It all started with 15 planes flying over a small town. In a few hours, nothing would ever be the same. Today, 82 years later, we will unravel what happened that day, and what are the consequences that have survived to this day.
Welcome to The Savoy Project, a contemporary participative performing arts project that promotes cultural democratization. We will start from a painful historical event and follow a consensual path that will encourage community dialogue and democratic values.
Alcañiz, Teruel, Spain.
Alcañiz is a city of 16,000 inhabitants located in the province of Teruel, in the autonomous community of Aragon, a territory with a strong tendency towards depopulation and aging. Currently, there is great social polarization and particularly, there is a radicalisation of the younger generations, leading to an inability to solve conflicts against the backdrop of immigration, COVID-19, political tension and the current economic disparities.
On March 3, 1938, Alcañiz suffered an attack by 15 Savoia Italian bombers in which over 500 people died. This act was silenced by both sides of the war and came to light a few years ago with the publication of the book "The Forgotten Bombing" by José María Maldonado. That day has been declared the "Historical Memory Day" in Aragón.
This initiative is intergenerational. Having a cast with people from different generations working together and reflecting on a historical war event connected to everyone in the area is a powerful way to focus on democracy as participants will question their personal beliefs in conversation with others. Also, by taking part in this project, participants will be a public live example of active citizenship.
Thinking about the values of democracy through a collaborative process in which the participants input is vital, will provide them with the language and the critical thinking to promote dialogue and consensus in their community throughout this project and after it. We believe this is important for young participants as they will carry this primordial learning into the present.
This project involves people from Alcañiz and the surrounding area of smaller villages with less access to cultural activities. There will be 12 interviewees, and 30 selected local amaterur actors and actresses between the ages of 14 and 70.
Given the low population of the area, people with very different perspectives must coexist as they share the limited cultural space. This will facilitate having a diversified set of participants as it happened in our previous experiences,
Through a carefully designed program we will create a safe space where participants’ points of view can be shared in respect and empathy. Participants’ input will feed the content of the play.
The audience of this project will be 600 people who will attend the première of the piece.
The process consists of 4 phases:
1-Participatory research: we will interview 6 locals who experienced the bombing, 4 people from diverse backgrounds who have experienced war, and 2 selected professionals. A historical and psychological archive will be elaborated. Themes will be selected, an outline of the script will be created.
2-Collective creation: In 6 workshops of 6 hours each, characters and scripts will be worked on through ForumTheater and Image Theater. The workshops are: reflection, interpretation, movement, text, video, set design and costumes. We will rehearse as necessary.
3-Disclosure: The work will take place in 5 locations where the bombardment occurred. The material will be disseminated on digital platforms.
4-Participatory evaluation with individuals and partners.
After this project success will look like: coordination work of 50 people involved in representation and technical aspects. The project will have promoted the artistic use of public spaces, generated contemporary culture, and connected to a local war event with the global current polarizing circumstances. Participants will have shared personal and family stories related to a local war, and created a network of empathy and care in Alcañiz through public conversation about what it means to live in democracy. Youth will move forward with a clear idea of how to fight political polarization.
We believe this initiative embodies the notion of Europe as a historical space in which much has happened and yet much is to be learned. The democratic values connect most of us as Europeans, and we want to make use of this invisible but real sense of belonging to promote a culture of peace and participation in which the rural has an active role and it is represented as a niche of the European values.
We believe that the local can go global and vice versa. And thus, we want to show that we live in rural communities where individuals choose to help each other regardless of having different opinions and cultural heritages. Lastly, we want to contribute to our democratic culture by creating a cultural experience sustained on personal stories of respect, solidarity, and empathy.
We believe that theater has the power to transform habits and behaviours, as we have seen it in our previous projects. We are intimately connected to Alcañiz and our mission is to be part of activating this area. We are also motivated by helping younger participants to communicate their inner worlds and their hope, and to support adults who want to develop their values and be proactive in our society. We are also connected to the personal and collective growth of our participants.
The Savoy Project is important to us because it will allow us to shed light to a dark historical moment that is core to our shared history. We are committed to take our chosen challenge as an opportunity to make our community stronger through questioning polarization and promoting critical thinking.
Funding requested from Civic Europe
Project management: 14000
Participatory research: 4000
Script writing and Direction : 4000
Travel costs: 1300
Translation of materials: 1350
Communication and dissemination: 4500
Personnel costs: 4800
Alcaniz Town Hall will contribute with a total of 3500€ in rehearsal spaces, communication, permits, sound and light technicians. La Cucarachona will contribute with set design materials, and audiovisual equipment for a value of 2500€.
Do you think this project is relevant to the current issues of polarization in Europe?
Do you believe that taking a historical and local event as our departing point is an appealing idea?
Do you think that working with historical wounds is a good strategy to connect with our present?