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Prism international Prism international Apr 30, 1968

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editor-in-chief Jacob Zilber
associate editors Robert Harlow
Douglas Bankson
/. Michael Yates
art editor Clive Cope
PRISM international is a journal of contemporary writing, published three times
a year by the University of British Columbia. Annual subscriptions are $3.50,
single copies $1.25, obtainable by writing to PRISM, c/o Creative Writing,
U.B.C., Vancouver 8, B.C.
MSS should be sent to the Editors at the same address and must be accompanied by a self-addressed envelope and Canadian or unattached U.S. stamps,
or commonwealth or international reply coupons. PRISM
Drama Issue
Ernst Barlach: An Introduction
The Poor Relation
a play in five acts
translated from the German
in collaboration with
Daddy Violet
a play in one act
with production notes
a ritual
with production notes
Books Received
Inquiries concerning the rights for professional or amateur readings
and productions of any play in this issue should be sent to The
Editors, Prism International, who will forward them to the copyright holder.
2 Motes on Contributors
Ernst Barlach : see page 4.
Marketa Goetz Stankiewicz is Associate Professor of German
and Advisor to the Comparative Literature programme at the University of British Columbia. At the time of his death last year, B. Q.
Morgan was Professor Emeritus at Stanford University. He was an
outstanding scholar and translator of German literature.
George Birimisa lives in New York, where four of his plays have
appeared off-Broadway. With two other actors, he has presented
Daddy Violet elsewhere in the United States as well, and in February he takes the play on tour along the Canadian and American
Pacific Coast.
Brian Shein's first publication was a story in our 7:2. Another of
his stories will appear in a future issue. He is a student at the University of British Columbia. Kafka was first presented last year at
the University of British Columbia, and will receive a new production at the Vancouver Playhouse Theatre Company's Stage Two in
Bob Flick's cover photo is a montage made up of Ernst Barlach
sculptures, Brian Shein, and actors Val Romilly and Leanne White.
His photos also accompany the plays by Barlach and Shein, the latter of whom is shown holding a deck of computer cards. George
Birimisa supplied the photo of himself on page 82. Ernst Barlach: an introduction
There has hardly been a theatre season in Germany since 1950
that has not seen the premiere of a play by Ernst Barlach. In part,
this revival may be connected with the general desire to rehabilitate
artists who suffered in one way or another under Nazism. Ernst
Barlach, who was born in 1870 and died in 1938, is to be counted
among these, but his situation is particularly complicated. For a
short period after 1933, his works of sculpture were displayed in
German churches and other public places, and hovered on the verge
of acceptance as great "Germanic" art. Barlach himself, watching
in gloomy terror what was happening to his country, neither sought
favours from the new regime, nor did he openly oppose it.
The dictators seemed curiously unable to make up their minds
on what to do about him. There was no open controversy, no open
denouncement of his art. Contracts were simply broken, planned
performances of his dramas cancelled, exhibitions closed down, his
works disappeared from public view, some were even destroyed.
Yet Goebbels himself was said to own two of Barlach's pieces of
sculpture and the leader of the movement attacking "degenerate
art" was a secret admirer of Barlach's work. As for the artist himself, he spent the last five years of his life in silence, his house having
become an isolated retreat in which he lived "in a type of siege."
His ambiguous position must have caused this searcher for truth to
suffer especially cruel anguish.
But more than this perplexing question, it is the belated awareness of Barlach's stature as a rare double talent that has sparked
new interest in his plays. His woodcuts and sculpted wooden figures
have had international acclaim for many years. His plays, however,
are only now beginning to receive similar notice abroad. Since a
complete edition of his written work was not available until 1959,
and since four of the eight plays he wrote are still untranslated, it
may still be some time before Barlach is recognized as a unique
talent, like William Blake — one with equal power as a visual artist
and a playwright. Indeed, Barlach saw an organic connection between his dramatic characters and their counterparts in wood. "I
am convinced," he wrote in a letter in 1926, "that I can work meaningfully only after my plastic talent and my writing ability,
each for itself, has found its own form." He could envisage the
persons of his dramas only after giving them life on paper or in
wood; conversely, he could sculpt characters only after giving them
words on paper. In The Poor Relation, Hans Iver's agony is summed
up in a drawing which shows him standing alone in the harsh light
of a lamp, surrounded by grinning mediocrity, crudeness, and lies.
Although his plays received a certain amount of academic attention in the art-hungry twenties, and even though The Flood won
the Kleist prize in 1924, his plays had little success on the German
stage. One reason was the penchant of producers and actors for
heaping on heavy symbolism, ignoring or distorting his earthy
humour and stifling his flair for entertainment. (A tendency still
to be observed in a certain type of Barlach admirer.) Barlach himself complained when The Flood closed in 1927 after a disastrous
premiere: "Have those producers gone completely insane that they
make oratories and mysteries out of my dramas, instead of entertaining plays? There is a mountain of humour in The Flood, I should
think, but they make it into a mole-hill. And then this dogma of
'Barlachian plasticity'! Actors are put into sacks and disguised as
scarecrows. Nowhere are there such boring stagesets as in my
Another reason is our urge to classify genius. We seem to have
reserved the Renaissance for versatile talents, and are likely to regard
as a dilletante a modern man who works in more than one creative
field. Barlach's reputation as a dramatist may have suffered because
of his fame as a sculptor.
The third reason is more elusive. Man shuns laughter when final
questions are at stake: our image of the mystic's features bears no
smile. Barlach, though reputedly a man of gloomy countenance,
not only smiles when, like Jacob, he wrestles with the angel, but
laughs aloud. And while his laughter may be bitter, angry or sad, it
may also be kindly or outright hilarious. If our image of the God-
seeker is being revised by these contemporary dramatists who seek to
define man's condition through a mixture of comedy and despair,
entertainment and grim assertions, the Barlach revival becomes part
of this search.
Barlach foreshadows Beckett, Ionesco, and other contemporary
dramatists whom we call (perhaps for the wrong reasons) playwrights of the absurd. Like them he confronts and teases the audience with constant questions about the nature of man and the masks
he wears to hide from his real condition. But Barlach's characters go a significant step further; or rather, they take what Garcia Lorca
calls "the rider's leap into uncertainty." Some event shocks each
of Barlach's dramatic heroes "out of the naive trust in his existence."
Suddenly there is a loss of identification with the "role" he played
in life hitherto; he arrives at the anguished realization that he is only
a feeble part of some other power or reality of which he can catch
only erratic glimpses. "Don't you ever have moments," Hans Iver
asks of his antipode, the Philistine Siebenmark, "when you, a poor
relation, see the lofty lord in his splendour sail past? What I mean
is: You feel it within yourself, as if something were approaching
you with which you begin to sense a relationship. Your heart stops,
you gasp for air, and you bellow like a beast in your misery."
This anguished (and totally misunderstood) question is asked
in The Poor Relation, the second of Barlach's dramas, which has
been translated here. Written in 1917, it is particularly interesting
today because it touches on most of the problems the modern dramatist is forced to cope with. There is a young woman, like Lydia in
Eliot's The Cocktail Party, who leaves her shallow world and sacrifices her life for something in which she believes. There is a self-
assured, efficient citizen, compelled by an indescribable event to
confront the bare facts of his existence — a forerunner of the two
gentlemen in the avant-garde Striptease by the brilliant young Polish
dramatist Mrozek. And as O'Casey says of his Dreamer in Within
the Gates, there is in Iver's spiritual struggle "the stir in life that
brings to birth new things and greater than those that were before."
Hans Iver is one of the most interesting characters in modern
German drama. When he first appears on stage he speaks like a
man who has learned from Camus' Sisyphus: "All roads are right,
you just have to keep going." He seems to have attained the logic of
absurd reasoning, "the higher fidelity" of the man who, knowing
"that the night has no end ... is still on the go." But at the end of
the play, he commits suicide. Such an act, as Camus says in his
essays on Absurd Reasoning, indicates that Iver has confessed to
having recognized "the absence of any profound reason for living,
the insane character of that daily agitation, and the uselessness of
suffering." "Does your little bit of light give you pleasure?" Iver
asks his lantern before he decides to die. "Or wouldn't you rather
It should, however, not be forgotten that Barlach's dramas carry
their philosophical, metaphysical and social burden very lightly-—
contrary to the opinion of some critics. For the most part the plays
are delightfully entertaining and excellent theatre if directed in Barlach's sense. The mystic shares in the humorist's jokes and the
philosopher yields just enough to the man of the theatre — a rather
rare collaboration — especially if we think of German drama in
general. To say that Barlach is a religious dramatist is true but misleading. Brimming with the pagan's sensual vigour as well as the
atheist's dialectic intellect, his dramas move around a metaphysical
centre which, although unreachable, makes its presence constantly
felt and gives the dramas their unique quality. The characters themselves perceive in fleeting moments a flash of God who, as Sem explains in The Flood, "hides behind everything, and everything has
narrow chinks, through which he shines, shines and flashes. Such
delicate chinks that you never find them again if you turn your head
even once." This peculiar merging of realism and mysticism, the
momentary projection of an elusive bridge of faith which arches
over a far from reputable world — no more tangible and lasting
than a rainbow over a muddy street — is the chief ingredient of
Barlach's dramatic style.  FIRST APPEARANCE IN ENGLISH
a play in five acts
translated from the German by marketa goetz stankiewicz
in collaboration with b. q. morgan and jacob zilber CHARACTERS
Miss Isenbarn
Hans Iver
Mrs. Keferstein
Sailor Bolz
Jan, landlord
Thinka, landlady
"Lady Venus"
Captain Pickenpack
Sieg, customs official
Guests, Passengers
(An Easter day on a heath overgrown with bushes, near the upper
Elbe. Miss Isenbarn is hidden in a fir clump and singing. Then she
suddenly falls silent and waits.)
siebenmark    Yes, you're right — it was a glorious Easter day.
miss isenbarn    Dear God!
siebenmark    That's the third time today you've called God — He
probably knows why — / don't.
miss isenbarn    No, you wouldn't!
siebenmark    Come out of there now, you voice; my ears are full,
my eyes are hungry.
miss isenbarn    Don't you see me at all?
siebenmark    Not at all.
miss isenbarn    But you do believe it's me?
siebenmark    Nobody else, I'll swear to that — just you!
miss isenbarn    I? Who?
siebenmark    My fiancee, who else?
miss isenbarn    And a bit of Easter, too — you know that?
siebenmark    Where you are, there's both Easter and Pentecost for
me. Do you want the blue Easter sky to turn grey with jealousy
when it hears what you said to me once? Remember?
miss isenbarn    What?
siebenmark    You said you were tired of being yourself; that's how
you caught me. If a man means so much to Miss Isenbarn that
she'd like to be changed into him . . .
miss isenbarn    Don't you  ever get tired of being yourself?
(Comes out of the bushes.)    Do you know what? — Today I'm
walking with Easter, not just with you; are you jealous?
10 siebenmark    Of such an old bore? No danger! But it's true, this
is the way Easter Sunday should be.
miss isenbarn    But it is a day, not a has-been!
siebenmark    All right, if that's the way you want it.    (Starts to
look at his watch.)    We still have . . .
miss isenbarn    If only I could kill your watch!
siebenmark    Then you'd have to kill me with it — if I took a
notion to miss the boat today — it would be a mad rush to Hamburg tomorrow morning, and probably too late to get from there
to the steamer at Cuxhaven — and so:   "with my watch in my
hand" — can't you think of a rhyme? After all, you're good at that
miss isenbarn    Have you been noticing it?
siebenmark You've been carrying on a monologue ever since we
left; it makes me feel as if you were talking to a third person who's
made of air but keeps step with us.
miss isenbarn I'm sorry. Why should I deny it, today I feel quite
super .. . human, in a sense. The simple fact that we're enduring
such a sensible walk on paths seemed dreary to me. You really are a
good sport to let me tear through the bushes without losing patience
— but that's how it is — in this weather something gets into me
and I don't even blush:
Crown of all living, bliss without end
That's wind and shining sun, our friend.
Today you mustn't make fun of me for this, not today. — Listen —
but put away that watch.
siebenmark     (does it)     Well?
miss isenbarn Resurrection is not an empty word — just look
around you.
siebenmark Should I listen or look — first you say: listen; then:
look around. But it's true — nature . . .
miss isenbarn I feel as I've often felt, but today it's quite different. It seems as if things were flowing into my soul from many
distant places, as if something shining and strong, that has got lost,
was finding its way back, as if things quite ancient and alien became
young and familiar again. Really, as if I were being resurrected!
siebenmark Miss Isenbarn, my fiancee, you don't need to be
resurrected, my darling, you're alive enough for me, completely so!
miss isenbarn But no one asks me whether I want to be.
(Hans Iver approaches slowly, then hurries past; they look after
ii siebenmark    (calling)    Oh— pardon me, it's just four o'clock,
isn't it? I'd like to make sure.
iver    Yes, yes, high time!
siebenmark No, I mean was it just four o'clock — would you
mind taking a look?
iver    (looks at his watch)    Five after four.
siebenmark    Thank you kindly.    (To Miss Isenbarn)    Then our
day has two hours to go — why don't you sing a song?
iver    (whirls around, but turns away again; as they look at him in
puzzlement, he asks)    This is the way to Liittenbargen, isn't it?
siebenmark    Just the opposite, I believe that's exactly where you
came from.
iver It's easy to lose your way around here; didn't — the young
lady —■ I heard singing away off, and I thought: what kind of a
person is it...
siebenmark    Yes, you're right, this lady is the singer; by the way,
we're going to Liittenbargen too — you really are going the wrong
way — this is the road, maybe you'd like to join us?
iver    No time — sorry.
siebenmark    I'm sure there's no shorter way.
iver    I know — two hours, my God! High time!     (Hurries away).
siebenmark    But you're going the wrong way, man!
iver    All roads are right, you just have to keep going.
siebenmark He's in more of a hurry than we are — and he said
"my God" too; maybe he's in a hurry to be resurrected. It looks
as if a steamboat's just arrived; the one we'll be taking on its return
trip. It'll be pretty crowded.
miss isenbarn    I think that's wonderful: a world traveller, occasionally at least — taking a cloud to be smoke from a stack!
siebenmark    Yes, you're right — by the way,  I  don't like the
looks of that cloud at all.
miss isenbarn    Wonderful!
siebenmark    Why, you want to get wet?
miss isenbarn    No, but I'm looking forward to the wind that's
part of it; how the lights on the Elbe will dance in the dark — and
when you're sitting below on the lower deck and the water's rushing
above behind the hull like . ..
siebenmark    Like what?
miss isenbarn    What do you think?
siebenmark    I'll think up a comparison to top all others! You'll
12 have a part in it too; I'll embalm your primness. The one who comes
up with the nicest comparison gets a wish, agreed?
miss isenbarn    Fine!     (They disappear behind the hill.)
(Enter Mrs. Keferstein with Engholm.)
engholm    (desperately)    I really can't say anything more.
mrs. keferstein    But you said maybe I wasn't so very sick —
you are a doctor, aren't you?
engholm    I only advised you to consult a specialist on stomach
troubles; I really don't know anything about it, I'm no physician,
only a doctor — good gracious, nearly everyone's a doctor!     (Maliciously.)    But surely you want to take the pretty path to Holm,
have a nice time — good-bye!     (Tips his hat.)
mrs. keferstein    No, certainly not, Mr.  ... I just want to enjoy
the sunshine, I have no other intentions. As for Holm — completely
out of the question. I told you, if I walk a lot.. .
engholm    Well, there'll be a bench in a little while.
mrs. keferstein    Where? Please show me . ..
engholm    Around the corner to the right, I believe — you'll see
for yourself — unfortunately I'm going straight ahead.    (Hurries
away, calling back:)    There's been sickness at home all winter long,
I have to run.. . .
mrs. keferstein The same with me; listen to me! (Engholm
(Sailor Boh, a vigorous greybeard, passes by.)
bolz    All alone on the hoof, Ma'am?
mrs. keferstein    Nice fresh air . . .
bolz (stopping) Yes — isn't it though? This is what I call a real
mrs. keferstein You feel sort of funny in this solitude, do you
think it's quite safe here?
bolz    De-fi-nite-ly, Ma'am! That is to say — it could happen that
you'll happen to meet monarchs on these here sandbanks.
mrs. keferstein    What sort of monarchs?
bolz Monarchs? Why, damme — monarchs are monarchs.
They've got their coats fined with their armies if they haven't got
a shirt on. Would you like to walk a bit? We can make a little detour, there's a real pretty spot — you have to see it! But lots of
sand, Ma'am —
mrs. keferstein Oh well, a person should be able to sit down
once in a while.
bolz When the good Lord gives us such nice air, why not do a
bit of airing, undoing, unbuttoning—-let's go right in here; a nar-
13 row path, I guess, but you've got a pair of dainty feet; I saw that
right away.
mrs. keferstein    Won't you get too bold?
bolz    Don't worry, Ma'am, my name is Bolz, and no Bolz has ever
been guilty of saying a word too many.
mrs. keferstein    I don't like too much talking either.
bolz    Same here, Madam — now let's go, nice and quiet, keep
straight ahead —    (They disappear.)
(Voss, an unshaven gentleman of fifty, dressed very modestly, enters
in conversation with Hans Iver.)
voss Tell me, what's going on today, where are all these people
coming from?
iver    Do you want anything else?
voss I see — you feel I could do with some small assistance should
I wait to be urged?
iver    Don't you know that today is Easter?
voss    How should I?
iver Good — I haven't anything myself. (Maliciously, as Voss
keeps standing there.) What is it you want anyway? Who are you?
voss Manufacturer of corrosive alkaline hydrates, my name is so
and so.
iver (looking fixedly at him) Is there anything weighing on your
conscience? When a man makes such complicated statements — unusual ones — an anonymity like this . ..
voss Weighing? I weigh what I sit on — otherwise I can't help
iver Anyhow, you're in the know, and if I was too rude on my
part.. .
voss    Heavens no, it's quite all right.
iver Aren't you laughing? I mean to yourself? It seems to me
that you're grinning without showing it.
voss    I really don't want to know what's on your conscience.
iver    You know . . .
voss    I say forget about it!
iver Well then, let's see. (Draws out his wallet.) Here's your
share. But, you are an educated person, aren't you?
voss Right, I was a school teacher; and now get this: my youth
— I mean the youth of a young man's fancies, didn't go with my
profession; something happened that lost me my job, but luckily I
kept my pension.
iver    And now you just bum around?
14 voss    You could say that. My family has no use for me, all they
want is my pension.
iver    And your corrosive alkaline . ..
voss    Hydrates manufacture?
iver    Is a symbol, eh?
voss    Right. You can etch everything off with it. Varnish, paint,
illusion, everything. You know your way about, you know what's
what. So let's have it.    (Iver hands him a coin.)
voss    Thanks — and you?
iver    I? You want to know who I am? To give you something to
etch away? No soap! I should think, if your acid were genuine,
you'd get to rock bottom without questioning. Take a guess!
voss    A bit of a wind-bag — but from a good family — how's
iver    Bull's eye! You couldn't have said anything better; from a
very good family — yes, but run-down, gone to the dogs,
voss    I thought so right away. So don't refuse my small assistance.
(Returns the coin.)
iver Thanks, if that's the way you want it; Dad's one of the top
twenty, in all modesty.
voss    You can tell! In the end it's exactly the same if you're destroyed by the fancies of Spring or Fall, isn't it?
iver    You know — I've lost my way — or else I was put into this
jail here    (points in a circle)    because of some stupidity of mine,
voss    Is that what's weighing on you?
iver    (astonished)    Don't you understand that?
voss    Understand why that should weigh on you?
iver     If you suddenly see it all, and you yourself have to admit that
you're a bastard? A ragamuffin by nature and disposition doesn't
take it that hard, but if you have all that sensitive taste on your
tongue, the odour of elegance in your nose!
voss    Oh, I see — you mean that also as a symbol too?
iver     (with hauteur)    Right, I belong to those who button up
their coats, so that you don't easily get a chance to touch them between the ribs,
voss    Naturally.
iver And so — ugh, finally you can't stand your own smell any
longer, you smell like a stranger to yourself. Have you ever had
lunch with people in the saloon? And thought to yourself: Ugh,
what manners, what a way to eat; rather go hungry — than fill up
that way — eh? To do everything like them; come in, go out, smack
lips, loll around, even be a part of — something like that -— and
J5 afraid that that's going to last; realizing that slowly on that bench
you're balancing yourself over into equilibrium and contentment —
with that gang?
voss    No, never have.
iver I believe you. But it's weighing heavily on me, and I can't
help it. In my sleep I begin to dream that I've stolen something, and
during the day it seems to me that they're after me for murder.
Nice, isn't it?
voss    You'll have to get used to it.
iver    Oh yes — no thanks! Do you think the story of original sin
is complete nonsense? No, there's something to it. Is it for no reason
at all that you're tricked and denied in such a way by your own
distinguished relatives like myself, and tossed out in the cold?
voss    As we are?
iver    Well, men like me out among men like you.
voss    Mmm, that sounds edifying. But I think even if you deny it,
somehow the hook — I mean a hook according to our concepts on
this side —■ probably got stuck in your honourable flesh, with your
own help; as for example, even if you didn't commit a murder...
iver    Oh, yes, I did commit a murder,
voss    Come on, that's out of the question — but —
iver    (crossing his arms)    Well, what about it, I'm really curious.
(At the end he exits hurriedly.)    Two times two is four isn't it? No,
you gang of beggars. Four is four and nothing else. Two of you together never amount to anything decent; you remain a double half
forever.    (Rapidly.)    You've got to watch out or you'll get
chopped into two halves in no time. Better be a decent nothing
than twice one-half.    (Calling back.)    And by the way: if only
you'd heard the nightingale sing, as I did!
16 II
(The upper part of a high bare hill on the heath; one can see a few
upper twigs of the thicket; sunset; biting air. Hans Iver is standing
on the top, his hands in the pockets of his overcoat; he looks at the
sun, moves away but turns back again, and stands still for some time.
Expressionless. Then he draws a revolver from his pocket. At the
same time a piece of paper drops out; he picks it up and puts it
indifferently back into his pocket. At that moment voices are heard,
and Hans Iver hides the revolver and slowly walks away. Miss
Isenbarn and Siebenmark appear on the opposite side.)
siebenmark I think that's just great — here I've been taking the
greatest possible pains for an hour to make you talk and I didn't get
a word out of you.
miss isenbarn I take it you didn't notice anything special about
me, seeing that you're trying to amuse me with the verses of darkie
siebenmark    Aren't you feeling well?
miss isenbarn Do you know how I feel? One thinks: Heavens,
where does this lead to, where is the life and the earth that could
use up such super-abundance! I could weep when I realize that all
this must disappear again, that all this is too much, and that it will
go down the drain.    (A threatening gesture.)
siebenmark    I heard you talking to the sun, and now you're showing him your fist? Never mind, calm down, and don't make my
leave-taking harder than necessary.   (With outstretched arm.)   Tomorrow I'll be floating out there.
miss isenbarn    Baby will weep.
siebenmark    She will?
miss isenbarn I think you'll be back, those steamers are so punctual.
siebenmark Thank God — fairly so .. . are you glad? But it
doesn't matter. I'm no expert on the future and I don't engage anyone's emotions for a certain date.
miss isenbarn By that time I'll probably be sensible again — and
anything like today mustn't happen again.
siebenmark Why not — as long as over and over — how did you
put it? — sensible.
miss isenbaum It won't happen again. Today there might have
been almost enough to make something good, but what shall I do
17 with it today! Didn't you want to think up some comparison in my
honour? Have you thought of one?
siebenmark Yes, listen! The rushing of the water behind the hull
of the boat always sounded to me like the roar of groundless, eternally obstinate irrationality, through which we must painfully pick
our path.
miss isenbarn But wasn't it supposed to have something to do
with me?
siebenmark That's coming. Since you've been with me the un-
canniness of the world has become nothing but your background to
my mind. Ten mutual commandments arise between us in the
midst of chaos. The ten commandments meant for me nail up the
mystical world with definite demands and promises — so I can
light up every corner of my life like a room — its lengths and limits
are assured. That's all right, isn't it? Haven't you come off pretty
miss isenbarn    And isn't there anything uncanny about me for
you, isn't there anything strange any longer? — nothing?
siebenmark    You know what I mean.
miss isenbarn Now I'll tell you how the splashing of water behind the hull of a boat seems to me: it's like the marching and
throbbing of the blood in the veins of the greater life around us in
which we drift.
siebenmark    You know I can't get any picture from that.
miss isenbarn    Shouldn't one be ashamed to lead such a miserable
siebenmark Miss Isenbarn, I think you've been dreaming! You're
talking nonsense!
miss isenbarn I assure you: Today I feel the possibility of the
other — the better — and starting tomorrow until the end I think
that a half, a third, a quarter of it. ..
siebenmark    (has been listening absently; she is silent)    What?
Excuse me, I suddenly remembered an important conference I have
tomorrow morning.
miss isenbarn    An important. ..
siebenmark Why yes, with Puttforks & Co. The boss is still making trouble, but I've thought up a plan, and that's how it'll work.
miss isenbarn By the way, just say the word — my money is your
money. I talked about it to mother. I can have it any moment —
so can you — just say the word. I'm quite serious!
siebenmark Aren't you rather amusingly serious? But we'll talk
about it later. Don't be angry, I didn't mean to mock; but a man
18 has his troubles weighing on his mind; and, aren't my troubles
ultimately your troubles too?
miss ibenbarn    But whom shall I tell about my troubles? By the
way, I want to mock.
siebenmark    You're right, go ahead and mock until you feel good
again. I console myself with the thought that I'm your governor
after all. Come — let's go on, it's getting dark, and the wind you
love has become cold.    (They disappear.)
(Enter Bolz and Mrs. Keferstein.)
mrs. keferstein    Through no fault of mine — you!
bolz    Ayah — as far as that goes — our pastor told us this morning
to put our spiritual books in order on festive days like this, and to
check whether by any chance we haven't any unpaid debts with our
Saviour. But I'm thinking, since my coal comes from England and
my accounts are mostly settled with England, and — because England gets along so well with the Saviour, that's for sure, why, they
could make out with each other as a lump sum what I've got to pay
and to get. . .
mrs. keferstein Do keep quiet, that's awful to listen to.
bolz I was going to say too, if everybody's going to talk about
debts, I'll leave everything the way it is now until some day the big
English account is settled. Then in that way the Saviour can get his
share — just look — back there that grey shining thing, that's the
Elbe, and the place where that church steeple stands is the Braak,
my boat's tied up there, and way at the back is the tower of Buxte-
mrs. keferstein    Do you travel far?
bolz    Nope, at my age I don't look after nothing but the coastal
shipping — well, a bit up to Denmark and down to Holland —
and like that. If your husband needs some coal again, keep me in
mind. Dependable service, ma'am—de-pen-da-ble! Here's my card.
mrs. keferstein    Do you think he saw anything?
bolz    Who — that little fellow who was stalking around in the
bushes? Don't even think of it!
mrs. keferstein    He saw everything, believe me.
bolz    Well, then he got his fun out of it, same as us!
mrs. keferstein    He looked offended.
bolz    Well, it's a funny thing, too — all at once . . .
mrs. keferstein    (nudges him. A shot is heard)    What was that?
