‘I FIORI BLU’ e ‘IL TEATRO POSSIBILE’: two theatre experiences about building a safe space.

The need to know that one is protected and safe is so important to the individual that it comes second right after physiological needs such as hunger and thirst [1].  The concept of protection is understood from the dual perspective of an individual dimension and a collective dimension.  The individual dimension recognizes the perception of security, both physical and relational, as a key psychological theme in the process of a person’s development over time: the consequences of the lack of a ‘sense of security’ can be reflected in a person’s entire psycho-affective and cognitive development.

The social construct of the territory and its interdependence with the socialization processes of individuals are part of the sociological discipline that, starting from individuals, develops a natural approach to relationships [2]. The spatial environment is the result of human action that affects individuals by influencing the relationships and structures they take part in. Collective and individual representations are intertwined with the construction of ‘physical and virtual space’, generating symbolisms and terms that give people opportunities to experience various forms of subjectivity. The perception of security, from a sociological perspective, derives from a human social representation that needs to use living on the margins as a safe place that allows for socializing rhythms within a frame or boundary. [3] & [4]

Thus, the concept of ‘safe space’ is, in both psychology and sociology, related to the possibility that volume, geometry and temporality (constituent elements of space) are perceived and narrated by those who experience them as safe places where relationships can be co-constructed [4], where well-being can be produced through self-care and inclusion.

In the processes of education and lifelong learning, the physical and symbolic construction of a space that accommodates the social “actors” is fundamental, where it is possible to build relational meanings through fundamental notions that presuppose the definition of the roles in a given space-time (people playing specific roles in a given Space and Time) [5]. In psychology and pedagogy, we speak of space as the third educator [6], that is, a space understood in its symbolic value of physical and relational space, which becomes an integrated part of the emotional and cognitive development of those who inhabit it. The definition of space as a third educator, by Malaguzzi, clarifies how the quality of welcoming and safe spaces influences the quality of learning, the strengthening of social relations and the implementation of good practices on an individual and collective level. Safe space is a characteristic of both, physical and virtual spaces.

Below are two lifelong learning experiences centred around theatre becoming a safe space wherein self-expression and imagining innovative traits open new opportunities for relationships and the future.


In 2012, the meeting between Martina Palmieri, director of Gruppo Elettrogeno, and Antonio Amato, head of the Area Misure e Sanzioni di Comunità of the U.I.E.P. of Bologna, created “I Fiori Blu: musicateatro”, a project aimed at people who are in the middle of or have completed Sentencing Alternatives and/or who are on probation, social workers, friends, people with other types of vulnerability, students and performers [8].  The path of “I Fiori Blu” brings out people’s needs and desires by keeping alive the bond and dialogue between those who experience conditions of restriction of personal freedom, conditions of disability and others. The languages of theatre and music give the body to these experiences, shaping a shared narrative. In the theatrical space, a diffused relationality is experienced in safe conditions: the people who move and interact in it, train themselves to dialogue from different perceptions of the world. Art also becomes a form of social inclusion through a multi-voice narrative of an extended community [9] .


The theatre workshop was set up in 2001, as a day centre activity of the Department of Mental Health of the Na2Nord Local Health Authority, from the specific request of some adult users of the Service to experiment with artistic-expressive activities, it is a space where emotions are transmitted and transformed. Each actor carries a world with which the spectator can identify. The workshop becomes a place, a safe space, in which one feels human among other humans, in which one trains for change. The physical, temporal and emotional space of the theatre can be perceived as safe if the conduct of the group includes moments of sharing during which it is possible to express one’s own experiences, one’s point of view, and above all if non-judgmental relationships and communication are promoted. This becomes a prerequisite for the development of a sense of belonging to the group and allows people to rely on each other [10].

Maura Perrone (psychologist-psychotherapist), Giovanna Maciariello (sociologist), Adriano De Blasi (sociologist), Anna Di Leva (psychologist-psychotherapist).

Keywords:  individual; socialization; mental distress; safe space.


[1] Maslow,  A.  (1954). Motivazione e Personalità (1.ed). Harper & Row.

[2] Benvenuti, L., (2002). Malattie Mediali. Elementi di Socioterapia. Baskerville. BSC Biblioteca di Scienze della Comunicazione.

[3] Goffman, E. (2001). Frame Analysis, l’organizzazione dell’esperienza. Roma: Armando Editore.

[4] Armiero, M. (2021). L’era degli scarti. Einaudi.

[5] Ehrenberg, A. (2010). La società del disagio. Torino.  Einaudi. 

[6] Malaguzzi, L. (2010). I cento linguaggi dei bambini. L’approccio di Reggio Emilia all’educazione dell’infanzia. Bergamo: Edizioni Junior, 2010.

[7] Massey, D. (1994). Space, place and gender. Londra. Polity Press

 Vanacore, R. (2020). Progettare gli spazi educativi. Un approccio interdisciplinare tra architettura e pedagogia. Edizioni Anicia. Roma

Lefebvre, H. (2018). Edizioni PIGREGO

[8] Trailer concerto spettacolo Shots from Othello di Gruppo Elettrogeno https://youtu.be/8te3ajbY8tU.

[9] I Fiori Blu – una comunità artistica in viaggio | docu-video https://youtu.be/UB1tB277S-I

[10]10 anni di laboratorio permanente Teatro Possibile https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5PfJJ-eQK7E&ab_channel=RobertaSerretiello

Original article published in Italian here: https://doi.org/10.32069/PJ.2021.2.185

Part of the SAFE Project