Giolli's activities: past, present and future

Giolli has a team experimented in T.O. since 1988 who work in different fields, with different target groups, most youngsters or marginalised groups. We usually have around 500 hours of group leading a year and moreover we have several workshop for trainers.

We were borned as association and became cooperative in 2008.
Giolli's Activities in the past

In Italy one of the main T.O. organisation was "Giolli Centro Ricerche su Teatro dell'Oppresso e Coscientizzazione". There are of course other groups in some cities, some where we did some workshop some not, and some individuals who use T.O.; compared with ten years ago nowadays T.O. is known enough.

The purpose of our organisation is to develop and spread all over Italy the method of T.O. and to work against all sorts of oppression through T.O. combined with the Freire's approach called "conscientization". The organisation was founded the 15th of February 1992 in Medesano (Parma). It has been re-founded 2 times more, following the group-evolution.

In 2008 some of the association' members created Giolli cooperative, a group of workers based on democracy and shared responsability who would continue the Giolli association work and its mission.



We were a special association, because our members are spread off all over Italy; that meant having difficulty for meeting and to reduce our play production; in fact we have been working mostly in projects leading groups or playing Forum but with non- actors involved in the project locally rather than as a Theatre Company.

We started working in connection with a Peace Center (Centro Psicopedagogico per la Pace di Piacenza) running courses for teachers, about conflict resolution. Later on we found our own way and based our work on groups of marginalized people.

We have never had any public funds as association and we've survived till now thanks to volunteers and our work.

Politically we don't want to be involved in ideological questions and elections, but we collaborate sometimes for special events with some left-wing parties. We are more interested in collaborating with associations and grass-root movements as much as possible.

The same idea was developped in the Cooperative.



We developed Theatre of the Oppressed in different ways in order to create a set of instruments useful for our Projects.

The first connection was with Active No-Violence; that means taking in account the personal power that each person has, to believe in the richness and creativity of no-violence techniques, taking the risk to explore different solutions over violence, to better analyse the structure of oppressive situations (resources, levels of power...), to deep the "third part role", and so on. It influenced also our way to manage the association so that we chose to use consensus during inner decision making process.

The second connection was with Community Development Approach (C.D.A.) and Freire's thought. It arrived that T.O. wasn't enough to influence a community towards change and the work on oppression. We discovered that C.D.A. was a powerful framework that we could use to invent actions and activities where T.O. instruments could be organised in a coherent structure. C.D.A. taught to search groups to be engaged in the project; to believe in the community resources in order to solve its own problems; to find special persons in the community, as "opinion leaders" and "privileged witnesses", who could be helpful to improve our knowledge of community.

The third point was finding connections with some psychological approach as Psychodrama, Systemic Communication (Watzlawick), N.L.P. etc. These fields enriched our work with special sensitiveness in leading workshop.



In these last years we have been working mostly with marginalized people as drug addicts, mentally disabled, prisoners, elderly people, youth at risk. With such people we work either to group building or facilitating communication, to help them to express their own problems or to prepare their life outside, to discover their hidden skills or to prepare a play.

Part of our work concerns schools where we work with students and teachers, sometimes parents; in school we run projects about "welfare at school", "AIDS prevention", "Intercultural education", "group building", etc.

One third of time we work to educate people in T.O. method or we use T.O. to educate social workers.

The cooperative went on mainly in two directions:

- work in psichiatric context with mixed groups

- work in prison.


Since 1992 we led a lot of different projects.

In the first years our involvement was mainly in Peace-Education, so we have been working a lot at school with classes, teachers and parents, in order to explore conflicts between generations and how to deal with that.

Later on we moved towards the social field and we opened projects with mentally disabled people and psychiatric patients, drug addicts and youth at risk. In parallel we had some political involvement and created some Forum-Theatre about 500 years from America discover/conquest, ecological issues, social oppressions. We've been working in the streets to sensitize people, in theatre, at school, in therapeutic communities, in prison, in social centres for disabled, with elderly people and children...


In the specific field of Legislative-Theatre we had several small attempt sine 2000-2003 with project in Vicenza about spaces for youth, in Rovigo about foreign caregivers, in Livorno about migrants.

The most recent projects on Legislative-Theatre were set up in Parma town in 2013-2014.

The first, named “DI MASCHERE E VOLTI” about gender violence, addressed to students from secondary school, lasted from June to November 2013.

It was funded by Provincial Administration and brought to these proposals:

  • to have in school meetings with meaningful witnesses of gender violence

  • to have workshop about empathy since you are in primary school

The project had a mass-media coverage thaks to the nation-wide newspaper “Corriere della sera”.

The second, “Dare un nome al mondo, ovvero il cammino della legalità”, run from  Septembre 2013 to May 2014a, involving the Regional Administration, The Provincial one, Libera (a nation-wide umbrella organisation concerned with struggle against mafia and many Secondary school of Parma town.

The issue was the sense of legal/unlegal and organised criminality.

The students’ proposals were:

  • to give citizenship to youngsters from migrant families but born in Italy

  • to study at school the recent evenements related to mafia

  • to make the principles of Constitution real and applied.

The general results of the 2 projects were:

- the concrete proposals given to our Regional/Provincial Administration

- the engagement of students later on, for instance during the summer camp of Libera and a local public march against mafia

- Institutions gained in credibility at the youth

- youth felt there are adults able to listening them and this gave them the sense of power

- local coverage by mass-media.

In both projects we followed a pathway like this:

  • Meeting with teachers interested to explain the project and mutual roles and preparatory tasks

  • Performance-workshop with classrooms to introduce the topic, through narrative approach, followed by discussion with the audience

  • Representation of the individual perception thanks to puppets, objects, etc. used by students and sharing of reflections

  • Meeting of students with meaningful witnesses of the topic

  • Performance for students giving them a feedback about their perceptions of the topic. Followed by the question: if the world is so, what is possible to do? Students made proposals.

  • Choice of representatives of students who would have curry on the proposals to the right Institution.

  • Performance, open to citizens, to bring them awareness about the project and its results.


As cooperative we improved our knowledge about EU calls and won a project in 2010, the Fratt project, related to facing racism.

In 2012 we again won the Fotel project against early school leaving.



Giolli is a social cooperative since november 2008 and it's going to continue the previous work, working mainly in orison and psichiatric context.


We'd like to strength our presence in local areas where is easier to lead permanent and meaningfull projects.
Prison and "social unsafety", research about Cops and SPIC (the social side of cops), Forum Plays... are our main interests.