The Strehler100 Project – A Summary
The Strehler100 Project – A Summary
2021 is a very special year in the life of Piccolo Teatro di Milano – Teatro d’Europa. The centenary of Giorgio Strehler’s birth will fall right on August 14th. In the runup to such an important anniversary, Piccolo Teatro di Milano has come up with a project that properly commemorates and celebrates its founder. A project devised to be first and foremost “vital”, capable of bringing the past, the present and the future together in the name of life and theatre. In keeping with the spirit and commitment that Strehler’s artistic career has always been imbued with, we decided to duly emphasise the centenary of his birth, not with a memorial event that would boil down to a sterile withdrawal into what ‘has been’, but by opening up a vibrant breeding ground of ideas in which – as we are going to explain, through a diverse range of activities (developing a website, producing two docufilms and a number of interviews, organising meetings, workshops, lectures and conferences, promoting publications, not to mention the actual experience of the stage) – we can discuss the life and work of this prominent figure of 20th-century theatre while reflecting on our present. In the complicated “here and now” we are living in now, poised between a pandemic and a post-pandemic world, Strehler’s work – entirely born, after all, in the difficult season of post-war “reconstruction”, and injecting precious new artistic life into it – is still a lodestar that keeps sparking off ideas, even on issues that are so crucial to this day and age: focussing on the public role of theatre, defining the relation between the cultural institutions and the city, the part that artistic and cultural policies and practices may play in reviving a system, the importance of rethinking the dialogue among theatres across the world (especially with a view to deeply questioning ourselves about the meaning and values of European culture), encoding a potential new statute for a theatre that should hopefully be truly “human” and “political”. All issues, these ones, which are more urgent and crucial than ever, and to understand which the lesson learnt from Strehler is essential in this day and age: which is evidence of the “classic” nature of the theatre of this outstanding artist. Supported by a Committee of Patrons that includes prestigious figures from the world of culture, art and research such as: Roberto Alonge, Georges Banu, Giovanni Bazoli, Stéphane Braunschweig, Peter Brook, Annamaria Cascetta, Lev Dodin, Sergio Escobar, Siro Ferrone, Carlo Fontana, Ezio Frigerio, Emmanuel Hoog, Andrea Jonasson, Pia Kleber, Jack Lang, Claudio Magris, Fausto Malcovati, Maria Cristina Mazzavillani, Dominique Meyer, Riccardo Muti, Lluis Pasqual, Rosanna Purchia, Andrée Ruth Shammah, Giovanni Soresi, Franca Squarciapino, Gabor Tompa and Robert Wilson (as well as Giuseppe Sala, Mayor of Milan, and Attilio Fontana, President of Lombardy), the Strehler100 meta-project is organised as a number of independent projects revolving around two types of events: theatrical ventures on one hand, and events about the theory, study and promotion of archival heritage on the other hand. Supported by an intricate network of partnerships, Strehler100 will start in August 14th and will end one year later, on August 14th 2022, spanning across a whole season.
Three events on August 14th
- Strehler at Estate Sforzesca: Premiering on Rai5 (with Rai Culture as Media Partner)
As part of the programme of the Estate Sforzesca Festival and of a broader partnership with Rai Cultura, Rai Cultura’s special Apprendisti stregoni. Il metodo Strehler, introduced by Claudio Longhi, will premiere on August 14th. Such documentary will be broadcast on Rai5 that night at 09.15pm. Rai5 will spend the rest of the day in a tribute to Strehler by broadcasting Arlecchino servitore di due padroni (1955) at 04.15pm and, after the documentary, Le baruffe chiozzotte (1966) at about 10.15pm.
More generally, RaiCultura decided to become media partner of the Strehler100 project so more events have been planned as part of such collaboration, such as screening some of Strehler’s plays at the International Festival in May 2022 (but more on that later).
- giorgiostrehler.it and #strehler100
As from August 14th, a website about the great Artist, giorgiostrehler.it, will be launched as a sort of virtual exhibition, a place of learning and a sort of workshop for schools, a digital map of the entire Strehler100 project. It is a sort of “medley” that will not only act as a “showcase” and as a record of the many events planned, but will be a further mode of operation that will help multiply the perspectives on “Strehler’s universe” (divided into themed sections, it will also host a number of specially-made video-interviews about the director).
This will go hand in hand with a far-reaching programme of social-media campaigns that was launched on January 1st 2021 in the attempt to create online storytelling about Strehler’s journey in shows (and more) through videos, photos, texts, stories and other multimedia contents.
- A Commemorative Stamp
Also on August 14th, the Italian Ministry of Economic Development will issue a postage stamp in the series that commemorates Italy’s greatest performance artists, “Eccellenze Italiane dello spettacolo”, as a tribute to Giorgio Strehler on the centenary of his birth.
