Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Mamuthones and Issohadores from Sardinia

 An Interesting Article about Sardinian Maks (click the link or the original article)


March 28, 2014
This Festival Friday we’ll take you to Mamoiada, a village in inland Sardinia. Mamoiada is the home of mamuthones and issohadores, mysterious masked characters whose origin is all but unknown. We visited in occasion of St Anthony’s festival on January 17th, when mamuthones and issohadores parade around burning bonfires.
 “I can’t let you in. I can’t just let anyone in. Sorry.” says Basilio, one of the eight issohadores of Mamoiada. “It is more than getting dressed. It is a metamorphosis” he adds, as he slams the door of the Mamuthones and Issohadores Association in my face. I am not allowed to enter the courtyard, where the preparation of the masked characters is taking place. I sneak towards a door left ajar, and glimpse moments of a century-old ritual, pervaded with superstition. The men, dressed but not yet masked, circle around a bonfire, lie on the floor, help each other strapping bells on their backs.
The straps are pulled so tightly that some men seem to be about to collapse from the weight of the bells, up to 40 kilos, and lack of oxygen. Bells are arranged, straps buckled and unbuckled, crossed together. Men jump and shake their backs again and again, bells jangle. When the sound is right, the mask is worn. They are no longer men. They have become mamuthones.
The day of Sant’Antonio, January 17th, is one of the most popular festivals in Sardinia; the saint is the protector of animals and fire, and each year bonfires are lit to symbolise purification and renewal, to ward off the cold winter and welcome spring.
In the village of Mamoiada, the bonfires of Sant’Antonio offer a supernatural background to another event, a lot more important to local people; the first yearly procession of mamuthones and issohadores, masked characters unique to the town. Smoke billows in twirls from the fires, a sleety rain falls, interspersed with bright spells; then a double-arched rainbow appears, crossing the mountainous expanse east of town.
Many Sardinians will tell you Sardinia is not Italy. Here, people speak another language, completely unintelligible to Italian speakers; some refer to Italy as ‘the continent’, with a mixture of indifference and contempt. Barbagia is another place altogether. Far from the beaches of coastal Sardinia, Barbagia is a tough place of mountains and shepherds. The name of the region itself derives from Barbaria, barbarians, the name given by the Romans to the people of the land, proud and elusive, who never subjected to their rule.
I am no longer in Italy; I am in Barbagia. Mamoiada lies in the heart of the region, tucked among a mountain massif riddled with streams and caves, where nomadic shepherding is still practiced.
The village is surrounded by squat, windswept mountains, covered by gnarled olive trees and myrtle bushes. The wind blows, thick with sleet. This is an isolated land. A place where the harsh territory allowed people to preserve their culture, language and tradition.
Mamoiada’s masked characters are an example. Mamuthones wear grotesque wooden masks, painted black. They are all handmade by local artisans, all different to one another. Some have giant hooked noses, others have protruding foreheads, pointed chins and grimacing expressions, lending mamuthones a spooky, devilish appearance. They wear vests of dark sheep fur and huge copper bells, arranged like tortoise shells on their backs. Issohadores are their lighter counterpart, vivacious and cheerful; dressed in a red tunic with a black bandolier, an embroidered, fringed shawl tied around the hips, a black hat held together with a colourful bow.
The village is surrounded by squat, windswept mountains, covered by gnarled olive trees and myrtle bushes. The wind blows, thick with sleet. This is an isolated land. A place where the harsh territory allowed people to preserve their culture, language and tradition.
When the characters reach the main bonfire, in front of Mamoiada’s largest church, the procession starts. Twelve mamuthones in two rows, surrounded by eight issohadores. Their movement has been defined by anthropologists as a ‘danced procession’, because of the grave yet musical, rhythmical pace it follows. Mamuthones move slowly, with heavy steps, as if they were chained. Their backs are curved under the weight of the bells, under the coarse vests, under the grimacing masks. Rhythmically, they shake their right shoulder, the left foot advances, bells clang in unison. Issohadores move with agile, deft steps, surrounding the darker figures as if they were hoarding them, guiding them, then confronting them.
Their function is complementary; mamuthones do not interact with the crowd, while issohadores skip across the road, catching young women with the soha, the slim reed rope after which they are named. One issohadore, at the head of the group, has the function of setting the pace of the procession; every now and then he lifts one arm, then waves, the mamuthones answer shaking their bells three times, in rapid succession.
The public looks on speechless, silent and composed, as if they were assisting to a religious procession; looking scared, then between awe and bewilderment, hypnotised by the slow, yet imposing gait. There is no joy; the atmosphere wavers between austere and otherworldly. No one dares speak. The parade continues, from early afternoon to late night, repeating the dance at each of the thirty-eight bonfires in Mamoiada.
The origin of mamuthones is unknown. They have been in Mamoiada as long as anyone remembers; it is likely that the town itself has taken its name from them. Now, they are a symbol of Mamoiada’s identity. “We were born to be mamuthones” said Augusto, standing with his nine year-old son in a small mamuthone costume. “The first time, he was eighteen months old”.
The pace of mamuthones is seen by some scholars as an interpretation of the pre-Christian limping dance in honour of Dionysus, the god of vegetation, that each year died in winter, and was born again in spring as the grass in the fields, bringing rain and fertility. According to this theory, this is why the first mamuthones procession of the year is held on the day of Sant’Antonio, celebration of spring. Other scholars see the Mamuthones as an animal metaphor; the bells on their back are the bond between shepherd and animal, their shared destiny of working in the fields, of roaming the mountains.
Mamuthones have also been defined as a representation of the collective soul of Sardinia. The bells symbolise the yoke of subsequent dominations, from the Romans to the Vandals, from the Piedmontese to the Italians. The cavorting issohadores in their exotic costume are the invaders; the shuffling mamuthones, bent under their load, are the Sardinians, prisoners, forever shaking the bells of their pain and suffering.
At the end of the parade, in the dead of night and bitter cold, the characters return to their association, to undress, become men again. Then the party begins, wine flowing until morning. This time, everybody is welcome to join in.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Some News

