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Manlio Santanelli - Testi on-line

Manlio Santanelli

a cura di Barbara Barone


Beati i senza tetto perché vedranno il cielo.

M. Santanelli

Author's Preface

For the record, I have no fondness for prefaces, nor for those false variations known these days as "introductory notes". This attitude, I should add, is especially pronounced when, after comparing signatures, with or without a magnifying glass, it turns out that the author of the preface and the author being prefaced are inevitably one and the same.
This disdain of mine puts me ill? at? ease, when it doesn't actually make me ill. Yet there is a reason for it: however much one tries to speak humbly and simply, rarely does one escape the insane temptation - let he who is without sin cast the first preface! - to explain everything to everybody. So let's be frank: there is nothing more intolerable these days than a person who is his own prophet. This, mind you, without factoring in the panic induced by so many introductions, when one doesn't approach them armed with the most up?to?date of dictionaries.
And yet, as the author of the work in question, I cannot exempt myself from the task of at least clarifying a motivation of mine that ultimately helped frame the entire piece. That is why I will resort to what, under other circumstances - i.e., where the work of others is concerned - I would not hesitate to label a "self?serving autobiographism".
The reader should be advised that I spent my childhood, that is to say, the years from birth until age twenty - yes, I do mean twenty: it's always been a prerogative of mine to extend life's seasons far beyond their normal limits; and even now, when I'm well past forty, I have serious doubts about whether or not I've left my adolescence behind - but, as I was saying, the reader should be advised that I spent my childhood in an august mansion in an even more august palace of Naples' historic center.
But, as happens in the best pulp fiction, destiny was ready to strike. It was an ugly day, in fact, when two men from the Civil Engineering Department knocked at the door, walked in, saw a few cracks in the wall (which we, in all honesty, had always admired for their decorative effects), and declared three-quarters of our house off?limits.
Confined, then, to the only wing of the building that had yet to show the belated but relentless effects of the war, we watched in desolation as bricklayers singing O' sole mio walled up one balcony and window after another. Finally, we found ourselves closed off in something resembling a bunker, dreading the possibility that one day even that structure could collapse on top of us. But we were young and industrious, and after an initial period of hesitation lasting no longer than two years, we managed the courage to move into a space that was far less august, but a bit more livable.
Unfortunately, this is something the two characters of Emergency Exit cannot manage. Wearied by an existence that has left them nothing but the bitter taste of memory, they are unable to muster any strength of will other than to pace up and down the one room in which they've dug out their hole: always in a frenzy to emigrate, but without ever even crossing the threshold of their own home.
Threats, suspicions, misunderstandings and disguises all make up their tragic and, at one and the same time, clown?like system of dealing with the void of the everyday. But I'll stop here. The rest of the piece will speak for itself, in the sense that every spectator or reader will be free to find in the play those moods and meanings he or she finds most congenial, even if contrary to those intended by the author.

Manlio Santanelli