Fabrizio Crisafulli, an architect by training, is a theatre director and visual artist. He directs the theatre company Il Pudore Bene in Vista, based in Rome, which he established in 1991. He usually directs the company’s plays and designs light and space for them. Alongside the company's activities he is a creator of installations. He works in Italy and in different European and non-European countries. The defining aspects of his work are the use of light as an independent subject of poetic construction, and what he defines as "Theatre of places" (treating the place as "text" and as a matrix for performances), a research paired with stage production. He teaches at the Academy of Fine Arts in Rome. He gives workshops at universities, academies, festivals and theatre institutions in Italy and abroad.
AWARDS AND HONOURS
2016 – Critics National Award, ANCT/Teatri delle Diversità, Italy
2015 – Degree 'Doctor Honoris Causa' in Performance Design, Roskilde University, Roskilde (Denmark)
2004 – IED Award, Belgrade
2001 – "Outstanding Merit for Theatre Research" Award, Int. Festival for Experimental Theater, Cairo
1996 – "Live!" Silver Award, London
1995 – English National Opera "Stephen Arlen" Award, London
2009 – Research on lighting design, praised, Ubu Award, Italy
1999 – Shō. La Bellezza finale, praised, Ubu Award, Italy
1998 – "Theatre of Places" project, praised, Ubu Award, Italy
1997 – Folgore lenta (Slow Flash), praised, Int. Festival for Experimental Theater, Cairo
1994 – In cerca di frasi vere, praised, Ubu Award, Italy
1994 – In cerca di frasi vere, praised, Int. Festival for Experimental Theater, Cairo
1992 – Il Pudore Bene in Vista, praised, Ubu Award, Italy
«Fabrizio Crisafulli is an exceptional combination of a performing artist and researcher. […] He is known for integrating dramaturgy, light, sound, dance and other art forms in new ways often ‘site-specific’ in theatre, installations, and large, open public spaces. He is especially known as a trendsetter in the use of light. […] Crisafulli is a person who can generate synergy, from which unexpected and unique results can develop. The awarding of the honorary doctorate to Fabrizio Crisafulli honours an important international cultural figure».
(Motivations of the degree ‘Doctor Honoris Causa’ in Performance Design conferred upon Fabrizio Crisafulli by Roskilde Universitet, Denmark, read by professor Henning Christiansen, 18 September 2015).
«Fabrizio Crisafulli’s work as an artist finds a middle ground between visual arts, dance and theatre. Crisafulli lives in Rome where he is the director of the Company Il Pudore Bene in Vista. For many years his research has been directed towards analyzing the way to use light whether to shape space and time or as a dramatic element. Of particular interest because of the originality of the concept is his work for the project he calls “Teatro dei Luoghi” (“Theater of Places”), in which a real place, whose physical characteristics and identity are explored, becomes the text and the ‘matrix’ of the performance».
(Silvana Sinisi, La scena teatrale, in XXI Secolo, Enciclopedia Treccani, Roma, 2009, p. 461)
«Crisafulli doesn't do collage, combine work, or “montage”: but surely he explores a procedure that makes each of his works (made up of objects, abstract energies, technologies on stage, people, acrobats,unassigned places) a single body. A procedure that, as such, and as a continuum, makes each of his works an indivisible whole of invention/creation/fruition. A corpus».
(Simonetta Lux, Una semplice allucinazione, secondo Rimbaud… in Lingua stellare. Il teatro di Fabrizio Crisafulli, 1991-2002, a cura di Simonetta Lux, Lithos, Roma, 2003, p. 10)
«With a spirit of complete independence from the small or the large theatre ‘families’ of the last decade [...] Fabrizio Crisafulli’s theatre work maintains a constant, consistently regenerative flow, removed from the words and images that could constrain it to what is ‘merely present’. This independence doesn’t define an a priori value in terms of ‘ethics’ - it shows us how to rewrite the credibility of contemporary art to an even greater extent».
