tragedy is eased.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

‘The success of the show arises from both the remarkable performance of the actors, musicians and audience participation’ (Café Babel)

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Women’s voice – Filomena Campus. Jazz and Theatre in London
Campus has found in London a fertile soil for her theatrical ideas and experimentation with her company Theatralia. Her last production Misterioso, written by Stefano Benni, has won an extraordinary success of critics and audience. Giacomo Serreli – Sonos & Contos – December 2007

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Monk’s jazz and poetry live again in Benni’s words.
Misterioso (sold out at Riverside Studios) is a very elegant and poetic fusion of Monk’s music, Benni’s text –performed by different characters such as Billie Holiday – silences and pauses. Abused and persecuted in the McCarthy era, Thelonious Monk stopped playing and talking in the last seven years of his life. Campus’ English adaptation relegates the piano almost on a side of stage, to represent the silence of the great musician, while trumpet, sax, voice and flute dominate the space. Unione Sarda, November 2007

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

An eloquent study of madness and silence ****
Monk spent the final seven years of his life, until his death in 1982, in near total silence, not speaking or playing a note to anyone. Misterioso explores the possible causes of his descent, through a series of monologues in the guises of his friends and contemporaries, through Monk’s own words (recorded by singer Cleveland Watkiss), and through the biggest clue of all: Monk’s music, which is performed by an all-star band of London musicians.
[David Walter Hall] – BroadwayBaby

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

‘Silence’ and ‘jazz’ were two words which I did not naturally associate with each other, and so I was intrigued to discover how this performance would portray these two aspects of Monk’s life. On the ‘jazz’ front there was much incredibly talented playing from all involved, and the vocals, were confident and assured. (…)I wished that we had been in a more intimate setting – then we might all have been on our feet dancing. Threeweeks – [Lucinda Wingate-Saul]

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Exploring Monk’s elusive mindscape
The often chaotic, always creative and ultimately silent life and times of one of the greatest of all modern jazz giants, pianist Thelonious Monk, is celebrated in this amalgam of music, theatre and video projection from the London-based Theatralia company. The show, sold out in its inaugural run at the Riverside Theatre in London last year, boasts several highly regarded British jazz musicians in its cast, including trumpeter Byron Wallen and singers Cleveland Watkiss and Filomena Campus, the founder of Theatralia. The show (…)explores Monk’s inner mindscape and reflects upon his experiences, notably in the repressive McCarthy era.
The List (Edinburgh Festival)

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

At various times, Thelonious Monk was reputedly either one of two polar opposite characters, able to discourse endlessly about his esoteric music, or a virtual mute who let his idiosyncratic jazz piano style speak for him. However, it’s the latter character who appears in this production in which, as McCarthyism unfolds and Monk’s friend and patron Pannonica de Koenigswarter reflects on his life, the jazz genius’s music is the main event. Pat Thomas, as Monk, looks the part, sitting statue-like until called to play piano, although rather than attempt faithful recreation sound-wise, the musicians inject Monk favourites such as In Walked Bud with their own energy.
The Herald

~ ~ ~ ~ ~


AUDIENCE POST SHOW WRITTEN FEEDBACK AND COMMENTS on MISTERIOSO

“Excellent!” Simonetta Agnello Hornby

” I’m a Monk fan, but I learnt something new tonight. And I was moved and it was done with love. ..very special!” (anonimous)

“Very original play, wonderful music, great authors, really enjoyed it!” Laia

“Enjoyable and Inspiring” Rose

“Somewhat avantguard like Monk!” (anonimous)

“Great music and acting. I don’t want this to finish, when is the next performance? Thanks!” Nuria

“Magical! What a treat. Fabulous sound. I want the Riverside Studios to host a jazz night every week! Please!” Frederique G.

