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by Franca Rame

translated by Ed Emery



All rights reserved. This text shall not by way of trade or  otherwise be copied, reproduced or recorded in a retrieval  system. Nor shall it be lent, resold, hire out or otherwise  circulated without the owners' specific written consent.


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Please be aware that this translation can only be performed with explicit permission in writing from the agency representing Dario Fo and Franca Rame, the Danese-Tolnay agency in Rome.


Original text copyright © Franca Rame

Translation copyright  © Ed Emery







by Franca Rame

translated by Ed Emery



So anyway, once upon a time there was a lovely little girl who had a lovely little dolly. Well, actually, the dolly wasn't lovely at all… she was all dirty and tatty and made of rags, and she used to say terrible swear words, which the little girl learned and went round repeating.


One day her mummy asked her: "But who on earth taught you those horrible swear words?" "My dolly," said the little girl. "Ooh, you liar! You've been hanging round with those horrible boys."


"No, mummy, really, it's my dolly. Come on, dolly, say a few swear words for mummy!"


And the dolly, who always did everything the little girl asked her to do, because she loved her so much, came out with a whole string of terrible words: "Porca puttana! Stronzo! Mi piaci un casino! Culo!" [She chants, like a slogan] "Cu-lo, cu-lo, cu-lo!"


Well, I mean…!! Her mummy turned a violent shade of pink, grabbed the dolly out of the little girl's hands, flung open the window and… threw the dolly down into the yard, onto a pile of old rubbish.


"Bad mummy! Bad mummy!" says the little girl, and she runs down into the yard.


Now, just at that moment a big ginger cat happened to be passing, and he grabs the dolly in his teeth and ruches off to the woods with her.


It's night-time… It's dark… The little girl is only a little girl… And she's scared… "Mummy… mummy…!" But then, at a certain point, way off in the distance, she sees a little glimmer of light. So she goes towards this little glimmer of light.. What on earth was it? It was… A little gnome, who was standing on top of a toadstool and widdling… phosphorescent widdle…!


"Excuse me, gnomey," she said, "have you seen a big ginger cat with a rag dolly in his mouth, who swears all the time?"


"Er, there he is, there," says the gnome, waving with his willy, and splosh, he squirts out a big stream of widdle, which lands right on the ginger cat, which promptly falls down dead. Because, as we know, gnomes' widdle is terribly poisonous for cats!


"Thank you, thank you!" the little girl started shouting. And the dolly, all sopping wet with widdle, says: "Who is that stronzo, faccia di merda, who killed my ginger cat... I liked him, you know… even if he did beat me… and left me with a sore bum… and put me down… and made me work for him… and did horrible things to me, but I still liked him. He had me slaving for him, I cried, I felt bad, but that only made me love him even more, because he made me feel like a WOMAN, and I had my MAN! And now what am I supposed to do without my big bad cat?  Brutto stronzo... faccia di merda... culo! Na-no culo! Na-no culo!!"


And the litte gnome said: "Ooh I like this dolly, who says all those bad words. You know what, I could almost marry her!"


Then, all of a sudden: "NO! I'M MARRYING HER!" There was this terrible loud voice, deep in the dark, dark woods – it was dark because there wasn't any phosphorescent widdle any more… And who was it? Oh, seriously scary!! It was a dirty great wolf, with big long fangs, just like this…!




"No! I don't want him…" said the little dolly. "I don't want that crappy old wolf!"


"I am not a crappy old wolf. I am an electronics engineer. A wicked witch turned me into a wolf… Look, I've got my Rapidograph pen right here in my pocket if you don't believe me… But if this little girl gives me a kiss on my forehead, I'll turn into a highly desirable bachelor, good prospects, BMW, tasty income, seeks partner for long-lasting relationship."


So the little girl kissed the wolf and hey presto! He immediately turned into an electronics engineer, and you'd never believe how handsome he was! And he was so happy that he let out a tremendous fart, right in the face of the gnome, who keeled over, bosh, dead as a doornail! Because, as we know, the farts of electronics engineers are absolutely lethal for dwarfs and gnomes.


And as soon as the little girl saw him, she fell madly in love with him. "Oh, isn't he handsome… Oh, isn't he handsome…!"


So anyway, by this time, because a bit of time had passed, the little girl had grown up a bit… and she'd sprouted those two little round things that ladies have in front… and another couple round the back too… and electronics engineers go crazy for those little round things… […………..] And he said: "I've changed my mind. I'm not going to marry the dolly. I'm going to marry the little girl instead, with her little squidgy breasts and her nice round bum!" And so saying, they got married, and they lived happily ever after.


So anyway, the next day… the little dolly called a house meeting: "Meeting! Meeting!  Cari sposini di merda… That's enough of all that "happily ever after"! I could throw up, you know, watching you two at it all day, all itchy-coo and smoochy-smoochy. I'm being marginalised here. Social exclusion, my friends! And every day he goes off to the office, Mr Electronics Engineer, and you, the blushing bride with the titties and the little round bum, you're stuck here [….] all day till he comes home in the evening…. and then it's straight to bed and more smoochy-smoochy! And in the morning you set the alarm clock two hours early, and again it's all smoochy-smoochy… and after meals too, which you should know is Very Bad for your health…"


"But I'm so Happy!" says the little girl, who's grown into a young lady now, and already, incidentally, has a little bun in the oven – "I'm SO in love!!"


