Tel: (+39) 349.8378830 - 339.6421465





Federazione Italiana Storytelling




anno di fondazione 2004

Compagnia di Storytelling




... l'arte di raccontare storie


(Angerona: il nome segreto di Roma)


A storytelling tragedy

A Shakespearean tale of blood and honour


Paola Balbi - Michael Harvey



Original soundtrack: Davide Bardi

Movement coach: Teo Ghil






in aggiornamento...

An engaging and dynamic re-telling of Shakespeare's Rape of Lucrece for a contemporary audience

Shakespeare wrote his long poem “The Rape of Lucrece” in 1594 the year when theatres were closed in London due to the plague. It was a story in poetic form meant to be told and performed in unconventional performance spaces such as banquet halls, gardens and pavilions in the palaces of the nobility as entertainment for private parties.

The plot of the story is entirely taken from classical sources (in particular Titus Livius) but the style of telling, the setting and the flavour of the Bard's work is completely Eliabethan. The language, locations and the ways the characters think and express themselves is all thoroughly Elizabethan.

“The Rape of Lucrece” is one of the less known but also most fascinating works of the Canon and one of the few that can undoubtedly be attributed in its entirety to Shakespeare as it was published during his lifetime and bears his own signature.

The original text is very rich in metaphors and figures of speech, superbly written in the most exquisite blank verse, but also very difficult to understand for a modern audience, full of references to a number of other  classical myths and stories well known to the Elizabethan audience, but now forgotten.


A daring and innovative combination of oral storytelling and Shakespeare

The ambition of “Angerona” is to give back to a contemporary audience this hidden treasure of theatre/literature in a way that is, at the same time, engaging and enjoyable but also respectful of the original story, poetic form and atmosphere.

To achieve this Paola Balbi and Michael Harvey have created a unique blend of oral Storytelling and Shakespearean poetry, using both the feminine and the masculine points of view and energies to convey this most ancient and powerful story, remaining true to its double essence of Roman myth and Elizabethan theatrical (should this be ‘poetic’?) masterpiece.


Three great stories, blank verse, improvised storytelling, visual theatricality and live music all in one show

Alongside the main frame story of “The Rape of Lucrece” (the story of the most noble and virtuous Roman noble wife betrayed and raped by  Prince Sextus Tarquinius) the show features two other epic tales: “Rhea Sylvia and Mars” (the foundation myth of Rome) and “Philomel and Procne”  Greek (a Greek myth about sisterhood, betrayal, sexual abuse, revenge and metamorphosis.)

All  these stories are mentioned and quoted many times by Shakespeare in “The Rape of Lucrece” and several other of his works, showing the author’s fascination in them. In this performance they all come vividly to life, told in three different styles with gripping passion and commitment, balancing Shakespeare’s original text with the best of contemporary Storytelling.


A storytelling tragedy

Angerona has all the taste and grandeur of a classical tragedy in storytelling form.

It is an entire classical play in its own right on the shoulders of two performers. An emotional marathon and a dive into the lost power of traditional storytelling, our forgotten myths and poetic speaking.


A powerful statement against the abuse of women in any place, time and society

Angerona is the name of  a most ancient, mysterious  and now forgotten Roman Goddess. She was worshipped on the winter solstice as the goddess of silence and sadness, as they believed that the longest night of the year represented her dark aspect. She was the keeper of the secret name of Rome, a name that was never supposed to be pronounced by any other god or human being  and that represented the honour and safety of the city and all its citizens. She is often represented with her index finger pressed against her lips.

Angerona was mostly worshipped by women, as silence and silent endurance were listed amongst the highest virtues of the 'mos maiorum', the unwritten heritage of moral customs, values and practice in ancient Rome.

For too many years endurance and silence were used as a powerful weapon against women’s freedom and rights and as an excuse to cover up sexual crimes. This is still a shameful truth in many parts of the world and too often also in our so called ‘modern’ society.

Starting from the story of Angerona's myth the show takes the audience through an unforgettable and emotional journey on the path of three ancient stories that tell of abused women who had the courage to break the silence and stand up for justice. Their voices should still be a guide and inspiration to women and men alike, championing justice and human rights all over the world.



Angerona grew out of the two year international Mythos project, funded by the EU Grundtvig scheme, during which Paola and Michael built on previous collaboration in the festival scene to start talking about developing a show together. With the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death taking place in 2016 it was decided to work on a Shakespearean theme and,after much deliberation we committed ourselves to the bard’s long poem The Rape of Lucrece.


This poem tells a story that Shakespeare’s audience would have been familiar with, however the story itself and the references it makes are unknown to most contemporary listeners. This was a great opportunity for two storytellers to unpack some of the stories that lurk behind the text to create a multilayered and resonant interweaving of story and image for a contemporary audience.



Angerona is available both with and without live music. Davide Bardi’s score draws on the modal nature of early music and is both spare and contemporary. It is played on guitar, pedals and effects and pulls the audience deeper into the story, its ambiguities and resonances.



The first part of the show, which deals with the story of the foundation of Rome, is often performed outside the main performance area. This can be in an adjacent space or even outdoors. If the audience is at floor level we prefer to play wide with the chairs in an arc. When using the promenade between scenes we will need ushers to guide the public.



Suitable for adults and adolescents 14+


Other Performance Options

Paola and Michael and Davide  are all leading storytellers in their own right and are able to supplement Angerona with a number of other storytelling performances and workshops.


Workshops: Stories that Shakespeare loved

Shakespeare is probably the best known name in the history of world theatre however his plays are often viewed as daunting and difficult to approach and even harder to teach. We will be returning to the stories that inspired him and his contemporaries - a vast inheritance of  Classical Greek and Roman stories, the native folklore of the British Isles as well as popular European medieval and renaissance texts and religious narrative and symbolism.

This two or three  days intensive workshop will take the bard’s stories and re-oralize them for a storytelling audience. We will be looking at how we can re-combine Shakespeare’s texts with this source material and look at how we can translate it into other cultures and languages.

The morning sessions will concentrate on physical and vocal preparation for performance as well as use of the space and working with text and audience. The afternoons will concentrate on working on specific stories individually, in pairs and small groups and how the linguistic richness of the group can express itself in performance.


Other workshops are available in the following topics

Storytelling performance skills

Using blank verse

Storytelling and translation

Associazione Culturale


Piazza T. Farinata degli Uberti 14

00122 Roma

P.Iva 10681921002

C.f. 97575600586


(+39) 349.8378830 - 339.6421465


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