Milos Bjelic Miljak

:

The Diabolic Gardeners
An existentialist multimedia play in one act and nine scenes

Eugene Delacroix: The Dante’s boat (La Divina Comedia).

-“A gardener can decide what is appropriate for the carrots, but nobody can choose what is good for the others in their name”. (Jean-Paul Sartre: ' The Devil and the Good Lord’, 1951). -“My political engagement is very much part of my work. It's interwoven into many of my plays.” (Harold Pinter in an interview with Michael Billington, published in ‘The Guardian’, London, October 14, 2005 - on announcing his Nobel price award for literature 2005). -“They thought that we had gotten tired of protests and that we had let them free to follow there hallucinating race towards the war. But they were mistaken.” (José Saramago in’Them and Us’, published -in Spanish- in ‘Club of books’, Internet edition, 7 November 2005). -“Can a forever cautious person remain a human being?” (Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn in ‘The First Circle’, 1968 -“Intention is what I call action”. (From Buddha`s teaching).

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The DIABOLIC GARDENERS(*1) is a play of one act and nine scenes, whose action runs in the present time, in a non-specified western country. The actors are located in a compartment (Number 66) of a luxury wagon; connected to the express train called the AA ("Ardent Arrow"), which is running at full speed during the duration of the play. GENERAL COMMENTARIES: -During the play, from time to time, quiet whisper of the wheels of the train can be distinguished. Relevant video clips, including music and human voices indicated during the play, should be pre-registered on a single tape and reproduced on the internal television or audio equipment mounted in the compartment No.66 of the AA train, in a way that the whole theatre audience can see and hear them. -It is possible that instead of the musical instruments(*2) indicated in the play text, would be enough that the actors wear vests (or tea-shirts) with the images of two violins, viola and chello – only mimicking the play on these instruments. -In order to denote privacy, or separation, during the interaction between the different actors in a precise interval of the drama, it is suggested that they are distinguished (or separated) from the others by a focal reflector centered on the personages engaged in certain dialogues (those cases are indicated by the word 'Focus’ in the text of the play). -Miltimedia presentation on stage: It is very important to note that this play is basically multimedia theatre. In addition to those described in the text here, the directors staging the play may wish to illustrate or emphasize other sections of the play by using different media expressions of their own (videos, photos, music etc.). -Before or after the play, in particular in academic theatres, a distribution of fresh carrots can be considered.

ACTORS: -John (the first violin), Milic (chello), Nora (the second violin), Aisha (viola), Santos (waiter), and Journalist. John, Milic and Journalist are approximately forty years of age whereas Nora, Aisha and Santos approximately thirty. -The Chief Machinist of the AA train’s locomotive (referred to in the text as the Chief Machinist or the Machinist) as well as the rest of personages mentioned only appear on the screen of the internal TV, or they are present in the retrospectives (' flash-back '). -A Mime artist is a clownish personage carrying a small, undersized violin, who follows the dialogs of the Actors, giving them a reverse –an ironic - meaning. This should apply in particular to the dialogs of predominantly narrative or declarative nature, but can be used also whenever the Director of the play wishes – avoiding excessive burlesque though.

SCENE I
Behind the transparent curtain the figures of two women and two men – actors placed on the seats of the train compartment (Number 66) can be seen ‘playing’ the Beethoven’s string quartet named ' Razumovsky' – (in C-Mayor, Op.59, no. 3); while the recorded music of this quartet can be heard coming from the bottom stage. This music can be heared by the audience during the duration of the play, whenever the play director finds it effective. When the transparent curtain rises, the volume of music of the quartet diminishes and the noise of the train wheels increases a little. A few reflections of reddish light, as coming from an invisible fire, appear repeatedly through the train window. (Mime artist, who sneaks into the compartment sometimes after the musicians, starts his, or her, mime following the music and the dialogs of other actors closely).

(*3 )

Aisha (with a slight oriental accent): The introductory section of this quartet gives an impression of a trip... Through a vast space... The Outer space, I should say if this would not seem too preposterous. Nora (to Aisha, after a pause): I would say that it is rather exaggerated... And your viola is sounding a bit too loud for the third instrument, if I can add. Aisha, whose very calm behavior is also reflected in her oriental face features, is now occupied with reviewing a passage of the music in front of her. She seems not to pay attention to Nora’s remark. Milic (while looking towards the window): I wander where these reflections of red light, as from a fire, come from? (Then turning to John): I would like to harmonize a little more my chello with the viola of Aisha; in the introductory dialogue of two instruments... John: Just a moment, Milic… For me, it is not these lights but the noise of the train wheels that is annoying... (John to Nora, lowering his voice): And apropos your commentary, Nora… Please remember that it is my responsibility to harmonize the tonal balance of our quartet. (Focus is now on John and Nora, as John continues speaking): I must say that your commentary to Aisha was rather out of place... And it put me in an awkward position... The Mime artist mime John by a profuse mime show. John (to the Mime artist): And who are you, out of the blue, Mister? The Mime artist bows and plays, mockingly, on his undersized violin without strings. John (annoyed): I would be much obliged if you leave this compartment as it has been reserved only for the member of our quartet, Mister. The mime artist bows again and live the compartment, the same “discreet” way as when he entered. Nora (soon after) gets up visibly enervated, from her seat and walks to the corridor door, followed by John.

