The Script of the Italian play
MOON NIGHT ON THE SEA
- N° 8 Narrators
- Giuseppe Elderly Sailor
- Salvatore Elderly Sailor
- Umberto Young Sailor
- Giovanni Young Sailor
- Mario Young Sailor
- Francesco Young Sailor
- Gemma Woman Commoner
- Fiorina Woman Commoner
- Rosa Young Woman
- Francesca Young Woman
- Betta Young Woman
- Nunziata Young Woman
- Antonio Owner of the house
- Lucia Antonio's wife
The action is set in 1912 near the port, where it has just been completed the construction of a pier that is perpendicular to the coast (roughly corresponding to the present root of the North Pier). The scene has obvious maritime features, with space littered with nets, ropes, nets, baskets and other accessories for fishing; as backstage you can think of the latin sails (triangular) typical of that time 's boats, fishing boats and lancette. As a backdrop, you can use a projector shooting a succession of images related to various events in the story. In this case, you can project an image in the background of the harbour basin with docked fishing boats and launches. On the dock, men and women of different ages, divided into two groups: among these, 8 storytellers (male and female) introduce the action by providing historical information about San Benedetto del Tronto in the first years of XX century.
Narrator 1-we are in San Benedetto del Tronto in 1912; in this village that faces the Middle Adriatic Sea, lived, at that time about 12,000 inhabitants, almost all employed in fishing or related activities.
Narrator 2-the boats are pushed by large triangular colourful sails, and often divided into two types: the fishing boats and the lancette. The fishing boats are larger, have a crew of 10/15 men and are able to remain fishing even for two weeks; on lancette, instead, there are 2 to 4 men who make a daily fishing.
Narrator 3-in addition to fishing, the village people are employed in many other occupations related to it: the funai produce hemp strings and ropes ; the retare make fishing nets; the dockers carry fish from boats to docks for the sale, someone salts the fish, especially the anchovies, to preserve it longer.
Narrator 4-It is a poor and precarious economy that feeds a social structure based on direct, simple and natural relationships: women are subjected to their husbands, but play a primary role in society in addition to the usual role of "housewives."
Narrator 5-they are entrusted with the care and education of children, very often many for each family; they also administer the finances of the family being in charge of providing every day the necessary to survive; definitely they are the cornerstone of their families in the absence of men, engaged on long fishing trips.
Narrator 6-women are completely in charge of weaving and preparing fishing nets, an activity of great dedication and accuracy they were proud of. It was also a female task to get the trousseau ready for young daughters to marry.
The storytellers, gradually recite or read their part, and then return to the group from which they came. Gathered in two groups, they are discussing. The first consists of men: there are Giuseppe and Salvatore (elders) who are cleaning their nets along with four young (Umberto, Mario, Francesco, Giovanni).
Salvatore-Today the sea is calm; the launches left early this morning
Umberto-It's February, but it's not cold and so we, too, made a good fishing yesterday!
Francesco -Why haven't you gone fishing today?
Umberto-Unfortunately we had a breakdown at the helm and we hope we can sail tomorrow!
Mario (boarded with Umberto) We really hope not to have stormy days: we are in winter and tempests are always possible!
Giuseppe -Blessed are you who are young! haven't you still figured out that the sea is always the same, both in summer and in winter? Calm or storm, we cannot do without him.
Giovanni - Giuseppe is right: I have been sailing for several years, now. My father took me on his launch when I was still a child. Since then, I can't remember how many times I have almost sank with the ship. But ask me if I want to change jobs: the answer is no!
Salvatore-don't tell me that you, the ladies- man, eventually fell in love with the sea!
Francesco-Eh! Is it really true then! The sea gives and the sea takes, but no one can resist its charm. You come back home dead tired at night, but at dawn you are ready to go for the challenge again and again.
Giuseppe-But by now you too should know that: you mustn't flirt with the sea: in our village everyone has his dead to cry!!
