Si presentano in questo fascicolo alcuni esiti di una ricerca condotta negli ultimi due anni nellâambito del progettoÂ "Il patrimonio teatrale come bene culturale": lâArchivio Storico del Piccolo Teatro di Milano, avviato grazie alla comune volontÃ dellâUniversitÃ Cattolica e del Piccolo Teatro di stabilire sempre piÃ¹ serrati e organici rapporti tra istituzioni che operano nei settori della cultura teatrale, anche al fine di coniugare teoria e prassi nellâambito dei corsi di laurea e dei percorsi curricolari in discipline dello spettacolo e favorire la formazione di profili professionalizzanti.
The article offers a contribution to the history of the foundation of the Piccolo Teatro, starting from the documents
(many of which still unpublished) kept at the Historical Archive of the theatre.
Various aspects, organizational, cultural, even political, characterizing the origins of the first Italian stable
theatre are taken into consideration.
A particular attention is dedicated to Mario Apollonio, among the founders of the Piccolo Teatro, often
forgotten in the previous historiographic reconstructions.
The contribution proposes itself as a first (and obviously partial) recognition of the issues related to the
foundation of the Piccolo Teatro. It is seen as part of a long process, the result of which is the raise of consciousness
of the necessity of a new theatre culture, though situated (and partly justified) within preexisting
structures. The objective is meant to give some notes aimed at the beginning of a wider research with the
ambitious and difficult objective to briefly reconstruct the history of a complicated institutional path, aimed
at bringing new dignity to the work of theatre in Italy, and underlining not only the discontinuities with what
happened before, but also the persistencies and continuities.
During the Season 1953/1954, the first show for children and young people was staged at the Piccolo Teatro
of Milan: it was an adaptation of Il corvo by Carlo Gozzi, directed by Giorgio Strehler.
During the following Season, another show for children was staged and broadcasted on RAI television:
Qui comincia la sventura del signor Bonaventura, by Sergio Tofano. The direction was entrusted to Checco
Rissone. It was one of the six comedies with which Tofano, one of the best-known theatre authors for children,
brings on stage the famous protagonist of the comics he used to draw for the Â«Corriere dei PiccoliÂ».
The main objective of the two shows was to initiate children and young people in the experience of
theatre: young people are the audience of future and the management of the Piccolo Teatro believed it was
very important to let them approach the art of the stage since their infancy. For this reason, the two shows
represented a change if compared with the widest part of the theatre production for children up to that
moment: they do not have, in fact, a pedagogic aim from the point of view of contents; they do not aim at
morally edifying their audience. Their aim is to contribute to the creation, through a show of high artistic
level, of taste and sensibility in the young spectators.
In 1957, the Ente Autonomo Piccolo Teatro was founded, ten years after the foundation of the theatre in
Milan, and it started a new phase in its life. In the following years, until 1960, Paolo Grassi and Giorgio
Strehler were busy in the hypothesis and drafting of a bill for the theatre of prose. Many protagonists of the
world of theatre were involved in the debate: critics, directors, actors, all committed in re-thinking the Italian
theatre horizon as included, at last, in a precise regulation. So, in 1959, the newly formed Ministero del
Turismo e Spettacolo summoned an appropriate commission to discuss a bill regulating censorship, funding,
and interventions of the Government in the production of the theatre, and in the choice of the repertoire. The
aim of this study is to reenact the debates of those years through the relationships between Paolo Grassi and
the other protagonists of the world of theatre, all involved in a new project. In this context Eduardo De Filippo
and Vittorio Gassman emerged as constant interlocutors of the Piccolo Teatro, in a dense network of reciprocal
artistic exchanges, common projects, co-produced shows, shared or discussed ideas.
This article reconstructs, through the documents filed in the Historical Archive of the Piccolo Teatro, the controversy
which involved the theatrical institution during the staging of Vita di Galileo in april 1963. Part of the
catholic world of Milan considered the performance offensive for the religious sensibility and judged the artistic
and cultural orientation of the Piccolo Teatro as unsuitable to its role of public service. Criticisms and pressures
pushed Grassi and Strehler to introduce some modifications in the most discussed scenes of the show and
in the program of 1962/1963 Season. The idea that a theatre managed by the public administration should
respect a cultural pluralism seems, in the context of the debate, to stand against the principle of autonomy of
the artistic expression. The conflict between opposed opinions shows the difficulty in balancing pluralism and
autonomy in a model in which the role of the public theatre is entrusted, in the city, to a single theatre body.
APPENDICE DOCUMENTARIA LETTERE DALL'ARCHIVIO STORICO DEL PICCOLO TEATRO