Fiction and reality

Increasingly, theatre is returning to escape the physical and symbolic spaces designated for it and invade reality, illustrating it, using it and engaging in dialogue with it.

On stage – when it is a stage – actors rarely act, but rather performers, experts in everyday life, witnesses of events that really happened, or at least declared as such. Art opens up to the world and gives itself authenticity.

But what does authentic mean? What does it mean to talk about reality? Where is the boundary between fact and interpretation, reality and fiction, truth and mystification?

Speakers: Yan Duyvendak (director and performer), Boris Nikitin (director, author and curator of the festival “It’s the Real Thing”) and Oliviero Ponte di Pino (critic and expert in contemporary theatre)


foto: ©Marc Ginot


Yan Duyvendak – Born in Holland, he lives in Geneva and Marseille. Trained at the Ecole Supérieure d’Art Visuel in Geneva, he has been practising performance since 1995. His performances have been presented, for example, at the Fondation Cartier in Paris (Soirée Nomade, 1995), at the Festival for Performing Arts EXIT, Helsinki (2001), at Art Unlimited Basel (2002), at the Museo Reina Sofia in Madrid (Don’t Call it Performance, 2003), Guangju Biennial (2004), Image Forum, Tokyo (2005), Ménagerie de Verre, Paris (2006-2009), Vooruit, Ghent (2007), Avignon Festival (2008), and Thaterspektakel Zurich (2009). His video works enrich numerous public and private collections, from the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Lyon to the Museum für Kommunikation in Bern.
Yan Duyvendak has received numerous awards, including (three times) the Swiss Art Award (2002, 2003, 2004), the Namics Kunstpreis für Neue Medien (2004) and the Network Kulturpreis (2006). In 2010, he received Switzerland’s most prestigious award for contemporary art, the Meret Oppenheim Preis. He has been invited numerous times as an artist in residence, for example to the Cité des Arts in Paris, Atelier Schönhauser in Berlin and Pro Helvetia’s Swiss Artistic Studio in Cairo (2007, 2008, 2009).

Boris Nikitin – 1979, Basel, Switzerland. Director, author and theatre designer, artistic director of the festival “It’s The Real Thing”. He studied at the theatre academy in Giessen, Germany. His works are produced and hosted by small independent theatres and the most important permanent theatres in several German cities, including Kaserne Basel, HAU, Gessnerallee, Theater Freiburg, Schauspielhaus Graz, Ruhrtriennale. Some of his projects, such as ‘Imitation of Life’ and ‘Woyzeck’, have been touring internationally for years. His works move along the border and the area of intersection between performance and theatre, fiction and reality, illusion and documentation, amateurism and acting virtuosity, constantly questioning the codes of theatrical creation and fruition. They alternate between conceptual elements and highly theatrical situations. Context often plays a decisive role and not infrequently his works move in the scientific sphere (e.g. “Universal Export” and “Woyzeck”). His directions are conceived and constructed together with the performers/actors, whose personalities and biographies are often at the centre of the performance itself (“F for Fake”, “Imitation of Life”, “Sänger ohne Schatten”). For three years he has been the artistic director of the festival “It’s The Real Thing – Basler Dokumentartage”, dedicated to the most innovative theatrical and performance works with a documentary approach.

Oliviero Ponte di Pino has worked in publishing for over thirty years and was editorial director of Garzanti from 2001 to 2012. He has written for newspapers and magazines and produced radio and television programmes for RAI. He has organised festivals (Sussurri o grida in Milan, Forme del pensiero che ride in Genoa), curated exhibitions (Il nuovo teatro in Italia 1975-1988, 1988, the theatre section of the Trash exhibition, the “stanza del teatro” at Annisettanta), and planned cultural and entertainment initiatives (Maratona di Milano, Subway Letteratura). Since 2014 he has been a member of the MiBACT Theatre Advisory Commission.
He teaches Literature and Philosophy of Theatre at the Brera Academy and Fundamentals of Modern and Contemporary Theatre at IULM. Since 2012 he has curated the BookCity Milano programme and in 2001 he founded the website
His books include Il nuovo teatro italiano (1988), Enciclopedia pratica del comico (1996), Chi non legge questo libro è un imbecille (1999, new edition 2014), Il quaderno del Vajont (with Marco Paolini, 1999), I mestieri del libro (2008), Romeo Castellucci e Socìetas Raffaello Sanzio (2013), Le Buone Pratiche del Teatro (with Mimma Gallina, 2014), Comico e politico. Beppe Grillo and the crisis of democracy (2014), Milan. Tutti i teatri (with Maddalena Giovannelli, 2015).