È bello vivere liberi! tells the story of Ondina Peteani, a seventeen year old girl who, under the Fascist regime, chose to join the partisan struggle, becoming one of the youngest partisans in the history of the Italian Resistance. The show is developed according to the methods of story theatre, where the actress continuously moves from the diegetic narration to the mimesis of the characters. Marta Cuscunà, actress, puppeteer and director, also alternates acting with moments of puppet manipulation. The scenes entrusted to the puppets correspond to two fundamental moments in the story of Ondina Peteani: the scene in which Ondina and her companion Stecchi must eliminate the spy Blechi, and the scene that recounts Ondina's experience in the concentration camp. In the first case, the artist has chosen to use glove puppets, while in the second, a puppet is operated by sight, with its arms slipped into two large black rubber gloves. È bello vivere liberi! is Marta Cuscunà's first experience as a writer. To write this text, Cuscunà used various documentary sources, including the biography of Ondina Peteani and a number of testimonies. È bello vivere liberi! has been published together with two other pieces which, together, constitute a trilogy of "female resistances" (Resistenze femminili. Una trilogia, Forum, 2019).
Life of a young partisan fighter
Ondina Peteani was born in Trieste on 26 April 1925. As a teenager, she began to associate with the Fontanot family and attended communist meetings. At the age of seventeen, she chose to become an underground activist of the Italian Communist Party (PCI). She soon began to carry out her first resistance actions under the pseudonym "Natalia". During a police operation in a mountain refuge, Ondina managed to save herself with the help of comrade Cvetko. In June 1943, all the members of the resistance group to which Ondina belonged, Ondina herself, her mother and her sister were imprisoned because of a double agent. After the armistice on 8 September, they are all freed by the people. The informer turns out to be Ondina's sister, Santina, because she had a love affair with a young fascist. Santina is executed. Fighting against the Germans begins and the resistance fighters succumb after a fierce struggle. Ondine and comrade Stecchi are sent in pursuit of the traitor Blechi, who has caused the death of many resistance fighters after infiltrating among them. The comic sketch with the glove-puppets begins: Blechi notices the presence of Ondina and Stecchi and disguises himself as a priest so as not to be recognised, thus managing to escape. When he meets Ondina, he disguises himself as an old man, but she recognises him and Blechi is caught and killed. In 1944, Ondina is deported to the Auschwitz concentration camp as a political prisoner. She survives despite the physical and psychological hardships. The horror she experienced in the camp did not erase her conviction that she had to fight for resistance and freedom.
Publications and translations
Marta Cuscunà, Resistenze femminili. Una trilogia. Udine: Forum, 2019.