Hamlet of Torrechiara (Parma)
and public squares can be the best possible backdrop for theatrical
events, even better when they belong to a small, stone built hamlet
at the foot of the Appennine Mountains near Parma, namely Torrechiara,
with its marvellous 15th Century castle,
one of the most beautiful in Italy. On the first Sunday in September
every year we organise the Feast of Fools here, when hundreds of people
gather round to applaud tightrope walkers, puppeteers, musicians,
jugglers, fire-eaters, stilt-walkers and crazy inventors.
Apart from being increasingly successful with the public, we derive
the most satisfaction from the way many performers and street entertainers
just arrive at the event without the organisers having to contact
them and promise them a fee. The feast’s reputation and atmosphere
draws them in, like a magnet, just as it did five or six centuries
Although it takes place in an ancient setting, we are not trying to
re-evoke history or to jump on the fashionable medieval bandwagon.
Instead, perhaps the main reason for the feast’s success is the spontaneity,
the energy and the joy of mutually beneficial contact of performers
with the public. It’s fun – so join us!
OF FOOLS 2003
CHRONICLE FROM THE ABBEY MONASTERY OF TORRECHIARA,
ANNO DOMINI 2003
On the 7th day of September 2003 up in the village some
wondrous marvels took place. A great multitude of folk gathered in
the early afternoon lining the narrow alleyways in a state of anticipation.
The first to appear was Antonello Pinto, clown, mime and storyteller
(he tells the tale of growing up in the Colombaioni family’s school,
celebrated by Federico Fellini in “The Clowns”). The children began
to squeal with delight – and they didn’t stop.
They didn’t stop, however they were distracted by a call – loud
and clear. The Pied Piper of Hamelin? No, Santi’ Cangelosi
of Palermo, improviser and tumbler, metropolitan clown and entertainer.
He turned the public into performers.
And while many many people climbed to the Castle Dante Cigarini,
puppeteer and teller of fables amused the fortunate passers by with
his spectacle of marionettes and animated puppets entitled “Pinocchio
Pidocchio” (which means Pinocchio the Upstart – which of course he
There simply wasn’t time to stop laughing. Gunther Rieber,
acrobat and juggler, played with fire: the devil’s bastions, the torches,
the balancing board on the cylinder and a pyrotechnical finale on
a monocycle with its wheel on fire entertained even the fire-fighters.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the village, a strange juggler called
Cutlet, undoubtedly fallen to Earth from another planet, brought
with him a suitcase crammed full of enchanting marvels; he was funny
and colourful, with his head in the clouds and poetry in his heart.
The music, the music! someone shouted. From New Fantasy Orleans
Golliwog Brass had arrived up there. With their brass instruments
they played Dixieland using the streets as their stage. As people
departed the music accompanied them all the way down the hill, right
to the bottom where the music changed. There they found a stage on
which Rockfella were performing. There were others too but
their names were drowned out by the massive applause.
Translation by Sarah J Hyde -
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