No it is not a musical though it does have music. It’s free on Amazon Prime right now and you know that means it might cost money next week.
I love theatre. I love it because it can be something like this – funny, divisive, created by the many, not just the few, poor, demanding, both hopeless and hopeful.
One of my favorite lines is before they go on stage the director cries, “Into the jaws of the wolf.” The cast responds, “Die Wolf!”
Above -the residents/actors contemplate being trapped by rehearsing and performing their own theatre in Spettacola
I so would go to Tuscany and see their show. As that may not happen, I’m happy to have seen the film. I’ve been to The Edinburg Fringe. I’ve seen Broadway musicals as well as first productions of Angels in America and ‘Night Mother. I can’t complain about opportunities I’ve had. Seeing the Broadway cast of 1776 perform at The New England Theatre Conference in 1977 made my life complete, (at that particular moment).
As I’ve grown older, I am a bigger fan of “Poor theatre” in which the costumes and set, the literary merit of the piece or the trained voice and body are not as much the focus as the immediacy of the performance. To strive not towards perfection but towards presence and connection is difficult in many endeavors yet always worthwhile. I am happy when a director reminds the cast that the show will grow as it is performed with experimentation and the freedom to ferment. The opening night product, polished for the press and potential ticket sales is not what you get the next night. We hope it gets even better by losing it’s polish and becoming more real. What if the play is about the same problem which enraged the community last year and this year just leaves them hopeless? It might not be original enough, happy enough, new enough, to please an audience but it has already helped the community to clarify it’s feelings so that is enough.
Above – The end of the world approaches in Spettacola
I’m drawn to the ephemeral and the mundane joys of life as well. I don’t have to access to the best museums or the finest restaurants. Much of the beauty I have enjoyed has been created by outsiders to the art world. The wilderness or a community garden will attract me more than a formal landscaped lawn. I would rather a painting by one of my talented cousins or friends than one by a person I don’t know. Art is a way to get to know people better and to know ourselves. I think this film shows that.
Then there is the collective nature of the theatre in this film. Such an endeavor is improbable in an individualist nation like America but not impossible. It is however not marketable and thus once again improbable unless a small community with poor internet reception has a go at it. You will note that cell phones and devices appear more often as the film progresses suggesting that the theatre like the village is a remnant of a different era.
But in New York, theatre is a necessary engine of commerce and so it must be electric. It can appear that this theatre of ours is the genius of one writer, director or talent. All theatre people know this is a simplification The United States is often blind to the community behind each breakthrough discovery in art or science because it’s easier to mythologize the “genius” of Trumpian proportions than to admit to the sacrifices of the community. Even in Spettacola, there is an inspired director but he is exhausted and abandoned instead of exalted.
I have often asked my friends what would happen if film and TV stars, professional athletes and such didn’t get paid so much. Would children still act and play sports? Would adults? I would hope so and that we would do more and less than just entertain. We would humanize art and use it as fertilizer instead of frosting. Someone has to plant seeds besides big agriculture and I believe community theatre is like those community gardens that thrive because they are not uniform nor treated with pesticide.
Enough! Watch the movie.