Main Story: And then there are all the Southern Italian stories that deal with the code of silence. A lot of this stuff is mafia stuff. It’s about not snitching. But not all of it. Some of it is just about Southern Italy where you learn not to trust anyone. Like there’s the one about the father who tells his son to jump off a wall and that he’ll catch him. His son jumps off a wall and the father just lets him fall. His son breaks his leg. As his son is lying there in agony his father comes over and tells him that the most important lesson in life is to trust no one. Or there’s the one where a father has three sons. The father knocks his own hat off his head and onto the ground. The father says to his first son, “What’d I do?” The first son says, “You knocked your hat to the ground.” The father smacks him. The father picks up his hat and says to his second son, “What’d I do?” The second son says, “You picked your hat off the ground.” The father hits him. The father turns to the third and smartest son and says “What’d I do?” The third son says, “I don’t know.” And then the father says, “When anyone asks you anything about your family, the answer is I don’t know.” You know I love Southern Italy. The food is incredible and so are a lot of the people on a personal level. But there’s a reason why your grandfather left. It’s not a very…uhhh…practical society.
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: This was a really powerful piece to me. I really like Southern Italy. The food is delicious. It’s a beautiful place and, generally, I find the people really hospitable. However, it’s also easy to see that it’s not a very functional place. These stories began to help me understand why.