The Revolt of Dignity & The New Gospel
Campaign, Spectacle and Film
What would Jesus preach in the 21st century? Who would his disciples be? And how would today’s bearers of secular and spiritual power respond to the return and provocations of the most influential prophet and social revolutionary in human history? With “The new Gospel”, Milo Rau is staging a “Revolt of Dignity”. Led by political activist Yvan Sagnet, the movement is fighting for the rights of migrants who came to Europe across the Mediterranean to be enslaved on the tomato fields in southern Italy and to live in ghettos under inhumane conditions. The director and his team return to the origins of the gospel and stage it as a passion play of an entire civilization. In Matera, in southern Italy, where the great Jesus films from Pasolini to Gibson were shot, an authentically political as well as theatrical and cinematic “New Gospel” emerges for the 21st century. A manifesto of solidarity with the poorest, a revolt for a more just, humane world.
Six years ago, Pope Francis denounced the “globalization of indifference” in Lampedusa and said about capitalism that “this system kills.” The moment Italy criminalizes the rescue of people who are drowning, the Catholic Church returns to its socio-revolutionary roots: what does the Bible really ask of us? What was meant by the radical “no” by the Christian prophet when confronted with the system of Roman imperialism and exploitation? Who would Jesus fight for today – and who would be fighting at his side?
In Southern Italy, at the southern edge of the EU, where refugees from Africa are forced to work as harvesters and small farmers, who are unemployed due to increasing grain imports and are fighting for survival, Milo Rau will be creating THE NEW GOSPEL – a documentary film dealing with the life and death of who is probably the most influential religious founder in the history of the world. Who are the displaced people, the outcasts, the humiliated of today’s world order? What is left of Jesus’ message of salvation in times of global exploitation?
Political activist and Jesus performer Yvan Sagnet himself worked on a tomato farm when in 2011 he revolted against the system of exploitation and led the first farm workers’ strike in southern Italy. Just as Jesus sought his group of apostles as a “fisher of men”, he now returns to the largest of the wild refugee camps currently called “ghettos” in Italy. Among the “wretched” of southern Italy, the refugees and migrants stranded in the barren landscape, those who hire themselves out on the tomato and orange plantations, he finds his “disciples”, who will lead a “Revolt of Dignity” at his side: a struggle for the rights of the people disenfranchised by the current Italian government and EU policies – over 500,000 people in Italy alone. They are joined by small farmers and activists driven into bankruptcy by major agricultural corporations, as well as actors from the films of Pasolini and Mel Gibson. Enrique Irazoqui, who played the legendary role of Jesus in the Pasolini film, will take on the role of John the Baptist in Rau’s version of the “Gospel”; Maia Morgenstern, Mel Gibson’s Saint Mary, will be playing the mother of the black savior Sagnet.
Christians, Muslims, Jews, atheists, refugees and Europeans fight side by side for the right of all people to live in legality, self-determination and freedom of movement. They call on all citizens of Europe to solidarize with them and to express their resentment and resistance against Europe’s inhumane refugee policy. What is left of the values of the Enlightenment and Christianity in the realpolitik of the EU? How can contemporary Europe even be reconciled with “occidental” values? Even if or precisely because they are fighting against the Italian government and the large corporations, the followers of the new movement, like Jesus’ disciples at the time, “did not come to destroy the law, but to fulfill it.” For where injustice becomes law, resistance becomes duty!
While the message of the “Rivolta della Dignità”, an emancipatory movement of the lawless, spreads, the great spectacle will be organized: the main venue is the small town of Matera in the middle of the southern Basilicata, where the Jesus films by Pier Paolo Pasolini (“The Gospel according to St. Matthew”) and Mel Gibson (“The Passion of the Christ”) were filmed. Right there, in the filmhistorical setting, Jesus will enter the city, he will be tortured, crucified and, once again, will be resurrected. This will occur under the eyes of thousands of cultural tourists which Matera will attract from all over the world as the European Capital of Culture 2019. The Christian myth and the touristic reality of Europe clash in a mystery play about poverty, faith and dignity.
As the grand finale, Jesus and his disciples will travel to Rome in early October of 2019. Here, Pope Francis will be confronted with the New Gospel. There will be an encounter between the “old” and “new” message of salvation, the official and dissident church: in Rome, the center of the Roman world power at the time of Jesus and today’s capital of modern Christianity – and at the same time the capital of one of the most xenophobic and anti-minority governments of the EU.
SEPTEMBER 28, 2019, 3pm, PORTA PISTOLA, MATERA
ENTRY INTO JERUSALEM – PERFORMANCE OPEN TO THE PUBLIC & FILM SHOOTING
As the first highlight of the “Revolt of Dignity”, which will begin in late August in the refugee camps, Jesus, his disciples and all of his followers will enter the European Capital of Culture. This scene follows and revises the famous “Entry into Jerusalem”, the first confrontation of the Jesus movement with the priestly and secular power of the time. In the main square, the Piazza del Duomo, Jesus and his disciples will throw down the gauntlet to the Italian government and the major food corporations affiliated with the mafia – just as Jesus once did to the tradesmen and the rulers of Rome. Enough of the rightlessness of hundreds of thousands of people, enough of this deadly capitalism! Dignity and justice for all!
OCTOBER 5, 2019, 2pm, PIAZZA SAN PIETRO CAVEOSO, MATERA
CONDEMNATION AND PASSION OF CHRIST – PERFORMANCE OPEN TO THE PUBLIC & FILM SHOOTING
The second major mass filming – as many other film scenes from the “New Gospel” – will follow the biblical text: Jesus is condemned by the Templars, then handed over to the secular powers. Jesus, who refuses to abandon his beliefs, is eventually tortured and led through the city to the cross. Realpolitik and period film mix again: the judgment against Jesus is also a judgment by the current authorities of Italy and the EU against those without rights. Pontius Pilate is played by a representative of the Italian government, a governor of Rome in Matera. Applicable law and a cry for dignity collide in a passion spectacle.
