The theatre can be many things but above all it can be a self-realization – through catharsis in the Aristotelian sense. For children it can also be a fun-time, a break from standard lessons, a way to defeat shyness, to realize one’s unique identity and gain confidence and trust and, best of all, an activity joining creation and education into one whole.
Bagni di Lucca’s Teatro Accademico has hosted the Rassegna Regionale Teatro della Scuola (schools theatre festival) for twenty years now. The idea was born in a drama society of which the present mayor Betti was once a member. From 2 to 18 May almost forty comedies, musicals, tragedies, thrillers and dance-spectacles will be staged with participants drawn from primary to secondary schools in areas as far afield as Pisa and Camaiore, and including amateur drama groups as well. The programme ranges from fairy tales to “Peter and the Wolf” to Pirandello’s classic “Enrico IV” and the plays may be adaptions or originals. Clearly, with all this plethora of theatre one has to pick and choose what to watch to avoid being quite bloated.
On Friday afternoon I decided on a musical, “Che fantastica storia è la vita” mainly because it was performed by the school I have had an association with as lettore di madrelingua Inglese for several years (I have also collaborated on a play in English with this school which was staged at the Teatro San Girolamo in Lucca).
With a backdrop of relevantly changing photographs, three main actors and a choir the show presented the story of man’s inhumanity to man, going from Anna Frank’s diary, through Hiroshima to the Vietnam War. But overlaying this dark picture was the hope that friendships, family and feelings of solidarity can eventually triumph and sustain the message that life can also be a fantastic experience. The script was worked out by pupils in collaboration with the teachers and I thought the production was well-acted and delivered its moral with clarity and firmness. What a good way of combining lessons from history with values of citizenship and youth development! I shall certainly try to see the Pirandello and the adaption of “Cats” re-titled “Micini”.
Next to the theatre there was a retrospective display of costumes going back to the first days of the rassegna. Meanwhile on the upper floor of the circolo dei forestieri a theatre workshop was taking place with the participating schools. Don’t be surprised then if you see more than the normal number of schoolchildren in Bagni until the closure ceremony at 3 pm on Saturday 18th May when the best performances will be rewarded..