California Italian Studies
Francesco Cangiullo e il "suo" Teatro della Sorpresa (1921)
- Author(s): Musella, Mario
- et al.
Francesco Cangiullo e il suo “Teatro della Sorpresa” (1921)
This article deals with Italian Futurist theater, and in particular with “Teatro della Sorpresa”, created in august 1921 by the Neapolitan poet Francesco Cangiullo (even though the final Manifesto was later signed also by Marinetti, in January 1922). It was Cangiullo's last contribution to his personal artistic research for Futurism, which he eventually abandoned in 1924, at the end of a long theatrical tour throughout Italy. The “Teatro della Sorpresa” is the ultimate peak reached by the Futurist theater research in general. This new theater is based on the incredible explosion of “Surprise” on stage, with the consequence of a revolutionary involvement of the audience. Such involvement was guaranteed by the contagious effect of laughter. This pattern of results is achieved by very short, synthetic and always unsettling texts. Not only: Cangiullo decided to use other strange and unexpected stratagems. For example: “Voice Orchestra” (musicians without instruments: the sounds of the different instruments were instead imitated by their voices), fake brawls in the hall, chairs covered with strong glue, selling of the same ticket to different spectators (to provoke chaos), etc.; all this to evoke the spontaneous laughter in audience. So the “Teatro della Sorpresa” can be considered a development and a joyful overrun of the previous “Teatro Futurista Sintetico” (1915). Moreover: for the first time in Futurist theater history, with this new experience Marinetti and Cangiullo were able to provide their “discovery” of a management structure and organizational order, creating a true theater company that was first called “Compagnia del Teatro della Sorpresa” (until 1923) and then “Nuovo Teatro Futurista” (in 1924). The company toured Italy (with fluctuating success) for more than 3 years. Its first tour begun very soon, in 1921, only a few days after the company's birth. Marinetti just decided to start this new theatrical “adventure” from Naples, as a tribute to its “inventor” Cangiullo. In fact the tour started September 30th, 1921, at the “Mercadante” theater in Naples. The last part of this article is devoted to a precise and detailed reconstruction of this unknown event, with many quotations taken by personal memories of the protagonists and by the still unknown testimony and comments of the newspapers and magazines reviewers who witnessed this event.