[Because of the invasion, occupation and domination of modern consciousness by (Waste-induced and -inducing) Pathology and Morbidity, creating what is arguably the Greatest Reign of Terror in Human History, enslaving all mankind: CM/P thought it apt to dust off a copy of its last Paris play, Iatrogenocide. When a play has lain fallow for 20 years, it's easy enough to imagine that something was missed first time around. Who's to say that Terrorism, like Love or Youth, is better the second time around? But, let's see.--mc]
WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 22, 200
IATROGENOCIDE by Mick Collins
* * *
[Because of the horrors experienced in the translation of WinoTime into French (La quille est bordel?), this last CM/P play, written in 1999, was conceived in both French and English as a way to make it translation-proof--however, this type of bilingual dramaturgy seems to have guaranteed that it will also be audience-proof.
Should you have access to a polyglot public and be interested in producing "Nitro,"
Bon courage!--mc ]
a new play
130 Forest St., #3
Montclair, NJ 07042
All Rights Reserved
A play in two acts & coda
* * *
~ A handsome woman in her late sixties.
~ Very pale, very thin. Yvonne’s son in his late thirties.
~A clochard in his late fifties.
~A small, dark, very pretty woman in her late twenties.
* * *
Beginning the evening of 15 April 1999 - Ending New Year’s Day 2000.
An apartment on the outskirts of Paris, and a nearby métro station.
The playwright would like to acknowledge his great debt to the
following writers, without the pillaging of whose brilliant artistic
and scientific works, this play would not have been possible:
Marcel Proust for À la recherche du temps perdu;
Celine for Mea Culpa; Jean Cocteau for Opium; and
Neville Hodgkinson for AIDS, The Failure of Contemporary Science.
Je veux remercier Marianne L’Henaff pour tous les magazines sur VIH.
Cette pièce est enfin pour Bettina, qui me dirige toujours vers la vie.
* * *
The departmentalization of mind is a means of abolishing
mind where it is not exercised ex officio, under contract.
It performs this task all the more reliably since anyone
who repudiates the division of labour -- if only by taking pleasure in his work -- makes himself vulnerable by its standards in ways inseparable from elements of his
superiority. Thus is order ensured: some have to play
the game because they cannot otherwise live, and those who
could live otherwise are kept out because they do not want
to play the game. It is as if the class from which
independent intellectuals have defected takes its
revenge, by pressing its demands home in the very
domain where the deserter seeks refuge.
Theodor Adorno on Proust-- Minima Moralia
* * *
La liberté d’expression est née sur les murs
31 Janvier 1999
Journée Mondiale des Lépreux
Fondation Raoul Follereau, BP 79 -- 75015 Paris
LIGHTS UP: The Stage is divided into Two Areas:
Larger Area SR is a bright, handsome old Paris apartment, on the rez-de-chaussée. A tall double window is UR; in front of it is a dining table set for three. DS of the table is a divan and an easy chair with a low coffee table between them. There are a lot of small objets d’art on the bar complex and bookcases UR & UC. The entrance to the rest of the apartment is DR, and the entrée is SL through the smaller area. The iron gate to the street is not seen but can be heard OSR, its loud clang announcing people’s entrances before they pass in front of the tall windows and go to the front door. The double window, with both panels open, looks out on a courtyard with several great trees. It is a Spring evening, and the light is that soft, chalky Parisien light. In the background can be heard street noises: evening traffic, kids horsing around. Inside the apartment a radio plays pop music, French and American, but mostly American, with an occasional interruption for news of ‘l’OTAN et Serbie’ and traffic reports mentioning the Périphérique and places like Porte des Lilas, Le Pré St Gervais, Porte d’Ivry, and Place d’Italie.
The Smaller Area SL is a métro platform with an uncomfortably configured metal bench. Above the bench is a long, dark-blue sign with white letters reading PIERRE CURIE. The light is much dimmer SL. R of the bench is one of those tall vending machines selling candy or soft drinks. L of the bench on the wall is a giant poster showing a young woman her face badly scarred by leprosy, and proclaiming, ‘31 Janvier--Journée Mondiale des Lépreux’. The bench has some junky-looking shit on it: couple plastic shopping bags from LeaderPrice or ED’s, a nasty plastic sheet, and a piece of white paper with scraps of tobacco and cheese and baguette on it. On the ground in front of the bench are a broken-down pair of hard brown shoes and a nearly empty 2 liter plastic bottle of vin ordinaire.
Occasionally the lights on the SL area begin to flicker and then go to black indicating arrival of a train. After several moments they flicker back up as the train leaves. But there should not be the sound of the trains.
[YVONNE, a woman in her 60s, URC, standing motionless: She is tall, well turned out, even elegant. She is dressed to receive company in a very full, floor-length dress. But there is an imperceptible quavering, a trembling about her or within her that undermines her apparent poise--as if she were on the verge of spontaneous combustion.]
[A NON-SPECIFIC SOUND is heard: high-pitched, about one second in duration. It might be the phone ringing, it might be a car alarm, it might be a kid squealing, or it might be an electronic medical monitor.]
Train arrives SL. Lights flicker out.
[Yvonne does not react, does not move for SEVERAL BEATS after the high-pitched sound. Then she looks off R and holds the look for a TEN-COUNT, then returns to her original pose.]
[Voices are heard shouting outside in the street, but no words can be made out. Yvonne holds her original pose for a DOUBLE-TEN-COUNT, while--
Lights flicker back up SL.
--then she moves DS a couple steps and speaks:]
For a long time I used to go to bed early. . . . For a long time,
I used to go to bed early. For a long time I used to go to bed
early. . . Longtemps, je me suis couché de bonne heure.
Go to bed. . . .--Sometimes, when I had put out my candle,
my eyes would close so quickly that I had not even time to
say “I’m going to sleep.” . . . Parfois, à peine ma bougie
éteinte, mes yeux se fermaient si vite que je n’avais pas
le temps de me dire: ‘Je m’endors.’ . . . For a long time I
used to go to bed early. Sometimes, when I had put out
my candle, my eyes would close so quickly that I had not
even time to say “I’m going to sleep.” For a long time,--
Sometimes, when . . . I used to go to bed. (Pause) Go to bed
for a long time, sometimes,--early,--de bonne heure,--il n’y
aura plus de bonheur. (Pause) My eyes would close so
quickly . . . so quickly . . . so quickly that . . .--that I had not
even time . . . to say . . . “I’m going to sleep.” . . . “I’m going . . .”
Oh, my god. . . . “I’m going to sleep.” For a long time, a long,
long time . . . now. . . . My eyes would close so quickly--that!--
there was no time to say anything. . . . But you had no children.
No wife. You were as much alone at the end as at the beginning.
--More? . . . And you were a man,--are a man. God, why?
My memories come, unsought, in the night, on two legs, with
hard shoes, to kick in my door. No tea taken. No madeleines.
Thick arms to throw me against the wall, pin me to the wall,
breathe that soupy stink-breath in vile, crapulous word-lettes
that pucker your mouth. . . .--Awaiting your mother’s kiss--
Lights flicker out SL.
[OSR a PHONE RINGS once, and again, then is answered mechanically. We can make out neither the announcement nor the message being left. Yvonne does not react in any way. She waits until the call is finished, takes a TEN-COUNT, then continues.]
Lights flicker back on SL.
Most annoying of all: their tardiness. Never arrive when they
say they will. . . . So often unexpected . . . unwanted. Peut être
s’il me tuerais, je vais dormir bien enfin. Mon fils. Mon petit gosse.
Mon bébé. Mon chameau. Mon salaud. Ma vie d’enfer. . . .
Pourquoi le supplice? Il me tourmente? Je ne lui donnais
que la vie. Et maintenant, il veut éteindre la mienne.
Je ne peux pas imaginer comment c’est arrivé. Je
me rend folle--vachment dingue! Tous comme un rêve de
feu. --Et après une demie heure la pensée qu’il est à l’heure
de s’endormir m’aurait réveillé. . . La pensée qu’il me faut
dormir . . . la rêve du sommeil . . . le sommeil des rêves . . .
Il n’y aura plus du bonheur. . . La rêve, ce qu’était le grand
mensonge. . . . His French so much smarter than mine. Can
no longer hide there. . . . --From him, --with him from them.
The way we did. . . . ‘It’s just a corruption of an earlier language,
corruption of an older tongue.’ . . . I had to un-learn so much.
You were far ahead of me from the beginning. You knew the
Pont Neuf wasn’t the ninth bridge,--even when I insisted.
--Knew not to pronounce the E-N-T’s. You must have learned
from my mistakes. You must have depended on me once--
for something--things--you must have . . . must have, ah,--
must . . .--
[OSR the same non-specific, high-pitched ELECTRONIC SOUND is heard. Instantaneously, Yvonne runs OSR. As soon as she is OS, it stops. There are SEVERAL BEATS; then the SOUND begins again and continues for a TEN-COUNT. After it stops, Yvonne begins to scream with great anger and pain.]
