Silvia Mercuriali has been working in theatre since 1998, creating events, site-specific installation, experimental theatre shows and immersive performances. Her work is often created in collaboration with other artists, driven by the desire to explore new practices and continually re-invent and expand her creative process.
From her first show as rotozaza in 1999 to the latest work as il pixel rosso, Silvia has always been interested in everything that is live and resonate in everyone’s daily life; issues on responsibility and acting in every day life are always present in her work.
She is co-director with Ant Hampton of experimental theatre company rotozaza with whom she has been creating performances, site-specific events and installations since 1999 producing many shows which toured widely nationally and internationally.
Rotozaza is better known as the pioneer of Autoteatro which began in 2007 with their show Etiquette. This strategy explores a new kind of performance whereby audience members perform the piece themselves, usually for each other. Participants are given instruction via audio, visual cues or text for what to do or say. By simply following these instructions an event begins to unfold.
Etiquette which now exists in 14 languages and has been touring all around the world.
She has continued to develop this new performance style outside of rotozaza;
Her show Wondermart, written in collaboration with Matt Rudkin with original music by Tommaso Perego in 2009, is a an audio tour of a supermarket for two people at a time. This work is concerened with the way we inhabit and relate to non-places…airports, waiting rooms, supermarkets… and it experiment using commercial spaces for decidedly non commercial reasons but as as the backdrop for a theatrical experience.
The participants walk around the asiles hidden behind their headphones and following instructions, while the people around them populate a reality that only exitst for the two audience members who are listening to the tour. Wondermart has been translated in 4 languages and has toured the UK, Ireland, Finland, Colorado, Quebeck, Austarlia, Germany and France (currently touring). This show was nominated for Total Theatre Award in 2009 for best ground braking performance.
Her work in collaboration with Simon Wilkinson under the name of il pixel rosso takes the Autoteatro and fuses it with film and technology creating immersive performances where audience members wear video goggles and headphones to become the main character in an extreme and fantastical narrative felt in the real world and only existing on film.
They make immersive theatre performances based on the rubber hand illusion, or body transfer illusion where human participants view a dummy hand being stroked with a paintbrush, while they feel a series of identical brushstrokes applied to their own hand, which is hidden from view. If this visual and tactile information is applied synchronously, and if the visual appearance and position of the dummy hand is similar to one’s own hand, then people may feel that the touches on their own hand are coming from the dummy hand, and even that the dummy hand is, in some way, their own hand.
Il pixel rosso‘s audience members view a film shot in First Person Perspective through video goggles (glasses with an inbuilt screen inside the lenses); they follow instructions via headphones to perform simple actions which are matched by the images on screen as well as by the sense of touch, smell and movement through the space, creating the illusion of being in the world of the film.
Their first show And the Birds Fell from the Sky was commissioned by Brighton and Hove White Night in 2010 and has since tour widely in Europe as well as Canada and Australia.
Their second show The Great Spavaldos was commissionned by the Roundhouse in London for CircusFest 2012. It currently exists in three languages with the dutch version to be co-produced with DeSpill, Belgium.
She often collaborates with musician Tommaso Perego with whom she has written The Eye, commissioned as part of a series of Podcast on different parts of the human body for the Welcome Trust and Fuel Theatre. For this peiece Silvia worked with Dominic Ffytche, Clinical Senior Lecturer at the Institute of Psychiatry at King’s College London. They recorded the brain oscillations generated by a series of coreographed eyes movements. Following the pattern of these waves Tommaso wrote a score to accompany the this eye coreography translating into sounds the brain activity connected to the specific movements that the listeners are instructed to perform during the piece.
She is co-director of Berlin, Nevada with Gemma Brockis. Their work is higly visual and cinematic and it is inspired and focused on the architecture and geography of a place and by the community that inhabits it. They place their audiences in a privileged view point of a public space exposing it through a theatrical lense allowing them to look at their cities with new eyes. Working closely with sounds as well as images and characters they create shows where audience members become part of the story and where reality and fiction mix together until everything seems to be played out for their eyes only as well as being untouched everyday life.
Their first show Pinocchio is a performance based installation, which takes place in a car travelling trough the city for an audience of three. This show was first publicly perfomed for BAC October Fest 2006. since then the show has been presented at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and consequently toured in Italy, Japan Ireland and Israel.
