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A Documentary for the Theatre in One Act
Vladimir J. Konečni
(For Alan Schneider)
"11 May 1987"
(Codex; San Diego, California, 1997)
by Vladimir J. Konečni
A middle-aged man of average looks; contemporary street clothes.
This character makes one brief appearance.
He speaks on only one occasion, utters four words. MAN is distinguished-looking,
but not pompous, with intelligent features (preferably a slightly
hooked nose), and usually wears a serious, but not stern, expression.
He is just over 40, medium height.
MAN makes several appearances. In all but one, he wears well-worn
brown lederhosen and a Tirolian hat. (The Tirolian aspect must
not be exaggerated -- this is not a farce.) The sole purpose of
Tirolian attire is to emphasize that old mountaineering traditions
continue -- or ought to continue-in present-day Colorado. (An
option would be to dress MAN in normal hiking clothes; the advantage
would be authenticity in terms of the actual events that inspired
In one appearance, MAN wears fashionable clothes (a silk shirt
in pastel, a fine linen jacket with sleeves pushed up on the forearms).
(also known as USCHI): Late twenties, brown hair, slightly
taller than both MAN and KARLHEINZ even in flat shoes; she appears
briefly as a doorway silhouette. USCHI is dressed in black/Army-surplus/late-punk
clothes (no exaggerations or ridicule). A cotton-print shoulder
bag (à la Third World), with long strap. About to leave her apartment
Average height, mid-thirties, blond. Square jaw, prematurely
wilted cheeks. Infinitely cold eyes. Dressed in black.
About ten youngish people of both sexes, mostly of middle-class
background, but committed in different degrees to (armed) "direct
action", radical left-wing politics. The men are from all
over West Germany and live in West Berlin mostly to avoid military
service. Many have occupied temporarily empty private houses where
they live for free.
They regard such "squatting" and resistance to eviction
as political actions, and they think of living indefinitely off
"Sozialgelder" (literally: "social money"
= "on the dole") in similar terms. A few are dressed
entirely in black, including facial covering (masks, balaclavas,
wrap-around scarves). Some are in grey (pseudo-) "worker-suits"
of the type that Bertolt Brecht wore. Most are in contemporary,
"baggy-look", street clothes. These are non-speaking
(Altitude: 4,399m, 14,431 feet). This mountain, near Leadville,
Colorado, is the second-highest peak in the contiguous United
States. It is a walk-up rather than a technical climb.
1. Any sidewalk. 2. Kottbusserdamm 88, third floor.
A voice with vocal and emotional qualities similar to David
Byrne's on The Catherine Wheel album (Sire Records SRK 3645; for
example, the beginning of "His wife refused", the first
track on Side 1).
BASSO PROFUNDO: (BASSO).
A youngish voice with a noticeable, but unobtrusive, German
accent when speaking English, and a soft Berlin accent when speaking
(Ideally, the binaural recording technique should be used. Voices
are recorded with two high-precision mikes on a human or a dummy's
head to mimic the exact real-life auditory reception conditions.
In the theatre, members of the audience wear light-weight headphones
(high-quality, headphones are now available at a very reasonable
price). Headphones do not have to be individually plugged in:
Instead, pre-taped voices are beamed at the audience through infrared
detectors. The auditory consequences of using this technique are
striking: One hears voices as if spoken in close spatial proximity,
while the undesirable "ventriloquist" effect is avoided.
Should this be technically impossible in a given production,
the customary recording and playback technique would do.)
There should be a very large concave screen, on which slides
are to be projected-singly or in pairs, and in varying sizes.
Found at the very top of Mt. Elbert in June of 1977. The slide
is to be made of the pressed flower (the original one is available;
see bottom of page).
A note on brown grocery-bag paper, hand-written at the top
of Mt. Elbert on the same day in June of 1977 by the man who found
the flower. The slide is to be made of this note (the authentic
one is available; see bottom of page).
