Play in the Drawer: Breakfast Serial

Ruff and Ready: Caridad Svich

We--okay, me--at Sightlines are attempting a new format for our popular Play in the Drawer column. Instead of merely teasing you with a titillating excerpt, for the next several weeks, we will provide you with an entire play, presented serially.

We're beginning with the work of the multitalented Caridad Svich, one of the several New Dramatists we'll be featuring. Ms. Svich is a playwright-songwriter-translator and editor of Cuban-Spanish, Argentine and Croatian descent. She is the recipient of a Harvard University Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study Bunting fellowship, a TCG/Pew National Theatre Artist Grant and has been twice short-listed for the PEN USA-West Award in Drama. Recent premieres: The Tropic of X, Thrush, Iphigenia: a rave fable, Antigone Arkhe. She has also translated Federico Garcia Lorca's major and minor plays, and works by Calderon de la Barca, Julio Cortazar, and Ugljesa Sajtinac. She is resident playwright of New Dramatists. She is on the editorial board of Contemporary Theatre Review (Routledge/UK), and contributing editor of TheatreForum.

She is editor of Trans-global Readings: Crossing Theatrical Boundaries (Manchester University Press), and Divine Fire: Eight Contemporary Plays Inspired by the Greeks (BackStage Books). She is co-editor of Conducting a Life: Reflections on the Theatre of Maria Irene Fornes (Smith & Kraus), Out of the Fringe: Contemporary Latina/o Theatre & Performance (TCG), and Theatre in Crisis? (MUP/Palgrave). Some of her translations are collected in Federico Garcia Lorca: Impossible Theater (Smith & Kraus). She holds an MFA from UCSD. Her catalogue can be found at www.alexanderstreetpress.com. Her website is www.caridadsvich.com

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She describes this play, Steal Back Light from the Virtual: "Six figures move like fractals in a city-labyrinth overrun by brutality, violence and displaced desires and the ghost of a Minotaur. Fractured love stories for a globalised age."

After the jump, the first installment...

Act One Scene one

[A mobile phone rings. The sound of a crash, and car wheels screeching. Silence. 4 AM. Cramped square of a space. Graffiti on the walls. Light falls through a slat high up. TIMOTHY and NADJA are seated. He is smoking incessantly. She gnaws on an edible bracelet.]

NADJA I eat words.

TIMOTHY I smoke shit.

NADJA My mouth is full. My belly pops. I need more.

TIMOTHY Have a lie-down.

NADJA I need to taste them.

TIMOTHY It’s four in the… It’s late. My lungs are shot.

NADJA If you have another smoke…

TIMOTHY It’s this, it’s this…I can’t even… Everything’s shit. Clothes, the newspaper, the tube, value meals the size of a quarter, breakfast that doesn’t sit in your stomach for more than a hour and you have to vomit cause the bacon and cheese turns into card-board, speed-dial buttons that don’t advance you even a tenth of a second while you hang on the line waiting, investing minutes in nothing, blankets made of some synthetic what’s-it that doesn’t even warm you, not like when you were a kid and you could curl up into anything for hours and read… who reads? I can’t even keep my eyes straight for… fucking virtual orgasms. That’s what we have now.

NADJA Have a word.

TIMOTHY What?

NADJA [offers bracelet] Come on.

TIMOTHY What’s that?

NADJA “Bubble.”

TIMOTHY Bubble?

NADJA It’s a good word.

TIMOTHY It’s round.

NADJA Go on.

TIMOTHY Don’t you want it?

NADJA I give freely.

TIMOTHY You spoil me.

NADJA I’m still capable of love.

[TIMOTHY mouths the word “bubble” silently, then eats what’s left of her bracelet. Dark.]

Scene two

[Night. Light barely falls through the slat high up. NADJA watches TIMOTHY sleep. She takes off his red sneakers. She sings to him softly.]

“In the Stolen Part”

NADJA Would you give a toss if all was lost? Would you hide away with me? In the stolen part of my battered heart You could be…

Would you let me go if the world was blown? Would you still look out for me? In the stolen part of my screwed-up heart You could be… You could be…

[Dark.]

