Paradiso tells a story vaguely inspired with the final book of Dante’s Divine Comedy, namely Paradise. The performance was produced in collaboration with Farma Życia, Poland’s only centre for permanent stay of adults with autism. Apart from three professional actors, who play on stage the role of guides in the created world, the participants include six autistic people. However, not even for a moment are they exposed to the curious looks of “normal” viewers and performers, but always treated as equal partners. In its purely physical aspect the space of Paradiso is set by scenography designed by Dorota Nawrot. It shows an interior of a hotel that is way past its prime. On the other hand, the symbolic and conceptual shape of the performance is determined by the attempt to fathom and comprehend the non-normative logic – the realm of autism, which is here confronted with the theatrical variations around the motif from Dante’s canonical masterpiece.
Paradiso’s structure is based on repetitions and at times it is reminiscent of a free stream of consciousness, straight from a Proustian novel. This way, the performance attempts to recreate the experience of autism. All situations in Paradiso are of inherently risky nature. Dialogues are mostly improvised by actors and autistic performers. The latter mix in their statements the orders of time and verbalise their own associations that transcend the frameworks of not only traditional, but also socially involved theatre.
As a result, the viewers can witness a kind of utopian space-time where two separate worlds can meet. This way, the director shows how to realise in practice the potential of social and cultural transformation, whose power seems greater that this of many strictly political productions.