Pontelagoscuro is a post-industrial, rural district on the north side of Ferrara. It develops following the southern shore of the river Po, the longer in Italy, which crosses many regions and in the past and recent times has always been a source of life, work, market.
The Permanent Theatre Creation Workshop of Polesine was born in 2018. During the pandemic time, the communitarian theatre group lead by Marco Luciano in Rovigo breaks up and some remaining participants of this group express the willing of creating a performance about the flood that destroyed the Polesine region, between Ferrara, Rovigo and Mantova (three very different regions in less than 50km), in 1971.
2021 would have been the 50th anniversary of this event, the topic was stimulating and deeply embodied in every person living in that region. We launched the idea of a research workshop about this topic and many people came to us, wanted to take part.
We have been working in different venues: on the side of the river Po, in Julio Cortàzar theatre space, in different places around the Polesine region, rent from friends for few amounts of expenses or hosted by people sustained our project.
The participant’s to the laboratory started to collect materials by interviewing witnesses, talking to people around them. After more than a month of searches we still had nothing: the persons we spoke to didn’t want to tell us about the flood, and probably they didn’t even want to take those memories back to their minds.
That’s why we decided to stage a ritual for the Po river, more than a sterile representation of what we think it happened during the 1971 flood.
In a 9 months long workshop, in which every person involved gave a contribution as actor or actress, costumer, make-up artist and whatever needed, we found the right actions to gain us the favour of the river, so that a flood will never happen anymore.
The ritual has been performed 10 times until now in different contexts around the Polesine region and we are keeping on working with the group once a week. The group is formed by people of age between the 19 and 75 years old, mixed males and females, of every gender, religion, nationality. In the years of work with communities in every field (mental health, comunities for ex drug-addicted, jails..) we could notice that theatre with non professionals in rural or disadvantaged areas can contribute to strenghten the sense of comunity and closeness in the neighborhoods, to develope tolerance, curiosity and comprehension towards the other’s cultures and specific problems, to enhance the importance of differences and experiences, to recover dignity.