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A Theatre Of/For Europe : Giorgio Strehler and the Dream of a United Continent

Laera, Margherita (2017) A Theatre Of/For Europe : Giorgio Strehler and the Dream of a United Continent. In: Finburgh, Clare and Boenisch, Peter M and Shepherd, Simon, eds. Great Stage Directors, vol. 6: Littlewood, Planchon, Strehler. Bloomsbury Methuen Drama. (KAR id:58080)

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This essay examines the controversial legacy of the Italian theatre-maker Giorgio Strehler as a director, artistic director, ideologue and politician from the 1940s – when he founded the Piccolo Teatro in Milan – to his untimely death in 1997. The study will focus not so much on Strehler’s aesthetics but on his ideas and political engagement, his conception of theatre as a primary agent of social change, and his efforts to put into practice his dream of a unified Europe based not only on free markets and consumerism, but on what he called, not without a touch of essentialism, a ‘common humanity’ and shared cultural heritage. In this essay I reassess Strehler’s ‘humanist-socialist’ project for the future of the Old Continent, from the first phase (1940–1979) in which he enacted the ‘Europeanisation’ of Italian theatre, to the second phase (1980–1997) in which he aimed to ‘transnationalise’ the European theatre system through the direction of the Odéon – Théâtre de l’Europe in Paris, the establishment of the Union des Théâtres de l’Europe, and his election as MEP in 1982.

It is ironic and somewhat uncomfortable to be researching Strehler’s dream of a United Europe today, but it is also particularly timely and important in the context of post-Brexit Britain. How can we read the EU referendum vote in the light of Strehler’s vision of the future of Europe as the first European Parliament was inaugurated in 1979? And what does Strehler’s legacy mean for Europeans today, as the EU project appears to have been taken over by ‘anti-humanist’ and ‘anti-socialist’ forces?

Item Type: Book section
Uncontrolled keywords: Europe, Theatre, Politics, Ideology, Theatre Director, Theatre History, Giorgio Strehler, European Unification.
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PC Romance philology and languages
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN80 Criticism
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN1600 Drama
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN2000 Dramatic representation. The theatre
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Arts and Humanities > School of Arts
Depositing User: Margherita Laera
Date Deposited: 25 Oct 2016 10:37 UTC
Last Modified: 08 Dec 2022 20:55 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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