The note is a verbatim copy of a hand-written message that had
been left at some time previously inside the heavy lead cylinder
attached to the stone pyramid that marks the summit of Mt. Elbert
(as is the case with many high mountains). (The piece of paper
on which the original message was written is not available: It
was returned to the cylinder by the man who found the flower and
copied the message.) In its entirety, the message reads:
1000 Berlin 36
ES LEBE MAO TSE TUNG UND DIE INTERNATIONALE ARBEITERKLASSE
PROP: Heavy lead cylinder, brownish, a foot (30cm) long, 4 inches
(10cm) in diameter. It has a lid attached by a chain.
Notes. The events described actually happened. The name
and address in Berlin in THE MESSAGE slide were slightly modified.
Ten years were allowed to pass.
A suggested theme for theatre cynics: "This is a simple-minded
mountain metaphor for revenge."
Unbelievable as it may seem, B. B. and I have something in common:
The love of gray.
[As members of the audience walk in, they encounter a huge
image of THE FLOWER. Some minutes later, the opening section of
the song "White car in Germany" by The Associates is
heard (from the album Fourth Drawer Down. BEG K 58373). A minute
of silence ensues, then, simultaneously, house lights and THE
FLOWER slide go off. A few seconds of total darkness, then a soft
spotlight finds the INTRODUCER as he walks on from Stage Right.]
GOOD EVENING, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN (pause; standing a little
stiff, then in a calm voice) THIS IS A POLITICAL PLAY. (Relaxes)
I'LL MAKE IT BRIEF (makes a politician's explanatory gesture --
a slight rotation of the right hand with fingers outstretched)
THERE ARE THREE POINTS I WISH TO MAKE. ONE (pause) A POLITICAL
MESSAGE TO WESTERN EUROPE, (pause) TWO (pause) MOUNTAINEERING
ETIQUETTE. (pause) THREE (thoughtfully traces the length of his
nose with the right index finger in an up-and-down motion for
4 beats, then, in staccato) BERTOLT BRECHT WAS A FRAUD. (All lights
go off, INTRODUCER exits Stage Right and never returns; soft,
dim lights; simultaneously:)
(A few firm steps from Stage Left; MAN then assumes an upright
"leopard" position — indicating climbing —
right arm raised, right leg bent and raised. Soft spotlight on
him that gradually dims. MAN remains in this position throughout
the following BARITONE segment, except to switch to the left-arm-left-leg-raised
posture occasionally. He is barely visible, the stage is in gloom.
THERE WAS A TIME WHEN I WAS VERY MUCH IN LOVE
WITH KATIE AND MOUNTAINS GAVE ME REFUGE FROM AN OVERHEATED AFFAIR.
ESPECIALLY AT HIGHER ELEVATIONS, ONE RARELY MET A MAN. WHEN ONE
DID, THERE WOULD BE A NOD, A HELLO, AND EACH WOULD BE ON HIS WAY.
YET ONE SENSED THAT IF THERE WAS A NEED, THESE QUIET PEOPLE WOULD
MEET IT WITHOUT HESITATION. HELPING A MOUNTAINEER REFLECTED THE
RESPECT WE ALL HAD FOR THE MOUNTAIN.
ANOTHER THING. ONE DID NOT LITTER. ONE DID NOT DEFECATE
RIGHT ON THE TRAIL. ONE DID NOT DEFACE A ROCKFACE BY CARVING PIERCED
HEARTS OR POLITICAL SLOGANS. (Pause). I WAS BARELY FOUR WHEN MY
MOTHER TOOK ME HIKING AND TAUGHT ME THESE THINGS. (Pause) UNLIKE
THE WORLD BELOW, ON THE MOUNTAIN ONE DID NOT INTRUDE IN ANOTHER'S
PEACE. THE MOUNTAIN'S MAJESTY ALMOST PHYSICALLY REINED IN DESIRE
TO IMPOSE ONESELF ON OTHERS.
(Pause 3 beats.) THEN I REMEMBER THE TIME I WAS
IN COLORADO IN JUNE OF 1977 AND DECIDED TO CLIMB MT. ELBERT. (Chuckles.)
THIS LITTLE THING WITH AN ALTITUDE OF 14,431 FEET INTENSELY FRUSTRATES
COLORADO NATIVES. YOU SEE, ITS GROWTH WAS STUNTED AND IT NEVER
CAUGHT UP WITH MT. WHITNEY IN CALIFORNIA-IT FELL SHORT BY 64 FEET.