Hi there, I hope this newsletter finds all of you very well and every day more committed to your artistic craft. 

I have some news to share. 

A-  I'm working so hard to present the final version of my solo play. I will be on stage at The Pocket Theatre on Friday, April 6th and Saturday 7th, 7.00pm with:
If You See Something... Play Something (the Whole Story). It is an ONE-hour solo performance of Stories, Poetry, Masks, and Music about the struggling of a nomadic immigrant dealing with American Culture. Tickets are $ 10 online and $14 at the door. Follow the link: https://www.facebook.com/events/424003034686619/

B- I applied for a grant at 4culture for a project about new immigrant stories (theater, poetry, and mask). The idea is to collect performances from all over the world. I'm looking for pals willing to organize it with me. In May, I will know if I got the grants..... Volunteers available please send me a message riccardo.pieri@gmail.com

C- from Theater-Masks.com I received an interesting communication for a summer workshop in Muncie, Indiana... somebody wants to join me this summer?
The Mask in Actor Training
July 15 – 21
Tuition/housing/breakfast and lunch: $475
Workshop Leader: Jonathan Becker
Learn the practice of acting with masks.  Learn the practice of training actors with masks.  Participate in the oldest form of storytelling and explore with masks that speak to a universal human experience.
 http://thenalpa.com/2017-workshops/workshops/  

D- A beautiful idea will be to go to Sardinia (Italy) in June 15, 16 and 17 for the first "Festival Internazionale delle Maschere" MAMU-MASK....https://www.facebook.com/mamumask/?hc_ref=ARSH_j-Epcep2knbpbNCN7jMuyvX8hFeqmKx0I2BLn2D0ugCEEvHKx1bA4AjbAW24Eg

Friday, December 29, 2017

Transformation

Two amazing example of transformation

1) the Chinese "changing faces" artist


2) Arturo Brachetti on Stage



Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Onions, Masks and Humans: many interesting layers.

