First post from Bologna!

March 8, 2009

Really surprised Rachel has not beat me to this, she was brimming with stuff whilst we were away ….. so watch this space when she has recovered from our very busy week.

All went really well (apart from our ability to blog due to technical problems with both our computers) and we had a brilliant week. I saw 11 shows, 2 works in progress, attended 3 sessions on international experiences and went to the Assitej conference.

The shows that most stood out for me were firstly ‘L’ultimo Albero’ (the last tree) by Stefano Bertolo of Polcenigo – a participative piece with children aged 4-5. After a 40 minute rehearsal the children performed in sections contributing at the relevant moment to story that the performer was telling.  I liked the involvement of the children and although they were very restless throughout (itching to bang those drums and hit those symbols) it was great to see them astride these huge bongos banging away when they were the city or the thunder storm. Unfortunately the kids were very distracted and it showed that they had only had the minimum opportunity to rehearse. But with more contact time with the artist I am sure they could have got their zealousness to bang instruments out of their system.

I think I saw 5 performances either by La Baracca or as co-productions with La Baracca. The highlights of these were, as Natasha had hinted, ‘Il colore dell’acqua’, but also ‘Feather and Stone’ and their most recent piece ‘E poi…. cadono’ that was absolutely delightful. Having seen so much of their work in one go it is clear they have a very distinctive style which is often very elemental – water, colour, weight, light, seeds, fruit, earth – wonderful for really young children to relate to. I was also struck also by how poetic their work is, not just in subject matter, but the words used in the shows are beautifully chosen and give a whole other layer to the piece. And then there is the wit and charisma of the performers – it makes for a very fulfilling and engaging theatre.

The final piece that really stuck with me was Kri Kra Kro by the spanish company Teatro Paraiso, directed by Charlotte Fallon and totally, totally different to anything else at the festival. This was a high tech, multi media performance on a large stage and seen with over a hundred 3-6 year olds and was extremely clever and …..well just different. I loved the inventiveness of the projections and the nod to contemporary modern artists (magritte, mondrian). I am not sure I got all of the allusions, but enough to find it really amusing, witty and sophisticated. The audience seemed to enjoy it as well with lots of the children shouting out and then being told by the teachers in no uncertain terms to be quiet!

Two other striking things performance wise at the festival was a 10 minutes studio piece by Andrea Buzzetti all about light. He sat on the stage surrounded by lightbulbs, wires and plugs and endeavoured to untangle them and make the lights work in a playful and witty manner. The piece was absolutely delightful and full of humour. I would be really interested in seeing how this might develop into a full length piece in the future. It triggered interesting debates amongst the three of us and others that joined in about whether such theatre would be acceptable in England as it would be seen as encouraging children to play with plugs, wires and lightbulbs. Oh where did the notion that theatre pushes boundaries or suspends reality go?!!  We found ourselves having a similar debate about the next show.

This was a video clip that was shown at the end of the International Experiences session dedicated to Germany and was of ‘Surprise’ by Dschungel Wien. This was a very contemporary piece and the clip started with a man in his underpants imitating a frog with his throat and belly pulsating with the croaks. It then led on to scenes with water in wheelbarrow and a lot of movement and spinning on the floor in water to live music. Very curious and led me to want to find out more. I believe this had been performed in Adelaide last year so am going  to see if Wendy saw it.

It was a great shame that one of the performers from Toihaus was very ill and they had to cancel their show. We were able to watch it on a very good film version on DVD but as we all know, watching a show on film is nothing like watching it live so although interesting it was difficult to really get a feel for it.

Enough for now. more about the conference part of the festival on another blog, just thought I would get the “art” out of my system first!  Thank you Ruth for giving me the opportunity to have this experience, it was truly wonderful.


One comment

  1. wow, you really packed it in emma, am v green with envy but great to read all about it!
    love tash x

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