The subtitles

Subtitles

Six Characters in Search of an Author

By Luigi Pirandello

Translated by Diana Perron and Carol Wright

Supervised by Monica Georgeo

 

Act I

Stage Manager:     What are you doing?

Stage Hand:          What am I doing?  I’m hammering.

Stage Manager:     At this hour? In a minute the  will be here.

Stage Hand:          Well, I’ve got to work.

Stage Manager:      Not now.

Stage Hand:          And when will that be?

Stage Manager:    Stop hammering and go away. Let me set the stage for Il Giuoco delle parti.

Here’s the  director.
Director:             Hey, it’s too dark here. Please, give me some light.
Stage Manager:     Right away.

Director:             Let’s begin.  Is someone missing?

Stage Manager:     The leading lady.

Director:             As usual.  We are already ten minutes late. Mark her absent.  Then she’ll learn to be on time.

Leading Lady:       No, please. I’m here. I’m here.

Director:             You always deliberately make us wait.

Leading Lady:      I tried to be on time, but there weren’t any taxis. You haven’t even begun and I’m not in this scene anyhow.

Director:             C’mon let’s start the second act . Listen up, people.  Who’s in this scene?

Leading Lady:      Not me.

Director:             OK,  sit over there. Let’s get going.

Prompter:          “ In the house of Leone Gala.

A room that’s both a dining room and a study.”

Director:             Set up the red room

Stage Manager:             OK.

Prompter:          “A table set with dishes and also with books and papers. Three exits.”

Director:             OK, pay attention. There is the main exit, here’s the kitchen. You will enter and leave on this side.

Set up the screen at the back and put up the curtains.

Stage Manager:      OK.

Prompter:          First scene.  Leone Gala, Guido Venanzi, Filippo, called Socrates. Shall I read the stage directions?.

Director:             Of course.  I’ve told you a hundred times.

Prompter:          “As the curtain rises, Leone G. is  beating an egg in a bowl. Filippo  is beating another egg.  Guido is sitting there.

Leading Man:      ‘Scuse me.  Do I really have to wear this stupid toque?

Director:             Absolutely.  The script says so.

Leading Man:          But it’s ridiculous.

Director:             I can’t help it;  because there are  no decent comedies being written in France, we’re reduced to staging Pirandello’s plays. You have to be pretty damn clever to understand them. They were made expressly so no one would like them. [p.29] So wear the toque and beat the eggs! You’re not just beating eggs  here, you know. Wise up!   You‘ve got to represent the egg shell. Be quiet.  And listen when I explain.   The shell signifies the empty form of reason. Without the filling of instinct, reason is blind You represent reason and your wife is instinct. With the mixing of your assigned parts, you become the puppet of yourself.  Get it?

Leading Man:         Nope.  Not me.

Director:             Me either.  But let’s go ahead anyhow, you’ll thank me at the end. Please turn three quarters front so the audience can hear you. If they can’t, with this crazy dialogue, It’s all over! Listen up. Let’s begin.

Prompter:          Shall I go to the prompter’s box?   It’s drafty here.

Director:             OK, OK, go ahead.

Usher:                  Excuse me,  sir.

Director:             Now what?

Usher:                  There are some people asking for you.

Director:             But I’m rehearsing!  During rehearsal no one can enter. Who are these people?  What do they want?

Father:                We are here looking for an author.

Director:             An author?  What author?

Father:                Any old author, sir.

Director:             But there aren’t any authors here. We’re not rehearsing a new play.

Step Daughter:          OK,  all the better.  We’ll be your new comedy.

Actors:                 Oh boy, listen to this.

Father:                But if  there’s no author here.  .  . Why don’t you give it a try. . . .

Director:            You’re joking!!

Father:                No.  On the contrary, we’re bringing you a tragedy.

Step Daughter:   And we could make you rich..

Director:             Please leave.  We can’t  waste our time with loonies.

Father                 Sir, you know that life is full of absurdities; they don’t need  to appear true because they are true.

Director:             What the hell is he talking about.

Father:                I’ll tell you what’s really crazy, sir, creating  credible situations  so they’ll appear true. If this is madness, it’s the only reason for your profession.

Director:             Oh yeah?  So our profession is for madmen?

Father:                It’s Just for a game for you, making  what’s not real seem real. Isn’t that your job, giving life onstage to imaginary characters?

Director:             Believe  me, the profession of comic actor is very noble. Even if today’s playwrights give us stupid comedies we’ve given life to immortal works on this stage,.

Father:                Wonderful, we agree. We are more alive than people who breathe and wear clothes; they’re less real but more true.

Director:             What? You said before .   .   .

[p.35]

Father:                No, you were  shouting that you didn’t have time to waste with madmen. You know very well that nature uses the human imagination to continue its creativity on a higher plane.

Director:             OK, OK.  But where are you going with all this?

Father:                Nowhere.  Just showing you that life comes in many forms, trees, rocks, water, even  a woman.

And characters can be born, too.

[p. 36]

Director:             And were you people born as characters?

Father:                Yes.  And living, as you see. Your laughing offends me. Our story is tragic. You can tell that by looking at this woman veiled in black.

Director:             Stop it.  Shut up. Go away. For god’s sake, make them go away. . .

Stage Manager:     Go away,  get out

Father:                No, you see  . . .

Director:             We’ve got to get to work.

Leading Man:          Don’t make fun of us!

Father:                I marvel at your failure to believe us. Hasn’t a group of living characters created by an author

Ever shown up here? Do you not believe because there isn’t any script with us in it?

Step-Daughter:   Believe me, we are six very interesting characters, although we’re a little lost.

Father:             Yeah lost, OK?  You see, the author who created us can’t or won’t put us into a work of art.  That was a crime. Whoever has been born a character can laugh at death. We do not die.  Men die.  Writers  die. But we characters live eternally. We don’t need great gifts or great achievements.  We live eternally because we find a nurturing imagination that lets us grow and thrive, and live forever.

Director:             This all is well and good.  But what do you want here?

Father:                We want to live, sir.

Director:             Forever?

Father:                No, just for a minute–in these actors.

Actor:                  Oh, what’s this?

Leading Lady:     You want to live in us?

Juvenile Lead:     You bet.  If it  can be in her.

Father:                Pay attention. Our play must be performed. We and your actors can organize it quickly. .

Director:             But what are you going to perform? We don’t do that sort of thing. We put on dramas and comedies.

Father:                That’s exactly why we’ve come!

Director:             And where is the script?                    [p.39]

Father:                In us.  We are the drama and are impatient to perform it, urged on by the passion within us.

Step Daughter:     My passion, if you want to know. My passion is all about him.

Father:                Sit down now.  And don’t laugh like that.

Step Daughter:      Why not?  It’s only been two months since I was orphaned, but see how I can dance.

[p.40]

Actors:                 Wonderful, fabulous.

Director:             Silence! Do you think we’re in a dance hall? Tell me, is she crazy?

Father:                No, not crazy, worse.