A shot?    (They listen.)
bolz    Heavens, what a noise. It was down there not far from our
19 mrs. keferstein    Oh God, that young man ... I hope nothing
happened to him.
bolz    What the devil could have . . .
mrs. keferstein    Don't you hear anything?
bolz    Nope, but maybe we should have a look down there, let's go
a bit closer, it could be a silly joke; there are lots of people who
don't know how to behave decently.    (They walk down; as they
are disappearing Voss is heard calling.)
voss    Come over here quickly, there's a man lying in the bushes,
come on over here.    (A gust of wind.)
(Inside the inn of Liittenbargen, low ceiling; dusk. Through the
windows one can see a steamer passing on the Elbe. From the right
to the middle of the room there is a bar; a person can reach both its
corners; its corner post, approximately in the middle of the room,
serves as a support for the beams of the room above. At the wall
one can open a flap-door in the countertop, and behind the bar
there is a door leading to the interior of the house, to the kitchen
and the staircase to the upper rooms. The outside door is to the left.
The last daylight from outside falls on four or five tables. The window panes are slightly clouded, tobacco smoke lingers in the air,
forming layers and floating across the heads of the guests who are
seated having coffee, fan, the innkeeper, serves them awkwardly.
One can see that he does this only on Sundays. His wife, Thinka,
is busy behind the bar; Stine the maid, in her Sunday best, is moving about between the tables. Three adolescents are putting their
heads together over their cups and talking in low voices. Griewank
is sitting at the same table listening inconspicuously.)
first adolescent    I simply can't believe such a thing!     (Goes on
murmuring)    You see, things are happening which a God has no
right to permit. I'd treat him like a Negro does his idol, I'd spit at
him .. .
second adolescent    You've had religious experience, every word
shows it.
another guest    What's the matter here?    (to fan)    Am I going
to get my coffee soon? I want to take the steamer . . .
jan    Oh, you c'n drink lots o' coffee before that — but please be
20 patient, we've had a bit o' trouble. You see, a man sprained his
ankle, up in the dunes. I guess it ain't too bad.    (Eyeing the ceiling.)    He's lyin' there — upstairs. Here, Sir, here's your coffee.
guest    How on earth can you sprain your ankle in the sand!
jan Ayah — I dunno neither. They brought him in through the
back door, an' they was holdin' him up. He's pretty mad — guess
he's in pain.
bolz (coming down from upstairs through the inner door, to
Thinka) Nothin' much, just a bit bloody, let him get some sleep.
Gimme a glass o' beer an' two bits worth o' liquor, (sits down with
Griewank)    Hi, Asmus.
(Griewank nods. Mrs. Keferstein and Voss also enter through the
inner door. Thinka talks to them hurriedly. They come out from
behind the bar and sit down separately.)
mrs. keferstein (to fan as he brings her coffee) When does
the last boat get into Hamburg?
jan    This is the last, but you c'n easily finish your coffee.
mrs. keferstein    What are you doing    (softly)    with that one
jan    Take it easy, I'll see to everything.
third youth    As far as I'm concerned I refuse to believe in God,
until He can be demonstrated scientifically.
second youth    What? Are you crazy?
third youth That's beside the point; if there is a God, you've
got to be able to believe even if you're crazy. Or aren't lunatics
supposed to have any God — h'm? What I say is: demonstrate! In
the test tube and with doors locked — not before! I want you to
know that I'm a vegetarian! Eating meat leads to tyranny!
(Finishes his coffee in a fury. It is getting darker, Thinka puts on
the light. Siebenmark and Miss Isenbarn enter and sit down. They
look around and listen.)
bolz    (to the youths)    Gentlemen, please don't take no offence
but God ain't almighty.
second youth    He is too!
bolz (forcefully) Then I'll ask you somethin': Can he steer
North-South? You see, he can't do that.
griewank I'll tell you what's the matter with your North-South.
Look, Peter, you don't even know what a fathead you are, an' if you
knew that, then you wouldn't be a fathead. (To the youths.) If
he knows how stupid he is, then he ain't stupid. But if he ain't
21 stupid, then he can't know he's stupid. That's the way it is with
his North-South. You see, Peter, just that!
siebenmark    (to fan)    What do I owe you?
miss isenbarn    Must we ... ?
siebenmark    Hadn't we better go to the landing? The steamer's
bound to come any minute — here . ..
miss isenbarn    I find it wonderful here!
siebenmark    To listen to that nonsense? I'm telling you, they
won't stop for a long time. They're only starting.
miss isenbarn    (to Jan)    Is it time?
jan (looks out of the window) Nothin' to be seen yet, Miss.
I'll just quickly put on the landin' lights — I'll be right back.
(About to go out, Jan meets Engholm who has snow flakes on his
hat and coat.)
engholm Thank heavens, I'm not too late — or has the steamer
left?    (Takes off his glasses.)
jan Might come any moment, Sir; or else it might take some time,
the weather seems to be terrible.
(Exit Jan. Engholm sits down and nods to Siebenmark. Wind is
heard and snow hitting the window.)
bolz (putting money on the table; to Griewank) My boat's
pretty good but my man who runs it does pretty silly things sometimes. I'd better have a look.
griewank    You still runnin' your old Hosiannah?
bolz    Why not? What you got against it?
griewank    I was just thinkin', when a man gets himself a new
wife, he can give up that old tub — when's the wedding?
bolz    Not for a long time — so long!
griewank    Well, so long then.
bolz Evenin', gentlemen. (Bows and walks out past Mrs. Keferstein.)
miss isenbarn    I wish the steamer wouldn't come yet.
siebenmark    Your mother will be worried if we're late.
miss isenbarn    My mother has only one fear, that I might inherit
her life. She's had to sit in a snailshell all her life, and so she chased
me out and said, It's better to break all your bones than sit in a
cage. Yes, that's true; she really gave birth to me, you might say,
only after my father's death when I was ten years old.
siebenmark    You're in such a good mood I really wish the steamer
would hurry up and come.
jan (comes back with turned up collar) You've got lots o' time,
folks; the steamer ain't even in Klosterdieck yet.
22 engholm    But where is it?
jan    Yeh, Mister, where the devil is it?
thinka    Don't talk such silly nonsense, Jan!
jan (to Engholm) Ask my wife, Sir, she'll know the answer.
I don't want to say anythin' about your wife, but my Thinka's a
darn clever woman, Sir. There's still plenty o' snow in the air, an'
even a night owl like Captain Pickenpack can't see through it.
(The guests are uneasy, some look out, others order beverages.)
thinka (to Jan, softly) Jan, I think I hear him knockin' up
there; you go up and have a look at the little fellow. I ain't got the
jan Girlie, I ain't got any more time'n you. I ast him whether he
wants something to drink, and he said "no" — no, he didn't say
nothin' 'tall.
voices from various tables    Do you have any hot water — so
we could maybe have a little grog?
other voices    Two ! Three! But make it stiff!
(Activity at the bar.)
engholm    (sits down restlessly beside Voss)    My little boy's had
a terribly long illness, it's left him half-dead, and today it really
seemed as if we had turned the corner — my wife herself told me to
get out a little. But I didn't really enjoy myself,
voss    (passes his hand over his mouth)    Uh huh.
engholm    I suppose your children are grown up?
voss    Yes, all of them.
engholm I really can't imagine that — you build a world for
those little miracles, as if you were God Himself, you stuff them with
your own sacrifices, and they snatch and snap and digest the incredibilities like geese for the market with their feed. Yes, but to
think that grown-ups — like — like — join me in a grog?
voss Sure, why not? (Engholm orders.) Forget about your
fatherly worries. There are other teachers in the world besides us:
they have nerve. Let me tell you, you'd throw up if you really knew
what those children will have to go through — you'd go out and be
sick. Just let time take a little jump, and all of us with it. And now
your son's lying there above us with a bullet in his chest. Your son,
and you know nothing about it.
engholm    Hey, what's the idea?
voss    The thought makes you sick to your stomach, doesn't it?
engholm    A horrible idea, but only an idea,
voss    What happened to the man upstairs —
engholm    What did happen?
23 voss    Your son — let's say a son killed himself this afternoon —
well, things didn't get quite that far, but he's lying upstairs.
engholm    Terrible.
voss    Your hair's standing on end, but not very straight, because
it isn't your son after all. Otherwise your teeth would chatter. Do
you see the kind of desolation we're bringing our children to? Don't
you know the story of the man who wanted to kill the whole world
because it wasn't good enough for him? But how was he to do it?
Then it occurred to him to start with himself, at the other end, so
to speak, but who was going to do the rest?
engholm    Were you that man? What was the point?
voss    (with a movement of his arm)    Point? Room for better
men. Room, man, room! Make new ones, make new ones!
engholm    Well, would you sacrifice yourself if it would make the
world better — to save it; would you let yourself be crucified?
(One hears loud knocking on the floor in the upper room.)
engholm    What was that?
voss The fellow up there — if you're bent on sacrifices, maybe
he's one!
(Thinka hurries out.)
voices    What was that?
jan    We've got another guest up there in that room — he's a little
impatient, probably wants somethin' to drink.
voices    A knocking guest.
(Miss Isenbarn and Siebenmark have been sitting and saying little.)
siebenmark    Don't I still owe you an answer?
miss isenbarn    Yes, I've been wondering about that. Otherwise
you never let business —
siebenmark Of course. Still, this thing made me feel a little
funny. You see, it's this way — whether you have money or are sure
to get some, under certain circumstances, in business, that's the
same thing. You want to help me — fine — but actually you've
already helped me. I can figure as if —
miss isenbarn But I didn't want to help you at all.
siebenmark    What do you mean?
miss isenbarn (getting stubborn) I can't explain that so simply.
(Impetuously.) You were a man in whom my little bit of self was
to be absorbed ■— right? But I always wanted to show you ... never
mind; think of my moods! Didn't I make a display, didn't I practically unmask myself before you? All that flowed into you like a
brook into the sea. Nothing disturbs your calm. Now I'm ashamed!
24 jan    (talking to guests)    The steamer ain't passed Klosterdieck
yet; that's all.
A drunkard    Passed what?
jan    Yeh, nothin' I c'n help.
the drunkard    No help from Jan, Jan puts his hands in his pockets
and keeps his bowels warm in his belly. Jan, Jan, what a hobgoblin
you are.
jan    (to Griewank who is about to leave)    Goin' home, Asmus?
Can't you take these folks with you? If that steamer don't come
how'm I gonna manage with all these people? And from your place
they c'n easily have a horse an' buggy take 'em to the train at
griewank    Oh, my dear man . ..
(Engholm speaks to Griewank.)
siebenmark    Landlord — a word with you!
jan    Ten if you want, Sir, just come over here if you'll be so kind.
(They go behind the bar.)
engholm    (to Voss, who is still sitting over his grog)    It's really
terrible, I don't know what to do. What will you do?
voss    Wait, Sir, copy me, wait, until the world gets better by itself.
(There is another knock from above.)
engholm    Oh yes —■ and that thing up there as well, I'd already
forgotten about it.
(Miss Isenbarn approaches.)
voss    Yeh, you see, he hasn't got a doctor and a bed in his father's
home like your son.
engholm    Do you suppose he's in pain?
voss    Ask him, but be careful; I nearly got the boot-jack thrown at
my head — he seems quite rabid.
engholm    But he seems to be asking for help.
voss    Sure, sure. Go ahead upstairs.
engholm    What are you thinking of? I've got to try to take care
of myself — otherwise, gladly — really.
miss isenbarn    Why, who is he?
voss    An Easter lamb, Miss. But he's still kicking—and he's picked
himself up again. But it can start again at any moment.
miss isenbarn    What can start again?
voss    Why he was the shooter himself — he probably needs two
miss isenbarn    And you left him the gun? Tell me — what does
he look like?
25 voss    Not appetizing; — he'd been lying in the mud and rolled
in it. Collar undone — and blood — blood, young lady!
miss isenbarn    Was it a young man?
voss    But he's not photogenic.
siebenmark    (approaching)    You. ..
miss isenbarn    (to Voss)    Why are you leaving him alone? How
can you?
voss    Ha, how can you! He's frothing, he's spitting, he's kicking.
miss isenbarn    Well?
voss    The thing is — he's ashamed of me — for a moment he was
bawling right in front of my eyes. He can't forgive me for that, so
I'd better stay here.
siebenmark    Listen, we have to make up our minds fast. I spoke
to the innkeeper just now. He . ..
miss isenbarn    Did you hear?
miss isenbarn    About that man upstairs who shot himself?
siebenmark    Yes, the innkeeper dropped some remark about it —
now pay attention, we have to start out on foot, maybe the steamer
won't come at all; the landlord assured me it's still possible at low
tide, if we keep along the shore as far as — eh —. The old man lives
there and from there —
miss isenbarn    I hear a sound as if somebody upstairs ...
engholm    I hear it too.
voss    That's Jan's voice, ladies and gentlemen, nothing else — he
wants to have quiet guests, that's all, and he can scold if necessary.
siebenmark    Now please, we can't let such things delay us.
voss    Listen, he's scolding back.
siebenmark    See? He's causing trouble for these people on top of
everything else. It's a good sign by the way, if a man still has the
courage to scold like that.
griewank    (steps forward)    Ayah, I guess I'm ready to .. .
siebenmark    Yes, just one moment,    (to Miss Isenbarn)    You're
ready, aren't you?
miss isenbarn    Listen, he's still got his gun with him up there,
that won't do.
siebenmark    It's not likely.    (Draws Miss Isenbarn to the side.)
We can't let ourselves get involved in all this.
miss isenbarn    "We — ourselves!"
siebenmark    Never mind — after all, we can't be of any help to
him.    (The guests, among them Mrs. Keferstein, have got ready
and are standing at the door with Griewank.)    Now look, all these
26 people know what's the matter up there — and no one pays any
attention.  They're waiting for us.  We have no choice, because
something has evidently happened to the steamer. And the landlord
says it's the best thing we can do.
miss isenbarn    Those?—-surely we don't count ourselves —
among those!
siebenmark    We — ourselves? We can be glad that we may —
getting away from here tomorrow morning will be too late for me.
engholm    (desperately)    Are you going too, or will you take the
chance that the steamer might come after all? What do you say?
siebenmark    Getting out, definitely!
engholm    Then we mustn't let ourselves be delayed; come on!
miss isenbarn    He also says: "we—-ourselves." Who's included?
Do you like it? I don't.
siebenmark    (in a changed voice)    And what if we did let those
people go? Then it would probably be too late to leave today.
miss isenbarn    We can easily follow them.
siebenmark    Good.    (To Griewank)    Just go ahead, we'll be
ready in no time.
(Everyone bows and they disappear. Engholm, Voss, Siebenmark
and Miss Isenbarn remain.)
jan    (comes down the stairs, to Thinka)    That little guy nearly
threw me out o' my own house.
miss isenbarn    How are you going to take care of him?
jan    Me? No, Miss, that'll all take care of itself. First I'll pester
him, until he goes to sleep, and then I'll settle down near him on
the sofa — he isn't goin' to hang himself today.
siebenmark    You see how well he's being looked after.
voss    Right, Sir, quite right; whether he likes it or not, he's got
to like it. Most certainly.
jan    Well, folks, if you finished thinkin' things over... I c'n give
you a lantern to take with you, so you'll be able to go faster.    (Exit.)
engholm    If you'll be so kind!
siebenmark    If the idea of that man torments you so much, I'll
make some arrangements with the owner; he'll be treated like a
cousin of mine, that's enough for you, isn't it? If "we" trouble
"ourselves" with him, it's bound to be something special. "We —
Ourselves" — eh?
(Jan enters with the lantern.)
siebenmark    (to Jan, handing him his card)    Here's my address,
do whatever you can for the man up there; I'll take care of it —
27 jan    Don't worry, I know what I've got to do.
voss    Nonsense, stop this nonsense; he's the gentleman's cousin,
the gentleman wants to spend some money on him and he can afford it.
engholm (taking the lantern) Are you going to waste my precious time? (plaintively) For God's sake, let's go, I assure you
what you're talking about makes me feel quite sick.
siebenmark Then run along — my dear Sir — don't wait for us.
engholm But why should I run along when you're still standing
siebenmark I have two more minutes, my own time, you know,
not yours!
(Engholm hurries out.)
jan    (takes the piece of paper)    Well, Sir, if that's the way it's
got to be; but if I'm not keepin' you, I'd like to know, should I take
him to your rooms tomorrow if he's your cousin?
siebenmark    (furious)    He's  not my  cousin,  not the slightest
relationship ...
jan    He ain't mine either, I c'n say that with a clear conscience.
engholm    (looking in)    To the right or the left? You can't see
any trace of the others any longer.
jan    Straight ahead, always East!
engholm    East, where is East around here?    (Comes in.)
jan   (points toward the wall)   Out there — an' then — upstream!
engholm    (wiping his forehead)    Upstream — how can I in this
darkness . . . Why don't you tell me whether to go to the right or to
the left when I'm outside?
siebenmark (interrupting) Anybody trespassing on my property
will be prosecuted. You'd better tell him that too (with a gesture
upward).    I bind you to that — or else ...
miss isenbarn (takes the card out of Jan's hand and puts it in
her pocket) You've misheard . .. How can you think that we allow
ourselves to be so annoyed. (To Siebenmark) There, now I'm
(Walks to the threshold.)
siebenmark What was that — how so, my dear? Tell me — isn't
that man up there actually dead? Surely that was what he wanted.
You're the one who always brings in spiritual values, and makes
such a fuss over this accidental existence — is that remainder still a
human being? What has a living person to do with him; his own
life can't be of any value to him any longer!
miss isenbarn    Terrible — what you're saying.
28 siebenmark    What's the matter? — You're trembling, sit down.
miss isenbarn    You know, the whole time things were whispering
inside of me, and now you're making them audible with your hands.
siebenmark    Come on now! You only have to be reasonable —
would you like to drink something?
miss isenbarn    Some water — please, I can't walk at the moment.
siebenmark    It'll pass.
miss isenbarn    No, no, that was a shock!
engholm    (to Jan)    Bring a glass of water quickly, man! Don't
you see that otherwise we won't get away at all?
(Jan hurries out.)
miss isenbarn    Can life become such a sickness that one rages
against it? Can it? And one only makes it worse? No! No!    (Sits
down, stamps her feet.)    No, it can't, it mustn't — but — you also
said it too; to have to live can be worse than to have to die?
siebenmark    What — oh — I didn't mean it like that.. .
miss isenbarn    We didn't understand each other properly, that's
why. But give me time, I can't walk now.
(Jan with water.)
siebenmark    (takes the glass)    Here, have some water.
miss isenbarn    Never mind, I don't want any right now.
engholm    (to Voss)    She doesn't want any — waiting at such a
moment until someone wants to drink water!
siebenmark    (looks at Engholm and smiles faintly)    In such a
situation we have to know how to compose ourselves — if you knew
what it can mean for me, tomorrow morning — to keep waiting —
29 IV
(Narrow platform leading to the rooms of the upper storey. In the
foreground the staircase ends at the bottom, winding in such a way
that for a moment one sees the faces of people ascending; further
up, the ascending person appears from the side. In the back wall
there is a door to Hans Iver's room; another door is in the right
wall between the staircase and the back wall. On the left, darkness
meets the eye; there the attic of the annex to the house starts; one
can vaguely distinguish slanted beams, roof tiles lying on rafters.
Various kinds of trash are illuminated when a light is carried past;
the chimney leading up from the kitchen is half-hidden like a shaky
pillar. Engholm comes up the stairs with a light; at that moment the
back door opens, and Hans Iver, cleaned up in makeshift fashion,
trying to appear casual, comes out and tries to descend past Engholm.)
engholm    Can I help you in any way?
iver    Thank  you,  very  kind  of  you — but — thank you  really.
(About to go.)
engholm    (bars his way timidly)    Didn't you feel sick a while
iver    Just for a while — I'm better now.
engholm    You should maybe be a little more careful. . .
iver    But — Sir, I don't even know you.
engholm    My name is Engholm.
iver    (introducing himself)    Buttermann — pleased to meet you,
Mr. Engelmann.    (Shakes his hand and begins to descend.)    I
want to get to the steamer.
engholm    That won't work, you see probably none of us can get
away before tomorrow morning.
iver    You don't say, I have my return ticket in my pocket.
engholm    You misunderstand me; evidently something's happened
to the boat, we'll simply have to stay here.
iver    Maybe you — not I.
engholm    Don't be silly, you can't even get down the stairs.
iver    Did you invest any money in my legs? Well then, why are you
worried about my hams?
engholm    You're staggering!
iver    Imagination!
engholm    You see, without me you'd have fallen.
iver    Well, then it's no use — put me under lock and key.
30 engholm    (leads him into the room of which a part of the bed,
chairs, a mirror are visible)    Won't you lie down?
iver    (sitting)    Don't have to — but if you could get me a little
something — hot and strong?
engholm    A grog — is that it?
iver    Don't you hear anything? Doesn't your heart ever creak?
Just as if crows were flying around a church tower somewhere very
far away — yes, get me a grog.
engholm    Of course, that's the right thing.
(Comes to the front and begins to descend; when half out of sight,
he hears the key being turned in the lock, the door is closed. He
comes back.) Mr. . .. Buttermann — another word please. (Silence.) Listen to me — don't be silly, what's the meaning of that?
(Silence.) For God's sake, open the door.
iver    (inside)    I've no time!
engholm But why are you locking yourself in? (He shakes the
door, desperately.) That something like this has to happen to me!
Open up! You hear me? (Silence. He tries to look through the
key-hole, then runs hastily to the stairs, calls) Landlord! (Waits
and descends half-way.) Get the landlord to come up quickly,
there'll be a disaster!
(Siebenmark appears with Miss Isenbarn.)
engholm    (points to the door)    He's locked himself in.
siebenmark    Is that all? Why, you're quite beside yourself.
engholm    Through the key-hole, I ...
siebenmark    What's he doing?
engholm I couldn't see anything clearly — where's the landlord?
siebenmark His wife is fetching him, he went to the pigs in the
engholm    Listen!
siebenmark I don't know what that means. Look around, see if
there isn't some kind of tool around — a crow-bar or something.
Don't be so fidgety, you make me nervous.
engholm (searching in the attic with the light. He comes upon
"pretty Emil", is startled and illuminates him. It is a stuffed cloth
doll, larger than life, the head made of grey burlap with painted
eyes, a cork for a nose, eye-glasses of wire, hay for hair and a beard,
and sticks stuck in the fingers of the gloves. He touches it and drops
it. Then he kicks it with his feet onto the landing.) Good Heavens,
what a monster! A ghost!
jan (comes up hurriedly, grips the door knob and calls) You
won't be able to open the window, I've locked it on the outside,
3i Mister,    (to the others)    I saw him from the yard posing at the
window. Some guests fly too high.    (Calls inside.)    You just stay
inside, you'll catch cold in your rear end.
(The door is unlocked. Jan opens it. Iver is seen sitting on a chair.
Jan and Engholm enter, Siebenmark and Miss Isenbarn remain at
the door.)
jan    (shaking the window)    You see? This door says: nope—■
matter of fact, I gave it a good broad hint just now.
iver    (points at Siebenmark)    Your colleague, perhaps, Mr. Engel-
mann?    (To Siebenmark)    My name is Buttermann.
siebenmark    (approaches)    Siebenmark!
iver    You look familiar to me, your name could be Zwieback.
Judging by your double backside, that is your name — isn't there
someone else there?
siebenmark    The lady?
iver    The lady? The lady evidently wishes to remain in the shadow
and she's quite right — no — who's that hanging around on the
floor back there — another colleague, Mr. Engelmann?
engholm    Engholm — Engholm — not Engelmann. The one back
there,    (to Jan)    Fetch that monster to satisfy Mr. Buttermann.
jan    Why, that's pretty Emil — if the folks wish to have a bit o'
comp'ny    (drags in pretty Emil)    he's only made o' rags.
iver    Then the company is complete.
jan    He ain't as bad as he looks, he's mostly got cork in his body,
and  straw in his head — they was a  couple o' painters around
last year, they came every week, had a lot of fun together; they
made pretty Emil. Then, on the Sunday before Whitsuntide, they
dropped him into the water, and the people havin' coffee on the
shore thought it was a corpse floatin' along an' fetched a boat to
save pretty Emil.
iver    Why do you call him pretty Emil?
jan    That was our waiter's name, an' Molly, Molly's the servant
girl, Molly said that he was just as pretty as our Emil. So that's what
we call him. He c'n sit — see?    (Makes pretty Emil sit on a chair.)
iver    Let him sit next to me; if he really has cork in his body he's
a ragamuffin only on the outside, I wish I were like him in that
respect.    (To Engholm.)    You were going to get some grog;    (To
Jan.)    or maybe you'll bring up something to drink? Perhaps Mr.
Zwieback will have a glass as well? And if the lady isn't too proud . ..
siebenmark    (exchanging glances with Miss Isenbarn)    You'll
see . . . we won't be proud.
32 (Miss Isenbarn sits down at the door outside the room. Jan disappears.)
iver It seems to me we're a cozy little group — no spoil-sport
among us?
siebenmark    No fear of that.
iver (to Engholm) What do you think of our pretty Emil, won't
you put handcuffs on him? You've got some with you, haven't you?
engholm (takes out his card) Would you please convince yourself that I am no other than I claim to be, if that's any comfort to
iver    (reads)    Dr.   Karl   Engholm,   chemist.  Thanks,  but  how
should that comfort me? Did you ever kill anyone?
engholm    In any case I have no handcuffs with me, and my only
task is to save you from your own uneasiness.
siebenmark We aren't watching confessions nor sounding you
out. But if you want to get rid of a burden, you'll find us all amicably disposed and understanding.
iver    Amicably — is it? Isn't it just as possible that I haven't been
up to anything at all? But no, of course — you're right.
siebenmark    As you like. But after what we know about you it
might be the best thing to confide in us.
(Jan comes with a tray full of steaming glasses.)
iver    I'll tell you something, Mr. Zwieback — why confide?    (with
a hasty negative gesture.)    I know, I know, for God's sake, I know
everything you could explain in ten years — but that's just it, those
few words would be quite enough; our mutual confidence is just as
good an invention as a songbook for songbirds. Each of them pipes
the way it's made. Oh well — here's the grog, just pass it around,
right around.
jan (handing a glass to each of them) The travelling lady's
here too.
ENGHOLM      Who?
jan    The woman, you know — why, you know — the woman.
She left with old Griewank an' the others — it got too wet for her
on the way, an' now she wants to spend the night here — well, Sir,
you won't mind a drop for pretty Emil as well, we'll drink from the
same glass. Your health, an' may you all have a good night under
my roof.    (They clink glasses.)
siebenmark    How so, Mr. Buttermann — I'd like to know why
we couldn't sing together in confidence.
iver    Since when is it Buttermann, if you please?
