Ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce Riccardo Ventrella, eclectic character of the Florentine culture, histrionic musician and ukulele strummer, music listener in the 90s at the Flog (a popular disco in Florence), semi-pro dj, joyful and cultured college professor, management manager, demiurge, event organizer, and just to name a few.

But here we would like to talk about theatre, the beautiful one, with him who is in charge of special projects and innovation at La Pergola, one of the oldest theatres in Italy. So, it gets really serious and professional.

The theatre as a space is a place of enchantment, it gives “fear and wonder”, that is to say a summary transported on the stage of life and our feelings. Tell us about the theatre location of La Pergola.

The theatre is the place that “in sua movenza è fermo” (in its movement is stopped) and its destiny is the dual nature of being stable, with foundations rooted but with a life shaken from proposals and ideas that give life to it.

Since ancient times it was a meeting place, even before an offer of shows. La Pergola is above all a meeting place, a point of reference for those who live in the city or just pass by. It is not just a building that provides entertainment but it has its own life, twenty four hours a day and a complex history that tell stories in turn; it is a noble place to meet and in this I find a value primarily social.

Of course, a noble place and for meetings, which releases spells able to transform us. But without the people who give life to it, it would make little sense. The people you meet at La Pergola, only they deserve a show.

The people who attend and work at La Pergola are the composite crew of that ship made of the material of the stages, which sails on the open sea, a catalogue of diverse and colourful humanity. Standing at the entrance you can see them all and often I start to welcome the public to observe the drop of the world that goes on the ship. The public contributes to the staging, the theatre boxes are a rep- resentation of the show. Instead, the behind the scenes is a world apart and some nights we should pay for the ticket to be there to listen and talk to the technicians, actors, producers, tailors, make-up artists. Sometimes there are some beautiful dialogues, in which the actors, after the tension of the stage, give the best of them- selves. Recently Gabriele Lavia (a famous actor) recited by heart Vincenzo Monti’s Iliad.

The actor out of the necessary rite, and however, in the role assigned to him every day of his life, reaches peaks of sudden grace. La Pergola also wants to tell those stories that the audience cannot see but that fascinate and stimulate.

Culture or entertainment, where is the boundary?

I state that I am a lover of popular culture often snubbed and this did not allow us to enjoy it to the full, I think of the great value of popular Italian cinema, for example. I can’t define the entertainment and culture is a very broad term. Culture is everything that allows us to grow and in theatre is identified with the professionalism. When there is mastery of the craft, knowledge of the texts, a training course, then you can talk about a theatre level that makes it grow. Then everything is subjective and there are those who are turned over from a text by Natalia Ginzburg rather than from one by Pirandello or Ibsen. I repeat, theatre today especially needs of professionalism and reliability. In recent years, it was decided to put some TV stars without study and training on stage and the result was not the best. Conversely, I have seen actors who have become famous thanks to the wide screen but they have made great efforts and managed to make a beautiful theatre.

Our program this year is full of them, Accorsi, Gassman, Favino, Timi, Gifuni, Servillo; very good actors who are trying to convey something to the public, they struggle, they are not sloppy but inspired on stage and immerse in the text, each in his own way. The theatre can not be a convenient safety valve or an easy attainment of popularity and box office. This is bad theatre and perhaps the definition of entertainment. The beautiful theatre, even the poorest, it is hard work and sweat like life, is the study, but mostly it is to communicate with the public. The theatre must always generate debate and instead this is culture.

This year you have had a good program, so many classics revisited by young actors and I know that is having a good response also among the audience of teens.

The classics are the gateway to understanding the theatre and then maybe dare experimental screenplays. They have in themselves a charm and timeless values that young people recognize and value, and often use it as a refuge. The reputation of the classics is a timeless and touching language, without ever being rhetorical. When the Orlando furioso made its debut at La Pergola, were the days of the tragedy of Lampedusa and in the end there was a scene evocative of the knights dead after the duel and left on the ground. It was suggestive and evocative compared with the dramatic images of the reality and did understand how these texts are able to explain more than anything else, and with force, the life we live. The good theatre well provides tools for understanding what we are and act and young people feel it. We reciprocate by investing so much on their training, with the method Costa, to offer the opportunity to become actors but even before owning instruments of expression and life.