"Don't talk crap," says the rag dolly. "You're talking bollocks… 'I'm so happy…!' I've never seen anyone more miserable than you in all my life! As stupid as I was, when I was with that ginger tom… but with him, if you wanted to, at least you could have it out with him politically, but what exactly can you have out with this electronics engineer of yours?!!"


"Listen, you stinky rag doll," shouted the engineer. "Either you stop trying to pick fights between me and my wife, or I'm going to flush you down the bog!"


"Oh bog off yourself! Mr So-Called Electronics Engineer!" says the little dolly, a touch vulgarly. "Go flush yourself down the pan!"


Imagine it! To an electronics engineer!


"OK," he said. "You asked for this… I will 'bog off'… But I'm taking you with me… and I'm going to use you as bog paper… you get my meaning!"


And that is exactly what he does. The electronics engineer takes the little rag dolly, and goes to the toilet, and locks himself in…


"No, please, husband… Don't do it… Don't do that to my little dolly…! Open the door!"


"No I will not open the door. Here I am, with my trousers down… and now I'm going to… wipe… my… bum!"


At that moment there was a terrible scream from the engineer.  "Aaaaaah!" An electronic scream, you might say!! What on earth had happened? What had happened was that the dolly, just as he was wiping his bum, all of a sudden dived up his bumhole… Whoosh… headfirst… so that all that was left was her two little feet sticking out!


"Help…. Wife! I've had a terrible accident… Your spiteful little dolly has stuck herself up my bum…! Quick, pull her out!"


"I'm pulling, I'm pulling, but she won't come!"


"Pull harder, then!"


"She won't budge…!"


"Ooooh!  Aaaargh! The pain! I feel like I'm dying… I feel like I'm giving birth! Heeelp! Wife, call me a midwife…!"


So the wife does as he says and goes to get a midwife. And just as she opens the door – as we know, the ways of the Lord are infinite – lo and behold, there's a midwife going by… With "Midwife" printed on her apron… Backwards… Like the ambulances do…


 "Oh Mrs Midwife, heaven must have sent you! Come in, please… we've had a terrible accident…"


When the midwife saw the engineer's bottom, with the two little feet sticking out, and the little shoes on the feet… she said: "Oh, now that's very well-organised of you… Got the shoes on the baby already… Is this your husband?"




"Hmmm… Difficult birth. Feet first…"


And at that point she starts laughing. Laughing fit to bust …! And you know how it is, when you start laughing like that… well, "Ooooh, I've wet my knickers… Ooooh, I've done a widdle… I know I'm a midwife, but I've been bewitched, you know… and when I start I can't stop… You'd better do something… I wouldn't want to cause a disaster here… Flooding… I don't want anyone drowning … Quick, bring a bucket!"


So they give her a bucket, and she does her widdle… all very serious … looking off into the middle distance… like men do when they're weeing out in public places … And when she's finished, she says: "It's magic widdle. Give it to your husband to drink. Highly laxative. That should sort him out…"


And the engineer says: "Has everyone gone nuts in this house… I'm expected to drink this lady's widdle… We haven't even been introduced!!"


And his wife: "Alright, I'll introduce you…"


"No, you must be kidding… no way…!"


"But darling," she says, "you absolutely have to do your poop!"


"Oh well, I suppose so…. Well let's have a bit of vermouth with it, then… angostura bitters… a couple of drops of lemon… [Mimes drinking from the bucket] Hey, now that… that is GOOD! Here, seriously… Here, try a taste…"


"No, you drink it, darling…"


And he drinks, and drinks… and his belly swells and swells… and he drinks… and he swells… And all of a sudden, BANG! He bursts! And there's absolutely nothing left of the engineer… not a bit of skin… not even his Rapidograph pen that he was so proud of…!


But the dolly, she's there, all in on piece, and she is laughing like a lunatic.


"Did you see that?" she says to the grown-up little girl. "Stronza di una cogliona! I've liberated you from your engineer! Now you are the mistress of your own body, of your choices, of yourself... you're FREEEEEE! Come on, let's go…"


And the grown-up little girl takes her dolly and hugs her closely closely to her, and gradually, gradually, the little dolly disappears, right into her heart.


And now the grown-up little girl is out there all on her own, on a long, long road… She walks and walks, and she comes to a big tree. And underneath that tree there are lots of other grown-up little girls just like herself, and they make her ever so welcome, and they say: "Sit down here… with us… We're all telling our own stories. Why don't you start…" they say to a fair-haired girl sitting there. And the girl begins: "When I was a little girl I had a rag doll who used to say terrible swear-words…"


"Me too!"


"Me too!"


"Me too!"


And all the girls burst out laughing. And one of them says: "Well, who would ever have imagined it: Your story… my story… We've all got the same story…!"





[Excerpted from "We All Have the Same Story"]