Living Newspaper in Braidense
A theatrical journey between past, present and future through newspapers and periodicals in the Biblioteca Nazionale Braidense.
The Biblioteca Nazionale Braidense presents a unique initiative, Living Newspaper in Braidense. The project, which will take place during 15 meetings of about two hours each, from November 10 to May 2023, aims to creatively and participatively bring attention back to news and information in our times by engaging young people who are now discovering the importance of the media in contemporary society.
Planned with ABCittà, a social cooperative society, in collaboration with ForMattArt, Living Newspaper in Braidense looks at the theatrical performance as a way of shaping what is expressed by newspapers today with the aim of making people discover the Biblioteca Braidense, which has one of the country’s main collections of periodicals, as a living place, where people read, study and delve into, finding a competent and quality mediation with respect to the great amount of information we have at our disposal, but also giving space to the imagination. Aimed at a group of about 20 girls and boys aged 14 to 18, from various secondary schools in the city, Living newspaper in Braidense will in fact see the young participants called upon to reflect on pressing current issues such as war and the pandemic, starting with the material in the library – newspapers and periodicals, with a few forays into periodicals that have dealt with these issues in the past – and then bringing their reflections to life through a work of dramaturgy and staging.
The project is inspired by the “living newspaper,” a piece of popular theater based on newspaper texts that saw its first such staging in 1923 with the Soviet agitprop theater company known as Blue Blouses, which took its name from the blue workers’ uniforms in which the actors performed.
Indeed, for more than 100 years, the newspaper has been a vital source for the creation of theatrical performances, which in turn provide an opportunity to reflect critically on prejudices, preconceptions, social injustices and current events. The Living Newspaper in Braidense project, which presents itself as an organic intervention of education in the conscious reading of information tools and media, thus has deep roots in agit-prop social, political and theatrical history. But it is also rooted in the history of Brera and in the progressive and innovative values of the Enlightenment, from which it sprang. It is precisely from these values that Brera’s current practice of “visible listening” stems, embodied, for example, in the development of captioning, where oral histories are used to generate explanatory texts; or in the oral histories of today’s and yesterday’s staff, found online, which provide an authentic source for reconstructing Brera’s history.
In a first phase, the children will be accompanied to discover the Library’s spaces and will also be able to visit unusual and not always visible areas. They will then have the opportunity to observe, read and delve into the printed material kept in the Library, especially newspapers and periodicals, in order to identify texts that will allow them to delve into the themes of war and the pandemic, recognize different points of view and develop their critical sense, trying to experience the slow pace of reading and overcoming the immediacy and speed of images. They will be able to reflect on current events and how it has affected their lives in recent years. In a second phase, it will be proposed to them to find and write new words, to reread today’s news and transform it, later, into a theatrical text, in short, to find their own voice among the voices they will have explored so far. The work will be constructed through theatrical improvisations, associations of images and words, stimulating the boys to an active reflection on the proposed themes, in a theatrical game between past, present and future. The children will thus be authors and actors in an interactive and itinerant performance: they will traverse the library spaces creating atmospheres, imagining characters and situations, bringing places to life and fostering relationships.
The contents will also be conveyed through the creation of an audio/video guide that will remain available to schools and the Braidense Library and will allow those who cannot attend the performance live to discover the path imagined by the children.
Every visitor to the Biblioteca Braidense and the Pinacoteca di Brera deserves an extraordinary experience, which we can also achieve thanks to the support of all of you.