DON JUAN IN FLAMES
(Don Giovanni al rogo)
A play in two acts
[Copyright by “Società Italiana degli Autori e degli Editori (S.I.A.E.)”]
apply to: Alessandro Balducci – Via Cicco Simonetta, 12 – 20123 Milano – Italy
Fax: (+39) 02.89.95.01.51
www.alfredobalducci.it – firstname.lastname@example.org
Hugh Barty – King – Autumn Cottage – Ticehurst – Wadhurst
In his many years as one of Italy's leading playwrights,
Alfredo Balducci has written some 50 dramas and comedies, eight of which have
won national prizes.
Don Giovanni al
His L'equipaggio della Zattera was given a memorable production at the Piccolo Theatre in Milan; his L'eredita' at the Sistina Theatre in Rome; his I dadi e l'archibugio (Assault at arms length) at the Teatro Stabile in Trieste.
Translations of his works have been made in english, french, spanish, slovene, czech, russian, romanian, greek and serbocroat.
Hugh Barty-King made an
english version of
I dadi e l'archibugio as
length, which was performed at the open-air
Minack Theatre in
english versions of
italian plays by Hugh
Barty-King performed in
FACT AND FICTION
Alfonso XI, King of Castile, was only a few months old when his father, Fernando IV, (who had himself become king at the age of nine) died in 1312, and he succeeded to the throne of Castile, the large Roman Catholic Christian kingdom in the centre of Spain, much of which was occupied by muslim arabs from Morocco known as Moors.
An infant monarch required a
guardian to take care of himself and a regent to take care of his subjects.
Many claimed to be the only person in
The play thus opens two years later, with the 14-year-old boy-king trying his best to find, with the help of counsellors, solutions to on-going internal and external problems that could no longer be left to the wrangling of glory-seeking incompetents whose only aim was to aggrandize themselves without any concern for the well-being of those they ruled.
Was the Don Juan in the title
of this play a real person? The
“Don Juan, according to a Spanish story apparently first dramatized by Gabriel Teller (who wrote under the name 'Tirso da Molina') in El burlador de Sevilla and subsequently by Moliere in Le Festin de pière and in Mozart's Don Giovanni, was Don Juan Tenorio of Seville, Having attempted to ravish Dona Ana, the daughter of the commander of Seville, he is surprised by the father, whom he kills in a duel A statue of the commander is erected over his tomb. Don Juan and his cowardly servant Leporello visit the tomb, when the statue is seen to move its head. Juan jestingly invites it to a banquet. The statue comes, seizes Juan and delivers him to devils. Don Juan is the proverbial heartless and impious seducer”
King Alfonso XI of Castile, aged 14
Consalvo, his first minister
Mr Johann, entrepreneur
Gurgi ) capitalists
Lucas, Mr Johann's associate
Don Juan Tenorio
Noblemen, servants, soldiers, businessmen, villagers
[The stage is divided into two halves. Stage Left we see the interior of a Spanish church as it appeared in the 14th century when it was built. Stage Right changes from one scene to another, each of which we recognise however as belonging to the times we are living in to-day. Each change of scene from Stage Right to Stage Left, and from one scene to another on Stage Right, is marked by a brief blackout.
To understand it better, imagine the interior structure of the nave of such a church being painted on a transparency hanging Stage Left, which is only lit from behind and made visible when the action of the play requires it. At all other times it remains dark and invisible.
Stage Right on the other hand is where the characters act as we do to-day, in contemporary settings. Here will be placed, according to the requirements of the script, furniture and objects which create the room, the ambience, in which each Stage Right scene takes place. For the final scene the two halves of the stage are joined.
The same actor/actress takes the part of 1st Counsellor and Vector; 2nd Counsellor and Gurgi; 3rd Counsellor and Ladog; Don Juan and Mr Johann; Catalinon and Lucas; Dona Ana and Madame Gorak.]
[Inside a 14th century Spanish church, in which a number of NOBLEMEN stand waiting. The 14-year-old KING ALFONSO, carrying a horse whip which he is always fiddling with, and CONSALVO, wearing a cowl, walk in through an upstage opening. They are followed by his three counsellors VECTOR, GURGI and LADOG also in cowls, who stop and bow to the king, as do the NOBLEMEN. ALFONSO, playing with his whip, comes downstage with CONSALVO, and briefly bobs his head at the three counsellors lined up behind him].
ALFONSO. I beg you. I beseech you, Consalvo.
CONSALVO. I beseech you – to conduct yourself with the dignity of a king. [pointing to the counsellors] See those people? They are your counsellors. Don't let their penitent garb deceive you, but they deserve your respect.
ALFONSO. Listen to me, Consalvo. Please!
CONSALVO. Your majesty! They are all looking at you. No matter how you behave in the privacy of your closet, but in your public appearances you cannot afford to lack a sense of occasion, to give the impression of being insensitive of the seriousness what it is you are being asked to take part in, the weighty nature of the matters you are asked to give advice on.
ALFONSO. The meeting is off – postponed. For an hour. Just one hour alone. That is all I need.
CONSALVO. If I may say so, your majesty, postponing the meeting would do no more than throwing a cupful of water on flames that are already blazing.
ALFONSO. Are you trying to frighten me? What blaze?
CONSALVO. What blaze? Fires are roaring away in every corner of your kingdom your majesty, destroying our traditional way of life down to the roots, and you ask...
ALFONSO. [interrupting] By the way, Consalvo, I forgot to tell you. What
do you think I found had arrived from
CONSALVO. Not the only unbridled beast in Castile...There are plenty of them rampaging fast and loose all over our country, with no one to stop them viciously trampling on your subjects wherever they ride. They are the ones which need your attention, majesty, not...
ALFONSO. Everything is a misfortune to you, Consalvo. You hear someone blowing a trumpet, and it is the Moors invading us. A gaggle of people get together in the square, and you think they are plotting revolution.
CONSALVO. And with good cause. Little do you know.of the schemes being hatched all around your throne, every day, every hour of every day.
ALFONSO. That lovely beast is still in my stables, and hardly a soul has set eyes on her yet. Only the best for the King of Castile, is that not right? And the sooner my subjects can get the message, [con brio] the more speedily will they come to love me, trust me, obey me.
CONSALVO. Please, your majesty! They are looking at you..
ALFONSO. When will the day come when no one looks at me? I long for the day when I can go about without being watched by nobles, military instructors, schoolmasters, archbishops, ambassadors. When will that day come, Consalvo?
CONSALVO. Ah! Here they come [he looks off Left]. Gird up your loins – and your thoughts. These are the people, the most powerful members of our hereditary nobility, come to learn what you have in mind for the protection of our country from its enemies, your plan to rescue it from its seemingly endless internal turmoil. Your counsellors over there will help and guide you, but it is to you to whom these noblemen, on whose loyalty you so desperately depend, will look to for clear and firm leadership. This is a critical meeting. So remember: :resolution not hesitation.. Every inch a king. Convincingly regal bearing; head held high, eyes front; at them, not down at the whip on your lap.
[A group of NOBLEMEN enter Stage Left, who stop and bow their heads on seeing the king. ALFONSO and CONSALVO move towards them. ALFONSO sits himself in the chair which one of the noblemen has placed before him.
CONSALVO formally addresses him]
CONSALVO: Your majesty. Our
wearing the habits of those who seek forgiveness for their sins show how distraught
we are at the disasters that beset our beloved country. In Galizia goats have
been born with two heads,. In
1sr COUNSELLOR.. Witchcraft,
necromancy and other devilish activities are rampant throughout
2nd COUNSELLOR: Recruiting for military service is severely resisted wherever you go, in the towns, in the country villages, everywhere.
3rd COUNSELLOR There is a
village in the hills of
1sr COUNSELLOR Several
soldiers on an expedition in
CONSALVO. So you see,
your majesty, a terrible cord of corruption and impiety is strangling
[ALFONSO follows CONSALVO to the left where a spotlight reveals the statue of a warrior]
ALFONSO. Who does this statue represent?
CONSALVO. Do you not recognise Don Gonzalo De Ulloa, the leading knight of Calatrava, one of your most dependably loyal warriors?
ALFONSO. Oh yes. Of course. Don Gonzalo De Ulloa who died recently.
CONSALVO. Who was assassinated recently, your majesty. We demand that the person responsible should be proclaimed a traitor and condemned to death.
ALFONSO. Why make this demand of me?
CONSALVO. Because you alone have the power to decide such matters. The man who killed Don Gonzalo is a nobleman of your court. I am referring to Don Juan de Tenorio.
ALFONSO. Oh yes. Now I remember. But why do you talk of assassination and betrayal? It was in a duel, was it not?
CONSALVO. An assassination, your majesty., that deprived your throne of one of its most indefatigable defenders.
1st COUNSELLOR It is true, your majesty.
2nd COUNSELLOR It is exactly as he says.
ALFONSO [rising from his chair] Do you take me for a fool? [embarrassed, he sits down again]
CONSALVO. Your majesty...
ALFONSO [pulling himself together] Leave me, gentlemen...I have said... we have said, that we remember what happened very well, particularly because Don Juan de Tenorio had our sympathy and affection. Don Gonzalo died by the sword in a duel., pierced through the heart in a properly regulated encounter,. He was a brave fighter. It was a fair fight, an honourably conducted duel, strictly abiding to the rules.
CONSALVO.. Don Juan's act of betrayal took place before he fought that duel. -- his treatment of Dona Ana, Don Gonzalo's daughter..
ALFONSO... What do you mean?
CONSALVO. Don Gonzalo fought to defend the honour of his daughter whom Don Juan ravished.
CONSALVO. More despicably than your majesty could ever imagine.
ALFONSO. We asked how?
1st COUNSELLOR Spare us, majesty, from going into details.
ALFONSO [annoyed] So!
2nd COUNSELLOR. Perhaps – perhaps, your majesty, does not yet know how one can deprive a young lady of her honour?.
CONSALVO. [to Gurgi] Have you any doubt on the matter? Have you forgotten your sovereign's age?
2nd COUNSELLOR. At 14, well... er...there are some things that...
CONSALVO. And from whom, pray, would his majesty have learned them?
3rd COUNSELLOR. Our sovereign lives at court in splendid isolation defended by his teachers.
2nd COUNSELLOR Well, I thought perhaps...
CONSALVO. …that we should provide him with teachers who specialise in depravities of this sort, eh?
ALFONSO. What particular depravities should we know about?
CONSALVO. Those indulged in by villains of the kind of which Don Juan de Tenorio is an outstanding example.
ALFONSO. All right. But would someone be good enough to tell me just what Don Juan did to Dona Anna?
CONSALVO [hesitating]... he… er… assaulted her… used violence against her.
ALFONSO. What? Don Juan, a brave, strong knight-at-arms attacks a weak little girl? We would have found difficulty in believing that ,even if we had seen it with our own eyes. I have no more time for fairy stories, Consalvo.
CONSALVO. It happened none the less, your majesty.
ALFONSO. But why should Don Juan have used violence?
CONSALVO. So he could indulge in lechery.
ALFONSO. Lechery? What do you means?
CONSALVO. That is surely something your majesty should be well acquainted with. Lust – lechery - is one of the capital sins that I would have thought your theology master would be bound to have told you about.
ALFONSO. All I am saying is that your line of argument is not one which we have as yet examined very thoroughly.
2nd COUNSELLOR. What worries me is the way it seems his majesty is being educated. I would say it is far from the right way.
3rd COUNSELLOR. You mean there are – er – too many gaps in his syllabus?
2nd COUNSELLOR. I mean our sovereign lord isn't reigning over angels, is he, but over men and women – human beings?. It is his duty as monarch to make judgements on matters that affect his subjects' behaviour, and he cannot do so if he has does not know the nature. of such matters.. How can he be expected to condemn evil if he has no knowledge of it?
1st COUNSELLOR. All he has to do is to recognise what is good and reject everything that fails to approximate to it.
CONSALVO. Well, your majesty, all I can say is that nothing – not one thing - that Don Juan de Tenorio ever did in his time on earth could ever be remotely regarded as a good act
ALFONSO. I would like to hear something of the evil he has done, not the good that he has not done.. For instance, why should he have resorted to violence against this girl?
CONSALVO [embarrassed] Well. In order... in order to kiss her, your majesty.
ALFONSO. Is that all?
CONSALVO. Ah. Well. Don Juan is no novice in this kind of thing. There have been a large number of women he has – er – kissed in the course of his dissolute life.
1st COUNSELLOR. It's quite true. Everyone knows what happened to Donna Isabella at the court of Naples.
2nd COUNSELLOR. And to that sinful woman Tisbea, to Arminta, and to hosts of others of every age and position in life.
3rd COUNSELLOR. He made no distinction of wealth or rank when it came to – er – sinning.
.CONSALVO. Put an end to all such wickedness, your majesty – with unequivocal conviction, showing an exemplary sense of what is right and good, and what is wrong and sinful
ALFONSO. I see. So what you want me to believe is that goats are being born in Galizia with two heads because Don Juan of Tenorio kissed a lot of women? Do you really want me to condemn him to death because of this? You who call yourselves my counsellors - wise, moderate –minded men – are seriously proposing that I should act in this way?
1st COUNSELLOR. We have additional reasons for giving you this advice, your majesty.
ALFONSO. All right. What are they?
1st COUNSELLOR It's just that... .
CONSALVO [aside to Vector] Mind how you go.
1st COUNSELOR. The fact is Don Juan has committed sacrilege by promising these women holy matrimony.
ALFONSO. To Dona Ana too.?
1st COUNSELLOR. Certainly. He promised to marry her as well as all the others
ALFONSO. The answer is to force Don Juan to marry Ana. That will put a stop to it all, won't it?
CONSALVO. All right then. Action! We'll go at once and get things ready
for their wedding and make it a really joyous, festive occasion, with music, singing, dancing –
3rd COUNSELLOR. - and drinking.
CONSALVO. - raising our glasses to the infamous seducer of women whom the authorities will allow to go on living and be free to indulge in more infamy than ever before.
ALFONSO. If Don Juan has been used to deceiving women with a promise of marriage, which he has no intention of fulfilling, compelling him to marry will mean he will no longer be able to make any such promises, is that not so? Once really and truly married, he will be incapable of offending in this way.
CONSALVO. That may well be so, but does it mean that all his past misdeeds will go unpunished, forgotten, as if they had never been committed? If that happens, Dona Ana will never agree to marry the man who killed her father.
ALFONSO. So it is not Don Juan who breaks his promise! Dona Ana is the deceiver, Don Juan the victim – is that it?
[CONSALVO signals to the THREE COUNSELLORS to stand aside, and. goes to Alfonso]
ALFONSO [enthusiastically] Oh yes, Consalvo. I certainly do [cracks his whip]
CONSALVO. Saddle it, jump on its back and spend the rest of the day riding around on it?
ALFONSO. Yes, yes. Just that. Please let me, Consalvo!
CONSALVO [unrolling a scroll] All right then. Sign this document condemning Don Juan to death.
ALFONSO. Give me a pen. Quickly.
[ALFONSO seizes the pen that is handed him and signs the scroll; then leaps excitedly to his feet]
CONSALVO. Your majesty! Control yourself. Your court is watching you. [ushers him out] That's it. That's better. Look straight ahead. Now then, off you go Slowly, with dignity, straight to your carriage. Regal bearing, remember?
[ALFONSO goes out through the upstage opening through which he entered. CONSALVO and the THREE COUNSELLORS bow their heads and make way for him, as do the NOBLEMEN]
CONSALVO. [triumphally brandishing the signed scroll] Into our hands at last – the demon!
[A spotlight picks out the statue of an old man on a pedestal, at the foot of which is a bunch of flowers tied with a . ribbon. Then we gradually see a long table at which are seated King Alfonso's THREE COUNSELLORS no longer dressed in cowls but in the tailor-made suits of modern busdinessmen. VECTOR, GURGI and LADOG At the head of the table sits CONSALVO similarly dressed. He rises to his feet to deliver a speech of commemoration]
CONSALVO. I am not going to ask for minutes to be taken of this meeting.. I would regard that as too formal for an occasion such as this, quite superfluous. Besides, each one of you has already spent a considerable time in private meditation on the sad loss of our friend, our brother and colleague,, our beloved leader. The Great Kirby as everyone called him. His voice will no longer be heard at our board meetings, or over loudspeakers exhorting his workpeople in the factories with inspired words of encouragement.. The Great Kirby.has been removed from the busy scene, enriched with all the bustle, sounds and brilliance that dominated all his working life, saluted by the blasts of the thousand sirens, the roar of the thousands of motors, the chorus of happy, devoted voices, the whirr of the latest machinery that every day sound from every corner of his vast empire.