(Focus follows them to the sliding door entrance). Nora: And you, Mister? In what kind of position are you putting me recently? Perhaps, as a fired concubine? John: It is only jealousy, Nora... You became jealous from the first day of this tour... To be precise, since Aisha had replaced Brigitte. Nora: Yah, indeed… Brigitte, suddenly, was considered as too old for your pleasure. John: It was the problem of her vision and you know it very well... She began to miss the whole passages for viola while practicing with us. Nora: I can imagine what you would say when trying to get rid of me... That I am too sensual in my role of the second violin? And not quite cerebral as... (Nora indicates towards Aisha, mockingly imitating a Buddhist hand salute). John: All that is not related to the reality, Nora. (At that moment the Mime artist reappears in the visible corridor of the train and starts again with his mime show). Nora: Not related? To your reality, isn’t it? …And what should I consider as my reality? Or our reality, at least - among two or even three of those realities that we seem to be living in presently, Johnny... ? You promised a Rose garden to me when we met; revealing your plans for the future, our future… Your dream to play, like a soloist, in a symphony orchestra of a world-wide renown; where I could perhaps play the first violin... However, here we are on this goddamn train, paid miserably so that his Machinist can be considered a promoter of classical music. He, who never liked more than folks songs 'country' type and who adores military orchestras during the parades... Which of those realities I must choose, Johnny? John (obviously hurt): I have shared with you my dreams of future, Nora, counting on your loyalty... Now I see that, in your eyes, I have become another person…This is a very painful revelation for me and, hopefully, your attitude can still change. Nora: It is true that I used to believe you blindly. Or, better say, to believe in an image of the person you invented for me. And watch what is happening to me now... But I am not somebody that one can pick up in the

street and dismiss at will. You know very well that I graduated at the Juilliard Academy with a diploma of outstanding student and that I never would accept to play the second violin during the rest of my life. John: To play, even a second violin, in a string quartet interpreting the ultimate works of Beethoven should not be underestimated, Nora. Those works reached the zenith of classical music... Nora: It is not music at stake, but our own relation and our own future... John: Our future is in our music; this is where we affirm ourselves. Nora: There is music in you and me, in Milic, as well as in hundreds of thousands, past and present, musicians in the world... (Nora indicates by hand at the audience): Music live in all of us… But I would like not only to choose the kind of music I play but also the way of life I live… Only our actions and our engagements in life can define our personalities and our destiny… (After a pause): I thought that you, Johnny, were my better selection but I realized my mistake when you began, in my place, to decide my destiny and my furure... (She returns to her seat in the compartment, followed by John; while the Mime artist stays in the corridor).

(*4)

S C E N E II
(Focus on all musicians present in the compartment No 66). Aisha: (As if she only now hears John’s commentary about the noise of the train): Those wheels of this train do not bother me too much, as if they were made of rubber. I am more concerned with the destiny of our journey. Nora: The very idea to play our concert through the cable network here, on this train, seems rather strange to me. A music CD could have been quite sufficient to accompany this convention of leaders of the Machinist’s political party. They only talks politics and wouldn’t listen to Beethoven, anyhow. Milic (ironically): The convention of the leaders of the parties presently in the government, Miss Nora... And as for our destination, ask Santos... Aisha: I asked him about that twice, in vain... But here he comes with his coffee cart. Santos enters the compartment pushing a cart with coffee and snacks. He is in his uniform of the special train crew member and his attitude clearly indicates military training. Santos have a big revolver attached to his belt. Nora (to Santos): Probably useless to ask again about the destination of this train; it seems to be a state secret? … Or why you are armed now? Santos (gallantly): Not at all, young Lady. These guns are distributed to all the personnel of the train as a safety measure. And for the other question: I only know that the train changed its initial destination... Perhaps it would be of interest for you what I heard in the wagon reserved for the Socialists? (Todos actors in the department jerk): Socialists? Milic: Are you saying that they have a special wagon too? John (trying to cut off the questioning): We are more interested in playing our music than in arriving somewhere, isn’t it true?... Besides, in my

opinion, it is better for us to be here in this compartment separated from the rest, with our instruments. Shoemakers to their shoes! (TV screen in the compartment is now illuminated and on it appears the name of the train - AA "Ardent Arrow" -, than a text: ‘Presidential news' with the sound of a high pitched fanfare. The moderator of the program, an excessively made up and adorned woman, begins to speak). The Moderator (Reading from a paper): My dear friends and fellow passengers of the ‘Ardent Arrow’, the most modern train in the world. I have the special pleasure to announce to you that in a while our Chief Machinist is going to appear on this screen in order... (looks in her paper, somewhat perplexed, until she finds the text)... to elucidate the reason of the change of the itinerary of our train... Please do stay with us, as we are going to return in a moment! (On the screen is projected an advertisement of a very banal type; for example: Diogenes with his lantern looking for a roll of toilet paper). Milic, disgusted, switches off the screen but its turned on again automatically. In the mean time the compartment is shaken as the train passes over a rail junction and through the window enters more reflections of reddish light. Moderator: Ups! Milic: Gee! Here goes the most modern one… Moderator (reading again): And now for some good news: Our tobacco industry production has raised 5% and the export of our TV soap operas and of the cinema production 2%... Our peace force sent to Africa has been beefed up considerably to restore order after recent rebellions... The United nations session condemned armament export to the developing countries… (Moderator interrupts her reading shrugging her shoulder)… And why not if they pay cash? Nora stands up from her seat and, visibly irritated, cuts off the TV. Aisha in the meantime settles in a ‘Yoga’ position for contemplation; with the legs crossed on her seat and isolating herself mentally from the others. Nora (to Milic): And we are therefore a “Musicians compartment”?… I don’t like when they call us 'musicians'. That classifies us professionally

