The Evil Eye

Main Piece: How about the evil eye? Do you know that? It’s a good one. It’s very popular in the South of Italy. In places like Bari where our family is from. Anyway, the idea is that just by giving someone a bad look, you can make them have bad luck. It’s like giving someone the stink eye or side eye but much, much worse because you give them actual bad luck. And it sticks on you. You can’t get rid of the bad luck on your own. It doesn’t fade off. You have to actually get it taken off. And so you have to do everything you can to protect yourself from it. One thing you can do is to wear red underwear. Then people can try and give you the evil eye but it won’t work. There are also lots of charms you can wear to protect yourself like a little horn or make hand signs like the horn hand sign or this one where you stick your thumb in between your middle and index. We never took it that seriously but the old timers would warn you not to brag or to talk about when you had exams coming up in case someone gave you the evil eye. The next time we go to Bari we’ll get your grandfather to point it out. It’s everywhere.

Background Information: Dianne Burnett is my mom. Her dad is originally from Bari, Italy, and she grew up in New York City.

Context of the Performance: The story was performed in the kitchen of my mom’s house.

My Thoughts on the Piece: The whole idea of the evil eye seems really bizarre to me and I think it’s hilarious that red underwear are supposed to offer you magical protection. That’s so great. Afterwards, I went and did some research on The Evil Eye and was amazed that it is not only in Southern Italy but all over the Mediterranean and into the Middle East. Of course, there are many such superstitions all over the world but it is fascinating how seriously people seem to take the evil eye.