Inside Bologna’s Innovative Urban Theater Scene – Alessandro Tampieri

Alessandro Tampieri (UNIBO exchange student at IU in 1995-96) is an actor and director in Bologna. This past summer he directed and performed in SHAKESPEARE IN DEATH – passeggiate shakespeariane in Certosa, supported by Bologna Istituzione Musei. Alessandro realized that theaters in Bologna need to find innovative solutions to spark the public interest and bring people back to the theater. At the same time, the city itself needs to involve the citizens and tourists in the appreciation and conservation of its monuments. Therefore, he came up with the unique idea to unite theatrical performance, monologues taken from Shakespeare’s plays, with an historical landmark, the monumental cemetery of Certosa.

1) You were a philosophy major at UniBo. You changed your mind at IU Bloomington and became a theater major. How did this happen?
I believe that a background in philosophy and literature is the main entrance to performing arts. I actually didn’t discover my passion in Bloomington. Theater was an activity I used to practice in my spare time, for fun. What happened in Bloomington was that I found such a great welcome both on a human and professional side, that I immediately felt to be part of a world and discovered that that world could become my life.

2) What can you tell us about the current situation of theater in Italy?
The first word that comes to my mind is “lack”: of money, of resources, of spaces. Mostly lack of courage. But lack is also a great input for change, particularly in a creative field. New generations are pushing for a renewal and becoming very demanding. So crisis can turn into a positive attitude to react.

3) Could you tell us more about your acting and directing career in Bologna- how has it evolved since graduation?
Once I came back, I graduated, kept training and started acting for theater companies, but this was not enough. So I began to develop my own projects, as an actor but also as a director and curator. The first play I directed was an adaptation of Euripides’ Trojan Women staged after a terroristic attack, the new form of war in our society. I decided to open it on the 10th anniversary of 9/11. It is definitively a theme I would like to go back to again.

4) What ideas do you have for future projects?
Lots of ideas and very different. I am thinking about creating something on opera and food. I am fascinated by the concept of playable cities, urban spaces and non-conventional venues. That’s where the hint about cemeteries came from. The one on Shakespeare now and the one on Dante’s Hell before. A project that I will keep working on until 2020/21 for the important celebration of 700 years since Dante’s death. What an amazing coincidence to find out that BCSP was founded by Professor Musa and his love for Dante.

5) What advice would you like to share with BCSP students interested in pursuing theater?
There is a sentence from a book I’ve been reading that I would like to quote: “the grace to be a beginner is always the best prayer for an artist” (The Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron). It is hard to find a balance between a passion and the daily routine of a job. I don’t know any magic potion or secret key to reach for it, but I find extremely helpful to be curious and open as a beginner. Always looking for something new.