(Pause 3 beats.) I CLIMBED IT ALONE IN FAIR WEATHER, BUT HIGH
(Lights change to indigo. MAN quietly walks off
Stage Left. THE FLOWER comes on, huge.)
(The size of THE FLOWER imperceptibly becomes
smaller through the following segment.) A FEW WORDS FROM JOHN
MUlR. (Pause.) CLIMB THE MOUNTAINS AND GET THEIR GOOD TIDINGS.
NATURE'S PEACE WILL FLOW INTO YOU AS SUNSHINE FLOWS INTO TREES.
THE WINDS WILL BLOW THEIR OWN FRESHNESS INTO YOU, AND THE STORMS
THEIR ENERGY, WHILE CARES WILL DROP OFF LIKE AUTUMN LEAVES.
THERE IS A LOVE OF WILD NATURE IN EVERYBODY, AN
ANCIENT MOTHER-LOVE EVER SHOWING ITSELF WHETHER RECOGNIZED OR
IT IS ASTONISHING HOW HIGH AND FAR WE CAN CLIMB
IN MOUNTAINS THAT WE LOVE.
(THE FLOWER continues to diminish.) A FEW WORDS FROM THE SIERRA
CLUB HANDBOOK. (Pause.) SOMETHING WILL GO OUT OF US IF WE PUSH
OUR ROADS THROUGH THE LAST OF THE SILENCE. WE ARE A WILD SPECIES.
NOBODY EVER TAMED OR DOMESTICATED OR SCIENTIFICALLY BRED US. YET
VOLUNTEERS OCCASIONALLY BECOME BACKCOUNTRY GARBAGE-MEN TO DRAMATIZE
THE NEED FOR GOOD MOUNTAIN MANNERS. WE NEED WILDERNESS PRESERVED,
BECAUSE IT WAS THE CHALLENGE AGAINST WHICH OUR CHARACTER WAS FORMED.
IT IS GOOD FOR US WHEN WE ARE YOUNG, BECAUSE OF THE SANITY IT
CAN BRING BRIEFLY; IT IS IMPORTANT TO US WHEN WE ARE OLD, SIMPLY
AS AN IDEA. ONE MEANS OF SANITY IS TO REMAIN, INSOFAR AS WE CAN,
CLIMBING IS NOT ALWAYS UNDERSTOOD BY THOSE WHO STAY
BEHIND. CLIMBERS GO FOR SPORT, EXERCISE, KNOWLEDGE, TO SEEK CHALLENGE,
TO MEASURE THEMSELVES, AND (pause) FOR INDEFINABLE REASONS.
[THE FLOWER continues to diminish. The indigo remains
unchanged, except for the central part of the stage, which at
some point becomes illuminated by glaring, white lights, accompanying
the appearance of the URBAN MILITANTS. They march about in a tight
formation, with the masked women and men in black forming the
nucleus: Determined, mute, implacable. They carry (or paint on
the stage) various slogans in English and German. The first two,
very large, signs read (shown simultaneously): "AND NOW,
SOME COOL AGITATION AND PROPAGANDA À LA COMRADE BERTOLT BRECHT
('AGITPROP', OL' BERTIE WOULD HAVE SAID)"; "UND JETZT
COOLE AGITATION UND PROPAGANDA À LA KAMERAD BERTOLT BRECHT ('AGITPROP',
BERTIE HÄTTE GESAGT)". Then follow smaller signs, such as:
"CAPITALISM KILLS GERMAN FORESTS", "KAPITALISMUS
VERNICHTET DEUTSCHE WÄLDER", "NATO = REAGAN = PIG",
"NATO = REAGAN = SCHWEIN", "UNITY WITH THE GERMAN
DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC", "EINHEIT MIT DER DDR", "ABOLISH
