postscript Casaprota

The evening of the launch of L’incontro and the following day, there were some wonderful responses. Perhaps my favourite came from a woman who told me that the characters were not just Italian, but “from here!” (Perhaps I’ve spent enough time in Italy now to have captured certain Italian characteristics?) Someone else described the event as “not just a beautiful story, but a beautiful experience”; and the Mayor, Marcello, promised me that if I came back and did another one, he would organise Italian citizenship for me…

But I left Casaprota for Venice two days after the presentation, so I did not witness any individual Casaprotani ‘walking the story”. I harboured the idea of people “walking the story” in groups and making it more of an oral tale, but I now think that a reading by actors achieved more; it was not just an oral story, but also a community event. I hope future projects like this one will have a similar community presentation.

I originally intended the story to be in place for two weeks, but at the suggestion of Renato, we decided just to leave it there and see what happened. It stayed up for almost three months, and in that time, locals and tourists alike “walked the story”, and as a result, some of the characters from the story have now been absorbed into the locals’ sense of their town, while tourists from Rome — there are many during the hottest part of summer — discovered parts of the town they would rarely go.

Towards the end of my time in Casaprota, I agreed to publish the text with an English translation after returning to Australia. It has taken an inordinate amount of time, while many unrelated issues intervened, but L’incontro (The Encounter) is now ‘printed matter’. I wanted a book that had the feel of an object, that when you held it you felt that you were holding something precious. There is more than a little influence of Bruno Munari on the design of the book. The English translation was difficult, it seemed bizarre to be translating my own work into my native language, and I have to say, my Italian original is somewhat better than my English translation! Had I written the story in English originally, it would have had a different rhythm.

As the book was put to press, (and the bookbinder, Martin, went off on holidays), the Casaprota project took another fascinating turn. Through a wonderful chance encounter during my stay in Venice this year, I was invited to submit a proposal for next year’s Architecture Biennale. Okay, I know that writing is not architecture, I know the Architecture Biennale is not a place of pilgrimage for writers… but the relationship between the two is at the heart of the Casaprota project: the physicality of place (the built environment) and the telling of stories that give meaning to place.

I had been intrigued by one of the exhibits in the 2014 Architecture Biennale, Luka Skansi’s The Remnants of a Miracle (I resti di un miracolo), which I have written about under Art-Architecture. I feel strongly that we need to find some path to re-thinking our relationship to buildings (such as these) and to the built environment generally, and that it is not something for architects as professionals specifically to do, it is for those who occupy, who live in, who live with built environments, those for whom a specific built environment is a central part of their everyday life. Could we change the way we see built environments, I now wondered, by writing stories about them?

The resultant project ‘Building Stories’ has been accepted into the ‘Time-Space-Existence’ exhibition in the European Cultural Centre at the 2018 Venice Biennale. I have in mind a particular space in the Palazzo Moro in which to place a bespoke object, that is literary in form and architectural in construction. The project may not go ahead, though, unless certain funding issues can be satisfactorily resolved. As I write, we are still in negotiation, so I remain hopeful. The proposal is documented below.

Building Stories:
Re-imagining our relationships with the built environment

Time-Space-Existence: a proposal for the 16th International Architecture Biennale 2018

Architecture is more than design, more than building, more than the enclosure of space; it is also the stage on which life’s stories play. 

BUILDING STORIES is based on the proposition that we can utilise place-centred fiction to find new ways of engaging with buildings, new ways of configuring our relationships with diverse built environments. Through these imagined stories we are reminded of the centrality of architecture in our lives, we see afresh the potential of buildings beyond their – sometimes exhausted – historical or utilitarian existence.

BUILDING STORIES reports on a recent project of place-centred fiction in a small Italian town, and suggests the potential for re-imagining our engagement with diverse built environments, including the urban and industrial. Here, reference can be made to Luke Skansi’s The Remnants of a Miracle from Monditalia at the 2014 Architecture Biennale.

The project, L’incontro: a ‘story for walking’, took place over a period of four months (late April – late August 2017) in the central Italian town of Casaprota (RI), under the auspices of l’Associazione Culturale SabinARTi. The aim was to foster a re-imagining of relationships to the town by combining two ways we come to know place: the spatial experience of place and the telling of stories that give meaning to place.

I selected certain sites of actual or imagined significance in the town and constructed a fictional historical narrative which responded to these sites. The story was installed on panels, each section at its corresponding site, so the narrative lead the reader on a journey of encounter: laneway, courtyard, archway, balcony, stone stairway, piazza, abandoned church. ‘Walking the story’ became an opportunity for renewed spatial exploration through an imagined cultural layer.

