The Cheese and The Worms
Domenico Scandella. The Trials of the Holy Inquisition (1533-1599)
written and directed by Tommaso Pitta
based on the book “The Cheese and the Worms: the Cosmos of a Sixteenth-century Miller” by Carlo Ginzburg
starring Federico Bonaconza
costume, set and light design by Gabriele Amadori and Tommaso Pitta
produced by Scuola d'arte drammatica Paolo Grassi
in collaboration with Compagnia BabyGang
In 1583 – Domenico is 56 years old – the Inquisition receives an anonymous report denouncing him for uttering “heretical and dreadfully blasphemous” declarations. Domenico’s ideas strike the inquisitors so much that the questioning goes on for over one hundred days. Nobody can believe that Domenico doesn’t belong to any heretical sect or had any contact with the Protestant Reformation. At the end of the questioning, following the advice of the Inquisitors, Domenico recants to avoid capital punishment. He is condemned to a life sentence and several “holy penances”. After two years in jail, close to his breaking point and nearly delirious, Domenico begs to be released. He is pardoned and returns to his family. However, he is still subject to the penances, which include wearing heretical black clothing, so as to let everybody know that he was condemned for heresy. Abandoned even by his family, Domenico becomes lonelier and lonelier. Fifteen years later, he is denounced again for uttering foul-mouthed blasphemies in an inn while drunk. The death sentence inevitable. In 1599 he is burnt at the stake.
The play develops through the dialogue between Domenico – handcuffed on a small platform surrounded by the audience – and the glacial and impenetrable voice of the Inquisitor.
“An interesting cross between two languages. On the one hand, the actor who represents philologically a miller of the 16th century, illustrated by the costumes, dialect and the ghostlike atmosphere. On the other hand, the Inquisitor, an amplified voice which intervenes only to ask questions and pass judgment. A historical event is narrated with simple and effective staging. We are cleverly dragged into a world of absurdity and violence; a religious belief drawn to its extreme consequences. A corner of the world narrated in a room, like the reminiscence of a “Big Brother” who controls mind and body. Where is freedom? This is the question at the heart of the play.”
Rassegna Ubusettete, Chiara Fallavollita
“A one hour monologue interrupted by just the voice of the Inquisitor, calm but as sharp as a sword. The monologue outlines a historical character who, in his disarming simplicity and frankness, becomes the symbol of the heresy and the Inquisition’s persecution of these dark centuries. The play captivates and makes you think, thanks to the excellent directing of Tommaso Pitta and the extraordinary interpretation of Federico Bonaconza.”
Il Giorno, Luca Divo