Short Theatre 2020 celebrates its 15th year in one of the most complex moments of recent history.
This will be a festival shaped by stratified experiences, an echo chamber of things near and far, all told by the multiplicity of voices that make Short Theatre very much a community of the here and now, albeit spread out over time and space. It will try and fuse what is happening at this very moment with what happens live, while recognising not just the traces that these past 15 years have left but also how these become images of its own future.
By initiating new relationships between human bodies through shows, performances and installations, we will cross new public spaces and inhabit Pelanda in a different way. Walking through the spaces of WeGil, we will once again question our perspective through the practice of decolonization, as well as query the notion of hospitality thanks to our alignment with both Materiais Diversos festival and the creative construction site that is Panorama Roma. While at night the bright atmosphere of Controra will attract us, during the day our meetings at Little Fun Palace and the workshops of the Tempo Libero section will resonate with the thoughts and ideas scattered throughout this program.
Intro - A Manifestation
When last year’s edition came to an end, we started to imagine this XV edition as a rite/party of passage, a chance for wrapping up all these years, searching through the past and the present – that are actually the same, as the former echoes through the latter. We conceived the idea of an archive, a catalogue; not a plain catalogue but a chain of thoughts, a map in the making: talks like rivers, gazes like squares, ways of being together.
In the first months of the health and social emergency that characterised 2020, we thought we might have had to cancel this year’s festival and reinvent it, perhaps launching an edition “on paper” (the idea of the archive appeared again). This did not mean merely to renounce our live performances, but to stop and think and observe things in a different way.
Then the possibility of the festival actually taking place arose, we could recompose the community of artists, spectators and operators that constitute Short Theatre. So, complying with the safety measures required by the emergency, we devised a festival structured differently: with bigger locations and a sweeter, dreamlike atmosphere.
For the fifteenth time we’ll meet up to share words and ways to become real, find oneself and one other and imagine the next editions: in the near and in the distant future.
We’ll try to decipher our new present through the languages of performance, theatre, dance, conversations, music. Some old projects will have new forms, as the blend of Panorama Roma with Fabulamundi, the Resident Projects that will run throughout the festival, the music appointments of Controra, that this year will be more precious than ever as it will renounce its subversive and unifying character. The festival will open in the WeGil and then unfold with Tempo Libero and its workshops at Teatro India and then with the performances in programme at the Pelanda and Teatro Argentina.
The lines you are reading have been the first ones drafted for a catalogue that we thought could include all these intentions and deviations: firstly a chain of thoughts and conversations to retrace the first fifteen years of Short Theatre, secondly the attempt to decipher this unexpected present through the dialogue with the artists and all the people who experience the festival. We felt we needed to address the artists, to involve them in the storytelling of the festival: we asked them not only to take a stand through their works but also answering some questions that came up during the organisation of the festival. So a choir of voices and bodies will animate, embody and narrate the unfolding of the festival, starting a contagion – the only one we wish for! – of words and images.
One of the things we are fond of is the choice of a tagline. A sentence, a word able to represent the structure of the festival, the atmosphere we perceive in the final phase of the organisation. It isn’t a theme or a title but rather a track, a condensation of a collective act of creation and curation. The huge complexity of these days urges us to subtract, even when it comes to words. This year’s edition of Short Theatre won’t have a tagline, hoping that the reduction of signs – instead of a multiplication – will help new meanings come to the surface.
This catalogue contains conversations with artists, theorists, curators, activist, critics, some of whom we already knew and some we got to know for the first time. The presentations of the programme and the theoretical notes are the result of conversations – real or imagined, direct or indirect – with the group of people that made Short Theatre 2020. These conversations deal with time, the geography of love and space where our actions happen and with all those things, people, images, themes and thoughts that revolve around it and nurture it. Such conversations have always happened during the festival, and this year we will transform them into a guidebook.
LET MY BUILDING BURN
When a festival finally starts, it always feels like a miracle. This is especially true this year, for all of us. The idea that everything could slip through our fingers any moment, urged us to ask ourselves, time, the city and its places, the artists and our collaborators, “for more”. Today more than ever a festival taking place is a gift, the result of a collective effort we are grateful for and that we hope to be able to reciprocate. Buildings collapse, statues come down, seas turn into lethal fluids for so many, the earth burns and becomes more and more inhospitable (for us). The past months urged us to look straight at the heart of things, even if it can be a violent approach. Preparing the house where we’ll meet is not enough anymore, because we need to redesign it, to reinvent the strategies and tools to rebuilt it. The horizon is (finally) unveiled for what it really is: torn, confused, transformed, magmatic, sometimes toxic. In this truth we rediscover what we already knew and that we should put into practice more often: our manifestation is not a divine revelation, it is not a miracle, it does not represent a state of grace, an exception to the rule. Our festival becomes real because we are able to transform the present, we have the (earthly) power to fight, to imagine what does not exist yet, to create a space where it seems impossible to be, to spread and disseminate desire, setting what is shared against what is exclusive, collective against individual, passing down against retaining. Our festival becoming real reminds us that destruction is always an option – joyous, vital, erotic – in a world dying of injustice, privilege, self-referentiality. Destroying – even in its milder interpretations as modifying, changing, transforming, revising, correcting, moving – is nothing but a step towards building.