and not humanly. And it puts us in a too high or in a too low pedestal: Oh, You are an artist, how romantic! (Copy, in a humorous way, the movements of her hands and head as playing violin)... Or may be put us in the same category with the street musicians, a tin cup in front... Even that Mime artist, whom John so brutally kicked out from here, can claim… Milic: But we are musicians, isn’t it true? Nora: Yes, we are; be it maestros of music or just poor bar piano players... But as human beings we should be different... In the last symphony orchestra where I played, some colleagues, as soon as they could, would escape to a neighboring joint to have a drink and to bet on horses… I have seen personally some musicians arriving to our practice sessions tipsy. Milic (more by himself): A glass of red wine is also to my liking, but after the concert... (to Nora):You know very well that, while preparing for a serious concert, it is necessary to practice hours and hours solo with our instrument. Nora: This is exactly the point: a good excuse always can be found to falling in the trap of bad faith. Most of us are living while being carried in the mainstream of life, looking for excuses to swimming downstream: family obligations, professional duties, and what not. Or simply putting their heads in sand, like an ostrich. Milic: It seems to me, sometimes, that all that, all beyond the actual moment in our lives, is not worth the trouble... We admire Mozart’s music but among his biographers there is a disagreement regarding his human nature... Certainly, he was not a saint… And what to say about others? Most are simply forgotten... For example: I never knew the name of the craftsman who did this chello, which I am condemned to carry with me the rest of my life... It is depressing also that all of us, the politicians, the workers or the artists, are traveling on this train with a pre-paid tickets and no destiny of their true options, or even not a clear determination. Nora: Venturing a journey as no travel ticket passengers… Or as a bunch of flies circling around the light bulb… ‘Les passagers sans billets’, JeanPaul Sartre would say!… By the way, this year is one of the Sartre’s anniversary but… (reluctant)… I can not remember now which one!

House flies (mosca domestica).

Santos (finishing serving cafe): Ah, about these special departments here!… I should tell you that you are not the only of the kind... In this same wagon there are compartments for writers and for painters. Most of them from the beginning of the trip are playing poker and their favorite drinks are tequila or vodka... Journalists, on the other hand, are accommodated in the first three compartments of this wagon; they prefer, likewise as the politicians, whiskey or the beer. Nora: Which illustrates enough the difference in levels... But I also would rather like to know something on the Chief Machinist’s intentions... If they are clear to himself, that is to say. Santos (lowering his voice): They say that he never reveals his true intentions and seldom listens for an opinion to somebody outside the selected few... (Pretending to be disturbed ): But the presidential wagon is served by the specially recruited personnel... Milic (more by himself): It is incredible that all of us on this train are following the Chief Machinist voluntarily; in spite of the cultural and ideological differences… And even knowing that he is most probably deadly wrong. Santos (as confiding it to them): I overheard similar things in the Socialists wagon. They, from the beginning of this trip, keep requesting that the Chief Machinist defines his intentions clearly… If not, they threaten to insist to separate their wagon from the composition. But the Chief... (he stops abruptly and simply adds): Now, if you allow me...

Santos leaves with his cart and enters the corridor followed by the reflector light Focusing on him. Than, verifying that he is alone there, calls a number on a cellular phone. Voice (metallic, coming from an invisible loudspeaker): We are listening to you, Number 013... Santos (in the cellular): Sir, I just found out that those in the compartment Number 66 speak rare about the Chief... Voice: The musicians? ... Eh, those artists... But we are going to activate a special microphone there too, in any case. Even the artists can generate some foolish ideas that can be dangerous... We have now added 20 points to your account, Number 013. Keep on alert! Santos: Thanks, Sir. Much obliged! (He salutes militarily to the invisible voice source). The reflector Focuses the interior of the compartment Number 66 again. One can feel that the tact of the train wheels increases. The musicians drink their coffee in silence, while the reddish reflections of light can be seen flying through the window. The tension in the compartment, present latently from the beginning, now is palpable and is reflected in the attitude and the exchange of glances of those present. Milic: It seems that we are constantly increasing the speed? Their wagon rumbles again upon a railway junction and Aisha awakes from her contemplation (but still remaining in a 'Yoga’ position). John, who is seated next to her, takes her hand as to calm her. Nora (ironically): Is it also a part of your role as the director, Johnny?

S C E N E III
The door of the compartment 66 opens and enters the Journalist with a sandwich in his hand. He is little tipsy. Journalist is followed by the Mime artist, who first mimes the Journalist

an than others. Journalist, after taking photos of the musicians in the compartment, (indicating to the Mime artist): They just kicked this gent out of the painters compartment… But I am looking for Santos; we need some more beer... John: He probably went to the supply compartment. Journalist (concentrating on John’s face): You seem to me rather known from somewhere , Mister... John: I do not believe that I have the honor... Journalist: I am quite positive now, only can‘t remember from where... Ah, I can see that you are all musicians here… May be you could accompany me to our compartment where we just now are celebrating a birthday of…? (catching a glimpse over John’s shoulder)…But you are playing the Beeth…oven (he pronounces it as Bi:thoven!)… Yah, it wouldn’t do. Nora (ironically): You would prefer kind of a rock band, more than “Bi:thoven”? Journalist: Not exactly that, madam. For a birthday party… But nevermind, that… First, I must find some more beer for my thirsty colleagues. If Santos come, please send him to our compartment, Number 62. (He leaves). The Mime artist may also live at that point but his, or her, continuous participation is still recommended. However, the Director of the play should decide in each particular case whether to bring in the Mime artist. The screen of the internal television in the compartment 66 lights up and on it appears the Chief Machinist of the train. His face can be recognizable to the audience, or not, but it is important that his physical characteristics and attitude represent the supreme authority and the political power. He can have some suitable decorations and military medals also. Chief Machinist (in a metallic voice): My dear fellow travelers and the political comrades, I wish you a pleasant trip on board of our super express train called ‘The Ardent Arrow’, whose main advantage is that its average fuel consumption is in the inverse proportion to its speed. Or to put it in the

