About the performance
Ivica Buljan is one of the world’s best experts on the work of Bernard-Marie Koltes, with Roberto Zucco being already his tenth staging of a Koltès text.
The team: costume designer – Ana Savić Gecan, dramaturge – Robert Waltl and the artistic collective son:DA, Hungarian actors – Kerkay Rita, Lazók Mátyás, Lendváczky Zoltán, Orosz Ákos, Páll Zsolt, Tankó Erika and a Croatian actress – Senka Bulić.
This Hungarian-Croatian-Slovene co-production of Maladype Színház, Novo kazalište and Mini teater is part of the project called “Experimental Theatre Academy”, which is sponsored by the European Commission.
Bernard-Marie Koltès (1948–1989) wrote Roberto Zucco towards the end of his life. Following the formula “Madame Bovary is me” we could draw parallels between the author and his emblematic hero by mimetically equating the two “angel faces”. Their arc towards death is accelerated and irrevocable, as their bodies present a threat to others. In Zucco’s case it is because his body is supernaturally strong, in Koltès’ case because it is infectious and weakened by AIDS.
Roberto Zucco is the author’s last character, the quintessence of the early male heroes - the first of these being Raskolnikov, followed by the wounded sentimental man, “the angel in the middle of all that circus”, from The Night Just Before the Forests. The text is encapsulated by C. G. Jung’s epigraph about the god Mithras - the words spoken by Roberto Zucco at the end of the play as his last words. In the light of all this, we could perceive him as an archetypical “hero of our time”. The play opens with Zucco’s escape from prison and ends with a spectacular suicide after him being re-arrested, which Zucco faces accompanied by a falcon from the prison’s roof. Between the two arrests, during the time he was on the run, he had killed his mother, raped a teenager, killed a police inspector and took a boy as a hostage only to kill him at the end.
The play develops through fifteen chronologically connected scenes. Each of them describes an action or a place of action, with the scenes making reference to mythological figures, for instance Delilah or Ophelia.
There are thirty characters in the play and they all have generic names such as Girl, Sister, Brother, Father etc. Roberto Zucco is the only one with a real name and he fears he would forget it. He does not want to be noticed, he wishes to be transparent, never aspiring to the role a hero.
Roberto Zucco is a character full of contradictions. His thoughts contradict his actions; his whole personality exists as a kind of a double. The lonely man, who didn’t manage to assimilate to social norms, rejects identification with any kind of community.
The author doesn’t try to explain the actions of his character. In his last radio interview he said that he had chosen the life of the murderer Zucco for the source material because “...he killed for no reason. The trigger could be a tiny little detail”. Koltès doesn’t talk about Zucco’s past. It is difficult, almost impossible to identify any events in his life that could give a structure of the psychological basis to the character. The motivation for his criminal acts is open to interpretation of the reader or the viewer. On the basis of the murders of his mother, the inspector and the boy, we can recognize a symbolic process that finally leads Zucco to suicide: first, he distances himself from his origins (his mother), then, from society and the representative of the social order (the inspector), and at the end, from the image of himself as an adolescent.
Not only Roberto Zucco, other characters are similarly evasive when it comes to psychological interpretation. They are all complex and meaningful representatives of the violent capitalist society in deep crisis.
From the first scene on, Koltès offers a special kind of reading. Two prison guards (in the prison from which Zucco will later escape) talk about how the idea of murder is born and how it then becomes an actual deed. During the conversation, the first guard comments that he heard something, whereas the other doesn’t hear anything, since it didn’t even occur to him that something could be heard. It is difficult to draw the line between illusion and reality.
Objectivity is put to a serious test. The second guard tries to grasp the difference between reality and the idea - how an infernal thought can turn into an action. Koltès is intrigued by problematic identities. Does the identity of a person stem from their thoughts, from the idea that the person has about himself or herself and that they later realize, or does one’s identity stem only from the actions one takes?
The play “Roberto Zucco” is based on an infamous true story, od the Italian Roberto Zucco, aged 18, who was sent to prison after violently murdering his parents, escaped 5 years later and went on the run, defying police in 3 countries, changing his identity many times, and embarked on a horrific 2 years crime spree undetected - burgling, raping and killing.
The text concerns itself with a charismatic serial murderer - a young lost soul who philosophically seduces his prey, driven by forces he can not control. He ultimately surrenders to those forces, albeit hesitantly, as if he had been chosen to act on them by some cosmic instinct.
A cross between Tarantino and Žižek working over the themes of Hamlet, and reaching back to the myths of Oedipus and Icarus, it brings the suspense of film noir to the stage. A cruel play, written close to the playwright’s death, but at times also syrupy sweet, proving that Koltès felt sentiment and forgiveness toward the generally foul lot of characters he had drawn. They are, after all, only acting as they’re expected to, caught in the absurd hurricane of an antihero’s preemptive fate.
Festivals and tours abroad
Maladype Színház, Budapest (Hungary); November 2014
ZeKaeM, Zagreb Youth Thaetra (Croatia); January 2014
6. Desiré Central Station Festival, Subotica (Serbia); November 2014