(Paolo Ruffini, ’Nelle stanze dell’occlusione ottica’, in Simonetta Lux (ed.), Lingua stellare. Il teatro di Fabrizio Crisafulli, 1991-2002, Rome: Lithos, 2003, p. 22)
«In his works nothing is ever completely ‘comprehensible’. Rational comprehension requires simplification, explicit analogies and contraposition. This artist’s research goes in another direction. Each element is, to use a term from psychoanalysis, overdetermined. In other words, it is motivated by many factors. Opposites may coincide. His work has an essentially erotic nature, which is collected, mediated and delivered through a very subtle irony that often comes full circle making an ending possible. [...] I’ve asked myself if the work of this theatre researcher could be considered as representational art. I would say no, unless it’s that particular kind of representation of something that remains unrevealed, as can sometimes be the case in the great paintings of the past».
(Silvia Tarquini, ’Il danzatore e il cespuglio’, in Id. (ed.), Fabrizio Crisafulli: un teatro dell’essere, ed. Rome: Editoria & Spettacolo, 2010, pp. 8-9)
«When I watch the gradual unveiling of the space in one of Crisafulli's works, I associate it with the analytical aptitude of Michelangelo Antonioni for the relationship he creates between photography and film narrative, or with the apocalyptic vision of a world without men explored from the point of view of a solitary survivor as in Guido Morselli's Dissipatio H.G. But this is just a partial impression. The world of Crisafulli tends to occupy a almost deserted universe, inhabited, traversed and questioned by presences. To put an alternate process of desertification and reanimation on the stage. [...] Between his work and the constitutive experiences of the historical avant-gardes, between him and the closely related experiences of the “theater of images” of the Roman directors of the Seventies, lies the distance of a disenchantment, of another level of consciousness in the use and production of images. It is a distance that separates the image as an assertion and its projective and structural use [...]. Crisafulli's presence in the contemporary theater is not the mere projection of an artistic competence, but its redefinition in terms of theater. And at the same time constitutes one of the possible reformulations of the director’s identity. In this sense, the Twentieth Century divides between the director pedagogue as the creator of action through actors and of the actors themselves, and the director that, in a different sense, acts indirectly on actors through the material context and requires the actor's contribution through a mutual research, should be re-examined».
(Raimondo Guarino, 'Disegno-luce-regia', in Lingua stellare. Il teatro di Fabrizio Crisafulli, 1991-2002, ed. by Simonetta Lux, Rome: Lithos, 2003, pp. 17-20)
«As an original and unusual artist, by nature shy and subtly ironic (a quality that makes him even more valuable to us), Crisafulli began to listen, to collect the hidden harmonies between dance and architecture, in order to resolve his own personal koan, finding the dance of things, the sound of places, the silent dialogue of everything. [...] One does not attend a performance that he has outlined, one flows through it. It is like immersing oneself in feeling. A memory of an emotion. Almost a ritual, if there weren't that irony which creates a slight Brechtian break. Like the sound of the gong that rouses one's senses rather than lulling into a trance. Crisafulli doesn't want a hypnotized spectator, but one attentive to the moment. Perceiving that which moves inside and outside of ourselves».
(Rossella Battisti, 'Un teatro da nuovo millennio', in Fabrizio Crisafulli: un teatro dell'essere, ed. by Silvia Tarquini, Rome: Editoria & Spettacolo, 2010, pp. 5-6)
«Fabrizio Crisafulli has, over many years of theater research, put together a profound study of all the "luminous" and "illuminating" phenomena, where light is not just a scenic tool, but reveals itself as an instrument of knowledge of reality in all its aspects. Light is used in all possible ways and technique never sacrifices artistic expression. In 1925, Oskar Schlemmer wrote: “The sign of our times is mechanization, the unstoppable process that encompasses all aspects of life and art: everything that is able to be mechanized will be mechanized. The result: recognition of the ‘unmechanizable’, that is the human, luminous, vital spark of the artistic figure"».
