an audio performative and participatory Odyssey about home

by Sara Vilardo

Sirene explores the concept of nostos, or “homecoming journey” from a contemporary and political perspective.

Sirene explores the concept of nostos, or “homecoming journey” from a contemporary and political perspective. Whats is home?
The audience goes on a journey through the city, departing from one location and ending at another. Inspired by The Odyssey they meet various physical locations that represent translations of the challenges Odysseus faced on his journey.These external obstacles symbolize the inner stages of transformation, as individuals seek to find their way home and discover themselves. At each location, the audience participate in rituals and actions advancing through transformative experiences that makes the performance an opportunity for introspection and change.

The audience travel in groups of 15 people guided by performer and artistic director Sara Vilardo.The walk lasts 75 minutes. They wear headphones, immersing themselves into site-specific poetry and soundscape that merge with the real sounds of the places they visit.


no matter how home is
home is the reference point
the barometer of all other places
you will ever settle

quote from Sirene

Rovigo, Italy

Next performance : 26/6 (17h, 21h) and 27/6 (18h, 19.30h) 2024
Coproduction: Festival Opera Prima
Teatro del Lemming

Bologna, Borgo Panigale, Italy

Performance, June 2024
Place: Teatri di Vita, Bologna Borgo Panigale

Working on the route and the sound before performance, June 2024
Place: Teatri di Vita, Bologna Borgo Panigale

Concetto e messa in scena: Sara Vilardo
Drammaturgia: Sara Vilardo e Sonja Winckelmann Thomsen
Testi: Sonja Winckelmann Thomsen
Composizione sonora: Camilla Rosselli
Performer: Sara Vilardo
Assistente alla regia: Gaia Barco
voce fuori campo Saverio Peschechera
traduzioni testi Sara Vilardo, con un ringraziamento speciale a Stefano Casi per i preziosi suggerimenti
Website & graphic: Sonja Winckelmann Thomsen
Grazie a: workspacebrussels (BE), Metropolis Internationale Teater- performance and art in urban space (DK)
progetto vincitore del bando “Progetto Cura 2024”

Bologna, Teatri di Vita
ecco il link dell’evento

As you bend your back
and slide into a green mouth
the sunlight
creates shadow theatres
on the leaves

Calypso /at local cruising place / english version

Copenhagen, Denmark

Copenhagen, Metropolis, March 2024

Concept & direction: Sara Vilardo
Dramaturgy: Sara Vilardo e Sonja Winckelmann Thomsen
Text: Sonja Winckelmann Thomsen
Sound design & composition: Ricardo Depine
Performers: Sofia Bellucci, Sara Vilardo
Choreography & director’s assistant: Carolina Mantovano
Website & graphic: Sonja Winckelmann Thomsen

Thanks to: workspacebrussels (BE), Metropolis Internationale Teater- performance and art in urban space (DK)

This tetris savannah
with its grey concrete organs
marks the border of human living
a place
not made for human flesh
but for metal and rubber wheels


Bruxelles, Belgium

First tests with Sirene in a rainy Bruxelles, Belgium. Collaborating with Workspace Bruxelles. October 2023.

Credits Bruxelles:
Concept & direction:
Sara Vilardo
Dramaturgy: Sara Vilardo & Sonja Winckelmann Thomsen
Dramaturgical consultant: Matthias Velle
Text: Sonja Winckelmann Thomsen
Performers: Sara Vilardo, Thelma Vilardo, Gaia Barco,
Website & graphic: Sonja Winckelmann Thomsen

Thanks to: workspacebrussels (BE), Metropolis Internationale Teater- performance and art in urban space (DK)

Home is guarded by suspicious gargoyles
one creature is sitting on the roof
one on your childhood bed
and one at the kitchen table..

Project description Sirene

A sensorial participatory performative audio walk through the city


Sirene aims to explore the concept of nostos or ‘homecoming journey’ from a contemporary perspective. The audience will depart from one physical place in the city, and journey through the cityto end somewhere else. Inspired by The Odyssey, they will meet a series of physical locations, whichare modern translations of the challenges Odysseus met on his journey. These external obstaclesrepresent the inner stages of transformation, in the search of finding your way home, in finding yourself. In each location the audience will be invited to take part in rituals of actions and inner reflections and in this way advance through transformative experiences, thus making the performance an opportunity for introspection and change. (new approach)

A performative audio walk

The audience will journey in groups of 15 people guided by performer and artistic director Sara Vilardo. The walk will last 75 min. As they depart from the starting point, they will be wearing headphones. The soundscape of Sirene will be partly prerecorded and partly spoken live. As the audience explores the city, their senses are enveloped by a soundscape that merges the real sounds of the places they visit with a carefully designed immersive soundscape and poetical texts. The purpose is to transport the audience into a realm where they can fully immerse themselves in the performance without distractions or disturbances from the city itself.

