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Exedra ARTS

The Cities of the Province
January 22, 2021
Plato at Siracusa
January 23, 2021
Ph. © S.K.

Theatre isn't for Young People?

Theatre isn't for young people.
It’s a matter of fact. It’s a fact that matters.
I’ve been thinking about this for a long time, and the problem I can identify is this: young people can’t hear, can’t feel theatre, not with their ears, not with their hearts. But is it their fault?
I’m not a theatre critic, I’m an actress.
In my opinion, if their young ears can’t hear theatre, it’s because it speaks too quietly, or perhaps too slowly, as if attempting to lull them to sleep. Or maybe it bellows too loudly or is consumed by a pain that’s too refined, too erudite, or it’s a pain that doesn’t belong to them. It speaks in a language they find unintelligible.
If their young hearts can’t feel theatre, that’s because it doesn’t return the empathy it demands.
My conclusion? If theatre isn’t accessible to young people, we should be asking theatre for an explanation, not young people. In my head, I can hear blunt answers.
“If young people don’t understand theatre, it’s because they’re ignorant.”
“That’s a show for kids, it’s not the real deal!”
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“If young people don’t understand theatre, it’s because they’re ignorant.”

“That’s a show for kids, it’s not the real deal!"

These are all stereotypes, foolish pillars of a puritanical belief (this one truly is ignorant and self-destructive ) that on stage worships that irksome, inconclusive, formal perfection, and, above any other god, the Fourth Wall, that insurmountable partition which separates the untouchable directors/actors from their ‘commoner’ audience (although they’re still an erudite audience, because “if they go to the theatre it’s because they understand it”).
I’m not a theatre critic, I’m an actress.
I don’t just analyse things, I act.
In 2019 I organised a week of theatre workshops for Exedra Mediterranean Center, and I realised how much enthusiasm the young participants showed, regardless of their age or cultural background. So, with SalvoCanto and Fiammetta Alonge, we created Exedra ARTS, an internal department at Exedra, which is dedicated to the development and promotion of theatrical activities, with the main goal of remodelling theatrical language to make it accessible to younger generations, without affecting the quality of the content.

Our goal is to bring young people closer to the reality of theatre by bringing theatre closer to their reality.

The driving force behind our idea is that theatre is fun (not only for younger generations!) when it doesn’t forget that it is a game (it’s probably not just a coincidence, that in English and French the verbs that indicate playing and acting are the same). And don’t we often accuse young people of placing their games and virtual realities before their studies, maybe even before their social lives?

We had to begin here, with a game.

The story of Exedra ARTS begins with “Misfatto a Palazzo”, a Live Game where the audience, following an itinerary and a series of clues, confronts the actors directly to complete an investigation and resolve the “Misfatto”, a mysterious misdeed.
Under the guise of a Live Clue game, our real plan takes shape: to impress in the minds of our audience (not many are over the age of 30, even fewer over 50) the experience of direct contact with actors and the world of performing.
It was a great success, giving us huge satisfaction. So we decided to go further, by creating theatrical productions that spoke to young people about history, especially local history, their history. That’s how our shows “I fiori della Resistenza”, “Il manifesto infame - Siracusa 1837”, and the historical comedy “Federico [e il suo] Secondo” were born.
Young people were there. They were our audience.

A year after our debut, we launched “A.R.T.S. - Approaching Reality with Theatre Skills” and “A.R.T.S. - Alternative Research in Theatre Studies”, two experimental theatre courses in Italian and English for young people. The aim of both courses is not so much about initiating young people to actual theatre practise, but more about general life-skills such as working together in mutual respect, boosting self-confidence, improving speech and reading, through games and exercises, based for the first year on the theme of fairy tales.

Within a week we had already received enough applications to begin. Our young girls and boys express themselves freely, let themselves go, have fun, are moved.

They laugh.

We laugh with them, and give theatre back to them.

Gennaio 2021

Attrice siracusana laureata in Drama in Inghilterra. Vivo a Siracusa e lavoro Exedra Mediterranean Center dove accolgo studenti provenienti da tutto il mondo ed insegno loro la lingua e la cultura italiana (soprattutto siciliana!). Produco spettacoli su tematiche storiche e locali e dirigo un corso di teatro rivolto ai giovanissimi. Nello staff di SiracusaCulture curo le traduzioni.