with Luigi Ciotta
Directed by Rossella Sorbara
Set design and construction Bruno Geda
Costumes by Carla Carucci
Winner of the One Man Show Prize 2014 “Cantieri di Strada” FNAS
Federazione Nazionale Artisti di Strada – Italy
Sweet Dreams is a comic, grotesque show that uses sugar as a metaphor as it tackles themes of pleasure and addiction.
Luigi Ciotta takes the role of a candyfloss street vendor who engages with the public just as a street performer would, with the only exception that his is an invite to hedonistic and sugary pleasure! A candyfloss seller is an innocent character who merrily invites you to leave your worries behind and forget about the consequences; it’s only a little sugar, after all! His candyfloss cart looks like it comes right out of a fairy-tale with sweet music pouring out of it as it passes by. The candyfloss seller’s words slowly but surely become ever more forced and sickly-sweet. … From this point on, our dear friend gradually loses his mask and the reassuring, fairly-tale image of the candyfloss seller slowly makes way for a Tim Burtonesque character, Beetlejuice in a tutu, which we will call the “Sugar Fairy”.
The audience will find themselves face to face with what we can only describe as a hairy, overweight Lolita type character who will perform a striptease. Our anti-hero will then launch into a highly comic, acrobatic and daring pole dance act (on a 3m pole disguised as a huge lollipop).
The show is a tragic-comic journey which uses clown comedy, the lunacy of a buffoon and the seductive irony of burlesque and pole dancing as a means to reveal the bitter side of addiction, in an enjoyable and irreverent fashion.
Whoever meets the sugar fairy will think twice before carelessly abandoning themselves to gluttony!
The experience I have gathered over the last few years has confirmed what I long suspected; buffoon-like characters are an excellent language with which to transmit socially minded messages and stimulate dialogue between an actor and the public without having to pass through morals, but using irreverent comedy.
Buffoons are exaggerated characters, twisted freak-shows that exist only to be held up to public ridicule. They are seen as crazy and inferior to others, but, at the same time, they can say and do things that others cannot. They act without reason and without moral, and thus have an important role to play in society.
In Sweet Dreams, our characters are free to give both the best and worst of a buffoon’s potential.
The show does not intend to glorify the total denial of pleasure, but acts as a means by which the audience can reflect on the mechanisms at work in the spiral of damaging addiction and this less publicised version of self-harm. Why has candyfloss been chosen as the narrative tool? The choice was initially inspired by my own research into nutrition and my study of the product’s production, refining and marketing techniques. I furthered my study by looking into the dynamics of the success behind the sales policies for sugar and its derivatives, its inappropriate use in a wide range of pre-packaged food products, its misuse from infancy onwards and subsequent consequences for health.
I then decided to study the effect that sweets have on our brains and the addiction it creates in anyone who consumes excessive amounts on a daily basis. At this point something changed in my plans; I realised that I could use sugar as a symbol and metaphor for something much grander and more profound. On one hand, its seemingly harmless and captivating appearance leads our brains to deny any notion of defence against it, while on the other, the continuous desire it evokes in us gives us the impression that something deeply seated within us is stimulated by this sugary pleasure. In fact, excessive and frequent consumption of sugar leads to real addiction. I then turned my attention to the desire – satisfaction of desire – reappearance of desire mechanism, which never reaches a lasting point of satisfaction.
Why the sugar fairy? The sugar fairy was born from the desire to create a character that personifies the ambivalence that is inherent in sugar; on one hand, it is innocent and is linked with children and happiness, while on the other, it hides a dark side with perverse potential, which leads to you not taking care of yourself and self-destructive excess. The sugar fairy somehow represents that little interior voice we all possess which gives us seemingly viable excuses when we feel like doing something that we know we should not.
This is why it was decided to create an ambivalent character whose intrinsic contrasts create a comic mask, becoming a hybrid of male and female, of purity and desire, of sweetness and horror. The show has also been written to play out as an unveiling, as a transformation. You could almost say it is a coming-of-age story as our hero reveals his true face, which is … well … not overly reassuring!