The death of Rino Grappi in 2002 left the Teatro Povero in a state of shock, and it was impossible to write an autodramma for that year without making some explicit reference to his passing. This accentuated an increasing tendency towards collective self-analysis—the company had begun to reflect about its own practices, and about the effect which its obstinate attachment to the past might be having on the wider community.
Such questions were especially relevant because Monticchiello was also inaugurating, after a gestation period of many years, its ‘TEPOTRATOS Museum’: the acronym stands for ‘Traditional Tuscan Popular Theatre’. Not for the first time, the autodramma script asked whether the Teatro Povero was turning the whole village into a kind of museum; but also whether such a very small community could survive in any other form. Some of these questions were posed by enacting a hostile press conference about the museum, its format, and its relationship to theatre activity.
The result was a multi-layered script, in which debates about the danger of being ‘museified’ mingled with wider questions about how (or whether) to build new property in the village and thus open it to newcomers who might be ‘invaders’. (An allusion to the siege of 1553, which had been the subject of the very first autodramma in 1967.) The show ended with a mock battle, with a ballad, and with a suggestion that theatre represented both Monticchiello’s identity and its chances of economic survival.