HECTOR OF THE POOR
A group of former homeless people tell through a puppet show the adventurous story of the man who saved their lives. Produced by Opera di Fratel Ettore – Le marionette della misericordia. With the artistic and puppetry guidance of the Grupporiani Association – Puppetry Company Carlo Colla and Sons – Milan.
A group of formerly homeless people will tell, through a marionette show, the adventurous story of the man who saved their lives
The show dramatizes a day with Brother Ettore, as recounted by a group of former vagrants through the marionettes of the Carlo Colla and Sons company of Milan.
The adventurous and extreme life of Brother Ettore has been reported in television features, biographies, and newspaper articles, but never on stage. Those who are attempting to fill this void are themselves the beneficiaries of the Opera Fratel Ettore (Brother Ettore’s Work), that is, the former destitute who knew and loved the “brother of the last ones.” With the help of Emanuele Fant (director and playwright) and in consultation with the Carlo Colla and Sons company (a storied dynasty of puppeteers), the mounting of a real marionette theater began almost two years ago in the motherhouse of the Opera, the Bethany House of the Beatitudes in Seveso, Italy.
The show, which will debut at the Meeting, traces 24 hours with Brother Ettore, attempting to follow him through the “blitzes” in the underground passages of Milan Central Station, in search of drug addicts, prostitutes, and alcoholics with some desire to survive the cold; through the Immaculate Heart of Mary Shelter, two immense vaults under the tracks that were transformed into a church/dormitory; through the trips on beat-up buses, ornamented with holy images and edifying writings; through the Bethany House residence for the poor, which was perennially under construction; through Providence in action, but also the eternal rival; and the admirers, the onlookers, the helpers, the detractors…
This show, however, is not entirely contained within the rectangle of the proscenium. The marionette theater’s structure, with all of its cords and mechanisms, is left in plain sight. In this way, in the half-light, the special puppeteers – the poor themselves – are also partially revealed. This choice was made not in order to provoke compassion – or indulgence toward potential errors – but to make explicit the continuity between Brother Ettore and his Opera as it is today, to extend the stage to include the daily spectacle that is lived in his communities. The staging expresses this wish even in its use of materials: the theater is screened by panels of plexiglass that were a roof in the Shelter, the wheels of the plywood bus were taken from old wheelchairs used by the visitors, the backdrops are old photographs found in Brother Ettore’s drawers and blown up, and so on, in a continual game of references.
The most evident feature of continuity between past and present, Opera and charism, theater and real life, is Sister Teresa Martino, chosen by Brother Ettore to guide his Opera. Sister Teresa will not only be present, but will have an active, guiding role in the course of the evening.
L’opera fratel Ettore (Brother Ettore’s Work)
For 30 years, the Opera Fratel Ettore has given a home to the poor, in five communities in Italy and Colombia. The founder, Brother Ettore Boschini, died in 2004.
Brother Ettore was a Camillian brother who literally scandalized Milan with the power of his example, reminding the economic capital of its responsibilities toward a lost class of people confined to the underground passages of the Central Train Station: the poor, immigrants, drug addicts, prostitutes, the mentally ill, alcoholics. Brother Ettore cleared the way for a new understanding of charity: not occasional assistance, not food or clothing donations, but a real way of life together, in the same house, with the common objective of sanctity. His imagination in his apostolate, his resolute ways, his unrestrained passion for the Rosary, made him an unforgettable character, loved by the poor and the powerful alike (Carlo Maria Martini, Roberto Formigoni, Oscar Luigi Scalfaro, Mike Bongiorno, and Phil Collins are only a few of his preeminent fans).