House Street Mellen Collection


The Governess (La governante, 1951) by Vitaliano Brancati

A Post-Pirandello Sicilian Dramatist

Translated by Jane House

Edited and Annotated by Jane House and Jack D. Street

This book is the first to provide a play by this important author in English translation. The Governess, censored in 1951 for suggestions of lesbianism, is set in the living room of the upperclass Platanía family six years after the end of World War II, during which Italy had been allied with Hitler and Germany’s National Socialist (Nazi) Party. Nazi ideals had led to the systematic extermination of millions for their religious beliefs, race, politics, sexual preference, and even their disabilities.  (J.H.)

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Opera Guffaw by Dario Fo – The Heroine by Franca Rame 

The Brechtian Connection: Fo and Rame

Translations by Jack D. Street

Edited, annotated, and introduced by Jane House and Jack D. Street

Edwin Mellen Press, 2015

Opera Guffaw is a lively example of the fast-moving, rollicking, robust Dario Fo comedy, rendered all the more so since it is a musical enlivened by doses of rock music. The author has not forgotten to allude to the abuses he frequently attacks and demonstrates against, but his purpose is above all, to paraphrase Horace, to make us laugh. (J.D.S.)

Unlike Dario Fo in Opera Guffaw, Franca Rame does not mention Brecht in her Prologue to The Heroine. The influence of his Mother Courage and Her Children seems patent, however. There is the courage of the two protagonists in trying to save their children; there is the scourge of heroin addiction in the case of The Heroine, of war in Mother Courage.  (J.D.S.)

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I Married You for Happiness by Natalia Ginzburg – Two Women from the Provinces by Dacia Maraini 

Two Women Playwrights

Two Translations from Italian into English

Edited, introduced, and annotated by Jane House and Jack D. Street

Edwin Mellen Press, 2015

Be they disillusioned mothers or wives in flight from unsatisfactory marriages, or young, unschooled street waifs in search of a home and meaningful life, like Juliana in I Married You for Happiness (translated herein by Jane House), Ginzburg’s female protagonists are imaginative, energetic, courageous, and talkative—often to the point of garrulousness.  (J.H.)

Two Women from the Provinces (herein a first translation into English by Jack D. Street, with Jane House) is a splendid, concentrated example of one of the many plays in which the author focuses on women’s issues. Two childhood friends, now married, Magda and Valeria, meet in the somewhat sordid apartment of Magda’s nephew, and talk about their lives. Maraini retains the neoclassical unities of time and place, as found in Jean Racine’s Phèdre or Andromaque, but her protagonists are working class, not nobility. (J.D.S. and J.H.)

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Ferdinando by Annibale Ruccello – Beautiful  Maria by Roberto Cavosi 

Voices from the Postwar Generation

Two First Translations from Italian into English

Edited, introduced, and annotated by Jane House and Jack D. Street

Edwin Mellen Press, 2015

Ferdinando (herein translated from Neapolitan by D. D. Carnicelli) was Ruccello’s first play set in a historical period—before the era of electricity, mass communication, and social media—and garnered the 1985 IDI (Institute for Italian Drama) for best play and the 1986 IDI for best production. This chamber piece, a mixture of historical romance and opera buffa, touches on the political, economic, and linguistic dominance of the north over southern culture and language, and the south’s resentment of that supremacy. Baroness Clotilde’s crumbling estate lies near Vesuvius, a volcano that looms over Naples. (J.H.)

Biblical stories and classical myth have inspired Cavosi’s exploration of the world of women. Rosanero is an adaptation of the story of Antigone: in Palermo, Sicily, an anorexic young woman has starved herself to death to protest the tyranny of the mafia. In Gassosa, which evokes the cannibalistic myths of Atreus and Thyestes and Procne and Tereus, a distraught mother explains the bitter choices she confronts with regard to her drug-addicted son. With Beautiful Maria, winner of the 2001 Riccione Prize, Cavosi crafts a psychological thriller upon the ancient theme of ill-considered passion between a mother and her stepson.  (J.H.)

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Home Alone. The Windows. The Prompters. Three Plays by Dino Buzzati – Wild Boars at the Forest’s Edge by Giuliano Scabia 

From Magical Realism to the Fantastical.

Translations from Italian into English.

Edited, introduced, and annotated by Jane House and Jack D. Street

Edwin Mellen Press, 2015

The monologue Home Alone (Sola in casa, 1958, translated here by Jane House) features Madame Iris, a lonely widow and pensioner who finds her belief in tarot cards confirmed. The play requires an actress of exceptional mimetic gifts, who must imagine the animals in her modest home; talk to herself about an outside world that seems ordinary except for a mysterious murderer; mime the entry of her inscrutable neighbor, Mr. Palumbo, and their interaction.

The Windows (Le finestre, 1959, translated by Jack D. Street) is a striking poetic work in which the human voice seems to pierce an overwhelming silence and stillness. Dimming lights indicate the passing of time and the windows in the spare set separate unseen bourgeois interiors from a dangerous world outside, which characters face as much as they are able.

In many of Buzzati’s works, the themes of loneliness or alienation, the incomprehensibility of love, the fear of death, and the futility of life are prominent, but rarely does one find such a humorous plot as in The Prompters (I suggeritori, 1960, translated by Jack D. Street), where the playwright concentrates on details of style, relationship, and situation and uses farce, slapstick, and the presence of two fantastic characters, the prompters, to create laughter.  (J.H. and J.D.S.)

Giuliano Scabia (1935–), a widely published poet, novelist, playwright (more than sixty plays), and narrator, is little known in the English-speaking world. Part of the collection Teatro con bosco e animali (1987, Theatre with Forest and Animals) is Wild Boars at the Forest’s Edge (Cinghiali al limite del bosco, 1983, translated herein by Ritva Poom) (J.H.)

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Cover_DeFilippo:Patroni Griffi_House:Street

Grief Enchained (1964). The Top Hat (1966). Two Plays by Eduardo De Filippo – One Can Die of Love (1958) by Giuseppe Patroni Griffi

The Neapolitan Tradition and Beyond

Three First Translations into English

Edited, Introduced, and Annotated by Jane House and Jack D. Street

Edwin Mellen Press, 2015

Eduardo De Filippo (1900–84), a celebrated theatrical figure of worldwide renown, dedicated his life to the art of theatre, especially Neapolitan theatre.While Grief Enchained (translated by Jane House) has a bourgeois setting and The Top Hat (translated by Jane House) takes place in humble semi-subterranean rooms off an alleyway in Naples, both these tragicomedies share important similarities: a corpse that may or may not be real; a conflict between appearance and reality, mask and face; the appearance of a throng of neighbors representing crowd mentality; and endings that promise—but without certainty —a renewal of life.

Giuseppe Patroni Griffi (1921–2005) was one of the leading Italian playwrights and directors, of opera and theatre, in the second half of the twentieth century. Compagnia dei Giovani (Young People’s Company) successfully produced three of his plays between 1958 and 1967: D’amore si muore (One Can Die of Love), translated herein by Jack D. Street, with Jane House; Anima nera (Black Soul, 1960); and Metti, una sera a cena (One Evening at Supper, Let’s Say, 1967). The search for love in postwar Italy is a central theme in all three. (J. H.)

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