Theater

Play in the Drawer: Breakfast Serial

by


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

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.]