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Maskers, and me.

Tony Fanciullo[1], scene designer.


The scene designer Tony Fanciullo at work. Picture ref.:0_5531397_125008.jpg


Tony Fanciullo has been working for years at Greek Theater in Siracusa (Sicily), by ‘Fondazione I.N.D.A.[2] : their workshop is inside of ‘Accademia d’Arte del Dramma Antico’[3].

Which are the steps in working out a scenery?

“The first step is the meeting with the director, the costume designer, the chief scene designer : with them we can make clear the requirements from direction, the materials available and rooms, any ready handmade and further to be included.

First of all, in that meeting a specific idea is communicated about what to be performed : so that, beyond the director also actors can be part. I remember, in 2009, the meeting with Fernando Balestra – ex superintendent in Fondazione I.N.D.A. – when the actor Ugo Pagliai was present in order to bring on the scene ‘Le Supplici’ by Aeschilus, director Tatiana Alescio : Balestra could pr well describe the ‘broken vessel’ he did like at the center of stage, I can say that the first sketch I showed was selected. That was satisfaction to me : we were successful with the performance not only at Greek Theater of Siracusa, but also then in tour abroad…”

How do you get the sketch ?

“That takes months, not only of reading the text but also of studying preceeding work by the director, then visiting painting exhibitions - I like Salvador Dalì, Joan Mirò : by them I can get my starting point up to a few projects - thirty to say - I make in black and white, which then can be coloured for the final selection.” And then ?

“Thanks to cooperation with technicians and workers, we have to rapidly fulfil the commitment, as then there’s no much time…”

In the Greek Theater of nowadays however, maskers are no more present as they don’t even mediate as in past time when, for example, women couldn’t play on stage and a feminine mask was used as a substitute for the actress.

“Studying of maskers is so important in ‘Scene design’ and ‘Greek Theater’, as maskers were essential to bring the sound to people all around the stage : as a matter of fact, also if from the more distant steps, actors playing on the stage weren’t so evident, their maskers could amplify the sound of words getting also to distant people in the theater.”

Then maskers have been shifting also in substituting emotions the actors couldn’t play : we see infact that the written text was time by time delegating to maskers its original message.

“The scene design can show the meaning of a work and written text, as it is in the ‘Greek Theater’ : an essential communication to people alla round the stage, which make a crucial link between director and scene designer…”

The scene staging for ‘Pilade’ by Pier Paolo Pasolini in the first centenary from the author’s birth, and put on by Tony Fanciullo for the ending display of the III year students, had as a protagonist the round courtyard of the ‘Art Academy of Greek Theater’ where the work has been performed - respectfully toward the new anti Covid19 rules – as the motionless maskers have been disposed all around the stage on which any student-actors and actresses have been playing with participation and ability. Thanks to the excellent specific didactics of their Academy, the same students could then make their debut into the ‘Greek Theater’, side by side to professional actors and actresses.

Siracusa nowadays, with the ‘Greek Theater’ is going on to reveal the originality of ancient authors living more than two thousands of years ago together their strong message, simply by using again those ‘Maskers’, which have been hiding in the centuries an ‘I’ as a subject, not only playable but able also to be acted day by day : simple, laborious, faithful.