For me there is only one yardstick by which a man can be judged after he has left this life. Look at the vacuum he leaves.. The huge void which the Great Kirby leaves is a resounding, tremulous, black hole of desolation and despair..
[CONSALVO sits down. After a brief pause VECTOR rises to his feet]
VECTOR. Quite so. It isn't easy to speak after so
eloquent a tribute as yours Consalvo. It has been a great loss for all of us.
It will be some time before we recover.from the shock. Indeed, who knows if in
fact we shall ever succeed in recovering fully?. The empire of the Great Kirby
is finished.. To indicate the extent of the power he wielded,, we referred to
it as the
GURGI [rising] Great Kirby, your death signifies the end of an epoch, of a period of loyalty and complete faith in one man, his actions and intentions, such as rarely occurs in the story of commercial success. Such a state of things no longer exists.. Loyalty and faith have no place on the factory floor, the office, the laboratory... Each one of us searches in the darkness for a dagger blade. Betrayal lurks like a scorpion hiding under a stone. Seemingly innocuous words cover hidden meanings.
LADOG [rising] So there is no place for courage in to-day's world, is that it? Let's get this quite clear. Let's have the guts to speak our minds. How did the Great Kirby meet his death? We know he was killed, .but we pretend not to know whose sword it was that killed him. It is no use suggesting it may have been an accident, or that perhaps he was the victim of someone who betrayed his trust. All such theorising will take us nowhere, so long as we do not have the courage to confront people we believe played some part in the whole wretched business, and put to them precise questions in the hope of receiving precise and truthful answers.
[Enter Mr JOHANN].
Mr JOHANN. If I am the person you are talking about, I shall be glad to answer, and answer truthfully as I can, any question you choose to put to me.
CONSALVO. I must say I would like, if possible, to avoid turning this commemoration gathering into a business meeting.
Mr JOHANN. It might, on the other hand, be the best way for you to have what I shall be saying on record. In any event, who has ever known the Great Kirby to be very far away from business? Don't be alarmed. I also wish to say a word or two in his honour. ]going up to statue] A part of your empire passed into my hands, Great Kirby. You had little idea how you were going to bear the loss.. It was the first defeat of your long career. One has to lose sometimes. That is how one learns how to lose. Ours was a fair duel. Your suicide proves it. One would have expected your loss to have bowled you over with fury, but instead your reacted with little more than a gesture which we interpreted as indicating you were – well – annoyed, but that was all. I quite see, you know, how you came to fire that pistol Why only yesterday you were making the rounds of the factories of which you are so justifiably proud. What a sight those stacks of sheet metal make, piled on the quayside, glittering in the sun! You were right to love your factories so much, Great Kirby... and you have paid dearly for that love! I liked fighting you., old man., because, even in a fight, you were so grand – a grand man, a great man You always stood tall; you never cringed; you never crawled.. Yes, our duel was indeed fair.. I always made a frontal attack, while others had tried to get at you from the side or the back.
VECTOR. They did iideed..
Mr JOHANN. Am I not right in saying that on one occasion you tried to smash his hands when they were clutching a steel bar?
VECTOR. Who told you that story?
Mr JOHANN. I watched you do it. Myself. That was how you tried to take the Great Kirby's place. And then there was the occasion, was there not Gurgi , when you offered him a chair and you suddenly pulled it away from under him just as he was about to sit on it, which would have meant him breaking his collarbone, poor old man.? Far from frontal.
CONSALVO. If this meeting is to continue in this tone, it is impossible for me to remain in the chair. [he moves out of the chair at the head of the table and goes to sit with the others]
LADOG [sarcastically] One always knows of course when, in the world of business, this action can be regarded as disloyal, and that one cannot.
Mr JOHANN. The fact that one doesn't know the difference may account for the way one acts, but it cannot be said to justify acting disloyally
LADOG. All right. We tried to bring the old man down by stabbing him in his back. So what? We failed. But what did your duel, as you call it, end up with? A body.
Mr JOHANN. At the end, he was a tired old man who had for long stood tall,
and suddenly became aware that he was no longer taller than his competitors.
VECTOR. Why do you go on lying? True, you succeeded in accomplishing what all of us were also trying to achieve. But we were not acting out of lust for power – at least, not in my case – but to regain the freedom of action we had had when our future depended on our actions not his, not on anyone but ourselves. With his autocratic style of management, our ideas, our efforts counted for nothing It is a good thing that we should have this out, Johann. You succeeded in delivering the final blow that felled him. But I am not sure that that should make us happy because, as far as I can see, it has only resulted in having the determination of our future pass from him to you, juast changing from one dictator to another.
Mr JOHANN. What do you expect me to say in reply to that? That I should go on protecting you as I have up to now?
GURGI. Go on protecting us?
LADOG. What do you mean?
Mr JOHANN. Do you know why, when he discovered you were all conspiring to replace him as boss, the Great Kirby didn't get rid of you all in one big sweep? It was because I faced up to him; and to face me he needed all the strength he could summon.
VECTOR. In that case, we could, I suppose, tell you how grateful we are, if that, as I presume, is what you want us to do. However, I think we should first ask ourselves just what effect you intended your action to have – on whom, on what?
Mr JOHANN. On your future in a new, profitable and challenging sphere of operations Were you not thinking of what the creation of Research & Exploration Ltd signified for my future? I thought we were all in this together..
GURGI. You certainly showed yourself somewhat ingenuous in coming to us with that proposition.
LADOG. The sort of beginner's idea that has to be paid for.
.Mr JOHANN. So. For you, Ladog, loyalty never needs to be given a hundred per cent but only up to a point. And I take it that you have now reached the point when you feel you are no longer required to be loyal.. What has been our relationship all this time? Were we in a state of perpetual warfare, always 'fighting' each other? Is that how you would put it? You were armed to the teeth,. I had nothing on. .I was naked.. Remember? However, I was a young man of some charm, shall I say, and with one or two good ideas.. And I worked hard, you know. You had money to invest and it earned you good dividends. All I had was a headful of ideas, and there is no immediate return to be had from them.
VECTOR. A lot of water has flowed under the mill since then, Johann. Not much point on.going over all that again.
Mr JOHANN. Quite.. What matters now is the future.. What do you think it holds for you? As as I am concerned, now that I have finally managed to feather my own next,, I am going to see it stays that way – nice and cuddly eh?
VECTOR. It seems to me the moment has come for all of us to hold on to what we've got.
Mr JOHANN. Or else declare open war. My activities now stretch far and wide – very far and very wide., you know. Or perhaps you don't know. If so, it would be better for your future, if you did. I could sell you products well below cost price and recover my losses from the profits I make with the large number of other companies I control. I could make a storm break over all your markets and swallow them up one by one – or in one big gulp.
LADOG. Are you trying to frighten us, Johann?
Mr JOHANN. Don't talk like that, Ladog. The stock exchange has very sensitive ears. The storm might break sooner than you think..
VECTOR. Success for its own sake – just for the satisfaction of having brought whatever it is to a satisfactory conclusion – has always been a bad counsellor..
Mr JOHANN. That is why I have not yet made up my mind on anything, and I am looking to you people to counsel me, to guide me.
GURGI. If it was left to you to decide which path to take, I know exactly which it would be; the one that involved the greatest risk.
Mr JOHANN. Well said, Gurgi, It shows there is something you have understood. The charming young man I used to be has changed. A somewhat less charming side, a sterner side, of my character has come to the fore.
VECTOR. And from now on, it is that aspect of your personality that you want to predominate?
Mr JOHANN. Not at all. I am quite happy as I am. The
VECTOR [gets up and prepares to go] At this point I think it would be useless for me to stay.
Mr JOHANN. Where are you going, Vector? Tell me, to whom are you going to sell your steel? What enterprise do you now plan to invest in? And you, Gurgi? And you, Ladog? The Kirby empire was enormous and I now have a large part of it.
VECTOR. Is that meant as a challenge?
Mr JOHANN. Good lor' no... Just a hypothesis
VECTOR. I have given you my advice.. You do what you think is right. You can unleash a tempest, as you say. But are you sure you can control the wind and the waves, once you have done so? And have you ever thought what a man can do just before he drowns?
LADOG. Everyone defends himself in his own way, Johann… And not everyone, as you said yourself a moment ago, stabs their opponent in the front.
Mr JOHANN. You mean I should watch my back?
GURGI. You can hardly be said to have a back if you are encircled.
VECTOR. It is not worth our playing the game you played with Kirby. None of us would ever contemplate committing suicide.
LADOG. It is not against ourselves that we would take up arms.
[VECTOR, GURGI and LADOG quickly make their exit, leaving Mt JOHANN leaning back in the chair into which he has slumpd.
Enter LUCAS who walks up to the back of Mr Johann's chair]
LUCAS. Why did you do it?
Mr JOHANN. It was such a delicioius sensation. I got such a kick out of it. I just couldn't deprive myself of so great a pleasure...
LUCAS. But it wasn't part of our plan.
Mr JOHANN. I know. But they were so frightened. They were white with fear. You should have seen their faces. Trembling all over It was nauseating.. I tried to contain my feelings, but it was beyond me.. They disgusted me; they made me loathe them in a way I couldn't control.and, before I knew what, I had my hands at their throats.
LUCAS. How could you have let yourself do such a thing? You have so fine a sense of timing. You always manage to choose just the right moment for making – and carrying out – decisions. You never lose your self-control, never act on the spur of the moment. You of all people to allow yourself to be carried away by a sudden passion, which, from what you say, it seems to have been.. So out of character. I just don't believe it.
Mr JOHANN. You're quite right, Lucas. You know me only too well. I merely wanted to make quite sure.
LUCAS. Of what?
Mr JOHANN. Of myself, my motivation. Has disgust been the sole driving force of my life up to now?
Mr JOHANN. As I said, it gave me the greatest pleasure to see in their eyes the fear which made me despise, and hate, them. But hate cannot be responsible for everything I do.
LUCAS. No. Acting as you did in this case, you were able to confirm that a secondary gain arising from what I might call the Intoxication of being as successful an entrepreneur as you have been, was the ability unhesitatingly to avenge yourself. beforehand you only took vengeance reluctantly. This however has not been the main spur in all the years of your intense activities in the markets of the world. That has been Ambition - achieve wealth and power.
Mr JOHANN. There has been something else.
LUCAS. An even stronger driving force? To conquer? That's right, isn't it? I know your type only too well.
Mr JOHANN. You may think so. But I know.so little of what goads me on. I must discover, Lucas, why I have done what I have done.
LUCAS. You will never find an answer that satisfies you. For you also want peace of mind – or at least something, however irrelevant, that creates calm and stillness.
Mr JOHANN. I am not seeking justification, merely a reason...
LUCAS. They say it is a characteristic of the modern man, wanting to pull himself together and get on with life; to leave it to others to drown in melancholia. That's not your style. You express yourself in all sorts of ways, at every level.
Mr JOHANN. I just want to know myself, that's all –
LUCAS. Looking for the goal that you are aiming for, the star you are following, is that it? The ideal you ate trying to measure up to. Does achieving success such as yours depend on having such an incentive?
Mr JOHANN. It doesn't have to be a very high goal. [holding up finger and thumb to show small height]. No more than that – wrinkled and thin maybe. All that matters is that it makes a plausible explanation of why I act as I do.- not, as I say, one that justifies it..
LUCAS. And where are you going to search.for it?
Mr JOHANN. In my past life. Help me.Lucas.. You are, after all, my closest friend.
LUCAS. Is it really so important to you? I wonder you can be bothered.
Mr JOHANN. I've got to try and make sense of what has happened.
LUCAS. All right, I'll help you, Mt Johann.
Mr JOHANN. Good, Right then. Where do we start.?
LUCAS. Is there any definite point of departure?
Mr JOHANN. No. You're right. There isn’t.. As far as I can remember, the whole of my life had been pointed in one direction – the point of arrival, of which I have always had a very clear picture in my mind.
LUCAS. So. It is a matter of running over the principal moments of your journey up to the top.
Mr JOHANN. Exactly. You've got the message. .
LUCAS. At your service, Mr Johann. Off we go!
(except for a spotlight on Mr Johann}
Mr JOHANN. It was an evening in early summer. I was standing in the street waiting for you.. It would be more accurate to say I was filling in time, waiting for you. I was watching a window in the big office block opposite. All the lights were on inside the room., and in it, was you Lucas, conducting a very delicate negotiation on my behalf. Impatience? There was little to distract me; all my thoughts were concentrated on what was going in that room, although the non-stop noises of the busy street did much to try and divert my attention. But to no avail. I shuffled up and down the pavement, my eyes fixed on that window, the polar star of the wonderful journey on which I was about to embark – or hoped I was about to embark. Impatient? I'll say. Why didn't you come out? What was keeping you? And then suddenly you appeared on the steps of the front entrance, making your way infuriatingly slowly, down to the street,. without a thought to what you will have known must have been my concern for what might have happened, what unforeseen circumstance had held things up; that meant, God forbid, calling the whole thing off! I had the greatest difficulty in staying on the pavement and not rushing across to you and hearing the news at once, putting an end to the agony of panicking, of waiting alone with thoughts of disaster, of having to face up to an irretrievable setback that.... Now, now, no more of this. I calmed down; slowly crossed the street just as I would have done on any day, any time. And at last we came within a few feet of one another, and -. oh dear! – my impatience got the better of me.
[Mr JOHANN walks off Right along the line of the spotlight which then goes out]
(Stage Left. Time-14th c)
[Lights up stage left.: the interior of the church. DON JUAN emerges from the shadows Right holding out his hand to welcome CATALINON who enters Left]
DON JUAN. Catalinon
CATALINON. Not so loud, sir, please.
DON JUAN. Where have you been all this time?
CATALINON. Don't you want to hear the news?
DON JUAN. What has happened?
CATALINON. It's your head, sir They are demanding the head of Don Juan Tenorio.
DON JUAN. And that frightens you?..
CATALINON. They have condemned you to death. You had better escape.
DON JUAN. But the girl. Did you manage to go and see her?
CATALINON. This is hardly the moment to start talking about women.
DON JUAN. I know what moment it is, Catalinon. I entrusted you with a mission. Have you carried it out?
CATALINON. Yes, sir. Yes, I have. But I beg you to go somewhere safe..
DON JUAN. Stop worrying, or I'll give you a taste of the stick.
CATALINON. Kill me, sir, but I fear for your life. You should see how they are searching every corner of the town for you. They have patrols in every street. They passed a law forbidding anyone to go about with his face hidden by his cloak., or ride in a carriage with the blinds drawn.
.DON JUAN. Has the king signed my sentence of death? – a poor boy, the prisoner of ambitious politicians.
CATALINON. That's how it is. His counsellors have forced his hand. They hate your guts. They wish you dead. You've got to get away and hide somewhere. You must leave this city.
DON JUAN. And the girl?
CATALINON. What does that matter to you? You've hardly seen her. So short a time.
DON JUAN. And do you think in all these years I have not learnt to recognise the kind of girl I want at a glance?
CATALINON. What does one girl more matter?
DON JUAN. But she is the girl I love.
CATALINON. Even if you only spoke to her for one instant?
DON JUAN. True. It was only for an instant. So what? To me it seemed infinity; an instant that represented eternity.
CATALINON. That's all quite beyond me, I am afraid
DON JUAN. No matter. You do not have to understand. She said she would come to me? Yes? When?
CATALINON. You are not going to risk your life by waiting for her, are you?
DON JUAN. When – will – she – come, idiot?
CATALINON. At dawn, sir.
DON JUAN. Do you want me to miss seeing her? to let her down?
CATALINON. If you stay, so far as you are concerned, there will be no dawn.
DON JUAN. There will be, Catalinon - in five hours time.
CATALINON. But think what could happen to you before then! If an instant is eternal, as you say, what are five hours?
DON JUAN. What are five steps more or less on the way to the sun?
CATALINON. They are the five steps that will save you from the gallows. Pull yourself together You must come to your senses, before it is too late.
