It was either a deliberate act of provocative art, or a horrible accident; an Italian actor died after a scene in an experimental play by hanging himself.

The play was performed in an open space where the audience could move around and watch performances unfold. Only one spectator witnessed the scene in which the actor, Raphael Schumacher, delivered a short monologue on the difficult experiences of a 15-year-old boy which ended with the actor hanging himself.

The witness called for help but Schumacher could not be revived. He never regained consciousness.

Two directors and two stage technicians are now being investigated for manslaughter.


Schumachers mother said "I strongly believe he did not try to commit suicide," in a report to Italian media.

"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."

However, others pointed out that Schumacher had changed the original ending of his scene in Mirages.

"The script included a different ending, a gunshot. Raphael changed it without telling us," Andrea Vescio, one of the managers of Teatro Lux, said.

"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."

The theatre's staff are not believed to be under investigation.

"We are truly shocked," Gabriele De Luca, art director of the theatre, told Il Tirreno. "We don't know what happened exactly, nobody knows."

The theatre has since suspended all shows, with a statement on it's Facebook page calling the death "an imponderable tragedy".

Schumacher graduated from drama school last year; Teatro Lux is a venue in downtown Pisa that includes a movie theatre, bar and performance space.

An English translation of a mission statement posted to its website reads: "We want to dispel the myth ... that theatre is something boring and challenging, suitable only for young ladies in fur coats and tails, and rediscover the playful and popular - in the best sense of the term - soul of the theatre."