2019 – 2020 THEME: ARCHIVE AND MEMORY Be Festival

Slaughterhouse transformed – Short Theatre Festival Rome

Friday, September 4th, 2015

Preview of Short Theatre Festival in Rome | September 03-13

A former slaughterhouse in the south west inner zone of Rome isn’t an obvious home for a ten day alternative arts festival. But take a quick glance at the programme of the tenth edition of the Short Theatre Festival and it all becomes rather fitting. Any type of venue in the conventional sense would be simply inadequate to house such a startling and ambitious programme of performance. Indeed, any type of strap line description to summarise the huge variety of creation, narration and celebration on offer would be equally misplaced.

The number of people hard at work in the build up to the opening night is mesmerising. Many hands make light work or so the saying goes but the preparation turning the former animal factory in the gentrified district of Testaccio is anything but light. Once past the entrance and immersed into the building, it’s the original features of the slaughterhouse and the hanging implements used by the professional Italian butcher industry up until the decommissioning in1975 that immediately adds a stumble to the step. Pass the main theatres on your left and right hand side, glance through the glass facades and then you find yourself on the main runway where numerous enclaves and shelters set up the imagination for what’s in store over the next ten days.


Looming large are the 25,000 engraved black plastic balls filling up a giant wooden framed pool as part of France Distraction’s latest install. Les Thermes will allow the public to immerse themselves in a philosophical spa of conferences, lectures and debates. Mats Staub’s My Other Life video installation will also run throughout the festival, asking audiences through a recorded interview what they would have been called if they had been born the opposite sex. Staub will then assemble footage into a final edit posing questions about gender roles in modern society.

The bulk of the festival will take place in the main theatres and the outdoor but roofed live music and club space with international theatre, dance and performance art pieces and productions running from early evening into the late hours. There’s much excitement about She She Pop’s adaptation of The Rite of Spring taking place Friday 4th and Saturday 5th. There are four separate performances by the chosen finalists of Italy’s Premio Scenario festival, a multi city Italian festival dedicated to the works of creators under thirty five. Carolie Baglioni, Angela Dematte, Mario De Masi & DispensaBarzotti will all perform twenty minute pieces. Another highlight comes from Canadian/Belgian performer Liz Kinoshita with a musical and dance oriented piece titled VOLCANO inspired by Iceland’s recent volcanic eruption and the shutdown of air traffic reflecting upon our globetrotting lifestyles (12 Sep).

The Short Theatre team have set up this edition with late nights destined for most who attend. The music programme features a mix of live bands from across Europe and Italy with DJs and club nights running till very late and open to everyone with a democratic zero Euro entrance fee.

The festival’s artistic director Fabrizio Arcuri has ushered in a new decade of Short Festival and intriguingly asks us to consider the modern phenomenon of ‘Nosalgia De Futuro’. So throw away any pre-conceptions of a theatre festival, ignore the soundbites, just imagine a mammoth programme of quality art forms with the aim of engaging, entertaining and encouraging audiences to be part of the action. Let the games begin….

Short Festival is part of the IYMA network of festivals and takes place from September 3-13. Tickets are on sale via the festival website.

Full programme calendar (English)


IYMA Website


Written by Duncan Ballantyne, producer at BE FESTIVAL