Step Daughter:      Worse!!  Listen to me. What we’re going to show in a minute  . . . at a certain point, . . . when this dear, little child . . . God will take her unexpectedly  from her poor mother, and this imbecile will prove incredibly stupid . . . And then I’ll be outta here. Believe me, I can’t wait.

                                    [p.41]

After the intimacies between me and him, I can’t stay with these people. I can’t be present at the torture of this mother by this weirdo, look at him. . . Indifferent, cold . . .  because he is legitimate. He’s scornful of  that little boy and that beautiful little girl, because we are bastards.   . . . . And he doesn’t want to recognize our mother as his mother too, only as the mother of  us three bastards. Coward!!

Mother:         In the name of these two children,

I beg you. . . oh my God.                                                                        P. 42

Father:                Bring a chair to this poor widow.

Actors:                 What’s happening?  Did she really faint?

Director:             Get a chair, quickly.

Father:                Look at her.

Mother:               But no, stop it, please God.

Father:                Let us get a look at you!

Mother:               I beg you to stop this man from acting out his horrible plan.

Director:             What’s all of this. . . .? This woman is your wife?

Father:                Yes, my wife.

[p.43]

Cap:                     How come she’s a widow if you’re alive?

Father:                Don’t laugh please. Her tragedy is that she had another man, who should be here.

Mother:               No, no. . .

Step Daughter:      He’s lucky he’s dead. Two months ago, like I said. We ‘re still in mourning.

Father:                Yes, he’s dead.  But the tragedy is about this woman. Her tragedy wasn’t about the love for two men.

She can’t feel anything for either him or me, well, maybe a little gratitude to him. She isn’t a woman, she’s a mother.

Her tragedy is about the four children that she had with two different fathers..

Mother:               I had them?  Have the courage to say you made me have them!  It was him, sir. He gave me to this other man  . .. he forced me  to go away with him.

Step Daughter:      Not true!

Mother:               How come?                                                                     [p.44]

Step Daughter:      Not true, not true.

Mother:               And what would you know about it?

Step Daughter:     Not true.  Don’t believe it.  She’s saying it for him. She is agonizing over the indifference of her son,

because she wants to make him believe, she abandoned him  because she was forced to do it. .

Mother:               He forced me.   Ask him if it isn’t true? My daughter doesn’t know anything about this. . . .

Step Daughter:          I know that you were always happy with my  father. Deny it if you can.

Mother:               No , I don’t deny it.

Step Daughter:      He was loving and caring. Admit it. Why don’t you say anything, you jerk.

Mother:               Leave this poor boy alone. Why do you want me look ungrateful,  daughter? I  don’t want to malign your father.  I told him it wasn’t my fault I abandoned his house and my son.

Father:                That’s true. I did it.

Leading Man:   What a spectacle!.

Leading Lady:    Yeah, and they’re playing it for us.

Juvenile Lead:     For a change.

Director:             OK, we’re ready to listen.                                                          p. 46]

Son:                    So we’ll  listen to this tidbit of philosophy? No! You all will blather about  the “Force of Experiment.”

Father:                You are a cynic. I’ve told you a hundred times. He ridicules me because I’ve used those words in my own defense.

Son:                     Often.

Father:                Words, words!  As if anyone faced with some gnawing guilt couldn’t find comfort in a meaningless word.

Step Daughter:      Comfort for your remorse, of course. Above all.

Father:                Remorse?  No, it wasn’t just words that appeased me.

Step Daughter:     Plus a little cash.  The hundred lira he offered me.

Son:                     That’s vile!

Step Daughter:    Vile?  The cash was in a blue envelope on a mahogany table in Madame Pace’s back room.. . .

Do you know her, gentlemen?  One of those madams who who pretends to sell dresses? She  entices us poor girls of good family to her “atelier.”

P. 47

Son:                     And with that hundred lire the right to lord it over us all. Which, luckily, he didn’t have any reason to pay.

Step Daughter:      Oh, we’re very proper here, aren’t we?

Mother:               Shame, daughter, shame.

Step Daughter:    Shame?  It’s revenge!  I’m dying to play that scene. That room. . .  the display case for the clothing,

the lounge chair, the mirror, the screen, and in front of the window this little mahogany table with the blue envelope containing the hundred lire.  I see it! I could grab it.  . . .  But  you gentlemen should look away, I’m almost naked.

I’m not blushing now, because he is. But he was deathly pale at the time.

Director:             I  can’t make sense of this.                         [p.48]

Father:                I’m being attacked!  Impose  some order, sir, let me talk. Don’t pay attention her without  giving me a chance to explain.

Step Daughter:      I’m not making it up.

Father:                I’m not making it up.  I want to explain it to you.

Step Daughter:     Wonderful!  Tell it your own way!

Father:                We all have our own worlds inside us. How can we understand each other, if the words  I’m using  mean one thing to me while they mean something different to you, because you have your own world inside of you.

We believe we understand each other, but we  don’t. Look, this woman has interpreted all my compassion as savage cruelty.

Mother:               But you threw me out!

Father:                Do you hear her?   She thinks I chased her away!

Mother:               You know how to talk, I don’t. I was a humble woman when he married me. . .                               p.49

 

Father:                But that’s why I married you.  Don’t you see? She says no.  She’s afraid, sir, her mind is closed.

She loves the children, but her mind is hopelessly closed off.

Step Daughter:      Yes, but you could say that his intelligence was our good luck.

Father:                If only we could foresee  all the evil born from good intentions.

Leading Lady:         ‘Scuse me, sir, will we be rehearsing?

Director:             Of course.  But let me  listen now.

Juvenile Lead:       That’ll be something new.

Young Actor:          Really interesting!!  Oh boy!                                                             P. 50

 

Leading Lady:       Like,  who cares!!!

Director:             Make yourself clear.

Father:                OK, I had a secretary, a poor man, devoted to me. He  got along with her  very well.

He was modest as she was, both of them total innocents unable even to think of doing anything evil.

Step Daughter:   So he thought of it for them. And did it.

Father:                Not true,  I intended to do something good for them . . . .  and also for myself. We’d reached the point where I couldn’t say a word to either of them without their exchanging knowing looks. They kept glancing at one another  to figure out how to  respond without making me mad. That kept me in a constant stage of rage.

Director:               So why didn’t you send your secretary away?

Father:                  I did send him away. . . but then this poor lady remained at home, lost, like a  stray dog.

Mother:               Of course.

Father:                This is about our son?

Mother:               He took him from my breast.

Father:                I don’t mean to be cruel, but I did it to make him grow up healthy and connected to the earth.

Step Daughter:   Yeah! That worked!

Father:                So it’s my fault he turned out this way? I gave him to a peasant woman to nurse because my wife didn’t seem strong enough even if she was lower class, which was the reason I married her. I always wanted to take the moral high ground. Make her stop.  She’s intolerable.  When my wife left, I wandered through the empty rooms, stumbling like a drunken fly. That boy, over there came back to the house, but he didn’t seem mine anymore.

Once his mother left, I had no connection with him.  And so, strangely, I was slowly drawn towards her new family.

I needed to believe that she was happy, and  lucky to be far from my tormented spirit. To have proof of this, I  went to see this little girl at the schoolhouse door.