simple terms: the train can, after gaining 150 miles per hour, gradually start reducing its average energy consumption to 50 per cent - a benefit of modern technology called ‘Air pillow’. Nora (interrupting him): Until it start flying up, up to the sky… Chief Machinist (stops for a moment, confused, but as Nora waves her hand and shuts up, he continues): …I would also like to assure you that the train construction is done according to the latest technological norms and that it is protected against any foreseeable damage... Nevertheless, I should inform you that, for the security reasons, we had to change our original itinerary a little, in view of the information that a group of anarchists had mined the tunnel we intended to use... But this small inconvenience is going to be solved and we will resume our convention soon, although with some delay. Nora (ironically): Inconvenience? Any foreseeable damage? And what about those “unforeseeables”?… (to the audience): They used to think of the ' Titanic' as unsinkable, until she hit that iceberg… The Mime artist’s mime re sinking of “Titanic” is suggested here. Milic: I have the impression, not at all reassuring, that the constant speed increase of this train has become irreversible and that no longer can be controlled... In any case, for me, the revolver given to Santos indicates danger... I wonder why the Chief Machinist has opted to continue the convention in such a dangerous situation? The face of the Chief Machinist fade out - along with the images on the television screen. Through the window the reflection of a reddish light enters again, as coming from an ardent flame somewhere outside. In the same time a discreet whistle, like an echo of a deep moaning, is heard. Nora (after a brief reflection, referring to the question voiced by Milic): His intentions seem to be quite clear to me, though… It is fomenting the insecurity and distrust among the travelers of this train… It brings some political advantage to him; I mean, by increasing their dependency on his handling of things… The purpose is to make us level with the mass of common folks, manageable like pieces in the chess game... But we should not allow that the others think or decide for us. If we continue under the influence of the others we are condemned… “The hell is the others!”

Milic: This is as taken from Sartre or Harold Pinter… To rebel constantly! Nora: Yah!.. Jean Paul Sartre said that we are what we managed to realize during our lives; and not what we thought of ourselves, or that what we wished the others to think of us… Not even what somebody may say about us during our funeral... I can remember it, word by word: “…a human being commits oneself during lifetime, forms a personality, and outside that personality there is nothing”… It is important, then, that we commit ourselves by something worthwhile in our lives... So that the diabolic gardeners could not cultivate us, as they do by crossing the carrots. Or that the trains like this, offering a collective and prepaid tickets, do not take us to a nameless land; perhaps directly to the hell. (The Mime artist mime suggests a funeral). Milic: I think that I got your point, Miss Nora. It is true that the leaders similar to the Chief Machinist are seeded everywhere in the world. In the quite recent history of my country we had a similar leader, a Marshal general, who preached that his truth was the only true one... In fact, we had two of them... Nora: Are you fearing their kind? Milic: Not at all. From the memory of a single night that has remained in my mind as 'the night of the air assassins', I have managed to overcome any type of fear in me… In addition to it, I have concluded that the difference between us and those expecting a capital punishment in a special prison cell consists, mainly, in the fact that they know exactly their dooms-day and even the hour (passes the hand over his throat). Nora: I have the strange impression that the Chief Machinist’s face which we saw on this screen had something frankly... diabolic. Milic (showing two fingers in a V): You are talking about those reddish growths in his head, similar to small carrots? Nora: Like two discreet horns? Yes… Besides, the skin of his face as well as the color of his eyes were, at some moments at least, shining reddish.

(*5) From the Devil's Bible. The red lights coming through the window continue their dance. At the same time moaning behind the stage is heard again, like a distant echo of human voices. John (interrupting the dialog between Nora and Milic): Just a moment, please... I cannot allow that similar things, so absurd, are pronounced in this compartment without some commentary… Our Chief Machinist is a well-known public figure, chosen by most of our citizens during the free ballot. Nora (ironically): He obtained, during the last election, a miserable majority of forty percent, against the thirty nine percents of votes cast in favor of the opposition. The rest of votes deposited in the boxes were invalid or blanc; among them my own vote also, by the way… Later, it was announced that only 55 percents of the eligible voters participated in the election. (It is advisable to project the summary of the results of that vote also on the TV screen )… There goes his majority! Santos appears briefly on the compartment door and calls the Mime artist with a movement of his hand. Santos (to the Mime artist): The Big boss wants to see you, funnyman. I hope that you prepared some really funny number for him. (They both exit).

S C E N E IV
The Focus changing to John and Aisha who now are sitting together. John, who ignores the last commentary made by Nora, approaches Aisha and their become engaged in an intimate conversation; isolated from the others by the light of the reflector. John: You, Aisha, personifies to me what we considered here, in the West, as the oriental power of mental calm and concentration… I always use to dream about Asia, in particular China and India and their wisdom… Also, about their mysticism, the symbolism o Yin and Yang, for example; or Shiva – the Indian deity half women and half man have been always fascinating for me… Do you personally believe in Nirvana and soul transmigration?

(*6)
-Shiva, The India’s Sanscrti deity who is half woman and half man; -Above: “Yin and yang”sign.

Aisha (smiling): To talk about all these subjects would take quite a journey… It is true that we, 'Orientals', as you call us here, are seeing worldly things from a quite different angle, indeed... In opposition to what we consider as western negligence, superficiality and impatience, typically rooted in the feeling of superiority. John: Negligence, impatience, superiority? ... Is it not true that you herself, when playing Beethoven, feel that his music comes from a deep spiritual inspiration?

