The King and the Vetala
The story of a victorious soul

playwrighter & performer Enrico Masseroli
original music by Giuseppe Olivini

Texts and stories reworked by
The king and the corpse by Heinrich Zimmer 
Vetala-Panchavinsatika by Somadeva

The king, apparently perfect in his pompous daily life, is ensnared by the false ascetic "rich in patience". He had forgotten that the gift creates a link, a bond between the giver and the receiver, and then by chance - thanks to a greed and curious monkey - it happens that the trap is triggered. Thus our king will find himself at night in the cemetery to transport the corpse of a hanged man, inhabited by a Vetala (ghost) who seems to make fun of him, telling him stories of which he is forced to solve the complicated riddles. Guilt and innocence, intimately intertwined in a marvelous arabesque, are rarely obvious. We are anyhow responsible for what happens. Nothing is far from us, nothing can be treated as stranger.

Vetālapaňcavimśati (literally The twenty-five of the ghost) is India's most famous collection of tales. Among them we have chosen four exemplary stories and the last one, that the king will not be able to solve. A silence that will reveal him the way to salvation. Change yourself, and you will live in a new world. After the long terrible night, thanks to his sincere good will in enduring the enterprise and to the unexpectedly friendly ghost, the king will be transformed: taken from the world of mere appearance, he will be able to enter into the reality of his royal being.
How many gifts does life offer us every day, without ostentation, without demanding anything, that we do not even care to open? Is not each of us a precious fruit? Do we succeed, or at least try, to free the gem of its essential seed from the daily personality?
According to the Indian cosmogony, the universe is the dance of Śiva, the supreme Lord, perennial creator and destroyer. Our king is his human avatar (incarnation), therefore limited by his senses, confined in his wisdom, subject to the mortality of his form. But is not the space, that separates them from the illusion, necessary for the ephemeral spectacle of creation? Beyond this there is no duality: who knows and who is known, the devotee and the sacred icon, then mortal man and the eternal God are only one.

Four wooden masks lend the face to the protagonists of the story that frames the five tales. An accurate musical counterpoint accompanies each character, the places and the plots of unpredictable adventures: Gong, bansuri, psaltery, hulusi, xylophone, shamanic drum, thunder drum, ocean harp, saz, hang, flutes (Balinese, Javanese and harmonic), Tibetan bells, sitar... They intertwine their sounds with voices and gestures, to mark the time, sacred and suspended, of the theatre.


Technical requirements:
Scenic space : Italian (frontal) or amphitheater.
The play can be presented both indoors - in theaters with or without a stage, auditoriums,unconventionally theatrical locations, home theatre - and outdoors in courtyards, gardens, parks or small squares
Minimum scene area m. 5 x 4
Lighting: a fixed set to be defined in relation to the context and the space.
Duration 63’ Minimum time for scenic installation 90 '/ disassembly 30'