We live in an age in which it is difficult to define individual and collective identities. Migrations, the economic and social situation, new technologies do not favour the birth of social ties within a territory. In what way can theatre – which traditionally has a function of social connection and of relating to oneself and others – be the channel to find a new sense of collectivity to counterbalance an increasingly individualistic push of society? From this reflection comes the idea of creating a community theatre project in Rivapiana, a territory whose very identity is made fragile by sudden economic and social changes.
Can theatre be a channel for building a new sense of community?
In synergy with important realities of social and cultural development of the territory such as the Elisarion Cultural Centre and Museum and the Rivapiana Neighbourhood Association (AQR), and under the guidance of a team of theatre artists, an integrated group of citizen-actors worked together on the theme “la Riva”: meeting place, starting point, border and point of observation on the world.
The project is conceived by the Accademia Dimitri and Teatro Zigoia, and is carried out under the patronage of the Municipality of Minusio, in collaboration with the Associazione Quartiere Rivapiana di Minusio and the Centro culturale e Museo Elisarion di Minusio, and with the support of the Programme of Cantonal Integration (PIC) and the Ente Regionale per lo Sviluppo del Locarnese e Vallemaggia (ERS-LVM) .
Project leader: Prof. Demis Quadri, ATD Research Sector Manager
Collaborators: Veronica Provenzale, ATD researcher; Lianca Pandolfini, Andrea Valdinocci, Teatro Zigoia
Theatre is based on citizenship. It has the function of collecting the legacy of ritual, feast, mythology, through which the community represents itself, is celebrated and narrated, in its conflicts and ideals. In ancient Greece, the city of Athens, on the occasion of the festivities dedicated to Dionysus, stopped to allow the theatrical action to come to life, together with all the citizens, from the richest to the prisoners who left on bail. The rite was combined with the spectacle, the feast with daily life. The public took part because there was an urgency, there was something important that concerned the city and the citizens.
“Theatron” means “place of the gaze”, a place to look together.
A community theatre project involves the participation of citizen-actors with different characteristics. Overcoming ethnic, cultural and generational differences, the group that is born goes in search of a collective memory, starting from the sense of emptiness and lack that drives us to look for and meet others. Collective memory is a plural memory, it is the fruit of the memory of many people. It does not reproduce the past, but it is a way to understand how the present works to tell it. With the guidance and active participation of theatre experts, an environment is created that fosters interpersonal relationships and offers everyone the chance to develop them as part of an artistic project.
THE 4 ACTIONS
The project is divided into 4 actions and culminates in a site-specific production in Rivapiana and an exhibition full of shows, debates and excursions:
Collection of stories, testimonies and legends related to the “Riva”.
A multi-ethnic group of actor-citizens theatrically develops the materials of the Research
Creation of a site-specific theatre show in Rivapiana
Shows, debates, excursions open to the local community
The group of artist-pedagogues of Teatro Zigoia, with the collaboration of the researchers of the Accademia Teatro Dimitri, developed a historical-ethnographic research on the territory of Rivapiana and a collection of material on the concept of “Riva” – fluid border. The research involved interviews with “long-standing” inhabitants, as well as foreigners living in Rivapiana and Minusio; these were supplemented by a collection of historical and demographic data, images, stories, legends, anecdotes and songs. The material collected was used on the one hand to feed the activities of the theatre workshop in view of the production (action 3), and on the other hand to structure various activities of the festival (action 4), such as debates, theatre excursions and performances.
The theatre workshop is an open space for sharing and experimentation, where theatre serves as a tool for exploring, deepening and creating in a free and equal context. In the Dalla mia Riva project, the theatre workshop, led by Lianca Pandolfini and Andrea Valdinocci of Teatro Zigoia, brought together people of different backgrounds currently living in the Locarno area – Afghanistan, Colombia, Italy, Syria, German-speaking Switzerland and Ticino, aged between 20 and 70. Through workshop work, the group developed a collective and individual path on the theme of the “Riva” (river bank) and its multiple meanings in a personal and collective sense, laying the foundations for the process of site-specific creation.
The production consisted of the creation of a site-specific performance that took place on the banks of the historic “Cà di ferro” in Minusio. The members of the theatre workshop, supported by professional actors and musicians, created the entire performance on site and offered the audience the opportunity to take a physical and imaginary journey through personal stories and images and sounds emerging from the surrounding environment.
“EVERY MAN, EVERY WOMAN IS A SHORE, A MEETING PLACE, A PLACE OF ARRIVALS AND DEPARTURES”.
The Riva Theme. From which “bank” are you looking at the world?
The event brought together moments of encounter and exchange between the project and the local community through an intense programme of events, evenings, debates, shows, excursions, etc. Each event was inspired by the theme “Riva”: a place of movement and transition, the Riva is the border between water and land and also between peoples, regions and states, dividing and yet uniting.
A point of departure and arrival, the Riva was symbolically really a meeting place between the project, the community of Rivapiana and the public.
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