Spettacolo Reveals the Italian Town That Documents Itself Through Theater

Sep 08, 2017 450


They call it “the town that plays itself.” Monticchiello, population 118, is a tiny hamlet in Tuscany that, since the 1960s, has annually staged a new play written and performed by the local populace. We’re told in Jeff Malmberg and Chris Shellen’s documentary Spettacolo that this tradition “began, like many others, with costumes and fanfare,” but quickly these theatrical pieces grew to touch on aspects of these people’s lives. Early on, they tackled the fighting between the fascists and local partisans in the spring of 1944, when a group of Nazis rolled into town and nearly killed everyone.

Over the years, the plays have focused in quite striking ways on social changes, political phenomena and economic turmoil. One year, the townspeople turned the whole village into a supermarket and allowed audience members to enter only if they had a shopping cart. Only one product was available on the shelves, however — a mysterious container that eventually turned out to be filled with earth from Monticchiello itself. For a drama written and performed by rural amateurs, that’s edging into the avant-garde.

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SOURCE: http://www.houstonpress.com

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