(Article about AstaroTheatro on Amsterdam Alternative)
OMNIA SUNT COMMUNIA
THEATRE & ACTIVISM
Theatre is a language, theatre is expression, theatre is desire for communication.
In Amsterdam many people tend to associate theatre with a box with a label on it: a building where the bourgeoisie celebrates rituals of endless and stiff repetition of classical texts. Others are just satisfied with (stand up) comedies that mainly entertain with jokes often based on sexism or stereotypes.
In general theatre is considered boring, dull, ‘old’. And theatre is more and more an endangered specie. Lots of people never experienced what theatre really is: an art speaking to us ‘live’, touching our fantasy and our soul. The cathartic power of theatre has the property to change our conscience and thus to make us different persons. Theatre is an act of courage, of inspiration, of endless experimentation. So it’s not an exaggeration to say the theatre, the ‘living theatre’ is political. It has an activist value because it will directly or indirectly address society as a political subject. So every attempt to close theatre ‘in a box’ should be looked at with critical eyes.
Theatre must have a critical disposition: “How do you examine yourself, what happens when you begin to call into question your tacit assumptions and unarticulated presuppositions and begin then to become a different kind of person?”
What we try to do in the little space of AstaroTheatro is to keep the true spirit of theatre alive. And we are not satisfied with it. We like to host all (performing) arts. Artist with a message, engaged artists are welcome at AstaroTheatro. And we want to believe in Human Beings. So here comes the story (storytelling?) of our name!
Once upon a time there was a devil. His name is Astaroth. He lived underground in a deep, dark, smoky corner of hell working hard every day to receive and to judge the damned souls of mortals who just died on the earth above. His judgement became orders for the dead: “Go to the bottom of hell!” “Burn there for eternity!” Thousands, millions of souls every day, year after year, century after century, from the beginning till the end of times. Lately Astaroth had to deal with a corrupt man, with an intellectual-chic girl and with a fame-craving poet chanting his verses to the political elite financing him. He had even to judge a poor truck driver dead in a huge road accident and sent to him in hell by mistake. That was too much! Enough! Astaroth had enough of it! He got diabolically angry, his rage and fury exploded and he went on strike. He didn’t want to judge anybody anymore; he didn’t feel like deciding for a soul’s eternal destiny anymore. Justice and judgements are connected to “the absolute contingency of meaning” and this was enough for Astaroth to rethink his role of judge, his role of being. And now it comes: Astaroth decided to put an end to his career as a devil. He just wanted to be a special kind of being: a Human Being. And just like a human being he wanted to sit quietly in the countryside and to enjoy being a man. And there we can still find him, in summer, at dusk, listening to the crickets…
You can find the tale of Astaroth in the homonymous theatre play of the Italian writer Stefano Benni. A group of actors performed this play in Amsterdam several years ago.
From Astaroth comes AstaroTheatro still with the same central idea: to privilege “to be Human” and to think and rethink ourselves, to interrogate ourselves and the word.
AstaroTheatro is an independent, non-mainstream open space for theatre, arts, music, cultures, movies, events, discussions, activism. A place where to meet for real and to share. AstaroTheatro aims at creating community and awareness.
AstaroTheatro is an intimate, free space where actors, musicians and artists are welcome to perform, to play, to give and to receive inspirations. The atmosphere is international: audience and performers are borderless just like the culture we love to experience.