Occupy the theater

For almost two years now, 60 actors and theater technicians have been occupying Rome’s Teatro Valle. During that time, the site of Teatro Valle Occupato (“Occupy Teatro Valle”) has become the most visited theater in the city.

Teatro Valle, built in 1726 between the Pantheon and Piazza Navona, is Rome’s oldest theater. Like a lot of European cultural institutions, it used to rely on government subsidies. When they were axed, the theater was forced to close. After the 2010–11 season’s final performance of Romeo e Giulietta, the building was earmarked to be privatized—its destination unknown. Daniele Russo was there when Teatro Valle was squatted on June 14, 2011. “The idea was to occupy the theater for three days as a protest,” he says. “But we got so much support from inside and outside Italy, we decided to stay. People have joined in from all over the country, and they’re helping us keep the theater going, with everything from tech to programming.”

Sitting in the audience, you wouldn’t know the place was a squat. It’s only when you go backstage to the dressing rooms that you realize dozens of people are sleeping here every night, keeping watch. The risk of eviction remains present. Francesca Di Santo has been staying overnight about four times a week since August 2011. “Sometimes there are rumors that the authorities want to kick us out,” she says. “But I think they know better. They’d have the entire city to answer to.”

Since being squatted, the theater has hosted hundreds of performances, more than 100,000 visitors and 2,000 artists from Italy and beyond. Performing here has become an honor for the artists, who often come onstage to a packed house. They receive no pay; visitors give the theater voluntary contributions.

The theater’s occupiers ultimately aim to buy it. They are well on their way to reaching $320,000. “Until then, we’ll at least keep it going, take good care of it and keep it open to the public,” says Di Santo.

Teatro Valle Occupato has become a symbol of change and progress in the arts and in general. “It’s very Italian to complain from the sidelines,” Russo says. “But this theater shows everybody that if you disagree with something, you can take positive action.” | Eveline Rethmeier

Solution News Source

Occupy the theater

For almost two years now, 60 actors and theater technicians have been occupying Rome’s Teatro Valle. During that time, the site of Teatro Valle Occupato (“Occupy Teatro Valle”) has become the most visited theater in the city.

Teatro Valle, built in 1726 between the Pantheon and Piazza Navona, is Rome’s oldest theater. Like a lot of European cultural institutions, it used to rely on government subsidies. When they were axed, the theater was forced to close. After the 2010–11 season’s final performance of Romeo e Giulietta, the building was earmarked to be privatized—its destination unknown. Daniele Russo was there when Teatro Valle was squatted on June 14, 2011. “The idea was to occupy the theater for three days as a protest,” he says. “But we got so much support from inside and outside Italy, we decided to stay. People have joined in from all over the country, and they’re helping us keep the theater going, with everything from tech to programming.”

Sitting in the audience, you wouldn’t know the place was a squat. It’s only when you go backstage to the dressing rooms that you realize dozens of people are sleeping here every night, keeping watch. The risk of eviction remains present. Francesca Di Santo has been staying overnight about four times a week since August 2011. “Sometimes there are rumors that the authorities want to kick us out,” she says. “But I think they know better. They’d have the entire city to answer to.”

Since being squatted, the theater has hosted hundreds of performances, more than 100,000 visitors and 2,000 artists from Italy and beyond. Performing here has become an honor for the artists, who often come onstage to a packed house. They receive no pay; visitors give the theater voluntary contributions.

The theater’s occupiers ultimately aim to buy it. They are well on their way to reaching $320,000. “Until then, we’ll at least keep it going, take good care of it and keep it open to the public,” says Di Santo.

Teatro Valle Occupato has become a symbol of change and progress in the arts and in general. “It’s very Italian to complain from the sidelines,” Russo says. “But this theater shows everybody that if you disagree with something, you can take positive action.” | Eveline Rethmeier

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