Nom de fucking nom. Tuez-moi! Just fucking kill me!
Come on! Come on! . . . On y vas! Je m’en fous de tes
[Yvonne rushes back on stage, and goes directly R of the dining table and stares out the tall double window toward the street-gate (OR). After several beats, she takes a fork from a place setting at R of the table and begins to play with it: She runs it across a window pane; she runs it through her hair, and scratches herself with it. She bends it in half and replaces it on the table. She continues to stare out the window, not seeming to watch anything in particular.]
POP MUSIC ON THE RADIO CONTINUES UNDER THIS.
[Yvonne returns RC and resumes her original position.]
[After a TEN-COUNT, she speaks. As she speaks she moves DCR.]
Bringing the mind to stillness. (LONG PAUSE) Stillness.
(LONG PAUSE) Be still. . . . Still . . . still. . . . You can’t
touch me here. This is my place. (LONG PAUSE)
My private place. . . . Here I rest. . . . Je me respose là.
Ici . . . ici . . . ici . . . ici, ici,--Il faut que j’aille me reposer . . .
Ici. . . . Ici. . . . Ici . . . ici . . . ici, ici, ici, . . . ici . . . ici . . .
ici . . . ici. . . .--Ici! Ici! --ici . . . ici, ici, ici, . . . ici . . . ici . . .
ici . . . ici . . . ici . . . ici . . .--
Lights flicker off SL.
The PHONE RINGS. [Yvonne stops DRC and SCREAMS immediately. She does not move, but joins her scream to the ringing phone. Her scream continues into the SECOND RING and the announcement of the répondeur and stops to hear the message, which is immediately covered by the ELECTRONIC SOUND. Yvonne stands very still for a TEN-COUNT, then falls to her knees, her head bowed.]
[Yvonne does not move.]
Oh, . . . no.
[PHILLY, a very pale and very thin man in his late thirties, enters SR and stands just inside the door. He is smartly dressed in loose-fitting café au lait slacks, a sheer silk shirt with diamonds in two vertical rows on the front and cream-colored Italian loafers. He has beautiful shoulder-length brown hair pulled back into a pony tail, with a stud in his left ear. He looks at Yvonne, and his eyes never leave her.]
[At the same moment, Lights flicker on SL to reveal KARL, a filthy, broken-down clodo of about 55, pulling at his crotch as if he is trying to dry the piss inside his trousers. He is in stocking-feet, wearing a soiled, tattered grey suit, a filthy white shirt with a badly broken collar, and a tie with ducks on it. He is standing DL facing front, framed by the Leprosy poster. He addresses the folks on the opposite platform. His speech is so impaired by drink and chronic dementia that he is barely understood.]
aaaarrrrrrrrggggggggg! Mutilé moi. . . . Moi. . . . Quelles cons
là. . . . Ch’uis mutilé. . . . AAAAAARRRRRrrgh! AAAAAAARR-
RRRRR! . . . De guerre. Ch’uis mutilé moi. . . . MUTILÉ!
[He crosses to the bench to check on his shit. He continues to ‘act out’ his anger and hostility with a schizoid minimalism, sometimes to the opposite platform, sometimes to whomever is on his side of the tracks, and sometimes to the back wall, all punctuated with brief slashes from the plastic wine bottle. All this is contrapuntal to the action SR.]
(Quietly, but in great pain)
Aaaaahoooooowww. Not yet.
[Yvonne has curled up tight on her knees, in an ‘egg’ position, and she does not respond to anything. Philly slowly circles Yvonne.]
(This is under Philly’s next speech)
(Chanting like a gypsie beggar) S’iiiiiiiiiiiil voooooooouuuus
plaaaaaaîîîîîîîîîîîîîît. S’iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiil voooooooouuuuuuus
plaaaaaaaaîîîîîîîîîîîîîît. ‘Scuuuuuuuuuuuusez-moi pooour
RRRRRRRGGGGGGGER!--S’iiiiiiiiiiiiil voooooouuuuuus plaît--
uuuuuuuuuuuuuneeeee petiiiiiiiiiiiiiteeee pièce, meeees
camarades-- (Falls silent)
[Philly has returned UR of Yvonne.] (Note: Philly never touches Yvonne, nor goes close enough to her that physical contact might accidently occur.)
I oughta kick your fuckin’ face in. . . . Huh? You want that?
Kick your ugly fuckin’ old face in. . . . Useless fuckin’ bitch.
. . . You’re a stinking old cum-bag. I oughta tear your
slobberin’, dick-suckin’ lips off. Pull your lyin’ tongue so
far out I can stick it up your blown-out, festering shit-hole.
All the filthy cocks you’ve had spewing in you, no wonder
you’re this pus-yellow bag of rotten meat--your heart pumps shit.
[He moves in closer to her carefully.]
I’m just going to open you up. . . . Gut you like the
bottom-feeding wang fish--the sewer carp you are.
I’ll carve your stinking heart out and show it to you--
feed it to you, make you eat that sump pump.
You are a shit-stinking sorry excuse for a woman.
[He opens his trousers and takes out his dick.]
(Ejaculation) Ch’uis mutilé moi.
I’m gonna hose the fleas off your mangy ass, bitch.
Clean you up before I cut you up. Piss on you.
Piss on your ugly fucking mug. Your saggy tits.
Useless fucking whore. Stinking cunt. . . .
(Ejaculation) Ch’uis mutilé de guerre moi.
[Yvonne begins to raise her head slightly.]
(Putting his dick away)
Fuck it! Waste of good piss.
[He begins walking away from her, but never takes his eyes off her.]
Fuck you. I wouldn’t walk across the street to piss up
your cheesy ass if your guts were on fire. . . . Just . . .
fuck you. Fuck you. Fuck you. Fuck you. Fuck you.
(Quieter) Quelles cons là.
[As Yvonne raises her head more and more, Philly exits DR.]
Lights flicker out SL.
After SEVERAL BEATS, the PHONE RINGS. [Yvonne gets up, as the répondeur answers the phone. Yvonne exits DR and picks up the phone, interrupting the announcement. We can barely make out what she is saying.]
Oui, allô--qui est-ce?. . . . Oui, oui, . . . Ça va, ça va, oui. . . .
Non, pas du tout. . . . Oui, oui, allez-y. . . . Je vous en prie.
Lights flicker up SL. [Karl has exited, but all his shit remains on bench.]
[Yvonne enters DR, she’s trying to compose herself. She goes to the radio and turns it off. As a second thought she turns it back on and changes the station to one playing classical music (Mozart). She checks out the dining table, going to L of table and taking the fork she bent and straightening it. She then stares OSR out the window. She turns back into the room, moves a few steps DS and holds for SEVERAL BEATS. She puts POP MUSIC back on the radio. She then turns and stares at the door SR. After SEVERAL BEATS, Philly enters just barely into the room and stares at Yvonne. The moment is held for a DOUBLE-TEN-COUNT, during which--]
Lights flicker out SL.
Quand la présence de quelqu’un te fait mal comme t’as
perdu un litre de plasma, evites-la cette présence.
Yeah? Fucking Burroughs, huh? Over-privileged
cocksucker--don’t care if he was a friend of yours.
How ‘bout Genet? Try, ‘J’encule La Mère de Dieu’.
[Philly and Yvonne hold on each for a long moment.]
You know what you need? . . . I know what you need.
[Yvonne breaks the hold and TURNS UP the radio. Then she locks back on Philly.]
Lights flicker back up SL. [Karl has re-entered and is standing by his shit. He stares down the platform directly at Philly and Yvonne. And CROSSLEY stands facing L working on a Palm Pilot. She is maybe 27 or 28, very small, thin, and pretty in a dark, Semitic way. She wears tight black slacks with a smartly cut velvet jacket with a red Aids ribbon pinned on the lapel, and carries a book bag on her shoulder. She also has a rather full backpack slung awkwardly across her chest.]
[Philly and Yvonne continue locked on each other--Yvonne’s face blank with terror.]
Only you know and I know. . . . I know . . . you know . . .
(while turning and exiting) I know . . . you know . . . I
know . . . you know . . . I know . . . you know . . .
SOUND of ‘THE MÉTRO MUSIC’ (Little glissando that precedes announcements) :
RATP VOICE (OS)
Votre attention, s’il vous plaît. Suite à un mouvement
social, le service sur la ligne une est interrompu entre
Charles de Gaulle-Etoile et La Défense. Merci de votre
[Crossley starts working the electronic agenda more vigorously.]
[Crossley suddenly makes an error that, perhaps, dumps all her information.]
AAAAAAH,--Oh, merde alors! Putain de truc. . . . Espèce de--
putain-- . . . de toxicomane-- . . . de motherfucking truc là!