Aisha: Beethoven lived in eighteenth century... When people traveled in the hors-drown wagons and, during the evening hours, played or listened to music; …instead of sitting in front of the TV set. John: And the western impatience… Of what that consists? Aisha: For example, in the impatience towards those who think differently; in particular those living in the Third world, whose voice is easily discarded. Also, in a tendency more and more present to solve the worldwide problems applying force of arm and bombing, instead of diplomacy and the international laws and customs... Buddha taught that everything what is alive, until a small insect in our path, has the right to live... But I have been very unconscionable saying all this and please accept my most sincere apology. John: Why should you apologize, Aisha? Because you revealed to me your intimate opinions? I myself instigated you to do that... I have always respected the Orient and have even thought that something there can be found… for example, discover the hidden meaning of human existence. The screen of the TV in the compartment illuminates and there begins a show of commercials. The moderator on the screen declaims: “Dear medical doctors and pharmacists, our latest product DIAREASTOP alleviates problems of digestion of your patients and thus contributes to clarify their mind.” This is followed by a very load music, ' reggae’ type. John (approaching the TV and turning some buttons on it): Damit! No longer is possible to cut it off from here... Aha, finally they did it themselves… During the whole conversation between them Aisha is very calm, concentrated, with a smile of Buda type on her lips. John (to Aisha): You once mentioned to me that your study of music, piano wasn’t it, begun in Cambodia? Aisha: Yes. During the regime of Khmer rouge... (It is advisable to select some photo, or a suitable video from war-time there and show it on the screen). Aisha (after a brief pause, recollecting that period of her life): In the

beginning of the hostilities I lost my parents… Than my piano teacher, an old European lady who was tolerated by the Khmer because they needed an English interpreter, took care of me. The soldiers used to leave some food for us in a metal plate deposited on the doorstep of our house, as for the dogs. Also, they left the old lady’s small piano but prohibited its use... Soon enough we learned that, when covering its inner strings with an old bathing towel, no sound was emitted when I 'played’ on it... That way I could continue with my learning while dreaming about the most beautiful piano melodies in the world. John: Nevertheless, you have dedicated yourself finally to playing only viola? Aisha: I have never touched a piano after I left Cambodia... (She takes her viola): But I also wanted to ask you something in relation to my duo with Mister Milic’s chello. John: We are going to do it in a while, Miss Aisha... (continues previous conversation): I have read, as a student, about Buddha and Nirvana. And had imagined that some of his ideas could be implemented in music. Sometimes, to submerge in music feels like sinking in a bottomless ocean. In a kind of musical Nirvana… Aisha: I am a Buddhist but more in a philosophical sense... Ever since I have begun to live here, in the West, I have met some Europeans and North Americans interested in Buddhism. But, in my sincere opinion, non of them really understood the concept of Nirvana, its nucleus… Nirvana cannot be attained if one imposes material necessities of life over everything else... Buddha has never bought something during his whole spiritual life. John: I suppose that our Jesus Christ neither (cross himself)… You probably consider that the West is moving away from spiritual values? Aisha (smiling): You just said it yourself good enough. John: And the spiritual salvation would be in Nirvana? The train accelerates with a long whistle, followed with a slight shake Aisha: Ups!… (she smiles again): The salvation itself, perhaps, is not of supreme importance. What really counts is the proper way to reaching Nirvana and for that reason the patience and the power of concentration are vital… For the Buddhists, it is important to find the way to follow the

illuminated path marked by Buddha, while trying to understand our destiny and our own personality as it really is. John: We, in this part of the world, intimately believe that the fast rise of the production level, stimulated by ever increasing consumption, could take the wheels out of the ditch. At this point a video can be shown illustrating recent peak of the global economic crisis. Aisha (emphatically): And, perhaps, even to save us from the danger such as the ocean waters contamination, which would be a definitive omen of the world-wide failure to conserve human environment?… I believe that no production and consumption theory would solve that... Not even the teaching of some of those learned scholars from Chicago school... John: But I would like to hear from you just how can we learn… Aisha: Any leader of some traditional village in India or China, for example, knows that it is necessary to secure the participation of all the villagers in community life… All, including also children, the elderly and the disabled persons… They should be engaged in some kind of everyday activities; be it cultivating chickens or gathering dry logs and branches. And that all of them should participate in social events of the community, without regard to their poverty or the color of their skin ... But I really do not believe that you, with his classic education, would have... (she interrupts herself shrugging her shoulders).

SCENE V
The Focus continues on John and Aisha, than gradually only on John. John: … To understand that? It is true that most of us here only eat chickens and that our communal life is different, sometimes even discriminating… The so-called 'occidental' educative system is far from the spirit of Nirvana and rather is oriented to practical purposes (he shows fingers sign for money)… My parents, for example... The transparent curtain lowers slowly and the Focus is on John who, in a retrospective, sees the dining room of the house of his parents. They are about to have a lunch; at the moment of oration. The father of John crosses

himself and they begin eating during some time in silence. (This scene can be improvised if Milic and Nora, with a slight change of dress, temporarily assume the roles of John’s parents – or it can be pre-registered) . Father (to John, who wears a collage cap now): Your mother and I must tell you something very important, Johnny... This morning the Principal of your school called and informed us about your rebellion during the class dedicated to the religion... John: It was not a rebellion, father... He must have informed you about my discussion during the philosophy class. I admit that it was quite liberal but our professor of philosophy invited all of us to... Father: Is he our compatriot? John: Yes… Well, he is native of India. Why you ask that? Father: Oh, nothing in particular; people come here from all parts of the world with some rare ideas... To say, as it seems you did, that the postulation of any kind of All-mighty supernatural being would affect, or even cancel a priori, our free will and free human determination is completely incorrect. His professor should have indicated that to you... From the apple of knowledge offered by Eva and accepted freely by Adam we all have the possibility to choosing between the good and the evil.

