Every year Rendola hosts their annual Straw Theater in July. Jenny’s son, Nicholas, is in charge of planning the event out and it has been hosted at the farm since 2003. Apparently he was the first person in the area to ever host a Straw Theater and many other communities in Tuscany have copied the idea for their own communities. It is a very important event for people because it is a wonderful outlet for creative expression.
The Straw Theater is literally made out of straw, where people sit on bales surrounding the circular stage. The event is similar to the open-mic nights at bars and coffee shops that we have in America where people perform randomly throughout the night, but it does not have an emphasis on musical acts. Instead, it welcomes all forms of expression including theatrical acts, comedy, opera, story-telling, poetry, clown acts, speeches, music (of course), and even baking.
The event brought out a wonderful crowd full of artistically, free-spirited people. There were a lot of people dressed in bright colors with long hair – much like your average American hippie, haha. I was not aware that there was a counter-culture like that in Italy! Unlike the American open-mic night, the event was extremely intimate, as everybody was completely tuned into the act that was performing. There was no talking except for when the act involved the audience. Apparently there are usually hundreds of people at the event, but unfortunately rain fall earlier in the evening scared away a lot of people. So, only about 50 people showed up.
My favorite act was the 2 gentlemen in the video below. The guy with the saxophone, Carmelo, was a character! He reminded me of a dear family friend of mine named Steve Hulslander, as he was a very smiley and lovely man.
I worked up the courage to play a few songs, as well. The audience loved “Ho Hey” by the Lumineers! I had them all screaming out the “Hos” and the “Heys.” It was a ton of fun! Here is a recording of Eleanor Rigby, by the Beatles. I am inspired to start my own Straw Theater when I get home to America.