Il mio mestiere è raccontare storie: A Night for Giorgio Strehler
On Friday, October 1st, a special night at Teatro Grassi called Il mio mestiere è raccontare storie will try to outline a 360-degree portrait of the artist through a collage of words, music and images (by Stefano de Luca, with the support of Giancarlo Dettori, Andrea Jonasson, Ottavia Piccolo, Federica Rosellini, Ferruccio Soleri, Pamela Villoresi).
Arlecchino, Living Memory
From October 12th to 31st, Teatro Grassi will host an updated version of the timeless Harlequin, Servant of Two Masters, directed by Giorgio Strehler and produced by Enrico Bonavera, with the assistance of Stefano de Luca. It is as much a milestone in the catalogue of Piccolo Teatro’s own productions as a gem in the more “classic” repertoire of Italian drama. The new production of the show, by now a tradition, is testament to the attention paid to the great repertoire, in keeping with the Fondazione’s status as a national stage, and takes on special significance this year that celebrates Strehler’s anniversary.
Lettere agli italiani: an edition of Strehler’s writings
To coincide with Strehler’s centenary, Piccolo Teatro di Milano has started to edit the body of Strehler’s writings, a long-term feat that is inevitably going to last years and will be presented at Bookcity. The journey begins with the publication of Lettere agli italiani in 2021, a collection of about twenty pieces written by the director – most of which published on some of the most important Italian newspapers from 1984 to 1992 – focussed on mere politics and cultural politics. Lettere agli italiani, with a foreword by Ferruccio de Bortoli, will be the first title in one of the lines of the new-born collection which has been planned in partnership with publisher “il Saggiatore”. Other areas of interest in this series of books will lead to publish some as-yet-unpublished Italian and international plays that are closely related to Piccolo Teatro’s productions; collections of translations of new stage plays by international authors that come from non-Italian areas or that are monographic in nature; historical-critical research works and surveys as insights into dramatics.
About Strehler: the voices of books
Two recent books about Giorgio Strehler will be presented at Piccolo Teatro In the next few months (one has just been published, the other is still in press): Intervista a me stesso by Giorgio Strehler (which De Piante Editore issues in a precious small-run edition, with a foreword by Claudio Longhi); Strehler interpreta le donne. Volti e voci femminili del teatro di Giorgio Strehler by Stella Casiraghi (published by Skira). Note also that Strehler il gigante del Piccolo, a book edited by Sara Chiappori (with a foreword by Piero Colaprico and an afterword by Claudio Longhi), will be out with the newspaper “La Repubblica”, on July 29th 2021.
Strehler On the Small Screen: A docufilm and A Documentary
Piccolo Teatro di Milano has provided plenty of its archival records to make a docufilm and a documentary, which investigate Strehler’s artistic trajectory and creative processes from new, unusual perspectives. More to the point, Essere Giorgio Strehler is the docufilm directed by Simona Risi for 3D Produzioni, with a storyline by Didi Gnocchi and a screenplay by Matteo Moneta and Gabriele Raimondi. Strehler – Diario di bordo is the documentary directed by Alessandro Turci, written with Federica Miglio and Antonia Ponti and coproduced by Dugong Films and Rai Documentari, premiering on Rai3 soon.
Strehler e i palcoscenici milanesi: an exhibition in partnership with Teatro alla Scala and Fondazione Corriere della Sera
In partnership with Teatro alla Scala di Milano and Fondazione Corriere della Sera, a great exhibition called Strehler e i palcoscenici milanesi will lead the audience through an experiential and exploratory journey in the artistic and creative life of the great artist. Strehler e i palcoscenici milanesi will consist of two separate sections. Strehler, o il soffio del vero poetico is about Strehler as an opera director, an important part of his artistic career and an outstandingly innovation on the global scene. Moving through Strehler’s career as a reformer of operatic shows, the exhibition will take place in some areas of the Teatro alla Scala Museum (from the rooms of the Livia Simoni library to the Arturo Toscanini foyer) but most of it will develop in the digital world, creating a virtual, interactive space with seven areas, accessible on line and from two screens placed on the way to the Museum.
Amo il teatro perché amo la vita is focussed instead on telling about Strehler’s relationship with Milan: a treasure trove of materials will be on display in the areas of Teatro Strehler, Teatro Grassi and Teatro Studio Melato, as well in some other designated places around town (Via Dante, Loggia dei Mercanti), which will entwine the coeval stories of Strehler and Milan into a testament to the multiple forms of interaction between such outstanding artist and his city. As in a play that moves at a pace with the changes of scene, the exhibition will alternate contents till the end, so as to accommodate, now and then, the different perspectives from which the tight bond between Strehler and Milan should be looked at.
Strehler e i palcoscenici milanesi will officially open on November 4th.