Step Daughter:      He  followed me,  smiled at me, and when I got home, waved at me.                 [p. 54]

I watched him  and was scared because I didn’t know who he was.  I told my mother, and she must have realized

immediately who it was. She kept me home for a few days, but when I went back, he was there at the door

with a big package.  He came near me, he touched me, and he took out a beautiful straw hat  with a garland of roses. . .

for me!

Director:             But this is just telling stories.

Son:                     Yeah, it’s just “literature”!

Father:                What do you mean literature?   This is true! It’s real passion.

Director:             Maybe.  But can’t show it on stage.

Father:                I agree.  It’s just a prelude. In fact, she is no longer a  little girl with pigtails.

Step Daughter:     And her underpants showing.

Father:                Now comes the drama.                          [p. 55]

Step Daughter:      My father had just died . . .

Father:                They returned here, without my knowing, because of that woman’s stupidity. She barely knows how to write, but she could have had her daughter or son  write that they were in  need.

Mother:               Could I have guessed these feelings?

Father:                You were wrong, not to have guessed them.

Mother:               After so many years and everything that happened ?.

Father:                Was it my fault that man took you away suddenly because he found a job elsewhere?

I couldn’t trace them, and my interest waned. The drama  erupted when they returned.  While I, led by my still lustful flesh  . . .  misery! It’s really miserable for a lonely man who wants to avoid humiliating relationships but is too old to attract a woman and too young  to give up sex.  Misery? What am I saying?   It’s horror because no woman can love him anymore. And when he understands this . . . that he  should get along without it . . .                 [p.56]

Gentlemen . . .  publicly, everyone clothes himself in dignity but intimately, in our heart of hearts, we all know the unforgivable things we’ve done. We give in to temptation only to pick ourselves up again in a hurry  to reestablish our dignity. Dignity’s like a manhole cover. It hides every trace of shame and even the memory of  it. Everyone is like this, but lacks the courage to say so.

Step Daughter:      Though everyone has the courage to do those things.

Father:                Yes, everyone. But in secret. It takes courage to talk about these things, Once someone admits to it, he’s called a cynic. But he’s better than that, because he’s not afraid to expose the stain of shame with the light of  his intelligence. Human bestiality looks away.  What is a woman? She provokes and seduces us. You seize her.  She closes her eyes in surrender.  It’s her way of saying, “Cover your eyes, don’t think . Just get on with it.”

Step Daughter:      And when does a woman stop closing her eyes, stop hiding from herself the blush of her own shame

and instead see impassively the man who willfully closes his own eyes?  It’s disgusting, this intellectual complication

that understands the bestiality, but wants to excuse it. I can’t take this. When people simplify life,                [p.57]

tossing out the obstacles of shame, idealism, duty, then nothing is more disgusting  than this fake remorse,

these crocodile tears.

Director:             All right,  just get to the point.

Father:                Okay.  Anything that happens, anything you do, is  like an empty sack.  It’s meaningless until filled with the reasons and emotions that caused it. How was I to know that when that man died and they returned here in misery that she would try to support the children by taking a job from that Mme Pace?

Step Daughter      A fine seamstress Mme Pace was!  Everything was a set-up. She pretended to sew for upper class women, but in fact these “ladies,” like me, worked for her.

Mother:               Believe me, I never thought that evil woman gave me work to get hold of my daughter.                [p.58]

Step Daughter:   Do you know what Mme Pace would do with mother’s work? She’d find some flaw and return it to my mother and then I would “owe” her.  So my poor mother was up all night sewing clothing for Mme Pace thinking she was sacrificing herself for me, while I paid the price.

Director:             And there, one day, you met  . . .

Step Daughter:     Him!  Him!.  Yes sir.  An old customer. Just think how that scene will play!

Father:                With the arrival of the mother…

Step Daughter:      Almost in time . . .

Father:                No, in time, in time! Fortunately I recognized her in time. I took them all in. Imagine our situation, confronting each other . . . she, as you see her, and I, unable to look her in the eye.

Step Daughter:      Very funny that he expects me “afterwards” to behave as if I were a modest young lady,

virtuous in accordance with his so-called “strong, healthy morality.”

Father:                Here’s the source of  drama. We see ourselves in one light but that’s not the whole picture.

There are many possible ways of being in each of us.            [p. 59]

The notion of “one” for everyone, for everything isn’t at all true.  When we do just one unfortunate thing, suddenly we are hung up by it, grossly judged as if  that one act summed up our entire existence… This treacherous girl surprised me in a place where I should not have been. That is how she sees me, solely in that fleeting, shameful moment . This is what I feel, and my feelings are the core of the drama. Well, that’s the drama. Not just ours but also the drama of that young man.

Son:                      I’m not part of this.

Father:                What do you mean?

Son:                     I have nothing to do with this or with any of you.

Step Daughter:      We’re vulgar — that’s what he thinks. But each time I try to nail him with my scornful gaze,

he lowers his eyes because he has wronged me.

Son:                     I?                                                                                                            [p.60]

Step Daughter:      Yes,  you!  Because of you I’m a whore. Didn’t you treat us like us intruders in the kingdom of  your legitimacy? What kind of compassion puts obstacles in the way of guests? You denied us the sense of having a home. I want to show you what really happened between  him and me. He says I bossed everyone around, but it was his hostile behavior that made me act in a way he calls vile, forcing the four of us into the house as if I owned it.

Son:                     It’s their game to line up against me. Imagine it from a son’s point of view, sitting at home one fine day,

struck dumb by the arrival of this insolent woman, who asks for my father– who knows what she has to say to him–

and later returns with that little girl. She treats my father rudely, and demands money in a tone that implies he is obligated to give it.

Father:                But I already was obligated . . . toward your mother.

[P. 61]

Son:                     What did I know?  But she showed up one day with this boy and little girl, saying “She’s your mother too.” I see what she’s up to, barging in here. I can’t confess my thoughts even to myself So how can I take part in their little drama? Believe me, sir, I am an unrealized character , dramatically speaking. They make me sick.  Very sick. Leave me alone.

Father:                Excuse me?  It’s precisely because you are like this  . .

Son:                     And how would you know what I am like when you never noticed me?

Father:                OK, I admit it.  What a mess this is. They’re related to you by marriage. You are as cruel to me  as to your mother, who is seeing you as an adult almost for the first time. She doesn’t recognize you but knows you’re her son. There she is.  Look at her weeping.

Step Daughter:      Like a fool!

[P.62]

Father:                She can’t stand it, you see. He says he’s not mixed up in this but he is the pivot of the action.

And this little boy, always close to his mother, frightened and submissive, because of that guy! More than anyone the little boy feels he’s a stranger, unwelcome in this house, an object of charity. He’s just like his father–submissive,  silent . . .

Director:             This isn’t good at all.  It’s too much  trouble to have kids on stage.

Father:                Oh,  that trouble will be gone soon. And this little girl will be the first to go.

Director:             Wonderful.  All this really interests me. This subject will make for a great play.

Step Daughter:      Starring a character like me!

