Kritik zu Netze (Zenobia Theater) von Annemari Parmakson

Sophie Ammann (Foto: Concetta Quattrocchi)

A Woman’s Life in Symbols

The contemporary theatre piece “Netze” by Zenobia Theatre tells the stories often untold. It is about people at the intersection of two very possibly debilitating conditions: being on the run for their life and that of their families, and simply being a woman from a religiously strict and traditionally patriarchal society. Besides text (written and directed by Veronica Compagnone), several symbols are used to convey the lives of female refugees.

Net. Out of them all, the most complex symbol, with many meanings entangled in it. A net can be a vital tool for putting food on the table. It can be an inescapeable trap denoting the end of one’s freedom and soon after one’s life, it can catch you if you slip and fall and it can keep little thieves from taking what you have worked hard to grow. It can devide the playing court into Ours and Theirs. It can connect anybody to anybody else in the world. But it is still too frail to protect from being concidered the second class human. What the net is for you, depends on your position.

Clothes. A representation of the different roles of a woman. There are black dresses to be worn after all the waiting is done and the man, the hero has returned home, having died an honorable death. There is an apron, as the gown of the queen of the kitchen. There can even be a sharp-looking blazer for the woman who is working the two shifts. There is a shawl to carry the life of another human in one’s hands at every moment of the day. Rags are what the clothes become if their wearers lose their lives at the sea. There is a red dress worn by the actor (Sophie Ammann), who is the medium for all these stories. Red is the colour of girls from the red-light disctrict, the colour of warning, it is the colour of the lips of the luring femme fatale behind the man’s deadly deeds.

Cello. A soft-toned inner voice in the mind of the woman, her connection with herself. Sometimes it is a swinging song tracking the motions of everyday life, other times it is a melancholy melody as an echo of a loss. Sometimes the manner of the voice is in contrast with the horrid events. Concious self-talk – a way in which the otherwise unspeakable things can be concidered. Who else is going to sing a grown woman a lullaby if not herself? Rachel Maio creates the contemplative soundscape of the performance with her instrument, a looper and her sotto voce voice. The musician’s actions in her state of concentration are captivating to watch in themselves.

Paper. Not developed into as great of a symbol as the net, but nevertheless: a long piece of perfect white material, visually compelling to watch being unfurled and crumpled into a spiral of waves enfolding its victim. Paper can also be an empty page, either waiting for a story to be written or denoting the silence of unsaid words. It can be the material out of which to craft the unsound, yet indispensable means to escape from one uncertainty to another.

Young actress. Telling stories on the stage, which for the most part of the history of theatrical events has been for the man to dominate. Despite Ammann being in a mediating position, she is not trying to impersonate her subjects. Her as an actor’s particular charisma comes through. She tells these stories of trouble with great conviction and well conducted use of energy, giving her characters an underlying fortitude. 

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