Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Learning Italian not exactly child’s play for us, but still entertaining

Friday, March 16
“Every time someone says he doesn't believe in fairies, a fairy dies. When someone laughs, a fairy is born.” This is among the lessons we learn at a children’s play in Lucca’s Teatro di Giglio that we attend as part of our self-directed program to learn Italian. Children’s entertainment is much easier for us to understand than adult theater and movies, where all the clever word play leaves us bewildered.
Wendy's dad and Peter Pan disagree, and Wendy is caught in the middle.

I have reserved seats in the balcony, front row, which gives us not only a great view of the play but also of an audience full of bambini, most of whom have come from their schools with their teachers. The play, titled Peter Pan: A story of few centimeters and feathers, is scheduled for 2:45 p.m., but when we arrive a few minutes before the scheduled start, only about 30 children are in the crowd. By 3:10 p.m., the floor level is packed with chattering kids, and now the play begins. The children immediately quiet down, listen respectfully and laugh at the silly antics of the actors.

View from the back of the balcony.
It is not meant to be a traditional story of Peter Pan, though there are similarities. Arturo is a scientist, very serious, devoted to logic, reason and knowledge. His daughter, Wendy, does not want to take on adult responsibilities and says she prefers to remain a child forever. Peter Pan, a fairy, comes along and wants Wendy to come with him to be his mother, which causes Wendy and her father to argue, and the father and Peter to fight over Wendy. In the end, the father agrees to lighten up and believe in fairies, and Wendy agrees to stay with her dad and grow up a little. Peter is back to the land of the fairies, but he will come to visit again if they call for him, or something like that. During the various exchanges, there are huge bubbles, an invisible boat, a pillow fight and other events which cause the stage to become strewn with feathers. As for the few centimeters, I’m not sure where that comes in. That must have been among one of the dialogues that we didn’t understand, because we still can’t keep up with rapid conversations, even in a children’s play.

Tomorrow we will come back to Lucca to watch a movie, where we will undoubtedly understand even less. It seems our progress is glacially slow, but we remain committed because there are so many things we love about being here. Now it’s time for a gelato, the passeggiata and a train ride, three of the pleasures that make our struggle to learn Italian worthwhile.

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