“Strehler” città aperta: The Meetings
Spanning the entire 2021-2022 season, Piccolo Teatro di Milano will be organising a rich repertoire of meetings to question itself about the memory of the great director – a commemoration that is not aseptically an end in itself but one that tries to come to terms with the present, while giving it strength and substance. So, Strehler’s journey turns into an opportunity to broaden the perspective on contemporariness and on social, economic and political issues. Such score of meetings includes a factual conversation with many Milanese cultural institutions and players, such as: Fondazione Arnoldo e Alberto Mondadori (with Stella Casiraghi, Irene Piazzoni and Oliviero Ponte di Pino going through the history of the big and small publishers that brought Milan back to the centre of Italy’s intellectual life in the post-war period, making books and journalism the city’s pride and glory); Fondazione Corriere della Sera (in the setting of Sala Buzzati, a series of four meetings/lectures about Strehler’s Milan); Fondazione Giangiacomo Feltrinelli (a series of three meetings about three core themes: the role of culture in the reconstruction of a country, the role of theatre as social criticism, and, lastly, the role of public intellectuals); Gallerie d’Italia (as part of Intesa Sanpaolo’s patronage of the centenary of Strehler’s birth, a double event about Strehler’s pro-European outlook and the exploration of the economic context in which cultural projects are born and developed); Laboratorio Formentini per l’Editoria (launching a playwriting course for the convicts of the San Vittore Prison, supported by the valuable experience of the Biblioteche in Rete a San Vittore project); MEET – Digital Culture Centre (a number of events prompted by Strehler and his heritage to reflect on art’s ability to work out the future); Museo Nazionale della Scienza e della Tecnologia Leonardo da Vinci (launching a double workshop targeted to the new generations, focussed on playwriting for scientific journalism as well as voicing “drama for science”); Museo del Novecento (two events dwelling on Strehler’s dialogue with visual artists, from Renato Guttuso to Alberto Savinio, via Piero Fornasetti and Felice Casorati); Pinacoteca di Brera (a series of events to emphasise the key role played by Grande Brera between the late Forties and the boom years); Fondazione Pirelli (a series of events about work, see through the filter of theatre and Strehler’s plays: work as an identity- and value-building practice, in connection with Saint Joan of the Stockyards; work in conversation with technological evolution, in connection with Life of Galileo); Triennale Milano (a series of meetings to rediscover and investigate the relationship that binds design, iconographic research and the stage together); Veneranda Fabbrica del Duomo (to shed light on the spiritual implications of “the most human theatre ever”, that is, Giorgio Strehler’s theatre).
News from the Past: an International Festival for Giorgio Strehler
In May 2022, Piccolo Teatro di Milano will launch a big international festival about Giorgio Strehler (which will bring artists and companies from many countries around the world to Piccolo Teatro and other places around town). About twenty plays will be performed, many of which never been seen in Italy before, some coproduced by Piccolo Teatro: for instance, Entre chien et loup by Christiane Jatahy, The sheep song by FC Bergman, a few plays by Constanza Macras and Tiago Rodrigues. Many other big names are expected to take part, some well-known, some less well-known to the Italian audiences, some bringing veritable masterclasses along with their shows. Burkina Faso, Brazil, Argentina, France, Uruguay, Sweden, Ireland, Portugal, Greece and Belgium have all joined in.
Il lavoro teatrale di Giorgio Strehler: a one-day lecture in partnership with Università degli Studi di Milano
On Monday, October 25th, Piccolo Teatro di Milano and the University of Milan (Department of Cultural and Environmental Studies, headed by Alberto Bentoglio) will be hosting a one-day lecture about Strehler called Il lavoro di Giorgio Strehler a cent’anni dalla sua nascita, in the attempt to develop a reflection from the perspective of dramatics about the director’s career, legacy and topicality through the lectures of young scholars who were too young to see the artist’s plays. Coordinated by Professor Mariagabriella Cambiaghi, the event will take place in the Bonaparte Hall at the University of Milan and will be followed by a number of exploratory meetings at the Nina Vinchi Cloister, including the screening of stock footage, targeted to the students of Università La Statale, Milan.
Fifth International EASTAP Conference
The Fifth International EASTAP Conference (EASTAP is the European Association for the Study of Theatre and Performance) will be held at Teatro Grassi and at the University of Milan, from May 23rd to 26th 2022, in partnership with Università degli Studi di Milano, Università della Calabria, Università Ca’ Foscari di Venezia and CUT (Consulta Universitaria del Teatro), with the support of Milan’s Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore and Milan’s IULM University. Organised by Alberto Bentoglio, Claudio Longhi and Daniele Vianello, the conference will bring in lots of guest speakers, including experts, artists, professionals from the world of live performances, who will discuss the idea of a Theatrical Mind in connection with the many different variations of live shows (from the Theatre of the Word to performances, to musical theatre and ballet) and in a dialectic conversation between theories and practices.
To sum up, a whole year to patch back together all the nuances of a fundamental voice of the 20th century cultural scene and make them reverberate again, with a special focus on his legacy for the young generations: culture as the pivot which any potential reconstruction of a social fabric, any real redefinition of an identity-building system, any conscious opening to an effective future prospect revolve around.