HAVE A GOOD TRIP
HAVE A GOOD TRIP
By Ginevra Sanguigno
I am the daughter of a children’s doctor from Acerra, Pulcinella’s town, and of a mother called Serafina, the name of an angel, who comes from the beautiful land of Calabria. I was born and have always lived in Milan, a city of the north full of people from the south of the world. My father was my first teacher of theatre. He would play with us on the floor after work, giving us strange names and faces telling us he had transformed into this or that character. When I travel to eastern countries I feel I am a bit in Naples and a bit in Calabria. When I go to Calabria or Naples I feel at home. When I am at home I live longing for the East.
I have always thought that travel was for me the necessary condition in order to understand, to find, to get lost and to find myself again. In order not to leave, not to be dependent, not to have attachment, in the Buddhist sense. In order to ponder about everything, to understand the love I feel for my partner better, to rediscover my roots and my family. In order to meet brothers and sisters, and fathers, mothers, lovers, children; to enlarge my thresholds of perception, to touch on my limits and leave again. In order to go into absolute void and then fill it, to rediscover a sense in things, in the choice of making theatre, in the deep and true meaning. And yet I am not convinced. Still, I am not. I am neither fish nor fowl, only an actress, dancer, tumbler, serenade player. I am all of this. This I can say, at the age of fifty-five, after travelling for twenty years and still on the road. I would leave tomorrow, if you “Let’s go!” I would fare once again, the bag on my shoulder that makes me feel good, with a spare pair of shoes for rainy days hanging from the bag. And with a piece of plastic big enough if it rains, if you find yourself in a station, waiting for a train that didn’t exist. So as not to get soaked. More and more coloured dresses and costumes travel with me now, and just a few normal clothes.
With my mind I fly to China where my “dream” before getting there, has created the expectation of a millenary and mysterious culture. And I am at first confronted with vulgarity, confusion and blind foolishness, until I manage to see what I could not see behind the screen. It is rare and not much, but it is there full of light and transparent beauty. I see it through Chi Gong’s movement at five or six in the morning, before the whole city of Peking wakes up. Hundreds of people crowd parks and sing, dance, hug trees. I see it during the Peking Opera performances: the extraordinary skill of their artists, their precision and concentration leave me breathless.
Once again travel shakes my anticipation. We always make plans for our lives, for what to expect on not expect, and punctually travel, which is a way into the highest and greatest perception, throws us into chaos again. I remember Gurdjieff’s book Meetings with Remarkable Men and René Daumal’s Mount Analogue and Chatwin’s Songlines.
And still more journeys for solidarity and aid: to Nepal, Pakistan, Romania, Brazil, Russia. Journeys with the red nose of a clown, a travelling clown, a joy and peace bearer, as the traveller in whom I believe, the traveller I would always like to be. To traveller who “would like to die travelling” like the eighty-five year old woman traveller who we met on the Transiberian railroad confessed. I feel like those wondering souls that never find peace, but if I stop and listen I like this way of being. It is stimulating, alive and it gives essential nourishment. So I have chosen to become a travelling clown, as a way life and of living my way of making theatre. Clowns are healers despite themselves and they are aware of mending, cementing, helping and curing.
August 2001: trip with the clowns to Ulan Ude, on lake Baikal, in Siberia. We are the first clowns to enter a youth prison. The game consists of breaking the roles, but the bald boys intimidated by the guards don’t accept to play at first. In the courtyard starts the official salute to the foreign group of clowns. I penetrate the ranks with a military step keeping the beat with my red nose. A boy laughs and the others show their crooked and black teeth in sign of approval and they laugh too. The prison director laughs. Perhaps something permeates the walls of the prison. We leave soon after, but something stays and will remain there for who knows how long.
I feel like the greatest clown and the most content actor in the world. I continue this way, with love as my motor and fuel. This way convinces me . I greet all those who travel with their body, but also only with their mind, all those who are on the way searching, loving, sowing: hallo and good-bye on the road.
Translated from Italian by Maria Ficara