“An outstanding performance – so unusual and interesting and such amazing music!” Christine S.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Misterioso Flyer 2009

12356837_10153817651969511_9046742265756608534_o

MISTERIOSO PART 1: “McCarthy Blues” with Stefano Benni

MISTERIOSO PART 2 “My Name is Monk, Thelonious Monk”

MISTERIOSO Part 3 “Rhythm-a-ning”

MISTERIOSO PART 4 “Pannonica and Monk”

MISTERIOSO PART 5 “Round Midnight”, Monk and Nellie

MISTERIOSO PART 6 – FINALE – “Everything was foreseen…”

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

 

MISTERIOSO

A journey into the silence of Thelonious Monk, with a tribute to the sound of Billie Holiday.

New Theatralia edition/work in progress

Written by Stefano Benni

Translated, adapted and directed by Filomena Campus

presented at Theatralia Jazz Festival 2015 at Jazz Club Soho PizzaExpress

Featuring All Star Misterioso band:

Stefano Benni (spoken word), Cleveland Watkiss (Monk’s spoken voice, vocals), Robert Mitchell (piano), Orphy Robinson (vibes), Dudley Phillips (bass), Jean Toussaint (sax) and Filomena Campus (vocals, spoken word).
10497876_10153817650694511_6571379174416533289_o 11062003_10153817650544511_4721330913169001721_o 12378106_10153817651799511_5698668193547971751_o

‘A powerful and moving performance, with Monk’s matchless music and superb musicians to lead you through’ Alison Bentley LONDONJAZZ

 

Jazzwise review of Misterioso

Filomena Campus’ spellbinding Monk homage at Theatralia Jazz Fest

12362862_10153817652914511_6718924760413869928_o-1 - Version 2

Curated by the award winning jazz vocalist, lyricist, lecturer and theatre director, Filomena Campus, the final night of the third annual Theatralia Jazz Festival saw an adapted jazz version of the theatre production Misterioso, A Journey into the Silence of Thelonious Monk, featuring a script by the renowned Italian writer, poet and journalist, Stefano Benni. Produced by Campus, and previously staged in both London and Edinburgh with support from Arts Council England, Benni’s text movingly explores Monk’s extraordinary seven-year creative and personal silence in response to McCarthyism at the end of his life.

In addition to Benni’s mellifluous readings (in Italian and English), the superb, All Star Misterioso band, which filled the stage at Soho’s Pizza Express Jazz Club, featured Cleveland Watkiss (Monk’s spoken voice, vocals), Robert Mitchell (piano), Orphy Robinson (vibes), Dudley Phillips (double bass), Jean Toussaint (sax), and Campus herself (vocals).

Over Mitchell’s scene-setting, preludial opening (‘Monk’s Music’), Campus, somewhat in the manner of a Brechtian theatre director, delivered a thumbnail outline of the spectacle we were about to witness, including a brief portrait of Monk, hailing especially his “courage to be unique”, and introducing the band.

 

A captivating opening set included a towering Mitchell solo in ‘Well You Needn’t’, hammering out repeated notes in huge, crunching dissonances, a reading of ‘My Name is Monk’ (“Every silence is different from any other silence”), a dazzling ‘Green Chimneys’ with Herculean scatting and beatboxing from Watkiss and wondrous torrents of notes from Toussaint and Robinson, Benni reciting his evocative ‘Piano forte bianco e nero’ and Campus, with Mitchell’s understated accompaniment, talking about Monk’s uniqueness and why his music “can neither be classified nor assimilated … There is no affiliation, no august and venerable school, no heirs, no spiritual fathers, disciples or students. Mother and father unknown. No descendants.”

Bringing the first set to a hugely powerful close, the production also included a short tribute to the music of Billie Holliday, celebrating the centenary of her birth. To the accompaniment of a blues played by Mitchell, Benni’s ‘Lady Sings the Blues’ documented Holiday’s response to racist abuse hurled at her by an audience member when she was singing in a Southern club, with the singer concluding:

I’m the queen of the kingdom of rags
I’m the voice of the sun on the cotton field
I’m the black voice full of light
I’m the Lady who sings the blues

 

Watkiss then gave one of the most stunning a cappella accounts of ‘Strange Fruits’ you’ll ever hear, seamlessly creating a hair-raising polyphony of whimpering sounds and sudden inhalations of breath which looped terrifyingly, over which he delivered the haunting verses.