Onions are one of the few vegetables that every culture valued and keep valuing. I’m personally very proud of my ancestor Pieter Pieri who imported the famous Italian onions in Walla Walla. That was the end of 19th century. People says Pieri was a French soldier retired in the Corse Island. Corse was Italian before Napoleon and it is very close to Tuscany coastal. Consider that Pieri as last name come from Tuscany like a modification of Pietro (Pieter) and/or Piero, and the Onion seeds he brought to Walla Walla were coming from Tuscany, this is another gift from Italy. Of course, I do not think I’m related to this guy but my last name makes me very sympathetic to him.
Anyway, why this sweet and tasty vegetable are so important in all dining table around the world, despite cultural, religious, linguistic and local differences? Curious!
Why is it one of the most popular metaphor to use represent human personality?
I admit, the idea of a man, or woman personality built as layers that you can peel out one by one, going deep and deeper every stage, …. Yes, this metaphor is powerful, it seems invented by some shrink’s good marketer!
But what is there, at the end of the peeling?
Oh!!! Here our metaphor begins to diverge from reality. For some at the end, there is a core, an onion core! Your real Ego. Your only and unique trustable YOU!  Meaning the previous layers were not “really” you or at least not the “trustable you” we’d like to have.
Now, how’s that even possible! First of all, onions are one of these vegetables that you can eat every part of it, except the external layer. Technically speaking the “core” of the onion it doesn’t taste very different from a more external layer … and they are, all of them I mean, just “Onion”. To keep with the metaphor, at the end of the peeling job you get to the core and you have… let’s see, a naked and vulnerable onion core? For sure, again Onion as the layers you just peeled out.
For some people, the personality layers to peel out resemble masks over masks over another masks. And here the analogy is only in the way the wearer can take off the masks over another masks. But again, at the end of the taking off process you’ll find the very trustable and authentic “Self”, someone says.
I disagree! Totally. Onions are “onions” in the core as well than in the layers and a “self”, is an authentic and trustable self as well all of the masks we were able to take off.
So, a “Self” in my opinion is just a collection of masks that we made and we wear according to circumstances and ecological niches we are in.

In this way questions are changing a little bit. How many Masks we can build? How every mask I build will relate with the others? What are the skills you need to manage all these masks? What do you need to know to build a masks? 

The Onion. Wislawa Szymborska

The onion, now that's something else.
Its innards don't exist.
Nothing but pure onionhood
fills this devout onionist.
Oniony on the inside
onionesque it appears.
It follows its own daimonion
without our human tears.
La cipolla è un’altra cosa.
Interiora non ne ha.
Completamente cipolla
fino alla cipollità.
Cipolluta di fuori,
cipollosa fino al cuore,
potrebbe guardarsi dentro
senza provare timore.


Our skin is just a coverup
for the land where none dare to go,
an internal inferno,
the anathema of anatomy.
In an onion there's only onion
from its top to it's toe,
onionymous monomania,
unanimous omninudity.
In noi ignoto e selve
di pelle appena coperti,
interni d’inferno,
violenta anatomia,
ma nella cipolla – cipolla,
non visceri ritorti.
Lei più e più volte nuda,
fin nel fondo e così via.


At peace, of a piece,
internally at rest.
Inside it, there's a smaller one
of undiminished worth.
The second holds a third one,
the third contains a fourth.
A centripetal fugue.
Polypony compressed.
Coerente è la cipolla,
riuscita è la cipolla.
Nell’una ecco sta l’altra,
nella maggiore la minore,
nella seguente la successiva,
cioè la terza e la quarta.
Una centripeta fuga.
Un’eco in coro composta


Nature's rotundest tummy,
its greatest success story,
the onion drapes itself in its
own aureoles of glory.
We hold veins, nerves, and fat,
secretions' secret sections.
Not for us such idiotic
onionoid perfections.
La cipolla, d’accordo:
il più bel ventre del mondo.
A propria lode di aureole
da sé si avvolge in tondo.
In noi  grasso, nervi, vene,
muchi e secrezioni.
E a noi resta negata
l’idiozia della perfezione.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

I had a dream... and It was in English for the first time!

Yessssssss. I had a dream and for the first time, after almost six years living here in the US, it was totally in English. So my subconscious finally learned English too. 


I know for most of my readers this is not a great topics, but maybe ... We use to think Change as dynamic movement and improvement strictly connected with our consciousness. We want to change, we want to improve ourselves, our situation, our life. For sure "we want". 



However mister "mysterious"  Change, sometimes seems not very respectful about our consciousness. Change can work, will work always, despite we want it or not. 

For one side, we need to take care of our Subconscious, this guy who live in our head without paying any rent, hidden often like an illegal alien, but very necessary for a lot of reason. Coming back to my dream, I was waiting this moment when also your dreams got another possibility of expressing but sincerely I did expect this moment ... years ago. It took me month to start dreaming in Spanish when i learned it. English is more difficult for an Italian so, I thought, maybe one or two years! How to maintain our consciousness aligned with subconscious? Or the other way around? 

On the other hand, thinking Change as a conscious decision make us proud and is very anthropocentric. It is a point of view that put as like "aware" human at the center. Now, despite quantum physics seems to give as like observer the privilege of "creating" the reality we see, this doesn't involve conscience, at least not always. Change often happen and no will is involved.








I have a question: how do we deal with not wanted changes? 