(Continuing to stare off R) Doucement, doucement là!
On n’ peut pas concentrer là.
(Continuing to fuck with the agenda)
Oh, quelle putain de bordel de merde là.
[Yvonne slowly exits DR. Her expression does not change.]
(Even more enraged) MAMAN!!!
[Crossley fumbles her portable phone out of her backpack and starts punching it up. Karl continues to stare off R--He doesn’t look at Crossley.]
Ce genre d’appareil là ne marche pas dans métro, quoi?
Les portables ne sont pas bien sensible dans métro, quoi?
[Crossley ignores him and continues to work the cell phone.]
Pas possible d’attrapper un reseau dans métro. Les ondes
ne peuvent pas penetrer là dedans, quoi? Dans sous sol là.
(Giving up on phone and gathering her things)
Fuck this bullshit.
[Karl now turns toward Crossley.]
Vous êtes ricaine, pas vrai? On peut parler ricaine?
‘motherfucker? . . . bullshit, hein, motherfucker . . . ?’
Ça va? Ça va, Ma’m’selle bullshit motherfucker?
[Crossley exits hurriedly L. Karl follows for one or two steps, then turns to his audience on the other platform.]
Cette jolie fille là, c’est la princesse de AAAAAAAARRRR-
RGGH. Une véritable princesse là. La petite fille de mon très,
très cher ami le Baron ChaaaaAAARRRRRLLLLAA-
AARRRRGGGHHHH. . . . C’est pas des conneries. Vous
crétins. C’est pas de ‘motherfucker bullshit’ là. Du côté de
. . . Mon camarade le Baron, il est aussi mutilé de guerre,
comme moi. Il a perdu les deux jambes et les deux bras
et les deux oreilles et les deux yeux. Mais seulement
une couille. Il a eu de la chance là? Non? Il a eu une sacré
chance pendant la grand guerre de AAAAAAAAAAAAA-
RRRRRGGGGGGHHHHHHH. . . .
Karl returns to his shit and takes up his bottle of wine and the nasty plastic sheet. He wraps the sheet around him like it’s the Pope’s cape, and waves the bottle around like he’s Lenny Bruce blessing the audience. He begins to work the room--taking the whole stage. We now notice he too is wearing a red Aids ribbon.
Et voilà, voilà . . . (he sticks out his hand with the thumb
raised and the fore finger extended, like a pistol) Qu’est-ce
que c’est ça? On voit, on voit. Qu’est-ce que c’est que ça?
Oui bon. Celui-ci, c’est un nain qui a pris du Viagra. On sait?
Un nain qui a pris du Viagra? Voilà, qui a pris du ViaAAAAAAAA
GGGGGGGGRRRRRRRAAAAAAAHHHHHHH. Pas mal,
hein? On sait, on sait. Bon ben, ben ouais, ben entendu.
Ouais, ouais. Voilà, voilà. Vous savez la différence--en France,
en France--On sait la différence entre un intellectuel et
un homosexuel? Entre l’intellectuel et le pédé en France?
Bon ben, l’intellectuel a un Robert directement dans cul et le pédé
a--non, non, le pédé a--non, non, l’intellectuel a un Robert
EN TÊTE, ben ouais, en tête, et l’homosexuel, l’espèce
de pédé, il a un Larousse dans cul--non, non, ça ne va pas ça.
C’est l’intellectuel qui avait le Larousse et le salaud de gourmande
de merde de pédé qui avait le . . . quoi? Le Robert dans cul--
DIRECTEMENT DANS CUL--Vous êtes tous pédés, pas vrai?. . .
Vous comprennez? Vous entendez? . . . Nous deux, le Baron et
moi, nous avons donné nos corps dans une guerre hideuse pour
vous tous, vous, vous minable connards, vous lâches, vous
lèches-culs, vous qui--qui n’pouvez pas vous trouver le kiki sans,
Vous tous, vous . . . vous . . . (the Gypsy beggar’s chant) S’iiiiii-
iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiil voooooooooouuuuus plaaaaaaaaît,
s’iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiil vooooooooooooouuuuuus plaaaaaa-
aaaaît, chuis muuuuuuuutiiiiiiiiiiilééé, pardoneeeeeez-moi
pour vous déééé--(ranger)
Lights flicker out SL as train arrives.
SEVERAL BEATS, then the GATE clangs open and crashes shut.
[Crossley passes the window UR.]
After SEVERAL MORE BEATS, a BUZZER is heard.
Lights come up on SL. [The métro station has become the entrée to Yvonne’s apartment. The bench has been stood on end to become a sculpture, the ‘PIERRE CURIE’ sign has become a modern painting, and the vending machine and Lutte contre Lèpre poster remain, (re-lighted) as pieces of pOp art.]
[Yvonne enters from DR, crosses to the vending machine and takes an answer phone from inside it.]
Âllo, oui. . . . Yes, dear. Come in. It’s the rez-de-chaussée,
door on the right.
[Yvonne pushes a button on the phone and returns it to the vending machine. She then composes herself in the mirror on the side of the vending machine. Finally she turns and stares off R for SEVERAL BEATS.]
[There is a KNOCK at the door DL, and Yvonne goes off L to answer it.]
YVONNE (Exiting L)
(Under her breath)
Seek stillness. . . . Find the quiet place. . . .
[We hear the door being opened.]
Madame Weston? Je m’appele Crossley Hollis.
De l’association pour--
Oui, je sais bien. Entrez.
[Crossley enters DL followed by Yvonne.]
Ch’uis en retard. Désolée. J’ai essaié vous téléphoner
parce que je me suis trompée de métro et mon portable
il n’peut pas attraper le reseau dans métro, et, bon,--
Pas de problème. Vous êtes . . . très-- . . . Quel age--. . .
(A little beaked about things in general,
but the age thing in particular)
J’ai vingt-sept ans--j’suis une--mais . . . on peut parler en anglais?
Vous préferiez ça?
[Crossley checks out the apartment; Yvonne really checks out Crossley.]
Bon. D’accord. . . . Excuse me. It’s just I’m a little surprised
you’re so young.
Yes, of course. (Pause) You have a beautiful place.
Thank you. . . . Yes.
[Very long, very awkward pause.]
On boit quelque chose? Vous prennez un petit verre?
Non, merci. --Ah, oui, peut être, un verre d’eau.
Vous n’prennez pas du vin? Vous êtes jeune mais vous
êtes en France.
Non, c’est pas ça. C’est . . . j’n’bois jamais d’alcool
That’s very American of you, I must say. You are American?
[Yvonne goes US to the bar to make the drinks.]
Sort of. D’une certaine façon.
Your French is lovely. It’s not--it’s just you seem-- . . .
With or without bubbles?
Yes, I know. Oh, I’ll take the bubbles. I’m not that dull.
[Yvonne smiles but does not laugh at Crossley’s effort.]
[Crossley is cruising the art work, esp. the bench, in the former métro stop.]
Vous avez de belles choses.
‘Nice things’--Yes, dear, thank you. ‘Our nice things.’
That’s what Phillip used to call them. . . . ‘Our nice things.’
. . . My husband, Phillip. They’re all his, you see? . . .
Uh-huh--. . . J’en ai gardé depuis . . . sa mort.
C’est ça, vous voyez?
Yes, he was quite a collector, my Phillip. Wherever he
went he would find something pretty he absolutely couldn’t
live without. Fall in love with pieces at first sight--without
knowing a thing about them.
Moi, j’ai toujours l’habitude de surveiller les petits trucs à côté
des objets, ceux du Louvre ou du Musée d’Orsay. Avec le nom
du peintre et les dates, tous ça. (Ind. the bench) Qui l’a fait
celui-ci? Vous savez?
[A MOMENT of difficult connection as Yvonne hands glass to Crossley.]
It’s just that it was so long ago, dear, and . . . well, . . . They
were Phillip’s things. . . . They are all his things.
Ah, pardonnez-moi, mais cette pièce là . . . it’s just that this
piece here is very interesting--very familiar--strangely familiar.
Yes, of course. I don’t really recall. I think Phillip picked
it up at this vide grenier in St Brihac. In Bretagne, you
Saint-Brieuc? I know Saint-Brieuc--you don’t mean Saint-
Brieuc, do you?
Pas du tout. St Brihac est juste à côté de St Malo, Dinan,
juste à l’ouest de St Malo. On traverse un grand barrage.
C’est un village très joli et très petit et très, très riche. Il y a
de la population seulement pendant l’été, les mois d’été.
Le reste du temps les gens vivent chez St Germain-en-Laye
ou Neuilly. Mais chez St Brihac il y avait cette petite baie, et
chaque matin on peut la regarder toute tranquillement,
la marré montant et puis, après peut être six heures, la baie
s’est rendu totalement vide, avec tous les petits bateaux
coincés dans le sable, la boue. Mais environ six heures
plus tard tous les bateaux sont reflottant et se font volte
face avec le retour de la marré. Et pendant la marré
haute on peut traverser la baie à la nage. Nous avons
eu l’habitude, chaque journée à l’heure de marré haute,
de traverser la baie à la nage. Mais c’était décidément
le rythme, la cadence de la marré, ce qui m’a rendue bien
tranquille. . . . C’était un bon moment.
