A woman reveals her daughter’s terrible secret, which only surfaces as the daughter becomes a young woman. The father is a well-known meteorologist who abused her own daughter. ‘In the dense poetic texture of the script there is a haunting vision of a world destroyed by patriarchal attitudes taking some kind of watery revenge on the whole of humanity; including women like this mother, who collude with abusive men by somehow seeing and saying nothing, even when the truth is right in front of their eyes.’ Francesca Bartellini brings Father to the Fringe, and spoke with The Fountain about the show.
TF: You are performing at the Edinburgh Fringe this year, how exciting?
I am so pleased to be performing at the Fringe and to be part of such an international theatre community. I started my theatre career in the States where my plays have been performed in Chicago and New York City and later in Europe in Paris, Athens, Rome. This will be my first time in Edinburgh though, I am a cosmopolitan by nature and education and I believe the Fringe is still one of the best opportunities to share in this spirit.
TF: Father certainly sounds intriguing, what is the premise?
This play is based on a friend’s real experience so it’s an intimate work but it has a mythical scope. The intensity of the relationship between child and parent is reflected in our human relationship with nature and particularly with our impact on climate. When my friend first told me her story I could see a wider perspective, so the father figure I made a renowned meteorologist who is aware of our changing climate and wants to save the Earth; he can easily see humanity’s guilt and wants to find a solution but he is blind to the crimes he himself has committed in the sexual abuse of his own daughter.
So it’s a multiple-layered story. I believe theatre is the only place where this can truly work – in the dark you are confronted with another human being’s feelings and it’s experienced in that precise moment. It needs no technology. It’s live, it touches our deepest emotions.
This is why theatre has such a vital role today in an age of streaming entertainment. We are at a crucial point in our civilization. There are still many who don’t realize how dangerous the situation has become. even as most scientists are increasingly alarmed. But as my meteorologist says in the play: “What if they are using us as a cover?… they send us on television… they let us have conferences… but what if not one of them cares?’ And this is definitely what many people across the world are starting to think about politicians and those in power and the people behind them.
I definitely see myself carrying a message. It’s necessary. And urgent!
TF: And what drove the project, where did your influences lie?
One starting point was the story of the Trojan War – Agamemnon the Greek leader is asked by the Gods to kill his own daughter in order to have winds blowing in the right direction to start the war with Troy. What does it mean? It’s not historical fact, It’s an archetype showing us how much men had to kill their own ‘female’ side. In my play the Mother says about the Father: ‘Daughters are their father’s soul’.
In my writing I am constantly haunted by this subject. The female soul is also nature. Our civilization has been patriarchal from the very start and then later through Christianity, which separated totally body from soul, aggressive also against nature. It’s a process that has led us to where we are now. Science has only recently opened new ways of thinking.
TF: Have you been to the Fringe before, is there anything you are keen to see whilst in Edinburgh?
This will be my first time at the Fringe and I’m looking forward to experiencing such a huge celebration of creativity. I really hope to discover other artists who are working in new and innovative ways, particularly those who are confronting important issues in the world today.
TF: And what are your future plans beyond Father?
I am also a movie director writer and actress. I am writing a script based on a story I developed alongside Father but set in a house on a Greek island where the family is isolated. I don’t want to reveal too much about it but it seems I will have some great producers and very interesting actors! I will play myself the character of the mother. I love directing – I have already made several documentaries as author/director all over Europe as well as a short film in Greece starring Julian Sands. I learned directing by watching Jane Campion doing it when I was a young actress in her Portrait of a Lady. You see …it IS a women’s business! …(that’s a line in Father …).
Going back to theatre, Father has a twin sister called Madre (Mother), which had its opening in the renowned contemporary museum Madre in Naples that also co-produced the play. We plan to tour both Father and Mother around Europe and beyond. Mother is more of a gallery performance with video projections and it evokes childhood and ideas of death and follows what could be seen as Pina Bausch poetics. It calls for our planet to follow the ‘Way of the Heart’ or the ‘Sacred Feminine’, to save the Mother, to save the Earth.
And, finally, I am also writing a novel on Michelangelo Buonarroti that will reveal a new approach to this amazing man. It is so provocative that it will surely create some controversy! Which is the reason why I am writing it: to get to some deeper truth…
You can see Father at Greenside @ Infirmary St from 3rd – 24th August at 20:50. For tickets, please visit www.edfringe.com