DON JUAN. Come to my senses? What makes you think I ever left them, animal? Up to to-day you have seen me in a very different light.
CATALINON. You are right. I am an ass. What I meant to say was Get out of yourself, your old self.
DON JUAN. Come on, now, tell me what happened at your meeting with her.. Did you have any difficulty in persuading her to see you? Did you remember what I told you to say to her? Did she ply you with questions? How long did it take her to agree to meet me here?
CATALINON. One thing at a time. What do you want to know first?
DON JUAN. Everything, dunderhead, everything! Where did you have your talk? In the street? In her house? Was anyone else present? Did she show surprise? Offended, maybe? Did she – er – smile?
CATALINON. How can I possibly...
DON JUAN. Speak up, man Speak up. Go on! Can't you see the agony I am in, not knowing where I stand with her. What is her name?
DON JUAN. Perfect.
CATALINON. She agreed to come – but on one condition.
DON JUAN. What? The usual?
CATALINON. The usual.. She will only make love to you, she will only yield to you, if she is married to you.
DON JUAN. Is that all? Well. That's a very reasonable demand from a young woman in love. All she is interested in is to be mine for ever. And to achieve that, we promise each other to get married.
CATALINON. You will promise her. That is no concern of mine. I have no part in it..
DON JUAN. What name did you tell her was mine?
CATALINON. That of your cousin Don Pedro Zamora
DON JUAN. We have never offered Don Pedro's hand in marrage to anyone before, have we?
CATALINON. No, sir. Not so far as I remember.
DON JUAN. Good. Well, drag a sleepy friar from his bed to carry out the ceremony, and as soon as we have the blessing of heaven, Stella will be mine...
CATALINON. Ssh! Someone's coming. Out looking for you, to arrest you. We're done for. All is lost. Did you not hear footsteps? For goodness sake, hide!...... Ah, they've gone away.... Yes... definitely. We're saved. A near thing. But for how long?.
DON JUAN. Who knows, my friend? Long enough to allow Stella to fall into my arms, I trust. I don't think the denizens of Heaven would deny me that, would they? I cannot believe they would do me that incivility,.
CATALINON. No. They are more likely to throw you into the inferno so long as you continue to live a life devoted entirely to satisfying your lusts.
DON JUAN. Talk to me about her,, Catalinon. It will brighten up the long wait we have for dawn..
CATALINON. What can I say about her? She is a woman very similar to all the others you have known.
DON JUAN. On the contrary, she is unique. For the first time.
CATALINON. She is like all the others, master..
DON JUAN. What do you know of them , you ass? Have you seen another who lowers her eyes as gracefully as she does? who blushes like her?
CATALINON. They are all the same.. The only differences lie in their personalities, in their minds. But, so often you are with them for ages and come away without ever having penetrated their minds, in the same way that bees fly from the flower on which they have landed without the honey for which they have so assiduously been searching..
DON JUAN. No. It is not your fault, it is their calculated deception. I grant you, the sentiments that women express are all the same: their flirtatiousness, their self-centredness,. their presumption that they can keep another human being bound to them. Having said that, what a marvellous range of qualities they possess! Whereas, if you take to your horse and ride across the countryside, you cannot fail to notice that the fields are all composed of the same grass; the flowers are those you have seen everywhere every day of your life; the water you see never differs from one river, one lake, to another.
[more noises off]
CATALINON. Ssssh! I thought I heard a noise.
DON JUAN. You are imagining things.
CATALINON. . On the contrary. A noise of some sort came from the direction of the town square. It sounded like people running. There - don't you hear it? They are coming this way this time.
DON JUAN. Sounds like one person to me.
CATALINON. I implore you – go and hide.
DON JUAN. Listen! It's a very light step. A woman's. It's Stella, Catalinon. It's Stella.
DON JUAN. What did I tell you? She couldn't wait till dawn to see me
CATALINON. Hide, sir It could be the soldiers; the patrol sent to get you..
DON JUAN. She just couldn't stick waiting.... Here she is. Here she comes
(Stage Right. Time – Present)
[Lights up on Stage Right. MISTER JOHANN enters from dark Stage Left, holding out his hand to greet LUCAS who enters at that moment from Right.]
Mr JOHANN. Lucas!
LUCAS. So this is where you are?
Mr JOHANN. Where else would you expect to find me?
LUCAS. Aren't you going to ask me what has happened?
Mr Johann. I can already tell from the look on your face.
LUCAS. He accepts.
Mr JOHANN. Only after a bit of a struggle, eh?
LUCAS. You've won, Mr Johann.
Mr JOHANN. So when do we meet to put the seal on it?
LUCAS. Tomorrow evening – at his house.
Mr JOHANN. Come now, fill me in on the detail. How did he react? Did you gather he was expecting a request of this kind, or that it took him completely by surprise? Did you plunge in at once, or did you leave it to him to introduce the matter? Once he knew what it was you had come to suggest, did he agree straight away, or did he insist on you elaborating on what you were proposing?
LUCAS. Calm down.. I can't tell you everything we talked about; it was a…
Mr JOHANN. But if I am not to make a wrong step when we meet tomorrow and say the wrong things, because I am unaware of what will antagonise him and what will make him see how he will benefit from it , I've got to be fully briefed on his attitude.
LUCAS. Is it not enough to have won him over, to the extent that he has heard your proposal and now wishes to be quite sure what it is he is letting himself in for.? Only natural. Or is it that you want to see him lie defenceless at your feet?
Mr JOHANN. There you have it, Lucas. I want to marry the widow Gorak, oh yes, but I want her served up on a silver plate..
LUCAS.... surrounded by all the enterprises she currently administers.
Mr JOHANN…All of them. Including the smallest, the apparently least important ones. For how can one ever know whether a company is 'important'. or unimportant, with or without potential, until one has closely examined it. Just as you have to do with women. A fine dress, a little make-up, gives them a fascination that
no one ever suspects. For long I have watched the development of the Gorak companies as an outsider, and dreamt how I would deal with them if they belonged to me. And now that it looks as if they nearly do, I cannot give up. I've got to see this through.
LUCAS. A very apt comparison that: .commercial firms and women. It is through our mistakes that we discover the truth about both of them.. You talk of business in the way Don Juan talked of women - all out of proportion, carried away on a wave of sentimental, erotic nonsense.just like him.
Mr JOHANN. After all, manufacturers, banks, business companies are very feminine, would you not say? Fickle, unfaithful, capricious. . For me they have the same tantalising attraction as women. .I cannot resist building my portfolio up and up, and up again, accumulating one enterprise after another at an ever increasing speed. Accumulation, acceleration. They possess me; they take over my whole life. The pace becomes hypnotic, manic. As you say, all sense of proportion deserts me; my mind goes into over-drive. My appetite is insatiable.. Not just addicted, but intoxicated Enough is never enough – for me. And how insanely incensed I become if I hear of a rival casting an eye over a prize that I have arrogantly assumed no one would ever dare try to beat me in the race for its acquisition! How consumed I am with hate if he pips me to the post and wins what I have so madly coveted! Oh yes, firms and companies are indeed feminine Lucas. How otherwise could the thought of acquiring them excite me so?. Where does it come from, this craving for new conquests – another factory, another firm, which so many others long to take over, so patently capable of further development in the right hands – leading finally to owning the adored courtesan, no longer at arms length but clutched in full embrace. No greedy grabber, but proud proprietor. You have not only gained a gained a wife, but wealth and power.
LUCAS. Mr Johann.... Tenorio... Careful! The flaming inferno is just behind you.
Mr JOHANN. Why should I worry about hellfire, when this is my only way of living?
[The lighting creates the effect of flame
We are back to where Mr JOHANN and LUCAS were talking a the end of Scene 2, p. 16, and decided to explore how Mr Johann acquired his present character]
LUCAS. So that is it, is it? That explains how you find yourself in this situation to-day?
Mr JOHANN. Yes. It is a process firmly imprinted on my memory.
LUCAS. I would say it should encourage you not to allow your over-heated mind ever to run away with you again.
Mr JOHANN. That's not what is occupying my mind just now, which is what are the circumstances that have landed me in the position I find myself in to-day.. They belong to my past not my future. It began with the time when I was toying with the idea, somewhat impetuously, of marrying the widow Gorak, for whom I fell.after first setting eyes on her. But oh dear, what a bitter laugh she had!. I still hear it whenever I think of her. It did not worry me at the time. Why not? Well. It was a very important moment in my life., making a bid for Research & Development Company.
[The spotlight follows Mr JOHANN as he walks to the table which now becomes visible up stage STAGE RIGHT at which are seated VECTOR, GURGI, LADOG and WIDOW GORAK.].
Mr JOHANN. But first of all, let's trace what, much further back, gave rise to the Me that has acted in this way. It would seem it was inherited from my grandfather who was a peasant, a farmer,.in this part of the country.
One day when digging a deep trench in one of his fields, he came across an iron box full of old coins of some past age, long out of circulation of course. . He sold it, with its contents, and with the proceeds bought himself a suit of clothes and a pair of shoes.. His son, my father, also farmed, hoping that one day he too would find hidden treasure. And believe it or not, one day he did – only just below the surface. His spade hit what looked and felt like another iron box. He dug it up and took it home to see what it contained.. It had certainly lain hidden for a time, but not for as long as the one his father found. It had only lain there unnoticed since that wretched war that Hitler and Mussolini waged as the first step, they hoped, in their conquest of the world. But it was no valuable treasure. It was one of the Duce's anti-tank mines which did not take kindly to my father tinkering with it and exploded, hurling him, along with my mother, into the air and destroying not only them but the entire house. What lesson did I learn from this? That the useful, valuable suit of clothes and pair of shoes acquired through the sale of the antique money box, came to my grandfather as a result of his digging deep; and the useless, in fact wholly destructive anti-tank mine from merely scratching the surface. If you are going to dig, dig deep. I dig even deeper than my grandfather.. Excavation is the name of the game. No superficial scraping for me. I get down to the bone. You know the rest. If not, you'll find it all in the financial reports, the stock exchange bulletins. Mr Johann has only been in business a short while, and doesn't count for much, not at the moment at any rate.. Tomorrow will tell another story, and it won't be, as you are well aware, about Mr Johann taking a nibble at the market. That's not my style. I have my own way of doing things, of opening up my own highway to success, along which others can stride with me, pooling resources, sharing expertise. Co-operation. That's the key How can I persuade other businessmen that journeying with me along my road will be of any benefit to them? By inviting any likely to be interested in participating in a large-scale operation of greatest potential, to examine and comment on it – which is why you are here this afternoon. Come now..
[he spreads out maps and plans on the table in front of Mme Gorak and the three men]
Look here. Here's a map of the whole area, and here an enlarged close-up of the site we will be interested in. And then, there is this view from the air of the plateau surrounding it to the depth of seven miles. Looks like a great big beefsteak, doesn't it? Those red circles are the points into which you dig your fork, your potion That's the easy part. What's more difficult is chewing what you have on the end of your fork once you've cut it off., if I may put it that way It will be extremely tough – a very hard metal which can immediately be transformed into gold however., much softer under the teeth and much easier to digest, eh? [his audience chuckle and nod their heads in agreement]. Have any of you ever had a go at archaeology? [they shake their heads] Pity. Because when you have scraped away the surface, -the skin of the beefsteak, as it were - you will come across hard bones - stones that have lain there for a very long time. We have already done some test drilling and an expedition is on its way to begin exploiting the site in earnest. The newspapers are expressing interest in it. Among those working on such 'stories', there is always one reporter who sniffs out the names of the financiers backing the expedition, which in this case, under the guise of archaeology, is in fact secretly engaged on an entirely different kind of research. Is this the set-up that I am asking you to become involved in? You are probably asking yourselves how it comes that I feel able to divulge the true nature of this expedition. Would it not be wiser to keep it to myself? Well now. Suppose you see a man going out on a sunny day with an umbrella under his arm. What would you, what would most people, say of him? That he is crazy, a nutter who hadn't read his barometer properly. But, if we see not one man, but the entire staff of a weather station walking along with umbrellas under their arms, we would be certain to run and fetch our raincoats, wouldn't we?. Get it? If a Mr Johann is reported to be the sole financial backer of an archaeological expedition to reveal the ruins of a what he believes his research tells him are those of a hitherto undiscovered city, people will think he must have read the signs wrongly, in the way the man with the umbrella had misinterpreted his barometer. Those who don't laugh at him, pity the poor chap. They'll change their tune however should it come to their ears that people of the calibre of Vector, Gurgi, Ladog and Madame Gorak have joined forces not, as they have declared, to come up with a major archaeological discovery, but mount a very substantial search for minerals. What happens then? That's when we go into action – full steam ahead! This is the day our Research & Exploration Company is born. Off go the stocks and shares; up goes the return on them, re-investing the profits, piling up the capital, floating more and more shares – one big bonanza which gathers momentum from one year to another.. Gold pours down every valley into our coffers, filling our safes and strongboxes, flooding the whole countryside, bursting the conduits - clinking and clanging coins of every denomination pushing through stacks of banknotes from every country under he sun. A yellow wave sweeps towards R & D, an avalanche of the stuff,, raw and refined, gold dust and gold ingots, fashioned into bangles and rings, minted into coin,, alloyed with every kind of metal in every shade of yellow…Gold! raining down, cascading, showering all over us in a shimmering waterfall. . A glittering haze rises like a mist. A vast yellow swamp to swim in, from which peaks a shining rock pulsating with power, proudly displaying its indisputable purity. Gold!
[Towards the end of this outburst his audience have begun to giggle and snigger, and when it ends they are all laughing uncontrollably. Mr JOHANN puts his fingers in his years, patently wounded by what he considers their insensitive reaction. He moves away, followed by the spotlight which brought him on, leaving the four of them by the table in the dark. Hr returns to LUCAS stage left.]
Mr JOHANN. Did you hear them laughing at me, Lucas? They knew well enough all I had planned to do was far from laughable and utterly workable – and in every way profitable. Oh yes! they laughed at the person who had presented them with this wonderful idea for which he was asking for no payment whatsoever. Free jpgt! So you see they not only hurt me, but disgusted me, I could not let them get away with such abominable behaviour, could I? I had to take my revenge on those four wretches, hadn't I? I started with the widow.
[A drawing room. Mr JOHANN stands in front of MADAME GORAK who has her face buried in a bunch of roses]
MADAME GORAK. More flowers! Thank you, Mr Johann. How have you got to know me so well? How did you manage to discover my secret passion for roses?
Mr JOHANN. From your face. Anyone can tell from looking at you that you love flowers, just as you love Art and anything of Virtue
[They go and sit side by side on the sofa]
MADAME GORAK. Ever since yesterday when you started to show your affection for me, my house has become a wonderful garden of tulips, madnolias, roses and orchids.
Mr JOHANN. You adore flowers, there's no doubt about that, but you have little idea how to write their names as is clear from the list you have made there.
MADAME GORAK. Forgive me, Mr Johann.. What an idiot you must think me! Just that it's not my subject; something I like but – er – am not really very acquainted with, if you see what I mean. Oh dear!
Mr JOHANN. Please madame, don't upset yourself. I can assure you that in these days the words used for so long to name and describe flowers are now effete, most of them dead. I could not possibly hold it against you for not being acquainted with out-dated terms of this sort.
MADAME GORAK. You have no need of words to express your feelings; you have done so, more than graphically, by giving me flowers and seeing to it that they are the roses that I am so fond of.
Mr JOHANN. It was an impulsive gesture, [with a giggle] without any intense calculation as to the reaction of the recipient! In the manner of the poet who writes love poems to his beloved and then locks them up in a bottom drawer.
MADAME GORAK. So you want me to believe that somewhere, in some escritoire, there lie beautiful verses expressing your love for me? Is that what you are hinting?
Mr JOHANN. No no. Merely a few jottings,putting on paper stray thoughts,
questions I was asking myself as to my true feelings, my worries, what accounted for the turbulence of my mind.
MADAME GORAK. It is obvious I stand well apart from you, You must help me to come closer, to fill the gap, to communicate. At the moment I feel as if I can neither read nor write. We are not speaking the same language.
