a performance by alessandro berti
based on the spiritual treatise by jean pierre de caussade

on stage alessandro berti
music andrea biagioli

A great western mystical text (the spiritual instructions in form of letters addressed trough 20 years by a jesuit father to a nunnery) is put to the test of present times in a simple work, with a vocation for scenical essentiality that enables words to flow free from actor to audience. The classical topic of ascetism as human effort towards a final abandonment to God is pursued here with a brightness that puts this essay among the greatest spiritual books of any time and latitude. The stage, a little monastery cell, with only a kneeler ad a bottle of water in it, houses the spiritual fight, the prayers and enlightments of a young director, appearently getting ready for a public sermon, checking his own soul unmercifully for the truth of his complete emptying, sole condition to the entrance of God in a passive soul, eventually abandoned to the action of the Spouse.
produced by casavuota / css teatro stabile d'innovazione del fvg / i teatri del sacro

by Jean Pierre de Caussade

Alessandro Berti's performance prompt-book


God continues to speak today as He spoke in former times to our fathers
When there were no directors nor any regular method of direction.
Then all spirituality was comprised in fidelity to the designs of God
For there was no regular system of guidance in the spiritual life to explain it in detail
Nor so many instructions, precepts, examples as there are now
Doubtless our present difficulties render this necessary
But it was not so in the first ages
Then, for those who led a spiritual life
each moment brought some duty
to be faithfully accomplished

There could be nothing
more reasonable, more perfect than the will of God
If you possess the secret of discovering it at every moment
then you possess all that is most precious

The present is ever filled with infinite treasure,
it contains more than you have capacity to hold

Do not flatter anyone, nor worship your own illusions
they can neither give you anything nor receive anything from you
Receive your fulness from the will of God alone, it will not leave you empty
Adore it, put it first, before all things
tear all disguises from vain pretences
and forsake them all
going straight to the sole reality

The soul judges of things in a very different way
to those who, having only the standard of the senses by which to measure them
ignore the inestimable treasure they contain.

He who knows that a certain person in disguise is the king
behaves towards him very differently to another 
who only perceiving an ordinary man, treats him accordingly
In the same way the soul
that recognises the will of God in every smallest event
and also in those that are most distressing and direful
receives all with an equal joy, pleasure and respect
And throws open all its doors to receive with honour
what others fear and fly from with horror

I cannot describe what the heart feels
when it accepts the divine will in such humble, poor, and mean disguises
Ah! A God...
Poor and humble, lodged in a stable, lying on straw, weeping and trembling
how the sight of all this pierced the loving heart of Mary!

Had this child been lodged in a palace surrounded by the state due to princes
then the inhabitants of Bethlehem would have paid court to Him

But ask Mary and Joseph, the Magi and the Shepherds
They will tell you that they found in this extreme poverty 
an indescribable tenderness
and an infinite dignity worthy of the majesty of God

To adore Jesus on Thabor
to accept the will of God in extraordinary circumstances
does not indicate a life animated by such great faith
as to love the will of God in ordinary things
and to adore Jesus on the Cross
for faith cannot be said to be real, living faith until it is tried

To find God in things that are petty and ordinary as in those that are great and uncommon
is to have a faith that is not ordinary, but great and extraordinary
To be satisfied with the present moment is to delight in, and to adore the divine will
in all that has to be done or suffered.

Operation of my God
You are my book, my doctrine, my science
Not by consulting Your former works shall I become what You would have me to be
But by receiving You in everything
By that ancient road, the only royal road, the road of our fathers
Yes, divine Love, I shall no longer single out times or ways
But shall welcome You always and in any fashion
I will no longer beg my bread from door to door
I will not pay court to creatures

I should die of thirst rushing like this from one fountain to another
from one stream to another when there is a sea at hand
the waters of which encompass me on every side
All that happens to me will be food for my nourishment
water for my cleansing, fire for my purification
And a channel of grace for all my needs
And that which I might endeavour to find in other ways
Seeks me incessantly and gives itself to me through all creatures

By what means, O my God
I can make your creatures appreciate what is offered to them?
Must I who possess so great a treasure with which I could enrich the whole world
see souls perish in poverty? 
Must I behold them withering like plants in a desert 
when I can show them the source of living waters?