The community enthusiastically engaged with the project. For the launch, two local drummers lead the audience on their journey through the town, while local actors read the story to them. During the three months in which the panels remained in place, many ‘walked the story’ individually. Characters from the story became absorbed into their relationship with certain sites: the one-armed Capitano Bassetti with the Palazzo del Gatto, for example; the would-be lovers, Alice and Mario, with the narrow vicoli of the medieval borgo. For the August holiday-makers from Rome, ‘walking the story’ meant engaging with town sites they would rarely visit.

L’incontro has now been published, (with a translation in English), as a pocket guide to walking the story.

The BUILDING STORIES exhibit will present the project in Casaprota and suggest the potential of this idea for re-imagining relationships with more challenging built environments.

©2017 Linzi Murrie


#20 sabato sera: il giro, il racconto

qualche consiglio all’ultimo momento…

Antonio Andronico comincia il racconto…

i tamburini guidano la folla…

il Palazzo del Gatto…
Antonio Mercadante nel giardino del palazzo…

le ragazze sono sempre in prima fila…

entriamo il centro storico…Antonio Mercadante sul balcone…il porcile abbandonato…Dopo la presentazione, ringraziamenti, poi pasta, grazie Emanuele e Pro Loco Casaprota, e vino, grazie Marcello e il Comune di Casaprota.

Fotos: Susanna Emili (Grazie mille, Susanna!). Susanna ha caricato bellissimi foto della lettura di «L’incontro» sabato sera sul Facebook sito:

#19 installazione

I confess to considerable anxiety during this process, especially how the frames for the panels would be attached to these (mostly) medieval walls in the centro storico. Renato, being an architect, suffered no such anxiety!

Renato, Sergio e io nel centro storico, dove Mario trova Alice…

Via Circonvallazione…

davanti Palazzo del Gatto…

…l’ultimo posto davanti la Chiesa dei Santi Domenico and Michele.

#18 presentation

My original idea for reading this story was quite modest. I assumed people would read the story on their own as part of a deliberate journey, or perhaps as a journey that they undertook over several days. I liked the idea that people might read in groups, taking it in turns to read it out aloud to the others, in the way of storytelling of oral stories.

It was this aspect that was picked up by Susanna and Renato and by other people in the town. Here was a certain theatricality possible, and so the idea of a launch of the project with a public reading, in this case by professional actors, perhaps with some musical accompaniment, took hold.

The Mayor, Marcello Ratini, suggested that the musical accompaniment might be provided by the famous Banda Nazionale Garibaldina from the town of Pioggio Mirteto. Founded in 1592, this band is the oldest wind ensemble in Europe. The Garibaldi name came from a much later involvement in the 1867 battle for Rome. It was only a short step from there to the television cameras coming. Suddenly I was faced with having to buy some new clothes for the “television interview”. The band agreed to perform, but as it happened, they were unable to muster the required number of musicians for the evening, as they had a major performance scheduled the following night.

Eventually, we settled on two actors, Antonio Andronico e Antonio Mercadante, and two drummers from the local Casaprota band, Marco and eight-year-old Federico, who was a perfect parallel for one of the minor characters in the story. This was a better outcome because it left the focus on reading the story, rather than on the music.

It was wonderful that the community had become engaged with the project, and were making their own contribution. It seemed that now part of the ownership of this project had passed to the town.

#17 presentazione

La mia prima idea era piuttosto modesta: la gente sarebbe camminare per Casaprota e leggere il racconto da solo, forse durante qualche giorno seguendo l’azione del racconto. Mi piaceva l’idea che la gente potrebbe camminare il racconto in piccoli gruppi, e fare a turno a leggerlo ad altra voce l’uno agli altri, nel modo di raccontare storie orali.

Quest’idea è stata ripresa da Susanna e Renato e altri nel paese, perché suggeriva qualcosa teatrale, un’opportunità per uno spettacolo: una lettura pubblica con musicisti e attori.

Il sindaco, Marcello Ratini, ha suggerito che la famosa Banda Nazionale Garibaldina di Poggio Mirteto potrebbe fornire la musica. Fondata nel 1592, questa banda è considerata la più antica in Europa. Il suo nome «Garibaldina» risale alla battaglia per Roma nel 1867, in cui i musicisti della banda hanno partecipato.

In un batter d’occhio parlavano della copertura televisiva, stavo pensando delle interviste e la necessità di comprare vestiti nuovi! La banda ha accettato di eseguire, ma com’è successo, non è stato possibile da radunare abbastanza musicisti per la sera, perché la banda aveva uno spettacolo importante in programma la sera seguente.

Alla fine, due attori, Antonio Andronico e Antonio Mercadante, hanno accettato di leggere il racconto, e due tamburi dalla banda locale, Marco e Federico, accettato di suonare. Federico di otto anni sembra come uno dei personaggi nel racconto! Questo risultato è stato migliore perché la lettura del racconto rimane il punto centrale, piuttosto che la musica.

