by Carlo Michelstaedter



Co-production by Teatro Stabile del Umbria, Teatro Brunello Cucinelli, Emilia Romagna Teatro and Attis Theatre, billingual (in Italian and ancient Greek language)

Α’ Performance: November 14, 2007, Attis Theatre, Greece


Translation: Flora Kontaratou
Dramaturgy: Paolo Musio
Direction: Theodoros Terzopoulos
Music: “The Song of Silence” by Piotr Tchaikovsky
Photos: Johanna Webber


Paolo Musio
Theodoros Terzopoulos

Ημερολόγιο παραστάσεων


14 – 23 November, Attis Theatre, Athens, Greece


27, 28 June, Koreja Teatro Festival, Roman Amphitheatre, Lecce, Italy
9 November, Byzantine Church of St. Rolanto, Nuoro, Sardegna


4 – 12 September, Solomeo, Umbria, Italy
25, 26 September, Alexandrinsky Theatre, St. Petersburg, Russia
10 – 17 October, Castello di Vignola, Modena, Italy
18 – 22 October, Teatro delle Passioni, Modena, Italy
20 October, SOLO Festival, Theatre center “Na Strastnom”, Moscow, Russia


10 March, Festival Milano incontra la Grecia, Piccolo Teatro Studio, Milano, Italy


27 July, Lunaria Teatro, Church of San Mateo, Genova, Italy
26 August, Warehouses ΑSΟ, 3rd International Meeting of Ancient Drama in Sikyon, Sikyon, Greece
4 September, Old Oil Mill, Aisxyleia, Eleusina, Greece
12 October,  St. Pancras Crypt, London, UK
21, 22 November, St. Pancras Crypt, London, UK


23 May, Perm Tchaikovsky Opera and Ballet Theatre, Festival “The Diaghilev Seasons”, Perm, Russia


12 December, Gavella Theatre, Ζάγκρεμπ, Croatia


Last winter in Athens I discovered the work of a major Greek director, Theodoros Terzopoulos. The piece I saw, based on the letters of Elizabeth I and Mary Queen of Scots, offered a stunning, highly physical re-creation of a mythical encounter between the two serpentine queens. Now Terzopoulos pays a lightning visit to London with this astonishing work staged in the context of an exhibition by the London-based Kalliopi Lemos.

We assemble in a crypt, which seems apt, as Il Deserto is an evocation of a living death. The hero of the piece, written by Carlo Michelstaedter and performed in Italian by the virtuosic Paolo Musio, is entombed in the desert. Like some Beckett protagonist, he uses words to beat back the darkness. “You keep talking, talking” he declares in the English synopsis we are given on entry, “and no one is listening to you.” Clad in an ash-covered suit, Musio goes through an extraordinary range of emotions – fear, rage, defiance – as he delivers for 45 minutes an almost ceaseless verbal torrent. The only relief comes when the director himself, seated in front of Musip, utters lamentations deriving from his native Pontus on the Black Sea coast.

What does it all signify? To me, it provided a frightening sense, reminiscent of Dante’s Inferno, of being suspended between life and death in a subterranean world. The point is reinforced by Lemos’s sculptures, which eerily enhance the action. Titled Navigating in the Dark, her installation is dominated by three stripped-down Greek boats. One contains writhing snakes, another life-sized human figures and a third death-symbolising ravens. All are made of steel, are accompanied by suitable sounds and suggest some Virgilian passage across the river Styx into eternal darkness. But relief is provided by a recess filled with floating white bees made of Japanese paper and indicating a lost paradise.

The performance lasted one night; the sculptures will be there for some weeks. But the evening transcended the barriers between theatre and visual art and showed a perfect synthesis between two powerful Greek imaginations. What puzzles me is our ignorance of Terzopoulos. Feted the world over, he has created a theatre that, while it has elements of the work of Poland\’s Jerzy Grotowski, seems very much his own: one that explores the cornered human animal in all its naked desperation. I was left both with a sharpened sense of life’s joy and of its inevitable transience.

Michael Billington, Guardian, London, October 2011
Read the original review at the following link:


A deeply moving performance one evening in the space, titled Il deseerto and directed by Theodoros Terzopoulos, contributed bone-chilling immediacy to the eldritch ontext. The viscerally meditative incantation by Italian actor Paolo Musio portrayed words as both instruments of survival and evidence of their own futility and ultimate meaninglessness. Altogether this wake for civilization was a profoundly comforting reminder of the eventual obliteration of everything and the incumbent urgency to address the nowness of life. «The one who fears death is already dead. » It could also be a metaphor for the current situation in the artist’s homeland- and the world- which is testing the limits of spiritual strength in the face of economic and environmental disaster.

Cathrin Drake, Artforum, New York, January 2012