33 siebenmark    So your name isn't Buttermann?
iver    How would I get such a name?
siebenmark    So it was your pleasure to fib — don't get so excited
—■ obviously a bagatelle.
iver    Buttermann is dead.
siebenmark    If you'd only have a little confidence I could talk
you out of this idea of being dead, in fifteen minutes.
iver    Why do people always take you for one of their kind ■—■
siebenmark May I ask, if you're dead against being a banal
Buttermann — what kind of a man are you, or rather, what kind of
a man would you like to be?
iver Don't you ever have any bright moments, Mr. Zwieback?
siebenmark    How so — when?
iver    Well, any time. I assume you know what a beaten, buttery,
bigotted thing you are. I can presume that, can't I? Eh?
siebenmark    Assume anything you like.
iver    Well then, don't you ever have moments when you, a poor
relation, see the lofty lord in his splendour sail past? What I mean
is:  You feel it within yourself, as if something were approaching
you with which you begin to sense a relationship. Your heart stops,
you gasp for air, and you bellow like a beast in your misery. You —
Mr. Zwieback — don't you sometimes bellow at your misery too?
siebenmark    In my misery as the poor relation of a lofty lord?
iver    Right. Say yes, and I'll have confidence in you.
siebenmark    (pats pretty Emil on the shoulder)    Fine, that's the
only right answer!
iver    How so, what does he say?
siebenmark He keeps silent, obviously he's thoroughly bewildered
— it's agreed that he belongs to the company, isn't it? Naturally he
has a seat and a vote.
iver    Then your opinion's the same as that of a straw man?
siebenmark    Exactly; better to be a full straw man than an empty
wind bag.
iver    Wind bag? So that would be my case — maybe — yes —
empty, quite empty, unpositive, negative — yet full of desire and
hope. But what can a straw man hope for, he's full!    (To Engholm)    Intellectual conversation, isn't it?
engholm    I wasn't listening.
iver    You've better things to think of?
engholm    I have to keep thinking of how my boy is doing. The
34 cleverer the things you say, the stupider you seem to me;   (furiously)
the whole salvation business is revolting rubbish!
iver    Have you killed anyone yet?
engholm    Well, have you?
iver    Sssh! We aren't talking about me. Surely no one's conscience,
I guess, is entirely free from a small murder.
engholm    Oh, such sophistries!
iver Have you an entirely clear conscience? Well, of course, you
don't wish to say it, but has everything always been done quite
engholm You are talking about a little murder!
iver Well, I haven't killed anyone either with an axe. Don't you
feel that no one may treat his neighbour as his equal without committing a small murder? Oh well — fiddlesticks, the wind bag is on
the go. Finish your drinks! (to Jan) We'll have another one.
(Jan exits with the glasses.)
siebenmark (to Miss Isenbarn) If it's getting too cold for you,
my dear, you must say so.
(Miss Isenbarn ignores the endearment. Jan is heard downstairs
talking with Mrs. Keferstein. They come up the stairs.)
mrs. keferstein    Oh Lord, I'm drenched, I'm sure I've got chills
and fever.
jan    (points to the closed second door)    That room is assigned
to these guests—    (pointing to Siebenmark and Miss Isenbarn)
we've only got this one there left,    (points to Iver's room.)
mrs. keferstein    (approaches)    I have regular shivers.    (Posing)    I can't tell you what I went through; all along through water
up to my knees!     (shows her legs.)    At least I can put something
dry on my feet, eh? The landlady was going to be so kind and . ..
stine    Mrs. Timmermann sends the stockin's, and she said the
lady'd better put on two pairs while she's at it — and here's the
slippers.    (Puts down a pair of wooden slippers.)
mrs. keferstein    Into these? Oh my Lord! Well then, excuse me
for a minute.    (Disappears in the other room.)
jan    (aside with Siebenmark)    You don't have to worry at all,
Auntie's not to disturb you. Just let me see to that. Everything's O.K.
miss isenbarn    (rises)    I'll say good night.
siebenmark    So early, can you go to sleep already? At least wait
until she's through in there; let's go downstairs for a minute.
jan    The lady's most likely fed up with your neighbour, a thing
like that sticks in your crop like a piece o' smoked eel.
35 siebenmark Do you think he's really wounded? I think he's
putting on an act, megalomania or something like that.
jan Well, if you want me to speak, I'd say he's got somethin' in
him that don't belong there. But if he goes on drinkin', he'll soon
calm down — so, if you ain't worried otherwise, (slyly) you
don't have to be afraid of him. (Goes into Iver's room.)
miss isenbarn    What does he mean?
siebenmark    He's a boor; but I have to take the responsibility,
there's no question about that. My risk! Those were pretty broad
hints which you mustn't blame him for. Yes, the room is ours — you
should understand that and decide!
miss isenbarn    But surely not this minute.
siebenmark Oh yes! This minute! With one word you can wipe
out everything that came between us today. Can you hesitate? No
one ever had the chance you have now to change evil into good
with one breath.
mrs. keferstein (appears in wooden slippers, her hair down,
without bodice, arms bare, a shawl around her shoulder; happy as a
lark, she stamps on the floor to practice walking in her slippers, and
comes into Hans Iver's room) Have you got a spot for a poor old
woman — I can't show myself downstairs like this. (Sees pretty
Emil.) Good God, what kind of man is that? If there's a dance
tonight, he'll have to dance with me. (Shakes hands with Hans
Iver.) That's the idea: don't let them get you down. I'll sit on
the bed if you don't mind.
jan    (to Mrs. Keferstein)    I'll take your things into the kitchen
to dry.    (Goes into the room to fetch the wet clothing.)
miss isenbarn    Leave the door open, I'll go right in.
jan    (startled)    The lady seems to be mighty tired . ..
miss isenbarn    (to Siebenmark)    Have him tell the woman —
(pointing to Mrs. Keferstein)    that I will definitely stay ... in the
room . . .
siebenmark    You don't wish to be disturbed by anyone under any
circumstances — do I understand you correctly?
miss isenbarn    Yes, be kind enough to remember it. Until tomorrow morning — under no circumstances. Goodnight.
siebenmark    Goodnight — but you haven't had any supper.
(Miss Isenbarn makes a negative gesture and closes the door.)
jan    (to Siebenmark while both slowly descend the stairs)    In the
catechism it says "But whosoever loves me and keeps my commandments, to him will I do good." As a boy I used to wonder why Mr.
Whosoever was just the one to love him and keep his command-
36 ments. You see, Sir, those women are as full o' mysteries as the
catechism — but as time goes on, you get into them, that's for your
consolation.    (Both disappear.)
mrs. keferstein    If girls behave like women, why shouldn't a
woman behave like a girl?
iver    Is your husband downstairs?
mrs. keferstein    Are you out of your mind — my husband?
iver    Yes, the one who was with you on the heath.
engholm    The lady's really travelling all alone. I know it for
iver    Do you see the index finger?
mrs. keferstein    Yours?
iver    No — there — there — everywhere.  Aren't  you   an  honest
woman? But three people know better — the man whom I dreamt
up on the heath and who carried me through the sand ...
mrs. keferstein    He won't tell anybody — so there!
iver    And I — I won't tell anybody either.
mrs. keferstein    And the third one?
iver    You yourself!
mrs. keferstein    Well, she'll be the last one to tell anybody.
iver    But tell me this at least, isn't your honesty a good-looking
corpse? The index finger points to corpses — don't you see anything
yet? But you'll have to come along to court, there's no way out.
The gentleman    (points to Engholm)    is in the secret service, you
see, and now at last he's got me.
mrs. keferstein    Oh, no, are you connected with that kind of
thing? That can be quite a lark! But we aren't that far yet; what
am I supposed to do there, I don't know anything! God, I've such a
fever, just feel my cheeks! Are you afraid?
iver    All you have to do is testify you met me on the heath, or I
met you — and how!
mrs. keferstein    What have you done?
Tver    Stepped on a mouse's tail and tore it off.
mrs. keferstein    I'm afraid that mouse's tail is hopping around
in your head and mixing everything up. Don't worry about it, have
a look in the mirror and see what a fine fellow you are.
iver    In the mirror! There they stand and show their teeth and
hiss; it's you, it's your own self. They're our mocking shadows in the
mirror, they're fellows that make the sun vomit green.
mrs. keferstein    Heavenly!
iver    (to Engholm)    Where should I sleep, I have to rest; pains
I can hardly bear. Please constable, help me.
37 engholm    Won't you stay where you are?
iver    You give the orders.
engholm (sighing) Oh my little sick Hal, I wish I were with
iver    Hal is his name?
engholm    Harold, we call him Hal.
mrs. keferstein Oh my, how sad—but just feel my pulse, I'll
catch my death of cold if I don't get a proper bed, I really must
get into a good sweat.
iver    Does the index finger molest you? Well — I haven't said anything. Of course you want to have my bed. Forgive me if I spit but
I have a disgusting taste on my tongue.
mrs. keferstein    Of what?
iver    Of too much jabbering! Is it a deal, do you keep the room?
mrs. keferstein    If you feel well enough .. .
engholm    My dear Sir . ..
iver Haven't you anything to smoke? I have to get rid of that
stale taste of myself. Let's leave the room to the lady and her honest
corpse. They must sleep well — absolutely — both of them. (They
enter the landing.)
engholm    (whispering)    But that's entirely out of place.
iver    I can't take it any longer. The lady seems to me like a favourite racehorse: bang, bang, bang — but under the belly a toothless
louse for a conscience. Where are we off to?
engholm    I don't know what to do.
mrs. keferstein But I can't keep that awful creature in here —
I wouldn't close an eye.
iver Of course he belongs to us — just throw him out please, right
out. (Pretty Emil is thrown out.) What about settling down over
here on the right? Isn't that a chimney? Nice and warm, God
knows — and in other respects not a bad hole, is it?
engholm There seems to be a decrepit easy-chair, pretty Emil sat
on it.
iver Very good, but dusty — and the wind rattles the roof tiles,
listen to it. (Sits down.) Just as fat Dr. World used to puff when
he put his ear to your chest, and puffed and listened and puffed.
He's dead but he was like the world itself, wild and impossible to
understand. But when I hear a wind like this I always think it could
be the doctor, the world doctor who wants to listen — for God's
sake get me a cigarette.
38 V
(The same place, somewhat later. Hans Iver, sitting between the
chimney and the roof in the crooked arm-chair, is smoking. Pretty
Emil is lolling on the floor. Mrs. Keferstein's door is closed, as is
Miss Isenbarn's. Household noises can be heard from downstairs.)
mrs. keferstein (comes out of the door, as before, in wooden
slippers, with her hair loose, a shawl around her shoulder, her arms
bare)    All by yourself?
iver Not quite, you know, we've got rats here; a minute ago one
was sniffing at your door — a huge beast, like this! (shows the
mrs. keferstein    And you just sit there?
iver    Well, they don't talk.
mrs. keferstein    And where's the . ..
iver Commissioner? Getting some ice for me from downstairs, he's
giving me something to smoke up above, and down below I'm supposed to be freezing— (touches his head and his chest) half a
doctor, you know —
mrs. keferstein    But you don't have a pillow — I really don't
need it, please take it!    (Fetches it.)    There, now raise yourself
up; I can't get to sleep, I think I'll have a cup of coffee and see
where my things are. Is that better? It's not so bad here.
iver    Do you smoke?
(Mrs. Keferstein takes a cigarette.)
iver    Look, there's that fat rat again.
mrs. keferstein    Disgusting.
iver Oh, a rat-life taken as music isn't a note worse than yours:
looks for its feed and its pleasure . . .
mrs. keferstein I guess you also look for your feed and the
other thing.
iver Yes, yes, I do! But just because I'm a person who's disgusted
by it —
mrs. keferstein    What — and that's why?
iver    Oh, that shouldn't concern you.
engholm    (comes upstairs with a bowl of ice)    A rat just ran
past me — you'd think it was a hundred years old.
iver    (to Mrs. Keferstein)    Enviable — eh? A hundred years of
engholm When I was a boy on my father's farm I shot them by
the dozen.
39 iver    Good for you! Powder and lead are the best cure for rats.
Any superior person is entitled to it.
mrs. keferstein    I see what you mean.
iver    And?
mrs. keferstein You mean yourself, but I must say: thank God
that you fainted after the shot, even a rat's life is worth living.
iver Of course, that's what everybody says; people say: it's worth
it. But just think of those who find us as disgusting as you find these
rats — eh? What about that? It looks nice, the way you blow smoke
through your nose. By the way, your neck shows your years, better
put something on.
mrs. keferstein (to Engholm) Are there any people left down
engholm    Of course, they're having fun. They're just getting out
the record player. The prayer from Lohengrin will be the first record.
mrs. keferstein    Then I'll run and try to get a coffee.    (Exit.)
engholm    (to Iver)    Now then — show me.
iver    What?
engholm Why, I'm going to put some ice on you. Unbutton your
shirt, and let's have a look. (Brings the light closer and moves a
chest to sit on.)
iver If you knew what that means: to show! Who knows what it
looks like — not even I.
engholm    What if they take you to the hospital tomorrow?
iver    Oh — God forbid! No, don't bother — enough — hands off!
For God's sake, I'm almost well, it was a lousy shot, I haven't a
trace of fever, I think, and almost no pain — but my heart's racing
like mad.
engholm Now tell me, and I mean this seriously, what did you
do? You see, I think you puffed up a little thing into a big bubble
out of sheer idealism. Really now, aren't you piling it on a little
thick right now?
iver Certainly, Mr. Chemist, I have a tiny pill of prussic acid in
my body.
engholm    Maybe you only think it's prussic acid.
iver    Exactly — it depends on what that certain intestine, the conscience, has to say about it.
engholm    Meanwhile you must have realized that we're not on
your trail. Listen: as much as I want to see my Hal alive tomorrow
— every heartbeat protests against anything else — it's just as true
that we aren't chasing you.
iver    Of course, I've done something, eh?
40 engholm    My dear sir, that's certainly the obvious conclusion.
iver    A little rascality, no doubt — is that it?
engholm Which could be explained, corrected and socially obliterated ...
iver    Explain — understand — that's just it!
engholm Now tell me honestly: if things really aren't that bad
with your — well, let's say — offence, that is: you're not pursued,
you're not punishable in a legal sense — what about your self-
condemnation in that case? It's moulting; there, you see, you start
and agree with me.
iver    Then —■ you mean my sole motivation would be — fear?
(The record player can be heard downstairs.)
engholm (stopping his ears) You see, I have a bit of musical
conscience in me — and now about that pill of prussic acid — what
were you saying — fear? Good God, this is what I think: there's
something the matter with you, and if it isn't an unhappy love
affair, it can only be some piece of stupidity. And from its "consequences", as they say, you're running — a little far.
iver And there simply can't be anything else — hm?
engholm What for example? Or have you lost money? I don't
suppose you're a business man?
iver You know how to hit home! I wonder what you expect in
my case — embezzlements, for example?
engholm Good God, what a sickening whine downstairs, how can
you have a sensible conversation with that going on!
iver You know what? Bring the whole gang up here and then
we'll follow up this matter. Seriously — I want to confess, he who
has ears to hear, let him hear—■ Zwieback was going to pull the
thorn from my paw a while ago — go and ask him to come up
on the run.
engholm    Calm down — why, you're foaming at the mouth.
iver    (calls)    Mr. Zwieback — Mr. Zwieback!
engholm    That trumpet call will raise the whole house — I'll go,
I'll go, but please take it easy.
iver Hurry up or I'll yell it down the stairs. (Engholm goes.)
Fresh, good, rotten eggs, spicy, amusing!! You'll get your share,
you'll hear what you want to hear!
mrs. keferstein (appears first) What's the matter, what's happened to you?
iver I'm supposed to moult ■— they're looking for witnesses. The
murderer wants to make a confession.
41 mrs. keferstein For heaven's sake, then we'll all have to go to
iver    Yes, everything will come to light down to the smallest detail,
your husband will read everything in the newspaper. You'll have
salt sprinkled on your tail so he'll see what kind of bird you are.
(Siebenmark, Voss, Engholm appear, Jan and Stine remain on the
staircase. Mrs. Keferstein is about to escape into her room.)
siebenmark    Don't you want to listen too?
mrs. keferstein I'm tired, I can tell you, if you're going to play
Black Jack here — I'm not in the game. (With a glance at Miss
Isenbarn's door) My conscience is as clear as that lady's, I can go
to sleep as fast as she can.
(Slips into her room but allows the door to open gradually wider
and wider during the following scene. The record player plays a few
more bars, then suddenly runs down.)
iver Please sit down if you like, but I'm sorry, there are no chairs
(Engholm sits down on some object in the dark. Siebenmark remains standing in front of Iver.)
iver Well then — oh, I see — you smoke too; all of us here smoke,
it's so cozy.
(Siebenmark makes a negative gesture.)
iver You're right — coziness is disgusting in the wrong place.
(Throws away the cigarette.) Now then — just to help you see
how it all came about, you should know that not long ago I — well,
where should I start; if you're to understand, the best place would
be with Adam and Eve — but then you'd be grey by the time I
got to myself. (Jan giggles.) But why should you understand,
after all, what kind of claim — eh? (Quickly) I simply have to
tell it in such a way that you do understand.
siebenmark    I'll take a guess — you've already dropped a hint —
your subject's connected with a death, isn't it? Right?
iver    Yes, somebody is no longer living who was previously alive —
siebenmark    What's his name?
iver    Negendahl — Ne-gen-dahl!
siebenmark    Negendahl — good. What about the details?
iver    I suppose I must. It isn't a long story. Negendahl was my
friend — you might say — there are times, you see, when one —
well, I had driven myself into a feeling of friendship for him — I
drifted toward him on a current of vexations. Now there was a
42 third man — a rather dull fellow but one who put in his oar where-
ever he could.
siebenmark We're not getting anywhere this way. Who killed
Negendahl — did you?
iver    No, he committed suicide. But that's just what I want to
explain, why it happened, that's why I'm telling you this!
siebenmark    Go ahead, then; I can see what's coming,
voss    So can I.
rvER I had to put up with the fact that this third one, who must
have known about Negendahl something better left unknown, made
me, as Negendahl's friend, the door-keeper of his reputation.
siebenmark Door-keeper, I suppose is a paraphrase, is it?
iver Hell, yes! I spied on him, I scouted him out — I wanted to
know what there was to it — well, there really was a neat little
siebenmark There was? Was the man really a scoundrel?
iver No more than I and — well. I — let me explain! I brought
a sore spot to light by rehearsing it. I played theft with a thief — I
had his own case, in disguise, of course — unrecognizable — revealed to him as mine. I pretended to sit beside him in his trap,
and so very soon we mutually confessed we were brothers in villiany,
That was all I wanted.
siebenmark    And then . . .
iver    That would have ended the matter, except for the other one,
that third one, against whom I was actually going to defend Negendahl's reputation by means of this test.
siebenmark    I understand.
iver You do? Aha, that's good! Well then, this third one rubbed
his oil in the affair, until it began to smell, because never before
had a pharisee's mouthpiece screamed itself so hoarse — and the
prey was exhausted by the time the chase really got going. There
was a little shooting —
siebenmark Then Negendahl shot himself! Is that all?
iver No, now comes the main point. Negendahl's wife — by the
way, a good, almost superior woman — his children wanted to live
— you know — live! Understand — if you want to live and you
can't, because you haven't anything left. It didn't work, it doesn't
work. She scraped along on a shoe-string! (Siebenmark is about
to speak.) Keep still! Now her instinct whispers to her that I'm
to blame for her bad luck — incidentally, on top of all her trouble
she landed up in an apartment, which she couldn't leave, where
there are whores lounging in the streets and in the houses. And so
43 her worry about her children made her lose all shame and reserve
and breaking the bounds of moderation she forced her way to me
and, screaming and yelling, called me a murderer. Besides she also
found a lawyer to take action against me — you see, that's the
thing — or haven't you been listening?
siebenmark And now you choose to pose as a repentant murderer
who can't help himself except by taking his own life? Why haven't
you the courage to defend your cause if it's just?
iver Tell me, aren't you — you, Mis-ter Siebenmark — haven't
you ever been ashamed for others? I don't know at the moment
how to express myself more precisely.
siebenmark No, only when I'm standing at the monkey's cage
in the zoo, then I'm ashamed because of the others who are watching too. Why do you think that?
iver    It  really  doesn't matter  about  Negendahl — why  should
that live: Be-ing in these thousand countries to which every living
man has a passport — don't you ever choke when you happen to
look in the mirror while you're brushing your teeth?
siebenmark    What's the point of these questions?
iver    Can't you really see that you — Negendahl — I — Engholm,
or mention another million names — that we, all of us, have a
very shabby right to stand at the manger of life?
siebenmark    I've worked hard enough, I've earned the right.
iver    I suppose you're one of those people like Black Jack back
there, whose honour doesn't shout — can't even shout? Maybe you'd
rather deteriorate socially and go to the dogs than let your elegant
human honour get dirty.
siebenmark I'm afraid we don't quite understand each other,
my dear man, what in the world are you driving at? Why — how
did you put it — were you ashamed for others, how's that connected with what you did this afternoon?
iver (after a pause) Take off your pants and stand over there
in the light — then I'll answer you. I'm supposed to show you my
guts. You'd only say: they stink, and not see anything else. No,
we'll let it go.
siebenmark I can see we won't get anywhere this way. I see
nothing clearly except. .. what it finally amounts to is that you
didn't act very shrewdly in that matter with Negendahl — not quite
far-sightedly, not expediently, maybe wrongly only in the sense that
you set a trap for the man. But as far as I can see, in case this is
any consolation to you, you can very well stand to be treated as a
44 man of honour. Not another word today. Tomorrow we'll be able
to talk together sensibly.
engholm    You can reassure him completely about himself.
siebenmark    Now be reasonable, don't work yourself up. We'd
better interrupt things for today — goodnight.    (He holds out his
iver    (looking at him fixedly)    Man of honour, did you say?
siebenmark    Surely, would I, as a man of honour, offer you my
hand otherwise? Shake hands!
iver But I explained everything to you from every angle. You
should know that I don't feel like shaking the hand of such a man
of honour. I refuse.
siebenmark Think it over quickly, I don't fool around in such
iver    Mr. Siebenmark, Mr. Negendahl, Mr. Engholm, Mr. Buttermann, he, she — ugh — one as bad as the other. A company like
this? No thanks!     (Pushes away the hand.)
siebenmark    (turns away)    Well, you're wounded,
voss    I've stopped believing he's wounded. He's playing a trick
on all of us.
engholm (to Voss) Now listen, didn't you yourself tell me how
you found him on the heath?
voss I? Yes, I was the first, and he pretended to be dead.
jan Man, you've still got that gun he was firm' in your pocket!
voss Come on now, many a man pulls the trigger and doesn't
shoot. I found a scrap of paper sticking out of his pocket, here it is.
(He draws out a slip of paper and holds it up.)
siebenmark Strange how you contradict yourself. Downstairs they
said he had the revolver with him and now you have it — at least
give me that slip.
mrs. keferstein I have the feeling we're all going to get a little
drink, only I don't know who'll pay for it.
jan (to Stine) Stine, where did ye put the jacket he was wearin',
it was all bloody. (To Voss) The front of the coat was covered
with blood, wasn't it?
stine The coat, yeh, I dried it out — I put it, I dunno no more
where I put it. Oh yeh, I know, I hung it up in the closet in that
room there. (Goes to Miss Isenbarn's room and opens the door.)
In that closet there, that's where it's hangin'.
(In the frame of the door stands Miss Isenbarn who has evidently
been listening.)
siebenmark    There—now we're in for it; instead of peace you
45 have an uproar. Actually it's not worth talking about, I'm absolutely
not offended — after all, why shouldn't I — what?
miss isenbarn    I was standing behind the door . . .
siebenmark    I hope you didn't understand anything.
miss isenbarn    I did, I didn't miss a word, not a syllable.
siebenmark    You're all out of breath .. .
miss isenbarn Yes, because I've been listening so hard, I was
afraid to breathe. Yes, I'm totally confused, I didn't know, I had
no idea anymore where I was. I forgot myself. I heard you and . . .
siebenmark Yes, and this prodigious gentleman .. .
miss isenbarn No, I felt as if I myself were talking with you.
Thank God...
siebenmark (in a dull voice) Well, really, if I question myself
precisely, it seemed to me I was talking with you all along instead
of him. (Miss Isenbarn suddenly bursts into violent weeping.)
mrs. keferstein (to Voss, who is about to leave, with a gesture
as if she were downing a drink) We'll get another one, stay here!
voss I don't understand anything at all. (To Engholm) Do
(Engholm does not answer and tries in vain to clarify his attitude
to the situation.)
jan    Folks, a good thing Thinka didn't hear that, that kind o'
thing gives her a toothache. Come on, Stine, come on, girl.
(Exit with Stine.)
siebenmark A somewhat strange situation, gentlemen. (Everyone prepares to leave.)
miss isenbarn No, no, please stay, I'm all right now. I'm completely in control of myself again.
voss In any case you'll have to excuse me, maybe there'll be dancing now (with a glance at Mrs. Keferstein) and a prospect like
that makes me dizzy.
iver But the slip of paper — listen, consider — somebody else's
voss I don't take it that seriously. (On the stairs.) Don't
iver    What are you going to do with it?
voss    Study the scrawl, I used to be a school-teacher, as you know,
that's why it's interesting for me to study what orthographers dead
people are.    (The sound of the steamer is heard from a distance.
They all move closer together and listen.)
jan    (from below)    The steamer's comin'!
mrs. keferstein    That's a stroke of luck, my things will be dry
46 by now. (To Iver) You watch out that you don't become Black
Jack, or have you stopped playing the game?
(Engholm, Voss and Mrs. Keferstein disappear on the stairs. Miss
Isenbarn is standing between Siebenmark and Iver, but somewhat
closer to Siebenmark.)
(The common room of the inn. Turbulent demands for food and
drink by starved and frozen people. At the table on the right a corpulent, jovial man in primitive fancy dress, as Lady Venus, with
lady's hat, hand mirror, rolled-up sleeves, and a table cloth draped
around him for a skirt, surrounded by admirers and followers. Captain Pickenpack is sitting on the bar with a glass of grog. Siebenmark, Miss Isenbarn, Engholm, Voss, Mrs. Keferstein are waiting
in the background.)
lady venus    (drinking a toast to Pickenpack)    And if the world
were full of devils — Captain Pickenpack — eh?
pickenpack    I don't quite know what kind of an "eh" you mean,
Mr. Fenus.
lady venus    You old grogger — listen: And were this world with
devils crammed . ..     (To one of his followers.)    Continue!
first one    On the "Primus" ?
lady venus    No, with a rhyme. Cap it with a rhyme!
first one     Devils crammed, devils crammed? What the devil, for
better or worse, I'll manage a verse — I've got it:
And were this world with devils crammed,
'Twould stink of sulphur like the damned.
(Pickenpack laughs.)
lady venus Our Captain's humour starts to wag its tail in his
belly, that's why it rumbles like that.
pickenpack When you've finished your drinks, ladies and gentlemen, I'll finish too, and the pleasure trip can go on.
lady venus That breaks our agreement. My wit nearly suffered
diarrhoea in your service today, I kept the passengers in a good
mood for you when we were aground in the snow storm, and you
promised that the passengers would be allowed to go ashore where
they please, and wouldn't have to get afloat sooner than they wish
47 to. Just think: so many mouths, so many tigers, and now — your
poor paschal lamb of a reputation on the Elbe!
pickenpack    My reputation don't get diarrhoea that easily, Mr.
lady venus Watch what a stink there'll be in the papers tomorrow —. But I in my virginal venusness feel a sudden urge to
man myself, Pickenpack, old grogger, how about it, d'you want to
be my lap lord? (To the followers.) Put the throne up there!
(shouts; the chair is put on the table. Lady Venus mounts the throne
and opens his arms to Pickenpack.)
pickenpack (pointing to Jan) Jan's weak side is still more
presentable than mine, I guess — go right ahead and get hold of
jan Oh fella — Thinka'll scratch out my eyes, let him try his
luck with pretty Emil.
lady venus Pretty Emil? Send pretty Emil here, dead or alive,
get pretty Emil to come here! (Exit Jan with two of the followers.)
chorus of revenge (following the tune of Oh My Darling Clementine*) Pretty Emil, pretty Emil, pretty Emil, oh my pet. ..
lady venus I expect all my loyal followers to salute their future
Venus-throne mounter with vigorous cheers.
