Short Theatre 2023 — Radical Sympathy

18th edition 3–17 September
Paris 1881. Sarah Bernhardt plays the role of Marguerite Gautier in La dame aux camellias. She starts coughing dramatically as her character dies of consumption. Instantly the theatre is filled with bouts of coughing that last several minutes to the point that no one can hear the words uttered by the great actress. The audience, caught in a sympathetic circuit, in a contagious flow that passes through the bodies, finds itself immersed in an atmosphere that attune beings, moods, things.
For this year’s edition, Short Theatre 2023 has chosen as a title Radical Sympathy. A familiar word as sympathy – that lively includes stories, philosophical wrinkles and instrumental uses – is summoned to deconstruct its sentimental emphasis. The aim being, instead, to focus on the erotic and magnetic attraction between the bodies, on interdependences that create dis(harmonies) between different matters, causing action and reaction, and again action and mobilisation. It’s a way of feeling each other through porosity, fluid exchange, temperaments and temperatures, from the very small to the atmospheric; following gravitational inclinations that leave traces of complicity between dystonic or fatally other worlds. As the festival spreads across the city, a new urban morphology emerges. A morphology that exceeds the margins, favours a change of position and the reciprocity between cultural institutions and nontheatrical locations, setting a different pace. From the city Theatre to the underground car park in the mall of a residential suburb; from the monumental classical style of a former aquarium next to the railway station, to the artificial grassy hill made of broken vessels in ancient Rome’s port area; from the neighbourhoods near the Tiber mouth, to the reopening of an historical institutional theatre on one of the city centre’s main streets. In this way, the idea of a festival emerges as a comprehensive, panoramic, stratified cooperation, taking place in the asymmetric temporality of September days where to meet in a dreamy euphoria. The programme alternates solo performances with choral pièces. In both cases, the stage – a black box, a lawn, a street, a listening room – is the space of imagination where to train oneself to overcome and accomplish subjectivity, without presuming to feel how others do. Far from the mechanisms of dominion that filters every fabric, according to more and more complex and unconquerable geometries of action, the scene keeps open the possibility of creating affinities right there, where nothing existed. Our practice is to intuitively be firm, minutely pursuing a radical feeling – unexpected and unpredictable – that may corrode the suffocating architectures of the real. In this edition, the space is filled with fugitive thoughts and postures that claim the right to be enraged, as black political and aesthetic researches teach. The poetics of opacity works to deconstruct paradigms imposed (by whiteness), in order to safeguard the irreducibility of sense. So that everything won’t be transparent, immediately understandable, conquerable, equivalent. Linguistic strategies that primarily demonstrate themselves through the crooked, the repressed, the grotesque, the painful, in terms of an existence that rejects all forms of assimilation, and instead pursues sensitiveness, enjoyment, flexibility, proximity as elements that re-trace the meaning of being together away from assertive but more and more unsteady systems. As sympathetic ink makes what is hidden – but always present – visible, the festival reveals absent agreements and confusional states rooted in the here and now. Sympathy is meant as a magnetic and impersonal perception, something similar to gravity as it invites what is external to go inside, to muddy the waters, and to exit to participate in new waves of meetings. Different states pour one into the other, in an incessant in-and-out movement. Sympathy is radical because it goes beyond us, because it lures us in an elsewhere where judgement is suspended, in the embrace of the unusual.

Ligia Lewis ∴ Eli Mathieu-Bustos ∴ Fred Moten ∴ Justin Randolph Thompson Mackda Ghebremariam Tesfau’ & Marie Moïse ∴ Silvia Calderoni & Ilenia Caleo Lorena Stadelmann ∴ BABY VOLCANO + Hoellypop ∴ La Diferencia Alessandro Sciarroni ∴ Silke Huysman & Hannes Dereere ∴ Fanfulla 5/a: GTAIE + Côte d’Opale Romeo Castellucci / Socìetas ∴ Sofia Jernberg ∴ lacasadargilla ∴ Robyn Orlin Nadia Beugré ∴ Eva Geatti ∴ Chiara Bersani ∴ BLCKEBY + Mystique Habillé d’eau / Silvia Rampelli ∴ Daria Deflorian ∴ Théo Mercier ∴ François Chaignaud Agnese Cornelio & Massimo Carozzi / ZimmerFrei ∴ Diana Lola Posani Fabulamundi New Voices ∴ Zaccone & Silvi / Leap ∴ Radio That Matters & Guests Gruppo UROR ∴ Sara Leghissa & Maddalena Fragnito & Marzia Dalfini ∴ PAC LOCALES / If Body 2023 ∴ Pauline Curnier Jardin & Feel Good Cooperative Fabiana Iacozzilli / Cranpi ∴ SINCE crew: EQUOHM + Yulia Kachan ∴ DA.RE. dance research ∴MERENDE / Industria Indipendente + Louisa Youski + Cakes da Killa ∴ Nacera Belaza Francesco Marilungo ∴ Vera Di Lecce ∴ Pescheria crew Martina Gambardella / BPPD ∴ Accademia di Belle Arti di Roma Studi e Politiche di Genere – Master I livello Roma Tre ∴ Short Books / NERO Editions


PRISMA 2023 is dedicated to the choreographer and visual artist Ligia Lewis, an expansive and refracted project involving different places and partners that offers the city a chance to transverse the work of an international artist. Complaint, A Lyric connects a series of actions by this transdisciplinary artist, investigating her choreographic production, audiovisual experimentation and deepening her aesthetic as well as political reflections in a talk. During her stay in Rome, Ligia Lewis will come into contact with various communities that inhabit the city, through an intensive workshop aimed at performers and artists in training, plus a series of appointments with CivicoZero, to practice the geometries of reciprocity together.


RECIPROCITY is an experiment with new models of mutuality and intersectionality that spans relationships, origins and expertises through dimensional playfulness, physical exchange, narrative crossroads. It’s the launch of formats open to all and in particular to those subjects usually excluded from artistic processes and convivial urban spaces. Participatory projects, laboratories, sharing practices, workshop-based performances: in RECIPROCITY different pedagogies and the sharing of practices contribute to shift Short Theatre’s geographical and social centre of gravity (and its participants’) in a mix of aesthetics, artistic practices and social contexts.


The transmission of knowledge as well as the relationship between aesthetics and performativity as political action are both at the centre of Anticipation of the Night, a discursive space that comes to life each day during late afternoon, accompanying the festival as it flows through different locations. Conversations, meetings, book presentations, masterclasses and informal talks.


Short Books is the publishing series created by NERO Editions and Short Theatre, addressing the interweaving of aesthetics, critical thinking and performance practices. Translations of foreign texts, straddling theory and art criticism, miscellanies of critical writings published in old magazines or discontinued catalogues, original short essays.