Kepler-452: The Capital. A book we haven’t r...

Kepler-452: The Capital. A book we haven’t read yet

In 2018, the Campi Bisenzio (FI) plant of the British multinational GKN, specialized in the production of components for cars, agricultural vehicles and aircraft, was acquired by the financial investment fund Melrose Industries, which immediately announced a massive restructuring of the company. On 9 July 2021, the 422 employees of the Tuscan plant were fired with an email, informing them that from the following day they would no longer have to go to work because the plant was destined to close to relocate production elsewhere. In September the Civil Court of Florence, labor section, orders the suspension of dismissals for violation of the art. 28 of the workers’ statute, which inhibits anti-union behaviour. In December Melrose leaves the scene and GKN Firenze is sold to the Borgomeo Group, which promises a reindustrialization plan and the preservation of jobs, but in February 2023 the new company ends up in liquidation and all these promises are disregarded.

Kepler-452. Il Capitale. Un libro che ancora non abbiamo letto, ph. Luca Del Pia, courtesy Teatro Arena del Sole – Bologna

In the meantime, the workers rose up and occupied the factory, making it the headquarters of an extraordinary social experiment, where resistance and struggle lead to a disruptive political protest movement that manages to catalyze other movements, originating from similar situations, spread across the national territory. The factory collective gathers around itself a vast network of support and solidarity, opening up to collaboration with university researchers and launching a popular shareholder crowdfunding in an attempt to develop concrete proposals for self-managed and sustainable redevelopment of the plant, as well as carrying forward an engaging communication campaign aimed at raising public awareness of the flaws in Italian employment policies. On 19 October 2023, the 185 remaining workers of the former GKN received a new dismissal letter with effect from 1 January 2025, once again suspended at the last minute by the Court of Florence due to the company’s anti-union conduct. “Soar or fall” and “Let’s rise up!” these are just some of the mottos of the Tuscan collective, which, in order not to become a dead letter, regardless of the outcome of this event, need to be embodied in the collective memory in the form of shared awareness and to become history.

Kepler-452. Il Capitale. Un libro che ancora non abbiamo letto, ph. Luca Del Pia, courtesy Teatro Arena del Sole – Bologna

This story is in itself explosive material: the questions it raises are urgent, substantial and impossible to resolve in the absence of radical changes in the direction of not only national but global policies, and the visceral terror it instills is so great as to lead us unconsciously to reject any form of active identification to ward off the idea that the same thing could happen to us, at any moment. In a society governed by the logic of profit that postulates the interchangeability of people as a workforce, whose medium or long term destiny will be to be replaced by technologies increasingly independent of human labor, the social and political dimension intersects inextricably with the existential one of each of us, grafting onto an already magmatic terrain of unresolved contradictions in decades of dismantling of workers’ rights and acceleration of the globalized production machine. All these questions are at the center of the show “Il Capitale. Un libro che ancora non abbiamo letto” by the Kepler-452 company, winner of the Ubu 2023 special prize, on stage in Bologna at Teatro Arena del Sole until 4 February 2024.

Kepler-452. Il Capitale. Un libro che ancora non abbiamo letto, ph. Luca Del Pia, courtesy Teatro Arena del Sole – Bologna

The project was born from the idea of Enrico Baraldi and Nicola Borghesi to stage Karl Marx’s “Capital” after the end of the lockdown to give voice to those who, in the immediately following phase, would have lost their jobs. The two, after touring Italy interviewing Sikh agricultural labourers, logistics workers and trade unionists, landed in Campi Bisenzio and began to assiduously frequent the pickets, demonstrations and assemblies inside the occupied GKN factory, participating in the community life of the insurgent workers. In this daily sharing, the object of the show is clarified, which inserts into the evocation of the key text of Marxism the personal stories of two assembly workers, a cleaner and a maintenance worker, protagonists of the piece together with Nicola Borghesi. On stage each of the characters talks about themselves following the common thread of the events resulting from the occupation. The former workers, effectively trained on stage by the theater company, talk about their families, about the repetitiveness of the work when the factory was functioning at full capacity, about the dreams scaled down by practical needs, about the new existential horizons glimpsed with the revolt overshadowed by uncertainty for the future, by hopes on the verge of turning into disillusions. These are the strong points of the show, but how could it be otherwise, given the enormity of a story which, reported live, makes any consideration other than solidarity inappropriate? Also noteworthy is the skilfully minimal scenography, which documents the factory environment through samples of emblematic objects connected to the characters’ tasks and an iridescent backdrop in which monumental photographic images of its now deserted halls follow one another.

Kepler-452. Il Capitale. Un libro che ancora non abbiamo letto, ph. Luca Del Pia, courtesy Teatro Arena del Sole – Bologna

Nicola Borghesi is also sincere in his own way when on stage he first talks about his almost awkward entry into that reality that was initially so foreign to him and then about his ethical and intellectual restlessness in conceiving a show that draws strength and lifeblood from a real tragedy that is still in progress. But precisely for this reason: why not have the courage to take a step back and leave the scene only to the true protagonists of the story? Even the connection with Marx’s “Capital” appears faded, like the quotes from some fragments of the text which sporadically flash on the backdrop alternating with images of the factory. If the aim of raising awareness among a wider public regarding an event that the information consumerism of the media society risks relegating in the long term to the increasingly tired attention of a handful of activists was successful, it does not appear equally resolved, in my opinion, the matter of the theatrical specific that the presence of the actor inevitably calls into question. But perhaps the deepest meaning of the whole operation lies right here, in this stammer of impotence that assails us at the end of the show and which, in a broader sense, shows us how even our artistic and cultural apparatus is useless if the reflections it produces add nothing to what already exists and fail to have constructive and proactive consequences on the choices of political decision makers.



Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

By using this form you agree with the storage and handling of your data by this website.