(Pretty Emil, held under the arm by two men, is brought in. Shouting, cheers.)
voices A backboner! A night shadow under arrest! He needed to
be cured of a tape worm and by mistake relieved himself of his
lady venus If you are pretty Emil, you certainly give me a scare;
how are you going to prove your beauty? The candle of your life is
blown out and extinguished. Your legs are as nimble as underpants
on a clothes line, your arms belong to a gorilla, and it seems that
they used your buttocks in place of shoulders; you're obviously one
of those fellows who drink, whose power pours forth from their
cheeks— I want another man! (points to Siebenmark.) There's
one who saves his powers for non-public occasions — let him come
up and show his stuff.
(Siebenmark turns away furiously and exposes Iver, who, shoved
from behind, involuntarily takes a few steps forward.)
lady venus    He isn't willing — so he isn't fit — and I don't like
him. But this one!     (Points to Iver.)    That's a holy man, maybe
* "O Strassburg" can be used if German quality is to be kept.
48 even 'wholly' a hypocrite, and those are the true friends of Venus.
Look for the false halo which he lost and bring them both here, let
pretty Emil be gathered to his forefathers. (Pretty Emil is flung
(Iver struggles but is dragged forward; from behind a white plate
is held above his head.)
lady venus    Quite a nice rascal of a holy man, give him some
alcohol to swill or he'll drown in his own stupidity.
iver    You're making a mistake, I'll have no part in these absurdities.
lady venus As a philosophically eddicated person you'll surely
know, you blessed holy man, that I, as blest Lady Venus, am merely
another shape of your most estimable Lord God and Father —
now will you obey orders — ha? (Iver is silent.) He shows the
sulky, I mean the silent, or no, the stupefied holy man. Will you
kindly display the back side of your holiness!
(Iver looks around surprised rather than annoyed, until his eyes
fall on Voss.)
voss You want your slip back now? (Pulls the paper out of his
iver    Yes, let's have it!     (Starts toward him.)
lady venus    The holy man himself takes the trouble — run, rush!
(The slip of paper is seized by several hands.)    I smell secrets! I
won't have any secrets slipping in here. Let me have that slip before
it slips out of sight.
(The slip reaches Lady Venus' hands.)
iver    It's my property, Sir.
lady venus (reads) A very interesting case of property, the
peak of peculiarity — the honour of public derision shall be bestowed upon it.
iver Oh please — please, listen to me, I don't want you to read it
aloud — please!
lady venus Take it easy! Please! These are bitter pleas and Lady
Venus loves sweet desires.
voss (loudly) Read it aloud, we all want to hear it — handkerchiefs, gentlemen.    (Laughter.)
lady venus    Silence now, you human rabble, so that we can lend
an ear to our holy man's epistle.
miss isenbarn    Shame!
lady venus    Peace, I say! I, Lady Doctor Venus.
miss isenbarn    And I say "shame"!     (To Siebenmark.)    Don't
interfere, I'm not going to hide.
49 lady venus An intermezzo between lovers seems to be taking
place. We like to hear that kind of thing.
siebenmark But good heavens, you can't wrangle with these
miss isenbarn I thought you were supposed to do it.
lady venus It doesn't seem quite clear why the couple is using
taunts as kisses, but since there's no time to investigate, we decree
a divorce right down the centre. Each half shall try out another
half — pick out some repulsive wretches for that purpose!
siebenmark There you have it, scorn and scandal — let's get out!
miss isenbarn    You go — I won't.
chorus of revenge (tune: Chorus of How Dry I Am*) You
go I won't, I won't you go. I won't you will, you will I won't.. .
(Miss Isenbarn sits down at a table, her neighbour jumps up
startled; Mrs. Keferstein happens to be standing beside Siebenmark.)
lady venus     (to the one who has jumped up)    You don't seem
to have the right repulsiveness — let's have some volunteers!
voice    Pretty Emil!
lady venus Right, pretty Emil will show her the light, this repulsive cure for modern hyper-love-sensitivity-nervousness will be
called: pretty-Emil-treatment.
(Pretty Emil is placed on a chair beside Miss Isenbarn. Siebenmark
lights a cigar.)
lady venus     Is it a good cigar, sir?
siebenmark May I offer you one perhaps? (The case is handed
lady venus    This does look like corruption — but if a Venus isn't
to be corrupted any longer then the story of the world comes to an
end — thanks!     (The case is returned, Lady Venus lights the
cigar.)    Otherwise let's hope you feel in the pink.
shouts    Read out loud, read out loud!
lady venus (blows away the smoke) Excellent. Soft velvet on
my tongue that will soften him down too — down, I said, not
shouts    Read out loud!
lady venus Ouff! (Reads.) Well then — that is, "well then"
isn't written here, that was my addition, because there must be some
transition — text continued: "I perceived — I perceived how a ray
of light or a spark was infused into a child — a child — and I said:
* "O Strassburg" can be used if German quality is to be kept.
50 now I am glad, now I am happy that my child has been considered
and touched by the fight. Now it is safe forever and can never despair, even in the most desperate distress there will never be complete darkness in it — when I considered that, it seemed to me that
it would have to be a dream dreamt about me by my mother, although she's dead, and at the same time I was sure in my innermost feelings that this was the way it was — and so she knows and
I know, as if she had told me, that I am singed by a divine spark
and I go to my deed without despair. He who finds me must not be
sad about me . .."
chorus of revenge The fairest spot on earth I have — is the
green, old bench at my pa-a-rents' grave.
lady venus    (hitting the paper)    Oh yes, yes, it's true, that's what
it says here, I can swear to it!     (To Iver)    Are you yourself the
honest finder — you mustn't be sad — in black and white!
iver    (retreats)    Not my property.
lady venus It isn't? How come, that seems to be a new peculiarity
of this peculiar slip.
iver    Not now! Not any longer —■ I spit on it!
lady venus    Spit—-would you please explain that.
engholm    It's he himself, don't you get it?
lady venus    I'm myself too — you too, we're all ourselves.
engholm    You're veterinarian Boonhaire, and that's all you are.
(Beside himself.)    I'll take you to court if you torture this poor
fellow any longer — let's go, Captain, you tell them.
lady venus    Are you in such a hurry? Eh?
engholm Don't ask me — yes, I'm in a hurry. Watch out for the
consequences of your jokes.
lady venus What the hell, do we have to deny ourselves a bit of
fun? Don't act as if you had big business to do at home — that can
be done here too .. . landlord — landlord, show the gentleman the
way, but make it fast, he's in a hurry! (Laughter.)
engholm Nonsense, I won't have anything to do with this. You'll
hear from me!
lady venus    But my dear Sir, we hear from you all the time —
go ahead, tell us something — something juicy — if you can.
engholm    I'll tell you something .. .
lady venus Silence, now he wants to say something before he
does anything.
engholm    Oh Lord, you're drunk.
lady venus    Yes, thank God, my humour isn't a sourpuss like
5i yours, my nose must be wet inside, then my humour comes out.
(Somebody applauds.)    Who's applauding?
(Engholm is talking excitedly to Pickenpack. Voss claps delightedly.)
lady venus    Although you're applauding senselessly you seem to
have some sense, what's the matter?
voss    (coming closer)    I'm applauding the fate that's letting me
experience this day.  Bravo, bravo — it's a scream!     (Screams.)
Humour that is, humour, humour! But now, where is — my handkerchief; you see, my nose is also wet inside.    (Blows his nose —
offers the handkerchief.)    Would you care to ... ?
lady venus    Nope — thanks a lot.
voss    Why? Don't be embarrassed.
lady venus    My dear Sir — refrain!
voss    No false modesty — if you have any urge at all —•
lady venus    The devil, no! Ugh!
voss    (pocketing the handkerchief)    I don't get it — it's all the
same humour, yours and mine, it all comes out in the same wash.
What's that? I serious? God forbid — humour — humour!
(He takes the slip of paper from Venus' hands and retreats.)
lady venus    Let's have some musical piss!
chorus (tune of the wedding march from Lohengrin) At Panama, at Panama — Pa nagged at Ma and Ma nagged at Pa, etc.
iver (who has been standing facing Miss Isenbarn) How did
you get here?
lady venus Look at our holy man! The hoofs of his jealousy
strike sparks — what a stud horse! Let him step out with pretty
Emil — come on, let's have some music!
(Pretty Emil is dragged before Lady Venus who gives orders.)
miss isenbarn    How did I get here? I have no reasons, I'm just
iver    Do you belong here?
miss isenbarn    Do you?
iver    If I think of the places I've sometimes danced at, they can't
always have been nice. But — it's going to be different, I'm going
away — will you go with me?    (Laughing.)    The joke is that
I've gone already. Do you understand allusions?
miss isenbarn    No, not at all.
iver    Too bad, otherwise I'd have said: the joke is that you aren't
here any longer, either — or am I wrong?
miss isenbarn    I don't understand you — quite.
iver    But I can't be any more explicit, because of the people — you
see, I'd like to know where your real home is.
52 miss isenbarn    I understand, you mean .. .
iver    Right, that's what I mean, exactly-—we're from the same
vicinity, I can tell by the dialect. It's strange that people have to
meet this way in alien territory, isn't it?
miss isenbarn    Strange.
iver    Shhh! Nobody's supposed to know. That place has a bad
name with some people, they might crack jokes about it; I'm going
straight home, are you coming with me? But forgive me, you don't
have to say a word, I know everything.
miss isenbarn    It's enough.
iver Completely — so just stay here for the time being — you'll
probably have to go through with another dance — good-bye, have
a good time!
lady venus    They're chatting, are they on intimate terms yet?
voices    They're talking about dancing.
lady venus That's right — if pretty Emil doesn't mind — let
them dance, make room! (They make room.) A holy man, a
grass bride, and a sack of rags: nice company for a dance.
(Iver stares around for a moment, then looks at Lady Venus, rushes
at him in a rage, but falls to the ground and lies there motionless.
Confusion; they set him on two chairs, Venus descends and feels
him all over.)
lady venus    He's all right, he's catching his breath.
miss isenbarn    He's wounded, he shot himself.
lady venus    Because of trouble in love or something else?    (Ascends her throne.)    Did he wish to fertilize the world with his holy
blood? — Wasn't it good enough for him?
miss isenbarn    That's an indecent question.
lady venus Why, isn't the world beautiful? Why should it be
better — aren't we all serenely happy?
miss isenbarn    One could ask how the world could be good if
you are serenely happy. It's horribly simple.
lady venus    Simply horrible, you mean.
miss isenbarn    No, quite simple, that's what it is.
lady venus    Well then, have it your way. The way he's lying
there, he is, you might say, a dead preacher in the desert, shouting
loudly:   come, come — and he feeds them all spoonfuls of nitric
acid, so that at least they'll stop being what they are because they
can't become what they ought to be! By all means, that's horribly
simple. But I won't — I'll drink the real stuff — landlord!     (Jan
steps out.)    Any nitric acid in the house?
jan    Nope, Sir, I can't help you there.
53 lady venus    Not a drop?
jan    I c'n swear a false oath on that.
lady venus    In that case, there can't be any mix-up — pour me
another glass of — beer. I won't be separated from this beautiful
world by drinking poison.    (Jan exits.)
voice    He's conscious again.
lady venus Attaboy, he's bored being all alone — how did you
make out — eh?
iver (half erect) Oh — yes, I'm in good company — good day,
good evening, gentlemen!
miss isenbarn    Don't you know where you are?
iver    I   do — good  company—all that are here — scoundrels
and —
miss isenbarn    Yes — and . . .
iver And great magnanimous gentlemen — in spite of everything!
What the hell — we have time, you see, we won't bungle the most
important matter, we'll let things cook inside slowly. Just look at
this fellow with a beard like old Daddy John — beard — gone
totally stupid, you might say, but I still feel as if I were among
cannibals, look how he bites me with his eyes, they all devour a
piece of me, they gulp my blood — maybe I'm a drop of good
poison for them. And look at that one, his belly is like a sack of sand
because he's full of gas. He's no clod — he's gas. Cut off his belly
and you'll soon have to admit: he has it all over me — yes, I mean,
that one with the red patches on his face — what do you know,
there's one back there — believe me, every minute he gets a fraction more decent — he's cooking slowly, quite gently, unnoticeably,
in a few million years he'll be where the word "fine" smells like a
violet, almost without scent yet — but at least he doesn't tread on
it — he has time.
lady venus Look, the Valkyrie feels friendliness for her fallen
friend. I imagine a Valhalla with a huge chimney stack, because
with him she won't feel very warm without central heating. (To
Siebenmark)    And what do you say?
siebenmark    You mean because of the cigar? Well, it's the third
year that I've been smoking the stuff and I still like it.
lady venus    Don't we want to listen to what those two are whispering?
siebenmark    Beginning of an acquaintanceship, you know, there's
much to tell, and the mill grinds at high speed.
angry voices    He's a blockhead, he should be beaten up, like a
water-tap he keeps spluttering right in our faces.
54 iver Don't you hear: voices from above — there's an echo inside
you, isn't there?
miss isenbarn I, me — what am I supposed to do about it?
iver Yes, you, just you, what are you supposed to do? Let's finish
with each other here — (with a gesture pointing to everyone in the
group) wolves who howl at each other until all are satified. (Siebenmark approaches.) Oh, Mr. Zwieback — yes, my dear man.
You could kiss the spot where someone — someone — has just been
standing—-but to gobble supper with him, to make him common
with yourself, to colour off onto him — better to vomit on him.
siebenmark It seems you're aiming a little at being the lofty lord
who sails past —■ and one falls to the ground — remember? The
effect was a failure, the slip of paper couldn't do it either. Have
you anything else tucked up your sleeve?
iver (rises) Right, the comedy's over. Thank you for listening.
I hope you aren't angry! After all, it was entertaining—eh? Just
admit that you took it a little seriously.
miss isenbarn How else? Where does the slip of paper come
from — and the blood on your coat?
iver You think a thing like that causes trouble? We've proved our
worth in doing much bigger tricks — so you liked the slip of paper
in my calculation, idiot that I am, it was merely an insignificant
detail. We still don't know our audience.
(Captain Pickenpack has paid in the meantime and marches out.
People are getting restless, pay and prepare for departure.)
siebenmark    Then the whole story with Negendahl was made up!
iver    Certainly, sir, certainly!
siebenmark Then Mrs. Negendahl doesn't even exist?
iver Well — and suppose she does! Why worry about it, why
wish the dear little ones to grow up in Daddy Negendahl's shadow?
No, right out in the sun, little children! Well — it was a joke, that's
all. (To Miss Isenbarn, who is staring at him rigidly.) Lies are
often better savages than those varnished nutcracker truths — goodbye, madam.
lady venus Hold it, Mister Clown, you must give us an encore.
jan Captain Pickenpack ast me to announce that the Primus is
leavin' in two minutes.
lady venus    But not before we're on board, I hope.
jan    Yeh, sir, if you count on that you might be like the woman
who wanted to have a baby at Easter and it was goin' to be called
Louis, but she missed the date an' it came at Pentecost. So she said:
it's a slow poke, and called 'm Peter.
55 lady venus    And thus we transfer our entire royal household on
board my majesty's ship, including Mister Clown and the Valkyrie,
as well as the excited gentleman with his big business.
chorus of revenge    No finer death
This wide world yields
Than death before the foe,
(marching off)
(in the distance)
On sunny meads
And blooming fields
You hear no cries of woe.
engholm    (to Iver)    Come along with me, we'll find a place
where no one will bother you.
(Siebenmark is talking to Jan.)
voss I advise you against it; stay right here. After all, your journey through the world has come to an end — I'm staying here too.
jan (in passing to Iver) You haven't got nothin' to pay — that
gentleman (points to Engholm) settled it.
engholm Forgive me — but, well — you know, I must get to my
boy. Good-bye. (Exits hurriedly. Mrs. Keferstein disappears without saying good-bye.)
jan    Thinka — that's what happens when women folk get mad:
you can't get the bedding and beds from her any more today,
voss    He'll just keep his old room.
jan (confidentially) Well, Sir, the room's occupied again, there's
nothin' to be done, you m'st realize that. If the barn would do for
you — otherwise there's no time to lose.
voss    Yes, that's all right. It'll do.    (Draws Iver along.)    It has
to be enough if you consider it enough. If you'd like to go to the
trouble of showing it to us —
(Voss, Iver, Jan exit. A sound from the steamer.)
miss isenbarn    What's that?
siebenmark (with secret triumph) The "Primus"—yes, it's
miss isenbarn    And you?
siebenmark    And you — don't talk about me!
miss isenbarn    You were going to take that trip tomorrow.
siebenmark    Tomorrow? Tomorrow is another day, let it take
care of itself. You don't care for reasons; I haven't any, either— I
don't want to leave. By the way, I coaxed the landlord into serving
us a late supper.    (As she is about to object, vehemently)    You
can't travel in that company, how can a Valkyrie like you stoop
56 VII
(The small room for special guests with a door leading to the Common room. At the back a sofa and a table; above the sofa an oval
mirror; suspended from the middle of the ceiling an old-fashioned
hanging lamp; several tables. Miss Isenbarn and Siebenmark downstage by the window while Jan and Stine are walking back and
forth, setting the table.)
siebenmark For the first time in my life I have a sort of liking
for the record player. (Hurriedly.) Why bother, I see you're
tired, don't say anything — I only wanted to make you aware of
my state of mind. You see: I myself feel like a record player. My
records are the words you spoke this afternoon, a plastic record
couldn't be more precise — of course, the music is inaudibly soft
inside me.
miss isenbarn Everything about me is still in turmoil. I don't
know what to do about the silliest things — is this to be a supper?
siebenmark Only if you like — did I tell you — of course I
didn't, it occurs to me for the first time that it was something: I
might have been six, perhaps seven, when they set up a number of
tents outside our gate on the fair-grounds — and, of course, there
was also a tent for dancing, and the children jumped over the
beams that were in place but without boards on them, and a tall
pretty girl fell down and cried. You know, I saw something then I
didn't see again until today, I won't ask if you want to know it, it
has to be said. I saw you, you might say, it was my first deep experience, a shivering premonition of what happened when I saw
you in the middle of that human hubbub. You're asking me, without
saying so, why I didn't come to your rescue when they were howling
around you — well, just because I didn't detect any of that, everything was hazy, only your face like a subdued sun. The childish
emotion of that former time, as if blown to me from afar, opened
up in me — because a pain was added to your beauty — how should
I put it! I burned and ached with desire to share your pain, to feel
what you ... (More softly.) It was as if the pain blossoming
forth from you would give me greater delight than anything else .. .
miss isenbarn    Well, but. ..
siebenmark Be hard, be bitter, you're right — but what was it
you said this afternoon, you asked me whether there was nothing
uncanny, nothing foreign about you for me — didn't you? Yes —
much, infinitely much. I brought you here as a lady, but she dis-
57 appeared beside me. Was I supposed to bandy words with that
Venus-veterinarian? I? We? After all, I was a recipient of favours,
and his boorishness — well, I thank him, I have to thank him.
miss isenbarn    Him alone?
siebenmark    Oh well — I also thank that other one who was
the cause of the annoyance, I thank him as well. By the way, he
disgraced you terribly.
miss isenbarn    To think you can't understand that! We weren't
disgraced, but he was, everything turned upside down in the end.
The story he told, all right, so it was invented, but only to hide
himself behind it. He pretended to shoulder something in order
to — to — to .. .
siebenmark    I didn't watch so carefully—-maybe I'm mistaken.
miss isenbarn    Imagine what else they'll do to him!
siebenmark    Oh no, I don't think he gave up anything good,
and the rest of his policy was meant to save his own skin. They're
lodging together in the barn, the landlord says — with whom? Well,
naturally, he and his accomplice. It was obvious from the beginning
they were operating together.
miss isenbarn    You might as well say I was an accomplice.
siebenmark    Dear, my dearest — but you may be right in a way.
Think of him what you must.
miss isenbarn    Didn't you say that my — what you saw about
me, had —
siebenmark    Yes, it simply tore me open, lifted me into a new
miss isenbarn    Why weren't you outraged that I was taken in by
the "swindle" ?
siebenmark    The swindle belongs exclusively to him, with you it
was a revolution of yourself.
miss isenbarn    That's it, that's it!
siebenmark    And your soul, which had been in a relatively distant
haze revealed itself to me. Your mysteriousness made me ache with
desire to feel at home with you. You must understand that.
miss isenbarn    Oh yes.
siebenmark    That doesn't sound cheering.
miss isenbarn    I'm not alive, I don't exist, if what I know of this
man is deceptive. That's a living certainty. But you're burying part
of me, you cover with earth what you reject.
siebenmark    You child! I'll even praise what you think of him, I'll
even strengthen you. We'll do something about him —    (warding
her off)    not we, all right: you, you alone. He'll need help. Money,
58 you have money, help him with it; use what you offered me this
miss isenbarn    But you don't believe in him.
siebenmark    I believe in you — but in him — you can't demand
miss isenbarn    He won't accept it.
siebenmark With both hands, with great joy — it's just a matter
of trying.
miss isenbarn    No ! You know I'm right.
siebenmark I? Do you imagine I'd make a suggestion to you
because I think I'm not risking anything? Oh, oh! You think I'm
playing a game? All right then, yes, I'm playing, but not the way
you think. It churns me up to stand before you as a man to whom
you've become so important he simply brushes aside the filthy lucre
he otherwise expected you to have. But not to help that man along!
No, I only want to put a flower into my button hole to look a little
more festive in your eyes.
miss isenbarn    Wouldn't you regret it?
siebenmark All the more reason to do it now. Why not let the
times when you don't give a damn dictate when you should dish
it out?
miss isenbarn    Well said.
siebenmark You've said something like it yourself — but I'm not
just repeating; it's fallen on a spot inside me from which, like a
lark among thousands, it rises again.
miss isenbarn    We'll hear . .. what you want to do is good, go
ahead and do it.
siebenmark    Now?
miss isenbarn Should he spend the night with the after-taste of
all those humiliations?
siebenmark Well, all right, then I'll tell him before we sit down
to eat; it would be enough for me to have you know it, but of course
—■ it has to be complete. And you allow me free play?
miss isenbarn Just as you please, but don't make it a little blossom that you pin on yourself, make it a nice big bouquet. Take
advantage of your ruthless minutes.
siebenmark Don't worry — after all, they're not all that's involved. Haste isn't necessary — but it is, this can't be done too
quickly for you, that's why it's got to be done in a hurry.
(Steps are heard in the common room, and Sieg, a customs official
in his overcoat, his rifle slung over his shoulder, appears in the
59 sieg    (surveying the room)    Jan — are ye — oh, good evenin',
I'm not disturbing am I? I thought Jan was in here.
siebenmark    Good evening, the landlord has just gone out.
sieg    (turning around)    Well, in that case I'll. ..
siebenmark    You're not disturbing us. Are you on duty this late?
You're a customs official, aren't you?
sieg Right you are, sir, every inch a customs guard. Sieg's the
siebenmark    Are you on night duty?
sieg Yeh, I'm on the go until six in the morning. And this is just
half-way, so I usually drop in here to get a bit o' breakfast. Jan too,
he says a man should always go sit down. Act'ally I should be staying outside, but the supervisor is lyin' in his bed, an' probably thinks
to himself, Sieg's an old official, he knows his 'structions. An' I do,
too — I am an old official.
(Leans his rifle against the wall and looks for a suitable place among
the small tables.)
siebenmark    Eh, you know — I'd like to ask you something.
sieg    With pleasure, sir.
siebenmark    Would you like to take a look in the barn? There
you'll find two gentlemen and the younger —
sieg    Yep, I'll do that all right.    (Takes up his rifle.)
siebenmark    Right. Then please tell the younger one, there's a
man here who'd like to speak to him for a moment, here, next door,
in the common room, if he doesn't mind, say I have an urgent message for him, a matter of business.
miss isenbarn    Tell him: a friendly message.
siebenmark    Well then — friendly — I'd like to speak to him as a
friend. Will you do that?
sieg    I'm on my way, won't take a minute.
siebenmark And then have a glass of beer with your breakfast —
on me.
sieg    Thank you, sir.    (Exit.)
siebenmark    There, we got rid of that one. I'll tell Jan to catch
him outside or he'll come tramping in here again.
miss isenbarn    Are you asking him into the — common room?
siebenmark    He's unpredictable, he might decide it would be useful to emphasize his tenor with a few gun shots.
miss isenbarn    There's no need of that, think of his need, whatever it may be, and treat him kindly.
siebenmark (passionately) His need? Yes, but you do it too,
think of my need.
60 miss isenbarn (startled, unsteadily) Your need?
siebenmark (impetuously) In which I am sitting up to my
neck. (Goes to the door and makes sure there is no one in the
adjoining room.) I'm no longer master in our territory; until now,
until a few hours ago, it was all right, but now — (sits down)
bitter need, do you hear — do you understand?
miss isenbarn (moves to the table to arrange something) It
will pass.
siebenmark (following her) Who, I wonder, do you think I
really am? The other one, my other self, had to swallow a mouthful.
And it's being treated worse than a discreditable creature in a
fashionable house, about whom no one is allowed to know anything.
But it's escaped — and how? You let him loose without realizing it.
Your fault! And now the wild man is at liberty.
miss isenbarn    Is this love?
siebenmark What tone of voice is that, dearest — does the
change frighten you?
miss isenbarn You mean I set free something different, something new in you? But in me too something different has become
free — I too was hidden until then and repressed within myself.
siebenmark Be entirely free and rid of all that was burdensome,
be as impulsive as you can and must be! I — I don't want to be
anything but you — and, after all, you made me believe this, you
don't want to be anything but me. Why should we keep on hiding
it? Aren't we like two people who look out of different windows and
each speaks of his sun? Things can't continue the way they've been
going all day today — we must put an end to it sometime.
miss isenbarn But then it will be an end and not a new beginning.
siebenmark    That's bookish and puzzling.
miss isenbarn    Yes, that's the way it is.
siebenmark (softly, thoughtfully) There have been times when
I saw a certain expression on your face — something like a secret
happiness, as if you were planning heaven knows what with a kind
of spiritual bridegroom. You can imagine how it tortured me. Today I have the impression that this secret someone is really a person.
Can you feel what I feel?
miss isenbarn You asked me whether your change frightens
me? Yes, it frightens me.
siebenmark Perhaps you're even sorry for me in my need? Are
you? Is your whole answer to all this no more than that ridiculous
trashy admiration for a good-for-nothing? I see a light! Suppose I
61 were to take a few lessons from the great master? Is that what I
lack, that I'm not inflated with adoration and admiration?
miss isenbarn    What would it mean in that case if I said yes or
siebenmark    I lack the reflection of the Beyond, that's what it is!
I don't know the first thing about performing curtsies before Saint-
petermanikins in the shimmer of saintliness. I'm a hardened sinner
facing the future's monarchs. That betrays my shortcoming.
miss isenbarn    If that's the way you see it.. .
siebenmark    And how do you see it?
miss isenbarn I'm ashamed to talk of it because I don't know
any better than you do, but there must be something better. I need
time to collect my thoughts.
siebenmark    Don't collect your thoughts, never mind what you're
ashamed of — blame everything on me, I'll bear everything.
(Sieg returns, but remains standing at the door.)