Mr JOHANN. Of course I will help you. Language is no easy method of communication, full of symbols so entangled that. they reduce rather than increase clear comprehension. The key to their intended interpretation escapes us and lies hidden
until – until we succeed in mastering the language. No easy task, but in no way impossible for anyone determined to work at it, and never let up Determination is the name of the game, and what reward it brings! The satisfaction of being able to express and measure the intensity of our feelings, not by means of a miserably conventional, cliché-ridden, inadequate vocabulary, but through infinite shades of colour – bright, vibrant, dark, faint, exquisitively clear! In other words, by conversing with Dame Nature, madam. It is not beyond you, is it, to appreciate that that alone can bring us the key to what the world is all about, which for so many seems lost and hidden?
With what a surge of emotion, with what joy, one gazes upon a field of poppies
shining in the light of the sun! With what exhilaration does one greet the meadow, the
hill, the valley that suddenly come into view on rounding the corner of a country lane!
MADAME GORAK. Wonderful! What a marvellous man you are, Mr Johann!
So many different sides to you. It would be invidious for me to say what they all add up to;: someone strong-minded and fearless in negotiation, I should say; well-versed in the intricacies of planning, fascinating in his private life.
And now, with the formation of Exploration & Research Ltd and your plans for my involvement, I must add "generous" as another outstanding quality.. It would seem that that project has not benefited you in the way you imagined.. As someone you engaged to work with you in it, you must see me as partly responsible for any shortcomings. Yet, so far from seeking to pay me off, you are asking my hand in marriage.
Mr JOHANN. Might that not be a way of paying you out?
[The two of them briefly laugh together at this remark]
MADAME GORAK. I would like to think I knew all about you. But I must say I am in the dark when it comes to what I suppose I should call your love life.
Mr JOHANN. Ask me whatever you like. You have every right to.
MADAME GORAK. Well, that's very comforting. So. Tell me something about your first conquest.
Mr JOHANN. You mean my really first one? That was a long time ago, when I was very young.
MADAME GORAK. . The experience that has ever since been engraved on your memory as the moment when you first discovered the sort of person you were.
Mr JOHANN. Very well. I was no more than a boy, my mind crammed with
theory of little practical value.. It was round about then that I had my first – what shall I say? – 'encounter'.. I had not exactly fallen in love. That would be an exaggeration. .Not to start with anyway. But for youngsters without any experience in such matters it is easy to mistake merely 'taking an interest' for being passionately attached, a state of mind that must inevitably lead to the climax which the world calls Being In Love.
The object of my love was called Gobrial-Metals, smallish company not doing very well just then, in which I squandered every penny I possessed by acquiring two per cent of its shareholding. Total collapse came on July the sixth, when in a few hours I lost 80 per cent of my investment. Undaunted, I gathered up what little money I had left and bought another three per cent of Gobrial's capital. All the other shareholders said I was mad. The management offered to give me an administrative post in the firm, and I accepted. When war broke out in the south, I reckoned their products would be in big demand, so I sold two per cent of my shares and with the proceeds contracted, under an exclusive arrangement, to buy a small quantity of their wares which I knew I could sell to the many in urgent need of them at a good profit. How right I was! After two months, I bought another 18 per cent of their manufactures. With all kinds of circumstances acting in my favour, including loss-making movements on the stock exchange for other manufacturers and suppliers in this field, my relationship with Gobrial became firmer and firmer, closer and closer. In no time my holdings rose to 24 per cent and then 32 per cent, whereupon I effected a merger with a competitor La Magar, which I have to admit didn't last very long, but did not prevent me purchasing another seven per cent of Gobrial.. I was sitting pretty. What would shareholders and management say at the coming annual general meeting? What would I say? I knew only too well there were many other Board members poised to get control of Gobrial, but I had to outflank them. It was risky, but it was now or never. I stated my conditions for maintaining my central role in the financial affairs of the enterprise and not withdrawing my very considerable investment. They were proposing projects which they would find difficult to undertake without my stake in the firm's capital. Well did they know it. And as a bribe not to take my money and run, they offered to assign me another 12 per cent of the shares, then topping it up with further bundle until I had the lot. Gobrial was mine! I was now, for the first time, the sole owner of an industrial group.
MADAME GORAK. What you had always longed to be. I can tell it from your voice,
Mr JOHANN. It was the first, madame.. I had to prove to myself that I was capable of doing it. I was anxiuos to assess what I was worth in the field in which I had chosen to exploit my natural jpgts and newly won experience, and ensure that any claim I made to be able to repeat what I had done, would not be an idle boast.
MADAMR GORAK. How did it all turn out? Were your efforts rewarded in the way you hoped?
Mr JOHANN. Certainly. And more. Within a few months I sold the flourishing Gobrial for a very large sum, and since then it has changed hands several times, eventually being gobbled up by the Great Kirby ,who deprived it of its separate identity and incorporated as one of the many firms constituting his vast empire..
MADAME GORAK. Did that matter?
JOHANN. Not really. It didn't detract from what I had done.. I had saved it
from collapse and given it a new life and an increasingly successful one. which
made it so highly marketable. All due to
[He takes a deep breath and sits back relaxed, pausing to turn the conversation away from himself and on to the Widow Gorak]
And how have you fared in this field of romance and amour?
MADAME GORAK. I cannot claim to have fared with quite the same éclat, if that is the word best suited to your way of wooing.. Nothing very startling about my love-life, my short love-life. It began with the man I was to marry. I learnt all I ever
knew from my husband.
Mr JOHANN. And when you no longer had him? You've been a widow for six years now, haven't you?
MADAME GORAK. Yes. Well, after he died, it's been a rather sad story. There have been one or two 'affaires' which looked hopeful when they started, but none of which came to anything. It was highly disappointing, as you can imagine. I was thoroughly disillusioned.and withdrew into a somewhat bitter, silent world of my own. [she shows signs of distress]
Mr JOHANN. .Don't distress yourself. Better if you stop right there; no point in dragging up memories of those unhappy times.
MADAME GORAK. How kind! Thank you so much. But talking about it acts in some way as a bit of relief. We have the misfortune to live in a miserable, down-at-the-heel society dominated by absurd superstitions and barbarous prejudices. What was I expected to do when my husband died? Retreat into a convent? But I still had the rest of my life before me and I wanted to live, not meditate behind closed doors, with no link to the outside world, the real world. But such an attitude brought criticism of astonishing ferocity. I laid myself open to being regarded as a woman who could be persuaded to act with any kind of perversity. For her type, they said, nothing was
irreprehensible; she was someone whose feelings could be played upon, whose affections could be aroused in a purely recreational way with no intention of developing it into the lifetime relationship known as marriage, which for so long was the only acceptable culmination of what we once rather primly called 'courtship'.
Oh dear! Innocent little me! What a terrible time I had in this 'real' world that I had chosen to live in. Mr Johann. It all began a year after my husband died. My net income fell by 12 per cent...Next year by even more., accompanied by a general deterioration of all that I had embarked on in an attempt to make my way through the jungle that was Industry. Contracts were terminated; trade agreements torn up; I found several of my trusted executives were receiving bribes to feather their own nests; so on and so on. It was a nightmare. Everything that could go wrong did go wrong. Whatever I thought would turn the tide did just the opposite.. The volume of business went down and down. Orders fell drastically away. For instance, The Research & Exploration Company gave me only half the orders they gave others.
Mr JOHANN. It gave me even less, Madame.
MADAME GORAK. I had to make a vital decision. Had the time come to withdraw from running my businesses and handing their management over to someone who could give them stronger, more virile, direction?. Who should that be? What kind of association would serve me best? I gave the problem much thought., left no stone, as they say, unturned, in my endeavour to reach the right decision. My thorough review of all the options,. produced one form of association which seemed to me to hold out more promise than any other, and that was Marriage.
Mr JOHANN. Marriage?
MADAME GORAK. The clauses that constitute formal written Agreements of Association stultify any attempt to achieve smooth, harmonious, collaboration. They make effective business partnership very difficult, leave very little chance of either ever getting the slightest, shall I say?, fun out of it One associate can always pick on the clause that is to him the most advantageous, and complain how inefficiently and weakly it is being applied, which leads to argument and ill-feeling, if not rupture. With marriage, we do without 'clauses' and so dispense with trouble – well, can expect less of it at any rate.. Matrimony is an armour-plated contract that protects both sides from having to take part in anything of that sort. There are no escape routes out of marriage; no way of appealing for relief from it; no means of taking short leave and then returning to take up the reins when you feel up to it Nothing of that sort when two people are wedded. Marriage is permanent, implacable, impregnable, unassailable. It is the only state which gives a poor, single woman like me the protection she relies on to give her the chance of spending what remains of her life with some degree of stability and, .shall I say, happiness.
Mr JOHANN. So. From now on, no longer single, no longer alone? Is that what you want? I can assure you, your wish is granted.
MADAME GORAK. Thank you. Thank you, my dear friend. Will you allow me to call you that?
Mr JOHANN. With all my heart,., madame. With all my heart..
[He takes her hand and puts it to his lips. They gaze at each other in silence, smiling lovingly]
(Stage Left; interior of church brightly lit with electric lights : Time – Present)
[The marriage ceremony by which Mr JOHANN and MADAME GORAK have been made husband and wife has just finished, and bride and bridegroom, in happy, festive mood, pass slowly through the throng of wedding guests, who include CONSALVO, VECTOR, GURGI and LADOG, pausing now and then to receive and give greetings, to kiss and be kissed. They make their way Right, followed by the wedding guests, through a dark area of the stage and out of it on to Stage Right. They walk up to the table decorated with flowers laden with refreshments if every kind, glasses of wine and bowls of fruit, dominated by a centrally placed multii-layered wedding cake ablaze with candles.]
CONSALVO (coming forward with a glaas of wine in his hand] For the ancients, a wedding such as this would have had them drinking to a union of power and beauty, to a coming together of Mars and Venus. That's not quite what we are celebrating to-day. Nothing quite as neat as that. For am I not right in saying that our bride is indeed a Venus, but one who not only possesses the beauty with which that goddess is traditionally endowed, but one who at the same time has the strength of Mars and the wisdom of Minerva?
[There is clapping and laughter, a hubbub of voices expressing assent]
VECTOR. We should now drink to Mercury, the God of Business.
GURGI. Yes. That is, if you think they are in need of making sure he is on their side
.LADOG. I would say they are going to manage very well on their own without help of any kind, let alone divine intervention, if that is what you're hinting.
CONSALVO. I think we can do without pagan nonsense of that kind. Let us proceed to do what we are here to do, to raise our glasses and drink the health of Madame Gorak and Mr Johann…
[They, cry "Mr and Mrs Johann!", tinkle them glasses and drink, to the sound of corks popping out of bottles of sparkling wine. CONSALVO takes Mr JOHANN downstage]
CONSALVO. Congratulations, Mr Johann.
Mr JOHANN, Thank you, Consalvo.
CONSALVO. Not only on your marriage, but on what would call the business acumen you've shown in dealing with certain other matters.
Mr JOHANN. I suppose you're referring to...?
CONSALVO. Exactly. Well, it never matters very much if you lose at cards.
You can always make up for it whenever you are next dealt a good hand.
Mr JOHANN. Oh, all that's water under the bridge… As far as I am concerned that's past history., though there is probably someone feeling a bit remorseful about it all.
CONSALVO. All of us are well aware how badly we treated you over the Research & Explorarion Company. affair.
Mr JOHANN. So what sort of retribution can I expect? Pay me damages of some kind?
CONSALVO. No. No damages.
Mr Johann. To ensure, I presume, that I don't take revenge on those responsible for what they did to me, in a way they know would damage them very severely?
CONSALVO. You must remember, none of us knew that things would turn out as they did.
Mr JOHANN. One can never predict, with any certainty, the effect any of one's actions will have – in any sphere of life Sometimes it is good; ; sometimes, like in this case, it is bad. I can assure you and your friends I understand why you acted as you did.
CONSALVO. In that case, it might soothe them if you told them so to their faces. Just a few words, that's all.
Mr JOHANN. All right.
[They return to the table. Mr JOHANN joins MADAME GORAK]
JOHANN. Well, this is where bride and bridegroom go away, but before we do that
I must bid you - our good friends who have been with us on this happy occasion -
farewell. [the wedding guests gather round him] What would the ancients
have said at this juncture, Consalvo? [discreet laughter] They probably
didn't.feel up to saying very much. I likewise will keep it short: 'Thanks for
coming, see you again soon!' Though I am sure you will forgive me for adding -
I trust without too much rhetoric - that this is a day in my life that I shall
never forget. Everything else is buried in The Past, .left behind by the
obliterating March of Time which down the ages has made The Present the only
reality that, for the living, matters.
Marooned in the dark recesses of the past are the first locomotives, the men
who went on the Crusades, witnessed the fall of the
CONSALVO. Fair enough. Would you say that Research & Exploration is the largest and most successful business you have ever established?
Mr JOHANN. Are you saying you would give anything to lay your hands on a goodly percentage of its shareholding?
[The wedding guests laugh and start loudly and merrily talking, and raising their glasses to the newly weds. Through them Mr JOHANN and MADAME GORAK wend their way out]
(Stage Right. Time – Present).
[The lights come on at once. On to the space have been moved furniture and fittings of a double bedroom in a country hotel. We see the entrance door and a window There is a telephone on the table beside the bed; a vase of flowers on the dresser, A PORTER comes through the door carrying luggage which he puts on the floor... Mr JOHANN and MADAME GORAK, wearing a hat and gloves, and carrying her handbag, enter. The PORTER goes out, closing the door.]
Mr JOHANN [going over to the bedside table and lifting the telephone receiver] Is there anything you want?
MADAME GORAK. No thanks. What about you?
Mr JOHANN. Me neither. [replaces receiver] A bit hot in here, isn't it? Shall I open the window?
MADAME GORAK. Yes. I agree.
Mr JOHANN. Oh dear!. Not very romantic, am I? Anyone else in this position would have come up with something more suited to – er – the – um...
MADAME GORAK. Such as what?
Mr JOHANN. Well, to start with...
MADAME GORAK [going over to the flowers on the dresser] But you have done what the 'situation' demands - by having these flowers put here. That is so, isn't it? These are your flowers?
Mr JOHANN. Yes. I telephoned the innkeeper before we left and told him to make sure we had a vase of flowers in our room.
MADAMR GORAK. Wonderful! Thank you so very much.
Mr JOHANN [going over to the window and looking out] How still and silent it is outside!
MADAME GORAK. [coming up to the window and standing beside him] One needs a little peace after the strain of a day like this
Mr JOHANN. I spent most of my early life away from the noisy bustle of the town.. It is the silence of the countryside that I now miss most of all.
.MADAME GORAK. Something tells me this is the moment when I should start pealing off, don'.t you think? To strip?
MADAME GORAK. OK! Down with my handbag! [she puts it on a table] Off with my hat, my gloves! [she goes to her handbag ,opens it and takes out a number of documents which she hands to Mr Johann]. There you are. There are the papers relating to the charcoal and cobalt mines.
Mr JOHANN. [takes them carefully and quickly glances through hem] First class! [lowers his hand holding the papers] What a lovely dress you are wearing!
MADAME GORAK. Don't worry. Don't hurry me.. I'll be taking it off in due course.
Mr JOHANN. Let me help you
MADAME GORAK. Thanks. [she sits at the table] Give me your pen will you? [Mr JOHANN hands her his fountain pen; she signs one of the documents with it and gives it to him] That entrusts to you the management of all my shipyards.
Mr JOHANN. Great! Just you see what I do with them!
MADAME GORAK. I have no doubt whatsoever it will be spectacular.
Mr JOHANN. The first ship I launch will be named after you. It will be hoist with a flag of your favourite colour. Which is what?
MADAME GORAK. Green.
Mr JOHANN. We'll make great play with every shade of it – the moist green of the fields, the dark green of the sea, the emerald green of the sand, the reedy hew of a slowly moving river, the bright ,glistening green of your eyes.. From every mast will fly your pinion.
MADAME GORAK. [signing another document and handing it to him] Here's the warrant for.The Ferrier iron company.- laying myself bare piece by piece. See? There goes my slip; now my shoulders are bare. Satisfy you?
Mr JOHANN. Gorgeous.
MADAME GORAK. Would you now like me to take off my bra.?
Mr JOHANN. Nothing would please me more.
