Hot Docs 2017: Spettacolo Review

World Showcase

Spettacolo, roughly translated from the Italian, means to “put on a show.” This film documents the efforts of the citizens of Monticchiello, a village in Tuscany, to put on a yearly play with all townspeople involved. Watching the villagers work together to achieve a common artistic vision was inspiring; however, the climax was a bit rushed as we do not get to see enough of the play itself to warrant the journey of getting to opening night with the villagers.

Working with the concept of ‘autotheatre,’ the villagers find it cathartic to represent themselves to themselves, this has been a local yearly tradition since the 60s. In fact, the movie depicts the passing of an illustrious and gregarious founder of the theatre tradition, Aldo, who had Alzheimer’s, yet was still involved in village life. His passing only reminds the survivors that the elders are slowly dying off, and with an economic crisis currently overtaking Italy and the youth migrating elsewhere for employment, the theatre tradition is at risk of being discontinued.

In a village of 136 inhabitants, it is safe to say that everyone knows everyone. Factions and conflict only begin to appear towards the end of the film when it is found that the villagers cannot see eye to eye on a divisive community issue around housing. In a conversation between the director of the play and a youth, you can see the nervousness and agitation on the elder’s face and the courage needed by the boy to state out loud that soccer commitments would prevent him from taking part in the play this year. The director is struggling to find enough people to participate in the play and is considering retirement from the theatre. A village’s traditions and way of life is at risk.


This is why it is somewhat disappointing we do not get to see the end result of the collaborative effort of many of the villagers. We get a brief glimpse and then the final scene plays. What economic issues does the play hint at? Who is the star? How do the players feel? No debrief is given afterwards, which seems like a missed opportunity and a disservice to the villagers to not have their final product memorialized (such as La Chanas final performance).


Tue, May 2, 12:30 PM Scotiabank Theatre 4

Sat, May 6, 12:45 PM Scotiabank Theatre 13


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