THE WEST GERMAN ARMY", "SCHAFFT DIE DEUTSCHE BUNDESWEHR
AB", "AMERICANS GO HOME", "AMERIKANER RAUS",
"SOCIALISM YES, CAPITALISM NO", "SOZIALISMUS JA,
KAPITALISMUS NEIN", "FREE HOUSING FOR HAMBURG SQUATTERS",
"FREIES WOHNEN FÜR HAMBURGER HAUSBESETZER", "NO
NATO MISSILES", "KEINE NATO MISSILES", "AMERICANS
OUT OF CENTRAL AMERICA", "AMERIKANER RAUS AUS ZENTRALAMERIKA",
"NO EXTENSION OF FRANKFURT AIRPORT", "NEIN ZU STARTBAHN
WEST", "PEACE WITH THE SOVIET UNION", "FRIEDEN
MIT DER SOWJETUNION", "CAPITALISM KILLS PEOPLE",
"KAPITALISMUS TÖTET - MENSCHEN", "BERTOLT BRECHT
IS THE MOST GIFTED AND IMPORTANT WRITER IN THE TWENTIETH CENTURY"
(James K. Lyon, Bertolt Brecht in America, Princeton
University Press, 1980)". The harsh lighting, staging, and
political crudeness should be a sophisticated rendering of aspects
of Brecht's own productions: No ridicule, please. After the above
slogans, two more very large signs are to be shown at the same
time: "AND NOW, SOME INFORMATION ABOUT BERTOLT BRECHT, PROVIDED
BY THE WICKED BOURGEOIS CLASS AND THE REFORMED 1930s WESTERN COMMUNISTS";
"UND JETZT INFORMATION ÜBER BERTOLT BRECHT, GEGEBEN VON DER
BÖSEN BOURGEOISIE KLASSE UND DEN REFORMIERTEN 1930er WESTLICHEN
KOMMUNISTEN". Then follow smaller signs, to be shown in the
exact sequence given:
1. "IN 1930, BERTOLT BRECHT JOINED THE COMMUNIST
PARTY. LATER, HE ESCAPED FROM HITLER - NOT TO MOSCOW (OR THE GULAG),
BUT TO FINLAND, HOLLYWOOD, AND BROADWAY"
2. "BY 1950, BRECHT LIVED COMFORTABLY IN EAST
BERLIN AND HAD FULL EAST GERMAN GOVERNMENT BACKING, IN EXCHANGE
FOR BEING ITS MOST OBEDIENT ARTISTIC MOUTHPIECE"
3. "BRECHT ACQUIRED A CONVENIENT AUSTRIAN PASSPORT
AND A WEST GERMAN PUBLISHER WHO PAID HIM ROYALTIES EXCLUSIVELY
IN WESTERN CURRENCIES"
4. "IN 1955, BRECHT PROUDLY RECEIVED THE STALIN
'PEACE PRIZE'. 160,000 RUBLES WENT INTO HIS SWISS BANK ACCOUNT'
5. " 'ART'S A SWINDLE. LIFE'S A SWINDLE'
- BERTOLT BRECHT."
(The above statements are based on Paul Johnson's
Intellectuals, published by Weidenfeld & Nicolson,
(#6. and #7 to be shown simultaneously.)
6. "SIDNEY HOOK TO BERTOLT BRECHT (CIRCA 1935):
'IT WAS THE KREMLIN AND ABOVE ALL STALIN HIMSELF WHO WERE RESPONSIBLE
FOR THE IMPRISONMENT OF ZINOVIEV, KAMENEV, AND THOUSANDS OF OTHERS
AND THEIR DEPENDENTS'"
7. "BERTOLT BRECHT TO SYDNEY HOOK: THE MORE
INNOCENT THEY ARE, THE MORE THEY DESERVE TO BE SHOT ('JE MEHR
UNSCHULDIG, DESTO MEHR VERDIENEN SIE ERSCHOSSEN ZU WERDEN'); HOOK:
'WHY? WHY?' BRECHT (SMILES IN A NERVOUS SORT OF WAY): --- "
(#8. and #9. to be shown simultaneously.)