Their second show Still Night is inspired by Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities in which Marco Polo is describing the great empire of Khublai Khan as he saw it in his journeys.
This show mixes Silvia and Gemma’s interest in architecture and site specific work with instruction theatre allowing the audience to take on a role within the staged narrative through instructions given to them via radio headphones.
Still Night casts the city in which it is performed as its main actor, playing a fictionalised version of itself. Using images, history and myths from the city, the show begins as a seminar delivered in a language made up of many, mixed and distorted together. This show has been developed with the support of BAC and The Basement, FUEL, The Museum Of Art of Kochi and is funded by The Arts Council of England. The show opened at Brisbane Festival in September 2012.
Between 2015-2017 she developed her latest Autoteatro show MACONDO combining the elements of participation and ‘immersiveness’ present in previous projects but placing them within a larger group dynamic, making the show less intimidating for the less adventurous audience members, who would be apprehensive about one-to-one experiences.
The show is s New Theatre Royal Portsmouth Co-commission, supported by Barbican Open Lab and Funded by the Arts Council of England which has been shown at New theatre Royal Prtsmouth, Battersea Arts centre, Rich Mix and The Old Market theatre and which will tour Italy, the UK and Australia in 2018.
Silvia has taught workshops for Battersea’s Young People’s Program: HOME GROWN several times. She has lead instruction based theatre workshops in Germany, Ireland, Melbourne, Sydney, Perth, Brisbane and in America and Canada. Silvia is a mentor for MA students at Central School of Speech and Drama for Advanced Theatre Practice course and guest lecturer at Central Saint Martin for Applied Immagination MA course. She has also taughts and given lectures at Brighton University PAVA (Performance and Visual Art), Sussex, Middlesex and Portsmouth University and Fourth Monkey in London.
With Berlin, Nevada she has devised a site specific workshop called INSIDEOUT wich they taught at Central School of speech and Drama in London and inTel Aviv. With il pixel rosso she leads workshops on instruction based immersive film making.
As a performer and devisor she worked with Shunt in Tropicana for the National Theatre, London in 2004/2005 and as substitute of Gemma Brockis in Money 2010-2011 in several occasions.
She is a regular performer for Clod Ensemble a UK based theatre company that makes performance happen in many different contexts, unleashing the extraordinary potential of movement and music for a broad range of audiences and participants. With them she has developed the Red Ladies in 2006, Underglass, winner of Total Theatre award for best physical performance in 2009 and An Anatomy for the Sadler’s Wells main stage in London.
Silvia has recently performed with Vincent Dance Theatre in ‘Underworld’ 2015 UK Tour.
In 2016 she has performed for Wiretapper by David Rosenberg, a sound based show in trafalgar square and participated as devisor/performer in the development of Buildy Uppy for Anatomical
She toured Europe with the Italian choreographer Roberto Castello, ALDES, with Il migliore dei mondi possibili.
She is also co-director of Inconvenient Spoof with Matt Rudkin, performer and lecturer at Brighton University. Together they make surreal comedy shows that combine visual art, puppetry, street and phisical theatre. Inconvenient Spoof believes in theatre as a means to promote communitas, the pleasure of shared collective experience. They actively seek to blur distinctions between art and entertainment and make work that forms the basis for a good night out. Their devising process is equally informed by text, improvisation, imagery and research to produce mixed-media performance with a rich vein of humour.
Their first show Dean Gibbons and the Knowledge of Death is a dark, multi-media show based on claims of evolutionary psychology, and set amidst the twin threats of Peak Oil and Climate Change.
Their second show Naïve Dance Masterclass is inspired by years spent in a love/hate relationship with experimental performance, it is an ernest exploration of self-consciousness and authenticity wrapped up inside a withering spoof.
She also worked with: Signal to Noise in The Big Room (Cpt), Expressive Feat Production and the filmmaker Woof-Wan-Bau for the short film From Nose to Mouth produced by Nexus. She also collaborated with Three Monkey Productions for the development of The Quarter at the Atelier 51 Rouen France and with Puppet Interventions for the International conference on EU alcohol policies in Helsinki.
She has performed for Holy Mountain on Listen up! a radio play written by Glen Neath for BBC radio 4 directed by Boz Temple-Morris.