The PublixTheatreCaravan in Genova

20.Jul.01 - Yesterdays theatre action at the concert of Manu Chao, todays demonstration for migrants' rights (still ongoing now) and some background speculations on the situation in Genoa.

It's the evening of July 19, at the moment the PublixTheatreCaravan is participating in a huge demonstration for migrants' rights in Genoa, the first in a series of huge protests against the g8 summit starting tomorrow. First estimations for this demonstration speak of 20.000 to 50.000 people, whereas for the next days between 100.000 and 150.000 protesters are expected.

The center of Genoa has been locked down completely, 5m high fences fixed in concrete foundations surround the restricted area. The sound of helicopters is permanently present. Already at the borders, Italian authorities in cooperation with other European states have tried to prevent people from the participation in the protest: also one bus from the caravan was not allowed to pass the border since at least 3 people were on some dubious lists. At the border they got a paper which said that they were not allowed to enter Italy within the next 20 days.

The way these lists emerge are more than questionable. Since also people, who rarely make use of their right to demonstrate are on these lists (not to mention that at least non of the blacklisted caravan-people have never been arrested before), they seem to be primarily developed on the base of speculation. As a member of the Italian civil police has told us after the caravan's vehicles were searched (which happened nearly every day in Italy), Austrian authorities have told the Italians that the people from the caravan were terrorists trying to smuggle weapons to Genoa. Of course, as it was at the searches in the days before, nothing of interest was found at all - whereas parts of our theatre equipment, like jumping balls or old tires were nevertheless sliced and destroyed.

However, the "no border - no nation" actions of the caravan started yesterday, July 18, in the early evening. A group of around 10 "warriors" (male and female), equipped with orange overalls, water-guns, banners and leaflets, fought their way to a concert by Manu Chao, that took place at the Convergence Center of the Genoa Social Forum (GSF). On their way, they had to face two problems: they not only had to pass through a crowd of journalists and had to try to convince the GSF-people with "theatrical brut-force" that they are definitly not willed to pay the 10.000 Lira entrance fee. Also, it was nessesary to play theatre the whole way from the mediacenter to the concert and on the way back. Due to a law, that defines ordinary helmets, like those used by construction workers, as weapons, it would not even have been allowed to walk on the streets just carrying them in the hands. Only if they were part of a street-theatre, so a Swiss lawyer said, and also only during this performance, they could legaly be used - but not even on the way to or from the theatre!

The criminalization of citizens becomes more and more arbitrary these days: when Berlusconi visited Genoa recently to see how the preparations for the summit were proceeding, he was obviously displeased with the washing hanging out of the apartments' windows in the city. In order "to let the city appear more clean", a decree was passed that forbidds to hang cloths out of the windows in Genoa during the week of the summit.

The dimensions seem to get out of sight, also as far as media coverage of the events is concerned. For example, today it's still almost impossible to find our how many bombs really exploded and where, how many didn't and how many did't even exist. The city is full of rumours, who might eventually be responsible for the bombing - but it's actually impossible to go beyond speculation. The result seems to be, that even "quality" mainstream media publishes mostly wrong information, or rather speculation in order to increase the sales.

Also, the level of confusion and the impossibility to verify information favors the police press department. When everybody has lost the overview, they might be able to tell the most absurd stories and sell them as "definite" and "varified". At least in so far, host Berlusconi could maybe suceed - his media-landscape will certainly have no interests to question the view of the police. For other media it will be certainly more difficult in a situation like this to find out more sides of the story (even if they tried).

The ongoing demonstration for migrants' rights was supposed to be extremly colorful: in advance, numberous vehicles and music instruments - mostly made of recycled materials were prepared by all kinds of groups with the caravan among them. It seems, that it might become a great salsa theatre against the border regime which is all to present, especially here in Genoa - also visable to people who are only superficially confronted with it in their every day lives.