October 6, 2019, 3pm, PARCO MURGIA, MATERA
CRUCIFIXION OF CHRIST – PERFORMANCE OPEN TO THE PUBLIC
At the classical location of the crucifixions of Pasolini’s “Vangelo” and Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ”, the crucifixion of the first black Jesus of cinematic history will take place: symbolically, Yvan Sagnet will be crucified by the EU policy and the governors of the New Rome, at his side two more insurgents will be nailed to the cross. The act of crucifixion is also an act of solidarity.
OCTOBER 10, 2019, 8pm, TEATRO ARGENTINA, ROMA
CONGRESS OF THE DIGNITY – POLITICAL ASSEMBLY
The “Congress of Dignity” will take place in Rome, the center of the Roman world power at the time of Jesus and today’s capital of modern Christianity – and at the same time the capital of one of the EU’s most xenophobic and anti-minority governments. In an event at the National Theater, Jesus will “resurrect”. The “Manifesto of Dignity” will be adopted in the presence of the official church and activists from all over Italy. A global campaign for global civil rights begins.
NOVEMBER 10, 2019, 3pm, SANTA MARIA DELLO SPASIMO, TRANSEUROPA FESTIVAL, PALERMO
FIRST MISSION – PERFORMANCE OPEN TO THE PUBLIC
In Palermo – the arrival port of the refugee ships – the “mission” begins symbolically: based on the famous first mission of the Apostle Paul, the message of Jesus is universalized, does no longer only address the “Jews” (or the Italians and Europeans), but citizens of all countries and cultures. Activists from Latin America, Africa and various European regions meet and formulate a policy of dignity for the entire globe – announced in the port of Palermo as part of the Transeuropa Festival.
“THE REVOLT OF DIGNITY” (CAMPAIGN) AND “THE NEW GOSPEL” (SPECTACLE AND FILM) A PROJECT BY MILO RAU AND PARTNERS
WITH: YVAN SAGNET, VITO CASTORO, MBAYE NDIAYE, PAPA LATYR FAYE, SAMUEL JACOBS, ANTHONY NWACHUKWU, JEREMIAH AKHER OGBEIDE, MARIE ANTOINETTE EYANGO AND OTHERS SPECIAL GUESTS: ENRIQUE IRAZOQUI, MAIA MORGENSTERN, MARCELLO FONTE
WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY MILO RAU PRODUCERS ARNE BIRKENSTOCK, OLIVIER ZOBRIST, SEBASTIAN LEMKE DRAMATURGY UND RESEARCH EVA-MARIA BERTSCHY CAMERA THOMAS EIRICH-SCHNEIDER SOUND MARCO TEUFEN EDITOR KATJA DRINGENBERG SET DESIGN ANTON LUKAS MUSIC MARCEL VAID SOUND DESIGN AND MIXING GUIDO KELLER ASSISTANT DIRECTOR GIACOMO BISORDI DRAMATURGY- UND RESEARCH ASSISTANCE TOMAS GONZALEZ PRODUCTION MANAGEMENT ELISA CALOSI PRODUCTION COLLABORATION MASCHA EUCHNER-MARTINEZ, RICCARDO RASCHI, LARYSSA STONE, EVA-KAREN TITTMANN TECHNICAL COLLABORATION JENS BAUDISCH PR MANAGEMENT FLORE MURARD-YOVANOVITCH, FRANCA SCHAAD, KASIA WOJCIK, BORIS SENFF PRESS YVEN AUGUSTIN PHOTOGRAPHY ARMIN SMAILOVIC CONSULTING ROLF BOSSART, THOMAS SEIBERT, LORENZO MARSILI, CLELIA BARTOLI
THE “RIVOLTA DELLA DEGNITÀ” and “THE NEW GOSPEL” by Milo Rau are part of the Matera 2019 project “Tòpoi. Theatre and New Myths”. It is an interdisciplinary production that consists of a campaign, a spectacle and a film.
The campaign is led by IIPM – International Institute of Political Murder in collaboration with Associazione No Cap – Contro ogni forma di caporalato, Ghetto Out Casa Sankara, Spin Time Lab Roma, Osservatorio Migranti Basilicata, Agricola Leggera, Campo Liberoaltragricoltura – Confederazione er la Sovranità Alimentare, UILA Taranto – Unione Italiana lavoratori agro alimentari in association with European Alternatives, European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR), Medico International, FUTURZWEI – Stiftung Zukunftsfähigkeit.
The spectacle is a coproduction of IIPM – International Institute of Political Murder with Matera Basilicata 2019 Foundation, Teatro di Roma und NTGent in collaboration with Teatri Uniti di Basilicata, Fruitmarket and Langfilm in association with ProLoco Ginosa, Universität für angewandte Kunst Wien.
The film project is a production of Fruitmarket and Langfilm in coproduction with SRF SSR, ZDF in collaboration with Arte, IIPM – International Institute of Political Murder, Matera Basilicata 2019 Foundation, Consorzio Teatri Uniti di Basilicata and Teatro di Roma
The spectacle and the film are funded by the German Federal Cultural Foundation, European Cultural Foundation, Film- und Medienstiftung NRW, Office of Culture (FOC), Zürcher Filmstiftung, DFFF – Deutscher Filmförderfonds, Kanton St.Gallen Kulturförderung / Swisslos, BKM – Die Beauftragte der Bundesregierung für Kultur und Medien, GEA – Waldviertler, Stadt Lausanne and Kanton Waadt, Fondo Etico di BCC Basilicata.