Theatre and volunteering

When you go to volunteer, you really do not help the others: you help yourself.

Today I want to tell you two stories, which demonstrate how you can help even in your little town.

The first story is mine, this summer I had a peculiar experience in Campo Fiorito, a small town in the center of Sicily.

This town is special, in fact, it has a community of young, powerful and happy guys with Down syndrome. Campo Fiorito is completely built to be lived by these guys, who are in the DNA of the community, which learned how think in a different way, concretely changing the infrastructures to make the guys part of the town’s life.

My experience in such a town was combined with my great passion: the theatre, which is a good way to grow up, to help the others in challenging themselves and to make someone part of something.

First, me and my theatre company took the cars and drove for four hours in the middle of Sicily, then we arrived in this very small town and we were welcomed by the leader of the group, who use to go everywhere with his bike and is in charge of the bnb, where we lived.

We spent the next two days, doing hard rehearsals of a drama constructed for such a strong group of guys, who were never tired. But also, the families and friends of them really wanted to be included in our show, demonstrating how they were a committed community.

The play that we prepared was successful, the guys were very happy and good in acting; but they were not those who learned the most by this experience: we were that ones. In our society, we use to think in a binary way, or 0 or 1, but by helping such special guys you can learn how to think in between 0 and 1, in such enormous mixture of emotion and rationality.

The other story talks about Francesco Zollo, Students for Humanity’s active member, who two years ago got in touch with “La Compagnia della Fortezza”, a theatre company active in Volterra’s prison. From that moment, Francesco has spent his summers working in the prison, starting from the early morning and finishing in the evening. The aim of this company is not just to create a stage show, but to define a path, which may give another possibility for people in prison than just spending time there, by pushing the prisoner reflecting and concretely acting.

It has been thirty years since the company started to work in prison, being one of the first in Italy. One peculiarity, which Francesco underlined, was the approach to the theater activity of the director, Armando Punzo, who works all year in the prison and treats the guys as normal actors, that need to work hard to go on stage. In fact, the theater is like a balance, all those who approach it are the same, only following a way full of reflection and training you can be better and better; this may not be helpful in certain case, but of course it gives people another perspective, which is broader in our human beings.

Francesco speaking about his experience, told me “In the company, I am working as a photo and video reporter. When I come back home, I use to choose an afternoon to visit the prison, a place where you can reflect and discover yourself. There, I find young guys who think on their condition and on the world; it is something that in some way we do as well, facing our “prisons” inside us”.

“La Compagnia della Fortezza” will be in Milano on February and this is a great opportunity for us, as students, to discover such an impressive reality.

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