Founded in Siena in 2009, The In-Box Project is part festival, part funding body, and part umbrella organization. It involves 79 partners across two national arts networks. The partners include prestigious festivals, nontraditional performance spaces, public and private theaters, and regional touring circuits. It is supported by the Municipality of Siena, the region of Tuscany, the Fondazione Toscana Spettacolo, and the Ministry of Cultural Heritage, Activities, and Tourism. Their initiative “The Green In-Box” is specifically for young theater artists.

Over the ten years they have been running, through careful and accurate talent scouting, The In-Box Project awarded funding to many important artists such as Lino Musella, Paolo Mazzarelli, Caroline Baglioni and Leonardo Manzan. It provides concrete help to new companies that are part of the national theater circuit by financially supporting live performances and audience development. Because of COVID-19, the 2020 festival and competition was held online, where several shows won awards.

Actor Alessandro Benvenuti, Artistic Director of the municipal theaters of Siena, was proud of this digital edition because the aim of the live event was still upheld: the promotion and support of young actors and theater artists. Moving the festival online required strong will, passion, determination, and love while the theaters were closed. Paradoxically, it increased the drive of the young actors whose intelligent and original productions reached the final rounds of the festival’s competition.

This year, all phases of the selection process took place on Sonar, a digital platform dedicated to theater and used by artists, venue operators, artistic directors, and competition jurors. It currently hosts 3800 shows, 2900 companies, and 730 venue operators. In addition to The In-Box Project, the platform hosts other projects. This makes it a useful archive of productions and their corresponding credits, trailers, videos, reviews. It also hosts a map of Italian theaters and festivals with their contact details and many other useful services.

Twelve finalists were selected from the 469 applications received. On May 23, the winner was announced: Stay Hungry, an autobiographical tale by Angelo Campolo, an actor, and director from Messin. He was also a finalist for the Ubu Award 2016 in the Best Actor Under 35 category. Listening and understanding are the basis of this ironic and dramatic monologue in which the hunger of migrants and actors walk hand in hand together.

In second place, we have Futuro anteriore by the company Ferrara Off. This production considers elderly people who do not live in nursing homes. It urgently addresses the need to support this demographic. Tropicana, by young company Frigoproduzioni, was awarded third place. Their show stars Claudia Marsicano, the winner of the “Best actress Under 35” Ubu Award 2017.

In The Green In-Box section, the podium went to Che forma hanno le nuvole? (What shape do the clouds have?), by the company Elea Teatro. This is the enchanted journey of Nemo, a baby who discovers that the most important thing is not our appearance, but the actions we perform in our everyday life. The show uses poetry and has many daring moments.

The tour of the 2020 winners and finalists will be launched when theatres reopen in Italy, and will be scheduled over the following 24 months. This tour will prove to be groundbreaking because COVID-19 imposed a rethinking of the relationship between theatre and technological languages. The mixture of these two fields will no doubt open new and unexpected horizons for actors and audiences.

This post was written by the author in their personal capacity.The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not reflect the view of The Theatre Times, their staff or collaborators.