* On 25 May 2020 in Minneapolis an Afro-American citizen called George Floyd was arrested and killed by a white police officer who pushed him to the ground and knelt on his neck, suffocating him. Floyd’s killing ignited violent protests across the United States of America.
At the dawn of 29 May 2020 Ruhel Islam, owner of the Indian cuisine restaurant Gandhi Mahal in South Minneapolis, found out that his restaurant had been severely damaged by the fires set on by the protesters. Ruhel Islam commented: «Let my building burn, justice needs to be served».
Fabrizio Arcuri’s 2018 project Panorama Roma grew from the fabric of Short Theatre and brought together other Roman organisations. It refers to a co-creative zone of research and reflection that caters to the needs of Rome’s artistic community in which they are invited to share facets of their creative journey and modus operandi.
This year Panorama Roma looks out for a wider view on Roman cultural production, researching new models of artistic process and the confluences that can feed into them; all of this through the overlapping with Fabulamundi Playwriting Europe project.
The artists and companies chosen to take part this year will work on international texts selected over these three years which are as yet unpublished in Italy, setting up Short Theatre’s run as a kind of creative construction site visible to the public.
La Pelanda will in fact host a series of open rehearsals, where the various companies take turns working on their commissioned texts, giving an audience the ability to witness artistic process give life to its creation at first hand – magmatic, chaotic, in the flesh!
Once again Panorama Roma is the place to confront one’s way of working with practitioners from across the city’s artistic community, multiplying the possibilities of exchanges with the external world and specifically highlighting one of the many aspects of creativity that has run through all previous editions: dramaturgy.
A tale in the making
curated by Lele Marcojanni
4-13 September | WeGil – La Pelanda
The cat’s cradle game (“Ripiglini” in Italian), beloved by Donna Haraway, is played by weaving a thread of string between the hands to generate figures that will be broken down by other hands in order to create always new ones.
In this 15th edition of Short Theatre, Lele Marcojanni will take care of resuming the ranks of all the branches in which the festival is refracted, curating a video-story built day by day and disseminated online and in different places in the city. An experimental documentary that mixes multimedia languages, weaves the threads of a previous time, the result of exchanges, voices, texts and comparisons, with the presence of the festival in progress.
The camera slips between the spaces of open dialogues for the construction of the festival and gives back a story of connection points driven by intentions and trajectories through the images of the works and scheduled events. The length of the video-work grows with the unfolding of the festival, spread simultaneously on screens and walls, dissemination of proximity that tries to involve even those who cannot follow the festival in presence.
Lele Marcojanni lives and works in Bologna.
It tells and develops visual storytelling projects through places and media that it believes to be the best fit for the story.
Lele Marcojanni has signed the direction of documentaries, short films and mockumentaries with which it has been selected in national and international film festivals. Lele has been collaborating for years with major Italian cultural realities for the documentation of performative events. It also deals with writing and has been involved in editorial projects from unexpected times: he made Carta, two short films dedicated to Giorgio Maffei and Christoph Schifferli, among the most important collectors of artist’s books in Europe. Le città hanno gli occhi (2016) is an exhibition project that collects the choral story of Bologna and its relationship with comics. With I racconti di nessuno / Nobody’s Tales (2019), the first chapter of the work shot in old Taranto, Lele Marcojanni hybridizes the language of printed literature with the one of cinema, creating a device that forces the reader/spectator to intervene directly on the composition of the work.
Lele Marcojanni is a collective project founded by Elena Mattioli, Flavio Perazzini and Roberto Mezzano.
“che la mappa della primavera è sempre da rifare” [“that the map of spring is always to be drawn again”]*
Ilenia Caleo ~ Muna Mussie: a long-distance conversation.
4-5-6 september | 6:00 pm – 12:00 pm | WeGil
We begin this 15th edition by occupying once again the spaces of the WeGil, continuing the reflection that we started last year on the building’s historical legacy. We are doing it together with the audience, with the artists and allies, activists, writers, theorists, who have joined us since last year on this journey aimed at bringing back those narratives that were hidden, removed and denied by colonial and fascist history.
Among the actions that this year will try to “clear the space from ghosts” in this edition, there is “che la mappa della primavera è sempre da rifare” [“that the map of spring is always to be drawn again”], a long-distance conversation through which Ilenia Caleo, performer, activist, researcher and curator of the Modulo Arti del Master di Studi e Politiche di Genere at Roma Tre University, and Muna Mussie, an Eritrean artist active between Brussels and Bologna, accompany us in a sound guide used to re-read the memory of certain signs.