Opening with a striking Robinson solo, the second set saw the full band take ‘Round Midnight’ on a fascinating journey which culminated in the most beautiful moment of the evening, a hushed, dream-like ending suspended in time. A rollicking amalgam of scat, beatboxing, and tumultuous soloing from Robinson and Mitchell, ‘I Mean You’ was a standout, as was the Cageian multiplicity of event at the end of ‘Ugly Beauty’ (“In my fight I’ve struggled like a hundred warriors”). Recited by Benni and Watkiss, the alliteration of the final text couldn’t fail to conjur up the intoning of saints’ names during mass:

Saint Billie, Saint Bud, Saint Bird, what’s the point of talking?
When you can play like that.

 

It brought an exceptional, heartfelt homage to a poignant close.

Of her Theatralia Jazz Festival, Campus has said: “In a moment where everyone seems to draw up walls, I aim to build a bridge between our two countries. A bridge made of jazz notes, theatre and masks, musical encounters enriched by the magic words of great poetry.” Long may it continue.

– Peter Quinn
– Photo by Nadjib Le Fleurier

12339525_10153817649894511_2516753829417091538_o 10382270_10153817652549511_4866652699560733234_o 12370709_10153817649524511_719180721907308605_o-1

Past reviews (2008/2009 production)

“If you enjoy Monk’s music, searing jazz, a postmodern, poetic take on musical voice and the sound of silence, this trip could well be the show for you.” Ian Angus Wilkie, LOW DOWN

 

“TOUCHING AND THOUGHT-PROVOKING. THE WORDS ARE STYLISH AND THE MUSIC, PERFORMED LIVE BY LEADING JAZZ PROS, IS EXCELLENT.” Jack Massarik (2009)

 

‘A Crime to miss it” The Times

 

‘Sympathetic direction and uplifting vocals by Filomena Campus, evoke the feel of the Beat Generation’s Big Apple Ex-drum and bass MC Cleveland Watkiss brings Monk’s narrative to life with his booming voiceover, whilst Thomas is the physical embodiment of the silent Thelonius, chiaroscuro highlighting him like a Zurbaran painting, giving gravitas to the myth of a musical legend’. Kultureflash

 

‘The theatre is set up as a club. Director Campus, originally from Sardinia, has assembled a classy band. At one point the audience is encouraged to dance. Vibes player Orphy Robinson – who isn’t doing all the performances – is a national treasure. I just love the warmth and humanity he radiates from the bandstand. Campus herself is a highly musical singer. The music was continually bringing a smile to many faces in the audience’. Telegraph

Monk at the London Riverside Studios

ATN review: Misterioso, Riverside Studios ****
‘Poetic, sensual and brave, Misterioso functions both as a serious contemplation of musical genius and as a fervent celebration of Monk’s remarkable legacy, not to mention the jazz aesthetic in general. Jazz – the greatest musical invention of the 20th century, a music which created and defined an unashamedly cerebral black aesthetic, one that still powerfully resonates to this day, is without doubt the evening’s true protagonist and star. Lindsay Johns

 

‘Triumph of Misterioso. The play by Stefano Benni about the life of jazz pianist Thelonious Monk, was sold out each night and totally charmed its enthusiastic audience.’ (ANSA).

 

‘The poetry of Stefano Benni’s words debuts in UK’ La Repubblica.

