“There was a country where they were all thieves.
At night everybody would leave home with skeleton keys and shaded lanterns and go and burgle a neighbor’s house. They’d get back at dawn, loaded, to find their own house had been robbed.
So everybody lived happily together, nobody lost out, since each stole from the other, and that other from another again, and so on and on until you got to a last person who stole from the first.”
Based on this extract from the short story Black Sheep by Italo Calvino, each one of us in the class wrote a script showcasing our interpretation of the extract.
EXT. A VILLAGE IN THE COUNTRYSIDE – NIGHT
It is midnight, the sound of people talking and shouting can
be heard in the village.
LEON’s house can be seen with the wooden front door wide
open. A WOMAN holding a ring of keys and a lantern notices
the open door and she walks through the front gate. She then
makes her way up the cobble stoned path towards the front
door and peers into the house before stepping inside.
She looks around the room. Some items are on shelves and
some are in cabinets. The woman shines her lantern over
these items and finds that most of them are junk. Old
newspapers are stacked to the ceiling in one corner. A
broken rocking horse sits idly next to a worn-out couch. She
continues to walk around the room to find other strange and
useless items such as old tapes, a record player with no
needle, a traffic cone, an empty fish bowl and packs of
breath mints. She stops in the centre of the room takes one
last look of her surroundings and heads straight through the
kitchen where the back door is already open. She quickly
walks through it and the house is left silent and still in
INT. LEON’S HOUSE – DAY
Dawn, the sun is rising and birds are singing in outside.
Leon’s house can be seen in the daylight, showing in more
detail how old and uncared for everything he owns is.
Leon is sleeping in his bed. The sun is streaming through
his moth-eaten curtains. He opens his eyes suddenly.
He throws himself out of bed and slips on an old pair of
slippers and a dressing gown. He rushes down his creaky
stairs and runs into the living room only to stop dead in
his tracks as he looks around disappointingly at all of his
belongings whilst tutting and sighing. He then walks glumly
towards the front door to shut it.
Another day, and not one thing was
He locks the door and turns back. He picks up a broken comb
that is lying on an end table that is missing one leg. He
throws it back down. He walks over to his rocking chair,
which is covered in cobwebs and dust and slumps himself onto
Why doesn’t anyone want to steal
He sighs and turns his head and looks out the window. He
watches a family in their front garden happily rummage
through belongings they had stolen the night before. He
turns his head back and picks up his remote control and
tries to turn on his old TV. It doesn’t turn on. He tosses
the remote onto the floor and sits with his head on his hand
for a while before moving himself to the kitchen to grab a
huge sign, hoisted against the wall. He bitterly mumbles to
himself as he takes the sign outside.
I don’t even know why I bother with
He slams the sign into the ground right in front of his
fence. It reads ’Items to nick. Please take a look around.
All our welcome.’ His neighbours stand around together on
the opposite side of the road, watching him.
He does this every single day.
Doesn’t he realise that no one
wants his useless stuff?
I think now’s the time to give up
or at least just get rid of it all
and start from scratch.
That’s not part of our law though.
Would it even be allowed?
I don’t know but I don’t see how
else it would work for him.
They look over at Leon sympathetically as he walks back into
INT. LEON’S HOUSE – AFTERNOON
Leon is now out of his dressing gown and is dressed smartly.
He looks nervous as he puts an old VCR in a glass cabinet.
He then frantically paces around the room dusting his items
and arranging them.
Right. Okay. Yes. Looking good.
There is a loud knock on his door, causing Leon to jump. He
stares at the door for a moment before polishing down a
ceramic deer sitting on the shelf next to him. He then walks
over to the front door and opens it slowly to find a tall,
bearded man standing at his step.
Well, hello there!
Geoffrey smiles gleefully at Leon.
I hope now isn’t a bad time to be
calling round but I noticed the
sign in your front garden and I was
wondering if I could actually take
a look at what you had. You see,
I’ve just moved in about 3 doors
OH! Come on in!
Leon leads Geoffrey to the centre of the living room.
Please, make yourself comfortable.
Would you like a tea? Coffee?
Geoffrey stands awkwardly in the middle of the room, holding
a small brown briefcase. He looks at Leon with his mouth
Well.. Wouldn’t you like to know my
name first before inviting me into
Leon walks closer to Geoffrey, smiling.
The sign says ’all are welcome,’
and all are indeed welcome. I’m
guessing your interested in looking
at what is up for stealing later
Geoffrey gazes around the room at Leon’s belongings.
I suppose so…
Then please.. I’m sorry, what was
your name again?
I don’t believe I introduced myself
properly. But my name is Geoffrey.
I’ve just moved in 3 doors down.
