This 'n' That

Monday, July 24, 2006


It happened as I sensed it would. My role as the narrator in the upcoming student production of an Orvieto based play, has been reduced. Whereas before I had sixteen lines, I now have about seven. The role has been divided among three of us. The other two are women. One is from Pennsylvania - she speaks fluent Italian. The third person is from Slovakia. She had formerly been too shy to take part, but since her husband has a leading part... Who knows! I do believe the director favors women to a fault. How do I know? The American woman's pronunciation of the words in each line is no better than mine; and she is barely audible. Oops! The director has just entered the room. No fear. He can neither speak, read, nor write english. The same goes for me when it comes to Italian. There will be more rehearsals tonight until Thursday, when the production is staged in front of a live audience.

Last night I attended a dinner party for one of the professor's sister. It took place at a very nice restaurant - they are all especially nice here, including the food. In attendance was a professor of Italian from Toronto and his lovely wife. Though he now teaches anthropology there. A British professor of public speaking. An Italian student of linguistics, and a young woman of Greek descent who is an instructor of public speaking in english. I'll be assisting her later this afternoon, as I did last week. The experience, though brief, has been an eye opener.

That is all for now. I hope to return later....Ciao from Orvieto!!!

Friday, July 21, 2006


Currently it is extremely hot and humid here in Orvieto, Italy where this writer has been since early Sunday morning. Sweltering is a better word. I was here for the same reason last year, and found the weather more tolerant with many more cool breezes and lower temperatures. But it was the first of July rather than mid to late July then. The tourist season seems to be at its peak, too. Sunday morning of my arrival, as I sat on the steps of the Cattolica Universita, I observed bus after bus come and go, each one so full that several passengers had their faces pressed against the window glass. Contorted as these strange faces were, it did not prevent them from bounding out of each bus, cameras at the ready, to begin recording every step they took towards the famous Duomo.

With each bright, sunshiny and hot day, hordes of bug-eyed tourists continue to descend upon this tiny hilltop town that is approximately 100 kilometers north of Rome. But I am here to learn Italian, and I am or I feel a bit out of my element. Most of the other students come from strong backgrounds in foreign languages. At least three or four of a total of twenty five hail from here in Italy. The rest are from Slovakia, Romania, and Russia. Moscow to be exact. One in particular from Russia could pass for the kid sister of Rene Zellweger. And she is just about as talented as an actress. You see, our class is in rehearsals for a play. Nadia, as she is called, is a half pint brimming over with youthful energy. With more focus, she could possibly turn out to be the Russian version of Ms Zellweger. Though it will not likely happen, since not even the director himself recognizes how much natural ability Nadia has to offer.

Last year I was sort of in a better position to learn Italian. All of us, with the exception of one, were from the U.S. So our American pronunciations and accents did not reverberate quite so loudly. As the narrator in the play, I must stand in a room full of students who have probably never heard the Italian language mangled as much before. Still I carry on. I refuse to be intimidated, not even by Lorenzo the director who criticizes my delivery and pronunciation of each word. There will be two performances, possibly three, of the play that concerns a priest who has lost his faith in the holy sacrament - until he witnesses for himself the blood of Christ during one communion. I may have it all wrong. But I may also be "forgiven".
After all I am still learning....Come back to read what happens next.