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On October 3, 1977, deeply motivated by the growing dissatisfaction for the idea that acting was an activity to be carried out within "Dopolavoro" clubs (i.e, clubs organizing recreational and cultural activities for workers in their free time), some theatre people (Ruggero Jacobbi, Alessandro Brissoni, Aldo Nicolai, Giorgio Prosperi, Mario Moretti), representatives of the Società Italiana Autori Drammatici (Italian Playwrighters Association), and the directors of some of the major acting companies (Fabrizio Rafanelli from the G.A.D. City of Pistoia, Ugo Giannangeli from the acting Company "Oreste Calabresi" of Macerata, Silvio Manini from the Company “Stabile Monzese”, Alessandro Nisivoccia from the Company “Teatro Popolare Salernitano”) decided to establish the Unione Italiana Libero Teatro (Italian Union for a Free Theatre).

The primary purpose of the federation was identified in the separation of the popular theatre from the Dopolavoro "ghetto".

U.I.L.T. is following a cultural “policy” that is rooted in the belief that spontaneous theatre is an important opportunity for experimental and research activities, thus providing an alternative to the “official” theatre, our cultural policy can be summarized as follows:

1) the staging of plays inspired by the current Italian dramaturgy;

2) the adaptation and reinterpretation of classical dramas and plays;

3) the dialectal theatre, seen as the recovery of the language of popular culture;

4) the establishment of theatre schools that allows amateur actors acquiring a decent theatrical culture, and professionalism;
5) the organization of technical and artistic meetings, workshops, etc., that help the growth of acting companies;
6) the support of all the expressions and forms of theatre;

7) the organization of performances in all areas of our country  thus bringing the magic of theatre especially in those places where professional companies usually don't stage.

As we are confident of the validity of our cultural line, we accept as members of our Union all the companies that believe that theatre is an experience of creativity, diversity, and experimentation, rather than the production of performances that ere just a slavish imitation of professional theatre.

All the companies within the Union are exclusively formed by non-professionals, i.e., by volunteers who don’t receive any compensation for their services, but that regularly perform activities of study, research and production related to all aspects of theatre, both in the artistic and technical fields.

Nowadays, these companies are virtually the only ones acting in particular local situations, such as borderline and difficult areas, schools, prisons and hospitals, usually focusing on contemporary Italian dramaturgy, and dialectal theatre. 


To realize our programs, the National Executive Council cooperates and coordinates its work either with the Regional sections (Abruzzo, Basilicata, Calabria, Campania, Emilia Romagna, Friuli Venezia Giulia, Lazio, Liguria, Lombardy, Marche, Molise, Piedmont, Apulia, Sardinia, Sicily, Tuscany, Trentino Alto Adige, Umbria, Veneto), or directly with the member companies.

After over 30 years of work, we believe that figures are worth more than words (the following figures are related to the past three years):

• Approximately 800 companies, representing all regions, more than 12,000 members;

• about 10,000 shows each year;

• more than 30 exhibitions organized annually by the regional sections or by individual companies;

• over 60 regional festivals organized each year by the regional sections or by individual companies;

• more than 30 theatre schools managed by our companies, still operating and in good health;

• more than 20 conferences, seminars and courses organized each year by the Union or our regional companies.


Currently, the total number of new shows/performances produced per year by the companies affiliated to the U.I.L.T. is around 1,200. Needless to say, each company makes its own choices autonomously.

A large number of member companies have reached an excellent artistic level. This is clearly shown by the predominant presence of UILT companies in the playbills of the most important national festivals, and by the number of major art awards won by U.I.L.T. companies.

On a technical level, almost all the companies are completely autonomous, thus being able to perform their shows anywhere with their own equipment.



The organization of festivals is our pride and joy since we spent huge efforts to realize them. We have a large confidence in these theatrical initiatives, as they clearly reflect our cultural policy more than any other initiative. First, many festivals are characterized by a theme thus stimulating companies in the production of shows in agreement with the theme. The presence of our companies in various events improves their popularity and appreciation, and, consequently, the chances of being invited to perform their shows in many other events increases.

In addition, our efforts in the organization of festivals are also aimed at offering high-quality shows in areas poorly served by the circuit of professional companies.

Our process is simple: either the local acting company that operates in the area advise us of a certain type of possibility, or the local body or administration gives us the opportunity of organizing a festival or just a series of shows. At this point, by exploiting our large database, we are able to produce a program within the bounds of the available budget. This is possible thanks to several factors such as the perfect knowledge of the potentiality of several acting companies, the diversified theatrical repertories, the valuable technical autonomy, and the decision of claiming just the refund of direct costs.

Whenever possible, the National and/or the Regional Boards usually support the initiatives of local companies.



The Union has established its own Research Centre.

Its goals are:

a) the enhancement of Union's activities in raising the awareness of political, administrative and cultural public bodies on popular theatre issues;

b) the organization of conferences, seminars, round tables, etc.., aimed at adding fuel to the exchange of views within and outside the Union, by involving the presence of the most vital forces of the Italian and international culture;

c) the organization of other initiatives, which can also involve other Italian cultural organizations, aimed at highlighting the human and cultural aspects of personalities, other cultural organizations, and theatre groups that helped rising the quality of popular Theatre at the national and international level.

Upon requests by affiliated companies or by public institutions, the Union and its Research Centre , organize conferences, seminars, debates, workshops, courses, etc..

These activities are carried out with the cooperation of S.I.A.D. (Italian Society of Dramatic Authors), which includes the best authors of the Italian theatre, as well as with teachers from leading theatre schools (e.g., D.A.M.S. of Bologna, the Catholic University of Milan; the Academy "Silvio D'Amico" in Rome, etc.), and prestigious experts in dramaturgy and theatre techniques. These people support us, as they are more and more interested in the deep involvement of popular theatre in multiple activities.

A number of Schools of Theatre have been started by our companies, with the aim of providing the basic knowledge and skills that are critical to go on stage.



U.I.L.T. is a member of A.I.T.A. (Association Internationale du Théâtre Amateur) and C.I.F.T.A. (Comite International des Federations de Théâtrales Amateurs Latin cultures), two international associations that stimulate and coordinate the activities of amateur theatre organizations established in different countries all over the world. In particular, these international associations carry out a number of management and educational activities aimed at organizing international festivals and cultural exchanges.

Thanks to the activities carried out by the U.I.L.T., a number of companies have the opportunity to take part in major international exhibitions and festivals representing the Italian theatre culture.



The management of the association is based on strong democratic criteria.

The fundamental basis of the activities of its members is voluntary service, i.e., the activities are carried out on a personal, spontaneous, and free basis.

The National Executive Council comprises the President, six Directors elected by the National Assembly and the Presidents of the regional branches U.I.L.T..


The U.I.L.T. is registered with the No. 84 in the National Register of Associations for Social Promotion, Ministry of Labour and Welfare (Law No. 383, December 7, 2000).

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