Father:                Be quiet!                                                                                     [P. 63]

Director:             New,  yes…

Father:                Brand new, sir.

Director:             It takes a lot of nerve, though, to come and  throw it at me like this..

Father:                You’ll see . . . we are born for the stage…

Director:             You’re actors?

Father:                No.  I say born for the stage because…

Director:             C’mon!  You’ve been on stage before.

Father:                No, sir. Everyone acts the part in life that he chooses at any given moment, or else the role others expect of him. Like everyone else, as soon as my passion is aroused, it gets theatrical, out of hand.

Director:             Forget it. . . . Without an author . .. I could ask around . . .

Father:                No, no.  You must be the author.

Director:             Me?  What are you saying?

Father:                Yes, you.  Why not?

Director:             Because I’ve never been an author before.                [p.64]

Father:                You can do it.  Your job is easy because we’re all here, alive,  in front of you

Director:             That’s not enough.

Father:                Why not?  You’ll see us living our drama.

Director:             Sure.  But it isn’t written down.

Father:                You can transcribe what’s happening on stage. Write it down, make an outline. Then try it out.

Director:             I’m almost tempted.  It might be fun.

Father:                Yes.   You’ll  see the  what scenes emerge. I can  jot them down.

Director:             I’m tempted.  We will give it a try. Come to my office. You’re free to leave, but don’t go too far.

We’ll meet here in 15  minutes or so.  All right, Let’s try it.  Maybe something extraordinary will come of this.

Father:                Without a doubt. Shouldn’t they come with us?

Director:             Yes, come along. Don’t forget. In a quarter of an hour.

Leading Man:      Can he be serious?  What’ll we do?

Juvenile Lead:      This is total madness!

Third Actor:          We’re expected to stand up and improvise a play?

Juvenile Lead:     Sure.  Just like the Commedia dell’ Arte.

Leading Lady:     I won’t take part in this foolishness.

Young Actress:      Neither will I.

Fourth Actor:     I wonder who they really are.                         [P. 66]

Third Actor:        They’re either fools or impostors.

Juvenile Lead:     And he’s going  to listen to them?

Young Actress:   He’s so vain; he thinks he’s an author!

Leading Man:      Unheard of!

Fifth Actor:          Amusing!

Third Actor:        OK,  we’ll see what they come up with.

[P. 67]

Act II

Director:             Listen up people!  Is everyone here? We’re getting started . . .  Stage hand?

Stage Hand:        Here I am.

Director:             Quickly.  Set up the scene of the little room. Two wings and a backdrop with a door. [p.68]

Director:             See if there’s a chaise lounge somewhere.

Props Man:         There’s the green one.

Step Daughter:      No, not green!  Yellow, flowered and fuzzy, very big and comfortable.

Props Man:         There’s nothing like that here.

Director:             Never mind.  Bring what you have.

Step Daughter:      But it matters.  The famous chaise lounge of M. Pace!

Director:             It’s just a try-out.  Stay out of this. See if there’s a glass showcase somewhere.

Step Daughter:   The little table!  The mahagony table for the blue envelope!

Stage Manager:      There’s that small gold one.

Director:             Okay.  Get that one.

Father:                A mirror.

Step Daughter:      And a screen!  We need a screen. I won’t play the scene without one.

[P. 69]

Stage Manager: We have plenty of them.  Don’t worry.

Director:             Some coat racks, yes?

Step Daughter:   Yes, lots of them.

Director:             Bring them all.

Stage Manager: Yes.  Right away.

Director:             Take your places. Here’s the outline of the scene—act by act.  Now I’ve got a big job for you.

Prompter:           Shorthand?

Director:             Wonderful.  Do you know  shorthand?

Prompter:          You may think I don’t know my job, but shorthand…

Director:             Better and better.                              [p. 70]

Get some paper from my dressing room. A lot.  As much as you can find. Follow the scenes as they’re acted . Try to get at least the most important lines. Clear the set. Stand over here and pay attention.

Leading Lady:     But, we…

Director:             You won’t have to improvise, don’t worry.

Leading Man:      So what will we do?

Director:             Just listen and watch for now. You’ll have your own scripts. We’ll try to rehearse now.  They’ll do it.

Father:                We?  What do you mean rehearse?                     [P.71]

Director:             A rehearsal for them.

Father:                But we are the characters

Director:             OK, OK, you’re the characters; but here the characters don’t act the play. The actors play the parts. The characters exist in the script, when there is one!

Father:                Exactly!  Because there isn’t one, the actors have the good luck to have the real characters in the flesh in front of them.

Director:             Great!  You want to do everything yourselves?

Father:                Of course, that’s  why we’re here.

Director:             Oh, that will really be a spectacle!

Leading Man:      And what are the rest of us supposed to do?

Director:             I can’t imagine that they can act! It’s laughable. See, they’re laughing!                    [P.72]

Oh, and we need to give out the parts. That’s easy.  You, madame, play the mother.  We’ll need to give her a name.

Father:                Amalia, sir.

Director:             But that’s the name of your wife. We can’t call her by her real  name!

Father:                Why not if that is her name? I see her as Amalia, sir. I don’t know what to say.  I’m beginning to feel, my own words sound false and alien.

Director:             Don’t worry.  We’ll find the right tone. As  for the name Amalia, we can use it or not.             [P.73]

Here’s how we’ll assign the characters parts: You–the son . . . You will play the stepdaughter.

Step Daughter:      What’s this?  That woman?

Director:             What are you laughing about?

Leading Lady:     How dare you laugh at me!  Show some respect or I’ll leave.

Step Daughter:      No, sorry, I’m not laughing at you.

Director:             You should be honored to be acted by…

Leading Man:          “That woman!”

Step Daughter:      I was talking about myself, not her. She’s just not like me.

Father:                That’s just it, gentlemen.  Our artistic expression, our  spirit  .   .   .                                                              [P. 74]

Director:             What do you mean?   Do you believe you have it inside yourselves?  Not at all.

Father:                What?  We don’t  have our own artistic expression?

Director:             Of course not.  Your expression becomes the material to which the actors give form. With their bodies, faces, voices and gestures they can express lofty subjects. When we perform your little drama any merit will come from my actors.

Father:                I don’t mean to contradict you, but we’re suffering horribly. . . being the way you see us . .. with these bodies, these faces…

Director:             But we can make fix all that with make up.

Father:                Okay.  But the voice, the gestures .  .  .

Director:             Really! You can’t be here as you are. The actors will portray you.  Period!

Father:                I understand.  Now I see why our author seeing us as living people, won’t put us on stage. I’m not  criticizing your actors, but to see myself portrayed by whomever. . . .

Leading Man:          By me, if that’s not too upsetting.                                                   [P. 75]

Father:                I’m deeply honored.  But while this actor uses his art to make me part of  himself . . .

Leading Man:      Go on  .  .  .

Father:                He’ll only use tricks to seem like me. It will be hard enough to be like me on the outside, but  he has to understand my inner self also. He’ll be judged as just a poor  approximation.

Director:             I can’t believe I heard that! You’re worried about the critics? All we care about is putting on a play.