Come, foolish souls
you who have not an atom of sensible devotion
you too who possess no talent nor even the rudiments of education
you who cannot understand a single spiritual term
who stand astonished at the eloquence of the learned whom you admire
come, and I will teach you a secret which will place you far beyond these clever minds
I will make perfection so easy to you that you will find it everywhere and in everything
I will unite you to God
and make you walk hand in hand with Him from the moment that you begin practising what I will teach you
Come, not to study the map of the spiritual country
but to possess it, to walk in it at your ease without fear of losing your way
Come, not to study the theory of divine grace
nor to find out what it has accomplished in the past and still continues to accomplish
but to become simply subject to its operations


There is a time when the soul lives in God
And a time when God lives in the soul
What is appropriate to one state is inconsistent with the other
When the soul lives in God
It is obliged to procure for itself carefully and very regularly every means it can devise
By which to arrive at the divine union
The whole procedure is marked out; the readings, the examinations, the resolutions
The guide is always at hand and everything is by rule, even the hours for conversation
When God lives in the soul
It has nothing left of self
but only that which the spirit which actuates it imparts to it at each moment
Nothing is provided for the future, no road is marked out
but it is like a child which can be led wherever one pleases
Its dwelling is in darkness, forgetfulness, abandonment, death and nothingness
It feels keenly its wants and miseries without knowing from whence or when will come its relief
It waits peacefully and without anxiety for someone to come to its assistance
And God
who finds no purer disposition in His spouse than this entire self-renunciation
for the sake of living the life of grace according to the divine operation
God provides her with necessary books, thoughts, insight into her own soul, advice and counsel
and the examples of the wise
Everything that others discover with great difficulty
this soul finds in abandonment, and what they guard with care in order to be able to find it again
this soul receives at the moment there is occasion for it
and afterwards relinquishes so as to admit nothing but exactly what God desires it to have
In order to live by Him alone
The former soul undertakes an infinity of good works for the glory of God
The latter is often cast aside in a corner of the world like a bit of broken crockery
Apparently of no use to anyone

The world thinks it is useless, and appearances give colour to this judgment,
In these souls abandoned to God everything is efficacious
Everything is a sermon, everything is apostolic
God imparts to their silence, to their repose, to their detachment, to their words, gestures
A certain virtue which, unknown to them, works in the hearts of those around them
So they are made use of for the support and guidance of others 
without any direct acquaintance with them, or understanding to that effect
God it is who works in them
by unexpected and often unknown impulses
so that these souls are like to Jesus, from whom proceeded a secret virtue for the healing of others
They are like a hidden balm
the perfume of which is exhaled without being recognised
and which knows not its own virtue.

There can be neither honour nor reward 
in a service hidden, often enough, under the most utter incapacity and uselessness
as far as the world is concerned
These souls are little suited for worldly business or affairs, for complicated concerns
or for putting their mind into the conducting of industries
It seems as though they were quite useless
nothing is noticeable in them but feebleness of body, mind, imagination and passions
They take no notice of anything. They are, so to say, quite stupid
and possess nothing of that culture, study, or reflexion which go to the making of a man
They are like children of nature before they are placed in the hands of masters to be formed
God takes away everything but innocence
In order that they should have nothing to rely upon but Him alone

At the beginning this soul has made its way, like others
Like them it knew what to do, and did it faithfully
it would be vain now
to attempt to keep it bound to the same practices
Since God, moved by the efforts it has made to advance with these helps
has taken it on Himself to lead it to this happy union
From the time it arrived at the state of abandonment, and by love possessed God
In fine, from the time that the God of all goodness
relieving it of all its trouble and industry
made Himself the principle of its operations
these first methods lost all their value 
and were but the road it had traversed.