Scene three

[Light. Time has passed. The cramped square of space is filled with cigarette butts. We can now see that TIMOTHY’s trousers are stained with blood. He is smoking. NADJA is buttoning her blouse. ]

TIMOTHY Give me more.

NADJA I’m out.

TIMOTHY You’re rotten.

NADJA I give freely. Just tired now. Need rest.

TIMOTHY Where the hell…? I can’t even move in this place. We’re in some…what? A global what’s-it?

NADJA Flat.

TIMOTHY Fucking two-by…I feel your stink.

NADJA It’s late.

TIMOTHY Yes. And we’ve been… fucking

NADJA All this time.

TIMOTHY …I got to get on the autobahn.

NADJA We’re not in Germany.

TIMOTHY But I thought…

NADJA Give it a think.

[Pause.]

Do you remember now?

TIMOTHY I was smoking.

NADJA You still are.

TIMOTHY I was looking at you. I was standing outside a building that used to be a TV station.

NADJA A Teletubbie on your back.

TIMOTHY My life’s possessions inside the belly of a plastic-headed plush creep.

NADJA Your eyes were tearing.

TIMOTHY My girl had left me. All the girls leave me.

NADJA We went inside a club.

TIMOTHY Inside a church. Your skin was glowing.

NADJA Under the ultra-violet.

TIMOTHY We were dancing.

NADJA Holding hands.

TIMOTHY Like a couple of kids.

NADJA Your kisses on me…

TIMOTHY We were in a car.

NADJA Do you remember now?

TIMOTHY After dancing, after everything.

NADJA We crashed.

TIMOTHY The windshield fell out.

NADJA We crawled…

TIMOTHY Feet and arms… My mobile is ringing.

[The sound of a mobile phone ringing outside.]

I can hear it. … You must’ve carried me. You must’ve dragged me from the car and carried me on your slim back to this flat, this squat-sit…

NADJA You’re imagining things.

TIMOTHY That’s a hell of a lot, isn’t it? A hell of a…

NADJA Nadja.

TIMOTHY What?

NADJA That’s my name.

TIMOTHY It’s a Samaritan thing, isn’t it? Like in the Bible. A good turn. Nobody does that anymore. I don’t know of anyone…

NADJA Thank you.

TIMOTHY What?

NADJA You could say “thank you.” You could lean on me, rest your head.

TIMOTHY Yes? Thank you, Nadja.

[He leans upon her, rests his head. From outside, the mobile phone rings. Dark.]

Scene four

[Day. Outside the window. The mobile phone is on the ground. It is ringing. LAME and ANGE look at it.]

LAME You answer it.

ANGE Ain’t mine.

LAME Can’t listen to it… driving me…

[ANGE smashes the phone against the pavement.]

You didn’t have to do that.

ANGE You said you –

LAME Won’t know who it is now.

ANGE Wasn’t yours anyway.

LAME It’s the principle, isn’t it? The principle of the thing.

ANGE What are you -?

LAME The phone rings, you pick it up.

ANGE Where’d you hear that?

LAME It’s a rule.

ANGE You need to get yourself sorted.

LAME I’m all right, Ange.

ANGE You’ve got everything backwards.

LAME What do you mean?

ANGE There are no rules. No principles. Where’ve you been?

LAME Blowing cock.

ANGE You don’t know a thing.

LAME Good money it is.

ANGE You like it.

LAME Yeah, but it’s still good money.

ANGE They pay you in Euros.

LAME Same as dollars.

ANGE Not the same.

LAME It is.

ANGE Where’s your math?

LAME In my head.

ANGE Lame. That’s what you are.

LAME That’s who I am, not what I am. Look, it’s just my name.

ANGE It suits you.

LAME Fuck off.

ANGE It does.

LAME You smashed the fucking mobile. We could’ve made some money off it.

ANGE If it was up to you…

LAME What?

ANGE Money all the time…

LAME It’s good, isn’t it?

ANGE [on top of him] Like cock?

LAME Don’t.

ANGE Why? Can’t I touch it?

LAME Not here.

ANGE What’s wrong with here?

LAME It’s the street. There are rules, Ange.

ANGE Yeah?

LAME The street’s one of them.

ANGE I’ll sort you out.

LAME Don’t.

ANGE You want a mobile? I’ll get one for you.