(*7)Adam and Eve (From an old Bible edition).

John: I began my discussion right from that point: If the apple given to Adam by Eva was a first sin, affecting all humans, this would mean that the human species was marked by evil from the very beginning of its existence… And that disqualifies us to freely choose our destiny... Also, is it not true that the words of Lord that orient our lives do not change, whereas the face of the World undergoes the constant changes?… So, whatever we do the rule from the heaven is unalterable. Father: I do not want to enter the discussion with you on that subject, Johnny. My intention is to face you with the fact that, because of his rebel... or discussion, you had disturbed the spirit of the whole class and that is what you must understand... It is one thing what one thinks in private and another what one says to the others. Our spoken words oblige us and stick with us for ever... John: But something similar was imperative during the time of Stalin, and even our senator Macarty, among others – not to mention the present ones; in particular all those military dictators in the countries of the Third world who we support if their regimes are considered useful. John’s Mother (resolutely): I have listened to you carefully, Johnny, and should tell that your ideas shocked me. Only anarchists would subscribe to such ideas... Something similar preached that French philosopher, Sartre,

who almost seduced me with his existentialism during my student years. (She crosses herself several times)… Fear our God, my son, and remember that in our civilized world there is no place for those who intend to destroy its spiritual foundation. John (visibly affected and trying to tranquilize her): Yes, mother... I will review all that in my head. I promise...

S C E N E VI
The transparent curtain rises again and Focus is now on all present. Aisha (taking its viola in hand shows to John a section in the music): Here it is, in the beginning of this section. Focus on Milic, Aisha and John. Milic with his chello joins Aisha and John. They (without Nora) begin playing the duet section between viola and chello (in the beginning of the quartet 'Razumovski '). This music is heard awhile by the public, before attenuating itself, whereas three musicians begin to sleep on their seats. Santos enters the compartment with a cart and begin to collect the coffee sets used by the musicians, trying not to disturb them. When he approaches Nora she discreetly pulls up her skirt above knee. Focus on Nora and Santos. When Santos bows in order to collect her coffee set, Nora stretches her hand reaching his biceps. Nora (lowering her voice): Ah, ex-boxer, I suppose? Santos: Ex 'Red beret', Miss... Nora: Miss Nora... Santos: Thrown out from the Army due to a fist-fight, Miss Nora… They never believed that I broke our sergeant’s nose by pure accident; during a general skirmish in the bar.

Nora: And why did you do it? Santos: Because he was a son of a bee…, excuse my French… Because he was a really bad fella, of course. But I do not advise you playing with the semblances of me, Miss Nora. (Boastfully): It can be dangerous. (He approaches Nora and tries to embrace her, while she rejects her hand smiling)... A damsel as you grows up in cotton. Santos continues to collect coffee sets trying not to wake the rest, while the Focus is now on Nora. Nora (in her monolog, towards the public): In cotton?... My father was a fishermen and I had to work during the night in order to study music… One should never judge somebody by his or her appearance or by profession... Santos: I participated to date in two wars, living from one day to another... During wartime they used to double our pays, however. At that point their compartment is being shaken repeatedly, when the train passes through a station emitting whistles of danger. These shakes and whistling are followed by the reflections coming from the invisible red flame and the moans from the depth. Nora (to Santos): And what do you think of this train? Santos (lowering his voice and securing himself by a glance that other musicians are asleep): Wisest thing would be to jump out, if it ever slows down... But I would not leave this job so easily, as here I make a lot of money... I have another proposal for you, Miss Nora. Nora put a finger on her lips and show towards the TV screen. Santos (continues): Don’t worry, I switched the mike off… I got here, in the same wagon, a small duty compartment at my disposal. There I have some excellent whiskey... You can count on my discretion. (Soon after he leaves with his cart, trying not to make noise). The Focus changes on the musicians in the compartment who are still sleeping.

S C E N E VII
The Focus is now on Milic and Nora while the transparent curtain is being lowered again. (The flash-back scenes that follows here can be presented only by Milic and pre-recorded tape; or Aisha and Nora can temporarily assume the roles of Milic`s wife and Red-cross nurse; the way similar as described in the Scene V.) Nora concentrates her attention on Milic who is sleeping on the next seat, realizing that Milic is in a tumult. Focus is now only on Milic who, suddenly, stands up with his eyes wide open. (Flash back) A reproduction of an air raid video is suggested here. Milic (his voice mixed with rage as the thunderous sound of war planes – from a tape - nears): Here they come again. (He speaks to somebody next to him – his wife)... Only this time there are more of them in the sky… If only I could see the faces of their pilots... But they are faceless at the commands of their killing machines… They can be brave or cowardly; the difference is not essential as all of them are sawing their deadly seed for a monthly salary; protected by the latest military technique… Only their civilian victims are without protection… (Some distant explosions are heard)… This must be near the bridge, they are probably trying to destroy it... (The explosions are heard now much closer, followed by flame reflections)… But this is now the kindergarten in flame, my God! (The sirens of invisible ambulances are herd next and a nurse wearing a white cap with a Red-cross appears with a boy-toy in her arms). Milic (he stops the nurse to see the boy, and than like in an agony): This is our Dragan... They killed our Dragan, the assassins! The transparent curtain rises again while Nora is awaking Milic, who slowly recovers.

