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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…

When we finished the first reading he asked very politely could he please come back next thursday – and read some more? When asked what had he liked, he lit up and answered “Everything!” By the third meeting, he was imagining cable cars linking Mantua’s parking lots to our libreria, “so it would be easier for everyone to get there”, and very keen to know what are we going to read in September… As I said: brimming with eagerness, positively vibrating with it – and quite the fledgling Shakespearean, too.

His mother says he brought his printed copy of Romeo e Giulietta to school, and proudly told his teacher how he had read Shakespeare. His teacher was amused and impressed – and very much surprised when, a few weeks later, he met the plans for a Three Little Pigs skit in English with wary disgust.

“I don’t think I’ll like to do it,” he said with a frown.

“You – of all people?” the teacher protested. “You, who have read Shakespeare and been all agog about it for weeks?”

And our nine-year-old took a world-weary expression, and said: “Yes – but this is the Three Little Pigs!”

Spoiled for good… I hope that, while I gloat about the power of theatre and language, the poor teacher doesn’t hate us too much. Meanwhile, I met the Shakespearean little imp the other day, and the third thing he asked (right after news of my new kitten, and have I ever read Harry Potter) was: can he really, really read again with us in September?