Rome’s Wooden “O”, from Maria Del Sapio Garbero Identity, Otherness and Empire in Shakespeare’s Rome
In the post-war years, Shakespeare and his opus became a fixed part of modern Italian culture.
There is a reciprocal long-standing tradition that also links Shakespeare to Italian culture. It started in the eighteenth century when the first complete translation of the Bard’s works began to appear.
Pagliaro’s project: by flanking (accostando) Julius Caesar and Antony and Cleopatra with Titus Andronicus, Pagliaro’ s project gave Titus Andronicus comparable stature as a Roman play, no as a revenge play.
The project took on the structure of a tryptich, each segment constituting its own evening-long event, each bringing centre-stage a particular theme reflected in its title: 1 The lacerated Cloak (J.Caesar), 2 The Egyptian puppet (Antony and Cleopatra), 3 The performance of Madness (T.Andronicus)
1) It resolves around concepts of Roman identity that are defined here in terms of “Liberty” and “Freedom”. The discourses of the conspirators among themselves and exchanged with Mark Antony and then those of Brutus and Mark Antony delivered in the Forum all address the question, “What does it mean to be a Roman?”
2) It shifts (trasferisce) the historical, political and geographic landscape of the question of Roman identity, as it gives prominence to the substance of Empire. Expansionism, challenge self-identity in the face of cultural otherness. Can a Roman maintain his identity abroad?
The Egyptian queen must in the end defend herself from the conqueror who wants to violate her cultural, political and gender identity.
3) Titus Andronicus’s others are a far cry from Antony and Cleopatra’s civilized Egyptians. Here Romanness is suffering a severe identity crisis, much more severe that the one registered in Caesar’s Rome.
Who is responsible for the utter falling apart of dialogue, of cross-cultural exchange?
1) Caesar’s assassination was mimed on a dimly lit stage (palcoscenico appena illuminato). The dominant signifier of the event was the music which rose in an anguishing crescendo.
2) Antony and his wound were figured onstage metonymically by his bloodied sword being taken by his friend.
3) The Titus episode opens with the verbal determining of the ritual murder of Tamora’s son. And these wounds (ferite) continue to haunt (tormentare) the stage in the blood red drapes that completed some of the costumes in each of the episodes.
Leggi anche gli appunti su Titus Andronicus, edizione di Jonathan Bate, qui