In Santo Stefano Quisquina, in the province of Agrigento, there is a special place, suspended between the earth and the stars: it is the Andromeda Theatre, a mirror of the sky, still not very well known to most people, which offers a unique sight.
The history of the Andromeda Theatre
The story is that of a sheperd, Lorenzo Reina, and his love for art and the stars. As a boy he took his flock of sheep to pasture and carved alabasters to pass the time. At night he would go out to breathe under the stars and, during one of these nights, in the moonlight, he asked the sky to “make him insatiable, never sick of his art”. So it was that the sky listened to him. Lorenzo Reina, the shepherd-sculptor laid the first stones to create his masterpiece. He intimately nurtured the desire to create something great. He recounts that on those lands, on the Sicilian mountains, in the late seventies he brought his flock to graze and that the sheep, as if under a spell, remained ruminating like white stones. Inspired by this image, in the early nineties he began to realize his work starting from the stones.
The structure of the Andromeda Theatre
108 white stones stand out on the very black sand of the cavea and look as if they were touching the sky, at an altitude of 1000 meters. But why exactly 108? In those years Reina became aware of the discovery that the Galaxy M31 of the Andromeda Constellation will collide with our galaxy in about two and a half billion years.
The position of the stones and their number follow the map of the 108 stars of the Constellation of Andromeda. He claimed it to be a simple idea; what is certain is that it turned out to be brilliant and of great visual and emotional impact.
The location of the Andromeda Theatre
The place chosen to build this theatre offers a great emotional impact per se, because it blends with the human artwork and provides suggestive scenery. There is no artificial backdrop: in fact, behind the stage there is a natural panorama of the uncontaminated valleys of Santo Stefano and breathtaking sunsets.
The structure enjoys natural lighting, there is no trace of artifice or electrical aid; everything has been designed to blend with nature. Going up the stone steps that lead to the narrow entrance passage, you can see the expanse of white seats and the opening, behind the stage, to the sky. It seems that time is suspended in an indefinite period between present, past and future and only the position of the sun defines the time, giving iridescent shades during the day. An almost religious silence reigns: it is no coincidence that many people go to the place to meditate. The suspension between sky and earth gives the impression of a landscape that does not seem to be of this planet: in fact, the Andromeda Theatre is a mirror of the celestial vault.
This fusion between heaven and earth makes the theater itself the show, the work of art. On particular days of the year events are organized that attract dozens of visitors. The day of the summer solstice, for example, is celebrated as a rite, in line with the first traditions of human history, which recognized the sacredness of the lunar cycle and the changing seasons. The atmosphere is permeated by the connection between man and nature, the true protagonist of the scene.
A work in progress
If you talk to Lorenzo Reina, he himself calls his theatre a “work in progress”. Around the actual structure of the theatre, he has created numerous sculptures and artistic installations. Some recall classical mythology – such as the “Dying Icarus” plunged to the ground, granted by Giuseppe Agnello in 2007 – hiding a message addressed to contemporary man. Others are more conceptual and abstract, leaving room for personal interpretation. Reina’s work is not yet finished and the area is in evolution. It is to all intents and purposes an artistic path, along which events and theatrical performances are organized and promoted by Reina himself.
The “Teatro” column will move to the bimonthly magazine ArcheoMe, which for next year will have a whole new look, with exclusive and interesting contents. Thanks to all readers, see you on the next issue of ArcheoMe magazine to continue to explore together, with passionate eyes, the theatrical universe.