Marina Bilotta Membretti, Cernusco sul Naviglio September 11, 2021 


[1] Born in Siracusa (1965) and graduated in ‘Direction Institutes’ at ‘D.A.M.S./Bologna, Tony Fanciullo was fond of ‘scene design’ since his University ages, thanks to a number of workshops lead by Dario Fo and Dario Argento just on ‘maskers’. Aldo Parmigiani, famous artist still painter in Milan, has been his teacher for a long time. Tony Fanciullo does remember also Sebastiano Jano Fanciullo, his father and a well known artist. “I was following my father in his workroom and everywhere he was meeting artists, scene designers, theater directors : as a number of scene designers , he was a painter too.  For a number of years he has been working with ‘Torcular Spa’, in Milan, as they are specialized in graphic works as Aligi Sassu’s and Salvatore Guttuso’s. Tony Fanciullo has been working with ‘Moscow Ballet’, putting on, in just three years, eight scene designs painted by hand on fabric : just the central tables required an end panel of 10mt x 12mt. In 2005 he was asked by Italian ‘Ministero per le pari opportunità’ as ‘art consultant’ for three main Projects with ‘woman’ as a subject. He is an artist himself, with exhibitions made in Bologna, as the ‘Biennale Vittoria d’Arte’ (1988) when his work was selected by Vittorio Sgarbi; ‘Arte Fiera’ in Padova (1997) and a few one-man shows in Siracusa and other towns. For the ‘International Festival of Classic Theater of Young people’, organized by I.N.D.A. Foundation and held every year at ‘Greek Theater of Akrai’, at Palazzolo Acreide (Siracusa), Tony Fanciullo has been designing and putting on the stage all the scene designs : the Festival – directed by Dott. Sebastiano Aglianò and to which also cooperates the technician Raffaele Cravano – is the most followed event of Classical theater by young people, as it calls Art Lyceums and Academies from Italian and abroad towns, also if the past two editions 2020 and 2021 couldn’t be held, respectfully to anti Covid19 new rules. Latest is the scene design put on by Tony Fanciullo for ‘Cavalleria rusticana’ by Pietro Mascagni author and performed at Priolo Gargallo (Siracusa), directed by Antonino Interisano, with the ‘Orchestra Mediterranea Siracusana e Coro’.

[2] Fondazione ‘Istituto Nazionale del Dramma Antico’, with head-office in Rome and Siracusa : the first performance at ‘Greek Theater’ was in 1914.  www.indafondazione.org

[3] The ‘Accademia d’Arte del Dramma Antico’ in Siracusa is in Via Gargallo 67, near the ancient  ‘Convento di San Francesco’.


...Impossible working alone.




Any manufacturing – a book as a dress – needs a number of competences, different and cooperating but never compulsory : maybe it is in that ‘non compulsory’ habit the ‘core’ of satisfaction, that is an exclusively human item as it does stand on work.

How can then we justify the ingenuity of neurotic repetition and of that ‘fixation’ as we name it, i.e. a pathological obstacle to acknowledge the presence effectiveness of a real person ?

Maybe it would be enough pointing the mythic jouissance ‘no power’ which cannot other be than  prisoned by an irrelate ‘non partner’ : while we know that also parents – as a man and a woman – really are since the birth of a child as partners to be tested (and that way it would be convenient they stay and maintain…).

A pathological pain, even for a child, awards any lie on loneliness – even when we say it is our authonomy : up to the most distressing amnesia, acted being threatened to give up to one’s own  satisfaction, ‘jouissance’ is just a part of it, as far as it has been just a little experienced by someone.

‘Heimlich’ – from ‘heim’, home – Freud uses to indicate something which ‘pertain to home’[1], and ‘unheimlich’ to indicate its opposite moving mistrust and then anxiety when the ‘non familiarity’ is removed, distanced as matter of fact but without any further elaboration.

Freud spent years to be able to link a liquidation of anxiety, as a solution to pathological consumption of anxiety as effected by melencholy, up to the myth of Prometheus Titan[2] - punished by gods because of his fire theft – and of Heracles[3] who, while saving Prometheus and fire and water – notwithstanding it was already a property of humans - acknowledges the law regulating humanity : the myth however does neglect the reality of sexes which – even in their difference - can change position in a partnership.

Gods then originated a ‘qui pro quo’, or misunderstanding, which rarely is cleared and which can put into each one of us a heroic iper-responsibility[4].


                                            Marina Bilotta Membretti, Cernusco sul Naviglio May 2, 2021

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[1] ‘Il perturbante’, S.Freud (1919) in “Sigmund Freud. Opere II”, Gruppo Editoriale L’Espresso SpA (2006), pp.761-763

[2] It is infact of 1931 the edition of ‘The acquisition of fire’ by S.Freud : I’m referring here to Giacomo B.Contri translation (2007) for ‘Studium Cartello – Il lavoro psicoanalitico’, e-book.

