Gianluca Di Matteo: Artisan Puppeteer

The­re is a who­le world of pup­pe­ts that, from Van­chi­glia district brings its mes­sa­ge of joy, empa­thy, posi­ti­ve vibes all over the coun­try. That’s qui­te ama­zing sin­ce we know that the pup­pe­ts and in par­ti­cu­lar the Pul­ci­nel­la cha­rac­ter recall the regio­nal heri­ta­ge of Cam­pa­nia. Althou­gh the Pie­mon­te area hosts a wide and deep custom of pup­pe­ts and puppet-shows.

We explo­re this magi­cal dimen­sion with the help of Gian­lu­ca Di Mat­teo, a pro­fes­sio­nal and pas­sio­na­te arti­san pup­pe­teer. A nati­ve of Por­ti­ci (here we are again in Cam­pa­nia) after a sta­ge expe­rien­ce, Gian­lu­ca approa­ched this craft almo­st by chan­ce: the selec­tion for the reno­w­ned “Scuo­la di Guat­ta­rel­le” direc­ted by Bru­no Leo­ne. He was admit­ted and the­re he lear­ned the art of making pup­pe­ts accor­ding to the Nea­po­li­tan custom. Sub­se­quen­tly, he took part in some pup­pet-sho­ws orga­ni­zed in the hospi­tals, seniors, and day-care cen­ters, all loca­tions dee­ply roo­ted in the territory.

This kind of “imprin­ting”, that highlights and reco­gni­zes an effec­ti­ve the­ra­peu­tic value of the pup­pet- show remai­ned as a strong com­mit­ment in Gianluca’s work, even when, for love,  he deci­ded to move to Tori­no, whe­re he found new oppor­tu­ni­ties to deve­lop his mul­ti­fa­ce­ted art. “It’s true – he tells us – the pup­pe­teer crea­tes a the­ra­peu­tic rela­tion­ship with his public.

The Pulcinella’s dra­ma has strong cathar­tic power, all the more neces­sa­ry during this pan­de­mic, brin­ging a deep fee­ling of well­ness, joie de vivre, having all your sen­ses eli­ci­ted, being ‘infec­ted’ by magic and ancient sym­bo­lo­gy beco­mes, also and moreo­ver for kids, an extraor­di­na­ry expe­rien­ce. And wor­king in schools, whe­re I hope to come back soon in pre­sen­ce, is for me real­ly rewarding”.

You are a pup­pe­ts arti­san and also wri­te the sto­ries of the sho­ws you bring all around the world: “Yes, the craf­ter and sculp­tor aspec­ts fasci­na­te me. I mana­ge all the ‘sup­ply chain’. I make my woo­den cha­rac­ters, dress them, wri­te the sto­ries or adapt the tra­di­tio­nal ones, and orga­ni­ze the show, which lays at the dispo­sal of thea­tres, festi­vals, schools (throu­gh the pro­ject Mus‑e), and Insti­tu­tions all around the world. A voi­ce that brings mes­sa­ges for a power­ful rebirth, a life-giving power. Pul­ci­nel­la is her­ma­ph­ro­di­te, in love with Tere­si­na, but also eggs laboring.

Pul­ci­nel­la recalls never-ending sym­bols. He is disre­spect­ful, doesn’t accept pre-esta­bli­shed powers. Pul­ci­nel­la is never over­bea­ring, lives life and death with the same inte­re­st always accor­ding to the posi­ti­ve side. He is a cha­rac­ter retra­cea­ble indeed in all Coun­tries and at all ages. His voi­ce direc­tly talks to the souls and needs nothing more. Nei­ther of me… he has an abso­lu­te­ly inde­pen­dent life; he takes the floor. After twen­ty years, I’m tru­ly hap­py to ‘vanish’ in order to make his mes­sa­ges even stron­ger”. What an enchant­ment in the­se words! So much pas­sion that we hope to see soon again on sta­ges in thea­tres or town squares.