‘A thought provoking and entertaining mix of words and music.’ RECOMMENDED - TIME OUT

Theatre’s night of Monkish magic
Was it a jazz concert, was it a play or was it an art show? The answer is it was a stunning fusion of all three. Recreating the setting of a 50s’ jazz club, Misterioso explores the magic of jazz through the story of pianist Thelonious Monk, a genius and an outsider who spent the last seven years of his life in complete silence. Sophisticated, soigné, cool and classy, the evening managed to simultaneously entertain, engage, educate and enrich which is a rarity for a theatrical experience. MARY BROSNAN, Herts Advertiser

 

‘A giant of jazz among music, racism, silences and the hysteria of McCarthyism against an art perceived as subversive. A polished and tasteful play, with great jazz and the text about America in the 50s, with its dramatic context of black and white, which becomes the chromatic theme in Misterioso. Campus, Sardinian artist very active in the London jazz and theatre scenes, uses Benni’s text not only to tell about Monk’s life. In her Misterioso there is room for a philosophical and musical reflection upon “silences”, which Monk embraced in the last seven years of his life.’ Ansa

 

‘The success of the show arises from both the remarkable performance of the actors, musicians and audience participation.’ Café Babel

 

Women’s voice – Filomena Campus. Jazz and Theatre in London
‘Campus has found in London a fertile soil for her theatrical ideas and experimentation with her company Theatralia. Her last production Misterioso, written by Stefano Benni, has won an extraordinary success of critics and audience.’ Giacomo Serreli – Sonos & Contos

12377950_10153817649419511_392151935073771647_o 12370847_10153817651584511_6499940821036648539_o 12374772_10153817651324511_509986989116187208_o

An eloquent study of madness and silence ****
‘Monk spent the final seven years of his life, until his death in 1982, in near total silence, not speaking or playing a note to anyone. Misterioso explores the possible causes of his descent, through a series of monologues in the guises of his friends and contemporaries, through Monk’s own words (recorded by singer Cleveland Watkiss), and through the biggest clue of all: Monk’s music, which is performed by an all-star band of London musicians’. BroadwayBaby

 

‘Silence’ and ‘jazz’ were two words which I did not naturally associate with each other, and so I was intrigued to discover how this performance would portray these two aspects of Monk’s life. On the ‘jazz’ front there was much incredibly talented playing from all involved, and the vocals, were confident and assured. (…)I wished that we had been in a more intimate setting – then we might all have been on our feet dancing. Threeweeks – [Lucinda Wingate-Saul]

 

Exploring Monk’s elusive mindscape
The often chaotic, always creative and ultimately silent life and times of one of the greatest of all modern jazz giants, pianist Thelonious Monk, is celebrated in this amalgam of music, theatre and video projection from the London-based Theatralia company. The show, sold out in its inaugural run at the Riverside Theatre in London last year, boasts several highly regarded British jazz musicians in its cast, including trumpeter Byron Wallen and singers Cleveland Watkiss and Filomena Campus, the founder of Theatralia. The show explores Monk’s inner mindscape and reflects upon his experiences, notably in the repressive McCarthy era. The List (Edinburgh Festival)

 

At various times, Thelonious Monk was reputedly either one of two polar opposite characters, able to discourse endlessly about his esoteric music, or a virtual mute who let his idiosyncratic jazz piano style speak for him. However, it’s the latter character who appears in this production in which the jazz genius’s music is the main event. Pat Thomas, as Monk, looks the part, sitting statue-like until called to play piano, although rather than attempt faithful recreation sound-wise, the musicians inject Monk favourites such as In Walked Bud with their own energy. The Herald

12371214_10153817651314511_6851823350753191130_o 12356847_10153817649084511_7967790774603255167_o

 

AUDIENCE POST SHOW WRITTEN FEEDBACK AND COMMENTS on MISTERIOSO

“Excellent!” Simonetta Agnello Hornby

” I’m a Monk fan, but I learnt something new tonight. And I was moved and it was done with love. ..very special!” (anonimous)

“Very original play, wonderful music, great authors, really enjoyed it!” Laia

“Enjoyable and Inspiring” Rose

“Somewhat avantguard like Monk!” (anonimous)

“Great music and acting. I don’t want this to finish, when is the next performance? Thanks!” Nuria

“Magical! What a treat. Fabulous sound. I want the Riverside Studios to host a jazz night every week! Please!” Frederique G.

“An outstanding performance – so unusual and interesting and such amazing music!” Christine S.

