The Five Continents of the Theatre

Eugenio Barba, Nicola Savarese

“Where do I come from? Who am I? Where am I going? To answer these questions we have to penetrate into the innumerable forms, experiences, inventions and mysteries that the history of our craft hands down to us. It is the only way to build a personal compass to cross the five continents of the theatre: when, where, how, for whom and why I do theatre.”

In their new book, Eugenio Barba and Nicola Savarese – the authors of The Secret Art of the Performer: A Dictionary of Theatre Anthropology, which explores the actor’s body techniques and their principles – look at the history of theatre from the unusual perspective of the actor’s material culture. They believe that the actor’s ‘auxiliary techniques’, which include: make-up, costumes, accessories, props, lighting, set design, space for acting and space for the spectators, posters, economic and organisational aspects (marketing techniques, wages, tickets, subscriptions, tours, etc.), form a second fundamental pillar for establishing a relationship with the spectator. These elements are based on techniques that enhance the actors’ body expressiveness and foster their communicative efficacy. Barba and Savarese give a number of examples to illustrate the different auxiliary techniques and their different solutions as adopted by various theatre cultures.

This dialogue is held ahead of the publication, in Italian and English, of the book The Five Continents of the Theatre: A Guide to the Material Culture of the Actor, which is due out in December 2016. 


Date and hour

22 October


Eugenio Barba, photo Maciej Zakrzewski

Eugenio Barba


Nicola Savarese, photo from private archive

Nicola Savarese