The Play’s the Thing…

by Dr Andrea Mattiello
Thursday 28 February 2013, at 5.15pm, The Whitting room (436 Arts Building)
Cleope Malatesta died on 18th April 1433, in the city of Mistra, one of the cultural and political centres of the late Byzantine Empire. She was wife to Theodore II Palaiologos, despot of Morea, and daughter of Malatesta IV Malatesta, “Malatesta dei Sonetti” of Pesaro. Pope Martin V arranged with Manuel II Palaiologos the inter-religious marriage between Theodore II and Cleope as part of the diplomatic negotiations between the Byzantine Empire, the Papacy and the Venice Republic. Byzantine scholars have only recently started to study Cleope’s short life, spent between Eastern and Western Europe during the decades preceding the fall of Constantinople. Cleope’s life provides the temporal frame for the research on the Late Palaiologan artistic production at the court of Mistra, which constitutes the main topic of my current research at University of Birmingham.
With the assistance of a choreographer, I have also been developing a performance piece in seven scenes for one dancer, representing Cleope’s lacerating evolutions from the early years as an “amor cortese” adolescent at the Court of Rimini-Pesaro to her premature death in Mistra. All elements of the performance – script, costumes, stage props, video projections, music, choreography – originate from and analyse written and iconographical sources, including Byzantine imperial iconography, Western and Eastern primary sources directly linked to Cleope, music composition, archaeological evidence, literary works and material culture elements found in Mistra.
The overall project consists of two parts. The first one is the scientific academic research based on primary and secondary sources related to Cleope’s life and the Late Palaiologan cultural life in Mistra. The second part is the live performance that artistically interprets these sources. The ultimate aim of this project is to present Cleope’s story to a wider and diverse audience through the medium of a live audio-visual performance, which builds on the methodology and the evidence of a rigorous scientific research whose results are often made available only to specialists.
All welcome. Refreshments served.
For more information or if you would like to present at the GEM Forum please contact Annika Asp-Talwar
See also the GEM website

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