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Odin Teatret, Holstebro, Denmark

Director: Eugenio Barba

Performed in Italian, English and Spanish

1 hours, without breaks.

Death is feeling lonely. A ceremony in memory of Chilean actress María Cánepa.

Three hundred steps in a few instants.
Stone skin on my head.
The dead and the transparent flies -
what are they? And what do I matter?
Maybe death doesn't take everything away.

These verses by the Italian poet Antonio Verri sum up the performance. The British actress Julia Varley evokes her meeting and friendship with the Chilean actress María Cánepa. Death itself comes to celebrate María, the artist, whose work left its mark on the art of the theatre the world over.

María Cánepa was born in Northern Italy on 1 November 1921 and died in Santiago on 27 October 2006. She played her first roles at the University of Chile Experimental Theatre and ended her career in the National Theatre. Julia Varley first met María in 1988, when touring with Odin Teatret in Chile in a production of Talabot. At the time, during the Pinochet regime, the theatres were like islands of freedom. The two actresses became close friends.

“My face is never visible during the performance of Ave Maria. Most of the time I am hidden under the skull mask of Mr Peanut, and for the rest of the time I am veiled and covered by a big black hat. I represent Death. […] At a certain point in the performance I say: ‘It could be that the dead actress so loved by her colleagues has found a new life. I don't know. Who knows? Perhaps this too is only an illusion!’ Every time I act in the performance I have the illusion that I might find an answer to these questions.” 

Actress: Julia Varley

Assistant Director: Pierangelo Pompa
Text: Odin Teatret and quotes from Gonzalo Rojas and Pablo Neruda


Eugenio Barba

Kaszás Attila Stage
Eugenio Barba

Eugenio Barba

Eugenio Barba was born in 1936 in Italy and grew up in the village of Gallipoli. In 1954, he emigrated to Norway to work as a welder and a sailor. At the same time he took a degree in French, Norwegian Literature and History of Religions at Oslo University. In 1961 he went to Poland to learn directing at the State Theatre School in Warsaw, but left one year later to join Jerzy Grotowski, who at that time was the director of the Theatre of 13 Rows in Opole. Barba stayed with Grotowski for three years. In 1963 he travelled to India where he studied Kathakali, a theatre form which was unknown in the West at that time. Barba created the Odin Teatret in October 1964. During the past fifty years Eugenio Barba has directed 76 productions with Odin Teatret and with the intercultural Theatrum Mundi Ensemble. Since 1974, Eugenio Barba and Odin Teatret have devised their own way of being present in diverse social contexts through the practice of the "barter", an exchange of cultural expressions with a community or an institution, structured as a common performance.

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