8. "SIDNEY HOOK (1987): 'I FETCHED HIS HAT
AND COAT. HE PUT HIS GLASS DOWN, ROSE, AND WITH A SICKLY SMILE
TOOK HIS HAT AND COAT AND LEFT. NEITHER OF US SAID A WORD. I NEVER
SAW HIM AGAIN; "
9. "MORAL: IF HE WERE AS SMART AS HE WAS DECENT,
SIDNEY HOOK WOULD HAVE PUNCHED BERTIE IN THE MOUTH AND THROWN
HIM DOWN THE STAIRS - COAT, HAT, AND BODY (A MOLOTOV COCKTAIL,
10. "HANS VIERTEL (BRECHTS FELLOW EXILE FROM
NAZISM, BUT CRITICAL OF THE MOSCOW TRIALS IN 1936) ONCE ASKED
BRECHT: 'WHAT WOULD HAPPEN TO PEOPLE LIKE ME IF I REFUSE TO ACCEPT
YOUR VIEWS?' BERTOLT BRECHT: 'YOU'D HAVE TO BE SHOT"
(#11. and #12 to be shown simultaneously.)
11. "BERTOLT BRECHT: 'THE OLD SOW (RUTH FISCHER,
WHO PUBLISHED THE ARTICLE 'BERT BRECHT, MINSTREL OF THE G.P.U.')
HAS TO BE SHOT...ONE DOES NOT PARADE IDEOLOGICAL DIFFERENCES BETWEEN
COMRADES BEFORE THE POLICE'"
12. "SIDNEY HOOK, 1987: 'BRECHT HAD NO UNDERSTANDING
OF THE FACT THAT FISCHER DID NOT REGARD HIM AS A COMRADE BUT AS
AN APOLOGIST FOR A HANGMAN'"
13. "BERTOLT BRECHT IN THE 1930s: 'FIFTY YEARS
HENCE THE COMMUNISTS WILL HAVE FORGOTTEN STALIN, BUT I WANT TO
BE SURE THAT THEY WILL STILL READ BRECHT. THEREFORE I CANNOT SEPARATE
MYSELF FROM THE PARTY." (Henry Pachter in the New Leader,
14. "A MEASURED ASSESSMENT BY SIDNEY HOOK OF
THE OPINION OF BERTOLT BRECHT HELD BY THE FRANKFURT SCHOOL IN
NEW YORK: 'A PETIT-BOURGEOIS POSEUR AND APOLOGIST FOR STALINISM'"
(#6, 7, 8 from Sydney Hook's Out of Step,
Carroll & Graf Publishers, 1987. # 10,11,12,14 based on Hook
and on James K. Lyon, Bertolt Brecht in America, 1980.)
SOMETHING, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, FROM THE POLITICAL
MANIFESTO OF DIE GRÜNEN. THE GREEN PARTY OF WEST GERMANY.
(Pause.) KERNPUNKT ALLER NATURSCHUTZPOLITIK MUß ES SEIN, ÖKOLOGISCH
INTAKTE GEBIETE ZU ERHALTEN. DIE EINENGUNG DER NATÜRLICHEN LEBENSRÄUME
VON TIER-UND PFLANZENARTEN ZERSTÖRT DAS GLEICHGEWICHT IN DER NATUR.
DIE KENNTNIS DER ABHÄNGIGKEITEN DES EINGESPIELTEN GLEICHGEWICHTS
UND DER KREISLÄUFE DER NATUR SOWIE ALLER FOLGEN DER MENSCHLICHEN
EINGRIFFE IST DIE VORAUSSETZUNG EINER ÖKOLOGISCH ORIENTIERTEN
(Pause. Wichtigtuerische Stimme.)
VON DER PRÄAMBEL DES BUNDESTAGSWAHLPROGRAMM DER
GRÜNEN: (Mit politischem Eifer:)
IN 1987 HABEN DIE BÜRGERINNEN UND BÜRGER DER BUNDESREPUBLIK
ENTWEDER: (Mit Verachtung:)
UND INTERVENTION IN DER DRITTEN WELT.
ODER: (Leidenschaftlich, und immer schneller:)
ERMUTIGEN DIE KRÄFTE, DIE DEM KURS DER ZERSTÖRUNG ENTSCHLOSSEN
DIESE KRÄFTE HABEN SICH ALS ÖKOLOGIE- UND
VERANKERT UND SICH MIT ANDEREN
WIE DER DER FRAUEN, DER DRITTE-WELT-GRUPPEN, DER
SOZIALISTEN, DER PROGRESSIVEN CHRISTEN UND DER ALTERNATIVEN
MIT DEN GRÜNEN HABEN SIE EINE POLITISCHE PARTEI
NEUEN TYPS GESCHAFFEN.
