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Emerging Theatre Companies in the suburbs

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In Bologna, the theatrical workshops in the neighbourhood of Casa di Khaoula and Centro Interculturale Zonarelli proceed under the eyes of the Cantieri Meticci expert members. After the summer break the groups spent the first few months picking up the discussion points from where they left, welcoming new participants and consolidating the bonds of an already existing strong team. January was a month entirely dedicated to the focus texts and themes used to put together the final workshop presentations.

One of William Shakespeare’s classic works, ‘Hamlet’, was chosen for the Casa di Khaoula workshop group. After a short moment of intimidation, the participants became more comfortable with the words of the “bard” transforming brief phrases into physical improvisations. Thanks to the efforts carried out every Wednesday, themes, characters and universal feelings have emerged such as love, suffering, social control, madness as an escape, manipulation, political powers that oppress the individual. All the participants – even those who came from far away, in spite of the poet’s linguistic distance, began to settle and feel at ease with a text that at first seemed quite remote. Along with choreographic actions and theatrical scenes, Casa di Khaoula’s ‘Hamlet’ is also getting familiar with music and singing, following a path that will lead to its premiere in May 2019.  

In the not-too-distant San Donato district, at Centro Interculturale Zonarelli, the core theme chosen for the dramatic composition is loneliness’ . There isn’t only one reference text, but many. However, the main goal is to build a participatory playwright, to which everyone can contribute, with texts, images, songs or ideas. Francesco, the workshop lead at Centro Interculturale Zonarelli says: “The performance will be a journey inside the characters’ minds. All the protagonists are in the same place, isolated from the rest of the world. But actually each one of them is locked in their own thoughts, anxieties, dominated by an obsession that drives them away from the world and reality. Stories collide and cross but never mingle, such as straight lines extending to infinity”. With the participants, Francesco reflects every Wednesday night on the reasons why some people isolate themselves. What does it mean to be alone and experience loneliness? The students actively participate to the writing of texts that will be staged. Together, they work on the creation of physical actions and theatrical images to be used in the final show.

The Neighbourhood Companies (Compagnie Meticce di Quartiere), which developed over years of work across the territory, is more and more becoming a cultural service of proximity for the engaged neighbourhoods, that could be seen as “small resistant training grounds of social hybridization”. At Casa di Khaoula, the participants are about 20, 11 of whom joined since a year. They come from Italy, Marocco, Yvory Coast, Eritrea, Iraqi Kurdistan, Nigeria, Senegal. At the Centro Zonarelli they are 26. 14 of them follow the activities since a while and are from Italy, Iran, Nigeria, Pakistan, Yvory Coast, Mali. 35% of the participants are migrants, refugees or asylum seekers.

Alongside, the Theatrical Neighourboods foresee many other activities in the various city areas and schools, with the aim to promote sociability, empowerment, the study of languages for those who arrive from distant countries. In Cantieri Meticci's pursuit, it is very important to deconstruct the hostile narratives which increasingly punctuate our cities and enhance alternative ways of portraying the meeting with the other.

Written by Alessia Del Bianco

Translated from Italian by Konstancja Dunin-Wasowicz

foto: Paolo Piscolla

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