The venues of the Festa – 6. Sabina Guzzanti and the Auditorium

From an experience she’d rather forget to one of the most rewarding surprises of her life. Sabina Guzzanti, actress and satiric comedienne, talks about her relationship with the Auditorium, the venue at the heart of the RomeFilmFest. Just five years after its opening, the structure created by Renzo Piano has become a reference point for cultural activities both in Rome and Italy as a whole. Many directors have used it as a film set, including Roberto Benigni for his The Tiger and the Snow. Nevertheless, it’s mainly thanks to Sabina Guzzanti’s documentary Viva Zapatero that the Auditorium has now also become famous on the big screen.
“The first time I had the opportunity to work there was right after its opening. It was a theatre performance that went terribly wrong. We were supposed to film the show but the sound equipment was not as yet perfectly adjusted, so it gave us a great deal of trouble. But since then, my relationship with the Auditorium has greatly changed.
In 2003, the RaiOt scandal broke. RaiOt was a satirical, one-hour-long TV programme. The first episode was aired late in the evening on [the public TV channel] RAITre. This first instalment dealt mainly with freedom of expression and was extremely successful. But soon we had to worry about Mediaset [the other main, commercial terrestrial broadcaster], who sued us for defamation. Then RAI decided to call the programme off. Since our show wouldn’t be broadcast, we decided to protest by setting up a free show in the Auditorium’s Santa Cecilia Hall. Lots of friends attended, like Serena Dandini, Dario Fo and Daniele Luttazzi. But the audience really exceeded our expectations. The Hall was packed and so was the external Cavea area where a maxi-screen had been set up for the 15,000 or so people who had gathered outside.
Part of the documentary Viva Zapatero, premiered at the Venice Film Festival last year, features recordings from that evening in Rome. The show was supposed to be the second episode of RaiOt recorded live, but it ended up being much more than that. For me it was a remarkable experience, I was really overwhelmed. Immediately after being censored by RAI, the atmosphere was pretty tense. Lots of money had been lost. It was a special evening where  anything could happen, but I was not totally calm and still regret not having fully enjoyed one of the most pleasant surprises of my life. It was only when a police officer asked me to talk to the crowd to placate them that I realised how many people were gathered at the Auditorium. I was speechless. It was impressive. When I left by car at the end of the show, I was again shocked to see the long Viale Parioli road completely jammed with cars. It took some time for me to realise that I was the reason for that snarl up. I think this is enough to show why I feel so attached to this place.”


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