TRANSLATION, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN.
(Signs-slogans should probably not be shown beyond
this point; however, the indigo and URBAN MILITANTS continue as
before. During the following segment, THE FLOWER disappears entirely.)
THE MAIN POINT OF ALL POLITICS CONCERNED WITH
NATURE CONSERVATION HAS TO BE THE MAINTENANCE OF ECOLOGICALLY
INTACT AREAS. THE SHRINKING OF THE NATURAL HABITATS OF ANIMAL
AND PLANT SPECIES DESTROYS THE NATURAL BALANCE. THE KNOWLEDGE
OF THIS BALANCE, THE KNOWLEDGE OF NATURAL CYCLES AND OF THE CONSEQUENCES
OF HUMAN INTERVENTIONS ARE THE BASES OF ECOLOGICALLY-ORIENTED
(Pause. In a self-important voice:) FROM THE PREAMBLE
OF THE GREEN PARTY'S PARLIAMENTARY ELECTION PROGRAM: (With political
fervor:) IN 1987, THE CITIZENS OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF GERMANY
HAVE THE CHOICE: EITHER (With contempt:) THE EROSION OF DEMOCRATIC
RIGHTS; INDUSTRIAL GROWTH AND ENVIRONMENTAL DESTRUCTION; UNEMPLOYMENT
AND CUTBACKS IN SOCIAL PROGRAMS; ARM-RACE AND THE DESTRUCTION
OF THE ENVIRONMENT; EXPLOITATION AND INTERVENTION IN THE THIRD
OR: (With passion, and building-up speed:)
THE STRENGTHENING OF FORCES THAT WORK RESOLUTELY
AGAINST DESTRUCTION. THESE FORCES ARE THE ECOLOGY AND PEACE MOVEMENTS
THAT HAVE UNITED THEMSELVES WITH OTHER EMANCIPATION MOVEMENTS-OF
WOMEN, THIRD WORLD GROUPS, FREE SOCIALISTS, PROGRESSIVE CHRISTIANS,
AND ALTERNATIVE LABOR UNIONS. WITH THE GREENS THEY HAVE CREATED
A POLITICAL PARTY OF A NEW TYPE. (On the last few words, the URBAN
MILITANTS exeunt and MAN appears from Stage Left carrying
a lead cylinder (see PROP) under his left arm and supporting its
front with his right hand to show weight. There is a soft spotlight
on him, but the indigo continues.)
(With great drive, but acknowledging periods)
NEAR THE SUMMIT OF MT. ELBERT, THAT JUNE DAY OF 1977, l FOUND
YOU HAVE SEEN IT. IT MUST HAVE BEEN A HARDY THING
TO SURVIVE THERE AGAINST ODDS. BUT BY THE TIME I SAW IT, IT HAD
ALREADY BEEN TRAMPLED UNDERFOOT. WHAT POSSESSED ME TO PICK UP
A SQUASHED FLOWER, PUT IT BETWEEN TISSUE PAPERS, AND KEEP IT ALL
THESE YEARS -- l KNOW NOT. AN INCURABLE SENTIMENTALIST, I GUESS.
(Pause 2 beats.) EVEN KATIE SAID SO AND SHE WAS ONE HERSELF. (Pause
3 beats.) BUT THE FLOWER STILL FAINTLY EXISTS. (Pause.) I KNOW
BECAUSE I STILL HAVE IT.
(Light has been gradually changing from indigo to
AT THE SUMMIT, THERE WAS A SMALL PYRAMID OF PILED
ROCKS. WEDGED AMONG THEM, AS IS OFTEN THE CASE ON MOUNTAINTOPS,
WAS THIS CYLINDER. (MAN thrusts it reluctantly forward. Pinpoint
spotlight on the cylinder. Light gradually from sepia to orange.
MAN sets cylinder down upright by his right foot. He is motionless,
staring at the floor three feet away, hands stuck semi-belligerentiy
in the pockets of the lederhosen. A pinpoint spotlight remains
on the cylinder.) ONE LEAVES ONE'S NAME OR A FRIENDLY MESSAGE
IN IT. I OPENED IT, IN ACCORDANCE WITH MOUNTAINEERING PRACTICE.