To know what God demands of them 
they need only probe their own hearts
and listen to the inspirations of this unction
Because the divine action, concealed though it is
reveals its designs, not through ideas, but intuitively
It shows them to the soul either necessarily
by not permitting any other thing to be chosen 
but what is actually present
or else by a sudden impulse
a sort of supernatural feeling that impels the soul
to act without premeditation
or, in fine, by some kind of inclination or aversion 
which, while leaving it complete liberty
yet none the less leads it to take or refuse what is presented to it.

The soul is active as a ball 
in receiving and following all the inspirations of grace
It has no more consistence and rigidity than molten metal
As this takes any form according to the mould into which it is poured
so these souls are pliant and easily receptive
of any form that God chooses to give them

I know: if one were to judge by appearances
it seems as if it would be a great want of virtue to be swayed and influenced in this manner
and if one were to judge by ordinary rules
there appears a want of regulation and method in such conduct
But in reality it is the highest degree of virtue
and only after having practised it for a long time does one succeed
The virtue in this state is pure virtue
It is, in fact, perfection itself


The finding of the divine action in all that occurs at each moment
in and around us, is true science
a continuous revelation of truth
and an unceasingly renewed intercourse with God.
It is a rejoicing with the Spouse
not in secret, nor by stealth, in the cellar, or the vineyard, but openly
and in public, without any human respect. 
It is a fund of peace, of joy, of love
and of satisfaction with God who is seen, known
living and operating in the most perfect manner
in everything that happens.

When God gives Himself thus
all that is common becomes wonderful
and it is on this account that nothing seems to be so
because this way is, in itself, extraordinary
Consequently it is unnecessary to make it full of strange and unsuitable marvels
It is, in itself, a miracle
a miracle which, while rendering all common and sensible things wonderful
has nothing in itself that is sensibly marvellous.

In Lucca the best of italian sacred theatre

In the variegated mosaic of the festival stood out some plug more precious than others. Like the dazzling monologue offered by Alessandro Berti, ABANDONMENT TO DIVINE PROVIDENCE. A striking piece: in front of a ravished and moved audience litterally sparkled one of the most passionate myStical texts, written by the jesuit father De Caussade. And a gripping piece too, for the young actor brought words back to us with clearness of tone and pure joy, in an essential but full of poetical grace mis-en-scene. The inflamed words of the french mystic seemed to come out from the heart of the actor. A brilliant theatre passage that will find favour anywhere one should welcome it. "
D. Rigotti, Avvenire, 2009, septemper, 29th.

Stone, tree

A free translation from the original Pietra,pianta
a theatre poem written by alessandro berti, music by stefano pilia


Staying open
Until sleep wins
Then opening eyes
Staying open
Among meadows and walls of little churches
Resting on rocks
Letting go by
Time, breeze
Being covered with ants
Staying open

We are hanging, we are resting
I see others but I guess me too
For them
I must be an exhibition of the kind
This wind ruffles me
On a beard
Bees rest, butterflies
My mouth a little dirty with milk
That somebody brings me
Not frightened of my thinness

Here more than elsewhere
Voices are good and are empty
We share a rhythm
Me and others
That is always the same, so boring
It cradles us
Opening doors to sleep

Today wonder how hot's down on the plain
There where men run
Up here today there is a gentle wind
One can not say
What is the sound of maple leaves
When wind moves them

And sometimes again
I would bend on me
I would be silent and dark
And knot me so much
As to finally loosen
Now that I have trained virtue
Till it hurts
I can rest on this meadow
Like a little innocuous

How much I had to sink
Deep into something quiet, arbitrary
Climb the ladder in silence
Lever a bone with a bone
To bend this body well
To use it, to calm it

Receding so much, so long
As far as one then spreads
In silence, more than ever
You can see heart beat under ribs
The weak chin of a toothless man
You drip away, you die
Stone, tree...