MADAME GORAK. You know. This is the moment juste in those nightclubs, the climax to the dance routines of the strippers which all the men in the audience have been waiting for. The house lights go down, and then out, while a single spotlight draws their attention with indecent insistence to the exasperatingly slow unbuttoning that leads to a complete state of nudity – like this [hands him another document] My United Steel Wire works
Mr JOHANN.. Marvellously exciting.
MADAME GORAK. You don't think it brazen of me to stand naked before you.?
Mr. JOHANN. You still have an air about you that dispels any sense of shame you might feel.
MADAME GORAK. I hope I can keep it for the rest of my days. I shall make every effort to do so. I can assure you .that. I've got to keep on working, haven.'t I?
[Mr JOHANN puts the documents in his packet, and walks back to the window]
Mr JOHANN. In which direction is the sea?
MADAMR GORAK. Right in front, I think. Are there not some boats with lights on them to be seen out there?
Mr JOHANN. I can't see any. There's a bit of a breeze, and it's not that easily recognisable salty sea air, merely the earthy smell of the fields. [moves away from the window] If that's all right, I think I'm going to the lounge.. You had better try and get some sleep. I have a number of letters to write.
MADAME GORAK. Could you not give yourself a break from work on a day like this?
Mr.JOHANN. You see, I now have your business to attend to, as well as mine
MADAME GORAK. Our business.
Mr JOHANN. I know I have to earn your trust in my ability to manage your affairs, and make our association work, and I shall do everything I can to see that it does work
MADAME GORAK. [sadly] I am sure that is so.. Nevertheless, I gave birth to it. It is my baby. I gave it my name "Gorak Steel Works". I still want to hold its hand, don't you see, to watch it grow up.
Mr JOHANN. Of course. Entirely understandable.
MADAME GORAK. Have we got to act with such formality when we discuss our business? We are husband and wife, aren't we? The light in here is so stark and unfriendly. It doesn't have to be that bright, does it? Couldn't we turn it down a bit?
Mr JOHANN. I like it as it is. Being in a bright room makes it certain I will have enough drive, be sufficiently alert and un-drowsy, .to force myself to do what I know to be my priority, away from the beguiling 'I'll do it later" mood which, if it
becomes a habit, can only lead to failure. ..
MADAME GORAK. Why don't you stay here tonight?
Mr JOHANN. Because that is what I want to do.
MADAME GORAK. Do you never let yourself do what you want to do?
Mr JOHANN. Like everyone else, two sides of my character are always in conflict. If I allow the weakest side habitually to surrender to the strongest, I am lost.
MADAME GORAK. That's a rather dour outlook on life, is it not? How ascetics and heroes see it – and live it. Not for the likes of you and me surely?
Mr JOHANN. You have to play the Hero if you are ever to make a conquest.
MADAME GORAK. Indeed? I would say True Love was a stronger incentive
Mr JOHANN. Gratification of the senses maybe, but not the kind of love that requires respect and good faith.
MADAME GORAK. [sadly] I created that company with my own hands, Johann. You know how much I love it. I can't believe you wish for this to be handed over too.
Mr JOHANN [returning to the window] The wind has died down – a south wind that was far from fresh. – only a warm air smelling of autumn roses.
MADAME GORAK. After a gap of six years, I find myself with a new husband..
Mr JOHANN. Th Tea Rose in the gardens, the Dog Rose in the woods...
MADAME GORAK. [taking the last document from her case] Here you are, Johann, the Gorak Steel Works.
Mr JOHANN. [takes it from her hand] This proves the love I was waiting for,
MADAME GORAK. I am no longer managing anything.
Mr JOHANN. [opening his arms out to her] Come now. You have my hands, my arms, my love. Come my love. [they embrace]
(End of Act 1)
(Stage Right in darkness. Time - Present)
[A spotlight on Mr JOHANN and LUCAS, standing together in conversation, as last seen at the end of Act 1, Scene 5]
Mr.JOHANN. We had a good laugh over it all, didn't we?
LUCAS. We certainly did. We carried it through to perfection
Mr.JOHANN. It was your masterpiece.
LUCAS. Your contribution was not to be sneezed at.
Mr.JOHANN. But it was really all down to you. I must say it gave us a lot of amusement. .The dear widow revelling in the protection she had won from marrying me!
LUCAS. The position in society in which one could best be sure one would not be knocked about! Oh dear!
Mr. JOHANN. She was confident no one could touch her in her impregnable nest, atop unclimbable crags on which perched a faithful eagle poised to give warning of unfriendly intruders! (laughs)
LUCAS. Madame Gorak had forgotten that, although in our country a marriage contract is indissoluble, a marriage can easily be wrecked by another of our state's institutions, the Treasury, whose powers of taxation can have a devastating effect on married couples and their offspring
Mr JOHANN..[laughing] Ha, ha, ha! Well done, Lucas. How can I thank you enough? . Under my management her enterprises flourished as never before, but she was still the boss. She still owned them all. But what you did was a masterstroke..
LUCAS. I owe a lot to good luck, I must admit. To start with, anyway. It was purely by chance that I met that wretched man who was your wife's financial partner.
He held the accounts of all her businesses – the real ones – while she sent the taxation authorities falsified balance sheets showing much lower profits than those which, as a result of your skilful management, she was in fact receiving. He knew what she was doing and decided to expose her to the police unless... yes, this man planned to blackmail her. But he failed to act quickly enough. The police heard rumours of probable criminal activities within the Gorak organisation and were about to launch an investigation When this came to the ears of Mr Big, he thought the best thing to do, was to fly out of the country to one from which he could not be extradited, in which he could hide, and escape the humiliation of being tried, convicted and imprisoned. Which is where I came in. To my amazement he offered to hand over to me, for an astonishingly small sum, a portfolio containing all the documents, registers, receipts, returns with the true figures, which the police would need in order to proceed with a prosecution...
Mr.JOHANN. No use to me of course; but your idea of what to do with them was brilliant.
LUCAS. Once again luck played into my hands. The airliner this chap flew out on,, you will remember, crashed, and his name was on the list of those who perished in it, which appeared in all the newspaper reports of the disaster. Police searching through the wreckage. came across a suitcase, miraculously undamaged, full of documents which for them meant nothing at all.
Mr JOHANN. At which point it was my turn to act. And you're right, it was hard going.
LUCAS. I certainly didn't envy you having to do what you did.
Mr JOHANN. It was essential that I did nothing to make La Gorak suspect I knew that she had presented false returns to the income tax people..
As it turned out, it all went off immaculately. But I must say I had watch myself all down the line, never to betray my real feelings by some give-away remark, expression on my face, an ill-placed shrug of the shoulder, a revealing smirk or laugh.
[The light goes out on Lucas; and then follows Mr JOHANN who moves Left to meet MADAME GORAK who enters and walks up to him – both lit against the dark background.]
Mr JOHANN. Gorak! I have been talking to the lawyers all night, and so far we have got nowhere. Completely bogged down
MADAME GORAK. Don't worry. I know everything. The order for my arrest will be signed tomorrow.
Mr. JOHANN. Who told you that?
MADAME GORAK. What's the point in being so secretive? The sooner I know how things stand, the easier it will be for me to prepare my case, to decide what I am going to say in the face of whatever it is they are to charge me with.
Mr JOHANN. It is not at all clear yet whether they will hold you on remand – in prison, that is to say -. pending your appearance in court.
MADAME GORAK. I know. And I really don't think there is much you can do to help. So forget it. I'll be all right.
Mr JOHANN. I can't bear to think of you being in that dreadful prison. I just feel I haven't been clever enough to find the weak spot in their case.. There must be one somewhere. There must be someone involved in all this with whom we could come to some arrangement, make a pact he would find worthwhile.
MADAME GORAK. As far as I am concerned I am reconciled to taking whatever it they have in store for me. If it's that prison, so be it, It won't be a life sentence, that's for sure.. We'll have plenty of years together after I come out.
Mr. JOHANN. The counsel we engage to defend you will see to it that any sentence is the least that can be imposed in a case such as this. No question of that.
Hopefully they'll do even better and you'll be found not guilty and freed.
MADAME GORAK. Quite so. But just now, we have more important matters to discuss.
Mr. JOHANN. What can be more important than this?
MADAME GORAK. My companies. Don't you see? They’ll probably confiscate everything I possess.
Mr. JOHANN. Maybe, but not if we play our cards properly, and I think we'll discover ways of doing that. So don't worry your head on that score. There are other matters of greater concern.
MADAME GORAK. I can't believe my ears, Do you really believe that? They are bound to take the whole of the empire I have worked so slavishly, and successfully, to build up all my life, - and you will let them do that without raising an eyelid?
Mr. JOHANN. No, no. Of course not. We'll stop them stealing your assets; take my word.
MADAME GORAK. And how do you propose to do that?
Mr. JOHANN. Well. Right now, I couldn't rightly say. But I shall be talking to people who have been n a similar predicament, and – er – well, get what advice I can from – er – whomever I can
MADAME GORAK. Wake up, Johann. There's only one way of stopping them, and that I have already seen to. Making sure that when they look into the place where they think my money lies, the cupboard is bare. They find nothing; they discover that I have put it out of their reach. I have just been drafting the necessary documents with my solicitor. I shall be penniless. So there will be nothing for them to lay their grubby little hands on.
Mr. JOHANN. And what do the accountants and shareholders of your companies think of a ploy such as that?
MADAME GORAK. It is all ready to go. It merely awaits you signing the documents, and that will be it..
Mr JOHANN. Awaits my signature?
MADAME GORAK. All my companies are now yours…
Mr JOHANN. You have given up all your possess?
MADAMR GORAK. All but one thing: our marriage. Through you
I shall once again possess all my companies, as I did before we were husband and wife.
Mr. JOHANN. So the ball is now in my court? It is for me to decide what to do, and me alone?
MADAME GORAK. Have you any difficulty in doing that?
Mr. JOHANN. Of course not.
MADAME GORAK. So?
Mr JOHANN. I'm a bit bewildered, that's all. Taken me by surprise, Not at all what I expected. Like opening a town house window which had always overlooked the street and looking down into a gorge three thousand feet below.
MADAME GORAK. But your eyes are surely used to gazing out into space?
Mr. JOHANN. It is a bit forbidding being plunged alone, precipitately and without warning, from light into dark
MADAME GORAK. But I will always be at your side.
Mr. JOHANN. You will always know what I am up to.
MADAME GORAK. How's that?
Mr. JOHANN. Have you forgotten our secret way of speaking to each other? Through the flowers – the tulips, the convolvulus, the roses? They will tell you what I am working at, they will remind you of my love for you, of my memories of the past, my hopes for the future
[The light on Madame Gorak goes out; and another comes up on LUCAS who is laughing]
LUCAS.. Ha ha! Well done! That was magnificent.. How on earth did you manage to hide the pleasure your deceit was giving you? As fine a piece of acting I have ever seen on the stage. I don't know how you were able to keep it up, to keep a straight face, I watched you and was expecting you at any moment to give the game away by – well, I don't know – just bursting into laugher, But no. At no point could she have suspected you were having her on. How did you do it?.
Mr. .JOHANN. I was driven by I'm not sure what, but something that forced me on, over which I had no control. It took possession of me, mocking every attempt I made to come to my senses. - though not, I might say, entirely successfully. Luckily I did manage to calm down and stop unbridled impetuosity ruining all I was trying to achieve. That was the road to the nervous breakdown from which I would find it very difficult to recover..
LUCAS. You say you do not know what drives you. You've got to look deeper.
Mr. JOHANN. No one knows the source of a call, a vocation, which is what motivates me. It is a call to nirvana, to the state they call seventh heaven, which yields the joy, the bliss no words can define, but those who have once sensed it never stop seeking.
LUCAS. I imagine your joy derives in no small measure from the enormous wealth which has suddenly fallen into your lap and lets you acquire whatever you want whenever you want it.
Mr. JOHANN. I can assure you it would never have fallen into my lap, as you like to put it, without the effort I made, and the plan I devised, to direct it there..
LUCAS. It is your plan working out so well that makes you so happy, is that it?
Mr. JOHANN. That's only part of what has brought me such joy..
LUCAS. You started the ball rolling. You are the instigator of the whole thing..
You are the one who have suffered the hurt of being mockd that day, - she and the other three -for which you have ever since been seeking revenge...
Mr. JOHANN. You may well say that, but as soon as I had avenged myself that first time, I thought I was being all rather petty.
LUCAS. Maybe. But after that you sought further vengeance?
Mr. JOHANN. No, Lucas. I once thought as you did, but I was wrong. And I didn't want to make the same mistake again. Which is why I drew up my new plan of action so meticulously. I had to go it alone. The other three relied on seemingly impregnable defences. Nonetheless they were check-mated. To divine and frustrate their next moves, so that I could deliver the knock-out blow, I had to rise above them. There was only one way of doing that, and that was by taking the road that led to the palace of the Great Kirby.
[The spotlight on Lucas goes out, and follows Mr JOHANN as he walks up to a long table at the head of which sits in semi-darkness the grave, sombre, severe-looking GREAT KIRBY… Behind him can be seen, in a transparency, skyscrapers and smoking factory chimneys]
Mr. JOHANN. Just a minute please. Let me look around and take in what I see… It's a bit of an effort for me to speak; I'm somewhat tired and out of breath after my long journey. You know what I am talking about only too well., You've watched my progress from one year to another, and you know what it means for me finally to meet up with you., Great Kirby, in this ivory tower of yours. Your secretaries out there wanted me to leave this with them [holds up a letter], the letter you sent me inviting me to come and see you.. I wasn't going to do that. Oh no.. I'm going to hold on to it – very tightly.. It's much too valuable a testimonial. It is a great feather in my cap.:to be able to show proof of being asked to have a face to face business talk in his private office with the Great Kirby . It puts me in the top league, head and shoulders above my rivals...Most of them are eager social climbers – though none would want to admit to it . However, I reckon they would give their eyes to be able to tell their friends and customers that they consorted with, and were consulted by, so high a star in the upper regions of the world of business as the Great Kirby. How did I manage to penetrate this inner sanctum, which only a chosen few have ever entered? An old trick. I gained entrance with a false key. I sold some steel shares at less than the market price.. What? A scallywag like me fixing the price of steel against you? No one, let alone the Great Kirby, had ever heard of me. I reckoned the sooner he could find out who this 'Mr Johann' could be, the better. A lunatic? An ignoramus bent on committing financial suicide? If so, no matter. But perhaps he was no idiot, but someone of an altogether different calibre who might well prove to be a threat.. When this unknown expressed a wish to come and see you, you thought, as I hoped you would, that I might have some useful proposition to make to you.and it would be foolish to ignore me.. You would not want to miss out on a risky project for which, with your wide experience, you would see a way of embarking upon, from which others would sheer away.. Might it not be worth examining as the product of a man who had risen from small beginnings, whose ambition and energy had given birth to a scheme of great originality far beyond the run-of-the-mill ideas that others sought to bring to your attention every day? These are the thoughts which I hope have been running through your mind. My ambition is, like you, to be able to look out of a window such as that [;points to behind Kirby] from which one can see a dazzling universe. I look forward to the day when I too can let my eyes survey the whole galaxy of metals.
[Mr, JOHANN suddenly turns round to find LUCAS once more beside him, picked out by a spotlight. The rest of the space is in darkness.]
Mr JOHANN. Yes. Yes, Lucas. Perhaps I am now nearer understanding what drove me on. It wasn'.t ambition; it wasn't love of money.; or even a desire for revenge.. Now I see what it was, Lucas. Yes, now I see.
(Stage Left. Time – 14th c)
[Darkened interior of the 14th century Spanish church. CATALINON runs in, obviously very frightened]
CATALINON. Master! Where are you? In Heaven's name, master! The soldiers are coming.... Take to your heels. Now. This is no time to hang around Get going! They’re here.. You've got to hide. They're – ah! [he falls to his knees, clasps his hands together on a praying position and keeps rigidly still]
[TWO SOLDIERS with lanterns enter, and start looking around.. One of them goes to the kneeling Catalinon and puts his lantern in front of Catalinon's face to see if he knows who he is. He leaves him to get on with his praying, and takes his lantern to search in another part of the church, joins the other soldier, and the two of them make their way out. DON JUAN comes out of the shadows and goes up to his praying servant.]
CATALINON. Oh, it's you.. Lucky they never saw you.
DON JUAN. How long is it before dawn?