Yes. . . . Je regrette que j’ne connais bien St Brihac. Mais
j’ne veux pas vous déranger. (Ind. dining table) Vous
attendez des invités. . . . Peut être--
Non, non, pas du tout. Je n’attend personne. Pas du tout.
Bon. Alors . . . Perhaps we could talk about your--
Yes, of course.-- It’s exhausting, isn’t it? It exhausts me
You speak very well.
Thank you, dear. I know I don’t do nearly so well as I should
do--after all these years. But-- . . . I get by. And I do love the
language, the sound of the language. As only, I suppose,
someone who is not particularly fluent could love it. Under-
standing has not spoiled the music.
How long have you lived here?
Oh,-- No, it’s not that.-- In Paris? It’s not that-- It’s not
been that long. Not really. . . . It’s-- I get along all right with
the French. You know, the natives. I think it’s speaking
to another American, you see. It’s speaking to another
American I find so exhausting.
Of course. Yes. . . . We can, ah, you know, give it--eh--
More water, dear?
It’s fine, thank you. . . . You see, all my case work, all my files
are in English. So it would be easier for me if we continued in
English. Discussing your case in English.
‘My case.’ I see. . . . Yes, by all means. In English.
Is that all right? I mean--
[Yvonne starts to space out a bit here.]
D’accord, d’accord. Pas de problème.
Yes. . . . Can we sit?
I have some papers. I need--ah--to--
SILENCE. [Yvonne’s attention is drifting OR.]
D’accord, chérie, comme tu veux. . . . Installes-toi
[Yvonne returns to the bar for more wine.]
T’es sûr que tu n’veux rien? Du vin? Du whisky?
[Crossley is setting up on the divan.]
Non, non. Ça ira. I’m fine.
Yes, of course, dear. Of course you are.
About your husband. . . . It was . . . when . . . what year
did he pass away?
T’aimes Proust, chérie? Tu l’as lu?
How’s that? Mrs Weston?
Proust, dear. Have you read Proust?
Eh, yes, some, uh-huh.
Scotty Moncrieff. His translation. On Modern Library, Vintage,
Chatto and Windus?
Oh. I don’t know. I don’t remember. It was two or three
huge books. I only got about half-way through the first
one. It was huge.
Do you remember what it was called? A la recherche
du temps perdu. What was it?
Yes, uh-huh. A la recherche du temps perdu. Of course.
No, but in English. The translation. Quel est le titre en anglais?
Tu te rappelles?
No, I really can’t remember, Mrs Weston. I’m sorry. . . . The
Association needs to have some information, some more
information, if we are to continue with your son’s case. His . . .
He’s still with you, isn’t he?
Yes, of course.--But, dear, there’s something very interesting
happened to Proust just recently. In English, I mean. You
know, someone once said to me they preferred Proust in
English; they said he loses something in the original.
Yes, I see.
That’s an incredibly ignorant joke, don’t you think? Les
français ils trouvent ça aberrant. Mais on peut comprendre
si on a lu the Moncrieff translation. I was completely devoted
to my Moncrieff books--It was Scotty who gave me Proust.
And I would walk across Paris--across London--I walked miles
and miles à la recherche des Prousts perdus.
Really? Why was that?
Why . . . ?
Yes. Why the walking? Why the search? Why was Proust
Lost. Yes. . . . Lost.
Mrs Weston? . . . Eh, I really need you . . . need to talk to
you about . . . The Organization is anxious to--
Ah, oui--complètement perdu. Bien sûr. Ils étaient complètement
perdus. Tous les hommes. Tous les bons hommes perdus.
I think we’re getting a little lost here. Or I am quand même.
(pause) You . . . Mrs Weston, you lost your husband, when?
Ben non, chérie. Pas du tout. Pas du tout. C’était pas mon
mari--pas mon cher Phillip. Ce n’était même pas Proust qu’était
perdu.--Ah, oui, Phillip était quand même perdu--bien sûr--
bien perdu--mais non, chérie. C’était mon très, très cher Scotty
qu’est allé au dela de sa lumière. God. I wish--. . . No, dear.
You see, Moncrieff was out of print.
The Moncrieff Proust was out of print for years. You could
find them only in bargain bins and used book stands in flea
markets in Hampstead or at Shakespeare and Company.
The later books were very hard to find. I remember searching
forever for La Prisonière. La Fugitive. I was devastated when
Albertine didn’t return to him. Some petit con in some low-
rent book shop assured me she would return in the next
book. This was the same cretin, as I recall, who said Proust
was better in English.
Well, you know, Mrs Weston, now that you mention all this,
I seem to remember that the book I read was translated by
someone named Moncrieff--with some others, I think--and
I recall the title was Searching for--or In Search of Lost
Time. Something like that. Yes, that’s right. As I recall,
I was directed to the book by some pitch about how it
was a new and improved translation. Now, this was a few
years ago. But I remember being struck by how similar the
two titles were--I mean, how close to--what is it?--la recherche--
à la recherche du temps perdu and Searching for Lost Time.
I thought that was pretty good. So I got it. And read about
half of it--until I said, whoa, this is just a little too deep--too
slow--maybe just too personal for my tastes. . . . And I stopped.
Yes, so I hear. I hear it is a very important book. But, then,
I had trouble getting through the Bible, too.
Well, I think one can be forgiven for quitting on the Bible.
But Proust is another matter. . . . You know, Scotty didn’t
translate the last book. He never got to translate Le Temps
Retrouvé. So when I got to the last book, it was either read
someone else’s translation or read Le Temps Retrouvé in
French. It was as if I’d known French my whole life. I noticed
no difference at all--no difference between Scotty’s English
and Proust’s French. Scotty had so brought me into that
world--I knew the characters so well--the situations and
places--you know?--But how?--Do you like Shakespeare?
I don’t know whether you’re messing with me here or not, Mrs
Weston. But we really need to get to this information about
your son’s case. I think we both want to help him. Right?
No, dear. I’m not patronizing you.--It’s just the age difference,
dear. That’s all. Not to worry, dear. And of course I want to
help Philly--to help you help Philly. But I want to show you
something. Something terribly sad that has happened to us.
Yeah, ok, Mrs Weston. . . . Yeah, I happen to be a big fan of
Shakespeare. I don’t think I ever quit on Shakespeare. I think
in high school and college I probably read every word he ever
wrote--or had printed--even memorized and performed a lot of
it. . . . So, yeah, Shakespeare, yeah.
Well, you see, dear, what makes Scotty’s translation so
wonderful is just that it’s not as literal as it might have been.
You see, you were sold an inferior product with boasts about
its very shortcomings. So typical that. The new translators
just took the spirit out of Proust by running him through a
Robert and Collins.
I’m sorry, but I have always assumed the job of a translator
was to take a work in one language and put it into another
That’s not all, is it, dear? Translating the words? How do
you translate the spaces between the word?
Of course. Uh-huh. I know exactly what you mean. There
are French spaces, and then there are English spaces. Sure.
You’re quite right, you know, my dear. French spaces
and English spaces: Like French and English gardens.
I’m sorry, Mrs Weston. I didn’t mean to be cute. It’s just
that this case, your case, and your son are very important
to the Organization--and to me--really. And I need to find
But don’t you see, darling, that this is all about finding out.
Finding out who we are. Proust searches through thousands
of pages for something that in the end disappears--for him, at
least. But the feeling between the two times--between the
present and the past--between the French and the English
gardens, the spaces--the tension between the original and
the translation; the tension between the words and the tension
that binds each word to the whole work: This tension is held
in the spaces, really. That’s where you find the feeling that
sets you free. That releases you from yourself. It’s that
tension that is the art--and if there is an art to translation,--
if it isn’t just fancy plagiarism--then Scotty found it.
Ok, Mrs Weston. I think I see what you’re getting at. Let’s
play first. Ok. But how does poor old Wild Bill Shakespeare
wind up in this Hegelian stew?
Very nice, dear. Yes. Do you like Hegel? I’m afraid I quit on him
Just a few secondary sources. Cliff Notes. Never the genuine
Ne t’inquiète pas. Je ne connais personne qui ait lu
tout Hegel. Mais à propos de Shakespeare et Proust--
et bien sûr Scotty Moncrieff: Il faut qu’on surveille le titre.
En français et puis en anglais. Ok?
Ok. Sure, the title. Of . . .? What Shakespeare?
Non, non, ma chérie. Proust. En français il est À la recherche
du temps perdu, pas vrai? En l’anglais de Moncrieff, de Scotty,
il est Remembrance of Things Past. . . . Rememberance of
Things Past? Ok?
