Astràgali Teatro is recognised by the Italian Ministry of Culture as an innovation theatre company. It is member of the Anna Lindh Euro-Mediterranean Foundation for the Dialogue between Cultures. It is Cooperating Member of the International Theatre Institute of UNESCO.
Astràgali was founded in 1981 in Lecce with the purpose to make theatre, to train actors, to give life to a place for currency of confrontation and practices, to elaborate projects, to weave relationships. Today it is active in the field of theatrical production and training, audiovisual and multimedia production.
In 1985 it receives the support of the Ministry of Culture and enters the regional and national theatrical circuits. In the last years it attends to cultural action projects in collaboration with the European Union, Region Apulia, Province of Lecce, University of Lecce, Ministry of Public Education, Teatro Pubblico Pugliese, Local Education Office of Lecce.
A theatrical space, as theatre legends often tell, is above all a sort of station in mainland where many people arrive, where many people leave from, and someone remains.
The first project of Astràgali, realized in 1984, was called Rite Tragedy Rite, and was a circular interrogation about theatre and its practices, that allowed the experience of Sanjukta Panigrahi and Ragunath Panigrahi, Opera dei Pupi of Palermo, L'Avventura équipe of Jerzy Grotowski, theatre scholars from all around the world, theatre critics, observers to arrive in the edge of Apulia, that, as they said, was quite uncomfortable to reach.
Since then Astràgali is above all this. A place of theatrical research, with an original productive side, that, with the arrival in 1992 of Fabio Tolledi, writer, poet, playwright, has been particularly focusing on the side of poetry theatre, a living place in the centre of the town, where experiences, knowledge can be crossed. We love the practice of border, Fabio Tolledi says, the only that can make the many voices of postmodernity speak. And more: Theatre is for us that place where the actor's work can meet the spectator's sight, a practice of knowledge.
A possible place of meeting of thoughts, and, on the theatrical side, the never tired challenge of life in theatre, a challenge that lead Astràgali to visit theatrically, and practically as pioneers, some of the most fascinating or obsolete or forgotten architectonic and natural places in Salento and to open to a syncretic practice of cultural exchanges and crossings, above all with the Mediterranean countries. Astràgali launches the challenge of a new route, where the research rigour is rewarded.
A route that sees Astràgali building, slowly, step by step, a network in the Euro-Mediterranean area, with artists, theatres, researchers, galleries, musicians.
In 1999 Astràgali realizes in Greece a series of activities in the project Popular theatre of research, starting important artistic cooperations.
In 2002 it explores the relationships between theatre and live art performances, the actor's body and the performer's body in the project The Body of Art in the framework of the European Union programme Culture 2000, in collaboration with theatres, universities, museums, galleries from Italy, Greece, Belgium.
In 2003 it follows a route between the cultures that cross the Mediterranean, with partners from Italy, Greece, Cyprus, Spain, in the project Dionysos' traces - the Mediterranean ports. In the framework of the project it realizes the first edition of the Mediterranean Ports Festival and the fourth edition of The Poets' Night.
The performance Antigone- anatomy of love resistance, directed by Fabio Tolledi, comes out of the common work made in this project with artists, musicians, actors. Starting from Sophocles' text, and relating to contemporary texts like Maria Zambrano's The tomb of Antigone, the performance wonders about man's destiny and about the unavoidable possibility of an act of love revolt. The performance was realized, with special staging for each place, in Marina Serra di Tricase (Italy), in the old ports of Zakynthos ( Greece), Limassol (Cyprus).
Astràgali Teatro has been developing for many years a wide-range project: Multimedia Archive of the Mediterranean countries. A project that, once more, moves from the idea of the syncretic coexistence of different traditions, needs, cultures, and from the need of a wider knowledge of Mediterranean cultures.
Some of the most important musicians, sculptors, painters of Salento, Mauro Tre, Guglielmo Scozzi, Antonio De Luca and many others, have been collaborating, and hundreds of young people have attended its seat. Among the performances realized during these years, under the direction of Fabio Tolledi, we can mention: Ali- questo corpo, questo fuoco, La Betissa (from Antonio Verri's poem), "Mistero Buffo (Schizzo Majakowskij), ovvero alcuni appunti ed un album di figurine durante la preparazione di un cibo prelibato, Nos - l'architettura degli amanti,Q - il cantico dei cantici per lingua madre, Le Vie dei Canti, Porca Miseria - le comiche storie del tragico sud. Among the several events we can mention The Poets' Night, Scene del desiderio, Tamburi e coltelli, Le Terre di Mezzo and the two pilot projects on behalf of the Ministry of Welfare and Ministry of Public Education: I giardini delle meraviglie and Progetto in viaggio
Astràgali Teatro experiments the means of audiovisual production in its research work, starting an independent video production structure, realizing videos such as The Body of Art, in collaboration with well-known performers, and Teatro, teatri, saperi teatrali, about the theatrical transmission of knowledge and practices.
In 2005-2006 it promotes the project War theatres - Practices for peace, with the support of EU Culture 2000 programme, involving Italy, Greece, Cyprus, Malta, Turkey, with activities, workshops and site-specific performances in involved countries. A reflection about conflicts in the Mediterranean area, taking as focus Euripides'tragedy The Trojan Women. The performance War Gifts, directed by Fabio Tolledi, was the result of this long, multi-language work in the Mediterranean.
In 2006 it is project leader of Ulysses'routes-for a critique of violence, with the support of the European Union Culture 2000 programme, involving Greece, Cyprus, Malta, Albania, Turkey, wondering once more about violence and conflict in the Mediterranean through the figure of Ulysses, realising several episodes of the Odyssey, as well as Joyce's “Ulysses”, in the involved countries and the final 6 hours multi-language performance Ulysses'gramophone-the wake with Italian, Cypriot, Greek, Maltese, Albanian actors.
In 2006-2007 the theatre work encounters Jordanian and Syrian artists and young people with the project War Gifts, supported by Anna Lindh Euro-Mediterranean Foundation for the Dialogue between Cultures, involving Greece, Syria, Jordan, that brought to the implementation of theatre residences and site-specific performances in Amman and Latakia with Jordanian, Syrian, Greek artists.
It promotes the international project Persae supported by European Cultural Foundation, Province of Lecce, Municipality of Andrano, with the production of the performance Persae, involving Italian, Syrian, Jordanian, Albanian, Cypriot artists, theatres.
It promotes the on-going project Front/frontier-dynamics of the inclusion of the other in theatre, supported by the European Union Culture 2000 programme, involving Italy, Greece, Cyprus, Malta, France, Albania, where the possibility of a multi-language theatre, coming out of the encounter of different languages and experiences, stands against the idea of frontier and separation, as a principle of conflict.