NEITHER HERE NOR THERE

  • WRITTEN by Margaret Rose and Emanuela Rossini 
  • DRAMATURG: Lara Parmiani
  • CAST: Roberto Carretta, Susannah Costner, Leslie Csuth, Lisa Genovese, Elena Mazzon, Francesca Nider, Lara Parmiani
  • DIRECTOR: Tanya Hossick and Becka McFadden

Neither here nor there, Legalaliens’s first production was inspired by a piece by Emanuela Rossini and Margaret Rose written in the early 2000s. Emanuela is from Trentino and her grand mother was one of the migrants who in the 1930s left the mountains of Northern Italy to move to Britain. Trentino was particularly poor at the time and some villages saw up to 80% of their female population flee. Margaret and Emanuela found some of these women – the ones who were still alive- and interviewed them. The result was a verbatim piece called “Mary London” that mixed Italian and English monologues.

We loved it. We were women, we were migrants, we lived in London. We were also shocked by the tragedy of the Arandora Star, a British ship heading to Canada with a load of hundreds of Italian and German prisoners, that sank in the Atlantic after being hit by a German torpedo. The ship didn’t have enough lifeboats and 858 of the 1,052 people aboard died.

We therefore asked Margaret Rose to help us translate, re-write and weave those interviews into a one hour piece, Neither here nor there, which we presented at the Soho Theatre Studio and at the Italian Cultural Institute.

SYNOPSIS: 1936, Giustino, Italy. After being forced to marry by proxy Giacomo (a second generation Italian living in London) Laura leaves her Italian village to move to the East End of London, where her in laws own a fish and chips shop. She doesn’t speak the language, feels lonely and confused, old nonna makes her work like a slave, her sister in law Mary treats like an idiot and Giacomo doesn’t seem interested in sharing their marital bed. Her only dream is returning to Italy, to her house and village, which with time acquire a sort of “mythical aura”, a “promised land” where everything is perfect and beautiful. Feeling himself ostracised by a country that doesn’t treat him as “one of its own” Giacomo is increasingly attracted by Fascism and refuses to ask for a British passport. When WW2 begins, and Italians are declared “Enemy aliens”, Giacomo gets arrested, the shop is looted, the women insulted. When news breaks that Giacomo has died on the Arandora Star, Laura, Mary and nonna are left to fend for themselves in a country that doesn’t want them. They learn to run a business, to drive a van, even to lure customers back to the cafe by changing their names from Collini to Collins… Is pretending to be British the right thing to do?
In the meantime, back in the village occupied by German soldiers, her cousin Adele is resentful and bitter: Laura was the lucky one. When the war is over, she claims sole ownership of the family house. Laura returns to Italy to discover she has no home left. And the old country has changed. Who belongs where?

THE SHOW: Our production uses projections of photos from the era, songs and music to recreate the atmosphere of the times. It’s a choral piece, aimed at showing the universality of the migrant experience. Where do those who live really belong? As an ensemble of migrant artists, these questions touch us deeply.

The show also has a long, surreal, visually striking part, dedicated to the sinking of the Arandora Star and inspired by survivors’ testimonies