Clash of Civilizations

What: teaching and directing a workshop with final performance
Original title: Scontro di Civiltà
Original language: Italian
Period: 2011
Where: Reggio Emilia, Italy.
Institutions: Mondinsieme Fondation; Lombardini High School.


The situation of professional schools in Italy is very complex: the worst school facilities contain the most interesting intercultural lab of Italy. Considered as “easy” schools they became the place where migrant boys are often automatically sent. 12 teenagers in their last school year participated in the theatre workshop. Their origins include Morocco, Senegal, Panama, Egypt and Sri Lanka and southern Italy. It was not a coincidence that these ‘new’ Italians were from other parts of the country, internal migrants indeed. The personal stories were quite different: the classic second generation guy, who is Italian but has never visited his parents country and because of his dark skin is targeted by racists jokes; the recently arrived person who has problems with the new language, but an enormous desire to adapt and be accepted by his new country…

The novel on which the workshop was based, “Clash of Civilizations Over an Elevator in Piazza Vittorio” by Amara Lakhous is exactly this: a collection of colourful characters cohabiting in the same building. The workshop participants consumed the text and the humanity of it, seeing their context in his words, which did not sound strange to them. The result was a compelling mix of social satire and murder mystery; a bittersweet comedy. The small culturally mixed community living in an apartment building in the centre of Rome thrown into disarray when one of the neighbours is murdered. The accent was placed on the “many truths” of the plot: the justice inquiry constantly mixed with everyday gossip and social judgment.

“Immigrants over a barrel!!”, this phrase written on the cardboard wall, and a bullying act, opens the show which continues to transform scene after scene. The rough scenery and cage make reference to prison, but also the fear of winding up there unjustly due to prejudice against migrants. Video projections representing the actors in their fictional social environment help the audience to connect the abstraction of theatre with the outside world.

School Festival:
Spring without racism
Reviews: read the article here

  • scontro-locandina
  • Italy 2011.
  • Italy 2011.
  • Italy 2011.

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