Virtual Reality Theatre: Sant’Anna School brings its virtual reality theatre to Sala d’Arme di Palazzo Vecchio in Florence allowing to live the life of Gerolamo Savonarola

The Sala d’Arme di Palazzo Vecchio has turned to Sant’Anna School’s virtual reality to show the life of Gerolamo Savonarola who entered a Dominican monastery in 1475 and repelled by the corruption of Renaissance Florence, instituted a regime of austerity, thundered against the viciousness of the clergy until he was convicted falsely of heresy and was burned at the stake in the Piazza della Signoria. “Savonarola”, directed by Pietro Bartolini of Theatre Academy of Florence, is partnered with Sant’Anna TeCIP Institute (Communication, Information and Perception Technologies) and the city council Comune di Firenze; it will take place in Florence Palazzo Vecchio on 17 February at 8.45 pm.

Eighteen actors of the Theatre Academy of Florence have been chosen to perform in virtual-reality “Savonarola” which is making its mark on this season of “Festa della Toscana 2016” sponsored by Tuscany regional authority Consiglio Regionale Toscano and produced by Ludovica Sanalitro at the Theatre Academy of Florence. “Gerolamo Savonarola was a preacher and a prophet - Vincenzo Arnone (author) and Pietro Bartolini (director) say - he preached boldly against the tyrannical abuses of the government. He also was deeply troubled by the miserable condition of the church. There is no doubt that Savonarola’s preaching had a profound effect on the morals. As a prophet and a monk, he promoted civil rights for minorities. He can be considered as a forerunner of modern human rights and he is now regarded as a modern figure”.

Eugenio Giani, president of Tuscany regional authority Consiglio Regionale Toscano: “Our regional Sala d’Arme di Palazzo Vecchio is proudly staging the performance of Savonarola. The overwhelming personality of this Dominican friar is still exercising a potent fascination over all who hear him. It is not difficult to see how the Savonarola legend arose in Florence after the death of Lorenzo the Magnificent”.

Gerolamo Savonarola’s medieval and Renaissance modernity can be approached through a contemporary language to create a connection with the young. In addition to acting, Simona Collura will perform songs inspired by 1997 “Savonarola” theatrical performance. Professor Massimo Bergamasco, Marcello Carrozzino and Chiara Evangelista, researchers at Sant’Anna TeCIP Institute, will create VR experiences that let anyone feel like they are sitting in the front row of Savonarola’s ‘bonfire of the vanities’ in 1497 when artworks, books, cosmetics, dresses, mirrors and musical instruments were burned. Painter Tiziana Acomanni created many “renaissance paintings” to enrich the Sala d’Arme theatrical scenery.

The “Savonarola” co-sponsored event includes workshops and performances dedicated to immersive virtual reality environments applied to performing arts education and training. Real-time simulations are coupled with live actors to form a new stagecraft and the theatrical production displayed new technologies and applications that promote intersectional education and collaboration between technology and culture.

Massimo Bergamasco, director of TeCIP Institute: “This new project allows us to continue our research on the application of digital technology on performing arts. It comes from our Perceptual Robotics Lab. X-CAVE performance using virtual scenery”.

“Theatre and VR technology combination is challenging not just for the engineers working in the Lab., but also for the actors engaged in the performance. It’s an interesting balance of technology and artistry. It’s the virtual world that broadcasts what the actor is feeling and provides a special focus on performance” Marcello Carrozzino and Chiara Evangelista said.

The “Savonarola” poster is available to download.

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