Matera 2019

A few hours after the Prime Minister's Decree suspending public events in theatres, cinemas and open spaces, the “So Far So Close. Esercizi di vicinanza” Performing Arts Festival reached its conclusion in Matera on Saturday 24 October.

We welcomed seven artists and companies (Emma Dante, Virgilio Sieni, Chiara Guidi, Annamaria Ajmone, Luigi Coppola, the Compagnia MK and Daria Deflorian and Antonio Tagliarini, who updated their questions in the middle of a pandemic, placing proximity – including in relation to the relationship between interpreting reality and constructing the imaginary – at the heart of their work, and focusing on the relationship between the human and non-human, and between the visible and invisible.

We put on ten works and sixteen repeat performances, including theatre, dance, cinema and public and relational art, characterised by interventions in a redesigned public space using forms of opening that were able to include the public not only in the enjoyment of a finished work, but in very different ways, in the responsibility for constructing it.

Approximately 2,000 spectators attended the performances, while around 50 citizens were involved in the three workshops set up in Matera with the artists.

Matera was not the only location of the Festival programme. Another six municipalities in Basilicata hosted the performing arts of our "exercises in closeness": Montescaglioso, Venosa, San Mauro Forte, Latronico, San Severino Lucano and Cirigliano.

All the events were held in full compliance with the laws on preventing contagion, which were communicated using the arrangements set up by the Open Design School, which over the past months studied and tried out the system for hosting the public so that in spite of the distance, those taking part in a performance would be able to feel that they were fully involved in it and were protagonists in complete safety.

The objective was reached! The data from the monitoring questionnaires at the end of the performances, which successfully involved not only Matera 2019’s loyal public but also a completely new audience, tell us that a fifth of the attendees travelled from Puglia, especially from Bari, Taranto and Valle d'Itria. 70.7% of the participants stated that the physical distancing measures that were adopted did not affect their participation, while 90.4% reported that they were satisfied with the security and the contagion prevention methods that were adopted.

Special thanks go out to our wonderful team of volunteers, who succeeded in offering a warm welcome to the public despite the gloves and masks, and conveyed the kindness and enthusiasm that had distinguished them throughout 2019!