Focus is again on two of them. Nora: (trying to calm him down). These are simply bad dreams, Milic. Milic: Unfortunately, they are not only dreams... From the time that my wife and I lost our son, Dragan, almost every night I dream military airplanes bombing. It was probably the reason why I left my country. Nora: Time is the best healer, my friend. Milic (ignoring it and addressing the audience): Now I understand that I emigrated for good, in order to find those in charge of all the bombings in the world… Those to whom, evidently, no form of justice can be applied because they are too powerful... I wanted to ask them: why they considered our six year old Dragan a military target... But immediately after crossing the border and seeing the citizens of the Alliance in their ridiculous sportswear; with their binoculars, cameras, their hamburgers and greasy chips, whiskey or beer that they drank like water, I understood that my desire was without sense; as they were already condemned... Nora: Or, as those Sartre’s diabolic gardeners would say: condemned to be crossed as vegetal, carrots like… But there, in your native Europe, at least governs peace... Milic: After two world wars that we started? People are living there as in a glass fenced garden… In the midst of civil unrests, uprisings, hunger and all kind of other miseries worldwide… By helping developing countries much more to arm than to produce food that desperately need…The new Europe, with its military alliance and its troops of shock intervention every day looks more like... (he raises his hand, similar to the Nazi salute)... But I got my very personal pain to cope with, Nora, and less and less I worry about the destiny of the others. Nora (to Milic): I also knew some deep personal pains, but manage to handle them... Once you asked me about the scares on my hand and I avoided the answer... But now I decided to tell you about it: this is a mark of a blow I received from a policeman`s stick during my participation in a violent student demonstration against the military dictatorship. He intended to break my hand with his stick; I saw it in his eyes full of hatred towards us, who rose the voice of protest against the cruel authority... A year was necessary to heal this hand and to recover its function. I had to overcome a torture of intensive physical therapy and than the pain with each note,

whenever touching my violin again. But I learned that ones resolve can be stronger than any dictatorship. Milic: The memory causing my pain cannot be surpassed by any therapy... Not even my chello is sufficient to me. Until the end of my life I am going to listen to the roar of those airplanes… Nora: Such feelings, though, one must try to overcome... Earthquakes, tortures, family problems can be only an excuse… Using an adverse situation as an excuse to submission only leads to the ‘bad face’ trap… If not in our eyes surely in the eyes of the ‘others'. Milic: (ironically): Through the thorns to the stars… But how can I be sure that my personal objectives are worth the trouble? Or, say, to be sure that my positive commitments are more valuable morally than empty promises of the Machinist of this train? Nora (shrugging her shoulders): It is necessary to educate people to choose correctly… And to recognize the prophets of bad faith, who offer an easy way out for us – in exchange for our freedom... But it is not always easy to identify a diabolic gardener setting us a trap (Nora claps her hand as catching a fly). Milic: Yes, I know it: the problem of Yin and Yang, black and white, good and bad... (Resignedly): Sometimes I think that t h e y already have won and definitely prevailed, Miss Nora. Nora (presenting with her fingers two horns in her front): The diabolic gardeners, you mean? Milic: Those like the Main machinist… Or all those powerful ones determined to handle all of us... Those who, counting on the killing power of their arms, learned to ignore all criticism and moral accusations. All those who the problem of the sense of human life does not disturb their sleep; as long as they can afford a fat bank account, a comfortable house, a good car... I myself had obtained most of that once in my life but now it seems to me useless. Only music can separate me, temporarily, from my memory... Only music, Miss Nora… (Milic calms down gradually and starts sleeping again).

S C E N E VIII
The transparent curtain is lowered (and it remains on until the mid Scene IX, as indicated). The Focus is on Nora who, with a sleepwalker movement, rises from her seat and rest her eyes on her sleeping colleagues... The train accelerates again with a long whistle, followed with a slight shake. The red flames dance are reflected again in the compartment, coming from the window and the voices from the depth can be heard, more distinguished now. Nora (listening first to the moaning voices and than speaking to the audience): A death in the soul, that is what threatens all of us... A form of spiritual cancer that Sartre had diagnosed as a lost of our proper personality... And if I rebel against it by accepting Santos’ invitation to start with? On the internal television screen appears Harold Pinter’s face with an ironic smile under the legend: "Nobel prize winner in literature 2005." Nora (concentrating on the screen): Harold Pinter’s face on this train? (ironically): Somebody in the propaganda section of this convention has made a clumsy mistake, no doubt... Milic gets up from his seat and joins Nora. Focus on two of them talking, in sotto-voce. Milic: I wanted to sleep a while, but... (shows an unlighted cigarette in his hand). I am going to see where the wagon-restaurant is situated... Milic exits to the corridor. Nora (continues in the same vain, addressing the audience): The important is to commit oneself in favor of freedom fight. On the contrary we would be worth not more than a broken penny tossed to a beggar on the bridge... Or, in my case, condemned lifelong to play the second violin in an anonymous string quartet. (Reflection of a red light and moaning). Nora (disturbed visibly but soon begins to speak with determination): I must resist such a destiny! There is always an escape... I can seduce Santos

and, with him and his revolver, stop this train and leave this political circus go to hell without me… A first passage towards a new way of existence... No, the life is not Aisha’s Nirvana, nor its meaning is only in the music as John believes ... Less it is making money and spending it... The life is to find our optimal personality, to fight for it… And, when such fighters are sufficiently numerous, to eliminate the diabolic gardeners sending them to the wax figures museum.