Salvatore - for several generations my family has given arms and blood to the sea: the last one was my brother Nazzareno the youngest among all of us and the sea tore him away when he wasn't thirty yet!!
Mario-C'mon, let's stop with these misfortunes! Don't you want to bring the ill omen, do you? However, what alternatives can we have here?
Giovanni-Mario's right! I just can't see myself being a tailor or a rope weaver
Umberto-and then, guess what? I was told the parson would experience a steam engine on fishing boats. Can you imagine how much easier and less tiring it would be pulling the net?
Giuseppe -but don't talk nonsense! Do you think it is possible to apply an engine on a fishing ship? And then, with all that noise, do you think the fish will come closer so that you could admire them?
Giovanni- Come on Giuseppe! Don't feel hurt! The world goes on! Sooner or later, even fishing ships will have their motors and not just ocean liners!
Salvatore-It will be! But we, as children, were taught to fish thanks to the strength of our arms and sailing: here in our arms is the whole mechanics that we know and we don't trust the modern one!
Francesco-Up! Up Let's not fight for so trivial things! Besides, stop talking about work! It's Carnival time and we must have fun. I heard that tonight there'll be a ball at Lucia's and if you do the Dance of the Sigh at the end we can run some engagements.
Umberto-so enough talking! Let's hurry up so we will have plenty of time to prepare ourselves for the evening. (they leave).
(some women come in, two more mature - Gemma and Fiorina -and others - Rosa, Francesca, Nunziata and Betta - in marriageable age, all of them doing something: some are spreading the laundry to dry, others are folding the dried one, another is filling a jar at a fountain , the older women are messing with twine to make a net and, in the meanwhile, they are chatting)
Gemma - (knitting the net) woe is me! This net is becoming an obsession: it is almost two weeks that I've been working on it, but it doesn't seem to get to an end!
Fiorina - come on! Stop complaining! Everyone knows that you're a good retara and you'll see that your work will be as always well rewarded.
Gemma - Yes, I know. You are right! But Umberto's lancetta urgently needs to sail after being repaired, and I don't know if I am able to finish the net in time!
Fiorina - the world of fishermen is our destiny, men and women must help each other; it is never easy to tear from the Sea what we need to survive.
Gemma - to my poor husband it wasn't enough to put all his courage and commitment to deal with the sea: the Scijò (the waterspout) took him away forever, leaving me alone with three mouths to feed. That's why for many years I have been forced to do this job!
Fiorina - Oh yes! Your poor Federico was such a good sailor and a caring husband! But it was a long time ago, stop being so gloomy: your kids are growing well.
Gemma - They are the apple of my eyes and the only reason for me to go on; it is for them that I make all these sacrifices and I wish they wouldn't be sailors as their father, but there is little choice, here.
Rosa- (picking the dry clothes up) Betta! Help me fold this sheet. The fresh sea air has already dried it!
Betta - (looking at the embroidery sheet) this embroidery is wonderful! Who made it?
Francesca- for sure it is the work of your grandmother Annunziata: everyone knows that she is a real embroidery artist. She was taught by nuns when she was still a child.
Rosa - it's true! Grandma has golden hands: with the needle and the hook she can do magic.
Francesca - I bet she is already preparing your trousseau! So when the day of your wedding comes, your husband and his relatives will be speechless.
Nunziata - why do you tease her? You know Rosa doesn't like talking about these things!
Rosa - in fact: what should we talk about, I even haven't got a boyfriend!!
Francesca - are we sure that there is no one that makes your heart beat faster?
Rosa-(playing down allusions) Why? don't you think of anyone? Even your mother is preparing your trousseau: now we have the right age! Let's not be false among us!
Nunziata - Lately I've too often bumped into Francesco, do you think it's by chance??
Francesca- On the pretext that he is my brother's friend, I always find Mario at home!
Betta- Instead I've heard from a very trustable person that Giovanni asked about me and my family.
Rosa - There, there, stop dreaming, girls. Collect the clothes and go home that it's getting late.
