Mercantia - Festival internazionale del Quarto teatro

Mercantia 2019 - La Santa Allegria

"… and we must do our best to grow great trees of peace and gardens of happiness."Daisaku Ikeda

Things of beauty come to be when black meets white, good meets evil and day meets night. This is also how dawn and sunset come to be.

Il Quarto teatro
come un aratro
smuove la terra
il pubblico afferra
scuote il suo cuore
tristezza muore.
Con poche parole
racconta le fole
vicino e lontano
ti tiene per mano
in teatro o in strada
impugna la spada
della giustizia
perfetta letizia!

Sacred Joy, the title of the 2019 artistic concept. It may seem a paradox, an oxymoron, an odd couple, but in popular tradition, these two oppositeshave always borne fruit together. For example, feasts of patron saints, with their torches, processions, fireworks and shows in the streets and squares. The film “La Strada” by Federico Fellini encapsulates our artistic concept perfectly. As an anecdote, I remember when “Otto e Barnelli”, a company that has long worked with Mercantia, was invited to the town of Policoro every year, to perform during the feast of Santa Maria del Carmine. I wish to pay tribute to B. Barnelli, awarded the Golden Nail at Mercantia, for his human and artistic values!

Happiness is the right of every one of us, not the privilege of a few. Buddhism has taught me this, but so has St Francis, God’s Jester and his idea of poverty and perfect gladness. I find myself agreeing with him. When we are unhappy, we are more servile and malleable to power. Not by chance at the French student protests in May 1968 or the Indiani Metropolitani protests in Italy in 1977, a slogan went: “The imagination will destroy power and a laugh will be the end of you”!

Symbolically, I would like to meet at Mercantia all the great comics, jesters and drolls of our history and culture, that icon of smiles, in a mocking, graphic game, placed on the walls...
Other installations in the town will delight us with lights, great works by contemporary artists, the play of mirrors, shells, together with the imposing flower of Udumbara on the Boccaccio Tower; showers of petals, soap bubbles, dancing spheres... Other installations will artistically brighten the magical nights of Mercantia! Angels will wander with devils like two sweethearts, new clowns and wondrous shows will act as a conduit for your meditated joy.

The town's attention and their warm welcome has led us to support the repurposing of certain spaces and the opening up of others. This is also the case beyond the town walls, in the courtyardof the Palazzo Stiozzi-Ridolfi and in ten secret gardens. The handicrafts market will play its part too, with its understanding of renewal, offering new charms.

The street festival along Via Boccaccio and elsewhere in the town will be even more intense and animated this year, with our usual and new (wonderful) bands, parades with stilts, masks, fire and even “The Procession of the Revellers!", almost a small romantic reminder of the great street parades, in honour of Beppe Chiodo...
The festival is also a “Circus of Food and Drink”. Victuals have always been the star of the show since ancient times, in rites and feasts, the sacred and the joyful!

Mercantia is a laid table; it is warm bread straight out of the oven. It is the Carnival of the soul, a glance heavenwards, the joyous twinkle of the tranquil city of light...

It is said that, at its roots, in the ancient history of the theatre, it all began with sacred performances or rites related to time and the seasons. Later, via a long path and many adjustments, it passed through the decadence of the bourgeois theatre, resulting in today's contemporary theatre and all its varied expressions and representations.
“Sacred Joy” recalls the theme of sanctity, of what unites, what links people to heaven, to other people and to life in all its many facets.
Let's now see the funny side. This unites us too and makes us human. Becoming a laughing clown and making people laugh forms a small part of our mission. The European Union has been kind enough to fund the Mysteries and Drolls project, led by Mercantia and involving other international festivals and production centres. This year's festival will host shows produced by our European partners, sacred spectacles and clown antics. Together with a showcase of artists from many countries, we are also hosting dozens of organisers from other Italian and European festivals.

As always, you can find almost anything at Mercantia: comedy and drama, on stage or in gardens, aerial structures, circus shows, puppetry, lots of great music, street parades, figures and features. Our programme sections also have new names: Focus, Babel, Special Project, Family Theatre. Crafts, exhibitions, the handicrafts market, installations, pavement artists and a whole colourful maelstrom of whimsical, original performers, altogether to attempt to surpass unhappiness. The austere halls of the Palazzo Pretorio will also host La Gioconda (“the cheerful lady”). The cheerful can always find themselves at home at Mercantia. Those who are not cheerful, come to our festival for a little joy!
In a world with too many walls and too many borders, in a world that divides good and bad, poor and rich, that isolates us in our ego, that drags us through categories and fundamentalism, cultural miscegenation is valued, as is the mixing of genres and artistic and cultural styles, because the truth is sacred and joyful!

artistic concept by Alessandro Gigli