Not even close, huh?
Literally, perhaps, no. But if one goes to the source, it is
And the source is Shakespeare.
That’s right. And the best of all is that by borrowing from
Shakespeare, Scotty condenses thousands of pages of
Proust’s French into fourteen lines of Shakespearean English.
Now--now that you mention it, it does sound familiar. Like
from a sonnet or something?
Sonnet thirty. You know it?
Ah, . . . I’m afraid not.
Please, Mrs Weston.
I’m sorry, dear. But, you know--Ok, here:
When to the sessions of sweet silent thought . . .?
Oh, yeah, sure. When to the sessions of sweet silent thought,
I summon rememberance of things past--sure, that’s right.
‘Summon up’. I summon up rememberance of things past.--
Can you take the next line, dear?
Uh, no, I don’t think so. . . . Nope. . . . (pause) What is it?
I sigh the lack of many--(pauses waiting for Crossley) . . .
I sigh the lack of many a thing I sought . . . ? (Waits again)
And with old woes new wail my dear times’ waste. . . .
(pause) Go ahead, dear. . . .
Um, . . . I don’t think so.
[Karl’s shouts of ‘AAAAAArrrrrrrrgggggghhh’ and ‘les enfoirés’ and ‘ta mère elle
pue de cul-cul’ are heard in the distance, approaching. Yvonne ignores them; Crossley becomes apprehensive as Karl gets closer.]
Then can I drown an eye unused to flow,
For precious friends hid in death’s dateless night.
And weep afresh love’s long-since cancell’d woe, . . .
And moan the expense of many a vansh’d sight.
(Another polite pause)
Go on, go on. Please.
Then can I grieve at grievances foregone,
And heavily from woe to woe tell o’er
The sad account of fore-bemoanèd moan,
Which I new pay as if not paid before.
[A final polite pause of invitation, then]
But if the while I think on thee, dear friend, . . .
[Invitation is finally accepted--though Crossley stumbles a beat behind Yvonne.]
YVONNE & CROSSLEY
All losses are restor’d , and sorrows end.
[During the following speech by Karl, Yvonne pours a glass of wine and drinks it quickly, then pours two more glasses. Crossley turns US to watch Yvonne and Karl.]
Quand on mélange au hasard deux sangs, l’un pauvre,
l’autre riche, on n’enrichit jamais le pauvre, on appauvrit
toujours le riche. . . . Tout ce qui aide à fourvoyer la masse
abrutie par les louanges est bienvenu. Quand les ruses
ne suffisent plus, quand le système fait explosion, alors
recours à la trique! à la mitrailleuse! aux bonbonnes! . . .
On fait donner tout l’arsenal l’heure venue!
avec le grand coup d’optimisme des ultimes Résolutions!
Massacres par myriades, toutes les guerres depuis le Déluge
ont eu pour musique l’Optimisme. . . Tous les assassins voient
l’avenir en rose, ça fait partie du métier. Ainsi soit-il.
[Yvonne takes one glass of wine, gives it to Karl, and keeps one herself.]
Très bien, très bien. C’était très bien dit. C’est qui ça?
(gulps down the wine)
C’est qui? Putain! C’est moi, hein! Mais qui est la petite
Arrêt! Espèce de raclure. Viens. Ces mots là sont à qui?
(privately to Yvonne)
Tu connais ce mec?
Tu m’insultes, Charlus. (extending the empty glass) Tu m’as
gravement blessé--gravement et au coeur. Puis-je en avoir
un autre? . . . S’il vous plaît, Madame Le Baron?
[Yvonne returns to the bar to refill the wine glasses.]
(to Crossley) Ce mec là? Ben oui. Il est . . . (she has to think
hard) Il est mon très, très . . . Quoi? . . . (to Karl) Karl, écoute,
de qui t’as volé ce truc là? (to Crossley) Ouais, il est mon
très, très grand salaud.
[Yvonne delivers the glass to Karl and they tink glasses.]
Ma chère dame, mon très cher troquet, ces mots là . . .
sont dans la langue française, ma langue maternelle,
donc ces mots là sont véritablement les miens.
La seule verité est que tu mends comme toujours. Ben alors,
fous-moi le camp!
Doucement, doucement, madame. Tu ne veux pas blesser
l’oreille delicate de la jolie princesse ricaine. M’am’selle
Ben ouais, Karl. Tu la connais bien, hein? Vas-y! Vas-y.
Tire-toi. Mais, avant, qui est l’auteur de ton ordurerie?
(privately to Yvonne)
He seems a little angry.
Of course, dear. I know. It’s just our game. (to Karl) Facho!
Coco, anarcho,--Aaaaaaaarggggggghhh--Vieille salope!
Ta gueule! N’essaies pas de me charmer. Tu en veux un autre?
(to Crossley, re: Yvonne)
Ma princesse! Mon Charlus là, elle ressemble à James
Styoowart, pas vrai? Regarde-moi ça! Jeemmy Styoowart,
c’est pas vrai?
Tu ne veux plus? Hein? Casses-toi avec tes camarades
fachos. Les Jeemmy Styoowarts. Les Ronny Rayguns.
Retournez, vous tous, aux chiottes.
D’accord, d’accord. Mais avant, le verre. Ma très très chère
[Yvonnes goes to the bar for more wine.]
Mrs Weston, really, . . . You know, I can’t come back for
this. I’m on a real short leash. It’s gotta be now.
Of course, dear. This won’t take a second. Karl is just leaving--
(delivering the wine)--aren’t you, my old collaborationist
Ch-Aaaaaaaarrrrrrrggggghh! SIDA gafe-toi bien! T’es
affranchi comme personne! T’es bien plus libre, compare
toi-même, que les serfs d’en face! Dans l’autre prison!
Regarde-toi dans la glace encore! Un petit godet pour
les idées! Vote pour mézigues! SIDA t’es victime du système!
Je vais te réformer l’Univers! T’occupe pas de ta nature!
T’es tout en or! qu’on te répète! Te reproche rien! Va pas
réfléchir! Écoute-moi! Je veux ton bonheur véritable!--
Aaaarrrggggghh-- Je vais te nommer Empereur? Veux-tu?
Je vais te nommer Pape et Bon Dieu! Tout ça ensemble!
Boum! Ça y est! Photographie!--
Mrs Weston!--Monsieur, je vous en supplie! Arrêtez!--
laissez-nous tranquille! . . . Qu’est-ce qu’il se passe?
Vous êtes evidemment fou, monsieur. J’suis très navrée!
Mais on a des affaires très importantes, très pressantes.
Peut être plus tard--
[Karl falls silent, sullen.]
(Stops Crossley, taking 100ff billet from her bodice)
--No, dear. Ne t’inquiète plus. He’s just leaving. (to Karl)
Ça va ça, mon pote? Écoute. Prends-la. Passes du
côté de chez Villon. Demandes-lui s’il reste des petits
camemberts. D’accord? Tu vois? Vas-y. Achètes-en une
dizaine et reviens directement--fais pas une escale au zinc,
Ok. Tu piges? . . . Vas-y.
[Yvonne has taken Karl’s glass and she returns to the bar and pours herself another glass of wine. Karl hesitates at the window. Yvonne turns into the room to Crossley, ignoring Karl completely. Karl leaves the window for the gate; which is later heard to open and close.]
Now, dear. . . . You were saying?
My god! What in the world--
Yes, dear. I know. Karl is one of our strange acquisitions--
not unlike Phillip’s art works--not so beautiful, perhaps, but--
Karl is someone Phillip and I have known forever. And, sad
to say, he’s always been just like that. Just like . . . that.
You know, I saw him in the métro when I got here.
Did you really. Well . . . Yes, the métro. We’ve never
really . . . we never really kept track of Karl. Where he
stays. Where we might find him . . . if we need him.
Seldom needed to find him, really.
Yes, I can imagine. . . . But did you, just now, send him
off to buy you a dozen camemberts? Is that what I heard?
Don’t worry, dear.
Wait! Now, I don’t know what you meant by ‘camemberts’--
I mean--seems a strange way to buy cheese. But--forgive
me, Mrs Weston--but, you know, this interview--this study--
this all has a lot to do with your son’s medication.
He’ll probably spend that hundred francs on the first thing
takes his fancy. (Very flip) All gone.
But , Mrs Weston--god!--You just sent him for--I don’t know
what! Or is Villon’s really just a little cheese shop?
There really is no call for concern. We will never see that
money or any kind of anything--or, with any luck, Karl, again.
Uh-huh. . . . C’est louche, tout ça. Bien louche. . . . D’accord.
(She now really submerges herself in her files, her Psion, or
some kind of mini computer--she becomes quite oblivious to
what’s going on in the room around her.)
. . . Now, what exactly did your husband die of?