S C E N E IX
Nora looks for a button with the title: 'Services’. In the meantime the TV screen lights up and shows a scene of bacchanalia with the dance of gnomes in honor of the Main machinist. Nora, after a brief hesitation, pushes the “Services” button and almost immediately Santos appears. He embraces Nora firmly and by a vigorous movement of hands tears her dress, leaving her almost naked. He than tries to push her out into the corridor. But Nora, surprised at first, begins resisting vigorously. Santos: Why are you resisting me, Dolly? Didn’t you call me for this... Let’s go to my small ‘separé’! When Santos attempts again to push Nora forcibly towards the corridor, Milic enters and starts struggling to separate Santos from Nora. But with a fist blow Santos downs Milic to the floor. John awakes in the meantime and jumps from his seat to help Nora but Santos draws his revolver and aims it at his chest. At that moment Nora with both hands now free, takes hold of Santos’ revolver and begins struggling with Santos in order to put the gun away from John. A shot is heard and, for a while, it is not clear if someone was wounded. But soon Santos starts falling to the floor. Milic (still on his knees, feels Santos pulse): He is dead... The bullet traversed his heart. Died young…(to the audience): One dies too early or too late, though... But always dies, obvious. (Milic stands up).

On the TV screen now the Main machinist appears dressed as a cowboy, shaking hands around. All that is followed by 'country' music. The Machinist joins a dance of showgirls chorus the casino type organized in his honor. Some shooting is also herd from the TV screen as a part of the show. John (to Milic): I am witness that Santos tried to violate Nora... In the court of low... Milic: In the court of law she would get a couple of years for the second degree murder... Quickly, help me! John joins Milic in pulling the Santos’ “body” to the window of the compartment and than pushing it out of the train. All that they do in sleepwalker movements, like in a scene from a dream. Nora (putting on a red nightgown and nervously looking for her handkerchief): I must erase all signs of his blood... (she kneels down). John and Milic return to their seats, while Aisha remains in the contemplation mood. Nora finds her handkerchief and her eyeglasses. In sleepwalker movements also, with her handkerchief in hand, Nora begins to try to erase 'the signs of blood’ on the floor - which are in fact the reflections of dancing red flames penetrating through the window and escaping between her fingers. At that moment the transparent curtain is raised and the Journalist enters the compartment again, accompanied by the Mime artist. Journalist (indicates to the Mime artist): I found him abandoned in the corridor … (To Nora who is still is on the floor, searching): You lost something, young lady? Nora (standing up and trying to recover): It seems to me that… I lost my glasses while sleeping. Journalist: But you have them right on your nose, Miss... Look, their window is wide open! (The Mime artist closes the window and, beforehand, looking through it and miming ‘good by’; as if he new about the Garson`s “body”).

Focus on all in the compartment. Journalist: I had an impression of a gunshot coming from your compartment? John (extending both hands up, like after sleeping): Yah, that was probably on the television (Indicates TV screen). John tries, in vain, to shut off the TV screen. Than the Mime artist put a sign of cross with his hand in front of it and the TV goes off the air moaning. Journalist (to John): Now I remember everything about our encounter, Mister... And about a brief conversation with You in front of the Albert Hall in London, where you showed interest in a surplus ticket for the concert of a string quartet from Germany... I remember all this quit clear now… You used to play your violin near the entrance of the Hall, with a discreet tin cup for the visitors’ coins placed at your feet... I gave You that ticket free, by the way... It was from the quota for the Press, anyhow... Gee, I would never imagine finding You on board of this train, of all places. John (verifying if the window is closed well and pulling its curtain): Now I remember something, but like through a fog... That was when I just I began my carrier. Journalist (getting his notebook): Perhaps a brief interview with you would be of interest to the readers of my newspaper? John (reacting very tense, than regaining his composure): I would be pleased to do it. (Taking his violin): But not now, not at this moment... We need more practice before our concert. Journalist: After that than… But I am looking also for more beer for me and my colleagues... Where that guy, Santos, has evaporated again? (He leaves the compartment). The main Machinist (when the TV screen lights up again suddenly): I am glad to inform you that our small technical problem has been solved now, my dear fellow travelers and political allies... Soon we will start again with our proceedings... (His voice is almost lost in a stuttering)... Our shining future, that should be discussed during this convention, would justify...

Milic rises and, with a repulsion reflected on his face, shuts up the TV with a blow of his foot. The face of the Machinist disappears gradually, along with his smile fixed in a sardonic and grotesque grimace. John takes his violin and the musicians, including the Mime artist who is now located at the entrance of the compartment, follow by taking their instruments. The music of the ‘Razumovski’ quartet resumes. And at that moment, when it is quite clear that the presentation of the play is about to finish, a Voice from the audience is heard, very clearly. Voice (Focus on the speaker in the audience): But you yourself, Miss Nora... Have you ever discovered the true meaning of human life? And do you feel guilty of bad faith…? Nora (Focus on her now) lowers her instrument and points her glance in the direction of the Voice in the audience as to say something. But she only shrugs her shoulders and concentrates on her violin again. Focus now changes to the Mime artist only. He keeps ‘playing’ on his little violin and the music of the Beethoven’s quartet is reduced to a distorted sound of a single violin, until the transparent curtain falls.

END
NOTES:

*1 -This is an unpublished English version of the drama, entitled in Spanish “Los jardineros diabólicos”. Its Spanish version was published in June 2005. *2 -The enclosed photo of a string quartet is presented here for illustrative purposes only. It is not connected with the personalities or their actions in the play.

El cuarteto Juilliard, New York, 1963 (which eventually recorded all Beethoven’s string quartets).

*3 -The famous Swiss clown Grock with his mini-violin.

*4 -Carnagy concert Hall, New York. *5 -From the medieval Codex Gigas (also known as the Devil's Bible). *6 -Ardhanarishvara – Shiva - "the deity who is half woman"
(Shiva, also called Ardhanarishvara, shows here the body of a half male and the other half as female deity). *7 -Adam and Eve (A graphic presentation from an old Bible edition).

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