Bolognaise, beautiful buildings and brilliantly crafted children’s theatre

Bolognaise, beautiful buildings and brilliantly crafted children’s theatre… What better way to spend three bright sunny days in Bologna? The sightseeing and the epicurean experiences were squeezed in the intervals between the productions on show at the international festival of children’s theatre at the Teatro Testini. In two and a half days I was lucky enough to see eleven performances and attend a meeting about the educational poverty of children in Europe presented by Save The Children. Here are my highlights from the performances:
‘Cache Cache’ performed by Theatre De la Guimbarde, Charloi, Belgium

This was one of my favourite shows; a performance that managed, through movement and acrobatics, to convey so vividly the tension and excitement of hide and seek. Will they find us? Are we safe? Performed by Theatre de la Guimbarde from Belgium as part of the ‘Wide Eyes’ project, the engagement between the performers and the audience was tangible.

Ekhaya ‘Home’ performed by Magnet Theatre from Cape Town
‘Ekhaya’ explored children’s relationships with their homes and their ideas of feeling connected with home. As we were in Italy, spaghetti had a cameo role in this performance that was played out to the sounds of live a cappella African rhythms and chants that replayed in my head long after the show had ended.

Just Here By Pillow Fort Productions from Cape Town South Africa.
Created with three to six year olds in mind, using a little magic and imagination this engaging puppet follows their hopes and discovers a world outside. Every parent will be touched by the scene when the pots and pans are used to make music!

‘Escargot’ performed by Teatro del Piccione, Genova, Italy
With her house on her back our snail arrives, unpacks and takes us into her secret world. With beautifully crafted props she follows the swirls of her shell as she produces precious treasures that help her to make her world come alive and tell us of the passing seasons. The year runs past and she gathers her belongings together; putting her home once more on her back she glides gently off for more adventures.

Spurve performed by Teater Fot from Trondheim Norway
I came out of Spurv ‘Sparrow’ enchanted by the performance and with a real desire to programme shows for pre-school children. This delightfully gentle performance was led by the sparrows who, to a live musical accompaniment, spoke to us and each other with harmonica sounds. The children were given egg shaped musical shakers to join in and it ended with the children joining the sparrows for a well-earned rest after their playful day.

Teatro Testini have developed eighteen points they believe to be the Cultural Rights of the Child and had made great efforts to make their amazing venue child friendly. A building, that back in the 1930s was I am told a meeting place for fascists, is now the home of so much fun, laughter and learning through art, music and theatre for young children. A really great place!

A big thank you to  house for supporting this amazing opportunity, especially Nadia for organising the trip and to all the members of the group for sharing their knowledge and practice with me so generously. It was just the best time, Grazie mille. 

Sue Best