We never found out really. He just disappeared. And after
a certain period of time, we just decided--that is, we . . . were
told that he was dead. Legally . . . dead. Voilà.
So your son is Phillip Junior?
[Yvonne returns to the bar. She trades her wine glass for one with a little more volume, and fills it up with wine, killing the bottle and then immediately going through the bar searching for another.]
Well, in actual fact, no. My son is Phillip Alexander. My husband
was Phillip Michael.
[Her search becomes a little frantic before she finds a new bottle of wine and begins to uncork it and let it breath.]
[Philly enters SL and seems to be regarding the art work in the entrée. He will, during his stay, change SL back into the métro station.]
I don’t think that distinction is ever made in the file.
Oh? . . . Well, they must not have thought it important.
No, I think it is important. An oversight. (She’s pouring through
her files) And here it shows your son’s sero-positivity was
determined quite some time ago. It says he’s been H-I-V-positive
since 1986, February ‘86.
Hell, they only started testing for the shit in ‘85. The Department
of Health and Human Services launched HIV on a wacked-out
world in 1984.
But your husband--
Mon mari a disparu, exactement comme Albertine, before
they started any of this testing. And he wasn’t the sort who
took to such things:--
Ben ouais! That canker! Oh la la. That cough--
--incipient tests for incipient disorders.--
--c’est la vie! Rien que le prochain pas sur la piste imprudente
de l’esprit déshonoré;--
--But your husband was never tested?--
--Il a trouvé tout ça insoutenable. Il a évité les médecins
comme si vivre dependait de ça.
--nothing but the automatic blush of matter roused to sensation
and become receptive for that which awaked it.
Moi, je m’en fous.
Ah, oui, bien sûr. Malgré tout, votre fils était gravement
malade, ou non? Ton mari savait de la maladie avant
Oh, I think so. Yes. . . . Let’s see. . . . Philly was, what?
eighteen, nineteen, when he got his first real adult illness.
. . . He’d been ill quite often as a child--a young child.
(Reading from files)
Says here . . . --
[Yvonne drinks harder during this.]
(Covering Crossley’s reading)
General inability to thrive. Persistent generalised swollen lymph
glands, persistent oral candida and developmental delay. Then,
twelve months after birth, the capacity of cells to proliferate was
fifty to seventy percent below normal. Recurrent, perhaps chronic,
anemia with subcritical tendency to hemophilia. Elevated leukocytic
levels indicating strong disposition toward leukocytosis and
leukodystrophy. Subject to frequent, severe fevers, diarrhoea.
Frequent inflammations of eyes, ears, nose and throat. Chronically
elevated hepatic enzymes. Gall bladder removed at twenty-four
months. Recurring and severe gastroenteritis from eighteen months.
Positive reactions on TB, CMV, Epstien Barr, Lupus, Mono, Hepatitis
B & C. Chronic gonoccocal conjuctivitis and presence of a highly
resistant residual strain of syphilis. Quite a birthright.
Whoa . . . Quite a survivor, your son. And you--as his mother!--
were never tested? For anything?
I can remember how horrible I felt. I used to shake. All over. . . .
All the time. . . . And he suffered so much--it was absolutely
unbearable. For him, I mean. For Philly. Oh, for all of us. Sure.
I can imagine.
Yes. Can you, really?
And then the cancers?
Uh, yes, that’s right. . . . Are you sure you won’t have a little
something? To drink, I mean.
[Yvonne returns to the bar.]
Are you sure you wouldn’t like to fix her one of your famous
loaded apples, Maman?
I quit about two years ago. . . . No, exactly two years, one
month and six days ago--but, then, who’s counting, right?
[Yvonne refills her glass.]
I see. Yes. Well, good for you, dear. . . . AA?
Scientologie? Hari Krishna? Le Temple du Soleil? Falun
Gong? Ferme-le ton claque-merde quoi!
Some more water then, dear?
Merci. . . . On peut parler un peu des cancers?
Anything you want, dear. Anything but drug talk.
Cancer in children is especially painful. Their suffering is
Qu’est cette salope? Lady Di? Merde de Dieu.
Yes. Of course it is, dear.
Before he came into our program it seems it had moved into
his head. When was that?
That first one in 1980 was especially vague. It was before
he tested H-I-V-positive. When he was nineteen, I think. And
(she sighs) . . . they removed a tumor from the left-side of his
brain. But it biopsied benign. He was having terrible vision
problems. Terrible headaches.
Nothing those dilaudids couldn’t have knocked out.
But we weren’t able to get him the proper medication.
The doctors we had . . . they wouldn’t give him what
What he needed? What I needed?
Who was deciding what he needed?
They were under a great deal of pressure. . . . From the
government . . . . The Health and Safety Code. These
doctors--’croakers’, Phillip called them--would write you
all the Xanax and Thorazine you could eat, but . . . that
wasn’t what we needed--what Philly needed. So his father
. . . this was just before he left for good-- He thought the
surgery--he was convinced this surgery was . . . well, just the
same old quackery he’d saved Philly from when he was a baby.
[Now Yvonne and Philly make eye contact across the stage. Crossley, when not in her files, is only on Yvonne.]
He thought the doctors were using the surgeries to keep Philly
in their programs. To keep us from finding him better care.
Better treatments with better medicines. . . . He’d wanted to
just go in and take Philly right out of this program--as if that
were possible. He’d saved him before, you see. And for what?. . .
It was just like after his stomach cancer, the partial gastrectomy
when Philly was six. They took more than half his stomach--
his father just said, ‘ça suffit!’ and took him out of the hospital.
Brought him home. He was only six. And still a baby. And still
all wound up in tubes and drips and bottles of this and that.
He had no hair at all, I remember. And his lips were always
deep blue--purple. Yes. Purple shadows moved all over his
body, under his skin. He never slept--I don’t remember ever
seeing him sleep. And his eyes always bugged out and just
stared. They never followed anything. He just stared straight
ahead. Like he was staring at something right in front of his face.
And with no expression. Just blank. He was six years old. And
he’d had so much of him cut out and thrown away. Before his
body had even had a chance to grow, to regenerate itself, they
just threw a good part of him away. His blood drained and
replaced with the blood of strangers. So many times. And he
never registered pain. He never cried. I don’t recall Philly ever
crying--Ever. In his whole life I can’t remember Philly crying.
The doctors told us he must be in a great deal of pain. But they
would see to that--they would see to treating the pain. But he
never complained. He seldom spoke, . . . except to say he loved
us. Every night when we would tuck him in, he would say he
T’es sûr de ça? T’es bien sûr? Tu ne me confonds pas avec
le jeune Marcel?
But you’re saying they removed this tumor as part of a research
So, the brain tumor--I mean, they weren’t saying it was Kaposi
or anything like that. That was what everyone else was coming
down with. ‘83, ‘84. This was before that. This was just a
simple brain tumor--but Phillip couldn’t stand it. Couldn’t
stand the thought of them cutting on Philly’s brain. They’d
been through so much together. And Philly’s boyfriends
always blamed his father--for everything. It was all just too
much for him.
I’m confused. Why were they operating? This program?--Was
your son getting proper medical care or not? . . . You were still
in the States?
Ces évocations tournoyantes et confuses ne duraient jamais
que quelques secondes;--
In Chico, yes. Northern California.
--souvent ma brève incertitude du lieu où je me trouvais
ne distinguait pas mieux les unes des autres--
Yes, I know. With the prison there.
--les diverses suppositions dont elle était faite,--
No, dear, that’s Chino. By Los Angeles.
--que nous n’isolons, en voyant un cheval noir courir,--
Chico is in the Sacramento Valley. With the college.
--les positions successives que nous montre le kinétoscope.
Sure. Ok. But you said you had trouble getting him proper
I don’t remember Philly complaining. About anything. Ever.
J’étais bien instruit par les tortionnaires, les bourreaux à
l’hôpital. Ce ‘Goodnight. I love you, mommy’, c’était un truc
que j’ai appris pour obtenir les percodans.
These were research programs your son was in, right? Testing
programs. Just like ours. But what was the problem with his
He’d been in programs like these--you see, dear, this was when
the transplant business was really booming. The late 70s.
A good deal was being done searching for anti-rejection drugs.
And since Philly had had so many transfusions--essentiellement
le prémier genre des greffes, on peut dire--ils ont pensé que mon
fils serait le cobaye parfait pour ses médicaments contre-rejet.
But his immune system couldn’t have been in any kinda shape to
demonstrate if these drugs worked or not. How much more could
they really depress his immune system without flat-out killing him?
Voilà! Faites vos jeux! La concurrence du Business entre les
banques d’organes, les banque du sangs, et les enterprises
de médicaments est vachement fascinante. La comptabilité aussi.
Je ne sais pas, chérie. Il nous suffit de savoir qu’il s’est toujours
guéri juste à temps pour la prochaine analyse. Le fait qu’il
a continué de vivre, c’était la seule preuve qu’ils ont cherché.