[3] Aeschilus (525 a.C.-456 a.C.) is the author both for ‘Prometheus chained’ and ‘Prometheus saved’ : we have then just fragments, and references in other authors works.

[4] “God created man at his own image; at image of God him created; male and female them (He) created”/ Genesis 1, 27.



‘Les Non-Dupes Errent’.



Original painting by Stefano Frassetto[1]. Ref.:0_5516930_125008.jpg


George Simenon[2] and Mr.  Cardinaud (1942 )


“…However, he and only he was named ‘Mr. Cardinaud’…”[3]

Differently from the superintendent Maigret, which gave a fair success to George Simenon, Hubert Cardinaud  didn’t ever deal with investigation in all his life. Also if he was neither a rebel nor a progressist man, he preferred studying rather than – as it was in his family tradition – being a retailer with a shop and a wife. Cardinaud got to his degree, and thanks to his competence he could go on a good professional career, up to when he decided to marry the girl he liked. “Also joy was quiet in Cardinaud…”[4]

However something happened, and surely not scheduled : coming home from church, a Sunday morning with Jean, his eldest son of three, he realized that his wife Marthe has given their newborn Denise to mademoiselle Julienne, their neighbour and came away without any message but taking away three thousands francs, ready to pay the imminent instalment of their loan which would expire in a few days.

In their town, where everyone already knew what Cardinaud ignored, people looked at him and waited, some of them laughing and some gossiping… He however, who even twice did cry – sobbing the first time, but silent the second time[5] – at last decided, without any doubt or bad purpose, to do something not so usual as far as his familiar tradition is concerned.

“I’ll go to look for her, and to lead her home again.”[6]

So that, Hubert Cardinaud had to ask a number of ‘please’ : firstly to the owner, Mr. Mandine for money in advance – he would never ask before - on his own salary but the expiry of the loan was imminent and they hadn’t any other savings; then he had to ask ‘please’ to someone reliable who could care care of children and home while he was away to look for Marthe; and last he had to ask ‘please’ to someone who – even without any compassion – could link him with that “little rogue…”[7] who did succeed, flattering and weeping, in catching their money from Marthe.

Here is what Cardinaud did think, his own original defence – effective and not ingenuous – to have back his stolen benefit : and firstly he realized that his woman was a real benefit. This was really his own work, no one suggested anything and people looked at him ironically at first, then paying attention as Cardinaud “would be a suffering patient to be treated carefully…”[8]  

Jacques Lacan pronounced a second time, in November 1973 ‘Les Non-Dupes Errent’[9]: in the double signifiance, which can be heard also as ‘les noms du pères’, there is the melencholic irony by Lacan, just looking at his back when considering his own and whole work.

There is the symbolique, there is the imaginaire… and there is the real, does tell us Jacques Lacan.

But it is not imaginaire the real, as it carries each one of us as nothing and no one can then, because that is a knowledge we cannot know, just ‘love’ it – and the word is still an obscure one as it recapitulates, condensates and also hides much of what has been ‘removed’ by oneself : the position of ‘the ‘inconscient’ then is still at risk and ingenuous, not so innocent in his or her masking – also if accepted by Culture – and above all not defendable.

Just a little after, in his dense text, Lacan acknowledges that ‘disharmonious’ which we can at last recognize as reliable, so also the ‘inconscient’ can be considered specifically human : but why have we to ‘love’ that one, which can be so disagreable and disharmonious as Lacan says in ‘Les Non-Dupes Errent’ ?

Here it is, then ‘I’ as a hypothesis of a ‘not fallic’[10] preceeding Law Court, as far as logic is concerned, our language but not our birth, authorizing oneself to a specific knowledge and putting him or her at work without any ingenuity, and without any melencholy too.

It is just a beginning, one of my first steps, I will write on again.


          Marina Bilotta Membretti, Cernusco sul Naviglio April 5, 2021 and Easter Monday.



