Though most people can easily name Florence’s famous large theatres, the area is even richer in smaller houses—true theatrical workshops that offer ample opportunities to see different types of performances and companies, often for lower admission prices and reasonable subscription packages. Six such local theatres are the Metastasio, Puccini, Cestello, Rifredi, and the Cantiere Florida.
This season of the Metastasio Theatre in Prato the footlights shine on important names and titles: La sirena by Tomasi di Lampedusa, interpreted by Luca Zingaretti; Tre sorelle by Chekov; Pier Paolo Pasolini’s masterpiece Le ceneri di Gramsci; Questo buio feroce taken from Brodkey’s autobiography; Angels in America by Tony Kushner. These productions are important explorations the modern era.
Last year, Florence’s Puccini theatre was the tenth-most-profitable mid-sized theatre in Italy, with more than 43,000 guests. This season’s offerings are characterized by the phrases ‘satirical theatre’ and ‘fusion of theatrical genres’. New and challenging, these productions feature strong playwrights and artists like Geppi Cucciari and Daniele Luttazzi, who extend the Italian comedic tradition.
Performances like Prima pagina, interpreted by Gian Marco Tognazzi, La fine è il mio inizio by Tiziano Terzani, Il deserto dei tartari, based on the book by Dino Buzzati, make an engaging and substantial program.
Wooden chairs and red curtains: welcome to the Cestello theatre. Situated in the adorable Cestello square and managed by the Youth Circle, this simple environment is home to the genuine theatrical Florentine heritage: the plays are recited in dialect. New on stage this season are productions by a Florentine company, the Florence International Theatre Company. With its mix of English-speaking and Italian actors working in their native tongues, the company’s performances are subtitled in Italian.
Under the artistic direction of the theatrical company Pupi and Fresedde since 1986, the Rifredi theatre is a small jewel on the outskirts of Florence. The hall and the stage are modest, but seeing one of the many performances planned for this year promises to be a moving experience. The simplicity of the house and the proximity of the actors are key ingredients that will surprise and engage audiences. Until January 27, the theatre presents L’ultimo harem, based on a story from Le mille e una notte. Next on stage is Il diario di Adamo ed Eva, with Lucia Poli; Iliade inspired by Homer’s epic poem; Nel mezzo del cammin, a mixture of verses of the immortal Dante and contemporary images; and, finally Tutta colpa degli uomini, a comic tragedy.
As soon as one walks through the doors of the Cantiere Florida theatre, one notices the traditional stage and seats. They are the remains of its previous life (the building previously housed a cinema), but what is onstage is hardly tradition-bound. In 2002, it became the home of Elsinor, an innovative centre and the first inter-Italy production and programming theatre. This year the program at the Cantiere Florida is quite limited, but it is worth knowing about this new, experimental environment.
This season the calendar includes Erodiade, by Testori; Fuoco, luce angeli, la Commedia di Dante, by Elsinor Company, which gives life to the visual imagery of Dante’s masterpiece; Hospitality suite by Roger Rueff, one of the most important contemporary writers; and Finale di partita, by Samuel Beckett, one of the fundamental pieces of the Teatro dell’assurdo.
METASTASIO – www.metastasio.net
via Cairoli 59, Prato – Tel. 0574.6084
Buy tickets at the theatre: (Tuesday through Saturday 9.30 to 12.30/16 to19) or at the box office(via Alamanni 39, Monday 15.30 to19.30/Tuesday through Saturday 10 to19.30)
Getting there: take a regional train from the Santa Maria Novella station to Prato Porta al Serraglio, or take a CAP bus from Florence to downtown Prato.
PUCCINI – www.teatropuccini.it
via delle Cascine 41, Tel. 055.362067
Buy tickets at the theatre (Friday and Saturday 15.30 to19/Saturday 10 to13/15.30 to19) or at the box office
Getting there: take ATAF line 17
CANTIERE FLORIDA – www.elsinor.net
via Pisana 111r, 055/7135357
Buy tickets at the theatre or box office
Getting there: take ATAF line 6
CESTELLO – www.teatrodicestello.it
Piazza di Cestello 4, 055/294609
Buy tickets at the theatre one hour before the show; reserve tickets by calling the theatre.
Getting there: take ATAF lines 6, 11, 36, 37, or D
RIFREDI – www.toscanateatro.it
via Vittorio Emanuele 303, 055/4220361/2
Buy tickets at the theatre (Moday through Saturday, 16 to19) or at the box office
Getting there: take ATAF lines 8, 14, 20, or28; take regional train to the Rifredi station (it is a short walk to the theatre)