Teatro del Lido di Ostia, Rome

Chiara Becchimanzi

Community, storytelling, vision

The experience of the Teatro del Lido di Ostia comes from (and is for) an area on the outskirts, full of contradictions. To speak about and plan culture in such a territory means having to deal with a complex stratification of meanings and values: ancient Rome and the years under Fascism, the liberation and the land reclamation, the squats and the emergence of new neighbourhoods, the factories and the ruins, the sea, the marshland and the River Tiber, the big Port of Rome and the recent arrival of immigrants, the shanty town of the Idroscalo and the death of Pasolini, the lockdown and the consequent disgregation of the community.
But not only this.
Ostia – above all the neighbourhood of Ponente- has for decades been suffering from neglect by the Institutions. One could describe it as one describes the stories of the city outskirts all over the world, so often abandoned to themselves, with no development plan or facility networks to guarantee quality living standards and social inclusion for all the citizens who are part of it.
During these decades we have seen a deterioration of civilian life, an economic crisis- a real desertification, which has worn down prospects, the relations between human beings, their dreams, their ideas of “something else possible” and therefore also the shared projects for a better future.
Places for public debate, both physical and non, have become fewer; places to get together, often promised have never materialised and those few which still exist risk disappearance or have already been eliminated, as happened to the skate park, near Piazza Gasparri – a multifunctional centre which took children off the streets and offered them the opportunity to participate in sport or cultural activities. The investment of the town council in cultural activities is mostly limited and not comprehensive; that of the municipality next to nothing, and the increasingly dangerous setting up of criminal networks with their ability to preside over the territory is a matter of great concern, despite recent convictions.
‘Where no culture is present monsters appear’. The monsters have continued to multiply. And they will continue to do so if a strong and clear position concerning cultural investment is not taken.
Mafia is also a product of the underestimation of crime on behalf of magistrates and the police, of the dangerous entanglement of sectors of the economy with politicians and gangs, but above all it is a product of the emptiness in the neighbourhoods.
In this way, in the desert of those neighbourhoods the dirty work of shady characters and power groups have grown, dispersion is increasing, loneliness has got worse- more than ever after lockdown.
The Lido theatre was created also to say that Ostia is not only the criminal novel of Suburra, but an area which has an incredible beauty and whose energies are vital and healthy. We need to keep these in mind if we want to reclaim a destiny which is not doomed. To make people aware, to expose, to educate the younger generations and support them in this difficult age we are living in, to create those antibodies that are necessary for democracy and to the social agreement that bonds us, all men and women, which makes us a civil community and which makes us human beings without any differences.
The Mafia both criminal and political, violent and discriminatory attitudes are also defeated by contrasting solitude, strengthening the concept of community and building, with the patience of Penelope a structure which can really become a map to guide us in the face of reality. Violence can be neutralised with the knowledge of civil rights and obligation, with projects of civic education and shared responsibility. With beauty and Art, with work and culture, with sharing and joy, with support for those who produce plan and deliver culture, with the poetic construction of new scenarios
The Lido theatre on the one hand acts as interlocutor and facilitator on platforms for confrontation amongst all the entities of the area, in fact programming encounters and making their space available for meetings during which cultural projects for the area are discussed and associations operating in this field involved, teachers, students, cultural operators and artists. On the other hand, it proposes a broadly based/comprehensive cultural program, multidisciplined, international and which otherwise would have difficulty in reaching Ostia. This program has themes which come from a further exchange of visions, prospects and needs among citizens. The model chosen by the Teatro del Lido involves the building being open every day and in this setup/framework the staff receive daily a large number of ideas for projects, requests, and proposals. To accomplish all of them another 10 structures would be necessary, complete with staff, Directors/administration, and network operators For this reason we believe it is absolutely necessary to increase and support what we call “neighbourhood cultural services” in every area of Rome: open places, accessible, vibrant, where it is possible to experiment, plan, learn and encounter various energies to remix them together, empowered by a substantial public funding and by the active collaboration of citizens, artists, and cultural operators.

Never before has the need to fight for the rights of cultural operators been so necessary, and this includes making available time and public space for cultural discussions on an egalitarian basis, with high ideals, noble and poetic.

Chiara Becchimanzi. Actress, director, author, stand up comédienne, cultural designer, co-founder of the Compagnia Teatrale Valdrada. Vicepresident of Ass. TdL, that runs the Teatro del Lido di Ostia. Graduated in Humanities; qualified at Accademia Internazionale di Teatro di Roma. In 2019 she published her first novel, A ciascuna il suo, with Aracne.

Teatro del Lido. The project of the Teatro del Lido is supported by public funding; it is participatory since it is based on the cultural community. The latter is actively involved in the drawing up of the program by way of meetings for participated programs, which are in fact proper public assemblies during which a critical analysis of the nearby/surrounding realities is made and then a shared cultural ideal is developed. The relevant suggestions from the assemblies are then debated and developed into programs by the Artistic commitee, a collective body which does away with and replaces the figure of Artistic director. The 5 members (Cristiano Petretto for Theatre, Giorgia Celli for Dance, Giuseppe Cangialosi for music, Chiara De Angelis for Visual Arts, Paola Sacco for Education and the territory) supply their skills and their work free as an act of cultural volunteering, making an ethical selection from hundreds of national and international proposals which arrive online. The artistic commitee is elected every three years from within the collective body which is the symbol as well as the princlple instrument of the cultural community which we are trying to build up: the Assembly of members, made up of 32 Associations from the area, which compose along with their differences, their wealth and their prefessionalism, the Association Teatro del Lido.


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