(Pause.) IN STRONG WIND. (Pause.) NOT TO PRY AND NOT TO OFFEND.
(Pause. Light has been changing from orange to pink.) WHAT I FOUND:
(All lights off.)
(Piercing 3-beat angry scream. Total silence for
several beats. THE MESSAGE slide fades in, off-focus to focus.
Time should be allowed for information processing, while the stage
is gradually flooded with a sickly, overdone red.)
(With soft Berliner accent) KARLHEINZ WALTER,
EINTAUSEND BERLIN SECHSUNDDREIZIG, KOTTBUSSERDAMM ACHTUNDACHTZIG,
WEST GERMANY. (Pause.) LONG LIFE MAO TSE TUNG AND THE INTERNATIONAL
WORKING CLASS. (Louder, with finality:) THE RED FRONT.
[THE MESSAGE slide and the pinpoint spotlight on
the cylinder go off. The red subsides. Immediately after the word
"FRONT" is heard, MAN picks up the cylinder, looks at
it briefly, and sets it down gently with a look of disgust (the
potential thud of the cylinder's fall should be implied in his
actions). MAN walks off Stage Left briskly. All lights go off.
In total darkness, the beginning of Nina Hagen's song TV-Glotzer
(White Punks on Dope: Columbia #36817):
Einen recht schönen guten
Abend, meine Damen und
Herren. Ich begrüsse Sie
recht herzlich zu unserem
und Wünsche Ihnen einen
recht guten Konzert...etc.,
followed by her psychotic shrieks. The song, one purpose of which
is to coalesce, in the mind of the audience, Nina Hagen's voice
and FEMALE VOICE, is played long enough to allow a costume change
for MAN. The Nina Hagen number is gradually mixed with the pre-recorded
cacophony of city noise and Berlin voices that take over completely
as Nina subsides. (Alternatively, the track from The Associates
that was played at the beginning could be used instead of city
noise.) The cacophony then grows fainter and ceases altogether
as MAN walks in from Stage Right on a brilliantly lit stage. He
is dressed in smart clothes (see CHARACTERS). He looks thoughtful,
stares at the ground. Total silence for several beats. Lights
WEST BERLIN, WEDNESDAY, THE 9TH OF JULY, 1980. (Total silence
for several beats. Soft spotlight on MAN who remains motionless,
staring at the floor.)
THREE YEARS AGO, AT THE SUMMIT OF
MT. ELBERT, l COPIED THAT MESSAGE. (Pause.) l THEN (calmly) STUFFED
IT BACK IN THE CYLINDER. (Pause.)
(With tension.) YESTERDAY, FINDING MYSELF IN BERLIN,
I DROVE WEST FROM THE WALL ON (cultured foreign accent in speaking
German words) SONNENALLEE TO KOTTBUSSERDAMM, THEN NORTH ACROSS
LANDWEHRKANAL. l FOUND THE BUILDING EASILY. BLOOD RUSHED TO MY
BRAIN WHEN I SAW THE MAN'S NAME ON A MAILBOX. I RAN UP TO THE
THIRD FLOOR, THREE STAIRS AT A TIME, THEN PAUSED FOR A MOMENT,
COLLECTING MYSELF. THEN, (with suppressed emotion) SILENTLY, STEALTHILY,
TIPTOEING LIKE A HUNTER OR A THIEF, (all lights off; in the darkness,
MAN moves Upstage Left behind a scrim.) A FATHER RESPECTING THE
INNOCENCE OF HIS CHILD'S SLEEP, (with emotion, staccato) A MAN
POISED TO POUR POISON INTO A SLEEPING RIVAL'S DEEP-HIS EAR: (behind
the scrim, a door, at a 30° angle to the audience, slowly opens
inward, thus shedding bright warm-yellow light from within; the
door should open at a natural speed, as when a person, not in
a hurry, is about to leave the house—no exaggerated suspense;
the light from within dimly illuminates MAN in the position of
one poised to slide a note under the door; MAN'S back is turned
to the audience and parallel to the door) I WAS ABOUT TO SLIDE
A NOTE UNDER HIS DOOR. (As the door opens, MAN is only slightly
startled and straightens, note in right hand; ULRIKE (USCHI) appears
in the doorway, ready to leave; there should be some light on
her face and torso, but the major impact of the image should come
from the tall silhouette; ULRIKE is very startled, but composes
herself quickly as an average urban guerilla would; MAN and ULRIKE
stare at each other for several beats.)