A map, empty: I will describe it to you. And then. The gesture that marks boundaries. The memory. Intimacy. Can history be redone through intimacy? A picture from the seventies: I will describe it to you. Bodies are vibrating archives. The voice as a mean.
An open conversation that continues the intervention in the spaces of ex-Gil, that tries to ask us how to re-inhabit, re-signify, problematize the signs of a colonial heritage that has always been removed.
[* from a verse by Aimé Césaire, Notebook of a Return to the Native Land ]
Ilenia Caleo is a performer, activist and independent researcher. Since 2000, she has been working as an actress and performer in the contemporary scene, collaborating with various companies and directors. She deals with corporeality, feminist epistemologies, experiments in performing arts, new institutions and forms of cultural work, relationship between art and activism. She is a teacher at Venice IUAV in Visual Arts lab directed by Annalisa Sacchi.
She works with Iaph editorial staff and with OperaViva.
Activist at Teatro Valle Occupato and involved in commons and queer-feminist movements, she grew up in the underground counter-culture scene, both politically and artistically.
Muna Mussie, Eritrean artist active between Brussels and Bologna, she began her artistic career in 1998, training as an actress performer with Teatrino Clandestino and Valdoca Theatre. From 2001 to 2005 she was active in the Open research group, a project where the desire to investigate other possibilities of being on stage began to mature. Since 2006, she has been creating fully authorial works, in which she takes care of conception, staging and interpretation, up to the recent Monkey See, Monkey Do (2012) and Milite Ignoto (2014-15). She has continuously collaborated with the filmmaker Luca Mattei and the artists Flavio Favelli, Riccardo Benassi, Sonia Brunelli, Gaetano Liberti, Irena Radmanovic, Dominique Vaccaro, Massimo Carozzi, Brett Bailey, Mette Edvardsen.
Muna Mussie’s performative work seeks precarious agreements on s-confinement hypothesis.
Skholḗ means ‘free time‘ in ancient Greek, it was a time dedicated to mental relaxation, to studying. Only afterwards a “school” became the ‘place where one studies’.
As always Short Theatre makes room within its schedule for a time of openness and sharing, both parallel to and at the same time interwoven with the Festival’s programming: Tempo Libero, the section that since 2018 gathers together workshops, laboratories and many moments of free training. Short Theatre’s Tempo Libero or Free Time is imagined as a rest – from producing, from accounting, from obtaining – but one that is both fruitful and grounded in reality: small spaces of freedom that are opportunities to pay attention to the various ways and conditions in which knowledge is transmitted, with which experience and ideas are shaped and reality is reinvented.
In folklore, the Controra are the visionary hours of the early afternoon, when the sun beats down and shadows disappear, ushering in the appearance of spirits, sirens, nymphs and demons. It is a hot and magic time that interrupts the monotony of the day, the hour that stops activity and dilates atmosphere. The Controra of Short Theatre subverts the temporal grammar of the day and lights up after sundown, including live concerts, dj sets, night-life. It is an hour marked by a different kind of time, stretched out, unproductive and undemanding, allowing for the most unpredictable encounters.
Displacement of Festival
Since 2018, alongside five festivals and cultural spaces as well as many artists scattered throughout Europe and beyond, Short Theatre has embarked on an adventurous European project called More Than This that ends this year. Its stated goal is to redefine notions of “displacement” and consequently change our perception of identities and practices, rethinking methods of hospitality, bringing into question our capacity to welcome others and reach out to them.
In 2020 Short Theatre became part of The Displacement Of Festival, one of the most innovative projects from ‘More Than This’, and one which asks questions not only about the mobility of artists but that of cultural institutions themselves. Working in pairs, each festival involved in the project hosted, or was hosted by, one of its partners. This gave life to 3 small roving hybrid festivals, each the result of months of co-habitation between “guest” and “host” as well as their common experimental approaches to work, sharing know-how and creating new tools and new ways of working together.
For this multi layered, dialogue-defined 15th edition, Short Theatre 2020 welcomes the Portuguese festival Materiais Diversos – with all the variables due to the temporary relocation to Rome – here represented by four artists: Tiago Cadete, Volmir Cordeiro, David Marques and Catarina Miranda.
Alongside them is ‘Moments of Reflection’, a multi-person discussion curated by Simone Frangi born around the practices within The Displacement of Festival and aiming to expand on these themes.
In recent years, Short Theatre has expanded its open spaces, open to the marginalised, ready to gather up intuitions that show up from the outside world.
The Resident Projects are those projects which are designated to function throughout the entire duration of the festival. There are two areas for daily happenings, a specific calendar which interacts and comments on the main calendar of the festival, two oases curated by artists with whom the Festival shares affinity and proximity.
This year the resident projects are mixed in particular with the Tempo Libero section, the section that Short Theatre dedicates to workshops and learning opportunities, making the vocation to sharing even more present, and opening new paths that meet and accompany others spaces of the festival.
Les Cliniques Dramaturgiques cured by Muta Imago / Riccardo Fazi, Elise Simonet, Jessie Mill