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Turning 'The Tempest' into multimedia circus

SPIRITS tumble acrobatically across the storm-tossed stage in Shakespeare's "Tempest" and the wizard Prospero truly seems to conjure the winds, churn the seas and cast magic spells.

For multi-talented director Giacomo Ravicchio - who is also a playwright, set designer and actor - nothing is impossible. He works in imagery, illusion and magical realism.

Whether staging "Transit" (2007) (people stranded in a terminal), "Chaplin" (2002) (the man behind the myth), or classical drama, Ravicchio's works reflect his strong personal style, effectively weaving together various theatrical forms, including drama, mime, film, live music and multimedia.

For him, theater is an art filled with infinite possibilities, one that makes dreams tangible on stage.

On October 15, Ravicchio will stage "The Tempest," the last play Shakespeare wrote alone; it is considered one of his most fantastical and greatest works and the performance as stunning.

Ravicchio recently spoke to Shanghai Daily.

Q: When did you begin in the theater and why is the stage so appealing?

A: After two years of training. I performed at the age of 16 in my first professional show (in 1974) with a theater company in Torino, Italy.

Then I worked more than 20 years in the industry, where I wrote, directed and performed in more than 40 plays. After working for some years in Canada and France, I moved permanently to Denmark. I adore the theater because it contains a possibility to put together various elements: emotions, words, imagery, music, and art in general.

Q: You were born in Turin, a city filled with sweet chocolate and the aroma of wine. Has the city contributed to your style?

A: It is impossible not to be influenced by one's roots, and often I can clearly see this influence in my performances. But I also think my work is influenced by all the other cultures and races that I meet in my life.

Q: Your productions are always very imaginative. What's your source of inspiration?

A: My inspiration often comes from things I see around me, small or big things. It can come from a story that I read in the newspaper, or from a picture I accidentally see in the street, or from an old photograph. Or maybe a whole performance can be created in my mind only by listening to a single piece of music on my iPod.

Q: Directing can be very high pressure. How do you relax?

A: I am not the type of person who is able to relax totally ... When I finish one thing I immediately begin another one. My way to relax is to keep myself occupied ... If not I will fall into depression.

Q: Shakespeare demands close attention. Do you think that live music, acrobatics and magic distract from the essential meaning of the play and its language?

A: This question probably should be posed to the audience. I try of course to tell the story of "The Tempest" by Shakespeare in my way, using different styles and forms of theater.

I am sure there will be surprises in the performance, but one of my main objectives is to make the story very understandable and clear to everybody.

Q: Do you plan to visit the World Expo?

A: Of course. We are collaborating with the Denmark Pavilion and we are planning to do 30-45 minutes from the show at the pavilion. It might be on October 20 or 21.


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