ANFFAS Theatre Group Steals the Show at Effetto Venezia

ANFFAS Theatre Group on Stage with Bobo Rondelli at Effetto Venezia ANFFAS Theatre Group on Stage with Bobo Rondelli at Effetto Venezia 8-8-2008 The stage set below the walls of the Fortezza Nuova  - La Punta dei Popoli - must be the most spectacular venue at this year’s Effetto Venezia. The crumbling brick ramparts are strikingly lit by verticle strings of white lights, and in the background the shadowy forms of the buildings along the Scali delle Cantine, and the bright Piazza della Repubblica are seen from an angle rarely glimpsed at other times of the year. It makes you feel as if you’re in another city.

As I crawled around Piazza della Repubblica in my car searching for an elusive parking space, I could already see a good crowd forming around the stage. Four names stood out on the programme for this concert entitled Io Clown Te Down  – Bobo Rondelli and his band the Ottavo Padiglione, Lamberto Giannini (well-known relationship expert and teacher), and film director Paolo Virzì (filming for a feature about Rondelli) – it could not fail to be a success. 

And a success it certainly was. But it was the 40 members of the ANFFAS theatre group, including 20 actors with Downs syndrome and mental disabilities, who stole the show.  Helped along by Bobo’s charisma and Giannini’s energy and gentle encouragement, as well as by choreographers Azzurra Ruggeri and Silica Vicidomini, the performers encaptured the audience with their entirely natural enthusiasm and energy as they delivered an extraordinarily moving and exhilarating show.

Delirious dances and chants, carefully choreographed stage movements were enacted without a hitch, despite the nearly 50 people on stage. Bobo, standing out from the others in his white vest , was his usual, irreverent self, performing some of his best known songs (‘Ho Battuto la Testa’ the most memorable), as well as several written for the show, and creating an atmosphere of  cooperation and trust between himself and his co-performers.

Apart from being a totally enjoyable experience, the show contained lots of messages. Above all it was, I think, a lesson in collaboration, in being yourself and accepting everyone else for what they are. 
The show deserves to be seen again, and again. BIS!!! I’ll be in the front row next time.