Isabella Mongelli (IT)




my personal tarànto is a show concerning Taranto, the city where Europe’s biggest steel plant is located. Taranto is considered as the most polluted city in Europe. Many problems affecting the city include economic and health issues such as cancer developing in infants and young children, breast milk contamination with dioxin and an increasing number of people falling ill.

The city is never mentioned throughout the whole theatrical performance, neither is the big industry. However at a certain point, Taranto becomes “tarànto”, a new abstract word meaning a “way of life” in toxic places”, that is in places where daily life is constantly threatened by poisons and death.

On the stage, a woman/girl and a man/boy are nameless, and the setting is dystopic. The colours are intermediate and there is smoke everywhere. The city is perceived from the point of view of a person who was born there but who is now a tourist or a stranger with a short -term passport. Thus Taranto becomes a distant exotic place, a gloomy tropical island to be observed and lived intimately. This new perspective is characterised by a constant shifting between inner and outer domains, voluntary and involuntary changing, self-forced leaving, vision and distortion. The research isolated important symbols of Taranto (the Madonna Addolorata, the football flag, the smoke everywhere). These became staged in the performance in abstracted forms. In 2012, when the project was first conceived, Taranto was a place neglected by the media and by national politics, out of fashion. There was nobody but there was a lot of room for imagination. It was an ordinary place where life went on, oscillating between the fear of poisons and the constant desire to escape from the city, making the fact of staying there more meaningful. There was no justice but a personal construction of meaning, a short- term meaning.

It would be necessary to be everywhere, run away to many places and put yourself in one of those!what do you call them? And launch yourself and meet everybody, but there isn’t any device like that.

The theatrical performance was represented for the first time in February 2014 at the TaTà theatre in Taranto, during the theatrical season, “Teatri Abitati” a project of TPP . It is part of a project called Visions in Taranto including images, pictures and videos shown at the Festa di Cinema del Reale 2013 and published in a photo-zine with the title of the cover made up of ground mussel powder. The project also includes Lido Azzurro, a performance showing a toxic beach attended by two courageous and sensitive people – Next June 2015 there will be the Industrial Grand Tour performance: It is a tour by bus in the local industrial area with a guide speaking into a microphone, short stops, souvenirs and a goodbye cocktail.

conception, script, direction, costumes, stage objects : Isabella Mongelli
with: Isabella Mongelli and Valerio Sirna
set designer / lighting: Valentino Ligorio
sound design: Alessandro Altavilla
stage equipment: Yesenia Trobbiani
video and pictures: XFoto
production: Isabella Mongelli
with the support: of ExFadda e Produzioni dal Basso, Inteatro Residenze, Manifatture Knos Lecce, Teatro TaTà



Isabella Mongelli (born in Taranto in 1982) is a performer, actress and visual artist, currently focused on the development of her own theatrical and visual language. Her debut was in 2010 with IRINA Produktjions, a theatrical and video project that has produced the drama IRINA [Varietà] Deljirant. She has collaborated and researched with Motus, Teatro Valdoca, Dewey Dell, Philippe Quesne, Accademia degli artefatti, Projet in Situ, Mattin. In 2012 she started a project about Taranto (an industrial town, evaluated as the most polluted in Europe) that becomes tarànto, a name-concept that states a human way of life in these special places where life jumps between poisons.

In 2013, she worked on the theatrical show my personal tarànto and lido azzurro and won Movin!Up- GAI grant with VN_Lab project, a learning and production initiative together with slovenian group Via Negativa. In 2014 she is artist in residence at Pino Pascali Fundation with the project Offseason: a research about human and natural life by the sea in Autumn. It results in an installation of (real) algaes moving alone, an attempt to create an image/situation of technical-natural animism. The research doesn’t try to understand but just observes forms that extraordinarily appear. In 2014 she worked also as a performer for the experimental composer Mattin, in the performance No No Nono No NO! a composition tribute to Luigi Nono, produced by Xing and Teatro Manzoni of Bologna.

Interested in simple actions inside complex thematic areas, she uses irony and continuous diversions to guide the public towards unknown emotions. She works on the ‘look’ and stages images that do not ask to the viewer to be understood or interpreted, but simply to be seen, in a sort of enchantment. In her works, mystery can be found, but in a light form, a light mystery, never pretentious, which does not require a solution, just a place where one is free to enter, choose something, leave, come back, remember and perhaps be able to replicate truthfully at least one element.


5, September, Short Theatre Rome


Movin!Up- GAI grant
selected for the Premio Scenario 2013, Finalist at the PlayFestival Casa dei Teatri Roma