LAME I don’t like the new ones. They’ve got too many options. There’s too much to remember…

ANGE I’ll get you anything you want.

[She stays on him.]

LAME You’re a cow.

ANGE Yes.

[She goes down on him. Dark.]

Scene five

[High-rise. Lounge-lush pristine. A wide window that looks onto the city. MESMER is writing. ARIADNE is drinking.]

MESMER “In this world, in this world there is a proclivity for behavior that doesn’t preclude…” Fuck it.

ARIADNE You were doing fine, Mesmer.

MESMER I can’t write this. I can’t write when I don’t even believe in what… Look at the street. It’s all gray.

ARIADNE It’ll be spring soon.

MESMER I’m a fraud, Ariadne. A damn two-bit journalist.

ARIADNE You’ve won prizes.

MESMER A complete fraud.

ARIADNE That’s why I’m with you.

[Pause.]

MESMER They catch a crime scene on a home camera. It makes the six o’clock news, and everybody wants their hands on it, don’t they? Because it’s what?

ARIADNE Hot.

MESMER A property. Yes. A car crashes on the road. Two people fly out of a window: a man and a woman. A few seconds later seven young men are killed by a man who is said to have the head of a bull.

ARIADNE A minotaur?

MESMER Yes. And the bodies of the man and woman have disappeared. A camera captures everything.

ARIADNE Including the minotaur?

MESMER His face is unseen, just out of the camera’s eye.

ARIADNE Shame.

MESMER You’d like to see one?

ARIADNE It’s not every day, is it, that you get to see a man with the head of a bull?

MESMER True.

ARIADNE Where did the bodies go?

MESMER The two people from the car? Perhaps the minotaur ate them.

ARIADNE It doesn’t work like that.

MESMER What doesn’t?

ARIADNE Nature.

MESMER How does it work then?

ARIADNE The minotaur sees the woman standing before him and decides to spare her. He decides she is too beautiful to waste in this world, in this world of men, so he gives her wings, and sends her into the sky so that he can watch her at all times, from wherever he is: the cinema, the phone booth, the hole at the peep show… He can watch her and keep his watch safe over her. He guards her strange beauty.

MESMER What about the man?

ARIADNE Which man?

MESMER There was a man in the car.

ARIADNE He hid inside the woman’s wings.

MESMER He escaped the minotaur?

ARIADNE Yes.

MESMER He is kind, this beast.

ARIADNE He understands the meaning of mercy.

MESMER What about the boys?

ARIADNE The seven slain?

MESMER Yes.

ARIADNE For someone to be saved, there must be a sacrifice.

[He kisses her. Dark.]

Scene six

[The cramped square is wider now. Light fills it in streaks. Time has passed. TIMOTHY is bent. NADJA is putting on lipstick.]

TIMOTHY It must be morning.

NADJA It’s mid-day. You slept through the night, and another day.

TIMOTHY The room has changed. This is not the same…you’ve moved me.

NADJA This is the same flat. See the graffiti?

TIMOTHY Blackbirds are singing. There are no blackbirds in Germany.

NADJA We’re not in Germany. I told you before.

TIMOTHY My mobile has stopped ringing. There are bruises on my legs. What have you done to me?

NADJA Have a lie-down.

TIMOTHY You’ve tricked me.

NADJA I saved you.

TIMOTHY I dreamt there was a beast, a strange animal, half-bull…his teeth dug into my flesh. He wouldn’t leave me.

NADJA [walking away] Go to sleep.

TIMOTHY Where are you going? Are you going to leave me like all the other girls?

NADJA I’ll come back.

TIMOTHY I don’t want that beast to…

NADJA He’s only in your dreams.

TIMOTHY I can’t sleep if you’re not with me.

NADJA Timothy. Please.

TIMOTHY Nadja? Where are we?

NADJA See the ravens through the window? We’re home, love.

TIMOTHY Do you love me?

NADJA Be still now.

TIMOTHY Where are my sneakers?

NADJA You haven’t got any.

TIMOTHY I can’t go out without my sneakers. Nadja? Tell me you won’t leave me.

NADJA I won’t leave you.

TIMOTHY Tell me again.

NADJA I don’t have time.

[She exits. Dark.]

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