The Italian Almanac

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Italian News - March 2

Nobel Laureate and self-proclaimed jester Dario Fo kicks off Milan's first international clown festival Thursday. The playwright-performer will lead the opening procession of performers through his home town in a 'clown-mobile'. The event will draw hundreds of clowns, comedians, poets, acrobats and other types of street performer to Italy's business capital, as part of its carnival celebrations.

Organizers say it will be three days of "joy, culture and contemporary theatre". The festival in the city's Isola quarter is self-financed - all the artists will perform twice or three times a day for free, fuelled only by the contributions collected in the hat at the end of the shows.

It is split into sections for professional artists and companies, emerging acts and debutants. Two awards are up for grabs, the Jury Prize and the Audience Grand Prize, the winner of which will pocket 20% of all the cash raised at the festival events. Organizers claim the aim is for "street theatre to flood the roads once again, to seize back the space and standing that it deserves, particularly in a big city that seems to have forsaken its human face".

The Milan Clown Festival website has an English-language section.