Is he coming now?
sieg    Nope, sir, he hasn't got the time, he says; but he didn't say
what he's got to do.
siebenmark    So he won't?
sieg He said that if it was a friendly business it wouldn't make
no difference to you to come out. He's goin' to the river.
siebenmark (hurriedly) That makes sense, that's all right with
me. (To Miss Isenbarn.) The whole house upstairs is at your
disposal. No one will disturb you there, you have time .. . and maybe it will take longer than I expect to settle our business out there.
(The river bank, a clear, starry night, the persons standing out
blackly — against the river. Downstage, brushwood undermined at
the roots, bushes and sandbanks protruding into the water. Hans
Iver and Siebenmark enter in conversation.)
iver    Well then?
siebenmark    Poor Mrs. Negendahl, eh?
iver    Who? Oh, I see — yes — the poor woman — what about
siebenmark    I really do think you're morally obliged to help her.
62 iver    You do?
siebenmark    Yes — definitely.
iver    How soon is your wedding?
siebenmark    Does that interest you?
iver To some extent — yes. I assume you'll allow me to meddle in
your affairs just as boldly as you meddle in mine?
siebenmark (laughing) Mr. — Iver you said, didn't you —
well then, Mr. Iver. (Pats him on his shoulder.) You seem to be
very tired — exhausted, of course. But you shouldn't act out of
character; you see, you're beginning to take yourself seriously. A
small slip, but a mistake nevertheless.
iver    You're right.
siebenmark    You see,  I was going to speak about that hypothetical Mrs. Negendahl, and you start talking about my wedding.
We should stick to the point, we shouldn't change the tune. Well,
then ... I didn't come just to draw your attention to your indebtedness to this hypothetical woman, but rather. ..      (sharply)    how
much money do I actually owe you, you do remember having lent
me a fairly large amount some time ago, don't you?
iver    I — you? Oh yes — certainly — I know.
siebenmark    Wonderful! You see, I can return it to you quite conveniently. Only it slipped my mind how much it amounted to. What
do you say?
iver    How much?
siebenmark    How many grand? I really can't remember precisely.
iver    But I can.
siebenmark    Well? Two, three?
iver    No, five.
siebenmark    No, you're certainly mistaken — now I remember,
it was seven.
iver    Heavens no, ten.
siebenmark    That's all right too — how much was it?
iver    No, twelve.
siebenmark    Oh, of course, twelve then?
iver    Tormentor.
siebenmark    What did you say?
iver    Give it to me.
siebenmark    Oh, my dear Mr. Iver, no one carries that much
money on him. I'll write you a cheque.
iver    Tormentor.
siebenmark    You don't seem to be very anxious to do business at
the moment; how would it be if I were to settle the formalities with
63 your collaborator in the barn. Do you agree?
iver    Yes, settle it with my collaborator. Have you now had all the
fun you wanted, Mr. Zwieback, are we quits then?
siebenmark    I should think so.
iver    Good-bye, Mr. Zwieback.    (Bows.)
siebenmark    (similarly)    I thank you, good evening.
(Both continue in the same direction, disappear, and come back.)
siebenmark    By this time we know what value you have among
men, but when you're alone with women, that's still a problem.
iver    What do you mean — woman is woman. Whether it's you
and your fiancee — or I and Meta or Doris — or — all the same.
siebenmark    Do you want me to beat you up?    (Controlling himself.)    Is that so — that's news to me; you see, I'm a little proud of
my fiancee — but your opinion, of course, has substance behind it.
iver    Do you deny that in your fiancee you simply recognize yourself, but disguised, in another form, equipped with enticing and exciting attributes.
siebenmark    Try another tack.
iver    From the other end of the world there comes something incomprehensible—-but you — you  think:   why,  that's Zwieback!
And then you call it Mrs. Siebenmark.
siebenmark    Are you finished?
iver    Far from it; do you know what's coming now?
siebenmark    Watch out!
iver Well then, I say Mrs. Siebenmark, no more and no less.
(Louder.) And yet at one time it was something incomprehensible.
In your mind you made a self-portrait out of your fiancee and what's
more a vulgar one, a flattering one. That must make a nice picture:
Mrs. Siebenmark as Zwieback! Good God, what lechery you enjoyed with yourself: put yourself into the dress and body of your
fiancee. You personified your fiancee, and now you're thinking of
siebenmark    (hitting him)    Go on!
iver I also know how you puke on the rabble into which you
change yourself.
siebenmark    (takes him by the throat)    Goon!
iver    But now things will change: Mrs. Siebenmark will puke on
Mr. Siebenmark.    (Shouting.)    You squeezed your rotten self into
a better one, you're making her pregnant with filth! Please sir,
you're hurting me.
siebenmark I feel a tickle between my ribs when I hit — just
64 iver    Take the revolver — maybe there's a cartridge left in it —
there!     (Hands him the revolver.)
siebenmark    (takes it)    Go on!
iver It's all the same: we empty ourselves, pour out our dung
and fill others with it. You scratch out the eyes of a goddess and
replace them with your goatish ones — you're amazed and astounded, and you say: her eyes are my heaven!
siebenmark All right, pay attention. (Pulls the trigger in vain.)
Once more. (Snaps it again.) But now. (Pulls the trigger
several times, without a shot.) No good after all. (Hurls the
weapon into the water. They face each other, panting.) Who feels
himself flogged now, the god in you or your inferior self? How do
you feel?
iver    Isn't it certain that one day she'll say: I thought it would
be different?
(Siebenmark is silent.)
Or did I estimate the lady's value too highly? I dimly sense the
possibility that she'll find herself in you. Herself in you, and that
she will even thank God.
siebenmark Anything resembling you in damned infa — my —
iver Perhaps you consider me interested? Are you mad? No, no,
I can smell quality, remember that — and in this case the nearest
manure pile is just right for me: any dung heap will do for a carcass.
siebenmark    I'm not listening any longer.
iver But you can't ignore hot lead, can you? No, in your place,
I'd make the very same mistake. Imagine: myself in your place!
Which is to say: She and I speak of God and I make her believe
that, since I've known her, I believe in God again. But the fact is,
with her I smuggle myself in as God, in God's name I scratch
shame and reticience out of her soul, and eagerly work on her until
she takes pity on my half-cooked hopes and is served to me nicely
fattened and fried, sweetly smelling — oh yes, I make her devotion
my sweatshirt.
siebenmark I really don't know what you're talking about —
(bursting out)    but that's enough now!
iver Oh, I'll serenade her — with a spiritual tune, and lead her
on to faith in my spirit. So there she lies and languishes to heart's
content. Since my spirit needs space, hers is put into the sewer.
Bravo, I settle down in the warm nest and fumigate everything that
doesn't serve me with complacence.
siebenmark    Are you still speaking about yourself?
65 iver    Do you have something like a suspicion that I might not be
unworthy after all?
siebenmark    Beast!
iver Thoughts can't be shouted down, they come creeping through
your stomach into your kidneys and then you get gas, see if you
don't. But let's keep to our last assumption: Your fiancee is worthy
of Mrs. Siebenmark. Eh?
siebenmark    What shall I do, you've had your beating.
iver    Denounce me — you'll find out whether your fiancee feels at
home with you on the flat ground of your dwelling; what's the
matter with you?
siebenmark    (shouting)    No, that's exacdy what she doesn't!
iver    That's good, a very superior brand. But now you must do
something too. Stand back, hold your breath — do you hear something?
siebenmark    (panting)    Nothing but your trickery.
iver    You almost make me proud — but I know better.
siebenmark    What — what?    (Brandishes his fists.)
iver    Well, who knows, perhaps you seated yourself beside her at
the table somewhat too carelessly. Some people can't stand smacking
lips at the start. First they have to be pauperized, soul-beggared,
salt-depleted — then, yes, then they endure the whole rotten being
of another in themselves, not before, not she!
siebenmark    (uttering inarticulate abuse)    I won't listen, I can't
stand any more, sooner burst, bark, bloat, bellow.    (Rushes away.)
(Farther along the river.)
siebenmark (raging, foaming) She doesn't know! She does
know! She knows that you're that kind, that kind, just that kind. —
And a man like that has to come along, plant himself in front of
her and talk about the wild man on the loose. I'll kill you, you dog,
you self, if you keep on running around here any longer, knowing
and remembering and not getting rid of this digging up out of yourself the knowledge that she knows it. Maybe she doesn't know after
all. (Furious.) What? What? What — once more, just once
more! (Wipes off his foam.) This stuff can be wiped off, but
that, that, that!     (Bends down.)    Bow-wow, the whole world has
66 become bitchy. — Her name is Siebenmark, d'you understand?
That's why everything is siebenmarkian: your fiancee and your
fiancee's imagination about her engagement and everything, everything! Who's going to rid the world of the siebenmarkian world, a
prize is offered! Who'll make Siebenmark's fiancee a fiancee without Siebenmark, but, mark my words, always provided that I —
— I —I, that it's still Siebenmark isn't it? — Well then: what for?
Anything else coming?
(Iver and Sieg approach together and come around the corner by
the bushes. They stop.)
sieg    Oh, I see. The gentleman's talking to himself.
(Siebenmark recoils in confusion for a moment but then turns forward again and goes past the two as if he didn't notice them. Sieg
starts to follow him.)
iver (holds him back) Let that man alone. (Siebenmark turns
abruptly and walks toward them with impassioned strides, they
dodge, and as he takes a similar turn he stumbles and falls; as he
rises Sieg recognizes him.)
sieg Why, that's the gentleman who was in the room with that
siebenmark    What are you spying around here for?
sieg    I'm on duty, Sir, doing my round to Braak.
siebenmark    (to Iver)    Yes, that was it — that's why I came
back. You know — about that money, it occurs to me that I can
give you quite a substantial payment.    (Reaches for his wallet.)
And give me a receipt; that's the way it's done and you have to accept that. Here, take it — one, two, three, four — five hundred, I
can't manage any more at the moment. Here you are.
(Iver has understood only half of the hasty words. He takes the
bills automatically, hardly recognizing them.)
siebenmark (to Sieg) Haven't you got a lantern so I can
sieg    Right here, Sir. Catch your breath until I've lit it. A while
ago you thought the air had ears, didn't you? It's got them all right,
it's got them, but no mouth, it doesn't pass anything on.
siebenmark    Nonsense, you misheard, I was calling my dog.
sieg    Your dog —■ and where is it?
siebenmark    Ran into the bushes.
sieg    Yes, Sir, there are lots of rabbits up in the mountains.    (The
lantern is lit.)    There now, where'll I put it?
iver    (takes the lantern)    I'll hold it. The gentleman wishes to
67 write a few figures. Hold this money for a moment, will you. (Sieg
takes the bills.)
siebenmark (writing) There — there — please sign. (Hands
him the pencil and holds the paper before him. Iver illuminates it
and reads.) You're supposed to write, damn it; don't delay me, I
have to look for my dog.
iver    (reads aloud once  more)    From  Mr.  Siebenmark — five
hundred — received — then you're really in earnest about it?
siebenmark    Cash, Mr. Iver, crisp green bills. Just have a look.
What are you hesitating for?
iver    I don't really need it that badly.
siebenmark Not enough for today? I owe you twelve thousand
altogether, (to Sieg) Did you hear that?
sieg That much? (to Iver.) You lent him all that money?
iver Silly, he doesn't owe me anything at all, I don't want anything from him. (to Siebenmark.) Are you turning me into
Siebenmark as well? You probably can't help it: "siebenmarkian
world" etc. Remember?
siebenmark Don't fuss so long, come on, sign it — or I guarantee
you won't get a penny.
iver (to Sieg) That man's about to marry and he throws money
around like that.
sieg If you really don't need it, you can give part of it to young
Mrs. Siebenmark as a wedding present. Then it stays in the fam'ly,
see? Again it'll be siebenmarkian money. (Laughs.)
siebenmark Oh, it doesn't matter, do what you please! (Whistles.) Beast, are you going to obey! (Rushes off into the bushes.)
sieg Well, Sir, then there's no other way, you've gotta pocket it,
please take it.
iver (with his hands on his back) You heard me, it's not my
sieg    What'll I do with the stuff?    (Calling)    Mr. Mr	
siebenmark    (in the distance)    Bow wow!
sieg    Wait, I'll bring you your money.
siebenmark (same) Wait until I come back. Watch out, I bite,
Siebenmark, the mongrel!
sieg If that's supposed to be a joke, I dunno . . . Must see to it
that I get hold of him. (Follows him into the bushes.)
iver (putting the lantern on the sand, crouches beside it, shivering) One could think: does your little bit of light give you pleasure? Or wouldn't you rather drown? Your light goes out by itself.
Who knows, if I lie down in the bushes — I'll devote myself to
68 watchful waiting, and so we'll quietly rival each other in living
and dying.
(He creeps into the bushes, the lonely lantern goes on burning.)
(Sand dunes with bushes and heather. Starry sky.)
siebenmark    (whistles)    Come on here, lie down!    (Beats the
sand with a club.)    Stand still, beast!  What was your name?
Siebenmark? Here, take your share of kicks, again, again; there,
that does me good, you beast, mongrel that I am!
sieg    (close by)    Mr. Siebenmark.
siebenmark    This way!
sieg (steps out of the bushes) No, sir, that sounded kind o' awful the way you keep screamin' here. Oughta go an' get some sleep
an' then you'll be sober again tomorrow.
siebenmark Just the way I'm carrying on, bleating into the
night, that does me the most good. After all, I have someone on my
conscience — then a man has to drink. By the way, I have to be
sick right now, stay here, don't mind me. (Goes into the bushes.)
How many cartridges do you have with you?
sieg Five — have to have 'em checked every year. — And then,
I was goin' to return your money to you . ..
siebenmark    (re-appears)    You know what? Keep it and leave
me in peace, you don't have to mention the money again.
sieg    No, sir, ain't nothin' o' that kind in the instructions — even
if I keep quiet, you'll come out with it one o' these days. Are you
through now?
siebenmark    Silly — I don't want to any longer, good night.
sieg    Nope, sir, that won't work, I can't very well leave you alone,
who knows what might happen yet.
siebermark If you had the toothache I have, you'd put on a lot
more of a show, I can tell you.
sieg    But that hasn't got nothin' to do with the money. Whether
you've got a toothache or not, I've got to stick with you.
siebenmark    Listen, do you believe in God?
sieg    Yeh, I sure do.
siebenmark    Have you ever seen Him?
sieg    Ah, don't be silly.
69 siebenmark    Well, you see — such things we don't really know,
but people you can see. Do you suppose that things can suddenly
get so that you don't know whether you are Sieg or not?
sieg    Yeh, sir, that sure sounds quite sensible.
siebenmark    Can't you imagine that I might be someone besides
sieg    Yeh, I sure could.
siebenmark That's just what you can't do! Nobody can do that,
nobody takes the trouble. And the thing is that I'm really not Siebenmark, I'm Sieg, everyone is a Sieg — to you, that is. That can
drive a man crazy.
sieg Well, if you go crazy over that, you'll soon be sensible again
— the Siegs aren't batty enough to go crazy.
siebenmark You treat people as if they were yourself, and if you
treat them disgustingly, then you know what you deserve yourself.
sieg    Yeh, that's the way it oughta be.
siebenmark Well, not really. Imagine: someone is coming out of
these bushes there. Take a good look — like that! And if you take a
good look, you'll be calling out: Sieg, where in hell are you coming
from? And he comes up and says: Hello, Sieg, how are you, Sieg?
sieg    That's enough to give you the creeps.
siebenmark    A thing like that happened to me today, you see.
And here's the crazy thing, if others actually are different from
Sieg, but you see only Siegs in the world — wouldn't that make you
take off like a puppy dog that barks at a mirror, and finds a wolf
howling back at him? Eh?
sieg    I guess so. Well, Sir, those are ideas .. .
siebenmark    Well, good night, Siebenmark!     (About to go.)
sieg    Good night, Mr. Siebenmark.     (About to follow.)
siebenmark    Where are you going?
sieg    I dunno, maybe here, maybe there.
siebenmark    But I don't need an understudy, a spare Siebenmark.
sieg    Just walk straight ahead, then you won't notice him.
siebenmark    Well, let's go then.    (They continue.)
70 XI
(By the river; the lighted lantern is still standing on the sand. Siebenmark, followed by Sieg, enters and stops before the lantern, startled.)
siebenmark    This can really make a man melancholy — I feel as
if I've been walking for a hundred years, back and forth, up and
down, with Fido Sieg, my dog, behind me.    (Lifts the lantern.)
And what happened at this spot has had at most a little hour to
cool off.
sieg    Yes, sir, I guess it holds enough oil for another little hour —
but I'd think an hour would be enough.
siebenmark    Oh God, in the meantime moss has grown on my
head, my memory's shaking its forelock — and yet the light was
already present when — what was that about?
sieg    Why, that affair with the young gentleman and the money
business of course — I've still got it in my hand — here.
siebenmark    Ogodogod, keep quiet, something's dawning on me
— just don't go on talking, horrible, horrible — My light was out
for so long, for a good piece of eternity, but the lamp keeps watch
— and it goes on keeping watch.
sieg    But maybe the other folks are keeping watch too?
siebenmark    Oh, don't jabber about affairs that are a hundred-
years-old. For an old sleepy dog an hour can have a hundred years
in its belly. I want to sleep some more.    (Puts down the lantern.
They keep walking along the river.)
iver (from the bushes) He has rats in his body — and he's running because they bite him, and he doesn't realize they're parts of
(He stands before the lantern, bent and frozen stiff, then goes off
to the right, but returns, tries it to the left, stops, and shrugs his
Right-left, left-right — left for me is just as right as right, and right
isn't any better than left. (Takes the lantern and holds it up.)
It can't be denied, close to my eyes the old lantern is brighter than
Sirius, a bit of lighted blubber outshines the stars. Everyone has to
see for himself how to manage so that his miserable, selfish gleam
doesn't put out all the heavenly lights. (Puts down the lantern.)
Yes, yes, you my twinkling double up there and you, clever Siebenmark, how bright you are — and your wobbling in the sky is only a
frosty shudder of eternity, and Siebenmark's whole life is merely a
fleeting frosty shudder of his eternal being, nothing else. No, it's
7i obviously correct, we've been recognized. Radiant Voss, are you too
shaking your head? Are you laughing? Is the whole of honest Voss
down here merely a mocking thought about yourself flashing through
your brain? If a fleabite of time ever makes you eternal ones itch, just
for a moment.. . but then you crack the flea, don't you? Have your
good fun, keep on — you may break wind occasionally, it whirls
around and calls itself Voss, Siebenmark, Iver, inflates itself as part
of you until the bubble bursts — all of you — you, yellow grandmother, stifle a smile, how far away you are. (Turns around.)
Quiet father, mild mother — all the rest of you shining souls —
(slaps his forehead) you are merely buzzing bees in my beehive!
Can your light ever go out, blue-green flickering Mrs. Siebenmark?
But where does all this go — more to the right — more to the left,
that's the question. But there needn't be any going, there is no right,
there is no left any longer. God, I thank you, God, for separating all
this from me. All that remains is an up, an over, in spite of oneself
— over oneself.
(He creeps back into the bushes. The lantern goes on burning dimly,
flickers a few minutes as if it were going out. The curtain descends
slowly, then rises just as slowly. Siebenmark, behind his Sieg, passes
in silence, disappears and re-appears on the other side.)
sieg    That's enough now, Sir, I'm dog-tired.
siebenmark    And I'm sleeping like a log — anything but wake
up, anything but talk.
sieg     (picks up the lantern)    You're quiet now, an' I still have to
get to Braak tonight. About that money —    (steps back)    I rolled
it up nice an' stuffed it into your pocket when we was stumblin' up
the hill in the sand. Look an' see if it's all right.
siebenmark    It doesn't matter if it isn't all right. Well, good-bye,
then, and many thanks—    (fetches a coin from the pocket of his
vest)    drink my health with it.
sieg    Thanks, Sir, with pleasure, it's goin' to be a good swallow,
you can be sure of that. So long, get there all right.
siebenmark    And you reach Braak.
sieg    (opens the lantern to put it out, notices Iver lying there, holds
the light over him)    If that young man was lyin' here all that time
we was walkin' to get warm — well, well, well — what's this? Come
over here quick, Mr. Siebenmark, can you see?
siebenmark    Yes, a man.
sieg    No, no, it ain't that simple    (Puts the light closer.)    There's
somethin' the matter with him, he's torn open his clothes on his
72 chest — his mouth's full o' blood. I tell you, he was plannin' somethin' like this and waited for his chance.
siebenmark (takes the lantern and kneels) Is it possible to see
anything? Yes — here it is, see that dark spot on his chest, do you
think it could be a bullet hole?
sieg    Has he got anythin' in his hand, a gun or somethin' ?
siebenmark    I don't see anything.    (Holds the light closer.)    No,
no, nothing. Besides, the revolver he had with him, I threw it into
the water myself. But even this afternoon they were saying — how,
if — only we didn't believe it.
sieg    He's dead, ain't he?
siebenmark Do you suppose he might just be playing a joke on
us? Watch out, he wants to scare us, soon he'll rise — or go up in
the air.
sieg Seems to me he's lyin' the way a man only lies for the last
siebenmark Wait here, I'll run and get somebody, so we can
take him into the house.
sieg    (puts the lantern beside Iver's body)    Yeh, you go and do
(Siebenmark leaves; a few moments later the light goes out.)
(The floor of the barn in Liittenbargen. Iver's body is carried in by
Siebenmark, Voss, and Sieg and laid down backstage on the hay.
Siebenmark is the first to go out, Sieg and Voss follow.)
(Miss Isenbarn, distracted, recognizes the dead man; as steps are
heard she makes an involuntary movement as if to lock the door;
in the doorway she meets Siebenmark.)
siebenmark    (in a dull voice)    Aren't you sleeping?
(Miss Isenbarn points to Iver's body.)
siebenmark    Hell — so what! Because I saw the lamps still lit
downstairs I had to go looking for you, didn't I?
(Miss Isenbarn is indifferent and silent.)
siebenmark    What's going on here? Are you making a big thing
of something trivial? It looks as if two were caught, and the poor
offender, the third one, can die of shame .. . surely he may ask to
be told what he's done?
73 (Miss Isenbarn remains silent.)
siebenmark    (to himself)    The lady, my fiancee, does have a first
name, I suppose; but strangely enough, I never called her by it. It
would have been trouble to invent a different one for her at any
time. But I guess I should for once . ..    (sharply)    Lena!
(Miss Isenbarn starts, remains as above.)
siebenmark    (to Iver)    My dear sir, will you perhaps condescend
to explain what is going on?    (pause. Walks over and strikes the
body)    Get up, lofty lord, you have no right to remain silent.
miss isenbarn    It was me you hit.
siebenmark Ah — are you two so much one? I'd like to chat
a little.
miss isenbarn    We wouldn't.
siebenmark You wouldn't! But how will you take revenge on me
except through words — chatting seems to me the only possibility
— it's two against one.
voss (putting his head through the door) I can't find her anywhere. (Enters.) Oh, I see — here — well, then no one will
have any use for me.    (About to retreat.)
siebenmark Isn't this your place for the night? I beg you, I implore you, we'll only stay a moment. We won't disturb you in the
least, right? We're easy to get along with — no, you mustn't by any
means leave here again.
voss (sits in a corner) Good old Sieg is formulating his report
to the country sheriff while on the march. Everything in this land
proceeds in orderly fashion. He who is dead is given an extra stab
with a pen, or his death isn't colourproof.
siebenmark (referring to Iver) If he only wanted to let his
light shine, now would be the right time for it, but he has shrouded
himself most untimely in darkness. All of us who are gathered here
—■ disciples, collaborators, those of a kindred spirit: master, we are
waiting for you! Shouldn't we line up? The most involved murderer,
I should think, in front, the bereaved ones behind him, of course,
this collaborator here, considering his dark handkerchief, in the
miss isenbarn    Murderer?
siebenmark    I did, isn't it fitting? Obviously it is. Now let's serenade  him.    (To  Miss Isenbarn.)    Come  now,  why such  a bewildered face? Could anyone do his job better?
miss isenbarn    I have to think of something.
siebenmark    Think? Haven't we had enough of that today?
74 miss isenbarn Oh — a flight of fancy? Namely: that he killed
you —■ it's he who is the murderer here.
siebenmark And of course after that you want to make me as
lively as a jumping jack? Shall we dance? All round him, right
around, right around? (Begins to dance.) By the way. (Draws
her to the body.) You should know the truth: before he died he
spoke of you, yes, he was, you might say, crazily and madly in love
with you. What a couple you'd have made! Clearly — he must rise
again! Seriously, he loved you, though in dark despair — no doubt
about it. (Takes a few dance steps.) No mistake. (Shouts at
the body.) Get up tumbledoll, think! — Yes, in my mind, I did
it. Is a man a murderer if he wishes someone dead? In any other way
it wasn't me, dearest, quite positively. But he, with his lofty splendour, he killed me, let's hold on to that. It was "Mrs. Siebenmark",
he killed me with that "Mrs. Siebenmark", ran me right through.
(To the body.) Rise — shall she become Mrs. Siebenmark? Lofty
lord, what reserved behaviour, you should act — is negation your
only strength — is that your secret?
miss isenbarn No — it's his lying there still.
siebenmark You don't say! Are you serious — but why ask!
(To the body.) Lie there, you hear? Don't you dare — well, we'll
see which of us he prefers to obey.
miss isenbarn    I want to tell something.
siebenmark    Forget about it. Words are not pennies you can return, so everything's the same as before. What you once paid me
I've put in my pocket — so what does returning mean? Or? Well,
you're not thinking of that, are you?
miss isenbarn    I am, everything has changed now.
siebenmark    "Behold, all things have become new."
miss isenbarn    Yes, new, if you want to call it that.
siebenmark    That means "old" — this "new"? Right?
(Voss coughs.)
siebenmark Don't be afraid, collaborator, you're not supposed to
be a witness. (To Miss Isenbarn.) We know how to control ourselves, don't we? (Whispering.) He really loved you, I mean it.
miss isenbarn (walks over and watches Iver) His face is distorted.
siebenmark    Didn't you say something ages ago about envying?
Or was it your silent thought that entered my head?
miss isenbarn    Well, I was just going to say — all such phrases —
siebenmark    Aren't they? Much is gained if, at least, one keeps
75 miss isenbarn But I feel as if I'd died myself — and shaken off
everything the way he has.
siebenmark There's only one difference — he's rid of everything.
And you?
miss isenbarn You mean that I'm getting everything back? Not
siebenmark    Not quite? You see, it occurred to me to drop that
remark experimentally. So I was wrong, and that's good too.
miss isenbarn    Do let me finish.
siebenmark The floor is yours! (To Voss.) Please, collaborator — keep your mouth shut. (Threateningly toward the body.)
If he wishes to speak with your lips, he's most politely requested to
abstain. I want to hear what you have to say to me, you alone.
(Miss Isenbarn draws his head toward her and whispers into his
siebenmark (in an undertone) What are you saying — today
— after all this — this — very night? (To Voss.) Can you believe such a thing? (To Miss Isenbarn.) Say it again, maybe I
miscoined your words, perhaps my ears were thieves. (To Voss.)