Let’s get on with it. Do you think the set looks right like this?                                                                                                                                                                              [P.76]

Step Daughter:      I really don’t see it like this.

Director:             We can’t really recreate Mme Pace’s  back room! You said flowered wallpaper??

Father:                Yes, sir.  White.

Director:             It isn’t white, it’s striped.  No matter. The furniture is fine. Move the table forward a little. Get me an envelope, blue, if possible.

Prop Man:          An envelope for a letter?

Director, Father:      Yes, the kind of envelope for a letter!

[P.77]

Prop Man:          Right away.

Director:             Let’s go. The first scene is  the young lady’s. No, wait.  I said the young lady.

Step Daughter:   You’ll see how I live the part.

Leading Lady:      Never fear, I’ll bring her to life on stage as soon as I start.

Director:             No more chatter.  The first scene is with the young lady and Mme Pace And where is that lady?

Father:                She’s not with us sir.

Director:             So, now what?

Father:                She’s alive, just like we are.

Director:             Yes, but where is she?                                                                     [P. 78]

Father:                Listen. Would you do me the favor of giving me your hats for a minute?

Actors:                 What?  Our hats?   Why?

Director:             Why do you need these hats?

Father:                Hang them on this hat rack. Would someone loan me her scarf?

Actors:                 Scarf?  Why?  He must be crazy!

Some actresses:      Just our scarves?  Not our other clothes?

Father:                To hang them up here for now. Do me the favor.                                                                    [P.79]

Actresses:           Why not?  Here you are. We have to display them?

Father:                Exactly.  You have to.

Director:             Can I ask why we’re doing this?

Father:                Maybe by displaying objects of her trade, we might attract her here. Look.  Look.

Step Daughter:      Here she comes.  Here she is!

Father:                It’s her.  Didn’t I tell you?  She’s here.                                [P. 80]

Director:             Is this a trick?

Leading Man:            What’s happening?

Juvenile Lead:      Where did she come from?

Young Actress:      They hid her somewhere.

Leading Lady.      This is a bag of tricks.

Father:                Excuse me, but do you want  to ruin this magical thing that has happened? She’s here and has more right to be here than you have. What actress could play  Mme Pace? Mme Pace is herself.  The actors know they will be less real than she is herself. Look, my daughter recognized her and went to her right away.                                     [P. 81]

Director:             Well then?

Leading Man:            What’s she saying?

Leading Lady:      We can’t hear anything.

Juvenile Lead:      Louder, louder.

Step Daughter:          These aren’t things you can say loudly. I could to shame him and get revenge. But Mme  Pace could  go to prison.

Director:             But you need to make us hear you. Here on the stage we can’t even hear you Let along the audience, in the theater. You must act the scene pretending to be alone, in the back room of the shop, where no one can hear . What do you mean, no?                                                            [p. 82]

Step Daughter:     There’s someone who’ll hear us if she talks loudly.

Director:             What?  Do you have someone else Out there to trick us?

Father:                No, she’s referring to me. I must be over there, waiting behind the door. Madame knows it. I’ll go there right now and be ready.

Director:             No, wait.  Before you are ready. . .

Step Daughter:      Let’s just get on with it. I’m dying to play this scene. If he’s ready to play the scene, I’m more than ready.

Director:             But first we have to have the scene between you and that woman.

Step Daughter:   Oh, for God’s sake. You already know this. That my mother’s work is badly done again; I have to have patience if I want her to keep helping us in our distress.                                                                   [p. 83]

Mme Pace:          Si, señor, I no wanna take her advantage.

Director:             What? Does she talk like that?

Step Daughter:      Yeah.  She speaks broken English.  It’s funny.

Mme Pace:                 It not good manners them laughing when I’m trying spika English.

Director:             Go ahead.  Keep talking like that. It’ll make a strong impression. A little comedy breaks up the vulgarity of the situation.

Step Daughter:   Terrific! Why not!  It’ll make a point to hear certain propositions made like that, like a joke. When she talks of the “simpatico old señor” who wants to have a “leetle fun” with me?  Right?

Mme Pace:         Notta that old, querida.  But better for you. . . Because eef he notta pleasure you, at least you won’t regret . . .                                                  [p. 84]

Mother:               Witch!  Murderer.  That’s my daughter.

Step Daughter:     Mother, please.

Father:                Calm yourself and sit down.

Mother:               Get that woman out of my sight.

Step Daughter:   It’s impossible for my mother to remain here.

Father:                They can’t be here together. The mother’s  presence will give away the plot.

Director:             It doesn’t matter.  This is  a rough sketch. It’ll give me an idea of the various elements of the scene. You can leave. Behave yourself and sit down again.

Step Daughter:   Come on, Madame.  Let’s get going.

            [p.  85]

Oh  come on. Let’s have the “old señor” come onstage so he can have a “leetle fun” with me. We’ll do the scene with you or without you. You can go.

Mme Pace:          I’m going, I’m going. No, thank you, muchas gracias.

Step Daughter:   Now make your entrance. You don’t have to go back out first. Come over here. Okay. You’ve just come in.  I’m here with my gaze lowered, modestly.  Go on.  Say something in that special tone of voice. Say, “Good day,  Miss…”

Director:             Watch it!  Are you the director here, or am I?  Keep going. Go downstage then come forward again. And you, pay attention.  Get ready to transcribe.

[p. 86]

Father:                Good morning , Miss.

Step Daughter:      Good morning.

Father:                Hmmmm.  Tell me, this isn’t your first time is it?

Step Daughter:      No, sir.

Father:                You’ve been here before?  More than once? Good.  May I take off your hat?

Step Daughter:      No.  I’ll do it myself.                                                                                [p. 87]

 

Mother:               Oh.  God help me!

Father:                Here.  Give it to me.  I’ll take it. Your beautiful little head deserves a better hat. Won’t you come and help me choose one from Mme Pace’s collection ?

Young Actress:   Careful.  Those are our hats.

Director:             Be quiet for heaven’s sake.  Don’t fool around. We’re acting the scene. Keep going young lady.

Step Daughter:      No, thank you, sir.

Father:                Come on.  Don’t say no to me! Accept it.  I don’t mean any harm.

[p. 88]

 They’re so pretty and it would make Madame happy. She displayed them there on purpose.

Step Daughter:      No, sir.  I really won’t be able to wear it.

Father:                Are you thinking about what your family will say seeing you in a new hat? Please.  You know what to do; you’ll think of something.

Step Daughter:   That’s not why. . I couldn’t wear it because  . . . As you‘ll understand  . . .

Father:                Oh, It’s true you’re in mourning.  Forgive me. I am truly ashamed.

Step Daughter:   That’s enough, sir.  It’s my turn to thank you, not yours to be ashamed. Don’t trouble yourself any more. It’s better that I don’t keep thinking about why I am dressed this way.

Director:             Wait, wait.  Don’t write down that last line.  Leave it out. OK, act the scene as we discussed. Don’t you think this scene with the hat is wonderful?

Step Daughter:      Here comes the best part. Why don’t we get on with it?