(1) Stefano Frassetto is born in Turin in 1968. After his degree in Architecture at ‘Politecnico’ he begun as graphic novelist for local magazines. In the ‘90s he edited in France too, on ‘Le Réverbère’ and on ‘Libération’ : then he created ‘Ippo’ for ‘Il Giornalino’ and then the stripe ‘35MQ’ for the swiss magazine ‘20 Minuti’. In 2000 he came into ‘La Stampa’ as portraitist for cultural page and the insert ‘Tuttolibri’, then for the weekly ‘Origami’. Today he works also for the swiss magazine ‘Le Temps’.

(2) George Simenon (Liegi 1903 - Losanna 1989) begun youngest, at his sxteens, to work as a journalist : then writer, he edited also under pseudonyms a number of tales and romances and took to TV and movie success the chief policeman ‘Maigret’, by himself invented. His accuracy and sobriety let the readers look for information and links no more detailed.

[3] ‘Il signor Cardinaud’, George Simenon – Adelphi Edizioni Spa (2020), translated by Sergio Arecco/ p.37

[4]  ‘Il signor Cardinaud’, George Simenon – Adelphi Edizioni Spa (2020), translated by Sergio Arecco/ p.9

[5] “After weeping he come back chief ohi own nerves…”/ p.49

[6] ‘Il signor Cardinaud’, George Simenon – Adelphi Edizioni Spa (2020), translated by Sergio Arecco/ p.59

[7] “…a little rogue” as named by Drouin, a big sea man working at the vessel engine, who sells oysters and cares his kitchen garden in his free time : he met Chitard whom Cardinaud is looking for and hiding on vessel ‘Aquitaine’, thanks to patience of Drouin but who has stolen to Drouin his father o’clock, just before coming down the boat. ‘Il signor Cardinaud’, George Simenon – Adelphi Edizioni Spa (2020), translated by Sergio Arecco/ p.70-73

[8] ‘Il signor Cardinaud’, George Simenon – Adelphi Edizioni Spa (2020), translated by Sergio Arecco/ p.59

[9] The original is on www.radiolacan.com

[10] ‘Il pensiero di natura’, Giacomo B. Contri (1998) – SIC Edizioni, p.22, p.83, p.99, p.195;‘Ereditare da un bambino. Perché no?’, Marina Bilotta Membretti (2014) Isbn 978-88-91081-63-6, p.23, pp.27-29, p.30, p.46.






Umbra mentis.

‘Caravaggio Napoli’ was the exposition in Naples gone at ‘Museo di Capodimonte’ April 12 – July 14, 2019) Picture ref.: 0_5516185_125008.jpg






‘Caravaggio’[1] is already famous when he comes in Naples September 1606, notwithstanding his arrival from Rome was rather escaping from justice[2].

As an international city, not just a town, Naples receives Caravaggio as a honour, and notable families soon commission to him important paintings, mainly for churches in central streets and squares.

‘Flagellazione’ is a frequent item in that Culture : ‘Flagellazione of Christ’ has been commissioned to Caravaggio by the judge Tommaso de’ Franchis, for S.Domenico Maggiore church[3]. And he again did surprise his public as roughly distancing by their Culture – he however knew in depth, and by which he had been educated for years – as this painting was really an ‘opera prima’ in Europe : ‘Flagellazione’ could divide infact any prevous flemish influence which insisted, notwithstanding the Council in Trento (1545-1563), on a ‘not human’ Christ, as sublimated and separated between a suffering body and a peaceful face.

This Christ (1607) is not distancing a millimeter from the real man of well known Gospels, he neither surrenders nor rebel to the people envy, who hate any involuntary light of his body : and everything is descripted in a suffering but not beggaring face, he well know the real life.

And capital are also the two persecutors, older infact and justified in their poor ‘jouissance’[4], exhausted indeed because of the following, unuseful at allo, torments and death.

Really is in that ‘before the martyrdom’, the wisdom Caravaggio did choose, the right time in which something can still light the perfect virility of a young, strong body of a man : so that we have here an excellent, more than faithful painter, opposing the catching smiling flemish fashion that submits to sin and to the eresy.