The thing has become very unpleasant — dreadfully critical — what
on earth did she say?
miss isenbarn No, let's admit it. (To Voss.) He wasn't mistaken —■ and what can you do for us, since we have to speak our
minds to each other?
siebenmark It's quite enough if you pretend to be deaf, and you
may even listen, for all I care — but perhaps it would be better —
(to Miss Isenbarn) we — after all, we ourselves have plenty of
room over there.
miss isenbarn No, we must finish this conversation here. You
see — it's to be once for all, for eternity so to speak — and so, even
if it's more difficult here (looks at the body) than it would be
there — it's also safer, because the point is that nothing is to be misunderstood. (To Voss, who is moving to the door.) Thank you.
You probably know everything anyway — I know, you're pretending — you just act as if — good night.
(Exit Voss, closes the door.)
siebenmark    There — now then?
miss isenbarn Well, that was the thing I had to tell you. Entirely
my decision and mine alone.
(Siebenmark approaches her, doubting, questioning.)
miss isenbarn All right — but shut the door tight.
siebenmark    (pointing to the body)    Think of —■
76 miss isenbarn (locking the door) Do you think he'll awaken?
Before, when he was alive, he lay in your mind as if he were in a
pit, you hardly saw him, and now when he doesn't see and feel,
when he's saved, sacrificed, sublimated, now you're so sensitive, now
his presence annoys you?
siebenmark    And later on — do you forget a thing like that?
miss isenbarn    I only meant today. You shall have what you have
earned. I'm the way you want me, just so.
siebenmark    You keep talking of me only.
miss isenbarn    Here I can show you who I am. Afterwards — in
the room upstairs — do you think I'll be the same?
siebenmark    I  don't know what you mean. I don't have any
desire to brood over it. I'll simply take you at your word.
miss isenbarn    Do  that — it has nothing to  do with me any
siebenmark Oho —- that's plain isn't it? Do you understand it,
has it something to do with Mrs. Siebenmark? Then, then — you
know — you would have become Mrs. Siebenmark of your own
will, wouldn't you?
miss isenbarn I — what is that woman to me? No, I mean something entirely different.
siebenmark    Certainly, certainly, that's obvious.
miss isenbarn    Each is  to  have his share.  Remember what I
turned over to you this afternoon — all my property, and now —
don't you understand?
siebenmark No. (Takes her hands.) What's the matter with
you, you've brought me to the point, I've got so far, no more bargaining now.
miss isenbarn No bargaining, no, I've brought you . . . there . . .
siebenmark Yes, yes, you're saying it — you yourself. I've got
you there, you're saying yourself that you've brought me to the
miss isenbarn    Certainly — yes— I did.
siebenmark    (draws her to himself violently)    At last!
miss isenbarn    At last!
siebenmark    Speak, say it just once more.
(Miss Isenbarn is silent.)
siebenmark    The word that pierces me, melts me.    (Looks at
her.)    How miserly you are with your face, but you've said it, and
it was abundance and overflow.
miss isenbarn    But I wasn't talking to you.
siebenmark    (lets go of her, steps back)    What's that?
77 (Miss Isenbarn shrugs.)
siebenmark    (angry)    What could you mean by that?
miss isenbarn    You have your share, what more do you want?
siebenmark    What kind of an "at last" was that? I want to know
what kind of an "at last".
miss isenbarn At last — now at last it's my turn. This is the way
I want it, not any better. I'm at last content with myself. I sense
the beginning, at last a beginning!
siebenmark A moment ago — in the room — was it the same
thing — you meant to say?
miss isenbarn Must one be buried to be done? No, there is beginning and end, mingled, clamped together. You can mock the
end, you see it and you don't like it, and you have your share in it;
but the beginning — leave that alone, that's my property only, the
beginning in which I sleep and wake, like a child on the first day.
One doesn't know right or left, but one is in its very midst. One's
wholly plunged into the obvious in this newness, but now one must
learn to see, to creep, to walk, and after that all the rest. My goodness, think of all that's going to happen!
siebenmark    (strained)    Now let's get out of here — come, let
me take you to your room.
miss isenbarn    And there?
siebenmark    (same)    There we'll become reasonable; here all
kinds of strange stuff interferes. This is no place for lovers.
miss isenbarn    Tell me, you're serious in thinking that I'm offering you something in vain.
siebenmark    I am serious — just as you are — come.
miss isenbarn    Right away.     (Starts to go back.)     Let me look
at him once more.
siebenmark    (pushing her away)    I can't stand such a mixture.
Beginning — end? No! Stop it.
miss isenbarn    The last time.
siebenmark    I can't follow you. We want to go where there's life.
miss isenbarn    Life? Oh yes, where we can plunge into    (mali-
iously)    "full, foaming life"!    (Runs to Iver's body and kisses it.)
siebenmark    (pulls her away violently)    You can kiss him?
miss isenbarn    I did.
siebenmark You seriously think that after this I'll accept your
miss isenbarn (shakes her head) Kiss — I you — we each
other? Do with me what you want: kissing and all the rest that you
people consider part of "life" — but.. .
78 siebenmark    If you're so dead, how can I become warm?
miss isenbarn    Oh, but I'm warm — feel me — and this warmth
is the main thing for you; as long as we're warm to the touch you
feel life. Oh dear, what hard work to be happy your way! Need one
be happy that way?
siebenmark    Do you think I haven't seen for a long time what
your aim is? You acted a Valkyrie-scene, bravo! You want to ascend
into a higher death from a dead life — Mrs. Siebenmark sacrifices
herself to Siebenmark; she has herself buried in Siebenmark to rise
again in Iver. These are all hysterical notions. You have the choice
between us two.
miss isenbarn    I may choose?
siebenmark    Don't forget that your next word will be as distinct
and decisive as a gun shot.
miss isenbarn    (Nods delightedly, hurriedly)    Him — I choose
(Siebenmark opens his mouth to speak but his voice fails him, he
touches his breast with his forefinger as if he were saying: "a hit".
Miss Isenbarn is standing between the two, but without taking a
step she seems to be moved slowly toward Iver. Suddenly she snatches
up the lantern and lights up Iver's face. At that moment the flame
goes out and thus complete darkness ensues. After some time the
door is opened slowly with a creaking noise. Sober daylight makes
the stage moderately bright. The barn is in almost the same state as
before, but the three persons have disappeared. Voss and Engholm
enter, both in dress coats and top hats, as if coming from a funeral.)
voss     That's where it was.
engholm Is that where he lay? A strange encounter at the old
spot — I wonder how long ago it was.
voss Who knows, we have become old in the meantime. In the
past I used to be a ghost rather than anything else, and it hasn't
got better as time went on — yes, that's where he lay — on this
engholm    And she?
voss    She knew how to get out of being found. But finally a note
arrived, saying: this is no longer me, signed with her full name.
engholm    And what did she mean by that? Probably became a
voss    Do you think so?
engholm My own sister, you know, went into a convent and became a real nun. There are such things — what do you think?
79 voss    There was something else written after her name: "the maid
of a lofty lord."
engholm    Well, there you are, what else does that mean but nun?
voss    I don't think so. The lofty lord was her own lofty spirit —
and she serves as a nun — yes, her convent is the world, her life —■
as a parable.
engholm    Hm?  That's  debatable — come with me — you still
drink grog, don't you?
voss    Of course — we ghosts .. .
engholm    Ssh. Ghosts, figuratively speaking. That may make an
interesting conversation. Come along.
80   George Birimisa presents
written and directed by
music by
george birimisa Actor One
DAN LEACH    Actor Two
as produced at the Firehouse Theatre, Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Other productions have been presented in New York, Philadelphia,
Washington. Mr. Birimisa's troupe, with Carole Getzoff as Actress,
also presents Daddy Violet in February at the University of British
Columbia Festival of Contemporary Arts, and elsewhere on the
Pacific Coast. DADDY VIOLET
The name of the actor is also the name of the character in the play.
I am using the names of the actors in the Firehouse Theatre production; they created the roles.
In order to personalize the play I will use the first names of the
actors instead of Actor One or Actor Two.
When Daddy Violet is performed it must be involved with the
reality of where it is being performed — where it is "happening".
The actors must accept the total reality of where they are and the
total reality of the audience. The Firehouse Theatre seats 140 people
and the stage is a thrust stage with three levels.
Where is the beginning of Daddy Violet? The Firehouse Theatre
was in rehearsal for Arthur Sainer's play, The Thing Itself. The
night that Daddy Violet was scheduled to open they were rehearsing rather late and one of their props was a refrigerator that was
plugged in. They took every other prop off the stage and covered the
refrigerator. Since the opening of Daddy Violet is an improv we
used the reality of the refrigerator. George Birimisa (Actor One)
wanders onto the stage. He goes to refrigerator, opens it. He takes
out apples, melon, pears, peaches, bananas, box of candy and puts
them on the stage. He finds can of beer in back of refrigerator.
george (Talking to audience) These are the props for Arthur
Sainer's new play that opens next Friday night. (He smiles. Puts
all the props back into refrigerator. Wanders downstage. Opens can
of beer. Sips it.) There's nothing symbolic about this beer — it's
just that this is opening night and I'm nervous.
young man    We're nervous, too.
george (Puts beer on stage. Wanders backstage and comes back
with a broom. Starts sweeping stage.) The Firehouse troupe was
rehearsing this afternoon — they didn't have time to sweep. (Wanders downstage. Leans on broom.) By the way, I saw the first act
of Arthur Sainer's play. I really dug it. (Goes back to sweeping.)
Oh, you don't have to be quiet. Go right ahead and talk to each
other. It'll be awhile before I finish sweeping. (He continues sweeping. The backstage dressing room is on the second floor, directly
above the stage. There's a square foothole in the floor. Actor Two
(Dan Leach) is upstairs bent over the hole.)
actor two (dan)       (Yelling. His voice can be perfectly heard.)
george    What?    (Looks around, confused.)
84 dan    Up here!
george    Oh. . .. Yeah?
dan    How's the house?
george    (Comes downstage. Looks at audience.)    How are you?
audience    Okay (or) fine, etc.
george    They're fine.
dan    How many?
george    Oh.    (He counts them.)    Seventy. Dan, will you send
Sylvienne down?
dan    I don't think she's ready.
george    Tell her to bring the programs with her.
dan    Okay. Sylvienne?
george    (Turns to audience)    We'll just have to wait. I can't
think of anything else to say. Ah —    (George moves downstage.
Looks at Young Man.)    Did the Twins win today?
young man    I don't know.
another young man    Yeah, they won the first game and they're
tied in the 8th inning of the second.
george    They're in second place, aren't they?
another young man    Yeah.
george Did Killebrew hit a home run? (Sylvienne has entered.
She is carrying programs and starts to pass them out. During one
performance a young lady helped her pass out the programs. When
she is finished she stands near exit puffing on a cigarette.) Come
on, honey.
sylvienne    Just another puff.
george    Did you ever see anything like it — that's a New York
actor for you. Come on, Sylvienne.     (She puts out cigarette and
walks slowly to stage.)     What are you going to work on?
sylvienne    My relaxation and radiation.
george    Good.    (Sylvienne goes upstage center and stands motionless. She is working on her radiation exercise. George looks toward
the ceiling.)    Dan?
dan    What is it, George?
george    Come on.
dan    Okay, I'm coming.    (We could actually hear his footsteps
on the ceiling. A moment later he enters and walks up onto the
stage, down the center aisle. George is holding a broom.)
george    What are you going to work on.
dan    I don't know.
george    You in a good mood?
dan    I feel okay — I guess.
85 george    Let's see. How about some music?
dan Good idea. (George runs to back of theatre where there is a
record player. He puts on a Beatles' record. Any hard beat rock will
do. Dan begins to dance by himself. Then smiling he goes out into
audience and asks a girl to dance with him. He picks out young,
swinging looking chicks. It never fails. He escorts her to the stage
and they begin to dance.)
george Any couples feel like dancing — just get up on the stage.
Come on! (At one performance we had four couples dancing and
a young man who tried to get Sylvienne to dance. She refused but
was very nice. When the record is over, Dan escorts young lady back
to seat and finds another young lady. What is interesting about this
particular episode is that the audience talks, laughs and is seemingly
not bored. At the end of the second record, George turns off record
player. Dan escorts young lady back to seat.) You in the right
mood now? (Dan nods) What are you going to work on?
dan My relaxation exercises. (He plops down on stage and begins his relaxation exercises.)
george Great. I'm going to work on my radiation. (George runs
out into audience. He picks out a woman and/or young girl with a
sensitive face. He bends over, about a foot away from her, staring intently. If she won't look back he moves down aisle and starts on another female. If she is wearing glasses he asks her to take them off. If
her hand is on her face he asks her to take it away. George reacts to
specific individual.) You have soulful eyes —etc. (George does
this with at least four girls. Then he runs back onstage.) I guess
I better work on my relaxation. (He puts his hands to his neck.
This is the area where George Birimisa is really tense. Actor who
plays this role must find out where he is tense and utilize that area.
George talks to audience.) You see, in order for me to fully radiate
I must be completely relaxed and this is my area of tension. (George
actually cracks his neck. At every performance it always makes a
loud sound. George looks at audience and smiles.) You see — that
is my problem area. Ah — Dan?
dan What is it, Birimisa?
george    Will you help me with my neck?
dan Sure. (Dan gets up. George is kneeling on stage bent forward. Dan gets behind him.) Come on. Relax your shoulders and
back. Now, let your head go, back and forth, back and forth. Ah —
that's good. It's better. Now around and around — faster — faster
— let your hair fly    (Birimisa has long hair)    now the other way
86 —come on. Very, very good. Keep going — that's it. Ah — you
getting dizzy?
george    Yeah, am I dizzy.    (He looks at audience. He is really
dizzy. Dan lies on stage. He puts his feet up in the air. He is barefoot and the audience can see it.)
dan    Sorry about the dirty feet.
(George gets his beer and moves down aisle.)
george    I'm going out into the lobby and work on my ah —
psychological gesture.    (He is practically out the door of theatre.)
dan    George?
george    Yeah?
dan    How long do you want this to go on?
george That's a good line — keep it in! Ah — c'mon and help
me with my ah —gesture. (Dan jumps up and follows George.
They exit. Sylvienne has been motionless all this time. Now she runs
offstage to make sure they are gone. She runs back onstage. She
begins to feel her waist and her stomach. She pushes at her abdomen
very, very hard.)
sylvienne Will I ever break the armor? (Now her hands on
her hips.) Ah — let me see now — ah — tighten my buttocks and
ah — boom! (She does a side bump, barely moving her hips)
Dear me, I've got to — (Tries again to the other side and then to
the front. She is very bad. She runs offstage and finds a man in the
audience.) I bet you don't have any idea how important it is for
me to break through? Do you understand? Do you? (She runs
back onstage. She begins to swivel her hips, very slowly.) One —
two — three—Tour — five (Does forward bump) Boom!
(Pauses. Now she swivels her hips again. Faster and faster.) One —
two — three — four — five — six — seven. Boom! Boom! Boom!
(She does three forward booms. Smiling she runs into the audience.
Finds another man.) Ah — do you think if I hummed I could really
break through — go beyond the booms? Do you? (If she doesn't get
an answer she goes to another man until she finally gets an answer,
that is, encouragement. She begins humming a song as she walks
down the aisle. Then she begins to do a sexy dance, shimmy, etc.,
this is all done as she smiles and relates it to individuals in audience.
She isn't very good at it. She is in front of one man as she is finishing. She does a wild bump at him and then runs back onstage. Upstage centre, she crouches and becomes a seed and slowly she blooms
into a flower. It is not a very good flower. She breaks out of it and
comes to the edge of the stage. She talks to audience but looks up to
where she was a moment before.)    Hi!    (Nervous smile.)    She
87 says her name is Violet but her real name is Sylvienne. Her father
teachers anthropology and is at present studying the mating habits
of the Hopi. Instead of going to college she came to the Village
six months ago. (Pause.) She's doing her Michael Chekhov
exercises. (Another pause. She is hoping they know who Michael
Chekhov is.) You know, Chekhov the famous drama teacher?
Ah — do you? (No answer. She runs upstage. She tries to become
a flower. Still not very good.) Shit! How can I be a violet? Violet?
Violet! (She gives up. Comes downstage and looks at audience.)
I guess I better work on my Chekhovian center! (She stands up
straight with her hands at her sides and closes her eyes.) Where
are you? Where is the center of my being? (She feels her body,
exploring.) I know where it's supposed to be but it just isn't there.
(Looks at audience) George and Dan are so good on centers!
(Back to feeling her body) I know it's not in my abdominal cage.
Maybe it's in my stomach! (She walks across stage, hands at side
stomach protruding. It's pretty bad. Shrugs her shoulders.) Not
too bad for a beginner!     (Pause)    Now, let me see. I'm going to
work on my vaginal center.    (She closes her eyes.)    Yes	
concentrate vag - - i — nal.    (This one is working better.
She begins to smile to herself.)    Imagine a string is attached to
my vag     (She pantomimes a string attached. She opens her
eyes. She winks at a man in the audience. Then she runs offstage
and jumps into lap of a man. At the Firehouse she went to the sixth
man in the fifth row.) Excuse me, Miss .... Excuse me. I'm sorry.
(The man she is going to, gets up.) You sit down. You're the one.
(She sits on his lap.) Mmmm. You have sexy eyes. (She takes
off his glasses.) Blue eyes and —
man    They're green.
sylvienne They're still sexy! (Of course all of this is ad lib.
She gets off his lap. At one performance the following happened.)
sylvienne What are you doing after the show?
man What is your vaginal center doing after the show?
(Sylvienne goes to another part of theater and finds another man
and sits on his lap.) I love curly hair. Ah — would you like to pull
my string?
man (Here we get various answers.) I'd love to, baby (or)
How 'bout pulling my string? (or) Let's pull them together.
(Or silence. Sylvienne jumps off his lap, runs onstage quickly.)
Well, that's enough for warm-ups. I better get with it! (She is
back to being a violet.) Me, Violet! Violet! Violet! (She begins
dancing across stage as a flower as she sings the song Violet. Music
88 is by Richard Granat and words by George Birimisa.) Vi-o-let!
Vi-o-let! Vi-i-ah-i-ah-i-o-let! I am blooming on the side of a mountain very high. I have broken through the rock-encrusted earth and
I've pushed through the scraggly weeds. (She pantomimes pushing out of the earth.) Violet! Violet! Violet! I can feel the morning sun opening me up and below — below — below — (She is
gesturing in front of the stage, looking down, maybe seeing something she doesn't want to see. She goes back to previous line.) I
can feel the morning sun opening me up and below (Looking
down and still gesturing toward it) the fog is a solid blanket, hiding the Mekong Delta. Violet. Violet, Violet. The sun is on me.
(She comes to a dead stop as she finishes the song. She goes upstage
to original position from where she was radiating. She looks at
audience. Even when they applaud after her violet song she still is
sad as she speaks her next line.) Ah — Isadora Duncan did it
much better fifty years ago — (Pause.) and she did it stark,
staring naked. (Another pause. Almost asking the audience.) But
this is a good showcase.
(George comes striding down aisle from back of theater. He has left
broom on the stage. He gets it and takes it backstage. Then he comes
downstage. After a moment he looks at audience.)
george I'm forty-three years old — (He pulls down his lower lip
and shows a missing tooth that is really missing.) I'm losing my
teeth, I've got a bum back and my center is in my crotch! (He
closes his eyes and clenches his fists.) I've got to get it out of there!
(Pause.) I am not an object. I am not an object. (He stands
straight, obviously trying to move his center away from his crotch.
Puts his hand on his heart.) My center is in my heart! My center
is in my  (He opens his eyes. He meets the eyes of the audience. He looks at all of them, every single one. He sees all the faces
staring at him. He begins to moan and then he falls to the stage,
his head over the edge. He is clutching his genitals in terrible pain
and moaning and crying.)
sylvienne    (Radiant)    Me Violet!
george    (After a moment sits up on stage. Looks)    You — ah —
sylvienne    (Fluttering her petals that are next to her face. She is
looking straight forward)    My name is Violet!
george    You can't be a violet!
sylvienne    My name is Violet!
george    You want to know something?
sylvienne    What, George?
89 george    Don't call me that. You can't be a violet!
sylvienne    Why not, George?
george    Because you are not the color of ah — of ah —
sylvienne    Violet?
george    Will you say that again?
sylvienne    Violet!
george You called me Violet! (His body begins to undulate
slowly, tentatively. He is turning into a flower. He moves downstage his body becoming graceful, a kind of slow motion dance that
is a flower. He is feeling the beauty of his body.) I love it — yes,
I do!
sylvienne (Watching him closely now.) You really love it?
george (George is moving across the stage, jumping up from one
level to the next, really enjoying being a flower. His whole body is
undulating. He is on his knees, bending over. Jumping up, his arms
moving rhythmically.) Oh . . . oh . . . yes ... I do. Such imagery.
It turns me on!
sylvienne (She is fascinated.) Like — like a scraggly weed
turning into a beautiful flower!
georrge (Looks at his hands as he is still undulating. Examines
them excitedly.) I'm blue — a pale, delicate blue — like a high
cloud just before dawn.
sylvienne    Oh, how exciting. You look just like a —
george    (Frenzy of violet happiness, bounding all over the stage.)
I'm purple, I'm blue, I'm yellow and I'm — white.    (Finally comes
to a stop in front of Sylvienne. Looks at her. Imploring.)     Will you
call me Violet?
sylvienne    As long as you want me to. How are you, Violet?
george    (In ecstasy as he discovers his flower being. He feels the
bare flesh of his ankles.)     My chlorophyll is cool.... so cool. . . .
and . . .     (His hands move up his legs and he very slowly pulls off his
T-shirt and holds it over his head.)    .. . and seeping up from the
richness of the good earth!
sylvienne    You are beautiful, Violet!
george    (Feeling his body.)    Tell me of my beauty!
sylvienne    You are radiant!
george    I am not an object?
sylvienne Of course not. Your center is in your heart. You are
the most beautiful of violets! (George's hand undulates in front of
her face. They are both radiant as they look at one another. George
jumps up to higher platform doing wild flower gyrations. As if
90 hypnotized Sylvienne follows him. George begins to sing to her.)
george    Violet! Violet! Violet!
sylvienne (Singing back to him.) I am blooming on the side
of a mountain very high!
george (Touches her hands, still singing.) You have broken
through the rock-encrusted earth and you've — (He takes hold of
her wrists and pulls her to standing position.) pushed through the
scraggly weeds. (He moves around her in a dance movement. She
is hypnotized as he sings Violet over and over. Six times. He finishes
singing. They rub petals and then he pulls her down to stage floor.
They are kneeling on the stage, very close.) Oh, Violet!
sylvienne    Yes, Violet?
george    You are ah —    (He is feeling the softness of her arms.)
sylvienne    Yes, Violet?
george    Beautifully long-stemmed.
sylvienne    Oh, thank you.
george    (His arms are around her now. He begins to press his
body against hers in utter animal sexuality. He kisses her hands.)
Your petals are — ah —
sylvienne    Yes, Violet?
george    Softly smooth and — ah — sensual.    (The lower part of
his body is moving back and forth, rubbing against her.)
sylvienne    Ah — your — ah — corollah ah — is —
george    Yes, Violet?    (He is kissing her neck and feeling her
sylvienne    It's ah — it's an — ah — exciting blue-purple!
george    (Grabs her breast.)    You've got a wild-looking stamen!
sylvienne    Ah — thank you. Ah — how's your calyx?
george    Early  morning  cool.   You're  so  delicate  feeling!     (His
hand is feeling her rear end and moving around to the front and
her vaginal area.)
sylvienne    You're ah — almost translucent!
george You, my dear, are lovelier than all the varieties of begonias.
(His hand is now feeling her vagina.) You are lovelier than—-
(Sylvienne jumps up and with all her might she hits him on the
shoulder, really smacks him.)
sylvienne I'm not like the others, George! I'm not like the others!
george (Angry.) You stupid little apprentice! (He runs offstage and finds a man. Eyeball to eyeball.) She doesn't know the
first fucking thing about acting! (Actor Two (Dan Leach) comes
running up aisle. His arms are outspread as if he were flying. He is
doing a Chekhov exercise. He runs onto center stage and begins to
9i do his flying exercise. Dan Leach looks like a huge bird flying very,
very high. He is facing downstage, completely involved in his flying
george (In the aisle, talking to the audience, deadly serious.)
He's flying now — really flying! (Dan continues flying as George
moves down aisle, talking to different people.) You know, there
was a time when I thought I could be another Marlon Brando —
long, long ago, but look at this kid — (George looks at Dan. Dan
has changed from his flying exercise to a molding exercise. A molding exercise is defined as thinking of the air as a canvas and your
body as the paintbrush and you are molding the air into a beautiful
creation. Dan is doing it with his hands, his body, his legs, moving
gracefully across the stage. He is completely in his own world.)
Fantastic, huh? Do y'know this kid has only been studying the
Chekhovian method for six years and I've been studying it for
twenty? (Watches Dan molding.) I could watch him forever.
(Pause) Ah — Dan? (Dan doesn't answer) Ah — Dan, do you
feel up to your famous turkey? (No answer.) Ah — Dan?
dan (Finally out of his concentration.) What is it, Birimisa?
(Dan (Actor Two) should refer to Actor One (George Birimisa) by
his last name.)
george Do you feel up to your famous turkey? (Dan faces audience. He starts with his chin and slowly works up to his eyes, then
down to his arms, his back and his feet. Mr. Leach went to the zoo
and studied a turkey. After he fully becomes the turkey he picks out
individuals in the audience. Then he jumps off the platform and
hops about as the turkey and approaches people. He gets very close
with the open-eyed stare of the turkey.) Gobble — gobble —
gobble!     (Right at particular person. Then he finds someone else.)
Gobble gobble gobble!      (Someone else.)     Gobble	
gobble gobble!     (Then he jumps onstage as the turkey and
stares at audience.)
george (To audience.) I think that deserves a round of applause!     (The audience applauds every night. During the height
of the applause Dan gives with another "Gobble gobble	
gobble." Then back to his molding exercises, completely involved
in his own world.)    Dan, let's show these people what a really great
actor can do.    (No answer.)    Ah — Dan?
dan    What?
george    Ah     (He looks at audience, then back to Dan.)    Let's
see — put your center in your ah chest.
dan    My chest?
92 george Yeah! (Dan is motionless for moment. Then he straightens up. He becomes very masculine. He picks out pretty girl in
audience and walks offstage and over to her. He lifts her chin until
their eyes meet.) What's your name, baby? (If she doesn't answer he asks her again. Once in awhile a girl may be hostile. If this
happens George calls him back to stage or he goes on to next girl.)
dan What are you doing after the show?
girl    I'm with my boyfriend.
dan    Ditch him! We'll turn on at the Electric Circus.
george    (Laughing)    Hey, Dan, you better take it easy. Come
up here.
dan    I'm having a ball, fella.    (Moves to next girl)    What's your
phone number?    (Finally he comes back onstage.)
george    Okay, Dan, back onstage.    (Dan comes onstage)    Ah —■
put your center in your mouth.
dan    My mouth?    (He is thinking about it. In this production
Dan Leach wears sunglasses up to this point. However, they are
george    Yeah.
dan    (At first he is tentative. He puts the handle of the sun glasses
in his mouth. He begins to lick the handle with his mouth. He begins
to grin. He is enjoying his center in his mouth. His movement
changes. He becomes a rather screaming faggot but it is not in the
sense of someone who is camping but a really true faggot. His eyes
light up as he picks out a good-looking guy in the audience. As he
does this he is not putting anyone down. He swishes over to the
fellow and begins to run his hand through the fellow's hair.)