The poetical text is experienced in two different voices, one is the voice of performer Sara Vilardo, which is more related to her personal journey and emotions. The other voice is an anonymous voice, which is resonating with the collective experiences of the audience. The poetical texts, written and spoken by Sonja Winckelmann Thomsen are carefully crafted and evocative. They transcend the boundaries of individual perspectives and invite the audience to reflect, contemplate, and engage with the performance on a deeper level.

The soundscape weaves together the ambient noises of the city – the chatter of pedestrians, the honking of car horns, the rustle of leaves – with a more intricate and enveloping tapestry of sound. This soundscape enhances the atmosphere, adding layers of depth and texture to the journey.

In this entangled journey of poetical text and soundscape, Sara’s voice becomes a beacon, guiding the audience to explore their own connections and emotions. It is a shared experience that unites both Sara and the audience in a collective exploration of the city and the self.

The dramaturgy – a hero´s journey

The underlying structure and dramaturgy of Sirene is inspired by the archetype of the hero’s journey, in this case the legendary voyage of Odysseus. The dramaturgy is primarily used as inspiration and may not be explicitly evident to the audience. Odysseus faced challenges in his encounters with mythical obstacles such as Cyclop, the Underworld, Circe the sorceress, Calypso, Helio’s cows and the Sirens  (in Italian Sirene). Each challenge serves as a symbolic representation of the distractions and temptations that individuals inevitably encounter on their personal quests for fulfillment. The title Sirene draws inspiration from the final obstacle Odysseus faces before returning home. While not the most challenging obstacle, it highlights how desires and bodily needs can serve as the last impediment preventing the hero from reaching his destination, showing us the vulnerability of human nature. Sirene is also the sound of the war and bombing, the alarm of fire, the alert for danger, police. The advice that is something is happening and there is no way to ignore, you have to follow it and it’ s inhevitable.

The rituals

The city’s outside spaces mirror inner experiences. The project blurs the boundaries between the mythological and the contemporary, intertwining universal themes and relatable experiences. In the different locations the audience is invited to take part in rituals aimed at making them reflect on their own choices and life paths. Sirene acts as a catalyst for self-reflection and exploration, inviting participants to ask new questions, challenge preconceived notions, and shift their gaze towards unfamiliar territories. Like the divergent paths that diverge in response to the Sirens’ call, Sirene encourages individuals to venture into new worlds, perceive familiar sights with fresh eyes, and navigate their own personal odyssey with renewed curiosity and agency. In addition to nature-based experiences, the rituals also encompass urban spaces influenced by the profound theories of Jodorowsky’s Psychomagic. Like religious ceremonies and therapies, these artistically crafted, selfinvented rituals aim to heal and provoke transformation. Both the Sensory Theater and Jodorowsky’s teachings tread delicately on the line between art and shamanism, offering a unique blend of profound artistic expressions and inner exploration. 

The primary artists behind Sirene

Artistic Director Sara Vilardo har 20+ years of experience devising immersive works in Italy, Denmark and Belgium. Sara has cultivated a rich international network of collaborations, working with esteemed artists such as Rodrigo Garcia, Tino Sehgal, and Mamadou Dioume. Collaborators also include Wunderland (DK) of which she is part since 2014, Lis Lab Performing Art (IT), Cantabile2 (DK), Carte Blanche (DK), Sisters Hope (DK), Cie Willy Dorner (A), Pleiadi Art Production (IT), Vereningde Planeten (BE), and Lundhal & Seithl. Sonja Winckelmann Thomsen (DK) contributes with dramaturgy and texts. She has worked within the field of sensorial performance over the past 15 years. Mostly with the Denmark-based international company Wunderland, but also several other companies, where she has written poetry, song texts and instructional texts. Composer and sound designer Camilla Rosselli will create the immersive soundscape.

A carefully researched project

Sirene has been researched and developed thus far through tworesidencies.

  • Two weeks at workspacebrussels, in Brussels (BE), selected over 300 applications
  • Two weeks at Metropolis Internationale Teater – performance and art in urban space,Copenhagen (DK), selected for the Hybernation Winter Residencies
  • The project was selected as one of 10 projects (and the only one that was selected for 3 different residencies) from 330 applications in the national Italian residency competition Progetto CURA 2024 of innovative new works, and it’s having residencies in Teatri di Vita in Bologna, Teatro del Lemming in Rovigo and Teatro Idra in Brescia. 

With this application it is the wish to finalize the performance and make it ready for touring. When the piece is finished it can tour in a very sustainable way, with one performer and the sound equipment and scenography elements in some suitcases. It will foremost tour in Denmark, Belgium and Italy where artistic connections are strongest. In Denmark the project is in dialogue with Metropolis and Passage Festival. In Italy it could be programmed in Cross Festival (Maggiore Lake), Teatro del Lemming and Wonderland Festival (Bs); it’s also in dialogue with Festival Danwa Urbana (Bo)

It is the intention that Sirene can tour for many years, which smaller adaptations for each new city.

Teaser Sirene, June 24 - Borgo Panigale