Between the 13th and the 17th of November 2013 took place in the town of Casalbordino (CH), Abruzzo, Italy, the first edition of the International theater festival “Teatro in Comune”.
The festival was organized through the collaboration of the TheAlbero, ImaginAction, Aradia and Nouva Arcadia.
The municipality of Casalbordino has gave to the festival organizers an ex-market building recently renovated and painted colorfully so it could become a youth center. The festival was an occasion to open the space for the first time and give the young people of Casalbordino a ‘taste’ of its potential and the potential of theater and participative art to transform.
The festival started with a “surprise” visit to the schools of Casalbordino, where more then 200 children and youngsters met the first to arrive artists of the festival wearing costumes, stilts and masks. Many of these children returned to the youth center and other occasions to meet the “strange people with different languages” and engaged in the festival activities.
The afternoon of the opening day of the festival included a carnival parade in the streets of the historic medieval town, departing and returning to the youth center the festival Artists’ “organized attacks of beauty and music on the city”, when songs and dances were dedicated to random street goers.
At evening time an opening ceremony was held with theater games and storytelling in a big circle connecting the communities of artists and locals.
During the next four mornings of the festival (14th till 17th November) took place the advanced workshop “Re-weaving the stories of the community”, with Alessia Cartoni and Hector Aristizabal, exploring techniques from Theater of the Oppressed, Storytelling and Theater of Witness. The workshop and living together in the ‘Festival’s Villa” had made possible the weaving of an artistic community ready to share and act out intense and deep personal stories.
The diverse afternoons workshops of the festival has facilitated the participation of at least another 100 members of the community. The youth center was happily “invaded”, mostly with children and youngsters. Workshops for creating Commedia dell’Arte masks, ‘brown paper’ puppets, costumes from old newspapers, hand puppets from recycled cardboard, drawing workshops, face painting and theater games in circle, all of those were moments to awake the force of creativity and the magic of transformation of simple material ‘coming to life’.
For the programed workshops and the spontaneous activities we thank: Aradia (Laura e Diana Capriotti), Giulia Frova, Alessia Cartoni, Silvia Liberati, Hector Aristizabal, Julie Rose Stevenson, Tasso Barbasso (Marina Mansi e Stefano Seproni), Ilaria Olimpico and Uri Noy Meir (TheAlbero).
The Casalbordino youngsters also joined in the the workshops of the “adults”, creating an inter-generational horizontal exchange, and meeting Theater of Witness, with the placement in scene of personal stories; Theater of the Oppressed, affronting question on gender, oppression, aggression and creation. Facilitators of diverse styles and backgrounds have experimented in leading workshops with mix groups of youngsters and adults, actors and non actors.
Festival’s afternoon workshops included:
- “Living with resilience” by Diol Mouhamadou of Senegal, with the universal language of movement, rhythm and song. Diol took his group to the main square involving the citizens of Casalbordino in games and exercises of African style forum theater.
- “Weaving a basket as metaphor of a community” by Francesco D’Ingiullo of Palmoli, workshop of basket weaving that opened with a real and metaphoric weaving of the community.
- “Beyond intellectualism” by Lucian Marradi of Rome, a workshop on the role of TO in social uprisings.
- “De-construct your look” by Curcuma (Inma Pascual Sanchez, Mariona Arner, Nando Carnero) theater group from Spain. Exploring and questioning with theater games and exercises gender constructions.
- “Warming up with our voice” by Caterina Palmucci from Sulmona, a relaxing and yet vibrant circle that warms up the space with the breath and the voice of the community.
- “Ouverture” by Philippe Tordeaux from Abruzzo, the last workshop of the festival has collected the energy of festival participants into exercises and scenes of clowning.
In the evenings of the festival, performances, works in progress and short performances were shared.
- ‘Stories of a Future City’ by “Mure’ Teatro” has gifted the community with passionate trip Pescara then, now and in the future.
- ‘Con(m)passione’ by “Tasso Barbasso” theater company has portrayed 6 tableaux images of violence against women. The images has spontaneously became a theatrical dialogue with the audience using image theater with the facilitation of TheAlbero facilitators Uri and Ilaria.
- ‘Nightwind’ by “ImaginAction” a play in which advanced workshop facilitator Hector Aristizabal has shared his life story and his experiences with torture. Hector has carried the spectators into an image process of his creation in which the play is processed in an embodied way.
- ‘I am Here’ by Yke Van Dok has presented in the festival a documentary film telling the story of refugee youth in Holland through their own eyes, giving them the role of protagonists and storytellers.
- ‘Hopefully a rebel’ by Ilaria Olimpico (TheAlbero) was presented as a dramatized reading of an original text based on personal life experience of being pregnant.
- ‘Warrior of Light’ by Uri Noy Meir (TheAlbero), a work in progress, telling the story of teller’s experience as an Israeli ex-combatant.
- ‘Maybe, Maybe, Maybe’ by Giusi Ciccio’, Told the story of what happens when your toilet is broken and you can not pay to fix it cause you have no contract.
- ‘Happy Gipsy’ by Antun Blazevic, This play was gifted a final performance in the town Wine festival, held in the historic center streets, with poetry and storytelling the tell’s of the Roma people and much more. It was an ending that had a hint of the begining when a child that recognized one if the facilitator-organizers (Uri) as “the one that came to the school” was invited with her white winter coat become a little angel helper for “spelling corrections” by the actor, and so become part of the scene of the final play.
In the final day a ‘closing’ carnival parade was led, this time the children of the town were leading it energetically by making rhythm with pots and pans and wearing colorful costumes and masks made during the festival.
The Festival received no funding and was completely auto-organized. But we want acknowledge the (non financial) help and support we received:
We thank the town Casalbordino, mayor, administration and even more importantly people, for the warm welcome.
We thank the vice mayor of Casalbordino, Vincenzo Cocchino, that as the responsible for culture and tourism that trusted our “crazy ideas” give us logistical support and was generally very available.
We thank Giancarlo and Cantina Casalbordino for providing us with delicious Casalbordino wine in the final evenings.
We thank Mother and Grandmother ‘Aradia’ for giving us wonderful food made with love that we will never forget.
We thank that many participants that came from far and near to realize a dream and make an unusual festival in an unusual place. (participants came from Estonia, Marche, Abruzzo, Lazio, California, Spain, Sardinia, Lombardia, Germany, Toscana, Russia, Campania, Holland, Umbria, Emilia Romagna, Colombia, Senegal). Thank you for sharing stories, weaving threads, playing games, laughing and dancing with us, you made it all possible!