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Gazing into Beauty, Gazing into Death

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A Melancholic Croquis is based on the motifs of Thomas Mann’s Death in Venice and its eponymous film adaptation by Luchino Visconti. The director Matej Filipčič conceived the project as a unique synthesis of a theatre performance, a scientific experiment and a social event. The article focuses on this triple connection, the specifics of the project’s content, form and production. It first explains the thematic deviation from the original: the performance does not foreground the artist and his being torn between the Apollonian and the Dionysian, but centres on melancholy, which Filipčič recognises as melancholic and defines experientially as an equation of both principles. The original motifs are present but are of secondary significance since the question no longer concerns a philosophical deliberation on the ways of achieving beauty but rather the staging of an ambience, experience itself and the possibility of recording the spectator’s emotional responses. Why? Because a melancholic is a person par excellence clinging to time and enclosed by time, able to ‘fight’ against the fleeting and the fleetingness of time with only one weapon: a series of questions that force creative persons (artists, philosophers, scientists) towards creative acts, into which Filipčič constantly inserts memories, intertwining the personal and the collective, placing the particular in the universal that is valid here and now. The article also traces the fundamental building blocks of Filipčič’s staging process: the poetics of memory, the use of a croquis and a concern for communicativeness, which are read through A Melancholic Croquis.
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Keywords: Apollonian; Dionysian; Luchino Visconti; Matej Filipčič; Thomas Mann; melancholy; theatre croquis

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: June 1, 2018

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