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La Biennale di Venezia

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Introduction by

Antonio Latella

Director of the Theatre Department

Over the past three years, I have wanted to highlight international artists to introduce to Italian audiences, and thus to Italian artists. Fostering direct contact through our programming, a cross-pollination that can enrich the terrain of our experimentation.
The fourth year for me became the year to spotlight Italian theatre, to introduce it to an international audience, eschewing more renowned personalities who in some way have already succeeded in capturing the attention of foreign operators, and are now governed by the laws of the market.
We tried to construct a mapping of artists who stand outside these laws and are rarely programmed by institutional theatres, but who are attracting the attention of critics and professionals in the field; artists who, above all, are building their own audiences, wide-ranging audiences that are not bound by the constraints of theatre subscriptions.
Many of the invited artists are young, some very young fresh out of the Director’s College of the Biennale (to promote the work we have done over these years, taking the responsibility to try and launch new Italian talents), and others who are bigger but only in terms of age.

I asked all the artists for a meeting and a serious dialogue, that would make theirs a responsible presence at the Biennale 2020, and would also support an “artistic” concept of Artistic Direction.
All the artists were asked to work on the theme of CENSORSHIP, trying to look beyond the obvious in this proposal to think of it as a “superior” value to present to the audience and to the professionals in the field, in the belief that Italian theatre people find it difficult to break into the international market, and they are therefore, in some way, censored merely by the fact of being Italian theatre people.
Considering the above, my work as Artistic Director will rely on an exchange of views with the artists I have asked to build a sort of Italian theatre collective with me under the title of: Atto quarto – NASCONDI(no).
Obviously all the guest artists will bring a premiere to the Biennale, so that in some way, this is a Biennale Teatro without a safety net, because the Director’s choice was not based on previously seen productions but on the encounters and the content; in part this frees me from the risk of censorship, not having ever seen any of the works that will be shown at the Biennale. In part, naturally.

The exchange of views with the artists is constant and continuous and the word “censorship” has triggered a mechanism that is leading all the artists, working at a distance, to become part of a single grand creative process that encompasses everything that is censored because others demand it, what we censor because we demand it of ourselves, even during a routine discussion; it also concerns everything we decide not to say, and discussing everything we more or less consciously censor because we are influenced by society, culture or upbringing, by our social class or by political correctness.
All the artists were asked to look beyond the routine of theatre programming, as I tried to liberate them from the laws of the market that constrain producers, as well as the artists themselves, to censor their choices, by choosing one author rather than another, because they are aware that the name of some authors, even on paper, impose censorship for reasons rooted in history, politics, enjoyment and audience engagement.
We censor. Why?
We want to protect, or we are simply unable to protect and so we censor because we want to protect ourselves. Yet theatre arose primarily to exorcise our fears, not to censor so that we might understand, know and vanquish what we are by accepting it.

The creative process also included a moment to be shared among all the artists, who were asked to engage with their colleagues before the Biennale, so that they might be cross-pollinated and cross-pollinate the others with what they do and what they seek; to understand that each of them is putting his thinking and his talent at the service of the same theme. It’s almost as if the audience were asked to attend a single great performance with the great title: NASCONDI(no), and the events proposed by the Festival and by the sequence of artists were none other than contributions that add or eliminate questions about the main theme.

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