Sicilian-American Theatre

The Sicilian Text

Here's another of playwright and actor Giovanni De Rosalia's (1864-1934) comedies. The original Sicilian title is: Nofrio Si Deve Tirare. For a discussion of De Rosalia, some of his other work and the original Italian and Sicilian text of his comedy, go to Joe Accardi's Prima Pagina.


The English Translation


Nofrio Backs Down
a comedy by
Giovanni De Rosalia
© 1919
Casa Editrice Biblioteca Siciliana
226 Lafayette St. N.Y.

The Cast:
Don Totò

Props: some money, a tablespoon in a piece of paper, a fork.

A street scene with a house on each side.


Don Totò. (appearing from the last section to the right of the actor and crossing to the door at the left, he calls out:) Teresina, Teresina!

Ter. What is it, don Totò?

Don. How much do I owe you for this week's ironing.

Ter. Three lira and seventy five cents.

Don. So little? Oh, but your beautiful hands deserve more! I'd like to give you five lira.

Ter. Don Totò, as I've told you many times, I don't want a single penny more than the price.

Don. I know that: but I like you a lot.

Ter. And here we go again!

Don. When are you going to make up your mind to like me?

Ter. Never! I've told you already that I'm married.


Fil. (coming through the door at the right) Ah! Ah! Here's the dude who comes to bring money to the laundress! Don't certain folks have a lot of luck! She works, and they have a good time!

Ter. Don Totò, you must do me the favor of not talking to me of such things, otherwise I'll tell my husband!

Don. No, no; don't tell your husband! Look, I'm going to come back later, and then I hope you'll say yes. Good bye, my dear (he leaves).

Fil. (to herself) Ah, he called her my dear! So it looks like something's going on!

Ter. (te herself, looking at Filomena) Oh,here comes the jealous one!

Fil. (speaking teasingly) This is why within certain families there is abundance;because there are those who bring money to their dearest!

Ter. (aside) Now the murmuring will start.

Fil. The husbands go to work, and the wives...enough, I don't want to talk because I'm prudent!

Ter. Who are you talking with?

Ter. Since you were looking at my house when you said: There are those who bring money to their "my dear"!

Fil. Do you think you're the only one who has someone who gives them money?

Ter. Look, if you don't stop talking a rimmèstri, one of these days I'll make you regret it! And stop being so jealous!

Fil. You're accusing me of jealousy? Bah, do me a favor! I'm an honest woman!

Ter. What did you hear? Be careful what you say! Otherwise I'll pull out the few hairs you have left on your head!

Fil. Who? Me?

Ter. You; you!

Fil. Let's see you try it!

Ter. Just watch me? (she hurls herself against Filomena and they brawl).


Nino. (interposing himself and separating them) Hey! Hey! What's the matter?

Nof. What started this?

Fil. (very angrily) She was trying to pull my hair?

Nino. (arrogantly) And who dared to try to pull your hair?

Fil. She did! She did!

Nino. (looking at Nofrio threateningly) This is just great!

Nof. (fearfully) Teresina, let's go in because it's cold out here! (forcing Teresa to withdraw with him).

Fil. She tried to pull my hair! My hair!

Nino. (authoritatively) Enough! Now that I'm here no one should say anything else!

Fil. I won't talk anymore but you have to set things right for me, and that slut has to apologize for having laid hands on me. Call her husband right now and challenge him!

Nino. I don't need you to tell me what to do! Where's the knife?

Fil. in the draw of the sideboard!

Nino. Let's go in; I'll arm myself, and then I'll have a face to face with my friend (they exit).


Ter. Where is she? The one who called me a slut?

Nof. (fearfully hanging back at the door) Come here! Come inside! Stop! What's done is done!

Ter. What's done is done? What makes you think this is the end of it?

Nof. So how must it end?

Ter. I have to teach that gossip some manners.

Nof. What are you talking about?

Ter. Just this, you have to call her husband and challenge him, then you can reason with him!

Nof. And to reason I have to challenge him?

Ter. Certainly! In case you have to attack him!

Nof. With what?

Ter. With a knife!

Nof. Holy mackeral! Sweetie pie, forget this ever happened!

Ter. What? Forget about it? Is this the way you want your wife respected? Come inside and I'll tell you what you have to do!

Nof. As long as we don't talk about knives!

Ter. (dragging him with her) Walk!


Nino. You stay inside! Now I'll call my friend, I know what I have to do!

Fil. Let me stay here!

Nino. No ma'm! Women should not be involved in these kinds of things!

Fil. I'm getting involved! I want to see what happens! (she goes into the house).

Nino. (approaches Nofrio's house, walking with an air of agression) Hey, buddy!

Nof. (from inside) Yeah?

Nino. If you please, I would like to talk with you!

Nof. (from inside) With me ?

Nino. Yessir!

Nof. (from inside) Fine, fine! Some other time!

Nino. No! We have to talk now.

Ter. (from within) Nofriu, go out go see what this piece of work wants!


Nof. (timidly) What do you want?

Nino. Well now, the activities of your wife shouldn't be and they create problems for my wife!

Nof. (affably) They're just women, after all!

Nino. Exactly! That's just what I said to my wife; Women should not get involved in a man's affairs!

Nof. (with slight shivers) What do you want?

Nino. We have to talk, among us men.

Nof. Talk about what?

Nino. I'm on horseback, saddle up and come with me!

Nof. Do we have to go far?

Nino. No! Just nearby!

Nof. So then why do we have to go on horseback?

