Franca Rame was an amazing actress and dramatist from Milan (even if she was born in the province, precisely in Parabiago, in 1929). The life of this woman was extraordinary: actress, brilliant dramatist, writer, women’s rights activist. The husband of Franca Rame was Dario Fo, Nobel Prize winner for literature. The two were bound by a deep love and a strong intellectual connection that had been with them till the end of their days. However, the life of Franca Rame was marked by a shocking episode of violence: on March 9th, 1973, she was raped by a group of neo-fascists. The woman was loaded on a van, injured by razor blades and cigarette burn, and then raped over and over for hours. The purpose of her abusers was to punish Franca for her political views and, through that disgusting and cowardly crime, punish even her husband Dario. It was soon discovered that the rape was commissioned by the Carabinieri of Pastrengo division. Since then, the actress started to process her enormous suffering with the only medicine she knew to ease the pain of the soul: theatre. Two years after that tragedy, Franca came back on stage with a monologue, extremely strong and of great emotional impact, entitled “The rape”. During the performance, she told what happened on that infamous March 9th, sparing no detail. The expressive power of her words was so strong that some girls passed out in the theatre. Franca didn’t reveal immediately that the dialogue was about her experience: when she did, her revenge on her abusers was fulfilled. Rame, with this monologue, showed that she was not afraid of anything and she proved that thought, word and freedom are stronger than any violence. Here a small excerpt of her soliloquy, where she shows all the fear and the shame of women who find themselves having to denounce sexual violence:
“I rub my face with my hand…it’s covered in blood. I raise the collar of my jacket. I walk… I walk for I don’t know how long. Without realizing it, I found myself in front of the police headquarters. Leaning against the wall of the building across the street, I stare at it for quite a while. I think what I’d be facing if I entered now… I can hear their questions. I can see their faces…their half-smiles… I think and I think… Then I decide… I’m going back home…I’m going back home… I’ll report them tomorrow”.
Italian version by Isabella Poretti
Translated by Elisabetta Castellotti