Artistic Discoveries in European Schoolyards

Giuditta Mingucci (Italy)

The Man on the Horse

L’uomo a cavallo

Text Extract

Scene 2:
A professor enters.

PROFESSOR: Good morning. If that’s what it is.

STATUE: Now, this happens more often than you might think! Here I may seem useless, but I keep the secrets of many people!

With a somewhat distressed air, the professor sits down left in the proscenium.

PROFESSOR: Frankly, it didn’t start off that well.

STATUE: I am as the barman for the drunkards at the bar…

The professor takes some papers out of his bag: schoolwork to be corrected.

PROFESSOR: Not that well at all, dear Giuseppe.

STATUE: Don’t believe him! He has no idea who I am. He just has a guess, and takes the easiest: Garibaldi.

PROFESSOR: (sighing, putting his specs) And if the day starts out like this…

STATUE: I wonder if he notices the gum on Silver’s buttock… perhaps he shall remove them. I wouldn’t mind a bit.

PROFESSOR: I hope you don’t mind if I stay here for a while to correct the schoolwork; it’s a pleasure to stay in the schoolyard, on this fine day. Like when I was a boy – do you remember?

STATUE: Do I remember? I have an excellent memory! Of course I remember when you were studying in this school. (to the audience) He was studying! Let’s call it studying… maybe he studied afterwards, at university – here he was known for anything but school merits.

PROFESSOR: What fine days I spent here. It seems like ages ago, but it’s also so as if it were just yesterday; in a way, I feel like I’m exactly the same.

STATUE: Who ever would have guessed that he would become a professor? When he was a pupil, what a disaster!

PROFESSOR: Oh, of course back then, I acted like this was the last place I wanted to be! Going to school is not a bed of roses after all – quite the opposite! But at the end of the day, it was actually a pleasure.

STATUE: The poor girl sitting in front of him! He tied her plaits to the back of the chair, so when she stood up the chair was hanging on her neck …

PROFESSOR: When we are children that’s what we have to do; school is life, it’s the world. Even if one knows that it’s but a piece of world.

STATUE: And the fellow sitting beside him in the third grade? Oh…

PROFESSOR: But we have to start from somewhere… to discover the real world. And school is a good point to start from. But perhaps I am boring you. And I have a heap of stuff to correct.

(The professor starts working again, while the statue takes up with its affairs. Suddenly:)

PROFESSOR: Oh, listen here: according to… (he turns over the schoolwork and reads the name of the student) Trani Mirco, III A, no less, the most important monument in London is the Tour Eiffel!! Was I such a jackass too, when I was a kid? (he marks several lines on the schoolwork). Surely not a swot, but I hope I never was so ignoramus!

STATUE: Let’s say, all’s well that ends well – nobody is born an expert…

PROFESSOR: I remember that one of my teachers, when we handed in awful schoolwork, instead of giving bad marks wrote the name of a prison – to say…

STATUE: Professor Genovesi.

PROFESSOR: His name was Genovesi.

STATUE: And so I said!

PROFESSOR: One day I got a “Gaeta".

STATUE: Tough penitentiary!

PROFESSOR: Gaeta! Not bad! (he opens another schoolwork). Yes, perhaps I had as well some inglorious moments.

STATUE: You are strange indeed, you human beings… telling your secrets to a statue!

PROFESSOR: (gets crossed while reading) Yes, but I never wrote nor thought that America was discovered in 1700! He is off his head! How is it possible?!? (he rages on the schoolwork that he is reading)

A boy is going along at the rear; he is just passing through, but he sees the professor and greets him.

BOY: ’morning, sir.

PROFESSOR: (inattentive and in a foul mood) ’morning. (then he realizes) Oh, it is you. Come here a moment. (the boy hesitates… he has a bad feeling)

BOY: But I have to go back to the classroom…

PROFESSOR: You’ll go back later, first tell me what this mess is (he shows him the schoolwork).

BOY: It’s my schoolwork.

PROFESSOR: And so far am I as well. (the professor has a severe look, the poor fellow casts down his eyes. After a pause) So? Nothing else to say?

BOY: (he keeps silent, looking at the tip of his shoes then he looks at the teacher)

PROFESSOR: Go back into classroom.
(the child jumps away; the professor and the statue look at him going away)

PROFESSOR: There is something going on in that class, that I don’t understand. From one day to the other it’s like they were changed all of them, but I don’t know what happened.

STATUE: Ah! Still, I didn’t notice anything unusual in the talks during the break …

PROFESSOR: Yesterday morning, while I examined two of them, the rest of the class was suspiciously silent. Then I noticed faces looking round almost rhythmically, and a very slight buzz, and finally I got it! They were playing “the hen in the hencoop lays the egg” .

STATUE: “What?”

PROFESSOR: The egg ! While I was examining!

STATUE: I hope you stepped in with an iron fist…

PROFESSOR: I had to punish them, but still I left with a feeling of something playing in the air…

The bell rings

It’s already time (he walks out, through the opposite side as the boy). Goodbye.

STATUE: (looking at him walking out). Did you hear, Silver? There is surely something fishy!



In the yard of a secondary school there is a statue: a man on a horse. A king, maybe, or more probably a general… who knows? The plaque with information about the statue is illegible – it says – “and he doesn’t remember anymore who he represents.” Trying to discover it is his favourite occupation, when the lively routine of the institute gives him the time to do it.
But he remembers a lot of other things, and he is surely able to introduce us to the life of that school, of which he has been an attentive and passionate witness since some decades. Everybody loves him and his horse, and someone even opens his heart to the statue: for instance, a teacher, who comes in and tells him there is something strange going on in IIIA. Unusual behaviour, whispered sentences among the kids… what can be behind this? The lone hero is ready to help discovering it.

The story comes from a real fact happened in a school in Milan, where some kids created a role game, a sort of Monopoly based on the image of feudalism and fiefs, but a teacher forced them to stop with it. The play speaks about the creativity of young people, the need we all have to create, and about the difficulties that sometimes occur in the relationship between kids and teachers. But it’s also provides the opportunity to think about the experience of going to school, which in a way is different for each generation, but in another way is always the same.


© Giuditta Mingucci (SIAE),


1st Opening Teatro Elsinor Milano, October 14, 20010

M: 2
F: 1