The twelfth edition of the AKCENT International Festival of Documentary Theatre at the Archa Theatre will open on Wednesday 16 November with the first performance of Perché non io? / Why not me? about nine young artists from the poor eastern part of Naples. The audience can look forward to nine authentic personal stories in powerful metaphorical images. The concept and direction were handled by theatre director Jana Svobodová.
The production was co-produced by the Archa Theatre (Prague), Teatro Nest and Campania Teatro Festival (Naples), Fondazione Campania dei Festival, with the support of the Czech Centre Rome and the Italian Cultural Institute in Prague, and will also launch the celebrations of the 100th anniversary of the Italian Cultural Institute. The collaboration began in December 2021, when director Jana Svobodová came at the invitation of the Italian Campania Teatro Festival to lead a workshop at the small theatre NEST in the eastern part of Naples. There she met an enthusiastic theatre team, strong creative personalities, young artists who were willing to share their personal stories on stage. After a year of preparation and close collaboration between the Campania Teatro Festival, the Czech Centre Rome and the Italian Cultural Institute in Prague, NEST Theatre will arrive at the AKCENT Festival, where they will perform alongside the CAMPO Theatre Company from Ghent, Home Theatre from Manchester and local companies dedicated to documentary theatre. The premiere of Perché non io? /places NEST in the family of established European theatres.
“Alessandra works in a bar, Domenico grinds car bodies in the family business, Daniela cashes late into the night in a pizzeria, Luigi teaches economics at a high school, Lorenzo plays football for money, Alessandro DJs at a disco. But they long to become professional actors, to write plays, to be poets. They want to make it, they want to be the best, they want to be seen. Nine young performers who have had castings in Sorrentino’s films, roles in Netflix series or an Italian Oscar for a short film. They want to live their big dream. In today’s world, where freedom is being challenged not only by the war in Ukraine, the economic crisis, but also by unstoppable climate change and existential questions such as what our end will look like, they want to be free in their decisions,” Svobodová explains the production.
Perché non io? / Why not me? is, according to the author and director, about the personal power of the individual. All nine actors went through her workshop based on “extreme listening” at the beginning of the work. “It is a method that leads the artists to create independently on the principle of mutual respect. The text was created in the form of conversations. The actors themselves control the lights and sound on stage, they decide when to speak,” Svobodová explains. The stage will feature Italian and Neapolitan dialect, and the audience in Prague will see the performance with Czech and English subtitles.
“Neapolitan society bears clear traces of a centuries-old and multifaceted heritage of theatrical culture in its forms of communication, even in everyday life. It is a treasure trove of experiences that have never been lost and which still provide many of the creative stimuli for which Naples is famous,” says Fabrizio Iurlano, Director of the Italian Cultural Institute in Prague. “A clear proof of this is the work of the NEST theatre, which is aware of the importance and usefulness of theatrical activity in the urban periphery, and in which the Czech director Jana Svobodová found a suitable partner for the residency and performance project Perché non io? / Why not me?, which methodologically belongs to the field of documentary asocial-specific theatre. The project shows in an exemplary way how theatre, on the one hand, offers individuals and society the possibility to “speak” and, on the other hand, is a tool for growth, transformation and emancipation for both sides,” adds Iurlano.
“After a year of Jana Svobodová’s intensive work with NEST Theatre, the Neapolitan ‘volcano’ is coming to Prague. She has energy and humility. The performance Perché non io?/ Why not me? is an example of international dialogue not only from a human point of view, but also from an institutional one. We found understanding and background and we are trying to pass on the same values,” says Petra Březáčková, director of the Czech Centre Rome.
Over the last two years, the regional project Quartieri di Vita has grown into an international festival of social theatre aimed at helping disadvantaged groups in the southern Italian region of Campania. The Rome and Naples cluster of EUNIC brings the best theatre directors in Europe to Campania, and the Czech Centre Rome, on behalf of the European institutes, is the leader of the project and the ideator of its international version. While last year the project was primarily focused on theatre workshops culminating in an open rehearsal, from this year onwards it is starting to focus on the training of professionals in the field (workshops at universities).
The second premiere of Perché non io/Why not me? will take place at Teatro NEST in Naples on 25 November 2022.
This year’s AKCENT takes place under the slogan heaven/hell/paradise, which is an expression of the absurdity of the contemporary world. After two performances of Perché non io? / Why Not I?, on 16 and 17 November, will be followed by the unique first performance of Ukrainian author Anastasia Kosodia’s text, Eight Short Pieces from the Lives of Ukrainians for a Western audience about “ordinary lives” in a bleeding country. Other productions include Zbytečnosti, Kurovets, Out of the Blue, The End. The festival runs until November 27, for more information visit: https://festivalakcent.cz/cz/.