CATALINON. At least two hours. But be careful They'll probably come back.
DON JUAN. Another two hours! It's the longest night of my life. It seems to be going on eternally.
CATILINON. Don't say things like that, master. Talk of eternity and you talk about death.
DON JUAN. Does that still frighten you? Have you not yet got used to going through life day by day, side by side with death?
CATALINON. I don't have so close a relationship with it as that. No. Thanks to God, every day I feel, and I am, very much alive, enjoying life along with so many other living beings
DON JUAN. Can you spend your whole life ignoring the dark cloud that overhangs all mortals, of which those who throng our city streets seem more conscious than most, the ever-present threat to life that mankind calls Mortality? Does it not seem to you, as it does to me, that the feet of those who trudge the streets of our cities are dispersing and blowing to the wind the dust of the dead?
CATLINON. No more talk, master, I beseech you, that hints of the bottomless pit, the infernal regions that lie beneath us.. As far I am concerned, my feet tread dense, compact terra firma which shows no sign of either sooner or later opening up to receive me.
DON JUAN. Tell the masses of the enchanting – or should I say, enchanted – world which you inhabit, the delight it brings you, the stability, the freedom. But don't be surprised if they take you for a madman. If they think you're mentally unstable, you have nothing to worry about. However, if they go along with your ravings and take them as the enlightened preaching of an inspired holy man, that's the end of you. There is no place for the living in a world that turns a blind eye on the wanderings of the mind, on all that is intangible, and can only focus on matters with the substance, the rigidity of flesh and blood.
CATALINON. Oh master! Discussions of this sort give me the creeps.
DON JUAN. For them progress is anathema; moving on stinks. Let everything remain as it has always been; let it go stale; let it go rotten; let our laws,. our moral values, putrefy. That's the movement, the change, they accept. Transformed? You bet! Not what it was at first..
CATALINON. For God's sake! Do you have to talk like this?
DON JUAN. A lively chap like you prefers to be silent on such matters, is that it? For me silence is death.
CATALINON. .Silence is not death; sounding off on life's profundities is not death.
DON JUAN. My words of wisdom may not apply any longer, but then neither do the ancient outpourings we term The Claasics which have lost their meaning, have no life left in them, expressing out-moded, old-fashionad attitudes.. They now lie neglected by the common herd – that's you and me - out of sight, out of mind, in Time's cemetery, dead and forgotten. And good riddance! You are also dead, Catalinon, and don't know it.
CATALINON. What about you? Do you regard yourself as fully alive with that death sentence hanging over you?
DON JUAN. It is precisely that sentence that tells me they cannot wait to see me once more back im the centre of the fray.. Get it? You'll need no further proof of my being still very much alive and kicking than seeing me, as I assure you you will, happily esconced in the arms of Stella.
CATALINON. So that is all your fancy philosophising on life and death adds up to, is it, seducing girls, deceiving virgins?
DON JUAN. I don't know what you're talking about. Seduction, deception? That's not me.
CATALINON. Come off it. How can you deny it? Do you really think that I, who have followed you round all this time like a faithful spaniel, have not seen you at it
DON JUAN. Your sharp eyes and well-attuned mind will also, therefore, have observed the hypocrisy and prejudice that colours the talk and behaviour of the girls to whom I assume you are referring. You will have noticed how well versed they are in the obscene art which they have inherited from those who have preceded them, that of exciting desire. You will witnessed how mesmerising a performance they manage to stage over and over again. Dainty damsels? Fresh young virgins? Huh! Tree trunks whose life once depended on springtime, regularly rejuvenating with bright greenery, and resplendent flowers, and have now had their day - worn out, cut down - do not blossom.. No new shoots, no new leaves, only moss and fungus.
CATALINON. Master, I have seen the kind of girls you have ravished. Many of them were very young, innocent, pure as snow.
DON JUAN. There was no part of them which they could accuse me of offending, except their bodies. Feelings? Any 'shame'' they saw fit to express was simulated; their virtue entirely false.; any modesty they attempted to display was artfully feigned. It was all an act. And what squalor lay behind this make-believe! Venal self-indulgence, sordidly satisfying their own brand of sexuality , calculating, sinister , evil-minded Jezebels..
CATALINON. And what lies behind your façade of respectability, of good breeding and all that?
DON JUAN. Oh I have nothing to hide. Behind me roars the inferno. Its flames flare high and I never try to obscure them. The flames are there for all to see. I have no wish to smother my gross, corrupt lifestyle, my decomposition which, as I described, is the fate of hewn down tree trunks,..with a cloak of hypocrisy.
CATALINON. I see. And all that swearing of True Love? All those tears; all those promises to love her till you die? 'For all eternity, my dearest'!
DON JUAN. It's the required, boring ritual one has to go through to make sure that she does not surrender at once, which they all reckon to do.. If she succeeds , there is none of the fore-play I always dream about and I find so invigorating. I have to have my lies to counter hers...Mine are less severe than hers. They are only spoken, whereas hers on the other hand are inevitably treacherous and fake, acted in bad faith with irresistibly beguiling eyes, alluring smiles and coral lips whispering and humming seductive sounds in your ears, erasing all sense of dull reality and transporting you body and soul into the elysian fields where there is nothing mundane, nothing sad to pull you down into the Slough of Despond; nothing, for the moment at any rate, but joy unbounded. Ecstasy!
CATALINON. 'Only spoken' – your lies? Huh! That in no way absolves you. With your promises and declarations of love you profane Holy Marriage, your deceitful language constitutes sacrilege of the most revolting nature.
DON JUAN. You are wrong in judging my choice of my words on these occasions.. My speaking in that way is an end in itself. Don't you see? Making those promises and then abrogating them – betrayal – is my way of punishing them.
CATALINON. In whose name do you do that? Under whose authority?
DON JUAN. I haven't the slightest idea. Do you know what makes you tick, how you come to think as you do? I have spent hours turning these questions round and round in my head. From where, I asked myself, comes this overwhelming Desire?...
CATALINON. Indeed. That's the question. From where? Was it from Hell?
DON JUAN. If the flames of the inferno are the instigators of the tormenting appetite that consumes me from day to night, which you find sacrilegious.; and if they want to encourage mankind to learn the truth about themselves and their motivations, and reconcile themselves to loving the truth when they find it... If I owe it to the inferno for this self-knowledge – if, that is – well then I must be grateful to it In the circumstances, I think I have no alternative but to accept that the flames from the pit are responsible for me being Me.
CATALINON. [backs away from him, staring him in the face] Terrifying!... After that, I cannot but look on you with horror.
DON JUAN. So you've changed your mind about what pleases you and what disgusts you., what frightens you? Am I right? You are now horrified by the thought of anyone shaking off the dust of death?
[CATALINON continues his backwards withdrawal from Don Juan, and then
collides with a lifesize statue which now stands in the shadows. It is one of Don Gonzalo, the father Dona Ana. He jerks himself round to see what he has bumped into, and then squats down beside the statue, holding his head in his hands.]
CATALINON [crying out in anguish] Oh master! What do you think I have seen?
DON JUAN. [putting his hand to the hilt of his sword] What is it?
CATALINON. Look there. It's Dona Ana's farher. He's come back.
DON JUAN. What's that? You animal! [goes up to him, and cries out when he sees the statue] Aaaah! You’re right, he has indeed returned.. Somewhat heavier than before, thanks to all that bronze they've given him on his head and shoulders. Give him the grander image he always thought he deserved, strutting about like an over-ornamented turkey…
CATALINON. Hardly the way, master, to talk about a man you have killed.
DON JUAN. Don Gonzalo De Alloa has good reason to be very grateful to me. In his lifetime, his ego was monumental. But it is only meeting his death at my hands that made him the celebrity worthy of having a monument made of him. There he stands, for ever fixed in a posture very much more 'noble', I might say, than the one in which we always think of him – picking his nose There he is, his head adorned with a helmet of bronze, which I am sure was never the case when he was alive.
CATALINON. No no. Don't talk like that, master. He was a warrior of some renown, covered in glory and honour. It was just that you never let him enjoy his dotage.
DON JUAN. I ended his life at its happiest. He had good cause to feel happy. He had just returned from winning a bloody battle. He will always be remembered as a victorious warrior. I made it certain that as a fighter he never suffered defeat. If he had gone on living, who knows what he might have endured – catastrophic disaster, ignoble flight, or much worse. He might have lost his head – the one which up there [pointing to the statue] is now so venerated – to a twenty-old whore who would have brought on it the contempt of all who knew him and render him despised as a hypocrite who well deserved their scorn.. I saved him from all that.
[DON JUAN walks up to the statue, while CATALINON makes repeated signs of the cross and murmurs prayers]
DON JUAN. No. I have nothing against you, Don Gonzalo. I even have a little sympathy for you. You are the victim of those who see your military expertise as a way of sustaining their greedy and cowardly lifestyle, by sending you, sword in hand, to defend what they hold to be virtues but I regard as degrading vices.
CATALINON. He defended his daughter's honour.
DON JUAN. Of course...Dona Ana! What a joy! What a lovely beauty spot she had on her neck!
CATALINON. Is that all you remember about her?
DON JUAN. It is memorable because, in other ways, she was like all the others.
CATALINON. You mean to say you killed a man for a beauty spot?
DON JUAN. A bit paltry, eh? Well, I would say, for that beauty spot, Don Gonzalvo would have risked his life destroying an army.
CATALINON. Did you hear that? The soldiers are coming back.
DON JUAN. Go and have a look. The dawn that is about to break must be mine, and mine alone.
[CATALINON runs off, but returns immediately]
CATALINON. There is someone walking across the square. But that's all, and I can't make out who it is. Too far away
[DON JUAN goes with CATALINON to the church door and looks out]
DON JUAN. It's a woman, you idiot.. It's Stella... Don't you see? Dawn is at last breaking. Go and wake up one of the friars and tell him to get ready for a wedding…
CATALINON. Wait a minute. You still have plenty of time.
DON JUAN. Didn.t you hear what I said? Get on with it.
CATALINON. Haven't you done enough sinning?
DON JUAN. Do you want me to beat you up
CATALINON. You can't escape God's justice; but then his mercy too is iinfinite.
DON JUAN. [rushing at him] Rogue! Wretch! On your way!
CATALINON.. That's it. I've had enough. I'm off.
[ CATALINON runs out. Enter a woman wrapped in a cloak which hides the fact that she is DONA ANA. DON JUAN goes up to her]
DON JUAN. Stella!... my love! I have been waiting and waiting for you. For far too long.. All night. Time stood still
DONA ANA. As it did for me, Don Juan Tenorio. [she lifts her mantel from her face, and DON JUAN takes a step back, shocked at seeing who it is. He kneels on one leg in front of her]
DON JUAN. Dona Ana!
DONA ANA. Ugh! You wretch! Well on the way once more to indulge yourself in your depraved habits, but not this time. Thwarted, unmasked, just as you were you were about to lay your filthy hands, as your arrogantly thought, on your latest conquest. Stella is a friend of mine.. Yes. She boasted to me about the tryst she was having with a new Lothario whom she did not name, but from her description I knew to be you, and even more certainly from the promises and declarations of love.she said this fellow made to her. They had the familiar false ring of insincerity which had sickened me, time and time again, as I had had to listen to your monotonous, would-be 'romantic' speechifying.
DON JUAN. Good evening, madam. Welcome to this holy church. This is not a meeting I dreamt would ever take place. For I knew I was no longer in your good graces, and could never expect your pardon for what I have done. But I know Heaven will show me mercy.
DONA ANA. Don't you blaspheme in my presence, you slut.
DON JUAN. I take it as a sign from heaven, madam, that you should have come here to take your revenge at the foot of your father's statue. [he takes his sword out of its sheath and hands it to Ana] Here you are, madam. Clutch it firmly. – not with a hand that trembles, but resolutely, confident in the righteousness of the deed you have set your heart on. You are the purveyor of divine justice. Thrust the sword into.my side with all the force of the hatred you bear me. Even if in your heart you have forgiven me, do not let Christian compassion soften your blow.
DON ANA [throwing the sword down] No. The blood of my father, with which your sword is blemished, must not mix with yours.
DON JUAN. Have pity on me! Release me from a life that has become insupportable.
DONA ANA. Don't worry. You'll be released all right. But not by a sword, but an executioner's axe within seconds of your placing your head on the block.
DON JUAN. How soon are you expecting that to take place?
DONA ANA. Very shortly. Soldiers are looking for you all over the town. You can't escape.
DON JUAN. Well. There might be a king's pardon on its way at this very moment
DONA ANA. All sorts of people have a say in matters of this sort. Each has a different responsibility…
DON JUAN. That goes for you too. Who knows, tomorrow you may have decided to become my accomplice in escapades which today you condemn as evil and criminal?.
DONA ANA. I have already been your accomplice – I helped you kill my father.
DON JUAN. This is the moment for you to unburden yourself of the guilt you feel in having taken part in that. Our standing together here, beside the sinister bronze monument of your father which, every time I look at it, makes me long to join him in the after-world – our meeting here is a sign. Whether from heaven or hell I do not know. But don't you see what it is trying to tell us? I don't think you do.
DONA ANA. Inside you there 's always an urge to destroy, though you do not always let it out and make it the determinator of every action.
DON JUAN. I find one reaches a point where one no longer has a choice, where one's next step is pre-destined. You cannot go back, only forward. My destiny is written in bronze. And so is yours.
DONA ANA. Mine? What do you mean?
DON JUAN. Never before has the blade of a sword severed so much; never has the point of a sword written anything so precise, so definite.
DONA ANA. What are you implying? Every word of yours is barbed.
DON JUAN. Once an open plain stretched out before me. No longer I am now welded, as it were, to this hunk of bronze.. I am at one with Don Gonzalo. As for you and me, a barely perceptible trace of blood separates us, just a smear. But it acts as an unscalable wall..
DONA ANA. Between us?
DON JUAN. Between you and me, Dona Ana,
DONA ANA. I find it difficult to fathom what you are saying, Don Juan. What am I meant to infer from the words that fall so glibly from your mouth -: sarcasm, contempt, deliberately misleading phrases to allay my fears, to put me on the wrong track, send me to perdition, betray my friends and allies? I can never divine your innermost thoughts as conveyed in your poisonous remarks, so artfully contrived to deceive.
DON JUAN. Am I not waiting for them to lead me to the stake in the town square and set fire to me in a holocaust of flame? Why should I lie to you?
DONA ANA. To maintain in the eyes of posterity your legendary image of invincibility – victorious up to the last. How better than by heroically wielding your manly sword and mortally wounding your once-loved Dona Ana?
DON JUAN. My body is a mass of wounds, - the result of continually crossing swords with Don Gonzalo.
DONA ANA. So what? I'm no threat to you. Get on with it! Into my side with your sword! That's it, isn't? I'm ready,
DON JUAN. You're right. I loved you. When your poor old father started lunging at me with his sword, I shouted at him that he need be in no doubt of my deep and passionate love for you. But now, there he is, nothing but a lifeless replica of himself, his eyes, his heart and mind turned to bronze. But then, facing the man he believed to be a dangerous enemy, he hurled himsel at me in a terrifyingly savage way which made me think he saw my declaration of love for his daughter as creating a state of affairs that needed destroying as urgently as an army of infidel Moors, and that this was his duty as a Christian man of honour.. My yelling at him was obviously of no avail, as ineffective as trying to move a mountain...
DON ANA. [shouting] And what about Stella?
DON JUAN. She is one of the several who came into my life after you; and would still be playing a part were they not, at this very moment, stacking those logs in the square to which, once they have placed me securely in the centre of them, they will set fire ,and let the hot flames deprive me of my life as efficiently as, though very much more painfully than, cold steel..
DON ANA. That''s all you have to say about Stella?.
.DON JUAN. It 's all rather bewildering. I'm not quite sure what lies behind all this, nothing I can put my hands on, get my teeth into. Always shifting.. One moment it all seems clear and there is plenty of substance; the next it all goes muzzy and dark and empty. I am floating in air, with nothing to hold on to. I know I must get a grip on myself, but what help can I expect from the lights of phantoms in icy darkness?
DON ANA. I am surprised you are able to divine so accurately, as it seems, what lies in people's hearts. How do you manage to strike the right chords, attune yourself to what their hearts desire?
