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Pisa: simulates hanging on stage, strangled by a rope

27-year-old actor in a coma. It happened at Teatro Lux in Pisa: the young man was performing a hanging scene. A spectator realised something was wrong. The theatre is now sealed off and the Italian police is investigating. "I don’t think he tried to commit suicide”, said his mother.

PISA. Raphael Schumacher, 27-years-old young professional actor of experimental theatre born in Brunate (in the Province of Como) is in desperate conditions in the intensive-care unit of Pisa’s main hospital. He is in a coma after the tragedy occurred Saturday night, during his performance in a theatre of the historical city centre. The theatre is now sealed off and the police is investigating. Investigators, who are being coordinated by State prosecutor Giancarlo Dominijanni, have interviewed who was present when the incident occurred (dozens of people among the audience and the characters on stage)

A YOUNG MEDICAL GRADUATE AND ONLY SPECTATOR REALIZED SOMETHING WAS WRONG According a summary reconstruction of the event, the actor, who works with the association "The Thing", was performing a hanging scene in the theatre courtyard. Suddenly, something went wrong. He just had put the rope on a fig tree and his feet on a cube. A young female spectator, a recent medical graduate, immediately noticed that the actor was not acting anymore, but something more serious was happening. Schumacher’s face was covered by a mask, but his trembling body left no doubt: he was alive but suffocating. She cried for help, lowering him to the ground and called 118. The actor was already unconscious when the ambulance took him to the hospital. This is what the young woman told the investigators.

TWO HYPOTHESES When the incident occurred, six shows in six different halls were being staged, as part of an all-night-event called “Mirages. A night at Lux”. Schumacher was performing the hanging scene in an outside courtyard. There are two hypotheses under examination: either the actor tried to commit suicide or he was a victim of a tragic accident. Police is also verifying if proper workplace safety procedures were in place.

RAPHAEL’S MOTHER: "I STRONGLY BELIEVE HE DID NOT TRY TO COMMIT SUIDEIC” Raphael’s mother is obviously shocked. She arrived in Pisa on Sunday morning and stayed all day at the hospital. She immediately excluded the hypothesis of suicide. "His father died recently and he had just broken up with someone, but he had soon regained inner peace. He didn’t leave any messages and had no reason to kill himself”, she said.

THE MANAGERS OF THE THEATRE: “HE WAS STAGING A HANGING SCENE” "We are devastated. We don’t really know what to say”, said Andrea Vescio, one of the managers of the association “The Thing”, with shaky voice. "All I can say is that I saw a 27-year-old boy on the ground, unconscious. He was performing a hanging scene in front of a sole spectator, the young graduate who called for help". According to the police, there were a few dozens of people in the theatre, when the incident occurred. “We are truly shocked. We don’t know what happened exactly, nobody knows. We immediately started collaborating with the investigators”, said Gabriele De Luca, art director the theatre. “We just hope Raphael will get better soon”.

SCHUMACHER GRADUATED AT UDINE’S CIVIC ACADEMY DRAMATIC ARTS In June 2015, Raphael Schumacher graduated at Udine’s “Nico Pepe” Civic Academy of Dramatic Arts, directed by Claudio De Maglio. Together with his fellow students he staged a play on the World War I, "Mort a Vendre", curated by Dutch actor and

professor Maril Van den Broek. Saturday night Schumacher was performing one of the scenes staged in various parts of the theatre, with each spectator walking between them. He had successfully performed the hanging scene that same evening.

(Translated by Sharon Braithwaite)

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