Nunziata - Well considering that Rosa cares so much about her secret, tonight let's all go to Lucia's ball: the saltarello will be danced and perhaps someone will call the "dance of the sigh!"
Francesca-then maybe the Carnival will help us to find out your suitor, Rosa!
Betta - come on, come on! I'm looking forward for tonight!
(Blind or curtain - end of the Picture)
The setting is a kind of large dining room or a kitchen that can be shot on the screen. There are already some of the young people - boys and girls - engaged in previous scenes; someone is sitting, someone is dancing to the sound of an accordion; the people keep coming and are welcomed by Lucia, the lady of the house who entertains with them by swapping a few not audible words, while her husband Antonio dances with others and starts playing the harpsichord; as soon as all 12 characters have entered the scene, Lucia speaks inviting the dancers to do the saltarello.
Lucia - (pointing to dancers) Bravo to all the dancers! But it's Carnival! This is the moment of happiness! Come on you, with the accordion! And also you Antonio play on your harpsichord: now that we are all here let's dance the saltarello!
The music starts and everyone rushes into a cheerful saltarello for a couple of minutes: dancing couples form and dissolve in a game of looks and expressions that betray feelings, especially men, while some older people look at the scene; someone takes part clapping, someone else's chattering with the people next to them . Finally Salvatore, who first was arguing with Giuseppe, speaks
Salvatore-The "dance of the sigh"!! Yes, let's do the "dance of the sigh!"
The music stops, the lights go out, the characters remain motionless, only a central beacon- could also be a spotlight - lights on and sheds light on the storytellers who take turns on stage.
Narrator 7- The "Dance of the Sigh" is a typical dance of courtship, like the ones present in almost every popular tradition in the world. About this ball, in particular, speaks Bice Piacentini, the most remarkable writer in San Benedetto, who inspired to realist style by the second half of the 19th century and wrote a novella titled "Il ballo del sospiro".
Narrator 8- It was the dance the young loved most especially on the occasion of festivals, such as the Carnival, when they found themselves celebrating together with adults, gathering all in someone's house. At some point in the evening it was invoked by young people because it offered the possibility to choose, among those present, the person to whom one felt love interest.
Narrator 1-with the count was chosen one of the dancers, who was placed in the middle of the room and, kneeling, sighed in a more or less graceful way as now our guys will show you.
(the narrators go out)
Lights are switched on again, the music softly resumes and while everyone is dancing the count is made to choose the one who should "sigh". The chosen in the first count is Francesco, who is invited by Antonio, the Director of dance, to knee at centre of the stage and to sigh loudly/audibly.
Antonio - Francesco! Why are you sighing?
Francesco - Because my heart was stolen
Antonio - who stole it?
Francesco - (without saying the name) That one (with the index finger tips Nunziata)
Music starts again and Francesco and Nunziata dance staring at each other with short physical contacts who betray the mutual liking; at the end of a loop of saltarello, the scene is repeated with Nunziata at the centre that "sighs" and confirms that her heart was stolen by Francesco.
This scene can be "ad libitum" repeated alternating seniors as directors of the dance and the young as "sospiratori", but it is important that everything ends with Umberto who is called to the centre and shows his interest for Rosa who, satisfying the curiosity of her friends, declares to accept Umberto's court.
Giuseppe - Umberto! Why are you sighing?
Umberto - Because my heart was stolen
Giuseppe - who stole it?
Umberto - (without saying the name) That one (with the finger points at Rosa)
Music and dance resume and Umberto and Rosa are close; in this case, too, it seems that there is mutual understanding. At the end of a round of saltarello, the scene is repeated with Rosa in the centre who "sighs" at her turn, confirming Umberto as the thief of her heart .
Salvatore - Blessed youth! Don't you ever get tired of dancing, but it's past midnight and tomorrow you 'll have to work!
Giuseppe -Tomorrow all at sea, but the wind has changed and the sea is rising.
Salvatore -and then it's time to stop bothering Lucia and Antonio who were so generous to offer their home for this party.
