Parsifal © Enrico Fedrigoli

The Valdoca Theatre company – founded in the early eighties - is the result of the collaboration between Cesare Ronconi, director, and Mariangela Gualtieri, poet and playwright.

Born as a collective, the Collettivo Valdoca was a music and theatre company whose members had no defined roles.

The two founders' interest for theatre developed in the seventies, when, thanks to a grant, Ronconi and Gualtieri came in contact in Poland with Kantor's works before his company, Cricot, came to Italy, participated in Wroclaw in the unforgettable Tree of People by Grotowski’s Laboratory Theatre and attended the play Apocalypsis cum Figuris performed by Grotowski’s group of actors.

In the same period, in the US, they came to know the experiences of Peter Shumann with his Bread and Puppet Theater and the works of Bob Wilson, Richard Foreman and the Squat Theatre, recently arrived from Hungary.

For the founders, however, the most surprising figure and most important point of reference was already then Carmelo Bene.

Those years were characterised by a strong restlessness whose outlets were solitary travels around the world (Brazil, Burkina Faso, Spain, North America) and a long stay of the whole company in a small village in Tanzania.

Since its beginnings, the company collaborated closely with the most appreciated artists of the time: mainly painters, sculptors, composers and musicians. A particular care was also devoted to the sound amplification set-up.

In 1985 Valdoca, after meeting the poet Milo De Angelis, founded a Poetry School directed by him. Through the school, during its three editions, the company met with the major Italian poets: Fortini, Luzi, Bigongiari, Loi, Cucchi, Sicari, Rosselli, Merini, Majorino and others.

It’s after these meetings and as a result of other defining personal experiences that Mariangela Gualtieri started writing verses, suspending her role as actress and acquiring that of playwright, while Cesare Ronconi coupled his direction with an unbroken pedagogical activity which would allow him to train directly its actors and dancers.

The most distinctive trait of Valdoca's poetic is the epic character of its actors, always reaching for the super-human and the sub-human, thus stretched between hero and divinity on one side and animality, infancy and deformity on the other; by their renounce to a narrative, to social themes, current affairs and news.

The actor, then, is often a dancing body, whose voice, movement and stillness is heavily loaded with expressivity. Beside the decisive role of the actor, there’s the peculiarity of the word given to him: a word that’s always poetic verse, unprecedented, fitting with the written direction, a verse often written in close proximity to the stage and to the demands of direction.

The frequent presence of live music, the attention to the scene’s present, the simplicity of the projects, together with the characteristics mentioned above, transform the company’s performances into events loaded with ritual qualities, where the interplay between the scene's forces and energies lead the audience inside the experience of its vision and convert the public into a participating and listening community.


© Rolando Paolo Guerzoni


After graduating in Architecture at the IUAV University of Venice he founded in Cesena together with Mariangela Gualtieri, poet and playwright, the Valdoca Theatre Company (1983). His theatrical works have two fundamental elements: the actor – as a glorious body and primary source of inspiration - and the poetic verse. The actor’s central role foregrounds Ronconi’s teaching work as he trains the performers of every play himself, helping many young beginners achieve their professional maturity and then integrating their work with that of more experienced actors. Each of his works is also the genesis of a new text by Mariangela Gualtieri, created in the forge of rehearsal and under the suggestion of the different performers. In the last decade he conducted various European Higher Education Courses for the Actor. Among the many plays he has directed: Lo Spazio della Quiete (1983 and 2009), Ruvido Umano (1986), Antenata (1992), Ossicine (1994), Fuoco Centrale (1995), Nei Leoni e nei Lupi (1997), Parsifal (1999) and the trilogy Paesaggio con fratello rotto (2004/2005), rightfully considered the peak of this journey. In 2011 he directed Caino, another great Valdoca's fresco.

In the last few years Ronconi has been working on Trilogia della gioia,  comprising O tu reale, scontrosa felicità (May 2012), Ora non hai più paura (February 2013) and Arcaico Prossimo (May 2014). In addition 2013 saw the debut of the ‘rito sonoro’ by Mariangela Gualtieri Le giovani parole, while 2014 that of Valdoca’s new production, Voci di tenebra azzurra, a precious pièce of art and poetry.

Ronconi collaborates with the University of Bologna, Department of Architecture Aldo Rossi, in Cesena.

Caino (Cain) / pdf / video

Paesaggio con fratello rotto (Landscape with broken brother) / pdf / video

© Melina Mulas


Mariangela Gualtieri (Cesena, 1951), poet and playwright, begins her writing career in the Valdoca Theatre Company, which she founded together with the director Cesare Ronconi. She participates in every staging by Ronconi, ready to sense and give voice to the scene's whirl of forces.

Since the beginnings she takes particular care of the oral dimension of poetry – through readings in verses both in Italy and abroad – focusing on the voice amplification system and on the interaction between poetic verse and live music. Her pedagogical activity runs uninterrupted through her workshops devoted to writing and, more recently, reading verses into a microphone.

Among her published texts: Antenata (Crocetti, 1992), Sue Dimore (Palazzo delle Esposizioni di Roma, 1996), Nei Leoni e nei Lupi (I Quaderni del Battello Ebbro, 1996), Parsifal (Teatro Valdoca, 2000), Chioma (Teatro Valdoca, 2000), Fuoco Centrale (Einaudi, 2003), Donna che non impara (Galleria Emilio Mazzoli, 2003), Senza polvere senza peso (Einaudi, 2006), Sermone ai cuccioli della mia specie (L’arboreto Editore, 2006), Paesaggio con fratello rotto (Luca Sossella, 2007), Bestia di gioia (Einaudi, 2010), Caino (Einaudi, 2011), Sermone ai cuccioli della mia specie, with audio-CD (Teatro Valdoca, 2012), A Seneghe. Mariangela Gualtieri/Guido Guidi (Perda Sonadora Imprentas, 2012).

Milo De Angelis on Mariangela Gualtieri

“Senza polvere senza peso” (Einaudi, 2006) on “Word without borders”

Three poems

Mariangela Gualtieri BEAST OF JOY Chelsea Editions, New York, 2018

(tran. Francesco Rossini)