Navigating American English helped Children's Theatre playwright think 'like a child again'

Feb 02, 2019 678

BY: Rohan Preston

Writer Rosanna Staffa was a 20-something Italian immigrant staying in a friend's New York City apartment when, early one morning, she heard a knock at the door. "Who's it?" she remembers asking. "This male voice said, 'The exterminator.' I thought, 'Oh, God.' " Staffa panicked. She told him to go away. After the man finally left, she grabbed a few belongings and fled the apartment.

It wasn't until months later, while working on a play with a young director named Peter Brosius — the future artistic director of Minnesota's Children's Threatre Company — that Staffa heard the word "exterminator" again. This time, though, she also learned the meaning: an expert in clearing homes of bugs and other pests — not, as she originally feared, "someone meant for my death."

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