Director:             Just wait a minute. Naturally you’ll play it with delicacy.

Leading Man.      Tactfully..

Leading Lady:      Of course.  Can we try it right now?

Leading Man:      I’ll go out and then make my entrance.

Director:             OK.  The scene between you and M. Pace is finished. I’ll write it down.  You’ll stay…where are you going?

Leading Lady:      Wait a minute.  I’m putting on the hat.                    [p. 90]

 

Director:             Okay.  Good.  Now you stay here with your head down.

Step Daughter:      But she’s not wearing black!

Leading Lady:      I will be dressed in black and I’ll wear it better than you!

Director:            Just be quiet.  Watch and learn. Let’s go.  Make your entrance.

Leading Man:      Hello, miss…

Father:               No . . .

[p. 91]

Director:            Silence!  Stop laughing-we’ll never get anywhere.

Step Daughter:  I’m sorry, but it’s laughable. But, if someone said “good day” that way, I’d burst out laughing, like I did..

Father:               That’s it…The manner, the tone…

Director:            What are you talking about? Stand aside now and let me see the rehearsal.

Leading Man.      So you want me to play an old man in a house of prostitution??

Director:            Yes, I do.  So  pay attention. Start over.  It was fine.   So….

Leading Man:      Good day, Miss.

[p. 92]

Leading Lady:      Good day.

Leading Man.      Ah…I hope it won’t be your first time…

Father:               Not “I hope” but “Isn’t that so. ”

Director:            Say “Isn’t that so” with a question mark.

Leading Man:      What I heard was “I hope”

Director:            It’s the same thing.  “Isn’t that so” or “I hope”. Keep going-maybe a little less exaggerated… Watch me.  Good day, Miss.

Leading Lady:      Good day.

Director:            Wait… act timid but pleased . . . and, you, say  “It won’t be the first time you’ve come here,

am I right?”                                                                          [p. 93]

Is that clear?  And then you say “No sir”. Let’s see, what else… Take it easy.

Leading Lady:   No sir

Leading Man:    You’ve been with someone before? More than once?

Director:            Wait.  Let her nod yes. “You’ve been with someone before?”

Step Daughter:  Ohhhhh.  My God!

Director:            What  is it?

Step Daughter: Nothing, nothing.

Director:            Just keep going!

[p. 94]

Leading Man:    More than once?  All right then, so you don’t need to  carry on this way. May I take off your hat?

Leading Lady:      I’m tired of playing the fool for her.

Leading Man:      Me, too.  We’re through.

Director:            Finish the scene!

Step Daughter: Well  . . . Excuse me.

Director:            You are rude and arrogant.  That’s what you are.

Father:               Yes, that’s true, but forgive her…

Director:            What do you want me to forgive? This is outrageous.

Father:               I know.  But believe me this doesn’t work for us.

[p. 95]

Director:           Why?

Father:               I admire your actors very much. The leading man, the leading lady, but really, they aren’t us…

Director:            How can they be you when they’re actors?

Father:               That’s just it.  They’re actors— both are playing their parts well, but for us it just doesn’t work. They try to be the same as we are, but they’re still not us.

Director:            What do you mean “not you.” What is it then?

Father:               What  comes from them is no longer ours.

Director:            This is the way it has to be. I’ve already told you that.

Father:               Yes, I know…

Director:            Enough of that!  We’re going to rehearse this the usual way.  It’s nothing but trouble rehearsing with authors around. They’re never happy.

[p. 96]

                                          Let’s try again.  And stop laughing.

Step Daughter:    I won’t laugh any more.  Here comes the best part for me.

Director:             All right. When you say “as for me you’ll understand” you need to say very quickly “I understand” and immediately ask…

Step Daughter:      What?

Director:             The reason you are in mourning!

Step Daughter:      Wait a minute.  Do you know what he answered when I said he could ignore the fact I was in mourning? He said,  “All right then. Why don’t you just take off that little dress!”

Director:             Oh great!  Do you want to make everyone rush out of the theater?

Step Daughter:      It’s the truth.

Director:             Truth?  This is the theater. Things are true only to a certain point.                                              [p. 97]

 

Director:            You’ll see.  Leave it to me.

Step Daughter:  No!  It makes me sick that after all these vile allusions to me as “that woman,” you want to make a sentimental romantic tear jerker in which he asks why I am in mourning. And I answer tearfully that my father has been dead for only two months?  Never!  You need to show what he really said to me: “Quickly.  Take off your little black dress.” So I,  still mourning, went behind that screen. With my fingers shaking with shame and disgust, I  unhooked my bra, my clothes…

Director:               My God.  What are you saying?

Step Daughter:  The truth.  The truth sir. This is the theater!  This are true only to a certain point.

Director:             I’m not saying it isn’t the truth and I do understand your horror, but this is impossible to put on the stage!

Step Daughter:   Not possible?  In that case, thanks, but I’m leaving.

Director:             No, wait.

Step Daughter:   I won’t go along with this. You two decided together in your office what this was  going to be about. He wants a display of his so-called spiritual torments.

But I want my own drama acted out!  My own!                     [P. 98]

 

Director:             It’s all about you, is it? No.  The others have their stories too. One character can’t overwhelm the others. We need to keep this in proportion, and act only what can be acted A little bit has to stand for everything that remains unsaid. It would be convenient if every character could serve to the public everything that boils up inside him.  Young lady, behave yourself. You’ll make a bad impression with this fury that’s tearing you to pieces. You yourself have confessed to having been at M. Pace’s with others before him. And more than once.

Step Daughter:   It’s true.  But for me the others were just him, over and over again.

[p. 99]

Director:             What do you mean?

Step Daughter:   For someone who commits a sin, the person who caused the first fall from virtue bears the responsibility for the others that follow? For me, it’s him, right from the day I was born. Look at him.  You can see it’s true.

Director:            Very good! But doesn’t the weight of his remorse count? Let him show it.

Step Daughter: Are you kidding?  How can he portray his “noble” remorse, his “moral” torments if you are going to spare him the horror of being found with this fallen woman in his arms, after he’d asked her to take off her mourning clothes?  This child, sir, whom he used to stalk as she left school? We are here now, out of public view. Tomorrow you’ll present our drama your way. But don’t you want to see it as it really burst out?

[p. 100]

Director:             Yes.  I’ll use what I can.

Step Daughter:   Then make my mother leave.

Mother:               No. No.  Don’t allow it.

Director:             It’s only to get the general idea.

Mother:               I can’t.  I can’t.

Director:             I don’t understand.  It’s already happened.

Mother:               No.  It’s happening now. This torture never ends. It renews itself endlessly. Those two little ones over there –have you heard them say a word? They can’t talk any more, sir.  They cling to me still to hold me to this living horror, but they themselves are gone. This girl ran away from me and is lost, lost… She’s here to renew the living torment that I suffer for her sake.

Father:                The eternal moment, as I told you sir.  She’s here to keep me eternally on the pillory                    [p.101]

for a single fleeting dishonorable moment of my life. She can’t let it go, and you, sir,  can’t save me from that.

