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Published on Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Dancing in the piazza

Political, activist, contemporary, quirky - Santarcangelo International Theatre Festival never stops challenging ideas

Once a year the historic city of Santarcangelo di Romagna erupts into life as the centre of the city turns itself into a colourful stage for the world of contemporary performance.

Every year producing a brave lineup of international acts (many free), the Santarcangelo International Festival of 'Theatre in the Piazza' is ready to roll again in 2015.

A magical list of contemporary, avant garde performances will take the stage including dance, theatre and music with the specific aim to challenge the previous perceptions of their audiences.

Started in 1971 by a Romagnolo visionary and artist Romeo Donati who was then mayor of the city - the festival has never lost its original community credentials. The first director Piero Patino said "The theatre springs from the community, to return to the community"

From 1978 the next director Roberto Bacci took the festival international without losing its mission to constantly investigate and question the political domain through the performing arts.

Key performers over the years have been such global figures as Dario Fo, Isobel Allende and Italian regional celebrities such as Fanny and Alexander.

Over 20,000 visitors will stream into the city during the period of the festival (this year from 10-19 July) - and it's not just theatrical performance that they're after. Lucky visitors will be treated to a real feast of the local food and wine and hospitality that Romagna is famous for.

The ancient city centre, including three grand piazzas, cobbled alleyways and terraces leading up to the great citadel, will all provide an atmospheric backdrop for a glorious party.

And this is the city of the great Romagnolo poet and screenwriter Tonino Guerra, the home of two great restaurants - the Sangiovesa and the Lazaroun, the setting for the 1000-year old autumn festivals - to the the birds and the cuckolds - and, above all the heart of a gloriously fecund food and wine area of Romagna.

Not only will guests be treated to world-class contemporary performance, including film, dance, theatre, installations and exhibitions, but they will also be able to enjoy the very best of Romagna's 0km cornucopia of great food and wine.

And take a short walk to the Mutonia Sculpture Park, by the river, where their preconceptions will be challenged further.

All this, and more will highlight the considerable steps that Santarcangelo (a Slow City) has made towards sustainability including the current programme - 'A Sustainable Present'

This year, too, , for the first time, the festival has a special project The School of Exceptions is inviting 12 participants to attend the whole festival of Santarcangelo to investigate a specific research question on the state of exception, the relationship between art and reality, the festival and the city, norm and exception. Artists, researchers, students and professionals are asked to articulate: "What can art do and say in the spaces appointed to it? What outside them?"

Pity the people at home watching the festival on Sky Arts, Vimeo and RAI Cinque - their mouths will be watering at the warm hospitality and feast of food and challenging art on offer in this beautiful city.

Further information: http://santarcangelofestival.com/

Valere Tjolle

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