Thursday, November 25, 2010

Via della Sfiga!

Trofie Wife saw Avenue Q back when it first arrived on Broadway and her post-college life had close parallels with those depicted onstage (she may have gotten a little weepy when she first heard “I Wish I Could Go Back to College…”). Martello never saw it onstage, but his laptop somehow acquired the soundtrack, and he was familiar enough with the story and music so that when we saw large posters around town featuring mischievous-looking puppets, we agreed that we should give the Italian version playing at the Politeama Genovese theatre --Via della Sfiga-- a shot.

It was fascinating to see how they translated the book, which is tuned to American pop culture and political references. Thanks to our cultural exports, nearly everyone knew (as evidenced by laughter) who Arnold from TV’s Diff'rent Strokes was. During “Everyone’s a Little Bit Racist” some of the text interludes included jokes that played on Italian regional stereotypes. We kinda missed the one about the Genovese, but the crowd was in stitches, and in the ensuing months as we gained more knowledge of our surroundings, we became fairly certain that the line had something to do with their supposed “cheapness” thrift. During intermission we were intrigued by the ads projected onto a pulled down screen, a la movie theatre previews (American theatre professionals reading this take note!).

Martello and I were surprised that Rod’s imaginary girlfriend still lived in Canada. We were expecting something a little bit more local (there are plenty of corners of Italy that are difficult to travel to and/or European countries composed of three syllables--Rom-an-ia, anyone?). Of course Trofie Wife was anxiously awaiting how the “George Bush is only for now” line would be transposed. They opted to go with Bossi, the head of the anti-immigrant Lega Nord party. Also, finding “my purpose” became finding “my dream” (sogno). It struck me as an especially noteworthy change since American culture is so focused on work and work having meaning (or "purpose") whereas those feelings are a little bit less prominent around here. Finding one’s dream isn’t too shabby a send-off message.

Trofie Wife happily left with a T-shirt commemorating the experience, although Martello wisely advised that she send it back to the States for future wearing, as “sfiga” isn’t quite the nicest word to be displaying when walking down the street (and most elderly Arenzanese residents probably aren’t familiar with the show and won’t get the joke).

Baci e gelato,
Martello e Trofie Wife

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