Director:             I didn’t say I wouldn’t show it. It will be the centerpiece of the first act up until the surprise of her arrival in the scene…

Father:                Yes.  It is my penalty.  All our passion must culminate in her final cry.

Step Daughter:   I can still hear it.  That scream drove me insane. Portray me as you will sir.  It doesn’t matter.

I can be clothed so long as I have at least one arm bare, because I was standing like this, with my head leaning like this, and my arms around his neck like this and I saw my heartbeat in this vein in my arm… The sight of this living beating pulse  disgusted me, and I squeezed my eyes shut and rested my head on his chest. Scream, mother.  Scream like you did then.

[p. 102]

Mother:              No.  My daughter.  You animal. That’s my daughter.  Don’t you see that she’s my daughter?

Director:            Wonderful, yes wonderful.  Now, curtain.

Father:               That’s just the way it was.

Director:            Yes.  No doubt about it.  Curtain, curtain. What an ignoramus.  I said “curtain” just to show that it was the end of the act and he really closed the curtain. Wonderful, everyone.  We’ll finish this, but the First Act is a certain success.

[p. 103]

 

Act III

 

Director:             Okay.  Second act. Let ‘s do it as we decided and it will go very well.

Step Daughter:      We were scorned in his house by that one!

Director:             Be calm and leave this to me!

Step Daughter:   As long as the scorn we felt comes through clearly.

[p. 104]

Mother:               For all the good that came of it…

Step Daughter:   Never mind.  The more we are hurt, the more remorse he suffers.

Director:             I understand. We’ll consider everything from the very beginning, don’t worry.

Mother:               Make sure it’s clear that I tried  in every I could . . .

Step Daughter:      To calm me down and tell me not to be so hard on him. Yes, accommodate her, because it’s true. I’m delighted. The more she tries to make him love her, the more he pulls away.  He’s outta there.  Isn’t that fun!

Director:          OK, OK.  Let’s begin the second act.

Step Daughter:      I’ll be quiet. But you can’t have everything take place in the garden.

Director:             Why not?

[P. 105]

Step Daughter:   Because he stays shut up in his room–alone. And the part about this poor frightened little boy has to take place in the house.

Director:             So you said, but it’s not possible to change the set three or four times per act!

Leading Man:      Once you could have…

Director:             Yeah, when the public was the age of this little girl!

Leading Lady:     And illusion was easier.

Father:                Illusion?  Please don’t use such a cruel word!

Director:             Why not?

Father:                It’s too cruel.  You must understand that!

Director:             What should we say then?  The illusion of creating for the audience…

Leading Man:      By means of our acting…

Director:             The illusion of reality.

Father:                I understand you sir, but maybe you don’t understand us. You see, for you and your actors it’s only a game, and rightly so.

[p.106]

Leading Lady:     What do you mean a game? We aren’t children, we’re serious actors.

Father:                I’m not saying that. I mean that the exercise of your artistry must give a perfect illusion of reality

Director:             That’s it exactly.

Father:                Now you must consider the fact that we characters have no other reality outside of this illusion.

Director:             And what do you mean by that?

Father:                I mean that illusion IS our reality.  But not only ours. Think about it.  Can you tell me who you are?

[p. 107]

Director:              Who am I?  Myself!

Father:                Supposing I said no, that’s wrong, because you are me?

Director:             I’d say you’re crazy!

Father:                Of course.  They’re laughing because we’re just playing around. You can say that that actor over there, who is himself, must become me and viceversa. You see, I’ve caught you in a trap.

Director:             You’ve said this already.  Do we have to go over it again?

Father:                I wasn’t saying that. Stop playing the game as you habitually do with your actors, and ask yourself seriously–who are you?

Director:             What impudence!  Someone who’s trying to pass himself off as a character asks me who I am!

[P.108]

Father:                A character, my dear sir, may always ask a man who he is. A character’s life is imprinted with his very own traits, and therefore he is always someone. While a man–not just you, a man in general–may be no one.

Director:             Well, if you ask me, I’m the director, the Director. Get it?

Father:                Can you see yourself right now as you used to be with all those illusions you used to have? Can you feel how they really felt to you? Thinking of those vanished illusions, don’t you feel the lack of solid earth under your feet, knowing that what you call reality today is destined to seem like tomorrow’s illusion?

Director:              Where are you going with this?

Father:                Oh, nowhere sir.  I’m just trying to make you see that you should mistrust your own reality. It seems real, living and breathing in you today, but tomorrow you’ll discover it’s illusion.

[P. 109]

 Director:             Oh wonderful!  You’re also saying that you, with this drama  of yours, are more real than I am.

Father:                Without a doubt sir.

Director:             Really?

Father:                 I thought you understood that from the beginning.

Director:             More real than I am?

Father:                If your reality can change from one day to the next…

Director:             Of course it’s gonna change. Like everyone else’s, it changes all the time.

Father:                But ours doesn’t.  There’s the difference! Ours doesn’t change. It can’t change.  We are fixed like this forever. That must give you a shiver of fear.

Director:             This has never been done! A character stepping out of his role to argue, to persuade and explain himself to the audience over and over again!  I’ve never seen it before!

[p. 110]

Father:                That’s because authors usually hide the effort behind their creations. When characters come to life, their author must accept them as they are.  And he’ll be sorry if he doesn’t. He can only follow them with words and gestures that they propose. The character is immediately independent even of the author that created him. He can be in situations other than what the author had in mind. He may even acquire a meaning that the author never dreamed of.

Director:             I know . . .

Father:                Then why are you amazed at us? Imagine the bad luck being born alive to someone who wants to deny you that life. Wouldn’t you do what we’re doing to push him and persuade him- first I,  then she, then that poor mother…

Step Daughter:   It’s true.  Many times at twilight I tried to lure him away from his melancholy.  He was alone, in his study, unable even to turn on the lights as darkness filled the room, which swarmed with us characters trying to persuade him to get on with it.

[p. 111]

   Why don’t you all just go and leave us alone! This mother with her son- -this child and I–This little boy always alone-then he and I, then I alone in the dark.  Oh my life, what scenes we offered him. I tempted him more than anyone.

Father:                Sure.  It’s probably all your fault for being too pushy and out of control.

Step Daughter:   What are you saying?  He wanted me that way. I think his mood was more about his scorn for the degraded condition of the theater and the public that wants it that way.

Director:             Come on, for God’s sake—let’s get to the point.

[p.112]

Step Daughter:   You’ve already gotten the point. You have plenty material right here with our entrance into his house! You said you couldn’t rearrange the set every five minutes.

Director:             Right.  We’ll combine them in a single tight action instead of showing your little brother first moving like a shadow through the rooms, then hiding behind doors to think about something that –or–how did you say it-

Step Daughter:   Sucks the life out of him, preshrivels him. . .

Director:             I’ve never heard that  word.  He seems to be all eyes because the rest of him’s drying up,  right?

Step Daughter:   Yes, sir.  Here he is!

Director:             At the same time you want that little girl to play, innocently, in the garden, right? One in the house and the other in the garden, right?

