Artistic Discoveries in European Schoolyards

Marco Renzi (Italy)

Here come the European Boat People

È arrivato un gommone carico di Europei

Text Extract


(Music. Carmine has taken from the suitcase everything necessary for a dinner:
tablecloth, plates, glasses, a bottle of wine, also a little lamp with a candle.
They eat, drink and chat. In the sky there’s a plenty of stars and a full moon.
After eating they make themselves comfortable, with their back leaning on the cliff)

GIORGIO Will you laugh, if I’ll tell you something?

CARMINE I’ll be happy to laugh, if it’s funny.

GIORGIO I don’t recall ever having had such an intense Christmas Eve. I’m trying to remember, but I can’t find another one like this.

CARMINE What did you used to do on Christmas Eve?

GIORGIO Usually we went out, almost always.


GIORGIO Yes women too. Far away countries, luxury. Often boredom, never told, never declared. Maybe it’s because of where we are, maybe it’s because of the moon, or the stars, maybe it’s because we don’t have anything, but I feel it’s Christmas. Merry Christmas. (he shakes Carmine’s hand)

(in the distance, the sound of a motorboat. Carmine immediately blows out the candle, they huddle together behind the rocks. A beam of light from the sea passes on the coast inspecting it: African soldiers are patrolling the area, to prevent boardings. They speak loudly in Arabic but they’re not visible, they’re on the sea, some hundreds of metres from the shore. Then they go away.)

GIORGIO Did they see us?

CARMINE They would have arrested us. They’re gone and we were lucky they didn’t have dogs with them.

GIORGIO Why, in your opinion?

CARMINE I don’t know, maybe it’s the holy Christmas night.

GIORGIO Will they come back?

CARMINE Who knows, maybe they will, maybe they won’t, and we hope they won’t.

GIORGIO Why aren’t they at Christmas dinner?

CARMINE Because they’re Muslims, and they don’t care about our Christmas.

GIORGIO I was scared though…

CARMINE Scared of what?

GIORGIO I don’t know if I’m more scared of going there or being arrested and sent back home. Are we sure things won’t change, a new season could blossom, we’ve got potential and huge tourist parks.

CARMINE If you want to go back home you can do it, you don’t need to be arrested. About tourist potential, only a few Africans come here, they remember the way we treated them, not to mention all the carbon monoxide they had to breathe at the stoplights in our cities while they were washing our windshields.

GIORGIO Those were Polish.

CARMINE Polish, Romanians, Nigerians, Senegalese, Moroccans, don’t worry, they all remember well.

GIORGIO Well, what should we have done, in your opinion?

CARMINE I don’t know, I haven’t studied. I only know they’re treating us the same way we treated them.

GIORGIO (standing up) When hunger and poverty populate a land, people escape and are ready for anything. That’s the way it’s always been, the poor ones look for the rich ones who look at them with contempt. Like the Italians at the beginning of the XX century, filling up the ships to America, the Africans towards Europe, at the end of the same century and at the beginning of the following one, now it’s our turn.

GIORGIO Where are you going?

GIORGIO I need to stretch my legs.

CARMINE Pay attention, they could come back.



The performance is based on a kind of creative and amusing, even dramatic, turning upside down of the actual worldwide situation. It imagines that a series of factors, such as climate change and the discovery of new materials, will cause the collapse of Europe and of all the Western countries, which will be replaced by the African countries as the new economic rulers. So, rafts and crafts of all kinds change their course, bringing Italians and Europeans to search for jobs (dirty, dangerous, humiliating or whatever) in the new leading countries of the world.
The performance is about two migrants: Giorgio comes from Milan, Northern Italy, where he was previously an employee in the glittering fashion industry; Carmine comes from Southern Italy, from the Calabria Region, He has already emigrated once before. The first time, he went with all his family to Germany, the country once considered to be the engine of Europe, where he worked at the Mercedes Company. The two migrants, travelling different routes, meet on a cold Christmas night on the Southern Sicilian shores, in a remote and hidden place, whilst waiting for a raft, which will take them to the rich African shores.
The night is special, the sky is starry, the wait is long, the fears as well as the hopes are endless. Thinking about the world and life in general, they become friends, sympathetic and curious about each other’s past. Like Mary Poppins’ bag, Carmine’s suitcase contains all the ingredients of the typical Christmas Eve dinner, traditional food and also coffee, because a man coming from the South always brings along the coffee machine. Time passes among memories and reflections, fears and dreams and the ghosts of our times take off in a sad and conceited way. There is time to weave branches found on the beach, to leave a little crèche in a rock gorge and to ask Baby Jesus for a new life. Maybe the raft will arrive at midnight and maybe they will leave through the immense, unknown and dark sea. The things value has changed, the Western richness has proved not to last forever, the wheel has turned and will do so again, scoffing at humankind. During this special night there is also place for fireworks, because we, the human beings, are like this: we want to believe that one day the world will be different.



Teatro Elsinor (Milano / IT) January 2013

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