È meraviglioso che i Casaprotani siano impegnati nel progetto e stiano facendo contributi; mi sembra che adesso il progetto appartenga anche al paese.

#16 pubblicità

Grazie mille, Susanna!


Pro loco, Casaprota:


È una bella giornata primaverile nell’anno di nostro Signore 1849, nella breve vita della Repubblica Romana. Un gruppo di soldati arriva in un villaggio della Sabina, alla ricerca di giovani volontari da arruolare per combattere con Garibaldi contro le truppe francesi, in difesa della nuova repubblica…

A scrivere di questo incontro tra i garibaldini e gli abitanti di Casaprota è Linzi Murrie, uno scrittore australiano, da un mese in residenza artistica al Palazzo del Gatto. E’ un racconto immaginario, ma in quell’epoca i garibaldini erano effettivamente accampati in Sabina, ed è per questo che Linzi ha scelto Casaprota.

Linzi ha scritto il racconto, ma non è un racconto “da leggere”, è un racconto “da camminare”: sì perché le pagine del racconto sono state esposte, capitolo per capitolo, nei vari punti del borgo in cui la storia si svolge. «Camminare il racconto» diventa quindi un’opportunità per scoprire il paese attraverso un evento storico immaginato.

“Ho sviluppato l’idea di un «racconto da camminare» per combinare i due modi in cui veniamo a conoscenza di un luogo: l’esperienza fisica di trovarci in quel luogo e la narrazione di storie, che dà un significato particolare al luogo stesso.” Per Linzi, l’incontro ha anche un altro significato: “è il mio incontro con il paese di Casaprota e con la storia del Risorgimento, che si traduce in una storia italiana, vista con occhi australiani”.

Questo sabato alle 18, il racconto si snoderà per le strade, i vicoli e le piazze di Casaprota: seguendo Linzi, due tamburini e due attori, seguiremo il racconto nelle 10 tappe in giro per il borgo, sapremo di amori, di intrighi, di sogni e di avventure, ci ritroveremo a ridere, a sorridere e a pensare, e ci godremo l’esperienza condivisa della lettura ad alta voce.

A fine maggio Linzi tornerà in Australia e stamperà il suo libro. A Casaprota già chiedono come si fa ad averne delle copie. Ma intanto, sabato 27 e domenica 28 le pagine rimarranno esposte nei 10 punti del borgo, e ci auguriamo che questa si trasformi in un’installazione perenne, in modo che in futuro Casaprota possa sempre offrire il suo “racconto da camminare”.

Il racconto inizia in Piazza del Municipio, prosegue per il centro storico e si conclude davanti alla Chiesa di San Domenico e San Michele Arcangelo.

Ti aspettiamo sabato 27 maggio 2017 alle 18.00 in Piazza del Municipio a Casaprota, per scoprire insieme che cosa avrebbe potuto succedere se quella mattina di maggio del 1849, quattro garibaldini fossero arrivati a Casaprota…

Grazie ai “lettori” Antonio Andronico e Antonio Mercadante, che daranno voce al racconto, al Comune di Casaprota per il patrocinio, ai tamburini Marco e Federico, che accompagneranno la camminata, e alla Proloco di Casaprota, per la spaghettata finale.

#15 L’incontro per gli anziani

Italian towns. This may be a symptom of an ageing population, but it’s just as likely to be because old people tend to spend more time in the streets and piazzas here, to sit and chat, often for an hour or more. I wondered how they would deal with my “racconto da camminare” given that some of them, the older ones at least, would not be able to follow the itinerary in this steep town, nor probably would they want to.

So, despite my intention that the story would be “only published in the street”, I decided to bind copies of the story, which they could borrow and read and pass on. It would certainly have been wrong that, because of their age or infirmity, the anziani of Casaprota were excluded from participation in this event.

On Sunday, the day after the launch and the ‘first reading’, I will deposit copies in the ‘libraries’ for L’incontro, the bars Micarelli and Daff.

Guardando gli anziani di Casaprota, che chiacchierano sulle panchine prima di pranzo e di cena, mi chiedo se possano camminare il mio «racconto da camminare». Alcuni hanno difficoltà a camminare, altri hanno bastoni da passeggio, e Casaprota è un paese ripido! È ovvia che ci sono molti anziani che non potrebbero «camminare il racconto», quindi, nonostante la mia intenzione di pubblicare il racconto «solo nelle strade», decido di stampare e rilegare copie de «L’incontro» per loro. Domenica, dopo la presentazione e la lettura sabato sera, lascerò le copie nei bar Micarelli e Daff, per gli anziani prendere in prestito, leggere e restituire, nel modo di prendere in prestito libri di una biblioteca.