Like A Little Grain of Sand

Like A Little Grain of Sand
Reviewer's Rating

Like a Little Grain of Sand or Come un granello di sabbia is part of the In Scena! Italian Theater Festival NY. Performed in Italian with English subtitles projected onto the back of the stage, this is a moving hour of theater, powerfully told and crafted with an immense respect for the tragedy of the story.

This one-man play tells the true story of Giuseppe Gulotta, a man falsely imprisoned for over thirty years. At eighteen-years-old, his life is ripped from him when he is forced to confess to the murder of two policemen in the barracks of Alcamo. Salvatore Arena performs as Gulotta, and he takes us through a harrowing tale, moving back and forward in time from the moment Gulotta was arrested to his final acquittal on February 13th 2012, exactly thirty-six years later.

As the play develops, and the audience are drawn further into the details of the story, the horrifying injustice of Gulotta’s treatment intensifies. He is a scapegoat, an innocent child used by corrupt politicians and policemen to hide their crimes. Gulotta simply wants to ride his new scooter, to become a brick-layer, to take his mother to the coast. But instead, he is tortured and intimidated until he signs a confession. From that instant, his life is over.

Salvatore Arena is impressive throughout, holding our attention (even those of us who speak no Italian) and throwing himself between a vast array of challenging emotions. At times he is the young and hopeful boy. Sometimes he is a lover, a father, a son, a man who simply wants to live the life he deserves. But mostly he is angry. He is a middle-aged man who cannot bring himself to embrace the police official who, a life-time too late, finally comes forward with the information that would set Gulotta free.

Like a Little Grain of Sand is, as the creative team explained at the end of the performance, a small part of Gulotta’s search for meaning in the pain of his past. Perhaps in sharing this story, in bringing the personal pain and suffering to light, it will open our eyes to the terrible cost of allowing the corruption of those in power to go unchecked.


Written and directed by Salvatore Arena and Massimo Barilla

Performed by Salvatore Arena

Set Design by Aldo Zucco

Original Music by Luigi Polimeni

Lighting Design by Stefano Barbagallo

Historical Consultants: Giuseppe Gulotta and Nicola Biondo

Produced by Mana Chuma Teatro

Running time: 65 minutes

Casa Italiana Zerilli-Marimò, NYU

Part of the In Scena! Italian Theater Festival NY 2024