Italy has benefited mightily from decentralization in theatre since World War II. Before the war, all theatrical roads led to or came from Rome, which is still true in cinema. There were exceptions such as Turin and Milan, which supported stabili (or city-sponsored companies) independent of Rome. Before the war most commercial companies were more or less based on the talents of one actor, what in English is called the actor/manager company.
After World War II, many great Italian performers left theatre for the more lucrative film industry. Since the 1950s, many have returned for part of a season, and some still build companies around themselves. Since the war, companies have been formed around Anna Magnani, Rosella Falk, Alida Valli, Vittorio Gassman, Raf Vallone, and others, who have taken a play (or two) around Italy for a season and then generally disbanded. Only one actor/manager could be said to be a permanent fixture in Italy, the playwright/actor/manager/registra ( stage director) Eduardo de Filippo, whose Teatro di Eduardo was founded in 1945 and is still in existence. Many Italian cinema actors make a guest appearance at a stabile, though rather infrequently.
Italy's many touring companies play commercial hits, often from outside the country; most are based or begin rehearsals in Rome. These companies go everywhere, frequently playing in opera houses left over from the nineteenth century. Commercial theatres receive some form of government subsidy if they produce works of sufficient literary worth.
The teatri stabili which dot the map from Catania to Milan have done the most significant work in recent Italian theatre. Foremost among these companies is the Piccolo Teatro di Milano, founded in 1947 by the late Paolo Grassi with Giorgio Strehler. This organization has largely been the model for the rest of the companies, although it was not by any means the first stabile in Italy. There were permanent companies in Italy before the turn of the century, including one in Milan, the Teatro Manzoni de Milano, which was organized in 1912 by Marco Prago. Rome had one as early as 1905, the Compagnia Stabile Romana. Most of the sta-