‘Umbra mentis’ does condemn the two persecutors, even favoured by an obscurity able to sweep away any reason and right mind, and that is only due to their geometrical position of common gestures : the non ingenuous human unvoluntarity is making his - or her, when a woman – innocence and cannot do but come up to the sunlight.

Neither will nor resiliency did lead Christ up to this point : he isn’t a stupid man at all – Caravaggio tells to us with an astonishing competence and without any emotion. Just a few paintings can so clearly express the human bless or the human evil.

This wasn’t a rush work for the author, ‘di getto’ as we say in italian, not usual for his own painter maturity, through a direct incision with the brush point on linen[5].  Those, as we technically name any painting cover[6], show a patient industriousness in Caravaggio.

On this wondering but profitable safeguard which Christ get into himself, Freud was wondering for a long time, as he treated a number of suffering patients by longlasting raves and visions : just a few years after editing in 1910 the ‘Schreber Case’, which he defined a paranoia case rather than dementia[7], Freud briefly had a dense correspondence with the american embassador William C.Bullit[8] - who was asking him for a comment on peaceful policy of U.S.A. president, Thomas W. Wilson, while he worked at the ‘Versailles Treaty’ (1919) – that both the acceptance of reality and its awareness are indispensable to avoid any madness.

With his lucid, revolutionary but not rebel interpretation, so long preceeding psychoanalitic discoveries, Caravaggio points then to an obscure, lying frivolity as a real responsible for criminality, and even for the most hateful crimes.


                      Marina Bilotta Membretti, Cernusco sul Naviglio March 27, 2021


[1] Michelangelo Merisi, said ‘The Caravaggio’ – place between Milan and Bergamo from which his parents came – was born in Milan in 1571; he died in  1610, when coming back to Rome.

[2] When fighting in town, in 1606, Caravaggio killed his adversary : after that last murder he was condemned to death.

[3] S.Domenico Maggiore is a very important cathedral in aples, where S.Tommaso D’Aquino lived and still remain his traces : ‘Flagellazione di Cristo’ was then transferred to Museo of Capodimonte, where nowadays it is.

[4] ‘Jouissance’ is a common term in French language, but was very often used by the French psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan to indicate ‘poverty’, also shown by unconscious.

[5] ‘Burying of saint Lucia’, Siracusa-Sicily (1608) – town where Caravaggio arrived from Malta – it is a specific painting by Caravaggio as the the drawing preceeding the oil colour was directly engraved on linen.

[6] On linen are evident the traces of a human then covered.

[7] “Schreber personality opposed a strong resistance to an imagination - ‘omosexual, passive which chose as a subject the medician himself’ (note by redactor) – and the and the defensive following struggle, among different shapes it could have assumed, we don’t really know why, the persecution deliry… The persecutor is separated, if we see better, between the medician Flechsig and God; then Flechsig has been separated in two different persons… This i very common situation in paranoia.”, ‘Osservazioni psicoanalitiche su un caso di paranoia descritto autobiograficamente. Caso clinico del presidente Schreber’, Sigmund Freud (1910) in ‘OSF. Vol.VI’ Bollati Boringhieri editore Srl (2012), pp.374-376.

[8] “…This too much enlarging of Super-Io is not so rare, indeed : psychoanalysis can confirm that is a quite normal, not constant, psychic situation when father is identified with God. But when a son identifies himself with his father and father with godness, leading even his own imagination to Super-Io, then he feel as godness is really into himself and that he can really become as godness. Everything he does must be right, as godness did. In some persons, the quantity of libido he or she puts into this imagination is so large that they can’t any more accept the reality when in contraddition with their fantasy. At the end they go to a lunatic-asylum. However, if a human has a Super-Io like this but he can keep an acceptation of real life and he - or she - have talent, then they can do something important in the world…”, pp.44-45 ‘Sigmund Freud. Manoscritto 1931 inedito in edizione critica’, by Manfred Hinz e Roberto Righi – transl. by Stefano Franchini (2015) ‘lacasa USHER’/ ‘VoLo publisher srl’.