Escape from the confines of an anthropocentric theatre to break down the barrier between “human” and “animal”: Marta Cuscunà invites the audience to follow her to the south-east of Milan where, twice a year, a flock of sheep rests during transhumance. It is an experience that sees the coming together of two worlds, in which the confine between Nature and Culture loses all meaning.

Geolinguistics (noun): a study of languages of communities of living, and at times, non-living, beings.

Vinciane Despret
The autobiography of an octopus and other tales of anticipation

There is a non-human community that, twice a year, inhabits the south-eastern area of Milan; a flock of sheep that graze in Porto di Mare and the surrounding area during transhumance. The landscape of the urban park comes alive with the sounds of the countryside; the bleating of the animals, the ringing that accompanies their movements and the calls of the shepherd to keep the flock united. Whistles, clicks, trills; a system of interspecies communication that has ancient roots and that, in some countries worldwide has evolved into a veritable human language with a specific vocabulary of whistled phonemes.
The most well-known is Silbo Gomero, a precolonial whistled language used by the inhabitants of the volcanic island La Gomera, in the Canary Islands. Emerging from the relationship between humans and flocks, similar to birdsong, and handed down orally, whistled languages are a hybrid and multispecies form of communication that creates a sound landscape in which humans and non-humans blend together.

Bucolica is a site specific performance project that aims to offer an opportunity for encounter between a flock of Giganti Bergamasche sheep, seven whistlers from the Canary Islands, the inhabitants of the district and the theatre audience. A performative dimension that examines the possibility of co-development, a metaphor for the evident contradictions of the district in which the confines between the city and the countryside are blurred. “Urban” and “rural” intertwine in unexpected places, and the distinction between Nature and Culture loses meaning. 


  • Conception and dramaturgy by Marta Cuscunà
  • Video contents creation and management Massimo Racozzi
  • With the whistlers from Asociación Cultural Silbo Gomero: Ana Luz Arteaga, Carmen Castilla, Diego Manuel Arteaga, Francisco José Niebla, Ivan José Ramos, Estefanía Venus Mendoza, Eugenio Darias
  • With Teresa Vila, translator 
  • And hopefully* with a flock of Giganti Bergamasche
  • With the kind collaboration of Giuseppe Salvi and Anna Albertinelli, shepherds
  • With the kind collaboration of Italia Nostra ONLUS – centro per la forestazione urbana

a Piccolo Teatro di Milano – Teatro d'Europa production 

*Bucolica respects the rhythms of transhumance without bending them to spectacular ends, so it is possible that the flock will not be present during the performance

The performative action forms part of the European project UNLOCK THE CITY!     Co-funded by the European Union 

With the patronage of Comune di Milano

  • Special thanks for their scientific advisory on transhumance to Marco Avanzini, Osvaldo Negra; MUSE – Museo delle scienze di Trento
  • With thanks to Carlotta Amantini, Giacomo Raffaelli, Marco Rogante, Giustina Selvelli, Salome Katamadze, Massimiliano Tardio, MUSE – Museo delle Scienze di Trento

Do you want to know more about Bucolica?