Oooooooooooooo! oooooooooooooooh! ooooooooooooooooh!
george     (Moving off stage into aisle.)    What is it, Dan?
dan    (Hand to chest. Still messing with the guy.)    I don't know.
I've never had my center in my mouth before.
george    But it's absolutely brilliant work!
dan    It's ah got me worried. It's ah I'm afraid that I	
george    Afraid of what?
dan I don't know! I've never experienced anything like this before. It's like dear me - -1	
george (Comes offstage and hits Dan on shoulder) You're not
freaking out, are you, fella?
dan (Big grin. Moves away from George. Looks for other men.)
It's fabulous! (Up and down aisle swishing like crazy.) Now I
can understand the whole high camp mystique — I can understand
Andy Warhol and Susan Sontag and Sybil Burton — the whole
93 crew. Why it even makes Cherry Grove understandable! (He
moves quickly to young lady that he asked for date when his center
was in his chest.) You got a cigarette on you, dear? (If she
doesn't he goes to another girl until he gets cigarette. Then he
moves to the fellow through whose hair he has run his hands.)
Light me! (What usually happens is that the fellow tries to light
Dan's cigarette and the match goes out.) Don't be nervous. I won't
hurt you.
george Dan, will you please come back here? (Dan sits on edge
of stage. Dan is puffing away madly, his legs crossed and having a
ball.)    Dan, ah put your center back; in your chest.    (Dan
gives him quizzical look.)    Your chest remember? Ah	
let me see think of Jean Paul Belmondo and Albert Finney!
dan    (Looks at George. Very excited.)    Belmondo and Finney	
together?    (Turns his eyes up to the ceiling in ecstacy.)
george    Will you come off it, fella?
dan    I can't. I just can't!
george    (Really trying. Bent over him.)    But you're the greatest
actor in our troupe with     (George makes his hands into fists
and puts them under Dan's nose.) with the biggest fucking balls!
dan (with distaste) Please, Birimisa. I guess I don't want to, so
there! I love my center right where it is! I love it! I love it! I love it!
(He runs down center aisle looking for another guy.)
george (Chases after him.) Jesus — will you think masculine?
dan I guess I don't want to — thank you! (Dan is standing
next to another young man. Sylvienne who has been upstage runs
down the aisle.)
sylvienne Oh, Dan, dear, you look pale. Why don't you go upstairs and relax?
dan (Putting down sunglasses and putting out cigarette in ashtray
next to record player in the back of the Firehouse Theatre. He turns
on Sylvienne.) You just shut up! You don't fool me for a second,
Miss Mini Monster. You'd love to have this gorgeous stage all to
yourself! (Dan stands center stage. Sylvienne is in aisle.)
sylvienne    What on earth did I do?
dan Germinate, bitch, Ugh! Ugh! (Hand to throat.) Women!
I just can't stand them! (He makes loud noises of vomiting. Very
sylvienne    (Looking for a sympathetic face in audience.)    Of
course you realize this is no accident!     (No one can hear her as
Dan is making so much noise.)
dan    Get her out of here! Get her out of here!
94 sylvienne (Shouting.) Of course you realize this is no accident.
(Moving to another person.) Let me tell you about Dan Leach
and how it all started! Originally he's from Texas. His father was
killed in a stampede in the Pecos Panhandle when Dan was just
seven years old. However, it just seems that Dan was riding his pinto
pony that just happened to start the stampede that killed his father
and —■ (Dan runs offstage, grabs Sylvienne. He lifts her and
carries her down the aisle. He pushes open the door at the back of
the theater.) He thinks I'm his mother and he feels guilty about —
dan (As he closes the door. Sylvienne is in lobby.) Oh, no you
don't. Maybe you can say those things in New York but not in
Minneapolis! (Dan comes back onstage. He has lost his faggot
image and is back to his masculine self.)
george (Sitting stage left and laughing.) Your next line is
Violet! You skipped a whole scene!
dan Shut up, Birimisa. I know what my next line is. (He turns
to audience.) You'll have to forgive me for breaking out of character, ladies and gentleman, but that young lady is an apprentice with
our group who just happens to be more interested in finding herself a man than she is in learning the Chekhovian method of acting.
However, what's really bugging her is her last review. She was called
adequate by a reviewer from the Village Voice —    (Suddenly Dan
is a faggot.)     who shall remain nameless.
(George is still sitting on stage. With one hand he is making the
motion of a violet. He is turned away from Dan.)
dan    Violet?
sylvienne    (Running down aisle from back of theater, her hands
to her face, her petals quivering. She is smiling.)     Ahhhhh	
yes, Dan?
dan    Really!   I   wasn't  speaking  to  you,  Vera  Hruba  Ralston!
(Dan turns to George.)    Violet?
george    Ah — you still Dan Leach?
dan    Mmmm. I - - ah really don't know.
george    (Leans back. Is lying almost flat on the stage.)    Show me
what your name is!
dan    Ooooooh! What a wonderful idea, Birimisa!     (Dan crouches
on stage, his hands to his sides. Quickly he grows and flowers. Mr.
Leach is six-feet-three and very high with his hands over his head.
Birimisa is leaning on his elbow, intently studying Dan. Flirting.)
What's my name, Birimisa?
george    You a flower, right?
dan    You're so perceptive, Birimisa.
95 george    (Feels Dan's bare feet.)    You red?
dan    It may confuse you since my center is still in my mouth.
george    Ah you a lilac?
dan    You're getting warm!
george    You begin with an L?
dan    (Shaking his rear end.)    Part of me does!
george    You've got more than one name, right?
dan    Oooooh! You're so right, Birimisa!
sylvienne    (Very  loud.)    I  know  what your  are — you're  a
dan    Wilt, weed!
george    (Squeezes Dan's  waist)    I  know what you  are	
you're a lily!    (Dan squeals in delight.)    Ah you're a madonna
dan    Honey, that was my image ten years ago!
sylvienne    What a laugh. Easter lily!
dan    Sizzle, bitch!
sylvienne    Aren't we the sweetest? You want me to call you
dan    Up your vinyl vagina, Miss Tessie Teeneybopper!     (He turns
to George.)    You can call me Easter, Birimisa!
george    (Moves toward Dan. He is a flower and undulating. His
arm moves sensually toward Dan.)    How are you, Easter, baby?
dan    Call me Easter honey pot!
george    How are you Easter ah honey pot?
dan    My petals are quivering!    (George and Dan are almost
touching. Sylvienne, as a violet, manages to get between them. Dan
looks her over.)    Oooooh! Such a putrid purple. Honey, you're not
going to make out looking like that! Look at me!     (Dan is in all
his glory as Easter lily.)    I'm clear, clean, cool and such an eggshell
sylvienne    (Losing her temper.)    You are a screaming faggot
hiding behind the arts!
dan    (Touches her hair.)    Oooh! Do I detect a touch of sickly,
jealous green in your stamen? You, my dear, are an artificial flower.
Non-organic. You don't belong on the stage with us!     (Looks at
audience, still as flower with his hands over his head.)    There was
a time when just having a hot vulva was enough! Those days are
gone forever!
sylvienne    (Loses control completely.)    You've always had the
hots for George!
george and dan    (Screaming back.)    For Violet I
96 sylvienne    Ah — Fuck it!     (In  the Firehouse  production she
runs upstage and exits behind flat stage right.)
dan    Dear me!   Such shocking Anglo-Saxon smuttiness!     (Dan
looks at George sexily.)    Violet?
george    (Is undulating his arms sensually. Looks over his shoulder
to where Sylvienne has exited. Moves toward Dan. His body is
suddenly very sexual, secretive.)    Yeah, Easter, baby?
dan    You're such a deep, lustrous purple!
george    Thank you, baby!     (George is showing off as a flower,
his body moving sensually.)
dan    Baby? Mmmmmmmm. Yes. Do you mind if I call you Daddy,
Violet? Yes, Daddy Violet!     (Dan is kneeling on stage, facing away
from George. George is standing, legs spread wide and is moving
his middle back and forth, slowly. His eyes are almost closed.)
george    No, baby, I don't mind!     (He is moving his middle back
and forth, faster and faster.)
dan    Oh, Daddy Violet, your fibrous stamen turns me on. It flames
me. It makes my chlorophyll boil. You're purple petals are like an
ocean on a moonlit night.
george    (Pause)    Don't stop, baby!
dan    You mean that, Daddy Violet?
george    Yeah, get with it!
dan    Oh, may I, Daddy Violet, may I?
george    (Sexual frenzy.)    May you what?
dan    May I cultivate your root?
george    (Grabs his crotch with both hands.)    The root of heaven!
(Sylvienne enters stage right quickly.)
sylvienne     (Screaming.)     The root of heaven? How sick can you
get, George?
george    (Startled out of his fantasy. Pushes her offstage.)    Get
back in your hole!
sylvienne    You're as sick as he is!
george    (Pushes her offstage again.)    As you get a little older
you'll realize how sick you really are!
sylvienne    (Crosses backstage and comes out from behind flat
stage left. George is looking in opposite direction.)    I'm tired of
being a seed!
george    Stay nice and warm in the good earth!     (Dan is lying on
platform propped up on one elbow. Now he looks at Sylvienne. He
smiles at her.)
dan    Are you really tired of being a seed, Violet?
97 sylvienne    (Looks at George then back to Dan.)    I-ah I - -
ah beg your pardon?
dan    Your name is Violet, isn't it?
sylvienne    Ah I ah - - yes!  yes!  yes!    (She smiles and
flutters as Violet.)    My name is Violet!
dan    Good! Then answer my question. Are you	
sylvienne    But  I  thought that you you know all those
nasty ?
dan    Yes, Violet?
sylvienne (Moves closer to him.) Is your center still in your
dan    Yes, my center is still in my mouth, Violet.
sylvienne    I - - I just don't understand. I wasn't blaming you. I
was blaming your center you know calling me all those horrible names. Ah Ver Hruba ah who is Vera Hruba	
ah - - something or other?
dan Vera Hruba Ralston. An actress in the forties who just happened to be married to the owner of Republic Studios, Herbert J.
sylvienne    You're terribly confusing!
dan Nothing personal, Violet. As you grow you will learn to bypass the rocks and the scraggly weeds.
sylvienne Are you saying that your center is in your mouth ah —
dan Until I change it organically. I don't believe in chemical
sylvienne    Ah will you answer me one question?
dan    Yes, Violet?
sylvienne    (Flutters her petals)    Am I really an artificial violet?
dan    Hyperbole, my dear Violet!     (Dan touches her leg.)    I must
say that you do have a degree of organic life in your roots. I mean	
wouldn't you say it would be rather difficult to grow on the side of
a mountain overlooking the Mekong     (He is looking
over the edge of the stage.)    Mekong Delta! I can oh - -   I
can Dear God the Mekong Delta!
sylvienne    What what is it?
dan    (Utter terror, crawling across stage, moaning and crying.)
I don't know. I	
sylvienne    You don't know?
dan    (Clutching his body.)    I feel so empty! Empty! Dear God.
I can't	
98 sylvienne    You've been working too hard. Doing your famous
turkey must be a terrible emotional strain.
dan    (Screaming.)    My center is gone!
sylvienne    But it can't be. It can't be.
george    (Runs downstage and grabs Dan. Arms around him. Holds
him tightly.)    But that's impossible. It's impossible!
dan    (Trying to get away.)    But the impossible has happened. I
don't have a center! Dear God, where is the center of my being?
george    (Still holding him. Dan is like a crazy man.)    Look, it's
got to be somewhere. It's only logical according to the teachings of
Michael Chekhov!
dan    (Sobbing hysterically.)   I know.... I know .. . after all these
years of study I'm a failure. What would Michael Chekhov say?
sylvienne    (Shaking Dan.)    Listen to me. Easter!
dan    What?
sylvienne    (At the top of her lungs.)    Easter! Easter Lily!
dan    What on earth are you talking about?    (He is still trying to
get away from George who is holding him.)
sylvienne    You've got to remember. You're clear, cool and such
an eggshell white. You're Easter Lily!
dan    I am?
sylvienne    Yes! Yes! Yes!
george    Now don't panic. Let me think.    (He twists Dan's head
around until they are eyeball to eyeball.)    Dan? Dan?
dan    Who?
george    Dan Leach! Dan Leach!
dan    If only I could find my center. Dear God, where is it	
where?    (George gives up in horror. It is getting to him. He crawls
upstage, away from Dan).
sylvienne    You've got to find it! Without you as a living example
of the artist I	
dan    (He is pounding on the stage. He is completely gone.)    I	
I can't find it!
sylvienne    Oh,  my  God how  could you     (Dan  is
bent over, his face on the stage. She is kneeling. She doubles her
fists and starts beating him on the back.) How could you — how
could you do this to me? How could you do this to me? (She
jumps up.) My center is in my heart! My center is in my heart!
My name is Violet! I am blooming on the side of a mountain very
high. I have broken through the rock encrusted earth and I've
pushed through the scraggly weeds and now I can feel the afternoon
99 sun opening me up and below - - below     (She looks down
into the Mekong Delta. She lets out a horrible scream.)
george    (He sees it, too. He is in agony.)    What is it?
sylvienne    The fog has lifted — the fog is no longer a solid
blanket hiding the - -1 can see into the Mekong Delta!
dan    (In pain and terror, his hands hiding his face from the horror.)
Great, baby, great! Go with it. This can be an existential breakthrough !
sylvienne (She is downstage at the edge of the platform staring
into the Mekong Delta. She is completely hysterical. George is also
hysterical. He is pulling his hair and moaning, staring down also.
At the height of the scene all of them are moaning and screaming
and ripping at their bodies.)    The rice paddies so close so
close a baby in a basket in the center of the flooded rice
paddy closer closer     (She  lets  out  another  terrifying
scream. She is backing up stage and yet she can't stop looking.)
The baby is charred, burned, roasted. I      (Hysteria.)    can
smell the flesh. I can smell the flesh. The eyeballs are dripping  boiling searing me     (Scream.)     Charred	
burned roasted. I can the mother bloated floating
 purple-green  (She begins to beat her body, completely out of her mind.)
george (Crying and screaming and pounding the stage with his
fists. He tries to get up. He is hysterical. Finally he manages to stagger over to Sylvienne. He grabs her. He drags her to the edge of the
stage. She fights him all the way, clawing at him.)     C Come
out of it! Come out of it! That is not the Mekong Delta. That is
not the Mekong Delta! (She is still fighting desperately and
screaming. She has her hands over her face. He pulls them down
and forces her to look down.) That is not the Mekong Delta!
(Pause. He is fighting with himself. He finally gets it out.) Salinas
Valley! (He is screaming it, trying to convince her and himself.)
Salinas Valley! Salinas Valley! Salinas Valley! Salinas Valley!
Salinas Valley! Salinas Valley! (No response.) Salinas Valley!!
(He is staring into her eyes now.) Salinas Valley! Salinas Valley!
sylvienne (Whisper) Salinas Valley?
george Salinas Valley. Salinas Valley. Salinas Valley.
george and sylvienne Salinas Valley. Salinas Valley. Salinas
Valley. (They are smiling faintly. George runs to Dan who is
bent over in the position of a Vietcong who is being tortured. George
pulls Dan up to kneeling position.)
ioo george    Salinas Valley. Salinas Valley. Salinas Valley.    (They are
both staring down.)
dan    Salinas Valley.
george and dan    Salinas Valley. Salinas Valley, Salinas Valley.
sylvienne    (Runs over to them. Kneels. They are very close, all
three of them.)     I've got it. Like magic. I'm becoming a good
actress — an organic actress!
dan    (Face high)    My center has returned!
sylvienne    (True concern)    Is it still you-know-where?
dan    It's in my heart I think!
sylvienne    Everything's turning out fine!
george    (His arms around them. They are very close, in fact, they
are cheek to cheek. Tender, together.)    We're really growing, you
dan    (Now he is radiant)    I think I will join the two of you on
the side of that mountain very high.    (All three get up quickly.
George helps Sylvienne get up. Sylvienne becomes a violet. George
becomes a violet. They watch anxiously as Dan  (center stage.)
becomes a violet.)
sylvienne    Such a deep, deep purple! Such an organic violet!
dan    Both of you may call me Violet!
sylvienne    Hello, Violet!
george    Hi, Violet!
dan    Hello, Violets!
sylvienne    Ah will you join us in the song? You know, that
horrible nightmare — looking down into the ?
dan Now, now, Violet. You are growing. Organic fertilizer. And,
remember, pain is always involved with growth. And, let's face it,
there's nothing worse than petal pain. (They run upstage. They
hold hands. They look at audience and begin to sing.) Violet!
Violet! Violet! (They run downstage. To the very edge. Dan is
center stage. Sylvienne is far stage right. George is far stage left.
They look at individuals as they sing, hoping for a smile, some encouragement so they can keep their newfound Salinas Valley.) We
are blooming on the side of a mountain very high. We have broken
through the rock-encrusted earth and we've pushed through the
scraggly weeds  (Quickly they form a circle and start dancing around in a circle. They go faster and faster and faster and
laugh happily, lovingly, a kind of hysteria of happiness.) Violet!
Violet! Violet! We can feel the morning sun opening us up and
below the fog is a solid blanket     (They stop the ring
around the rosey and face downstage looking over the edge where
IOI the Mekong Delta was before.)    hiding the     (George
and Sylvienne pull back. They look anxiously at Dan.)
dan    (Long  pause.)    Salinas  Valley!     (Now   the   happiness  is
complete. All are jumping up and down, joyful as they are wide-
open flowers looking at audience with complete love.)
all three    Violet! Violet! Violet!     (Singing of course.)
dan    (Arms spread wide. Utter joy. Singing the finale.)    The sun
is on us
sylvienne (Slight pause. Then points stage right.) The Salinas
Valley — Steinbeck country!
george    (Stage left. Runs happily there.)    The fog has lifted	
the mission bells are echoing across the valley!
dan (Pointing stage center over the heads of audience.) The
morning dew is on the neat rows of lettuce stretching to the horizon  geometrically patterned.
sylvienne    The ah the acorns, silver-green and flecked with
white, on the tall, slim, eucalyptus trees!
george    (Gets between them. Pulls them close. Arms around each
other.)    Look a truckful of wetbacks they're wearing
brightly colored panchos and singing of their homeland!
dan    And to the west beyond the valley the azure
Pacific!     (All three freeze. They are staring into the distance, into
the beauty of the Salinas Valley. Five second pause.)
sylvienne    (In a whisper.)    Arcadia!
george     (Another pause.)     Paradise!
dan    (Another pause.)    Eden.    (All of them stare into the distance, still frozen. Finally Sylvienne breaks out of it.)
sylvienne    (To Dan.)    Please, you know, before anything else
happens that	
dan    Relax!    (He makes a motion to George. Quickly George
runs stage left and looks at audience.)
george    George Birimisa!
sylvienne    Sylvienne Strauss!
george  and  sylvienne    Dan Leach!    (They hold hands and
bow, taking their curtain calls.)
It is possible that this ceremony forms only a part
of the immense process which many call Kafka
Directed by John Rapsey
Olympio (The Controller), master of the revels
Arcadion (The Mime), a mercurial spirit
Fortran (Actor One), an honest heart
Amarissa (Actor Two), a dream princess
Angelo (Actor Three), an ardent prince
Designed by Irene Rapsey
The basic costume for the cast is a sort of uniform close to dancers'
tights. The Controller's uniform may be more elaborate, The Mime's
more reminiscent of a harlequin's outfit. If the Musician appears on
stage, his form should not be recognizably human.
The stage design must give a sense of infinite open space broken by
abstract shapes. One of these shapes can serve as the altar. Lighting
and the bodies of the actors constantly transform the bare set.
For convenience in reading, Kafka is divided into seven major sections. The action is, however, continuous from beginning to end.
The Controller stands before the altar, his arms upraised. On
the altar are displayed the knife, the ritual vestments and four
Courtly Elizabethan music is playing. The three Actors enter
and, with exaggerated theatrical movements, enact a brief scene
of greeting one another: Actor One is sturdy and serious, Actor
Two languid but charming, Actor Three bored and amused in
a dashing style. They pay no attention to The Controller. At the
end of their scene, they freeze in elegant poses. The music stops.
The Controller turns from the altar and conjures the entrance
of The Mime.
C.   Now do I, Olympio,
Summon those powers that foreknow
All this our pageantry and show,
Summon those powers that aid my will
That these our actors may fulfill
A high and solemn ritual.
(The Mime appears wearing a black domino mask and carrying
the program cards. She aids The Controller to don his mask.
The Controller indicates the three Actors, and The Mime places
masks on Actors One and Two. These two Actors immediately
line up at rigid attention. Actor Three, however, refuses his
mask and continues to pose with an air of defiance. With a
flourish, The Mime inserts a program card in The Controller.)
The Mime inserts a program card in The Controller. This
ceremony .. .
(Three laughs mockingly.)
106 C. This ceremony called Kafka is undertaken today, the — day
of —, in the year —, between the hours of — and —.* It is
possible that this ceremony forms only a part of the immense
process which many call Kafka.
(Three laughs mockingly. The Mime picks up the knife.)
Some maintain that this process or this Kafka had already begun long before our entrance into this place and will continue
long after our leaving. Some declare that the success of this
ceremony or Kafka will make the continuation of Kafka unnecessary. Some add that the ceremony can never succeed.
(Three laughs. The Mime begins to creep stealthily towards
The Controller with the knife.)
It may be futile. It may be heroic. We must succeed, even knowing success is impossible. It is Kafka. .. . Already we are haunted
by the feeling that we are losing ourselves or wandering into a
strange country, a country so strange that not even the air has
anything in common with our native air, where one might die
of strangeness and yet whose mysterious power is such that one
can only go on and lose oneself further.
(The Mime is directly behind The Controller. She raises the
knife as if about to plunge it into him.)
The elements of the ceremony have been prepared: the masks,
the program cards, the vestments, the knife . ..
(The Controller turns and indicates the knife. The Mime holds
it poised, pirouettes, turns away. Three laughs.)
. . . The Mime, the three Actors, The Controller, the audience.
All who are here today . ..
3.    (He draws an invisible sword.)
All who are here today, who note this show,
This cruel and idle pageantry, must know
The bitter mockery of Angelo
Who is and is not part of what Olympio
Calls Kafka: some strange land, some foreign tongue
The which, against my will. . . !
C. This is impossible without his mask! The program for today
requires masks. The Mime inserts another program card in The
Controller and presents him with the knife. Actor Number One,
prepare to transfer and take necessary action.
1.    Ready for transfer.
C.   The Controller points the knife at Actor Number One .. .
* The time limits should be indicated precisely to the second.
107 (As The Controller points the knife, there is a flash of light and
appropriate sound effects. Actor One reverts instantly to his
Elizabethan manner.)
.. . who removes his mask and approaches Actor Number Three.
1.    Sweet Angelo, a word.
3. Who's that?
1. Fortran,
The humble Fortran you once named your friend,
Whose counsels you approved as honest words,
That now implores you, Prince, to don your mask.
'Tis needful now. Look on my own. Prince, do.
3.    And Amarissa mask'd?
1. Fair Amariss,
Arcadion, Olympio. He calls
It Kafka and a noble cause, my lord.
3.    I'll do't then, for thee and for the lady.
C.   The Controller points the knife at The Mime who aids Actors
One and Three to don their masks.
(Light. Sound. Actors One and Three mechanically take up
their positions beside Two.)
1. Necessary action taken. Until otherwise noted, the pointing of
the knife indicates an Actor's role.
3.    The Mime inserts another program card in The Controller.
C.   All who are here today must remember that we are gathered in
a ritual to approach what is called Kafka through Kafka, by
Kafka, with Kafka.
3.    Whatever Kafka means. She speaks, dreamily.
2. Kafka? Someone said Kafka.. . Kafka . . . ? A sudden cry.
3. What is Kafka?
C.   (Moving towards Three, threatening him with the knife.)
We are joined in a struggle against incomprehensible odds. We
must all enter the ceremony.
2. The Controller threatens Actor Three.
C. Everyone must join. There is no choice. The action for today
is programmed on the cards. The program requires one Actor
in terrible pain. Crawling. Face in the ground. The program
requires .. .
1.    He points with the knife.
C.   ... Actor Number One.
(He points. Light. Sound. One is felled as if struck by a heavy
3. He collapses, racked with pain.
(Actor One sprawls face down on the ground. He makes feeble
crawling motions with his arms and legs. He is on a journey
through a strange land and there is much about him — sights
and sounds — that he cannot understand.)
1.    Why me? Him .. .
C. Actor Number Three, like Actor Number One, was always part
of the ritual. Actor Number One will state his role.
1. (He is begging, he is confused.)
I am . ..
2. A new program card is inserted in The Controller.
(As the card is inserted, The Controller and Actors Two and
Three suddenly shift their positions.)
1. I am .. . begging to enter the ritual.
C. A new program card has been inserted. Actor Number One is
(The Controller and Actors Two and Three shift again. With
The Mime, they form a machine or a swarm that assaults Actor
One from all directions.)
2. In strange voices . . .
3. ... Actors Two and Three .. .
2.    ... torment Actor Number One because of . ..
C.   Actor Number One is incorrect.
C.   Actor Number One will state his role.
C.   Actor Number One is incorrect.
Kafka! You forgot. . .
Kafka! You strayed from .
Kafka! Betrayed . .
. Kafka! Falsified . . .
Kafka! Can't enter.
Kafka! Incorrect..
Kafka! The ritual.
C. Actor Number One will state his role.
2. ... Kafka! The secret...
3. ... Kafka! You spoil...
2. ... Kafka! And your . ..
3. ... Kafka is not. . .
2. ...Kafka is Kafka!
3. ...Kafka!
C. Actor Number One is incorrect. Actor Number One will state
his role.
109 1.
Kafka! No, no! The messenger!
(The machine breaks suddenly.)
Messenger from Kafka . . .
She speaks dreamily.
Mes-sen-ger. ..
The messenger from Kafka is also . ..
The messenger to Kafka.
Pass-ing through Kaf-ka . . .
The messenger.
It is an endless journey. The messenger is tired.
Kafka. Kafka.
He moans. It is a hard journey.
What mes-sen-ger?
No doubt the messenger is very much like that one. There are
many turnings in the journey. So long since he knew which
road to take.
A new program card is inserted in The Controller.
(They have been drifting around and away from Actor One.
Now they form a small group, ignoring him. The Controller
instructs the two Actors.)
We have been hearing about this Kafka for many years now.
Sometimes there is considerable information.
And sometimes, like now, we hear nothing.
Nothing for the longest time. Sometimes I wish I had never
heard about Kafka in the first place.
That cannot be helped. We have heard about Kafka before.
More information may be forthcoming. There is the messenger.
(They look over at Actor One as if he were a clinical subject.)
What's left of him, that is. I wonder how much more of this
he can take.
He shouts.
I wonder how much more of this he can take!
The masks are very heavy, I know.
Heavy like a mountain pressing on your face.
The Controller bends over Actor One and examines the mask.
The Mime leads Actors Two and Three towards One where
they also bend over, curious.
The mask of Kafka.  Information concerning Kafka is very
much like this, no doubt.
Very much like it. And look at it. Look at it.
(The Controller moves away. Two and Three linger and kneel
on each side of Actor One.)
no 2. Kafka mask. Kafka face.
3. With curious detachment, Actors Two and Three probe and
poke at the body of Actor One, murmuring softly.