Nino. Come on! No nonsense! I'll wait for you nearby at the plain of the Ammaciuni, and we can have our little discussion there.

Nof. Why don't we have our little discussion here?

Nino. We can't have our discussion here because the police might come when they hear us!

Nof. Do we have to talk so loudly?

Nino. I'm asking you to come to the plain of the Ammaciuni. I'll give you time to saddle up! Don't make me wait too long because I have a hot head! (he leaves).

Nof. (distressed) Now look at the great day that has dawned for me!


Ter. Nofriu, did you talk to him? Did you make him listen? Did you set up a meeting?

Nof. Yes! We're going to meet at the plain of the Ammaciuni, but I won't be able to go there!

Ter. Why not?

Nof. I can't find a horse at this late hour?

Ter. Why do you need a horse?

Nof. He said: Get your horse, I'll be waiting for you!

Ter. Oh! That means: Put your knife in your pocket!

Nof. Impossible! He specifically said a horse!

Ter. A knife!

Nof. A knife! Why would I ever go there with a knife?

Ter. To reason with him!

Nof. And you think you reason with a knife?

Ter. O course! First you start reasoning with your mouth, if that doesn't work, you take your knife in hand, and the world is silenced!

Nof. Is that right?

Ter. I'll get you your weapon! And you can use it as is required! (she exits).

Nof. I'm afraid my wife must be related to Minicu Chiantedda? Now you can see what's happened to me today! How did it happen? All I want to do is mind my own business? But it's impossible!


Ter. (holding a fork) I couldn't find the knife: take this, defend yourself with this fork.

Nof. How can I manage with a fork? He'll disembowel me!

Ter. But I haven't been able to find the knife!

Nof. Well who says I have to go?

Ter. He's waiting for you!

Nof. But he's expecting me to come on horseback and you're sending me there with a fork!

Ter. And you're still here?

Nof. How do you like this! When it's time to eat there are no forks, and now that it's not time to eat, there's a clean fork so that I can go out to have my belly cut out! (he exits).

Ter. (laughing) I gave him a fork becuse he could get arrested with a knife! I'm sure the other guy isn't going to even lay a finger on him! Her husband talks and talks but isn't capable of hurting a fly! And she'd be good if she wasn't so jealous! Oh, here she is!


Fil. You're here? Are you happy now that you've ruined my family?

Ter. It's your fault! It's because of you that our husbands are now fighting! Why must you be so jealous! I could like you a lot if you weren't so jealous, and we could even be friends.

Fil. Yes it's true!

Ter. It's up to you!

Fil. I'm ready to be your friend.

Ter. I am too! Meanwhile, who knows if our husbands have finished fighting.

Fil. (surprised) Holy mother!

Ter. What's wrong?

Fil. Your husband can hurt my husband but my husband can't do anything to yours!

Ter. Why is that?

Fil. Because, since he had a knife hidden in a piece of paper, I was afraid he could stab your husband, so I removed the knife and put a tablespoon inside the paper!

Ter. Really? well then don't worry because my husband is armed with a fork!

Fil. Oh, well thank goodness!

Ter. Oh, here comes my husband.

SCENE 10.a

Fil. Don Nofriu, where is my husband?

Nof. I don't know anything!

Ter. But did you go to the appointment?

Nof. I went but he couldn't be found!

SCENE 11.a

Nino. I wanted to know if I had to wait some more! Why didn't you come?

Nof. I came but you could not be found!

Nino. But I was always there!

Nof. And I didn't see you!

Nino. Well then let's go

Nof. I can't go right now.

Nino. Why is that?

Nof. Because I have something to do!

Nino. Why, are you afraid!

Nof. ‘You guessed it!

Ter. (pretending to want to reignite the argument) - No,my husband isn't afraid of anyone! Nofriu, let them see what you're made of.

Nof. What must I do?

Ter. Draw your weapon!

Nof. (unwillingly) We draw! (he takes the fork out of his pocket).

Nino. (stepping back, pulls the spoon out of the paper) Draw your weapon, swine!

Nof. (seeing the tablespoon) What are we going to do, set a table?

Nino. How did my knife turn into a tablespoon?

Ter. Your wife switched it so you wouldn't be compromised. Your wife and I have settled our differences and we've become friends!

Nof. (contento) No kidding? So we don't have to fight anymore?

Nino. Now that our wives have made peace, we have make peace too!

Nof. Then I can get off my horse?

Nino. Dismount!

SCENE 12.a

Don. Teresina, you see that I've returned?

Fil. Here's the ugly person that was the cause of our quarrel!

Nof. Don Totò? Why?

Fil. Because, this morning he called your wife: My dear!

Nof. And you sir, risked saying "my dear" to my wife? (imitating the same appearnce that Nino made to him) Get on your horse, sir!

Don. To go where?

Nof. We have to go have a fight with a spoon and a fork!

Don. But I...

Nof. I'm telling you: get on your horse, sir.

Don. I don't have a horse!

Nof. Then sir, go hire a little donkey!

Don. But you can see that I'm an old man!

Nof. Then, sir, get into a carriage!

Ter. Nofriu, let him go, don't you see that he's trembling all over?

Nof. (showing off) - Blood of the prison! Nobody stop me! Draw, you swine! (he draws the fork)

Don. (flees terrorized) Holy souls of Purgatory!

Nof. (laughs) He's as courageous as I am! Enough already!

Gentle people
The comedy is over;
The curtain is lowered
And Nofrio salutes you!
-- THE END --

Translated by Joe Accardi and Art Dieli.
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This page is maintained by Art Dieli.
Last updated 6/8/2002