‘A truly magical experience that, through the almost seamless weaving of text by and about Monk, together with his music beautifully, sensitively and joyfully played, really does take its audience on a journey through his life and into the silence. A highly impressive, colourful, truthful and uplifting show. The audience left beaming, as did I’ Jonathan Salisbury – former Trinity Theatre Artistic Director

 

patk 2074889970_8fe6ad2735 2076251581_0aee7f5ace(2)
MISTERIOSO production 2008/09 London Riverside Studios, Assembly Queen’s Hall Edinburgh Festival

A Journey into the Silence of Thelonious Monk

Written by Stefano Benni
Adapted and directed by Filomena Campus
Pannonica’s speeches by David Walter Hall, inspired by Laurent De Wilde’s book “MONK”

Cast 2009
Cleveland WAtkiss as the voice of Monk
Pat Thomas – Thelonious Monk
Tamsin Shasha – Nica Rothschild
Christina Oshunniyi – Billie Holiday and Nellie Monk
Tony Kofi – sax
Orphy Robinson – vibes
David Leahy – doublebass and dance
Jean Toussaint – sax
Rowland Sutherland – flute
Antonio Forcione – guitar
Shabaka Hutchings – sax
Byron Wallen – trumpet
Winston Clifford – drums
Mark Saunders – drums
Digital Artwork and projections by www.sdna.tv

Past editions (2006/2008) special guests:
Guy Barker, Cleveland Watkiss, Jean Toussaint, Orphy Robinson, Rowland Sutherland, Dudley Phillips, Kenrich Rowe, Frank Millward

2063641820_ea299df506 2062867617_7739e14611 2063712988_5111533014
Special thanks to all the amazing people involved in the production of Misterioso from 2006 to 2009 edition
Janet Waugh
Natalie Richardson
Silvia Cocco
Daphne Raemondou
Jovita Caygill
Frank Millward
Chiara De Palo
Ornella Tarantola
The Italian Bookshop
Riverside Studios staff

CLICK HERE to read more UK and Italian reviews on MISTERIOSO

***************

NOT IN MY NAME

THEATRALIA – CAMDEN PEOPLE’S THEATRE

UK Reviews on  NOT IN MY NAME by Theatralia, London 2005

NOT IN MY NAME. ‘No chairs, no stage, no actors, just a room to walk into and stand in. Theatralia, an international collective of performers and artists, creates a feeling of unease in CPT’s empty auditorium. People stare at you, from afar or right in your face. As the situation becomes more and more uncomfortable the performers emerge from the standing audience. They watch us like wardens guard prisoners. Using complete darkness or dramatic lighting they tell the story of Karla Faye Tucker, a woman executed in Texas while George W. Bush was governor. To the accompaniment of a nightmarish score performed live on electric guitar by Roger Goula, tension builds and culminates into a Dantesque danse macabre that sees the cast try to escape the theatre like cats fighting their way out of a cage. Following this powerful scene director Filomena Campus uses religious ritual to dramatic and emotional effect and produces a beautifully sincere moment when we are asked individually to promise not to kill each other.’ KULTUREFLASH, London.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

NOT IN MY NAME, Camden People’s Theatre, London 13-30 October 2005. Total audience interaction can totally backfire, so Theatralia – the company that has devised Not in My Name – takes many risks with this thought-provoking, original piece. Using mainly physical theatre techniques, they tell the story of Karla Tucker, executed in Texas in 1998 when George W Bush was still governor – and of the 152 others that were killed under the government of a man who became ruler of the free world. They whisper incoherently in the darkness. They shine torches through thin pieces of cloth, talk into audience members’ faces and contort themselves around the empty CPT space, weaving in between the free-standing punters. The choreography is effective and the cast ensure that at all times during the performance no space is left empty. Tension builds throughout the piece, beginning with the gradual realisation among the audience that some people are not who they seem. One by one the cast begins inspecting individuals. It is unnerving. Then darkness and whispering. By the end we are all promising not to kill each other in some quasi-religious incantation. It is very moving and effective. Jeremy Austin. THE STAGE. Thursday 13 October.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~