An occupied theatre. Too much tolerance?

The Teatro Valle before the "occupation"

The Teatro Valle before the “occupation”

This is one of those typical Italian things that it is hard to make head or tail of. A major theatre in Rome is “occupied” by a group of performers who, if I understand it correctly, were concerned that the theatre might be falling into the wrong hands (private owners) and in June, 2011 took it over. They say that this a new and revolutionary way to be political and that they want a new and more revolutionary – belonging to the people – way of having theatre. Whatever. Three years later it is still occupied whereas somewhere else, or so one imagines, police would have been sent in months and months ago to get them out. According to the city government, some five million euros have been lost because of the absence of ticket sales.

According to an agreement worked out last week with the Culture Commissioner of the city of Rome, according to which the theatre will remain public, the “occupiers” first said they would get the hell out of there by tomorrow, August 10 if they can somehow still be involved in the development of a new artistic model (whatever that means) for the theatre. The Valle is to be taken over by the Teatro di Roma company which manages three other theatres in the Italian capital. But now some of the occupiers are asking for more time, although it’s not clear for what.

The theatre involved is the famous Teatro della Valle. Which first opened in 1727 when it was all wood and then reconstructed in around 1818. In the postwar period the theatre was managed by the Ente Teatrale Italiano (ETI) a non-profit organization tied to the Culture Ministry. It was abolished in 2010 and in May, 2011, the theatre, which no longer had a patron, was temporarily, closed. The Teatro Valle is particularly famous because it a setting for part of Puccini’s opera, Tosca, and indeed part of the recent TV film of Tosca was staged there.

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