Step Daughter:   Yes, in the sunlight and happy. It’s my only reward, this happiness of hers, her joy in the garden after her misery in that horrible room where all four of us slept-

[p. 113]

I with her—with the horror of my contaminated body next to hers.  She hugged me tightly with her innocent, loving little arms. In the garden, she’d run to take me by the hand-she’d search with such joy for the sweetest little flowers to show me.

Director:             Don’t worry, we’ll have the garden. You’ll be happy with it.  We’ll group the scenes there. Hey, get me some branches and two little cypresses over there near the pool.  Better. That gives you the idea.  Can you get me a little bit of sky?

Stage hand:         What?

Director:             I told you.  A backdrop of sky for behind the pool.

[p.114]

 Now, the little boy will hide behind the trees in the garden instead of behind the doors of the rooms. It’ll be hard to cast the little girl to play the scene where she shows you the little flowers.  Okay let’s bring it all together.  Come on! This kid’s nothing but trouble.  He’s gotta say something.

[p. 115]

 Step forward-you’re too hidden there. Now try to stick your head out a bit to look around. Good.  And could the little girl surprise him as he’s peeking out, run to him and get him to say at least a couple of words?

Step Daughter:   You can’t hope for a word from him as long as that guy is here.  You must send that guy away first.

Son:                     I ask nothing better than to go away immediately.

Director:             Where are you going?  Wait.

Son:                     I have nothing to do here.  Let me go.

Director:             What do you mean..

[p. 116]

Step Daughter:   Don’t bother to hold him back.  He can’t leave.

Father:                He must act that terrible scene in the garden with his mother.

Son:                     I’ve told you from the beginning—I’m not going to act anything.  Let me go.

Step Daughter:   Let him go.  All right, go on. He can’t, you see?  He must stay here against his will.

[p. 117]

 I am the one who will flee- because of my hatred for him-as soon as whatever has to happen does happen.  Imagine this, the one who wants to leave must stay here alone with his wonderful father and that mother.  Hurry up, mother Look how she got up to restrain him from leaving… Come, come…Imagine the courage she must have to show your actors her feelings.  She’s so desperate to be near him that she is willing to act her scene!

Son:                     I’m not willing.  If I can’t leave, I’ll stay here but I won’t act the scene.

Father:                You must force him.

Son:                     NO one can force me.

Father:                I can.

[p. 118]

Step Daughter:   Wait.  First, the little girl at the pond. Oh sweetheart. Your big eyes look confused. Who knows where you think you are. We’re on a stage, dear–a place where people play at being serious.  Right now we’re in a play and what an ugly play it is for you. The garden, the pool, it’s just pretend. Maybe you’d like a pretend pool better than a real one. But no.  For others it’ll be a game, but not for you. Unfortunately you are real, darling, and you play in a real pool.  It’s beautiful, big and green and shaded by bamboo trees that are reflected there.  Many ducks are swimming on it, breaking up the shadows…you’d like to catch one.. No, Rosetta no!  Your mother’s attention is all for her bad son.  My head is full of fury and he—What are you doing here acting like a beggar? It will be your fault too if this little girl drowns.

[p. 119]

 

Why are you like this.  Didn’t I pay the price for everyone to be in this house?  What’s that? What are you hiding?  Take that hand out of your pocket. Ah, where did you get that?  Stupid. If it had been me, instead of killing myself I would have killed one of those two, or both-father and son.

Director:             That’s wonderful.  And, at the same time…

Son:                     What do you mean “at the same time”?  It’s not true. There was no scene between me and her! Make her tell you what happened.

[p. 120]

Mother:               Yes, it’s true.  I’d gone to his room…

Son:                     Into my room.  Do you understand, not into the garden.

Director:             But that isn’t important.  We have to combine certain actions. I’ve told you.

Son:                     What do you want?

Juvenile Lead:     Nothing.  I’m just observing.

Son:                     And she’s doing it too so she can play her role?

Director:             Exactly.  And you should be grateful for their attention.

Son:                     Oh yeah.  Thanks a lot!  Don’t you know that even now you can’t put on this play? Our story hasn’t become part of you. Your actors look at us from the outside. Do you think it’s fair that your reflection of us is like a fun house mirror freezing our image and sending back a distorted version of who we are.  We can’t even recognize ourselves.

[p. 121]

Father:                It’s true.  You must agree.

Director:             Okay, get out there.

Son:                     Impossible.  I’m not ready.

Director              Be quiet now and let me hear your mother. OK. Have you made your entrance?

Mother:               Yes, into his room because I couldn’t stand it any longer. I had to pour out the agony that weighed on my heart.  But as soon as he saw me come in…

Son:                     There was no meeting.  I left in order not to make a scene.  Do you get it?

Mother:               It’s true.  That’s what happened.

Director:             Then we’ve got to make a scene between you and him. It’s  indispensible.

Mother:               I’m here, sir.  If you’d only give me the opportunity to tell him everything  in my heart.

Father:                You will do it, damn it.  For your mother’s sake.

[p. 122]

Son:                     I’ll do nothing of the sort.

Father:                For God’s sake do as you’re told. Don’t you hear how she’s pleading? Don’t you have the guts to be her son?

Son:                     No.  Stop this once and for all.

Mother:               Please, please.

Father:                You must obey.

Son:                     What madness has got hold of him? He’s willing to display his shame and ours in front of everybody.  I won’t take part in this. That’s how I interpret the wish of the person who didn’t want to put us on stage in the first place.

Director:             Isn’t that why you’ve come here?

Son:                     Him, not me.

Director:             But aren’t you here too

Son:                     He was the one who wanted to come, dragging us along, and perfectly willing to concoct in your office not only what really                                                                                                                             [p. 123]

happened but also things that didn’t happen.

Director:             At least tell me what DID happen. You left your room without saying anything?

Son:                     Not a word.  In order not to make a scene.

Director:             And then what did you do?

Son:                     Nothing.  Walking through the garden…

Director:             What?  Crossing the garden?

Son:                     Why are you making me say it?  It’s horrible.

Director:             The little girl?

Son:                     There, in the pool…

Father:                And she was following him, sir!

[p. 124]

Director:             And what did you do?

Son:                     I ran, I rushed over to fish her out. But I suddenly stopped, because I saw something behind those trees that turned me to ice. The boy was standing there, stock still, with the eyes of a madman, looking into the pool at his little sister–drowned. He was about to approach me, and then…

Mother:               My son!  My son!  Help!

[p. 125]

Director:             Is he wounded?

Leading Lady:     He’s dead.  Poor Boy.  What a disaster.

Leading Man:      What do you mean he’s dead? It’s an act.  Don’t believe it.

Other Actors:      An act?  No it’s real.  He’s dead.

Father:                This isn’t fiction.  It’s reality

Director:             Fiction!  Reality!  You can all go to hell. Lights, lights.  Ah.  Never has anything like this happened to me.  They made me lose a whole day. Go on!  What do you want to do now? It’s too late to start the rehearsal again. Electrician, turn out the lights.

[P. 126]

But for God’s sake, at least leave me a flashlight so I can see where I’m going.

 

Comments are closed