(Italian)
Siiiiiiiii, ho fatto un sogno e per la prima volta era totalmente in Inglese, dopo quasi sei anni che vivo qui! Quindi il mio inconscio sembra finalmente aver imparato la lingua. Ok  probabilmente per molti dei miei lettori magari non e' un grande argomento... oppure. Ci piace pensare al Cambiamento come ad un movimento dinamico, un miglioramento, strettamente connesso alla nostra coscienza. "Vogliamo cambiare, vogliamo migliorare, noi stessi, la nostra situazione, la nostra vita". Sicuramente "vogliamo".

D'altra part pero' Sua Maesta' il Cambiamento a volte non sembra cosi' rispettoso della nostra coscienza. Il Cambiamento puo' lavorare, quasi sempre lavora per i fatti suoi, che lo vogliamo o no!

Da una parte dobbiamo prenderci cure dell'inconscio questo altro che vive nella nostra testa pera altro senza pagare alcun affitto, nascosto come un clandestino e sempre necessario per il lavoro che fa. Tornando al mio sogno me lo aspettavo molto tempo fa. Quando imparai lo Spagnolo ho cominciato a sognare in quella lingua in pochi mesi. Essendo l'Inglese per un Italiano piu' difficile mi sarei aspettato uno o due anni! Come mantenere allineati la nostra coscienza e l'inconscio? Oppure e' il contrario?

D'altra parte invece pensare al Cambiamento come una decisione conscia forse ci rende orgogliosi ma e' veramente antropcentrico. E' un punto di vista sul Cambiamento che ci mette al centro. Ora nonostante la fisica quantistica sembri darci come osservatori il potere di creare la realta' che osserviamo, questo processo non implica neccessariamente la coscienza o, almeno non sempre. Il cambiamento a volte avviene e non c'e' nessuna "volonta'" coinvolta.

Sorge una domanda: cosa ci facciamo con il Cambiamento che non abbiamo voluto?

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

When Change Happen…but is Not What I Wanted!

As dual citizen I witnessed the American Election Day and today I received the ballot for a very important Italian Referendum about our Constitution Changes to made.
Despite one fact being done and the other yet to do, both of them have triggered my curiosity.
What happen when change is at work… but the results are not what expected? How do we face with not wanted changes? Denying it? Protesting? (and to who and for what?). Pretending nothing happened it’s allowed? Or just we get caught in depression and dark thought? Blaming others? Whining all day long?

We believe that change is ours breathe, it just goes on and on. There is no need to think about it or, worse, to avoid it.
However, like on these days to me, change seems going a little further: toward sides I don’t like and I won’t. Of course the change running in a political arena is not the same of the one you have to ride on your life.

But how we can transform these very common attitudes in a positive and more useful way? Oh that’s very interesting thing to coach around!
Collecting facts around the change. Refuse the odd analysis. Change your glasses: what did not you see? What other people will describe it? What do they say to explain themselves? Try to walk in their shoes can help.
Working on your emotions. How do you feel? How do you show these feeling? Accepting all dark and depressing emotion can help too.
For sure one last work we need to cope with: how you deal with impotence? How stay in a cage like an animal on the zoo, without losing your soul? How you restore your energy to fuel hope?
That’s remind me of the way Clowns are used to cope with failure. Playing it again and again until poetry, irony and imagination combined together will make you and your audience crying with no knowledge about the reason.


Of course, that’s not very easy to do so! 

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Not to change is not an option!

   “Nothing is more real than the masks we make to show each other who we are.”  Christopher Barzak, The Love We Share Without Knowing) 


    Change is like breathing. It happens. You don’t need to do anything. It is a life process. If you are alive you are breathing and change. Every second.
       Since I began to write this little article all of my cells changed several time. Literally I’m a different person since I start writing.
Tranformational mask - Vancouver BC - Anthropological Museum 
   Of course you can hold your breath, for a while but in a few second you go … fiuuuuu! Change is kind of the same. You can hold, especially the change you don’t want to have, for a while, but after that again, whoahhhhhhh! It goes.
    Like human living been we are set to change a little bit every second all along our life. A kid that I was it is very different from the adult that I’m now. Different dimension, weight, tall, brain. A human body that is not changing anymore is gone, death.
Everything in me is different any moment and however it is still myself. (that is another story!, please wait for another telling)

   Now if change is like that, why we are so afraid of it? Why we spend so much time and energy to avoid that? Why every change in our life is giving us so much intense emotions, anxiety and trouble? Why is so difficult to flow in this river and enjoy the current?