Knackered old theatres lying dilapidated in a pile of their own rubble are sadly nothing new – if anything they are growing in number. It’s tough times for fading stage stars, but it’s not all doom and gloom though; even when things get really bad the theatre can become both stage and set for a different kind of performance, at least they can when the likes of photographer Alessandro Rizzi get involved.
In his photographic series Theater Translation – which can be seen at the Synagogue of Reggio Emilia until 16th June, as part of the Duygu Demir curated Fotografia Europea 2013 – Rizzi looks at the Teatro Sociale di Gualtieri, in Italy’s Reggio Emilia, presenting the venue not as a historical study but as a documentary exercise. Subsequently restored to one version of its former glory by a restoration group, the Italian theatre was in a pretty sorry state when Rizzi arrived. Intrigued by what he saw, the photographer takes us behind the scenes, up into the Gods, and behind the peeling paint even, each frame of the collection dramatically lit and filled with features from different eras that tell their own small part of the building’s story. It’s good to see the venue back on form, but equally fascinating to see it as it was – the life of a theatre, captured in stills but so full of change.