2. Kafka face.
3. Kafka tears.
2. Kafka tears and sweat make mirrors.
3. The Kafka arm. The other.
2. Kafka hand. Kafka fingers.
3. Ten Kafka fingers, still moving.
2. Kafka legs.
3. Still moving. Kafka lungs.
2. Still breathing. Kafka chest.
3. Heaving. And all the Kafka muscles.
2. This Kafka muscle.
3. Beating. Kafka heart.
2. Tears. Kafka tears.
3. Kafka tears. Kafka sweat. Make mirrors.
2. Where we kiss.
3. Reflected.
(They rise to form an arch above Actor One. Their hands make
mirrors, touching palm to palm as they kiss.)
2. And The Mime withdraws a program card from Actor One
and inserts it in The Controller.
3. Unseen by Actors Two and Three who are reflected.
(Actor One gets to his feet. The arch breaks slowly.)
2. A program card as if it were a message.
3. The Controller points with the knife.
C.   Actor Number Two.
(Light. Sound. She spins rapidly and sinks to her knees.)
1. She stumbles, whirling, dazed.
(Actor Two rises. She has had a revelation. She speaks with
wonder, with profound joy.)
2. Where am I?
C.   Actor Number Two will state her role.
2. I am the messenger with the message. I am the message, the
Kafka message.
C.   Actor Number Two is correct.
3. Impossible! She is obviously begging to enter the ritual and
that is a separate role.
i ii (Actors Three and One engage in a private argument. Two
attempts to speak to them but in vain. She is confused by it all.)
1. Not necessarily. At any rate, after what happened to me, nothing seems to matter. Whether or not Actor Two is correct is
completely beside the point.
2. No! It matters! Can't you see ... ?
3. The Mime withdraws program cards from Actor One, Actor
Three and The Controller and inserts them in inverse order.
1. Actor One to Actor Three. Beside the point. If I could be
betrayed so easily, if that pain could be inflicted on me while
you stood by and watched with your "curious detachment,"
then why not beside the point?
3. Actor Three to Actor One. And what if that was all part of the
program and soon I will be betrayed, the pain will be inflicted
on me? Will that be beside the point? Even if it's just part of
the program?
C. Controller to Actors One and Three. These emotional outbursts
are beside the point. During this section, Actor Number Two
in her role . . .
3.    What role?
1. It doesn't matter at all.
C.   ... in her role ...
2. (She is becoming increasingly confused, increasingly angry.)
Not just a role! A message. I am a Kafka message!
C.   ... stumbles slowly around the stage, ignored by all.
3. At times she approaches the others.
1. Who ignores her.
2. (She circles from one to another, sometimes pleading, sometimes
shouting. She is trying to break through mechanical barriers,
fields of mindless energy.)
Am I beside the point?
1. They do not seem to hear her.
3. Shut up! Shut up with those stage directions! It just doesn't
work. There hasn't been any Kafka information at all recently.
2. There was a mist on the mountain .. .
1. Actor One recites from memory storage concerning Kafka information. There is considerable Kafka information. It is our
duty to decide what is true and what is false. Some Kafka information is frankly fantastic.
2. No, no! Just listen . .. !
1. Frankly fantastic. Quote. One evening a messenger appeared
at the door, stamping the snow from his boots. He declared that
112 Kafka had ceased to exist. We mocked him and ignored his
pleas for a hearing.
2.    He's telling it wrong!
1. Ignored his pleas for a hearing. Unquote. This information, including the reported information of the Kafka messenger, was
added to the existing files of messages, beliefs and suggestions
concerning Kafka. In due time it will be considered and sorted
according to its probability content.
2. And there was a sort of enchantment in the air . . . Listen to me!
3. Actor Three recites from memory storage concerning information sorting processes. Information sorting processes classify
according to type and time of information. Further processes
involve intermixing of information according to random and
fixed programs and consideration for probability content. It
must be understood that probability content of the Kafka factor
cannot be measured. Any measurement is purely temporary.
All information is thus equally valuable.
2. Lies! Because there is something true about Kafka!
C.   All we can be sure of is the ceremony called Kafka.
1. Actor One says something about the ceremony called Kafka.
It is a hateful round of contradictions and repetitions which
are supposed to eventually exhaust all Kafka possibilities. Supposed to! While The Controller wields the knife and that Mime
creature flits around with all our words on her cards and the
Actors are subjected to stupid cruelty and the audience sits and
watches. And there's nothing we can do, we don't even know
what it means. It doesn't even try to justify itself except with a
lot of Kafka, Kafka, Kafka!
I want to take your Kafka and rip it to shreds!
3. Actor One has just recited the tirade against the ceremony.
C. In reply to the tirade against the ceremony: the ceremony may
2. All of you, listen!
C. We acknowledge the presence of Actor Number Two but do not
pay any attention until the proper time.
2. No! Now!
1. Actor Two strikes The Controller.
3. He ignores her.
2. Nothing but contradictions! Lies! And meanwhile the mountain
1. Actor Two becomes increasingly vehement.
2. Just listen! It's real! And stop those stage directions!
"3 3.
Actor Two strikes Actor One. He ignores her.
In reply to the tirade against the ceremony: the ceremony may
be no more correct than what Actor Number Two has been
trying to say.
Will say!
All Kafka information is equally valuable. Actor Number Two
will attempt to recall what she thought was a Kafka message.
It is a message!
(The others shift position. Actor Two walks as if in a dream.)
The Mime stalks her as she speaks and wanders.
The Mime weaves the ritual vestments about her.
Because what if. .. . It was as if there was a strange land, a
foreign tongue. Kafka. And something was in the air. Maybe
an enchantment. Kafka enchantment. But I forget.
She remembers.
I thought, what if the ceremony were not everything? And I
was a princess with a beautiful name. Like in a dream. It was
about Kafka.
Actors One and Three take her arms.
They walk with her.
(They lead her towards The Controller.)
And there were other people. A poet, weaving words. A prince.
His honest companion. And the mountain pool where the prince
kissed my reflection in the water. Or was it in the air with all
that enchantment of Kafka? What was my name?
She cannot remember.
Just Kafka. Kafka. All I remember. And it seemed so real.
She is talking about the end when we reveal our real roles.
Our other roles.
That's another part of the ceremony.
It isn't time yet.
It isn't real yet.
But if it were true .. . !
It is true and so is this now. All about Kafka.
All she recalls distinctly is Kafka. All that is important is Kafka.
Because I am the messenger or the message and the road of
Kafka is long. So many turnings.
The Actors and The Mime begin to form the mazes of Kafka
through which the message must pass.
Kafka. The sounds are shifting masks.
(They form the maze of the jackdaws.)
There were mists on the mountainside.
114 3.    Kafka. Ka! The cry of the jackdaws . ..
2. It was summer. Morning.
1. ... in the snow. Ka! Ka!
3. Jackdaws that pick the bones of messengers.
2. In the snow? I heard them on the mountain.
1.    Ka! Ka! Gnaw at the bones of the word.
3. At the Kafka mask.
1. Picking at the Kafka face.
2. Kafka tears like the pool.
C.   Kafka. The sounds are shifting masks.
(They form the maze of the shrouds.)
1. Kafka. The rustle of draperies.
3. Kaf. Kaf. Softly.
2. Like a princess' gown in the mists.
1.    Softly. Kaf. Kaf.
3. And the Kaf Kaf cry of sick words. Hoarse messengers rustle
in their grave clothes.
1. Kafka. Kafka.
2. The road. So many turnings.
3. Kafka messengers shrouded in the snow.
1. Down the road in mists of Kafka, Kafka.
C.   Kafka. The sounds are shifting masks.
(They form the maze of the wind.)
2. I'm frightened!
3. Or is it the whistling of the wind saying Kafka, Kafka .. .
1. ... and turning in its sleep, the Kafka wind that talks to itself
all night about Kafka ...
2. I'm lost!
3. ... about Kafka and about the Kafka messengers with their
Kafka Kafka shrouds . . .
1.    ... after the jackdaws picked their Kafka flesh. Ka. Ka.
3.    She blunders into The Controller.
1. He wields the knife.
(The maze breaks.)
C.   Ka! The cry of the knife! Kafka! Kafka!
2. No! You! Kafka!
3. She cowers, terrified.
C.   Kafka! Just the word is left. And we must cut it to tatters.
(Suddenly, she leaps at the knife. The Controller's power is
threatened. Actors One and Three shift into a group, watching
2.    No! Not me!
"5 1.
She attempts to wrest the knife from his grasp.
They struggle.
Actors One and Three exchange program cards.
Actor Three to Actor One. The Controller retains possession
of the knife.
Actor One to Actor Three. The Controller rises.
(He  is  angry.  He  is frightened. He  menaces Actor Two.)
Kafka! We will take it apart and scatter its fragments to the
wind. The ceremony will not be interrupted. The Mime with
draws a program card from Actor Number Two and inserts it
in The Controller. The program requires .. .
He points with the knife.
... Actor Number Three.
(Light. Sound. Actor Three jackknifes into a foetal position. In
slow motion, he struggles to be born.)
He screams.
(Actor Three rises as if in a trance.)
Actor Number Three will state his role.
Kafka. I represent Kafka. Kafka, Kafka.. . .
(He continues to mutter "Kafka.")
Actor Three is incorrect.
Actor Three is correct.
It does not matter whether Actor Number Three is correct or
He continues muttering.
He is threatened. The Mime carries out the exchange of pro
gram cards.
Actor Two to Controller.
(The Controller moves into position for the pursuit.)
We take Kafka apart. . .. Controller to Actor Number One.
(Actor One moves into position.)
Apart, sound by sound.
Actor One to Actor Two.
(Actor Two moves into position. They are joined by The Mime
in a slow and very stylized pursuit of Actor Three. The Mime
carries the vestments.)
We mangle Kafka.
Tear Kafka apart.. .
n6 1. ... Kafka by Kafka.
C.   Scatter the Kafka message .. .
2. The Mime pursues Actor Three . ..
C.   ... to the Kafka wind . ..
1. ... with slow and terrible motions . ..
C.   ... blown with the snow of Kafka . ..
2. ... bearing the Kafka vestments .. .
C.   ... while we pick the Kafka bones . . .
1. ... while Actor Three retreats . . .
C.   ... from among the flesh of Kafka, Kafka masks . . .
2. ... as if in a slow and heavy trance . ..
C.   ... the messages of Kafka picked to shreds.
1. ... like our slow and terrible voices ...
C.   We take Kafka to pieces slowly .. .
2. ... like the slow and terrible pursuit...
C.   ... twisting the Kafka limbs, the Kafka bones .. .
1. ... of The Mime and the Kafka vestments .. .
C.   ... Twisting around our tongues . ..
2. ... until he submits and bows . . .
C.   ... until Kafka is twisted into Kafka ...
1. ... and the Kafka vestments are placed on his shoulders .. .
C.   ... and we must begin again to mangle Kafka . ..
(They have closed in around Actor Three. The vestments are
placed on his shoulders and then ripped off with large stylized
2. ... and we tear the Kafka vestments ...
1. ... from the Kafka shoulders ...
2. ... bent beneath Kafka.
1. Ripped from Kafka.
3. (He stops muttering. He cries:)
I represent Kafka ...
2. Slowly like Kafka.
3. ... but I'm not really .. .
1. A long .. .
2. ... and terrible . ..
1. ... Kafka agony.
3. ...Kafka!
2. A sudden scream. Kafka pain!
(The pursuit formation breaks.)
1.    The Kafka struggle, Actor Number Two.
C.   Actor Number Two.
(He points with the knife. Actor Three rises to his feet and
117 Actor Two goes into his trance state.)
2. But I'm not really .. .
3. The Mime carries out the exchange of program cards.
2. ... not really Kafka. Kafka. Kafka....
(She continues to mutter. The pursuit of Actor Two begins to
form. This pursuit is more human, less stylized than the first.)
1.    Actor One to Controller and she retreats ...
C. Controller to Actor Number Three while Kafka comes to
pieces ...
3. Actor Three to Actor One and she continues muttering .. .
1.    ... while we pursue her with the Kafka vestments ...
C.   ... letter by letter. Kafka. K.
3.    ... in a slow and terrible pursuit with slow and terrible motions . . .
1.    ... until she retreats and bows, until the Kafka vestments are
placed on her shoulders . ..
C.   Letter by letter. Kafka. A.
3.    ... and we must begin again to mangle Kafka and we tear the
Kafka vestments . . .
1.    ... from the Kafka shoulders, from the twisted mangled Kafka
arms. ..
C.   Letter. F.
3.    ... from the Kafka arms, from the Kafka hands, from the
Kafka back, from the Kafka chest. . .
1.    ... from the Kafka belly, from the Kafka legs, from the Kafka
feet, from the Kafka skin . . .
C.   K.
3.    ... from the Kafka eyes . ..
1.    ... from the Kafka ears . . .
3.    ... from the Kafka mouth . . .
1.    ... from the Kafka tongue . ..
3.    ... from the Kafka throat. . .
1.    ... from the Kafka lungs . . .
3.    ... from the Kafka blood . ..
1.    ... from the Kafka heart!
C.   A.    K.   A.    F.    K.    A.    Kafka!
(The formation breaks.)
3.    The Kafka heart.
1. Still beating. Kafka. Kafka. Kafka . . .
(He continues to mutter. Actor Two rises.)
C.    Actor Number One.
2. The Controller points with the knife.
118 3.    He continues muttering.
2. The Mime carries out the exchange of program cards.
(The pursuit of Actor One begins to form. It will become
savagely bloodthirsty and animal-like.)
3. Actor Three to Controller while Kaf . ..
C.   . . . ka! Controller to Actor Number Two while Ka . . .
2. . . . f ... Actor Two to Actor Three while ka . . .
3. Ka . .. !
C.   Aa . . !
2. Ff . . . !
3. Ka . .. !
C.   Aa . .. !
2.    While Kafka comes to pieces.
(With The Mime, they enact the pursuit and the placing of the
vestments and then rip them off, hissing and muttering the
sounds and letters of "Kafka" in varying combinations. Actor
One regularly mutters "Kafka" until the end when he screams:)
1. But I'm not really Kafka!
(The formation breaks. Actor One rises and The Controller
enters a trance.)
C.   Kafka! Not really Kafka. Kafka. Kafka.
(He continues to mutter and wanders off by himself. The three
Actors form a close group and watch.)
2. The Controller continues to mutter.
1. The Actors withdraw their own program cards and exchange
them among themselves.
(The Mime sees her chance. She leaps at The Controller. They
fight, The Controller still muttering, The Mime feinting with
the vestments.)
2. The Mime attempts to wrest the knife from The Controller's
3. The Actors insert the program cards.
1. The Mime and The Controller grapple.
2. They struggle for control of the knife.
3. The Controller retains the knife.
2.    The Mime lies prostrate.
1.    The  Controller withdraws program cards from himself and
from The Mime and rips them to shreds.
(The Controller stops muttering. He turns to the Actors.)
C.   Actors' roles are no longer indicated by the pointing of the knife.
The dismemberment of Kafka is completed and the inscription,
letter by letter, of Kafka on the body of the Mime begins.
(A procession forms up, led by The Controller bearing the knife.
Actors One and Three follow, carrying the body of The Mime.
Actor Two, carrying the vestments, brings up the rear. They
march to the altar, each repeating "Kafka" with variations in
pitch and tempo. The Mime is placed on the altar and covered
with the vestments. The Actors are silent. Only The Controller
prepares to make the inscription, carressing the body of The
Mime, testing the knife. The Actors begin to hand program
cards around in a circle and start a montage of distorted voices.)
Kafka. Kafka. Kafka.
(He continues to mutter.)
This ceremony called Kafka is undertaken today . ..
We must succeed, even knowing success is impossible. It is
Already we are haunted by the feeling that we are losing our
selves .. .
The elements of the ceremony . . .
This cruel and idle pageantry . ..
Inserts another program card . . .
(He inscribes a letter. The Mime writhes horribly.)
Kafka. Kafka. Kafka.
(He continues to mutter and prepares to inscribe another letter.)
What is Kafka . . . ?
All enter the ceremony . . .
Will state your role . . .
Messenger very much like that one . . .
Beside the point. . . . Inflicted on me . ..
Information  concerning  Kafka. . .. Tirade   against  the  cere
mony . . .
(The Controller hands the knife to Actor One who begins to
mutter "Kafka" and continues until he has inscribed a letter.)
Princess of Kafka . . .
The road of Kafka .. .
Kafka masks shifting . . .
The Kafka wind . . .
Twisting Kafka .. .
120 1.
(Actor One hands the knife to Actor Two who begins to mutter
Slow and terrible Kafka .. .
The hands of Kafka ...
Kafka actors . ..
Kafka control.. .
Kafka vestments . ..
Kafka knife .. .
(Actor Two hands the knife to Actor Three who begins to
mutter "Kafka")
Through Kafka.
By Kafka.
With Kafka.
Without Kafka.
Yes Kafka.
No Kafka.
Right Kafka.
Wrong Kafka.
Cruel Kafka.
Kind Kafka.
False Kafka.
True Kafka.
Neither Kafka.
(The Mime jumps to her feet and seizes the knife. She threatens
the others with it, laughing madly.)
Kafka knife, Kafka knife .. .
(She continues to taunt while the others retreat before her. They
tear their program cards and scatter the pieces, desperately in
toning their words.)
Indubitable Kafka.
Eloquent Kafka.
Spellbound Kafka.
Rudimentary Kafka.
Vicarious Kafka.
Lethal Kafka.
Passionate Kafka.
121 c.
Echoing Kafka.
Towering Kafka.
Demonic Kafka.
Unviable Kafka.
Unspecified Kafka.
Unlimited Kafka.
Uninitiated Kafka.
Untroubled Kafka.
Undulant Kafka.
Understood Kafka.
Unctious Kafka.
(With a shrill laugh, The Mime points the knife at The Con
The Controller!
Cacophonous Kafka!
(He collapses.)
(The three Actors huddle over the body of The Controller.
The Mime straddles the body and applies artificial respiration.)
(With each breath.) Kafka. Kafka. Kafka. Kafka. Kafka.
(He continues. The Mime joins in the same rhythm.)
Kafka. Kafka. Kafka. Kafka. Kafka.
(She continues. The Controller slowly rises to his feet.)
Kafka. Kafka. Kafka. Kafka. Kafka.
(He continues, rising to his feet.)
Kafka. Kafka. Kafka. Kafka. Kafka.
(She continues, rising to her feet.)
Kafka. Kafka. Kafka. Kafka. Kafka.
(He  continues,  rising to  his feet. After Actor Three's fifth
"Kafka," The Controller begins a slightly louder chant: "Come
Kafka Come!" The others join in the above order after each
fourth repetition. They form stylized and constantly moving
groups that will lead to the dance. The Controller changes the
chant to "Now Kafka Now!" and the others join after each
third repetition. Then, the climactic chant of "Dance Kafka
Dance!"  begins, joined after each second repetition. Sound
effects and the amplified chanting surround the audience. Lights
flash. The formations of the actors break apart. They clap
hands, stamp feet. The Controller dances. Actor One is a
machine gone wild. Actors Two and Three clinch in a parody
122 of copulation. The Mime drifts sleepwalkerwise to the altar,
playing with the knife. She suddenly grows rigid, raises the knife
and, at the height of the dance, drives it into the altar. The
Controller lets out a high-pitched scream of "Kafkaaaa!" The
chanting stops.)
(There is a moment of dead silence. The actors slowly pick
themselves up. Actor Two comes forward. Her mask has been
ripped off.)
2.    What was that distant noise so like the wind
In restless conversation with itself
All night? Where am I now? What is this strange
Enchanted land where even the air is fresh
With a sweet magic? And my mask ripp'd off?
Who are those others mask'd, those misty men?
C.  (He removes his mask.)
The ceremony failed, the chanting faded
As if the wind were talking in its sleep,
The wind that died and, dying, left behind
A silence circled with this fragile speech.
Now these our actors put aside the sham,
The shambles of our strange invented world.
We speak as what we are.
1. (He removes his mask. The same courtly music as in the opening begins to play softly.)
Humble Fortran,
An honest heart beneath an actor's guise.
Our pageantry, our masque is swept aside
And we are mortal, nothing more or less.
2. Amarissa, who all this weary while
Dreamed of the mountain pool where once a prince
Kissed my reflection in that liquid glass.
The water shimmered and we disappeared
But now we meet reflected in the air.
3. (He removes his mask.)
And I that ardent prince, young Angelo.
Through water, air or fire I go to greet
My Amarissa. Now our two hands meet.
Our kingdom is recovered, here we dwell,
Once more our native realm.
123 M.  (She removes her mask. The three Actors are grouped together
and she indicates them with her hand.)
A poet and inventor of this fine
Sweet eloquence, this final flourish.
I speak my words at last, my native tongue.
C.   (He gestures towards the Actors, The Mime and, finally, the
audience. The music rises.)
And I, Olympio, the arbiter
Of elegance, master of these revels,
Draw them about us to a close. We call
This ceremony Kafka and if you
Should now applaud our solemn rites your hands
May echo Kafka Kafka. So we end.
124 Production Motes on Kafka
A few notes on one production of Kafka — its first performance, at
the University of British Columbia — may make the reader's conception of the play more concrete. I had intended the script to provide
words and basic organization for a total theatrical effect, one in which
lighting, sound effects, body movements and vocal qualities would be
as important as the words themselves. For the first performance, I
was fortunate in working with a director who was able to realize this
The set consisted of a hollow rectangular box — black outside, white
inside — at stage right that served as the altar and of three large square
frames of diminishing sizes — also black and white — that were angled
at right, left and centre behind the altar in a series that led back to a
vanishing point on the cyclorama at the rear of the stage. The Mime
made her entrance through the frame at the right; The Musician was
half-concealed behind the left frame. There were also three small
square boxes scattered in front of the latter frame. The actors perched
on these for the maze of the jackdaws.
Costuming was very useful in establishing the levels of the play. The
Controller and the three Actors wore a uniform of dark pants and a
green jersey on the back of which was a black pocket for the program
cards. Brightly coloured cloaks were worn over this uniform for the
Elizabethan sections at the beginning and the end. The masks were
simple dark headbands from which a short nosepiece descended. The
Mime wore red and white tights. The Musician was visible only as a
dark shape, almost forming a part of the frame behind which he sat.
Apart from the Elizabethan music and a sound montage overlaying
the final chant, both of which were taped, all the sound effects were
produced onstage by The Musician using a variety of instruments and
noisemakers. Effects included a long sliding note to indicate the transfer of Actor One, a metallic crash that followed the pointing of the
knife, short beeps punctuating the information sorting processes section
and the soft shaking of maraccas while Actor Two attempted to recall
her dream. Drums of course built up the dance kafka dance scene.
(It might be interesting to try one or more piercing high-pitched sounds
for that scene instead.)
Lighting changes were frequent. The cyclorama and the main acting
area were lit alternately with red, green and blue. Three spots —
green, clear and magenta — flashed from Actor Two to Actor Three
to The Controller while they tormented Actor One. The same spots,
along with some others, provided a number of areas for small groupings. During the inscription, the altar was bathed in a steel blue light.
The chant culminated in a strobe effect that filled the entire stage; I
would like to see strobes also used on the audience.
The actors achieved a fair range of vocal variation, using their
voices to distinguish between the various types of lines. Body movements were based on Rudolph Laban's method of eight basic "efforts"
involving the whole body. The play was thus choreographed from be-
125 ginning to end, both for individual styles of movement and for group
work. The chant, for instance, grew from a huddled group expanding
and contracting with the rhythm of The Controller's breathing to a
swaying line with out-stretched arms to a slow mechanical march of
two lines in profile and then to a gradually tightening circle that spun
faster and faster until it broke apart and the actors were hurled off to
different areas of the stage. Actors Two and Three performed a brief
mating dance and copulated. The Controller danced elaborately by
himself. Actor One turned in circles, flapping his arms and his head
mechanically. The Mime, meanwhile, was moving with long fluid
strides towards the altar.
There are many possibilities for other productions of Kafka: it is
possible that this ceremony forms only a part of the immense process
which many call Kafka. I might point out that, no matter what the
production, The Mime is a much more important figure than would
appear from the script. The Mime is a magical creature, neither male
nor female, neither robot nor human. Her presence must always be
felt. It is only during the final chant that she becomes, briefly, a part
of whatever it is the others are. It is Kafka.
The President's Medals
Dr. D. G. Williams, the President of the University of Western
Ontario, announces the opening of the competition for the President's
Medals for 1968. These medals are awarded annually for the best
single poem, best short story, best scholarly article, and best general
article submitted for the competition. A cash award will accompany
each medal.
To be eligible, work must be written by a Canadian citizen or a
person resident in Canada, and must have appeared in a Canadian
publication in the calendar year preceding the year of the award. The
closing date for entries is March 15, 1968.
Competitors should submit three copies of each entry, at least one
of which must be a tearsheet from the issue of the publication in
which the entry appeared. Each copy should be clearly marked with
the name and address of the person submitting the entry, and with
the name of the category in which it is submitted. No entries will be
returned. Entries should be sent to the Chairman of the Awards
Committee, Professor R. G. N. Bates, Department of English, University College, The University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario.
Judges reserve the right not to make an award if the calibre of the
entries does not warrant it.
atwood, margaret, The Circle Game. House of Anansi, 671 Spadina Avenue,
Toronto 4. Poems. 80 pp. $1.95.
bayo, Gerard, Nemesis. 13, Allee du Poitou, 92-Bagneux, France. Poems. 104 pp.
bowering,  george,  Baseball.  The  Coach  House  Press,  317  Bathurst  Street,
Toronto 2B. A poem in the magic number 9.
coleman,  victor,  One Eye Love.  Coach House  Press,  317  Bathurst Street,
Toronto 2B. Poems. $2.50.
Godfrey,  dave,  Death   Goes Better  With  Coca-Cola.  House of Anansi,  671
Spadina Avenue, Toronto 4. Short stories, 120 pp. $1.95, hardback $4.50.
jonas, george, The Absolute Smile. House of Anansi, 671  Spadina Avenue,
Toronto 4. Poems, 62 pp. $1.95.
kiyooka,   roy,   Nevertheless   These  Eyes.   Coach  House  Press,   317  Bathurst
Street, Toronto 2B. Poems, $2.50.
lee,  dennis,  Kingdom  of Absence.  House of Anansi,  671   Spadina Avenue,
Toronto 4, Poems. 64 pp. $1.95.
newman, Christina mccall, The Best of Ralph Allen. McClelland & Stewart.
184 pp. $6.50.
ondaatje, michael, Dainty Monsters. The Coach House Press, 317 Bathurst
Street, Toronto 2B. 77 pp. $3.50. Poems.
page, p. k., Cry Ararat! McClelland & Stewart. Poems.  112 pp. $4.95.
for almost every
taste and purpose
can be found,
easily, at
514 Hornby
670 Seymour
Also 4560 W. 10th Avenue
MUtual 4-4496
MUtual 5-3627
CAstle 4-7012
University of British Columbia
Hours: Weekdays 8:45 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.  PRISM
This is a drama issue
a play in five acts by ernst barlach
a play in one act by george birimisa
a ritual by brian shein
Other issues have contained prose and poetry by Raymond Queneau, Michael Bullock, Paul Valery, Gunter
Grass, Jack Matthews, Georg Britting, Earle Birney,
Malcolm Lowry, Ivan Malinovski, Maria Kuncewicz,
Margaret Atwood, William Stafford, and more.
One-year subscriptions are $3.50. Write to PRISM
international, Department of Creative Writing, University of British Columbia, Vancouver 8, Canada.


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