Storytelling is an absolute necessity for the human being, a way to understand ourselves, our surroundings and to pass it onto others. Alex Gezzi is a great expert in Beauty storytelling. He is also a doctor, dermatologist, university professor, PNEI teacher, artist and actor. A true prodigy of talents.

Alex Gezzi is the Founder of TEATROSCIENZA, a dramatization project of Science that recognizes its origins in narrative theatre.

He talks to me about it today, showing me how knowledge interwoven with several disciplines can communicate effectively and reach the heart of people, who remain human only by living with art, poetry and Beauty on all levels.

GA: Gezzi, tell us what TEATROSCIENZA is and how this idea came about.

AG: The idea of TEATROSCIENZA, Science Theatre, arose from a need to evolve after a life of solitude with my stories. I found it necessary to broaden that language and give it a new form. I did this with the collaboration of an acrobatic dancer, actress and teacher of Latin and ancient Greek, Elena Pavoni, and with Eugenio Squarcia, an eclectic musician, artist, actor and writer, thus, managing to involve dance and music.

GA: What do you want to communicate with the theatre?

AG: I think I want to communicate a form of hope and optimism. What I do with the theatre is a wish for a good journey through culture, through these stories of mine that incorporate my skills in dermo-cosmetology, to express beauty.

For me, Science Theatre is an attempt to escape from the darkness of existence that surrounds us today. After all, theatre is about inventing worlds and attending them in order to emerge from the darkness that inevitably envelops the life of each of us.

GA: Can you explain how Science and humanities/art disciplines can coexist together, indeed draw enrichment from each other?

AG: To be honest, I have never understood this dichotomy. Like the men of the Renaissance or the ancient Hellas, I cannot separate art from science, I feel they are complementary and necessary to each other. We can see this in the great thinkers of history who come from very different backgrounds and environments and who, in their thinking, reveal “contaminations” of knowledge apparently distant from their specific field. For example, if we read a text by A. Einstein, it seems to be the work of a religious man; if we read a text by the Dalai Lama, it seems to be the words of a scientist. But it is precisely because of this ‘broad spectrum of cultures’, that they are so special, innovative and original.

I come from Ferrara, the city where the great poet Ariosto lived, who, during the Renaissance set out to reach the moon because it was said that the dark face of that planet – the one that would later be sung about by Pink Floyd – concealed Beauty. Ariosto, therefore, wanted to recover this Beauty and succeeded in doing so by riding the Hippogriff in one of his most famous works. Fantastic for a 16th century artist! But it must be said that a few years later, someone actually went to the moon. Using state-of-the-art technology, NASA actually made the trip. So the real question is: was Ariosto the artist who imagined going there or were the NASA technicians the real poets? I believe that in both cases they were well-rounded men. Scientists as well as poets. Men without barriers. Without limitations on their imagination. Like theirs, our thinking should be free and fluid. In this day and age, it is not easy to be free, but we should strive to be free, at least in mentality. There cannot be a barrier between one science and another, there must be universal knowledge, which is Human knowledge.

We only need to think of the ancient Zen of the East to understand what culture is: which is, the Universe, the sense of a whole that includes the particular in its facets.

GA: We are created for Beauty, we are shaped by it, it keeps us alive. That is why we are driven to look for it and to create it in turn. But Beauty can only be created by experiencing it. You have to live it, breathe it, look at it, touch it, listen to it, … you have to surround yourself with it. You cannot live the ugly and create the beautiful.

What does Beauty mean to you?

AG: I think it’s a wound. Something I probably met somewhere in the world and then lost it.

As Plato said ‘we fell from the stars and now we look up at the starry sky, because that is our home and our origin. From there we come and we long for that world”. I believe in the wound of feeling that we are imperfect beings, coming from this other perfect world, – which can be our mother’s womb -. Then we came into the world, as Plato says, ‘fallen from the stars’. From there, already from our cradle, we saw an imperfect world and perhaps this desire for Beauty, this nostalgia, remained within us.

It is the wound to return to the origin. We have many shadows within us and we try to bring them to light, to get rid of them, but this task is really impossible for the human being. Yet we instinctively strive for perfection and are in constant search of Beauty (although of course, Beauty is itself imperfection).

In my heart I hope I never embrace her because that would mean my journey is over. While in this way, searching, I continue to stay alive.

GA: You are a lecturer in PNEI. What is PNEI?

AG: PNEI, or PsychoNeuroEndocrineImmunology, is a discipline that studies our biological network and its relationship with the environment in which we live, closely linking the psyche, the nervous system, the endocrine system and the immune system; in short, it maintains that we are not just children of our DNA. We can work on that DNA with our life experience. We are born as copies of our parents but we will go to die ORIGINAL, i.e. we will eventually be changed. The example given by the three Nobel Prize winners in Physiology and Medicine J. C. Hall, M. Rosbash and M. W. Young using the metaphor of the computer: “Our parents gave us a very nice computer, with a powerful memory, and we will have to keep this computer with us all our lives. During the course of our existence, we will install new programmes and applications in it, depending on the experiences and encounters we have had. And when we finish our journey, we will still have that computer in our arms, but it will no longer be the original computer.

GA: Technology is making us apparently happy slaves, increasingly alienated behind screens of all sizes, increasingly deprived of social and human relations, of contact. Victims of a system that finds its reason for being in the pandemic, but it is a process that began years ago. If Beauty lives and feeds on relationships, what will the future hold for our young people? What will the new dynamics be? Will screens be able to replace real, direct experiences of Beauty?

In her book ‘The Dark Valley’, Anna Wiener recounts the lives in Silicon Valley of the 400 young computer geniuses who are redesigning our future. She tells us about a system driven by the algorithm, our global dictator, which speaks to us of alienation. What do you think, Professor Gezzi? Will there be a way out?

AG: I don’t think so, I don’t say that with regret. I represent the human of this time, I am just a link in a chain that began in Africa millions of years ago. But that chain is still very long and human history is constantly being rewritten.

The question is: where are we headed? My suspicion is that we are headed back to the house where we came from. Back from the stars. We are probably preparing for a big bang. To do this requires a very advanced technology that will inevitably affect human relationships. We should not be afraid to talk about these things. But we must also ask ourselves: what kind of human relations have there been up to now? Let us think of Auschwitz, the wars in Bosnia, Chechnya, Afghanistan… the Hiroshima bomb. Let me say that we can also imagine having OTHER human relationships and we should not be scandalised by what will happen.