(Exasperated, changing tack, diving back into her notes)
So . . . you two came to France in ‘89. Your first contact with
the Association was in December ‘89. Through the Pasteur
Institute. (to Yvonne, very personally) I’d like to meet your
son. He’s here . . . now, right?
Oh, yes, please, mummy.
He’s been unusually quiet since you arrived. He’s usually
beeping me every minute.
I’m very interested in your case--that is, the Association is
very interested in . . . your son’s treatment. How it might
serve to develop new techniques for treating some of these
terrible new diseases--and actually some old ones, too--but
every day we are discovering new treatments, we’re breaking
genetic codes that give us incredible insights into the future
of human health. All this depends on the kinds of tests that
your son takes for us. And . . . Philly’s survival is truly incredible.
Oh, your people have kept Philly going, really, for all these
years. If it weren’t for all those doctors and people at your
organization--for all the help, all the medicines you have
given us, I just don’t know what we’d have done.
If I weren’t so near death already, this would really make me
sick. Je vais gerber.
[During this exchange, Philly has converted the SL area back into the Pierre Curie métro station. Philly exits as the lights flicker out SL.]
I had many friends in the Eighties who died of Aids.
You just seem so young for that, dear. They--your friends--
must have been very young too.
Oh, well, yes. But . . . I was in my first year at Columbia, and
I hung out with lots of older people. Artists. Theatre people.
Downtown. You know?
This was what? What year?
Oh, I got to Columbia in ‘88. ‘88 through ‘91. I can’t remember--
I lost count of how many friends I lost.
Of course. . . . And you studied medicine? Science?
No, no. I got an M-B-A in ‘95. I wanted to dedicate myself
to the memory of those friends I lost by working to find a
cure for this horrible disease.
[Lights flicker back up SL. It is empty but for Karl’s shit which is back on the bench.]
That’s right. Do you know that in Africa every one in four
people is H-I-V positive?
Uh-huh. Well, the figure I heard was four out of ten sexually
active people tested positive. An old friend at the World
Health Organization, Guy Zimmerman, was working in Lusaka,
in Zambia. This was 1992. He got the government to launch a
gigantic testing program.
Zambia, yes. We’re working that one. And Zimbabwe and
Tanzania. And Uganda. The W-H-O is very helpful. I was
just in Geneva last month.
Indeed. . . . But an M-B-A?
Well, dear--I have no idea what’s going on in the Biz Ad
department at Columbia these days--
I got my M-B-A from Boston College. I did my undergrad
stuff at Columbia. Journalism.
I see. Uh-huh. It’s just--I suppose because I’m so old--and
I’m not questioning your dedication. Please, darling, don’t
ever think that. It’s just that Business--I don’t know--(laughs)
Mrs Weston. When all my friends, these young men like
your son, were dying and no one knew why, it was Business,
the large pharmaceutical companies, who financed the research
and discovered what was killing them--it was business that
discovered Aids. I believe that Business will also discover
a cure, a vaccine to stop this killer.
I suppose that’s right, dear. Yes. Business did discover Aids.
And Business took Doctor Montagnier away from the Pasteur
Institute, where we would take an occaisonal coffee, and put
him in a lovely corner office at Princeton. And it was Business
that got Gallo and Montagnier fighting over who had the
proprietary rights to rename H-T-L-V and claim the, as you
say, discovery of H-I-V.
[Karl rushes into Pierre Curie. He is completely out of breath. He sits on the bench and takes a small plastic sack out of his pocket. It contains a number of little white pills. He takes three or four out of the sack, pops them into his mouth, then reaches beneath the bench for his bottle of wine. At first he can’t find it. He becomes frantic--starts choking on the pills--then finds the bottle lying on its side, picks it up and takes a long slash from it to wash down the pills. He then tries to catch his breath. When he begins to speak it is with the slow precision of someone who is already really wired. He stands up and moves around--he is still a total sketch-ball, but the pills seem to have eliminated his manic ejaculations.]
(ALL THIS HAPPENS UNDER--AND KARL’S LINES ARE CONFLATED WITH--THE FOLLOWING EXCHANGE BETWEEN YVONNE & CROSSLEY:)
You see, when Phillip was at Duke, he had a good friend at
Burroughs. Dave Thompson. It was Burroughs-Wellcome
then, before Glaxo bought it. Dave worked in research--was
vice-president in charge of research, as I recall. Well, Dave
told Phillip how the whole bordel with H-T-L-V--the Human
T-Cell Leukemia Virus--but, of course, you know that already,
don’t you, dear--sorry--But, you see, Bob Gallo had H-T-L-V one--
or was it three?--no matter--and Montagnier had what he called
L-A-V, and then H-I-V, but it was all just muck drekked up from
blood cultures batched from dozens--or maybe hundreds--of
haemophiliacs and people already diagnosed with Aids.
Different doctors, different researchers, had their own test
groups. Their own patients on whom they ran their tests.
And, well, Philly had been diagnosed and treated as a . . .
. . . haemophiliac most of his life--so, everybody at Triangle Park
was very interested in Philly. He was like one of those high
draft choices the pros are always after. You know what I mean,
Well . . . We do a lot of work with Glaxo, sure, all the big bio-tech
outfits. But are you saying that they were bidding for your son?
Seems a little far-fetched. He did get around though. Man,--
Bien qu’on dût s’y attendre, cet incident provoqua une grande
émotion dans les milieux médicaux, et même à la Cour, d’où
vinrent des ordres afin qu’on procédât à une enquête sur les
circonstances de cette révocation.
(Again very deep into her files)
--I show here, before you came to us, your son was in programs
at Massachusetts Gerneral Hospital, San Francisco General,
Sloan-Kettering, New England Deaconess Hospital, the
National Institute of Health Complex in Bethesda and Walter
Reed, and then at Duke and Cornell. . . . Why were--
Well, Dave was telling Phillip that everything was going
into retroviruses--you know, all the research, all the journals,
all the funding--and that this opened up a whole new opportunity
for Burroughs. Because Burroughs had been on our case from
the very beginning.
What does this man at Burroughs--your friend--your husband’s
friend; what did he have to do with your son’s treatment?
[Philly appears outside at the window UR.]
Du fait de ses fonctions à l’hôpital général dont il était
le médecin-chef, il dut, bien qu’il s’en disculpât, sanctionner
dans une certaine mesure la révocation de son fils.
Oh, rien de tout, chérie. Rien de tout. Ce mec--Dave was just a
friend. Just a friend, you know? A friend of the family. But he
pointed us in the right direction. He showed us where the new
therapies were coming from--where the new medicines
. . . take us. He told us about the new tests and AZT and how we
might get Philly some five-star help. Really, how we found you.
Il nous a dirigé vers la thune. La thune et les produits pharma-
ceutiques de bonne qualité. Et de la mine d’or de l’ingénierie
On éloigna donc l’impétueux Philippe dans un voyage d’une
certaine durée. . . . Un voyage vers la douleur--ah, ben oui--
L’homme est un apprenti, la Douleur est son maître. . . .
I know Wellcome patented the first HIV tests. One of the doctors,
a virologist, at the Association, worked for Chester Beatty Labs
at the Institute of Cancer Research in London where the test was
developed. But Dupont makes a test too. So why do you think
Glaxo--or Burroughs was so interested in Philly?
L’homme est un apprenti, le Libéralisme est son sorcier. . . .
Puis l’Autoritarisme est l’apprenti du Libéralisme, et l’homme
est--quoi?--l’homme est l’esclave de ses besoins. . . .
Et puis, il n’avait pas le choix. Qu’aurait-il pu faire?
Attendre que les bourrins se prennent de lui leur grands
Yes, mother. Why was that? Just this bag of infected bone
marrow. What would they want with me?
[The ‘MÉTRO MUSIQUE’ is heard SL. At the same instant the POP MUSIC on the radio is interrupted for the following message spoken by Philly:]
(Affecting the voice of a sexy female SNCF fonctionnaire)
Votre attention, s’il vous plaît. Suite à un mouvement social,
tout le trafic sur toutes les lignes du métro et RER est interrompu.
Pour toutes information composez le numero vert de la RATP:
08 36 68 69 70. J’en repete: 08 36 68 69 70.
[Various reactions are simultaneously registered:]
Oh la la. Chérie. T’as entendu? Quelles conneries!
Ben merde alors! J’suis prisonnier ici. Quelle Saloperie!
Oh, well, . . . This is certainly just what I needed. Fuck!
(Himself again--sort of!)
C’est juste le mouvement syndical français. ‘Allons enfants de la
patrie . . .’ C’est tout. Nous sommes tous des soixante-huitards,
non? (chants a couple times) ‘Dans les rues/Avec nous!’
PAUSE. [Quickly POP MUSIC returns to the radio.] PAUSE.
