From farmyards to town square, managing continuity through rupture: Montepulciano’s Bruscello theatre
Crociani-Windland, L. (2008) From farmyards to town square, managing continuity through rupture: Montepulciano’s Bruscello theatre. Journal of Mediterranean Studies, 18 (1). pp. 157-184. ISSN 1016-3476
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Montepulciano’s Bruscello declares itself to be the only survivor of a popular theatre tradition once present across the whole of Tuscany and parts of Emilia-Romagna. The original agrarian tradition consisted of a range of calendrical musical representations, which included among them the Bruscello. One of the abiding characteristic symbols of this particular form is a tree branch carried by storytellers as they moved from farmyard to farmyard; this symbol persists in the modern form. However the original itinerant choral tradition underwent transformation in the 1939 move to Montepulciano’s town square. In its present form each character is assigned a particular tune and meter of verse, which identify it throughout the performance. Likened to comedy of art, here the characters are identified by music and verse, rather than masks, offering a strongly embodied form of representation. The shift to a more individualised characterisation and many other adaptations combined with the persistence of other aspects form the basis for an analysis of fluidity and affective dimensions centred on Deleuze and Guattari’s (1999) notion of the ‘refrain’. The analysis of how a notion of dynamic identity may be tracked in its ever changing continuity underlies a broader theme being tracked across different cultural events in the area of which this is but one example.