(everyone expresses thanks - verbally or with gestures -to the host couple and after a short final scamper, one after the other leaves the scene).
(It's dawn; the scene is once again the one of the 1st picture: on the seabed -screen is projected the image of the port where the lancette are prepared to leave for the fishing day.
Umberto, Giovanni, Mario and Francesco are boarded on "Domenico Padre" and they are still chatting about the festive evening at Lucia's House).
Umberto - Boys! This morning I feel like a lion. I can't wait facing the sea!
Francesco - the effect of the Dance of the Sigh of last night!It is perhaps the thought of Rosa that gives you all this energy?
Umberto - it's true! I like that girl! As soon as I can set aside some money, I'm going to talk to her parents.
Mario - And you, Francesco what are you waiting for?
Francesco -Nunziata is still too young and we should wait for her sister to get married before her! There is still time for us!
Giovanni - Me too, I must be patient with Betta: the family is still grieving over the death of her uncle .
Mario - Ehi guys, give up these fantasies: here is a heavy net and hopefully full of fish, to be withdrawn.
Giovanni - let's kick it , otherwise the master will deny us the muccigna (1).
At this point, it begins to rise a strong wind that heralds a storm and gets stronger and stronger becoming a turbulence; on the seabed - (screen), at this point, we should project the image of a whirlwind on stormy seas; the young are frightened but try to fight back.
Umberto - Quick John! Lower the sail!
Francesco - Mario! Run at the helm and hold on tight!
Giovanni - somebody helps me to throw out the water!
Mario - look! Here comes the Scijò! Holy-Mother of God! Help us!
(with the sound effects of the storm weakened, some storytellers from backstage enter the scene)
(1) "Muccigna" was the part of fish which was up to every sailor in addition to his pay.
Narrator 4 -The Scijò for San Benedetto's sailors was the waterspout, which however was not seen as a normal atmospheric phenomenon. It was, in fact, linked to a half esoteric, half metaphysical meaning of true divine punishment.
Narrator 5 -sailors believed that the Scijò only hit those who had done something wrong even though none of the others knew: who died or received damage from the Monster was guilty regardless of his real behaviour.
Narrator 6 - for this reason, over time the crew had sought remedies, between magical and religious, to defend themselves from the fury of the Scijò: that was the reason why the mysterious figure of the "Clipper" was born. His true identity was unknown even to the crew, but only revealed in the most tragic moment.
Narrator 2- He had to be a "first born" in the family and had to possess a long sharp butcher knife. He also had to know some mysterious words, a sort of formula that was passed down from generation to generation.
Narrator 1 - when the Scijò caught up, this sailor had to stand alone on deck in front of the column of air and water with the knife in his hand.
Narrator 3 - Then, shouting the magic words he knew, he cut several times the column of stormy rain moving horizontally the arm next to him and holding his body bowed, while the rest of the crew watched the scene from a distance and prayed.
The scene interrupted by the narrative resumes: initially the four sailors reanimate and they keep on doing what they were doing before the interruption: it would be better these movements were somehow choreographed so as to represent clearly what they mean until the intervention of the Clipper that can be chosen among the four sailors; he mimes saying the magic formula and cutting the swirling column with stretched arm and head bowed, maybe repeating it twice or three times. At this point the hurricane dissolves and the sea goes back calm. The lights slowly fade up and then are switched off, as the four characters come out.
The navigation resumes on a placid night sea beautifully enlightened by a silver full moon. On the screen, which acts as a backdrop, is projected a night docking of some launches. On the stage, which represents the ideal shore of this sea , the girls Francesca, Nunziata, Rosa and Betta confident are waiting for the four young sailors to come back and are singing(... or pretend to sing) the song symbol of San Benedetto del Tronto (Nuttate de lùne) in the original version, while on the screen, overlay, appear the words of the song translated into English. On the same music, the young sailors enter as if they had just docked and,after a tender embrace, take the baskets loaded with fish(one per pair) and slowly leave the scene.