Edinburgh Showcase 2019: ‘It’s True, It’s True, It’s True’ by Breach Theatre


I was taken last Friday evening from my house at the entrance
of Santo Spirito at about 11 o’clock, and I can’t imagine the reason for
my imprisonment or this interrogation. ‘It’s True, It’s True, It’s True’ is a verbatim
or semi-verbatim courtroom drama based on a 17th century rape trial involving two Italian renaissance painters. So, the young woman artist,
Artemisia Gentileschi in 1612, took her painting tutor
Agostino Tassi to court and accused him of rape. And the title is drawn from the words that she repeats in court
over and over again, It is true, it is true, it is true, while she was being tortured to
determine the truth of her testimony. So the title sort of relates to… …yeah, the idea of truth
within a courtroom, the idea of truth within historical
drama or verbatim theatre and is also, I guess,
a bit of a statement of solidarity with anyone who has experienced
rape or sexual assault. And did you Signor Tassi
ever have a conversation alone with Artemisia Gentileschi
without Donna Tutzia present? I don’t remember Sir. But you were her painting
tutor, weren’t you? So surely at one point you must
have just been left alone with the girl. This I don’t remember Sir. I think sadly the show
has only got more relevant from when we conceived it,
and started to research and make it, and as we’ve been
performing it over the last year. So it was made over the summer
of 2018, which was kind of the peak of what became
known as the #MeToo Movement. and we were very much
deliberately engaging with that through this historical material, through
the 17th century court documents and what we found is that
so many of the tactics that were being used in
the court to discredit Gentileschi and so much of the kind of
discourse around her situation, was being mirrored in real time
in the press with some high-profile cases. I Signora Diambra, have touched and
examined the vagina of Donna Artemisia and I can tell you she’s not a virgin. I know this because I placed
a finger inside her vagina, and I found that the hymen is broken. I can tell you this because of
my eleven years’ experience as a midwife. And also, reading all of these
court documents from the trial that the show re-stages, and this was something like
a nine-month trial so there was a lot to get through. Never have I had carnal intercourse nor tried to have it with Artemisia. And we took those documents
into the room with actors and tried to discover what the voices
of those people might sound like. And in some cases
that meant rewording the text or putting it into a modern sort of idiom because it was really quite
an academic translation of a Latin text from the 17th century
and so it was about saying “How can we make this feel live
and real to an audience?” I’m Nicolo Bedino,
former apprentice for Orazio. I just want to say I didn’t
get anything for being here, not from Tassi or anyone. Now, Artemisia
is not an honest woman. My apprentice Sueno said he had her, Cosimo said he was
screwing her for two years, Viateschi said she was a whore. The only one who has got
a good word to say about her is Agostino, who says he loves her
but would never [inaudible]. I think audiences have engaged
really quite emotionally with it which has been amazing to kind of
experience that kind of live in the theatre and to feel everyone there on her side. Signor Tassi! I’m so sorry. The rape trial had a huge
impact on Artemisia’s life. First of all in terms of what
she was putting into her art, but I think also
how her art was perceived. It is true, it is true, it is true, it is true. We feel the weight of responsibility
in terms of representing that experience and we’ve always been very clear that
we’re only telling one woman’s story and we’re not aiming for this
to be a kind of universal comment because you can never
represent everyone’s voice. But yeah, to feel that
we are representing that voice in a way that’s connecting
with people is really amazing.

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