Geoffrey offers his hand for Leon to shake. Leon ignores it,
smiles and walks towards the kitchen.
And I’m Leon. Take a good look
around, Geoffrey and make yourself
Geoffrey walks towards a display of doll heads behind the
You have such.. er.. unique..
(from the kitchen)
Yes a lot of these things belonged
to my great aunts and uncles. They
were left for me.
You mean to say… these things
Leon finishes up in the kitchen and returns to the living
room with a tray of biscuits and two cups of coffee. He
places them on the small dining table on the edge of the
Well, some stolen, some inherited.
No.. thank you. So, tell me. How
have you managed to keep some of
these items for so long?
Leon ignores his question and hurries Geoffrey over to the
Sit on this couch, Geoffrey. Now
tell me, is that not a comfortable
Er.. well.. It’s a bit.. I mean,
it’s not uncomfortable. It’s just
I mean, I can happily sit on it. If
I don’t, you know, look at it…
Leon doesn’t seem to notice the insult Geoffrey gave as he
has already hurried over to the VCR. He takes it out of the
cabinet and holds it proudly.
What about this VCR?
What does that even mean? V.. C..
Video cassette recorder.
Geoffrey slowly hoists himself up from the worn-down couch
and walks towards Leon and the VCR. He is somewhat intrigued
A video cassette recorder.
Geoffrey looks blankly at Leon.
It plays videos…
Leon puts the VCR back down.
Here I’ll show you.
Leon bends down to open a cupboard. He gets out a video
cassette, blows the dust off it and puts it into the VCR. He
waits for it to play and nothing happens.
Why won’t the stupid thing work?
He bangs his hand on the top of the VCR to get it to work
and looks towards Geoffrey, slightly embarrassed.
Don’t bother going through all of
this trouble for me. I’m sure it’s
a very… interesting… device.
Do you not want to know what it
That’s quite alright.
Leon looks disappointed and Geoffrey begins to walk around
the room, occasionally picking up something, looking at it
and putting it back down. Leon follows him around.
So… do you go out and loot every
Well, yes, I mean… that’s part of
our law, isn’t it?
Yes, of course. It just doesn’t
seem like you have many items taken
W-w-well, I wouldn’t say that. I
think it’s because… people just
don’t really seem to appreciate the
sentimental value of things…
I mean, a lot of these items are
stolen, and as the sign says they
are ready to be stolen again…
Geoffrey picks up the broken comb and examines it.
I can see why maybe you thought
it’d be a good idea to put a sign
in your front garden.
Aha! I just like to let my
neighbours know that they’re always
welcome to stop by and take a look
at what I have before they loot the
place later on.
Ah, I see.
So, is there anything that has
taken your fancy? Actually no,
wait, wait.. don’t tell me.
Surprise me tonight! HA HA!
Leon pats Geoffrey hard on the arm. Geoffrey laughs
awkwardly and goes back to looking at each object. He comes
across a birdcage hanging by the window. He touches it and
it swings slightly. He turns around to talk to Leon.
You do have… interesting items,
Leon smiles widely.
I must be honest, though. I,
personally, wouldn’t waste my time
stealing any of these items.
They’re all useless, old or just…
a little strange.
Ah, I see.
However, I can see that you’re
struggling… And how desperate you
are to get rid of these hand me
downs and antiques. I would be too
if I was in your position. It must
be hard… To live like this.
Leon leans on the table and sighs.
It’s almost as if I’m invisible.
Every day I arrange everything
neatly, put up my sign, clean up as
much as I can. And then at night, I
keep the doors wide open. Even in
Winter’s. But each day… I live
with a small spark of hope that
someone will actually steal from
me. Because if they don’t steal
from me… What can I steal and who
can I steal from? Nothing and no
one. So I’m forever stuck with all
It isn’t all that rubbish.
The birdcage falls from where it is hanging, making a loud
crashing noise. It is now completely broken.
Well, I suppose I better stop
wasting your time then.
Leon walks over to the front door and opens it.
Well, actually… you haven’t
wasted my time at all.
I haven’t? You mean you actually
want my things? Even though they’re
all useless pieces of junk?
Uhm… I… I wouldn’t say I want
I am, however, willing to steal
I don’t understand.
If I steal a good range of items
from you, I’m sure you would be
able to then steal from at least
one other and then have some better
items for yourself.
R-r-really? You would do that for
me? But why? We don’t even know
Think of it as a thoughtful
There is a silence as Geoffrey smiles at Leon.
Well, I’ll be returning later
tonight then. Will the front door
Geoffrey says goodbye to Leon and leaves. Leon shuts the
door and turns around. He notices the broken birdcage is
still on the floor. He picks up the pieces, walks over to
his couch and sits down, smiling to himself.