Little Mothers

Natascia Fogu has collaborated with us for years. Actor and pedagogue by training, horticulturist by passion, generous host by nature, together with her partner Alessandro Lucci, she looks to the flora and fauna at la Luna.

The other day I asked her to tell me what Spring means to her. She scoops up a handful of soil in the garden where we sit.

“Spring is when all this invisible ferment underground begins to push out, to make itself visible. All these bulbs, these seeds, protected in the earth, respond to the change in this marvelous Mediterranean light….

 

“And not just the seeds, sleeping since autumn, this year we have an expanded nursery of what we cal “mother material”: slips and clippings, little plants we’ve found on our voyages this year— from the gardens of friends, along the road, wherever we find it, we’ve offered a home to mother material from far afield.

 

We’re offering a place to plants, with the same attention we have to guest artists, to the audience itself.”
And it’s been awhile that we don’t limit our theater to that which happens in the Dojo or the amphitheater…. the same for the plants, they’re not limited by the garden here, they’re blooming all over our land. (Really it’s their land, we’re just visiting.)

But also the garden here, is transforming, no?

“We don’t know what to call this garden anymore. Sure, it started as a garden for medicinal herbs, but now I say no, we need flowers too, because the beauty of the blooms nurture the spirit, just as the herbs do the body. We’ve put in benches, a table: a place where humans can submerge themselvess in a vegetal community

 

Do I hear theater?

“Why not? Maybe one day we can do shows for the plants… or with the plants. [Laughs] But seriously, there have been studies done…. aside from plant documentation: their intelligence, their emotions, how they communicate, how they create community, the ways that they nurse one another through hard times… really grand theater, invisible to us, but always present here at la Luna, and always more tangible…

 

Invisible how?

“Studies have been done… they’ve given photos to people: photos full of vegetation, with maybe a cat, in the corner, a bicycle, a ball. And then asked what the people see, and they respond, ‘A cat, a bicycle…’ they never see, ‘Plants! I see a jungle of plants.’ Isn’t that incredible? The plants tend to be invisible, for us humans. But here, we can make them visible, not to the intellect, but to the heart, just like in theater.”

Interesting. Peter Brook said: ‘Theater is that which renders the invisible visible.’

“Esatto. And in springtime at la Luna, when nature renders visible all this invisible ferment, when this mysterious vegetal community begins to whisper, to murmur, and finally to sing in full-throated chorus, here we can help the audience, and help ourselves, making that more visible, this birth, this reGeneration of mothers, of seeds, fo slips and cuttings from far and wide, this chorus, invisible but impalpable…

In time, I hear the donkeys braying from the next field, which suggests my last question.
’And our donkeys? What role for them in this Grand Vegetal Theater?’

Natascia laughs. “Eh, that you have to ask Alessandro…”