DON JUAN. I know the desires of my heart, madam. There was a time when it beat in harmony with yours, and it is a rythym which, at an instant, it can pick up again as if it had never been abandoned...
DON JUAN. Ah! I have won you over – back to what you were to me that night. At last!
DONA ANA. Be careful what you say now, Don Juan. Your words can at times be very cutting and hurtful; at other times a balm that soothes smarting wounds.
DON JUAN. You looked so wonderfully beautiful that night. Your eyes told me you were blaming yourself for allowing yourself to fall for me so effortlessly. They could not hide the modest young lady you were at root. You could never be anything else, but all the while you had difficulty in stopping yourself being carried away by red-hot, flaming Desire – floating away on waves of undiluted rapture across a boundless ocean, and up, up into the skies. For me, you have the same beauty to-day as you had then, lovelinesswhich is un affected by your regarding any gesture of encouragement you make to me, as sacrilege.. Here you are to-day with fear in your heart, but a tenderness in your arms, in your whole body... driven by a burning desire to surrender, to take me into your arms and...
DONA ANA. [stretching out her arms to him] My love!
DON JUAN. [embracing her] Careful, Ana. The flames of the inferno are not far away.
DONA ANA. All I can see is you, my love.
DON JUAN. Mind how you go, Ana. What you are doing will anger the wind, will make a nonsense of time.
DONA ANA. I no longer have anything to fear. I have been looking for you, one could say, ever since that night we first met, not consciously maybe but nonetheless desperately. I was never able to shrug you off. You were there in my tears whenever I cried...At times, you were my sombre mourning veil, the dagger with which I longed to kill you, the rosary I held as I said my prayers.. I saw you, but only in my mind, never with my eyes which were .dimmed with blood.. I never heard your voice;. my ears were deafened by cries of agony..
DON JUAN. At last I have found you, but too late. I have come to the end of the road.
DON ANA. Don't say that. I dread to think of losing you all over again.
DON JUAN. I am sorry but this old man of bronze standing behind us here has decided otherwise..
DON ANA. Stop it. Nonsense. He can't touch us, nor can anyone else. We no longer have families or friends or… You and I are on our own, away from everyone, 'up against' everyone if that has to be.
DON JUAN. No. It's over. Too late
DONA ANA. I tell you it is nothing of the sort. We can disappear, drive off right now, in my carriage.. It is the only one of its sortin the town. I guarantee no one would dare to stop and search it.. We can go miles and miles away, where no one could ever possibly find us.
DON JUAN. Not even him? [pointing to statue behind him]
DONA ANA. Stop questioning me. I have nothing more to say. I have pardoned you What more do you want from me?
DON JUAN. You mean, as far as you are concerned you are making a clean sweep of my depravity?
DON ANA. All of it, my dearest love.
DON JUAN. You forgive me for lying so grossly to all those women about the love I bore for them? For never knowing the children I fathered?
DON ANA. We are turning over a new leaf, embarking on a new chapter in our lives together.
DON JUAN. But I killed your father.
DON ANA. I love you, I say.
DON JUAN. Which deletes all you once held to be so hateful?.
DONA ANA. Yes, yes my love. Enough talk. Come on. Get going. We have no time to waste.
DON JUAN. [shouting] No! [turns to address the statue of Ana's father] You've been deceived by her; you've fallen for all your dear daughter has told you. You nobly defend her honour; she forgives the man who has dishonoured her. She will see nothing shameful about taking me into her bed, since she is traumatised by the romantic-sounding twaddle which I declaim with such convincing fervour on these occasions All she is concerned about is satisfying her sensual, her sexual desires. 'Love'? She doesn't love me, you old fool!
DON ANA. Monster! Monster!
[DONA ANA runs off, sobbing]
DON JUAN. Catalinon! Did you hear all that, Catalinon?
[CATALINON emerges out of the shadows]
CATALINON. Saved, master. Saved.
DON JUAN. Indeed, She could not deny that what I was saying to her father was the truth, that the only 'pleasure', if that is the right word, she derived from being in my company was the prospect of ending up in bed with me. She saw herself as acting conventionally, as all others do. This is her justification.. If Ana sees that climax as all that can be said to constitute 'love', surely Don Juan Tenorio cannot be condemned for thinking likewise? If she is justified, so is he. Come on!. Don't let's hang around here. No one out there can now write me off as the lecherous, lascivious outcast which has been my label for so long. Come!
CATALINON. [holding him back] Master! For goodness sake!...
DON JUAN [breaking free] Nothing to fear. There's no reason for people not to accept me now, Catalinon' They can't go on cold-shouldering me.
[DON JUAN strides haughtily off, followed by CATALINON]
CATALINON. Heavens above! Where on earth are you going? Going out there will be the death of you – the end. Master! [in tears] The end of you.
[The spotlights come up on Mr JOHANN and LUCAS, standing in exactly the same position beside the statue of Don Gonsalvo as Don Juan and Catalinon]
LUCAS. You know what I think about this enquiry of yours. It's dragged on much too long.
Mr JOHANN. I disagree. I never expected it would turn up so much information. Look at that stimulating conversation I had with the Great Kirby… I go over and over it again in the mind. So many ideas! I never know which to follow up first, all are so startingly innovative and exciting, hold out so much promise.
LUCAS. Are you sure you really had this conversation with Kirby?
Mr JOHANN. Why do you say that? It is the mainspring of what we are doing, as I reminded the others when we met here recently to review progress. I am greatly indebted to the Great Kirby
LUCAS. I can't understand why you are so keen to dig down and find the reason for acting, for reacting, as you do, for what drives you. Does it matter all that? When I sit down to a meal. I don’t ask myself Why.? Is it to satisfy my hunger? to exercise my jaws? I just eat; get on with it
Mr JOHANN. I suppose you find it strange that I should hanker after finding what it was that led me to this huge cache of minerals of which no one, so far as I can see, had any knowledge.. and why I was so affected by the Great Kirby's support.
LUCAS. . I wouldn't want to be analysing my actions every time,, questioning the source of every idea that comes to mind.
Mr JOHANN. For fear of what it might reveal, you mean?
Mr JOHANN. What turned on so wild and untamed a sensation of triumph within me, when I heard the Great Kirby, of all people, concurring, saying Yes not No
as I expected?. I was obsessed. With him behind me on this, I said to myself, I will be in a position to deliver blow upon blow of the severest and most lasting nature on all my rivals. It will give me power of a more devastating kind than I had ever had before..
LUCAS. Power which could also bring you revenge on those who, for so long, had prayed for your downfall?
Mr JOHANN. Not only them. Also all those who were here the other day.
LUCAS. Without exception?
Mr JOHANN. Without exception.
LUCAS. So the protracted 'enquiry', which you have been conducting into the source of your behaviour, is a waste of time. You could have got the answers much more easily by psycho-analysis
Mr JOHANN. Do you really think so?
LUCAS. Certainly. All you had to do was to look at your unhappy childhood, the poverty, the injustices, the humiliations, you had to suffer.in silence. Sustaining you through this painful period of your life was a steady, unquenchable hatred of those who subjected you so heartlessly to a miserable home life as a boy. The bitterness you felt then, against those who had the power to boss you, has remained with you ever since, and moulded you into the warring barbarian who has learnt to shed his rusticity, enter the sophisticated world of the city folk and beat them at their own game.. He has come to admire not mock the splendour of their great mansions, their monuments, their churches. But exhausted by the relentless onslaught, his ability fully to enjoy the triumph is impaired, and overlaid by the ingrained hatred which drives him to raze the city to the ground.
Mr JOHANN. For me their country houses and churches are wasps' nests and wolves' dens. What I hate about them is their detestable greed and their ferocious lack of humanity. Fired by that, I propose to strike at them with all my strength.
LUCAS. By aping them, you are your own target.
Mr JOHANN. Obliging me to employ their tactics, and so become one of them, is what I hold against them most of all'
LUCAS. So. If I have understood you rightly, you see your rise to power as being driven by ambition; to achieve fame and – er – well, wealth?.
Mr JOHANN. To start with, yes.
LUCAS. Then you faced a set of unscrupulous individuals determined to damage and humiliate you; and your main object was then to wreak vengeance on them?
Mr JOHANN. Absolutely, Lucas. Absolutely.
LUCAS. And now this hatred which has been dormant for so long is rising from the depths and directing all your thoughts and actions...
Mr JOHANN….in pursuit of those, Lucas, - and there are plenty of them – whom I hold responsible for this unwelcome social climate. I am not talking about people in my own enterprises, but those in political and commercial life who have been the provocateurs of a public malaise which they seek to have accepted as the norm, and delight in making sure is perpetuated.
LUCAS. It is an evi whichl the world has had to live with for centuries. How did it originate?
Mr JOHANN. All I know is that mankind is fashioned in the image of these malefactors, so they must be held responsible.
LUCAS. That's absurd. .When the prow of a ship cuts a furrow through the sea, the furrow disappears and, behind the ship, the waters close up. That's not a once and for all event. It happens continuously. Hatred loses all meaning if it is conceived as a moral principle, a weapon in the armoury of the champions of justice. Hatred remains hatred, just as the sea remains the sea even though on occasions it is sliced through by the prow of a yacht.
Mr JOHANN. No, Lucas. I cannot stand as a champion wielding the sword of justice. It would be a pose which I could never sustain, by which few would ever be deceived. I am still too visibly soiled; too much dirt and putrefaction clings.. Such a champion must be untarnished, a patently shining monument to virtue, a widely acknowledged hero who manifestly knows the difference between Good and Evil. On the other hand, a hangman is a vicious sinner whose intrinsically evil nature reveals itself in the pleasure he derives from tightening his torture irons, and lashing his whip. The evil he dispenses is limited to the pain he can inflict with the tools he has at hand. I am no sadist. I see my vocation as one who is responsible for bringing the malefactor to justice, being found guilty and sentenced to be chastised.. I then make sure he receives the ordained punishment, which is executed however not by me but by an executioner.
LUCAS. You should have no difficulty in acting as your calling dictates. Gallows are set up in town squares, not on top of mountains. The torturer heats his tongs in the dungeon's brazier not in the boiling lava of the volcano. The executioner sharpens his axe with his whetstone , not the scythe in the sky that is the moon. For those who, .like you, feel they can be called upon to see that trouble-makers receive the punishment they deserve, it is, they are mostly having to settle family problems – like Hamlet and Orestes. Any such punishment as they deem necessary is carried out in private.
Mr JOHANN. Don Juan Tenorio, the fourteenth century Spaniard, is another. A long time ago., Lucas? What is there still to remind us of him? Almost nothing. A few legends maybe.. But he stands out very clearly. We have a very complete picture of his character, not just in black and white but in full colour, with all the winds of misfortune that seemed to whirl about him throughout his tortured life.. How is it that Don Juan of all people is the only person that has left so lively an impression on us, that preys on our conscience after all this time and reminds us of our own failings?
LUCAS. You know the answer very well.
Mr JOHANN. Yes. He was perhaps the first to bring his private revolt against the lifestyle of his day into the open, into the public domain, daring to challenge the values, the oppressive moral code and religious faith of his contemporaries. .He is still remembered and revered for rejecting the conventional formula for the happy life as consisting of a routine of bland:contentment, in which no one ever had occasion to give a thought to any other way of passing the time.. For everyone else it was not The Thing to doubt the current modus vivendi.. Don Juan refused to accept all that, as people are starting to do now.. Rejection was the mainspring of his life from the moment he set out on his career of chastising those who – well – he thought deserved it..
LUCAS. Do you see yourself ever changing your own modus vivendi in the course of the years to come?
Mr JOHANN. If you are hinting that in future I should try behaving with a little more decorum, more humility,, you are barking up the wrong tree. If you take it that I am certain to climb down on so much of what I hold to be true, it is an unjust presumption.
LUCAS. You're right. You are possessed of an overpowering ambition which will never let you stop reaching for power in yet another field of action, even more risky and complicated than the last.
Mr JOHANN. Indeed. And I will conduct myself on that occasion, and the next, with my customary acumen, which means highly successfully and, as usual, attracting the admiration and envy of all., and celebrating my achievement by...
LUCAS.... seducing a pretty little girl, or [pointing to the statue behind him] inviting Don Gonzalo De Ulloa to dinner?
Mr JOHANN. We've come on hundreds of years since then. And to-day there is precious little left of their way of conducting themselves, of whay they regarded as sacred and immutable.. It's all gone What have we inherited from them by way of Honour, Virtue, Religion? Damn all. The only thing that motivates people these days is putting more and more money in the bank. That of course is their weak spot, and what I am targeting.. What will make it easier is that so much of their ill-gotten gain is controlled by me.
LUCAS. How will you get away with it? They are not going to stand by and let you milk them dry?
Mr JOHANN. You wait and see.. At first, I expect to find quite a few of them willing to fall in with my plan. And the rest will accuse them of backing the wrong horse, pleading for a united front to thwart my designs, and soon be fighting each other tooth and nail. In no time, the whole opposition will have broken up in total disarray, powerless to prevent me acting as I see fit.
LUCAS. OK. And when they're all washed up and you are riding high, what then?
Mr JOHANN. By then it will be too late for any of them to do anything.
Mr JOHANN. Except what?
LUCAS. Pay someone to kill you.
Mr JOHANN. True. If the scenario works out as I predict, I'll keep that in mind, and watch out for my back.
LUCAS. I wouldn't wait till then. You made it quite plain to the person you were talking to just now, that he had little or no hope of ever recovering. He's got it in for you, and no mistake.
Mr JOHANN. It was my mistake losing my temper with him. I shouldn't have let my anger carry me away like that.
LUCAS. It was extraordinarily foolish. Quite unpardonable. And now you will have to face the consequences.
Mr JOHANN. What do you mean?
LUCAS. Well. If Vector has guessed what you are planning,, similarly Jurgi and Ladog, and almost certainly several of the others, they will have come to the conclusion that they have only one way of getting rid of you; and I should imagine that their hired assassin is loading his pistol at this very moment.
Mr JOHANN. What are you saying?
LUCAS. If they have cottoned on to what you intend to do, you're a dead man. If you are not prepared to compromise, meet them half way, come to some sort of arrangement, there is no future for you. There is no place for you in their world. You are finished. Or rather, they will finish you..
Mr JOHANN. I don't get it. Just what do you think I can expect to happen?
LUCAS. In view of the threats they made as they took their leave of you, I would say it was obvious.
Mr JOHANN. You don't know them as well as I do. It was just a try-on; trying to scare me. That's all.
LUCAS. If they had actually found out precisely what you proposed doing, this statue here would come to life and play a significant part in the situation in which we now find ourselves.
Mr JOHANN. That's where you're wrong. The statue is the Great Kirby.
LUCAS. Your conscience is pricking you so hard, you are unable to see what is around you.
Mr JOHANN. What is that?
LUCAS. [gently] Emptiness… We are alone in here.
Mr JOHANN. I don't believe you.
[He walks into the gloom of the Stage Right space, where there is the table with a telephone on it, and starts urgently looking around upstage and shouting out]
Mr JOHANN. Hey! Anyone there? Come on, show yourselves!
[He comes down to the table, presses various bell switches and picks up the telephone receiver. and holds it to his ear; cries "Hello!"and receiving no response , jerks it down and up on its cradle, finally slamming it back]
Mr JOHANN. Out of order. Nothing's working. What's the meaning of all this, Lucas?
LUCAS. That they've uncovered your plan. They now know exactly what you're up to, and are poised to thwart you with every weapon at their disposal..
Mr JOHANN. Nonsense. That's just not possible, Lucas.
LUCAS. [pointing to statue] There stands the statue of Don Gonzalo De Ulloa, .which, as you know, slew Don Juan di Tenorio, sending him down to hell in flames. Don Juan no longer exists, Mr Johann.
Mr JOHANN. [shouting] No!
[He starts to run forward, but LUCAS stops him. Noises off of people running]
LUCAS. Hear that? They're on their way. They're coming for you – right now.
Mr JOHANN. You're right. There's someone coming. [dithering] From – er – there? Or there? Or – er...
[Noises off of a different kind]
LUCAS. Do you hear that? That's something else. The clinking of metal. [he begins to slink off in the darkness]
Mr JOHANN. Where are you going Lucas?
LUCAS. I don't want to have anything more to do with you.
Mr JOHANN. Wait! I'll come with you..
