All the way there


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Death-and-Mr.-Pickwick-by-Stephen-JarvisHow do we come to write what we write? It’s a different question from “why”. It’s not so much a matter of reasons and motives, as of the road that lead to a particular book (or play, or story…) meant as a set of thematic, narrative and stylistic choices.

Each piece of work has its own How – long or short, a more or less disparate collection of influences, memories, circumstances, findings, likes, dislikes, long-chewed ideas and sudden epiphanies… Continue reading

Little Shakespeareans


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BoyHe is nine, going on ten, and brimming with eagerness.

Well, perhaps not quite so eager, the day he landed at Il Palcoscenico di Carta towed by his mother – but this changed soon enough when we gave him a speech or two to read. You could see he loved it from the start: the atmosphere, the reading, the tale, the voices, being part of it, chatting with the real actors… Continue reading

Enter a Kite – snoring


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sleeping-raven-vector-isolated-white-48588759A couple of weeks ago we had the last meeting of Ad Alta Voce, our not-quite-book-club, before parting company for the summer. There were some ten of us, including The Librarian.

Now, you see, The Librarian is a rather rotund, more than middle-aged, yellow-haired lady who Is There Because She Is There. Don’t ask – it’s all very Italian.

The Librarian is also a rather peculiar character and used to dislike Ad Alta Voce quite a bit. For the first year and a half or so, she would grumpily let us in and then sit at her desk or prowl the (very tiny) library, making us jump at intervals by muttering to herself behind the shelves. And it was clear all along that what she muttered about was why, oh why couldn’t we read in our sitting rooms instead of forcing her to work night hours… Continue reading

Perchance to read…


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readerbooksHere we go again. Summer is back, and I am thinking about a Reading Week. As usual, I still don’t know whether I’ll manage it: work is rather intense, the revision is only a week away, and I have a short play to write… There is no question of going anywhere – but that’s all right if only I can get myself a week of blissful, uninterrupted reading. Why, at a pinch, even half a week would do very well.

When? No idea. We’ll see. Meanwhile, I’m hoarding books like there is no tomorrow. Let us see… Continue reading

The Egyptian Loaf


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FayumBWWhile reading this great post about the Egyptian Museum in Turin, I was assaulted by memories of my own about the place.

I was there only once, many years ago. Nearly thirty years ago, actually – which makes me feel considerably old. As a young girl I once spent a week in Turin with my parents. My father was there for Army reasons, and my mother and I tagged along, and were foisted upon a young officer*, who showed us around. Under his guidance we also visited the Egyptian Museum. The place was quite impressive – more than a little cave-like, with its cavernous rooms and scant lighting… I remember especially the great hall with its procession of statues emerging from the gloom, a glass case containing a pair of mummified hands the colour of parchment, and the haunting eyes of the Fayum mummy portraits. I was an easily spooked child, and I remember lying awake the night after the visit, thinking of those hands and eyes… PaneEgizioBW

And yet, the most lasting impression was made by something else. Something as small and ordinary as a loaf of bread. It had been put in a tomb, and resisted through several thousand years, and there it sat, in a glass case – one of several round, flat loaves, the sort you might find in any bakery to this day, still bearing the imprint of the hands that kneaded it…

I think I have already said that my love of history grew through a series of smaller and bigger epiphanies. Well, the Egyptian Loaf was one of them. I could imagine so well this long-dead baker kneading the dough, shaping it, baking it in the oven – just the way we do it, or as little differently as it makes no odd – and… Shall it sound dreadfully fanciful, if I say “and handing it to us, as if through a window across the millennia”? Because this is what it felt like, back then, in the cool, shady rooms of the Egyptian Museum in Turin. An overwhelming sense of things unchanged – or very little. A sudden sense of kinship with a dizzyingly distant past that, three decades later, still manages to give me a shiver.



* I call him a young officer now, but back then he seemed quite old to me. He must have been in his thirties… Did I mention I’m feeling old at the moment?



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time-travel-clock2The first thing was the bus from Stansted, entering London through Shoreditch and Bishopsgate – passing by St. Botolph – and then Threadneedle Street, and seeing it all through memories of the Agas Map, and touring companies coming back to London after traipsing through the provinces, and people coming and going between Norton Folgate and the City, and the Pye Inn, and everything else… Continue reading

A Word Treasure


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Cloud 2M. pointed my nose toward this article on the Guardian, in which a bunch of writers were asked to share their favourite words.

A lovely idea, I think: writers are wordsmiths by trade, with an ingrained love of words (often bordering on obsession, if the writers I know, including myself, are anything to go by…), and their choices are bound to be interesting. Continue reading

“Come live with me and be my love,” quoth he…


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PSThe Passionate Shepherd to his Love is an utterly delightful love poem of shepherds and nymph, a charming and carefree little thing that shows us a different Kit Marlowe from the fiery author of Tamburlaine, Faustus and the Massacre at Paris… Continue reading

I’m back!



no-internet-connectionI hadn’t disappeared… Or yes, well – I had, but it wasn’t my idea. A thunderstorm wreaked havoc with communications around here, and I was stranded and net-less for three days.

It happens now and then – and will go on happening, because I live in a tiny riverside village in the middle of nowhere, not too far from rural Mantua. The place is pretty to the point of idyll, but show me an Arcadia with good Internet connection… This to explain that it could happen again – it will happen again: I’ll go missing, and you’ll know why.

Anyway, while I was stranded, things kept happening. One is that this post appeared on the Paper Stage Blog, about Il Palcoscenico di Carta. I really love this project to bits, and can’t wait for September to begin again. And meanwhile there are developments… I’ll let you know.


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