THE DEPAMERON
Published in

THE DEPAMERON

Nunlets and Monklets

Yes. I’m one of the nunlets. Well guessed. The secret did manage to find its way out when our father left the convent. And we knew — of course we knew. It was a small convent and there were as many children as there were nuns at a certain point. The nuns tried to convince us we’d been abandoned there by villagers but each of our mothers confessed to their child sooner or later so we all knew we were half siblings and that Masetto was our father.

We participated in the fiction, of course. We understood the stakes from a very early age and we became quite good at performing for the bishop when he came around. As soon as he walked through the gates, we all became quite stupid and obedient — which is just what the bishop liked to see. We nearly blew our cover from laughing at Matteo pulling so hard on a door that opened the other way or Sofia growing increasingly frustrated at the bucket in the well refusing to come up on its own.

Sofia’s mother had explained to all of us how the bishop was convinced that all the villagers were fools and that abandoned children should be the most foolish of all.

We spent a fair amount of time coming up with lazzi we could try wherever the bishop came. It’s fairly clear that this is how we became a theatre troupe. We so enjoyed performing for the bishop that when we grew up, we just took our little lazzi to the street and eventually on tour.

There aren’t a lot of jobs open for a bunch of bastard children of nuns. We knew that from the start. Some of the other girls thought of taking vows at one point or another but ultimately they all preferred the hypocrisy of the theatre to the hypocrisy of the convent. And having grown up behind convent walls, we were all anxious to see the world. We did come home to the convent fairly often to see our mothers and we made the occasional visit to the village where our father had retired, once our mothers had worn him out.

We had many peaceful years before our story got out and by the time it did, there was a new bishop and the abbess had died and no one wanted to stir up a mess, so now it’s just a funny story about a convent full of lusty nuns and one clever gardener. And the story made our company more famous than ever. We sometimes do a special show called Nunlets and Monklets about our childhood. Our father loves it.

NUNLETS and MONKLETS

Ladies and Gentlemen, Signore, Signori, ragazzi, bambini — Benvenuti to today’s performance about our childhood.

The renowned Bambini Vescovi are proud to present our truest story. Our truest storia. Allora. C’era una volta…Once upon a time — there was a little convent of a small group of nuns. These women were very devout, very dedicated to their religion, their gardens, their lord and services. They were also mothers. Not mothers superiors. Actual mothers, who bore babies and cared for them. Despite their dedication to the lord, they had lapsed on one solitary point, with the same gardener and steward. They all felt it was a sensible lapse to have had and confessed to and forgave each other easily. Their system worked beautifully. They had only one concern — The Bishop who was in charge of their dioscese. They knew him well and they knew he would not see the advantages of their lapsing the way they did. So whenever the Bishop came to visit, the children pretended to be foolish children of the village. Why, here they come now.

Enter 3 bambini

BAMBINO 1: Sister Margaret tells me the Bishop will arrive in an hour.

BAMBINO 2: Already? Wasn’t he just here?

BAMBINO 3: That was a month ago.

BAMBINO 1: Do we have a plan or shall we just improvise?

BAMBINO 2: I always like to improvise.

BAMBINO 3: And I always like to have a plan.

BAMBINO 1: Of course. Why did I even ask? So. We’ll make a plan and Angelica will improvise on the theme.

BAMBINO 2: Va bene.

BAMBINO 3: Tutto bene.

BAMBINO 1: Allora. Ideas?

BAMBINO 3: I think we could set up an elaborate machine that is designed to do something very simple that is actually much easier done without the machine.

BAMBINO 1: We have an hour to design, build it, set it up.

BAMBINO 2: And what if he comes early?

BAMBINO 3: Ah. Good point. That’s for next time.

BAMBINO 2: What if I’m outside when he arrives and I can’t figure out how to get back in because the door is closed and I always pull when I’m supposed to — push?

BAMBINO 3: Okay- and then he lets you in and what are we doing?

BAMBINO 1: Maybe trying to play some instruments entirely wrongly? Like, I have the violin upside down. You beat the bottom of the drum instead of the top.

BAMBINO 3: And we could pull him over to play him a song and then “play” something quite painful.

BAMBINO 1: He’ll love it.

BAMBINO 2: He’s so delighted by the dumbest stuff.

BAMBINO 3: The hard part will be to play badly for the length of the song.

BAMBINO 2: Yes, without laughing.

BAMBINO 1: If you can turn your real laugh into one of those stupid laughs, that might be alright.

BAMBINO 2: Like?

Bambino 2 laughs and then makes the laugh sound ridiculous — this makes the other two laugh and then they try to turn their laughs into stupid laughs and for a moment they go back and forth between their real laughs and the stupid performance laughs.

BAMBINO 1: Stop. Stop. We’re going to lose it.

BAMBINO 2: It’s good, though. We seem quite ridiculous and we’ll have a good time.

BAMBINO 3: I agree. It allows for a bit of improvisation — which we’re going to need.

BAMBINO 2: Maybe we need a song that we’re sort of half playing so that there’s a structure and we know when to stop — even if we end up laughing for ten minutes.

BAMBINO 1: If we laugh for ten minutes, he will eventually walk away.

BAMBINO 3: That’s perfect. If he walks away. We’ll go take care of his business and be gone all the sooner.

BAMBINO 1: We will need to prepare for a finish, though, just in case we can’t laugh for so long.

BAMBINO 2: Or if he decides to be the most polite bishop in the world and sit through us laughing and banging in its entirety.

BAMBINO 3: Right. You be the conductor. You direct us when it’s time to finish.

BAMBINO 2: Like this?

Bambino 2 does an actual conductor’s cut off.

BAMBINO 3: No, that’s too good. Can you give it a sort of wild gesture?

BAMBINO 2 does so

BAMBINO 1: I think we have a plan.

BAMBINO 2: Can we review? He’ll be here any moment.

BAMBINO 3: You will start us with the lazzo of the door before the Bishop can enter. Once the door is finally open, we’ll be ready with our instruments.

BAMBINO 1: I think perhaps we should space ourselves out a bit — so he encounters us one at a time and maybe he has to help get us together for our ”concert.”

BAMBINO 3: Right. So it goes. 1, 2, 3 and then we’ll each struggle to play our instruments and you conduct us to start and finish.

BAMBINO 2: And you should give a little speech of tribute and thanks, as well — at the end.

BAMBINO 3: What shall I say?

BAMBINO 2: Nothing, really. He thinks you don’t know the language, remember? Grummelot all the way.

BAMBINO 3: (Does Grummelot in whatever the actor can approximate best. Je peux du moo crew liu d’alo. Or some such.)

BAMBINO 1: It’s simple, this plan, but I like it.

BAMBINO 2: Oh, look at the time. He could be here any moment. You must go to the door. Places everyone, I think!

BAMBINO 3: Yes, places!

BAMBINO 1: Places!

BAMBINO 3: Pleez ub d’coup!

The actors go to places and get ready for the show to begin.

Inspired by Day Three, Story One

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