This year’s autodramma was the 40th in Monticchiello, the first show having been presented in 1967. Should the Teatro Povero celebrate in some way? Or was the time now coming to bring the whole sequence to an end.
The 2006 show made various oblique references to such questions, with regular obscure echoes of other plays which its audience might remember. But in the end the company chose to mark the occasion by reviewing on stage the life of one of its most admired and effective actors, Elda Carpini Mangiavacchi. In the presentation she was described as ‘a woman who was born into the old sharecropping world, but who lived her life as a potential “peasant” on stage rather than in the fields, experiencing the whole history of the Teatro Povero’.
Elda played herself in later age, and watched episodes from her earlier life enacted by others. Her story was a moving reminder of how Tuscan society had changed over more than half a century, and how the community’s theatre productions have reflected the fact. The climactic scene showed how Monticchiellesi came close to being massacred in 1944; but this, it was then made clear, was a replay of the Teatro Povero’s dramatization of that event— a production which was one of the earliest, and most crucial, in the creation of the autodramma format.