ENCOUNTERS – THE CONCORDIA THEATRE IN MONTE CASTELLO VIBIO : WHEN DREAMS COME TRUE

By Benedetta Tintillini

Brenci

Edoardo Brenci

As in an exclusive lounge. That’s the way Edoardo Brenci, art director of the smallest theater in the world, welcomes the guests before the start of the show.

As in his living room , the host greets the guests, watching the faces and recognizing the regulars from new friends, mostly tourists, curious to know the history and to see and experience this little gem nestled in the green Umbrian countryside.

Monte Castello Vibio, a small town that has preserved its medieval shape, holds within itself a place so special and unique. But is it really the smallest theater in the world? The challenge is open, Edoardo tells me, with the theater of Vetriano near Lucca, which is registered to Guinness, but in this case it is not a space created as a theater, but a nineteenth century building, conceived for other use, then converted to a meeting place in which it was made ​​a theater.

First of all, a brief note on the history of Concordia Theatre (then called ” establishment”). It was founded by 9 upper-class families of Monte Castello in the early 1800s as a private place, which could be accessed only by invitation of the owners.

Only in the 80s of the last century it was expropriated by the City to the heirs, to be eligible for EU funds to restore it. It should be emphasized that the region of Umbria, then, was the first to use those funds for the recovery of historic theaters, and 18 of them were restored.

After about 40 years of total neglect, to be precise since 1951, in 1993 the theater came back to life, that was the realization of the dream of a child, whose portrait can be seen in the only vintage photo of the theater dated 1929: the child’s name was Nello Latini.

That child, who was allowed to enter to watch a puppet show on the day of the Epiphany, fell in love and remained attached to the theater of Concordia until the last day of his life.

75 year old in 1993, in possession of the theater keys, he began to open it to tourists and the curious, and show the theater returned to its former glory, giving way to the activity that is currently the major source of livelihood for the association: the theater guided tours .

He used to make such as theater stamps reducing the image and cutting the borders, and in 2002 , with the approval of the then President Ciampi, the stamp with the effigy of the Concordia Theatre in Monte Castello was issued. Another dream came true.

Thanks to the funds raised from the 5×1000, an exhibition hall on the ground floor entitled to Nello Latini was made, were everyone can see the memories of the theater and some of the 25 binders full of pictures and memories, due to the  passion of Nello in preserving and cataloging all the photos and the testimony of the small Umbrian village to which he devoted all his life .

Another dream yet to be realized, is the cataloging of all this enormous wealth of local history.

But the theater is not finished, other work is in progress thanks to European funding for the centers that support the candidacy of Perugia / Assisi Capitals of Culture 2019.

I could talk about the frescoes made ​​by the Agrettis, father and son (14 years old!), the perfect acoustics thanks to the wood that covers the ceiling of camorcanna with which all the concert halls were made, or the particular atmosphere that you breathe, but I wish that everyone discovers it, lives it, visiting and becoming a friend of the theater and helping it to grow.

Volunteers welcome visitors, and  always with renewed enthusiasm, tell the history, stories and lives, linked to this magical heritage of Montecastello and all of us, but they work with always increasing difficulty, given by the current situation that sees economic activity in the small villages dying, and therefore makes it more difficult the effort to get to be known, appreciated and achieved.

Politics can not constantly delegate their duties to the public spirit of the individuals and the good will of the Associations .

Never as in this heeling moment we need to rediscover our roots and history. Never as in this moment we need aid and mutual cooperation. Never as in this moment we need to dream and pursue our dreams.

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