Monday, February 20, 2017

"Talia" A Radio Play Now on The New Play Exchange


Back in 2015, a radio producer who had read my Arlecchino Am Ravenous invited me to contribute a script for an anthology series he was planning, a collection of audio drama adaptations of the tales the Pentamerone of Giambattista Basile (1566-1632). The Pentamerone is the earliest known attempt to collect a nation's folktales, in this case, the nation of Naples, and was to inspire the Brothers Grimm in their nineteenth-century project to collect German folktales. The work was originally published in two volumes, posthumously in 1634 and 1636, and under the pseudonym Gian Alesio Abbatutis, by his sister under the Neapolitan title of Lo cunto de li cunte.

I was asked to adapt "The Sun, The Moon, and Talia" a fairytale generally considered to be the one of the earliest extant variants of a story known in the English speaking world as "Sleeping Beauty." After two separate drafts of the script, the producer just went silent, so as far as I know, the anthology series is no longer a going concern. So now I am sharing it with readers on The New Play Exchange.

A note to readers: One challenging aspect of adapting the fairytale was that the original folktale describes the rape, which did not carry the same level of moral revulsion in the seventeenth century as it does in our era. So while I felt the need to keep the rape in my version, I could not keep the happy ending of Basile's version. A different choice is made by John Edward Taylor who, in his 1847 English translation of the Pentamerone, instead chose to retain the happy ending and leave out the impregnation by rape of the sleeping protagonist, leading to this weird passage as he attempts to suppress any knowledge of the trauma in his readers:

Meanwhile, two little twins, one a boy and the other a girl, who looked like two little jewels, wandered, from I know not where, into the palace and found Talia in a trance.

Needless to say, my version of the story is not appropriate for young people, at least as we in the twenty-first century understand childhood.

You can read Talia on the The New Play Exchange, along with my other plays.

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