If you are interested in Altair, stop reading please. This is a draft I don’t know what to do with. But I like it – so I’ll play with it.
If you continue with me, it’s just to follow my mental wanderings, is that all right?
So, let’s go.
Have you seen the park of Bomarzo? It’s a real park, a little north of Rome, in Italy.
Ever since I visited this park, it’s been bothering me. There are things to do with this park. There is a story to tell in this park.
Already, this park is a story all by itself.
It is the dream come true of the Orsini family. It is the love story of Prince Orsini for his wife Giulia Farnese – it’s a sad story, it’s a dream built in memory of her, on the model of Poliphile’s Dream – at the top of the hill is a ‘temple of love’ that allowed the prince, walking through his garden, to relive the love for his wife.
It is a story of monsters – real monsters, not paper monsters – maybe because without her, there were only monsters around him.
The bear – Orso in Italian – from the Orsini family – and the flower: her.
For us, the park is almost perfect in its layout. It only lacks a few details, a few additions to make it an incredible madness.
We should enter it through the ogre’s mouth.
I explain to you: it is a park established on the hillside, in which you meet stone statues, immense and monstrous. These statues were carved directly in the rocks of the hill – they were not brought, which makes them all the more … remarkable.
Of which an enormous ogre’s mouth, in which you enter standing up, you can sit down in groups, there is the table and the benches.
And I would have liked so much that one could leave it by the neck and enter the park.
But no – it’s in an alley, you go in, you come out through his mouth wide open.
As it stretches all over the hill, you can find yourself next to the monsters without even noticing them.
Okay, that happened to me.
Maybe I’m not paying enough attention to what I’m doing?
But I’m sure it’s not that easy to find all the monsters in the park – whereas walking around in it is.
At one point, about halfway up the hill, you’ll find a small stone house. At first glance, it’s disappointing, a house, well, it’s very common.
But since the door is open, you would have to be horribly lazy not to enter it.
And then there – something is wrong.
There is something.
You can’t see anything at all.
But something is wrong.
It’s not right at all, and you’re going to hang on the wall, and you won’t know why.
The room is empty. There’s a window that allows you to see the bottom of the park, the alley below. Just to get better, you’re going to stand at the window. And if you haven’t figured it out yet, you’ll figure it out when you turn around.
The house is tilted. But not everything is tilted. So you find yourself correcting your position, without realizing it, and seeing everything tilted, since you’ve put yourself “straight”. It’s a terrible effect of perception – and it seems that the prince used to send his friends who were too drunk to rest in the house – the effect must have been multiplied by a thousand – the guy must have really thought he had had too much wine – there’s a little room on the right to put you back – not straight – but to put you back on your emotions.
The weird feeling is total when you’re alone in the house – as soon as someone else enters, you ‘see’ the thing, even if you don’t understand it, you see your friends standing very curiously in relation to the walls.
You’ll see dragons, fighting titans, giant turtles, weird nymphs, everything the sculptor’s fantasy wanted to achieve is scattered, along a stream, or in a tiny alley, in trees, in bushes and you feel like you’re on a treasure hunt, just like when you were a kid. “I found one!” is the phrase you hear the most in Bomarzo.
What does this have to do with Altair? I don’t know.
When I started dreaming about Altair, I was coming back from Italy – I had just seen this park. It had started to pop into my head.
So I wanted to work on the exteriors of the theatre as well.
You know, it’s usually a forecourt, you put three trees, two benches, it’s done, and you reserve everything for the inside.
And I wanted Altair to look like nothing from one end to the other.
So thinking about the exteriors was important to me.
And I found the idea of this park so great, so entertaining that yes, it’s true, when I dreamed of Altair I dreamed of a park that would be inspired by the monster park of Bomarzo, something where things are huge and hidden at the same time, where you find yourself without warning in the game of an illusionist – and at real size – without needing to animate it – the course is enough and there we can all wait for : mom has taken the seats; the cousins have finished their virtual reality experiments; the show starts but we have lunch in the park.
And since this park is monstrous, it’s definitely the ideal environment for the monstrous machines of Nantes, which could from time to time make the Festival openings in a way that … too much fun!
A few pinches pricked at the Musée des Arts Forains de Paris, and you get the forecourt that no one else has.
But here I know I’m exaggerating too much.
Still, there are so many scenes to be invented in this decor. Not easy to invent, because one can quickly fall into too much, into Ed Wood-style horror movies, into cheap romanticism – not easy, but not at all impossible. Just don’t give that to an idiot.
Yes, yes, sorry, sorry, I’m going off the rails – I don’t like rails. I’m going back tomorrow, for sure.
Featured Image : Bomarzo Park – Isn’t it well hidden, this monster?