This dog that comes, blond red
His muzzle wolf-like
He lies down beside me
Don't observe themselves much
One another
They live in pack, yet each alone
Discreet are animals, healthy
Sharpened by practical questions
Like a pebble by stream
Yet both dog and pebble
They remain clean
They are what they are
Now he spies on his things beyond me
Sniffs a smell in the wind, his own things
I don't know if he's sleeping
Neither does he
Everything is the same thing, it has no pauses
Nothing interrupts nothing
We're together, the two of us
And yet each alone
And each is nothing
Our heart beats, our muzzle itches, we like wind
But all like this, for no reason
Look, now he plays dead
He's getting ready too
To receive nothingness, to disappear
Disassembled by insects, eroded
by storms
Ground in the ground

The bodies of the dead
As they would walk alive
Along this wall, warmed
By this sun, ruffled
By this wind
The screams of the same children
The same fruits picked by trees
The same quiet battle against winters
The same gaze at the mountains, in the evening
In summer, the back leaned on a maple

Making love to a woman like a bull to a cow
A horse to a mare
To give flesh to the world
Deceived by a little thrill
This is a taste of death too
It tastes like milk, manure
The smell of cowshed and night that wind blows everywhere
Then this will die too before flesh dies
Becoming a mistery of clay, of wood
Something dry
The certainty you've been alive too
You too

Then the 'you' too disappears
In the death of all pronouns
The dog departs
He sets out leeward to a poultry-pen smell
And I'm all by myself
Like a foozle
Ready to be found by Martians.


These clouds don't give water
It is a long labour without birth
An abstract whirl of currents
And distant thunders
And down men die
Worn out by sudden changes
Hard and withered as we are
Delicate, complicated
Today a grey, dazzling light
Hurts eyes
Eyes just half-open yet, beneath a tree
A secret fire burns inside
Like a word that has jammed, a clot of blood
Today men put in order their workshops
Fields are crowded with tractors
As if a hidden lever incited them to do
Dog sniff air, chew flies
Old people drain bottles in secret
And me too
Under this pitiless light
Aching all over, yet smiling, naked
I'm visited by ghosts
I let them in


Lying on the ground
This dry, cracked ground
That awaits water for months
And yet lying here
Agitates bones, cools blood
Or warms it too much
As if all was just at the beginning
As if every thing still wasn't in its place
Maybe these achievements are too young
And I still haven't achieved anything
And there's nothing to achieve
And I must love this land more
And this air
Yeld more
Never stop
Falling, dying
Always dying
Maybe it is still
Too intermittent a death
Maybe I'm expecting freedom from a holyday
From something else that could happen
I am not completely rested yet
On the ground
Completely rested
On this ground


I prepare me to autumn, I'm ready
I'll find some unexpected corners, stay in the sun
Discover a throne among rocks
On which I'll leave this heap of bones of mine
For all next winter days
I'll dream of sucking
A drop of royal jelly every morning
From imaginary hives
All will be slow, almost
Still, almost
I will be stone, tree
I will hug minutes
That will go by without hurting me
Pains will be natural screams
That nobody will listen to anymore
I'll wrap myself of wool, I will cocoon
I'll be a casualty in trench
This body that carries me around
Already bends its customary joints
Changes points of support
By itself, it is clever you know
This body of mine that carries me around

If I recall when it marched like a soldier
It gave itself orders like a general
If I recall
If I recall...


I remember some words
Words tapped on these rocks
Tapped on nape
Went off like letters of typewriter
Everything was palatal after a while
As if the guests who came
By then just spoke by palate
Words hit me on the head
For days and days after the departure
Of pilgrims
Friends, brothers
Climbed up here burdened with words
They stopped for a short time
Till all the beans were spilled
I let myself be hit, I listened in
Bones boomed, mastoid beat
It was a concert of joints
Temperature rose
For days and days I shivered
Silence was crowded with words
A hail of palatals echoed
Through the silence of this field, this wall

They've stopped climbing up here for a long time
And yet they spend their sundays not so far
I hear the creaking of armours
Breaks on a bend, the laughs
The iron of forks against teeth
But they don't climb up to here anymore then
If this body still breathes
It'll see a son, a nephew
Keen on genealogies
Climb up to here timidly one morning
Together with a handsome, curious
Charmed by the exotic
Unripe fiancée
With something in the hand, a camera
The idea of making a film, I already see it
The serene look of the heir
The open smile of the winner
The strengh
Of his good faith
Amen amen amen to this too
Amen to all

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