Performance Workshop - Agostino Corioni

The Use of Religious Symbolism and the Estrangement Effect within the “Santa Varietà” Project

Description of the performance: Micro variety show for one performer.
Mr. Retrò of the prestigious Compagnia Retrò of Genoa plays three of the characters who animated the “Santa Varietà” shows: the juggler, the accordionist, the clown.

Brief description of the “Santa Varietà” project.
During the autumn of 2019, five performing artists from different areas of Italy meet in Genoa and decide to work together. To do this, they find a guiding theme to combine the characteristics of each one, that of diversity. They choose a theatrical form, that of the Variety Show which has its roots in the popular tradition and accepts very different styles. They set up a stage in the ancient, cloistered monastery of ‘Santa Maria in Passione’ that was bombed during the Second World War, abandoned, and then revived by artists, inhabitants, and students of the old town under the name ‘Libera Collina di Castello’.

Between November and March, four shows entitled “Santa Varietà in Passione” are staged. More than twenty artists, companies, musicians and poets alternate with their performances.

In the same months, the stage of the Santa Varietà also hosts a concert for Ukulele and guitar and the five artists participate in the organization and staging of the thirteenth edition of the "Minimo spettacolo di arti varie", a great variety show organized in a gymnasium of circus, inside a big social centre of Genoa, and of “Pillole di Red Circus” in Massa, in Tuscany.

In the middle of winter, the spread of the Corona virus epidemic prevents the fifth edition of the “Santa Varietà in Passione” and forces everyone to stay at home. The five artists decide to continue their project despite the distance, create an Instagram profile and publish a series of videos and graphics with the name of “Santa Varietà in Clausura”.

The risk of contagion remains high for a long time, makes travel difficult and forces the five artists to question the choices made in the autumn. Only in June, in a large garden near Massa, the artists of the Santa Varietà manage to find each other on stage for the fourth edition of the Red Circus. In this occasion they decide to revise their project to adapt it to the new conditions and call it “Santa Varietà in Estasi”: a micro variety show for five performers suitable to be represented in the open air. The show takes place in July in the small square in front of the main entrance of the occupied monastery.

© Agostino Corioni

ERC Artivism

This workshop is part of the broader activities related to the ERC project ERC ARTIVISM. Art and Activitism. Creativity and Performance as Creative means of Expression in Super-Diverse Cities lead by Prof. Monika Salzbrunn, namely the final conference Artivism and Creative Resistances: New Research Methods and New Alliances between Art and Activism (12.-14.4.22). The ERC ARTIVISM Project ( has received funding from the European Research Council (ERC) within the framework of the European Union’s research and innovation programme “Horizon 2020” (ARTIVISM - grant agreement No. 681880). Dr. Raphaela von Weichs is senior researcher and Federica Moretti and Sara Wiederkehr are PhD students within the project.