(Cristina Grazioli, Luce e ombra. Storia, teorie e pratiche dell’illuminazione teatrale, Rome-Bari: Laterza, 2008, p. 179)
«What defines Fabrizio Crisafulli’s activity in the context of contemporary research is his ability, almost a dowser’s instinct, to go beyond the purely formal value of artistic tools, to capture a hidden dimension, a special disposition of the soul, impenetrable to the relentless recognition of the eye, visible only through the sensitive antennae of an inner movement. The originality of his work isn’t in the selection of tools or in spectacular multimedia solutions, but in how materials are investigated and reviewed using a process that springs from a rare quality in a theater professional, in other words the ability to be receptive or, even better, what I would call, a bent for listening. Crisafulli’s works never originate from a rigid plan, nor do they obey a narrative logic or immediately recognizable laws. They are actually the result of a slow process, which follows in the intangible wake of suggestions of the imagination, literary inspiration, and evocative ideas or memories. Even when he uses a literary work as a reference point, as has been the case on some occasions, the reference to the source survives only as an inspirational impulse, but does not affect the creation directly, which proceeds by inner dynamics in absolute linguistic autonomy».
(Silvana Sinisi, ‘An inner sound’, in Place, Body, Light: The Theatre of Fabrizio Crisafulli, 1991-2011, ed. by Nika Tomasevic, Dublin: Artdigiland, 2013, p. 15)
«Crisafulli creates the conditions for things to come about, in a precise and established moment and place, so that this truth, of that moment and place, is manifested without forcing. Maybe that's the reason why he has this silent way of working, calm, almost sacred, that develops linguistically and would disappear if he were shouting, commanding, getting worked up looking for a meaning or a momentary genius. The actor is asked to enter into a state rather than performing, to be rather than acting, to be spoken to from that which is present, rather than speaking. As for movement, being guided by the body, by a state, and not the search for beautiful movement. […] Once Crisafulli was asked if his attitude had to do with the Zen philosophy. He replied that not doing – not meant as a passive condition, but as a productive state of being – doesn't necessarily come from Zen. It comes from each one of us, it's just that we tend to repress it. One might ask where the magic of Crisafulli's work comes from. Is it from the director, from the lights or from the actors? The answer, I believe, is in the sanctity and singularity of the event, and the way it is brought to the public. Perhaps we should view his work as if it were a sunset, without questioning anything. Respecting the uniqueness of the moment and the suspense of anticipation».
(Simona Lisi, ‘On the Threshold’, in Place, Body, Light: The Theatre of Fabrizio Crisafulli, 1991-2011, ed. by Nika Tomasevic, Dublin: Artdigiland, 2013, p. 323)
ON CRISAFULLI'S BOOK ACTIVE LIGHT
«Drawing inspiration from philosophers, artists and theatre-makers, Crisafulli exhibits a rich theoretical, historical and practical understanding of lighting – sensitive towards its emplacement, its mobility and its absence – as well as a proficiency in activating architecture, bodies and shadows. Rather than advocate a single approach or exhibit a signature aesthetic, his scholarly and practice-based research illustrates a broad and persistent inquiry into light’s potential: dramaturgically, poetically and experientially. This book is an explication not only on how light acts, but how, as an event in itself, it activates both things and thinking»
Dorita Hannah, Aalto University, Helsinki, Finland
«Fabrizio Crisafulli advocates an active role for light on the stage. In his book he counters those who believe that light should not consciously draw attention to itself in performance. He brings us back to the aspirations of Appia in providing a reminder of the essential and dynamic role that light brings to performance and also of its future potential».
Scott Palmer, University of Leeds, UK
«It’s a unique book in the context of italian historiography on theatre, which cleverly combines rigorous historical research conducted through a solid and refined methodology and aesthetic awareness fed by fieldwork. This volume happily reconciles the almost constant discrepancy between historiography and scenic practices».
Renzo Guardenti, University of Florence, Italy
«It’s a fine example of combination of historiographic and artistic interests. For many years Fabrizio Crisafulli’s theatre research has involved the in depth study of all ‘luminous’ and ‘illuminating’ phenomena, where light is not just a stage tool, but has transpired as a tool which makes you aware of reality in all its aspects. Light is used in all possible ways and technique never sacrifices artistic expression».
Cristina Grazioli, University of Padua, Italy
«Crisafulli focuses on the linguistic value of light. This book is an interesting and useful contribution for those – students and artists – who wish to go deeper into some aspects of theatre production that manuals usually skip or minimize».
Antonio Pizzo, University of Turin, Italy