‘A Munezza, or Waste, puts a comedic twist on a very serious problem. Written by Alessandro Casola, this play tackles the issue of excessive waste and pollution in Naples, Italy. The play opens up with the protagonist, Charles, as he writes to the mayor. His issue lies with the large amount of rubbage in the city. Charles asks the mayor to find a way to fix the waste disposal problem.
After his sister, Louise, barges, the two of them begin to argue about how to effectively organize the garbage in their own homes. This presents a more sinister issue: how can the mayor solve the waste issues in Naples if its own citizens cannot agree on how to dispose of it within their own private homes?
Characters personifying Waste and Consumption make appearances. Waste is on the run because she fears everyone is out to destroy her. She settles a debt that belongs to Charles and, in turn, he takes her into his home as a guest. Their problems intensify as many people, including the mafia, set out to capture her. Her husband, Consumption, is also looking for her. When he finds Waste, he proceeds to pay Charles so the man will continue to house her.
Meanwhile, Charles is attempting to plan a marriage of convenience for the countess, a woman named Zara. It is revealed that Zara desperately wants to become pregnant. Her husband, the Count Gregory, is sterile. This is where much of the symbolism of this production comes to fruition.
While there is waste in the world, there is also waste within people. And while one type of garbage is corporeal, the other lies within the human heart. This intangible garbage causes selfish and cruel actions on the part of the people. Both types of waste can cause excessive damage to whatever, or whomever, is around.
Playing on real events, Casola uses irony as a device to display a sober message. This is how a civilization has chosen to live. The office of the President of the Republic was quoted as saying about the play, "With its ironic style, this comedy exposes the critical ecological and environmental problem which now exists in many cities in the province of Naples and, more generally, throughout our country."
On a larger scale, so has much of the world. According to the Annenberg Foundation, the average American generates four pounds of solid trash per day, for a grand total of 1,460 pounds per year. America collectively disposes of approximately 200 million tons of the stuff every single day. Less than one-quarter of it is recycled, leaving the rest for landfills and incinerators.
So although a person may not yet see or smell the garbage, that does not mean it isn't there. The people of this world are the only ones who can attempt to fix this problem. Casola helps to spread this message in a way that most everyone can relate: through laughter.
Carmine Di Biase, a professor here at Jacksonville State University, was sought out by Casola. He was asked to translate 'A Munezza into English, a project he has been undertaking for the past two months.
Topping out at 90 pages, Di Biase calls the play "really, truly, intensely funny".
Casola found Di Biase's name after he attended a conference.
Di Biase was presenting a paper written on Italy's greatest modern novelist, Italo Svevo. Casola found his name on the conference program and shot him an e-mail.
Randy Blades, the head of the theater department, helped to organize a live reading of the play by some of the Drama students. This helped Di Biase to visualize the play and hear his own translation out loud for the first time ever. Hearing the live reading helped Di Biase with ironing out the last of the kinks. The result is a comedy that remains sharp and amusing.
Di Biase also writes articles for the Times Literary Supplement, a segment of the London Times.