LUCAS. No thank you, Mr Johann. Now I'm going it alone – not with you anymore. [He exits]
[Mr JOHANN takes a few steps in the direction of Lucas, but Lucas has disappeared in the darkness. He turns and goes in the direction of the tables to try and discover where the new sound is coming from. He peers around and then stops, believing he has traced it to someone hidden in the darkness, which gives him a fright. He wipes the sweat from his forehead, and panics]
Mr JOHANN. Don't shoot! I don't know who you are, but wait. Wait! I'm not afraid of dying. but my life is by no means over. I still have a lot to give. If you kill me now, there will be nothing left of me, nothing of what I have achieved, merely a dimly remembered feats of some sort which will soon be lost in the mists of time… If you kill me, you will trash all I have done up to now. Without me at the helm, it can never reach the stage of development I planned for it when I first set it on its voyage through time. You will be making a nonsense of everything I set out to do. If you fire at me, Mr Johann will go down to the pit in flames, and for what remains of him there will be no monument, only a handful of earth. Wait! Put that gun down. Don't fire! [shouting] No!...
(Stage Left. Time – 14th c.)
[Interior of 14th c. Spanish church, as in Act 1, Scene 1. At the foot of the statue of Don Gonzalo,' lies the body of Don Juan face down covered by a cloak. Standing around are King Alfonsso XI's THREE COUNSELLORS, and several NOBLEMEN]
1st COUNSELLOR. There he lies, the man who raped women, the enemy of God and Honour.
2nd COUNSELLOR. Brought to justice at last.
3rd COUNSELLOR [bending over the body of Don Juan and lifting a corner of his cloak] He was stabbed six times. From behind. One would have been enough.
2nd COUNSELLOR. With a sword, was it?
3rd COUNSELLOR.. No. A dagger, it seems.
1st COUNSELLOR. How comes that? The soldiers who were patrolling the street had to put up a fight if they were not to be cut to pieces by this maniac who came charging at them so impetuously.
2nd COUNSELLOR. They had to defend themselves, even though they were not facing him but behind him.
1st COUNSELLOR. Do you find fault in that? Is not being stabbed six times by a dagger just what a scoundrel like him deserves?.
3rd COUNSELLOR. We should never forget that Don Juan Tenorio was a nobleman. I do not think it wise that citizens should ever come to think it acceptable that the life of a nobleman should be ended by a common dagger.
1st COUNSELLOR. Ending the life of such as Don Juan is the job of the hangman, not the commander of a military patrol, who should be severely reprimanded.
2nd COUNSELLOR. We are rid of a sinner, but the way of his dispatch gives us no opportunity publicly to condemn the sin which caused his fall from grace.
1st COUNSELLOR. So what? It would appear that some of you gentlemen have the death of Don Juan Tenorio on your conscience But surely, for all of you his departure is good riddance?
3rd COUNSELLOR. Yes – but it is the manner of his departure that worries some of us. How are we going to get rid of his dead body?
2nd COUNSELOR. And what will the King think of it all?
1st COUNSELLOR. We will know very soon. Consalvo has agreed to give him all the facts..
2nd COUNSELLOR. What if he doesn't approve?
1st COUNSELLOR. There's not much he can do about it now. Anyway, the King started it all by signing the man's death sentence
3rd COUNSELLOR.... . which many will say has not been carried out, since before that was possible, Don Juan was murdered.
.1st COUNSELLOR. Does that worry you? He had no following among the common people.
3rd COUNSELLOR. Is that so? Why then should anyone want to kill him?
1st COUNSELLOR. Because there are many waiting in the wings, noting how successfully he has ploughed his own furrow, and finding it difficult not to admire his brave approach to out-worn conventions. Over the years their numbers could swell into a formidable body of libertines with considerable influence on what is 'accepted' as normal behaviour.. That is what we had to prevent, whatever the cost.
3rd COUNSELLOR. How far had you got when you heard of Don Juan's murder? What did you learn from the tactics you were employing? That depravity will never go unpunished.? That if divine justice hesitates to make itself felt, the man-made variety can be relied upon to ensure he paid the price of defying society and what to him were its out-moded morals.- and no arguing the point, no delay, no prevarication...
2nd COUNSELLOR. By having a dagger plunged into the sinner's back?
1st COUNSELLOR. No one will ever ask how Don Juan met his end.
3rd COUNSELLOR. What will he do once he is buried beneath the ground? No one knows what the dead do in their graves, do they? Some of them ,it is said, tunnel out and emerge into the sunlight to surprise everyone.
1st COUNSELLOR. None of us will be called upon to account for Don Juan's death, take it from me; or ever tell of the circumstances in which he died…
3rd COUNSELLOR. Let's hope so. Because last night we knocked down a sinner, but to-day it looks as if we have raised up a hero.
2nd COUNSELLOR [indicating with his head] The King!
[The COUNCELLORS and the NOBLEMEN bow, as KING ALFONSO XI, enters, followed by CONSALVO, both of who go downstage and stand by the proscenium arch]
ALFONSO. Do you think you were justified in acting as you have done?
CONSALVO. I acted as I did for the good of the state, and for your good, Majesty.
ALFONSO. That's what you always say when you're unsure sure how you should answer me.
CONSALVO. Because that is my duty, is it not?
ALFONSO. Yes, but does it require you to go as far as that? Was that not overstepping the mark?
CONSALVO. Maybe, and I am determined to step even further beyond what you see as 'the mark'.
ALFONSO. Even further? What makes you think you will allowed to get away with that? The palace courtyard is packed with knights, their horses and dogs, raring to set off on the deer hunt. They won't go without me; but I can't keep them waiting for ever.. That may not worry you, but it worries me. You burst into my room, and without any attempt to explain what's going on, you whisk me off to this place.
CONSALVO. It was the only possible. way to do it.
ALFONSO, Really, Consalvo! I beg you. Just tell these people the meeting has been postponed and will take place later on.. It's unthinkable that I should leave all those ladies and gentlemen in the courtyard, without any notice, to hold their horses and twiddle their thumbs while I sit and listen to...well, what? I would be more than letting them down, I would be testing their patience – and their loyalty – very unwisely.
CONSALVO. They will wait, Majesty, You see.
ALFONSO. They are not servants, Consalvo, but noblemen.
CONSALVO. [pointing to the Counsellors] So are your counsellors.. And they too have been waiting for your arrival.
ALFONSO. Among the people panting to spur their horses on to the hunting field and begin the chase, are the French ambassadors. They can't be allowed to feel insulted by my rude disregard for the inconvenience I am subjecting them to. What will they think of me?..
CONSALVO. The king who gives priority to affairs of state over hunting deer can expect praise not contempt., sympathy not criticism.
ALFONSO. Are you telling me that any government business is so urgent that it cannot wait until the end of a hunt?
CONSALVO. I am, your Majesty. Be so good as to follow me.
[They walk up to the statue of Don Gonzalo. Two SERVANTS brings a chair and KING ALFONSO sits in it]
CONSALVO. Your majesty, Don Juan Tenorio is now shrouded by eternal night, and it is in the folds of that compassionately dark cloak that his body now lies.
ALFONSO. How was he killed?
1st COUNSELLOR. Knowing that we had sent out a search party to bring him in, he was trying to escape down an alley when a patrol of our soldiers barred his way..
ALFONSO. Where did they wound hum?
1st COUNSELLOR. He was felled after a doughty fight. We could not possibly have taken him alive.
ALFONSO, What I asked was 'Where was he wounded?'
CONSALVO [quickly] On his chest, Majesty. He was run through by a sword.
ALFONSO. [standing up] I would like to see him.
CONSALVO. [stepping towards him] I must insist on sparing your majesty so very unpleasant a sight..
ALFONSO. Lift up his cloak.
CONSALVO [blocking the servants] His face bears the unmistakable hallmarks of the sinner. You can see from the look on it, and in his sightless eyes, that to his horror he found himself on the threshold of the inferno, at the very gates of hell.
ALFONSO [returns to his chair and sits down] Don Juan is dead, and we of Castile.can take it that goats will once more be born with one head. What remains for me to do now?..
CONSALVO. Your majesty must sign a proclamation which will carry the news of Don Juan's death to every corner of your kingdom
ALFONSO. Read it out to me.
CONSALVO. Before I do that, I would like your majesty to reflect for a moment on what the sentence imposed on Don Juan signified, and why it was essential that it was carried out.
ALFONSO. What do you mean?
CONSALVO. A member of the nobility who dies by the sword can be said to have fallen with honour in a duel.
1st COUNSELLOR. As would be the case if he died in battle.
CONSALVO. So there is no question of his death being a punishment - for sacrilege or indeed for anything. Of no one who was killed in a duel or in battle could it be said 'it served him right'. No man of virtue could claim that, by killing his opponent in a duel, he was taking vengeance on him. He could not boast that the man's death would stand as an example to other sinners of what they could expect if they spent their time on earth in as depraved a way as Don Juan.
ALFONSO, What then?
CONSALVO. For us, Don Juan's end came in quite the wrong way, serving no purpose, giving no message, from which no lesson could be drawn.
ALFONSO. How so?
CONSALVO. Because there was no public proclamation calling attention to the evil nature of the life he led. Being told that it had been ended by the sword, people took for granted that his demise was an honourable one.- as set down in the code of chivalry.. In our view, the scandalous life of Don Juan should have been terminated with a solemn, publicly staged act of justice.
ALFONSO. Was he not formally condemned to death?
1st COUNSELLOR. He was indeed. But there was no public execution.
CONSALVO. Therefore, since human justice has failed, there must be divine justice…
ALFONSO. What form can that take?.
CONSALVO. The proclamation that I am asking your majesty to sign will state that Don Juan died here, beside the statue of the man he murdered, engulfed in the flames from the pit that opened up below him, into which inferno he fell to his death.
ALFONSO. You must have all gone off your heads! How dare you suggest I do any such thing!. Is that your idea of divine justice? It would get me, and all of us, excommunicated. Hadn't that occurred to you?
CONSALVO. Unless this man's death serves to warn mankind of what to expect from a life of sin, and beg all people that on earth do dwell to avoid the same fate by living righteously; unless it serves to make the wicked tremble at the thought of having to pay so painful a penalty for a lifetime of corruption,; then we have killed Don Juan in vain. We are no more than common murderers.
You feel we should have publicly condemned him to death, and made clear our
reasons? And now you want to me to sign a document prescribing his sentence as
descent in flames to the lower regions where the inferno never dies? Can it be
right for the Catholic King of
CONSALVO. Not just right but essential.
ALFONSO. Then count me out.
CONSALVO. He would already have gone to hell if he had not become caught up in a somewhat untidy military venture.
ALFONSO. I stand by what I have just said. That's final.
CONSALVO. [warding off the others who start to move towards Alfonso] For more than an hour now, your guests have been waiting on the palace courtyard to ride off on the hunt.
ALFONSO. They have been kept waiting far too long.
CONSALVO. Indeed. The stable boys will be finding it difficult to hold on to the horses, rearing to go like their mounts, with the greatest difficulty restraing the hounds, who already have a whiff of the scent in their nostrils, from racing out across the fields to head the chase.
ALFONSO. I've had enough of all this talking. I can't take any more Couldn't you tell this lot to keep it short from now on, and wind it up as quickly as possible.
CONSALVO. I'll do more than that. I'll tell them to stop at once; that the meeting is closed.
ALFONSO. Would you really?
CONSALVO. At once. [unrolling parchment in his hands] But first of all, your signature on this proclamation, your gracious majesty, if you would be so good.
ALFONSO. [after a brief hesitation] Give me a pen. Quickly.
[ALFONSO is given a quill pen. He signs the document at its foot, and starts impetuously to rise from his chair when CONSALVO intervenes]
CONSALVO. Hold on. All in good time.. This is a solemn occasion and we must all behave in an elegant and solemn manner, following the example of your majesty. You have not come to this decision on the spur of the moment, but after calm and prolonged deliberation and meditation. All your movements must reflect that…
Right! Up you get – with slow, measured dignity. [he steps back and gestures to ALFONSO who slowly rises to his feet]
[ALFONSO walks out in as dignified a way as he can muster, as everyone bows. CONSALVO hands the signed parchment to one of the noblemen]
CONSALVO. Make sure his majesty's wishes are carried out to the letter; that everyone in his kingdom, even those in the most out-of-the-way villages, are made aware of what he is proclaiming in that document. All must know the nature of the end he has decreed for Don Juan Tenorio. [The NOBLEMAN with the proclamation parchment hurries off with it, and CONSALVO turns to servants] Off you go and bring the sulphur and tar with which we must drench his body and feed the flames of his funeral pyre.
3rd COUNSELOR. Well done, Consalvo. But what about Don Juan's servant? Have you forgotten him? He can't be allowed to go free.
CONSALVO. On the contrary. He is our most effective witness of Don Juan's evil life,. He will be able to confirm in the minds of doubters that the lascivious wretch was responsible for all the scandals we are pinning on him; that we have invented nothing, that all our accusations are true.
3rd COUNSELLOR. But he also witnessed the way his master died.
CONSALVO. Be that as it may, if he accompanied him on every notorious escapade, and indeed helped him, he must recognise that ending up in hell was a thoroughly appropriate fate for a congenital sinner such as he. If he does not, he shows himself to be a heretic and rebel of the worst kind, whose death can only be on the gallows.
1st COUNSELLOR. Count on us to get his testimony. Be sure too that we will make full use of it – in the warnings we make of the fate of those who choose to adopt the same unsavoury lifestyle.
3rd COUNSELLOR. With his testimony, the picture we paint of his master's life will be more lurid, the detail more repelling; everything we are able to say about him will be enhanced and magnified.
1st COUNSELLOR. His crimes will appear immeasurable, is that what you mean?
3rd COUNSELLOR. Yes. Because he will appear to have been a giant, not just a simple-minded sinner as so many are, but one who stands out as a man who dared challenge heaven.
1st COUNSELLOR. And for punishment has been burnt to ashes.
COUNSELLOR. With whom could he possibly be compared? He was beyond compare. Did
CONSALVO. The danger lies much deeper. By sinning, a sinner defies the Almighty. Anyone who transgresses the law is acting exactly as Prometheus did and merits the same punishment.. But it is of little use to tell that to the hills, however loudly we may shout It is not for us to pass judgement on those who have strayed.
from he strait and narrow path of righteousness.. We can put a clumsy giant out of harm's way.by tying him to a mountain maybe, remembering how the Almighty showed his wrath by having Prometheus bound in chains to that rock.
COUNSELLOR. Long may it be that men fear
CONSALVO. It is up to each of us to choose the path that takes us to our final destination. .What 'destiny' has to do with it is anyone's guess, if indeed there is such a thing. What is certain however is that it falls to each one of us to live through different times. Each age generates different conventions, codes of honour, concepts of right and wrong, of what matters and what matters not. There have been times when nations were forever furiously raging together, and they will come again. There will be an Age of Enlightenment.followed by an Age of Barbarism; of Joy and then Misery. We have to thread our way through whatever has been our lot, whether it has fallen on a fair ground, a friendly or a hostile one. It is a lottery – and very risky.. In this day and age, people like you and I [looking around at the others] who are responsible for shaping the times in which we Castilians live out our days , must be aware of the risks and take them on board at every stage of every deliberation over affairs of state that we know will have such vital consequences, not only on our lives but those of future generations.
[CONSALVO calls for a torch]
CONSALVO. No more talk. Bring a torch. And we will execute his majesty's decree.
[A SERVANT brings in a flaming torch and sets it on the wooden funeral pyre on which lies the cloaked body of Don Juan, which starts to kindle]
CONSALVO. Let the church bells ring! Open the gates and let the people enter and celebrate with us, on this festal day, the due treatment of this wicked man whose sacrilege we have now vindicated. Let them rejoice in knowing that the soul of Don Juan Tenorio has been cast into hell where he will burn for all eternity in the flames of the inferno.
[The church bells ring out, and the sound of an organ swells. The two halves of the stage become one, transformed into the well-lit nave of the Spanish church. A few townsfolk enter hesitatingly, but keep their distance, gazing with awe and fear at the burning funeral pyre on which lies the body of Don Juan]
Some opinions about Alfredo Balducci
A study about him
Extracts from books
Read or download texts
Intervento al convegno su Ruggero Jacobbi
Un cinegiornale Luce del settembre 1961