(These are his only spoken words; vocal quality
should resemble unamplified BARITONE.) IS KARLHEINZ HOME, BITTE?
(Pause 2 beats. Within the apartment, KARLHEINZ
quickly dons a black balaclava, grabs an AK-47 gun, and stands
at the ready.) NEIN. (Pause.) SPÄTER. (Pause 2 beats, then, quickly:)
HE MAY BE HERE LATER.
(MAN silently hands ULRIKE the folded note. She
takes it and closes the door without further comment-she has decided
not to go out after all. A moment of total darkness, during which
MAN exits and:)
||(A touch of fear:) KARLHEINZ.......WER WAR DAS?
(Coldly, but a touch of fear:) ULRIKE...USCHI..WHO
(A glaring white light in the apartment: ULRIKE
hands KARLHEINZ the note. During the following segment, he reads
it while absent-mindedly removing the balaclava. ULRIKE reads
it also, over his shoulder.)
||I THEN SLOWLY WALKED DOWN THE STAIRS. (3 beats.) MY MESSAGE REPEATED
HIS WORD FOR WORD.
(With soft Berliner accent) KARLHEINZ WALTER, EINTAUSEND BERLIN
SECHSUNDDRE1Z1G, KOTTBUSSERDAMM ACHTUNDACHTZ1G, WEST GERMANY.
(Pause; then, with fervor:) ES LEBE MAO TSE TUNG UND DIE INTERNATIONALE
ARBEITERKLASSE (coldly) ROTFRONT.
(All lights off.) BUT 1 ADDED SOMETHING. (Pause
one beat, then a wild shriek:) DON'T DESECRATE MY MOUNTAIN TOP!
(Darkness continues for 3-4 beats, then a soft red
floods the stage, including the apartment. KARLHEINZ stands, note
in hand, looking at it. The following two words by BASSO summarize
KARLHElNZ's state, so this connection must be made explicit through
staging and timing.)
(Calmly, dry mouth:) COLD SWEAT.
(ULRIKE acts as if she has heard and understood BASSO. She
is worried and agitated, but tries to cover it up with an irrelevant
comment addressed to no one in particular; it is probably unnecessary
to have this translated, unless it can be done cleverly.) ABER
DAS IST KEIN DEUTSCHER AUSDRUCK! /"But that is not a German
(With finality:) COLD SWEAT.
(Lights slowly fade to total darkness on the entire stage (including
the apartment), as KARLHEINZ and ULRIKE stare across the room
at each other. They exit during the moment of darkness and the
empty stage is next bathed in a crystal blue. THE FLOWER and THE
MESSAGE slides come on, equal size, side by side, THE MESSAGE
Stage Right. As lights grow dimmer, over a period of about 30
sec., THE MESSAGE image becomes progressively smaller, while THE
FLOWER grows in size until there is only a huge image of THE FLOWER
on the screen, as in the beginning. In the meantime, MAN has walked
in quietly from Stage Left, dressed again in mountaineering clothes;
a soft spotlight finds him sitting on the floor, hugging his knees,
just as THE FLOWER has established absolute dominance of the screen.
MAN stares pensively, unaffectedly, into the distance.)
(Calmly.) FEEDBACK IS UBIQUITOUS. A MOUNTAIN IS
A FORGIVING GIANT, BUT EVEN IT PUNISHES CERTAIN TRANSGRESSIONS.
SPIT CRUELLY ON THE MOUNTAIN'S OPEN FACE AND A TORTUROUS UNCERTAINTY
WILL EVENTUALLY CREEP FROM THE APPARENT VOID INTO YOUR SOUL.
(The crystal blue and the soft spotlight on MAN
go off. THE FLOWER becomes off-focus and dimmer, but remains huge.
Then all is black.)
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