[Karl appears like a trapped animal--a trapped animal completely buzzed on crank. He gathers up all his shit and makes like he’s going to split. Several after-thoughts later, with several false starts in several different directions; he decides to crawl under the bench and try to hide himself there under his plastic sheet.]
Qu’est-ce que tu vas faire? T’es venue en métro?
Moi, ch’ais pas. Enfin, bref . . . . On peut continuer? . . . Merde!
Ma journée est complètement foutue. On pourrait peut être
prendre un taxi?
(Shreiking in pain and fear)
Mais non. Bientôt la circulation sera completement congelé--
comme un parking lot.
Yeah. Right. Well . . .
Il est beau le mouvement syndical français. Ses coups arrivent
toujours juste à temps pour sauver la ferme. Hein, maman?
DES CAFARDS! . . . DES CAFARDS!
Look. I know you are much too polite to mention it-- We’ve
been holding-up your stipend until we can get some tests in.
Yes, dear. Of course.
I think the whole deal with genetic licenses and patent rights
should be left to the legal department. Those guys live in a
world of their own. Right? (laughs)
Non, non! Aïïïïïïïe, non!
Well, you know, dear, I have this same discussion with every
case worker who visits me. Nothing changes.
(In full psychotic meltdown)
Des cafards! Des cafards! Aïe, non! Arrêtez!
Well, as his mother and closest living relative, you hold
the--I don’t know what to really call it--the proprietary rights
to Philly’s genetic code and whatever it might produce. You
know that, right?
Oh, I know that, dear.
And it is certainly not my intention to talk you into anything--
or out of anything--on this thing. Your regular check has
been issued--it’s just waiting on these test results. That’s all.
(Now thrashing under the bench)
Ils me devorent! Aïe! Aïïïïïe! Aïïïe! Au secours!
Yes, well, that’s all very fine, dear. But, you know, it has been
an unusually long time since I’ve received a check from you
people. And, well, Philly’s needs really can’t wait. You know?
Un syndicat pour les mourant peut être? Pour les assassinés.
Of course, Mrs Weston. I know. There’s just some concern
over the blood work we’ve been getting. We’re having trouble
with replication--replicating the, uh,--replicating the--well, we’re
not getting any consistency in our results. Even running the
H-I-Vs, we’re not getting consistent positives.
C’est insupportable! Au secours! Au secours! Ça me tue! Arrêtez!
[Karl breaks out from under the bench and begins pacing SL.]
I’m affraid I can’t be of any help there. J’suis . . . juste . . .
enfin, sa mère.
Charlus! Charlus! Aides-moi!
I think, to get you back on track, we’ll really have to bring
Phillip in to the clinic to have better controls on these tests.
Oh la la.
Well, dear, I think this is a singularly bad time for that sort of
Charlus! Tu dois m’aider! Charlus!
Yes, dear. Uh-huh?
Mrs Weston--I don’t really know how to put this. . . . Unless
we can take your son in to continue the tests--well--There
is just no other way for these tests to continue.
Indeed. Well, I’m very sorry to hear that.
I’m not sure you understand me, Mrs Weston.
[Karl has started counting something on the back wall.]
(Improvising in this vein under what follows.)
Un à Charlus. Un à moi. Un à vendre. Un à garder.
Un à l’armée. Un à ma mère. Un à l’OTAN. Deux au Kosovo.
Rien à la Serbie. . . .
[Philly is now sitting on the window sill UR. Very interested.]
Oh, I think I understand. Yes. You’re telling me I’m not
getting my check until I give you Philly. Well . . .
No, no, Mrs Weston. It’s more than that. It’s much more . . .
The Association needs to assume tighter control of these tests--
of your son’s care. The Association--if we are to continue our
relationship--our fiduciary relationship--which is much more than
this monthly allocation--as you know. The Association needs to
take full custody--You see, it’s in all our contracts. Genetic patents.
Ancilliary research. Second and third degree derivative medicines.
The Association has the right, at any time, to hospitalize the subject
if failure to do so would in any way jeopardize the research process.
Well, you and your M-B-A certainly have it all over me as far as
contracts go. But I don’t think you have any idea what you’re
asking--what you’re letting yourself in for.
Please, Mrs Weston, this is in no way a suggestion that you have
failed in any way to care for your son. Pas de tout. It’s all about
the integrity of our research. A great deal is at stake here--and
not just the huge sums that have been invested in it--millions of
lives depend on the integrity of our tests.
Oh, please, dear, spare me the Succor for Suffering Humanity
spiel. You think I’ve spent the last twenty years on an intravenous
drip from CNN and the Scientific American? I learned more about
your ‘killer disease’ and Philly’s hopeless condition from the Wall
Street Journal and The Financial Times than from all your medical
statisticians and scientific social workers--with all your mawkish
plaints about lost loved ones--It’s amazing. You really think being
against Aids, seeking after a cure for Aids, fighting against disease,
is a considered moral position? The high ground? An end that
justifies all the human suffering and exploitation used to reach it?
Allons-y! À la charge! Juste comme Napoléon.
Mrs Weston, I had no intention--that is, I had no idea you
would feel--you would react this way. If you’d like--
No, of course not, dear. Of course not. Listen, I’m just going
to freshen this up a wee bit and we can--
Oh, quelle lâcheté.
Don’t you think you’ve had enough . . . of that . . . for right now?
[Yvonne goes to the bar and pours herself more wine.]
No, no, no, no, no, no, no, dear. This is definetly not a subject
for discussion. Not today. Let’s deal with Phillip, shall we?
My drinking is a whole other area of research we can take up
some other time. D’accord?
I didn’t mean--
I’m sure you didn’t, dear. Ne t’inquiète pas. C’est peut être
le bon moment pour que tu fasses la connaissance de mon fils.
Tu veux? (LONG PAUSE) Hein?
[Yvonne moves DS from the bar and stands US of the door DR.]
Donc. On y va.
Madame. Je veux me faire pardonner. J’suis désolée si
je vous ai insultée.
Non, non, chérie, ça va aller. Maintenant on va voir mon
pauvre. T’es fin prête?
Houais. (That inhaled ‘oui’ that French women do)
[Crossley has been putting her files away, and she rises and Xs to the door DR.]
[Karl breaks for SR and continues to improvise as he now seems to count the items in the apartment.]
Ma mère mange à droite . . . Jospin mange à gauche . . . L’armée
mange à droite . . . l’Abbé Pierre mange à gauche . . . (etc.)
Pardonnes-moi le désordre.
C’est moi. Je m’excuse pour mon attitude.
[Yvonne follows her out the door DR.]
Phillip, darling. This is . . . I’m awfully sorry, dear. I’ve forgotten
your name. ( LONG SILENCE) Dear? Are you all right? (LONG
Ça ira, ça ira, chérie. Voilà. Première à droite. Vas-y.
SOUNDS of UNRESTRAINED VOMITTING.
Here, let me clean that up. . . . Here . . . She just dribbled a
little here. . . . There . . . There, dear. All done. Poor child.
Too much to drink, I suppose. There you are. Good as new.
[Crossley rushes on through the door DR, wiping her mouth and fighting for breath.]
[Karl is now on his hands and knees DR continuing the psychotic improv and counting the fibers in the carpet or the tiles on the floor or something.]
St Loupe mange à droite . . . Gilberte mange à gauche . . .
Françoise mange à droite--non, non, à gauche--non, à droite . . .
Just as good as new. Clean and beautiful is my darling boy.
Yes he is. . . . Yes he is.
[Crossley goes to the window UR and tries to breathe. She is close enough to Philly to kiss him, but doesn’t notice him at all. When she turns back into the room, she seems half-mad with terror. Her mouth feels like its full of toxic worm shit.]
(Barely able to form the words)
Mrs Wes-- . . . Mrs West--on? (LONG PAUSE) Mrs Weston?
J’arrive, chérie. J’arrive.
[Crossley glances at the bar. Then she stares at it. Then she Xs to it and pours herself a glass of wine and drinks it quickly. She then pours another and drinks it quickly.]
(Almost in a whisper)
I have to go.
(A little louder with the pain)
[Yvonne enters and stands just US of the door DR. Karl continues the improv counting a smaller and smaller area DRC. Philly looks on bemused.]
Ça va, chérie?
Non. Faut que j’y aille.
[Crossley pours then drinks another glass of wine.]
(re: the wine)
Et le rapport? Les questions? Et si vous alliez prendre
(Struggling with everything)
Mrs Weston . . .
Et l’argent que vous me devez--que vous nous devez?
(Very big now)
Nom de Dieu! Il n’est pas vivant. C’est pas possible. Non, il est
mort. . . . Mrs Weston, your son is dead! Oh god!
LONG, LONG PAUSE.
(A male voice [the OS Philly], full of pain
and anger and illness, and heard by both women)
[Crossley freezes. Yvonne & Philly smile. Karl continues counting nothing.]