Who would have imagined that Giacomo Poretti had a theatre in Porta Romana? Its name is the Teatro Oscar. Once it was the parish cinema of the Church of San Pio V e Santa Maria di Calvairate which organised screenings from 1969 onwards for the local area.
Our story begins when the famous actor Giacomo Poretti from the trio of Italian comedians “Aldo Giovanni e Giacomo” was cycling past this little theatre and noticed it was closed. So, he decided to get it running again with his friends and colleagues Gabriele Allevi and Luca Doninelli. Giacomo took on the role as artistic director just before the Covid-19 pandemic and he changed the theatre’s name to “deSidera – Teatro Oscar”.
This new name encapsulates the strategy behind the programme of events as well as the cultural identity of the Oscar: “desiderare” means to desire in Italian and etymologically, it comes from the Latin for “gazing at the stars”. In other words, consulting the heavens and wondering about the sense of things because “in each one of us there is a longing for something that is much bigger than ourselves; we all have a thirst that cannot be quenched”, as the theatre manifesto reads. This is the spirit under which the Oscar operates. It aims to be a place for reflection and a theatre of the soul.
Reflection but also entertainment. The programme of events runs the gamut from classic pieces by Dario Fo to plays by young experimental troupes. The main thing is that the human condition and related affairs take centre stage tempered by a touch of ironic humour.
There is no shortage of ideas about what to put on and one of these is an innovative original format with a local slant called “Versus”. Milan is elusive when you try to define it as a city because “there is one thing, but also a lot of other stuff”. It is a constant melding of opposites. As the Italian architect Stefano Boeri noted, it is a “dual city”.
The Versus series has staged various plays with titles that speak for themselves: “Pirellone vs Torre Velasca” (The Pirelli Tower v. the Velasca Tower), “Risott vs Cazeula” (Risotto v. Cazuela, a traditional stew of pork meat and cabbage), “Gaber vs Jannacci” (Giorgio Gaber and Enzo Jannacci were both singers and actors from Milan), “Inter vs Milan”, (the two football teams from Milan), “Gino Bramieri vs Walter Chiari” (two famous Italian actors), “Dario Fo vs Giovanni Testori” (both famous Italian playwrights and dramatists), “Suburbs v. city centre of Milan”. It was a resounding success and the shows were all sold out.
The Costume Workshop of the Franco Parenti Theatre When you're sitting watching a play at the theatre, you are naturally focused on the gestures and words spoken by the actors, the songs, dances, tragedies and comedies. What you often fail to notice are the details of the costumes and you're also unlikely to wonder who designed them and where.