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Deceived by Silence

A one-act
by
Ivan Fuller

Ivan Fuller
15 Knoll Dr.,
Yardley, PA 19067
605-201-5574
bodkins81@yahoo.com
Copyright (c) 2014

CHARACTER NAM E

BRIEF DESCRIPTION

AGE

Geneva Johnson
Alphonse
Francine

Female, Caucasian, teacher


Rwandan male
Rwandan female, teacher

late 20s-early 30s


mid-30s
mid-30s

Setting: Kigali, Rwanda


Time: M arch - April 2009

Deceived by Silence synopsis


Fifteen years after the genocide in Rwanda, Geneva, a young American teacher, travels there in an
attempt to chase away her demons, hoping that an immersion in a world rocked with pain will
help put hers into perspective. When she arrives she befriends two people whose own demons
collide with hers as all three of them struggle for understanding and a way to continue living next
door to their sorrow.
This one-act play follows Geneva as she befriends Alphonse, caretaker for the school at which
she will spend the next month. Her co-worker and school director, Francine, also becomes her
guide through the dark past of the 1994 genocide. Both Alphonse and Francine have very
different tragedies with which they must live and Geneva brings into their lives the need to find
healing from her own tragedy. Questions of forgiveness and how one finds a path through the
darkness drive each of the characters toward the play's conclusion.
Dedicated to M onique.
Source material
Gourevitch, Philip. We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed with Our
Families. 1999.
Hatzfield, Jean. The Antelope Strategy: Living in Rwanda after the Genocide. 2010.
Hatzfield, Jean. Life Laid Bare: The Survivors in Rwanda Speak. 2007
Hatzfield, Jean. The M achete Season: The Killers in Rwanda Speak. 2006.
M ADE POSSIBLE IN PART BY THE RIDER UNIVERSITY SUM M ER RESEARCH
FELLOWSHIP.

Deceived by Silence 1.

GENEVA stands with luggage. Airport sounds.


ALPHONSE enters holding sign with M iss Geneva
Johnson on it. GENEVA sees him and approaches.
GENEVA
Hi.
ALPHONSE
M iss Geneva?
GENEVA
Geneva. And, yes, thats me.
ALPHONSE
Excellent, excellent. I am Alphonse.
GENEVA
Nice to meet you.
ALPHONSE
Please, let me take your bag. Oh, and welcome to Rwanda.
GENEVA
Thank you. Im kinda in shock to be here, you know? Like Ive landed in Oz.
ALPHONSE
Oz?
GENEVA
Never mind.
ALPHONSE
I never mind. Youll see. But you must be hungry. Such a long flight from America.
GENEVA
Im fine. But what I could really use is a drink. Any chance of getting a cold beer around
here?

Deceived by Silence 2.

ALPHONSE
(big smile)
You have come to the right place for that, lovely lady. And Alphonse will make sure the
first stop is for a Primus.
GENEVA
Primus?
ALPHONSE
Belgian. Very cold. Very wet. Very much Rwandan tradition.
GENEVA
Sounds perfect.
ALPHONSE
And cabaret is very close to airport, so we can go now if you like.
GENEVA
Cabaret? You mean like the Liza M inelli movie with the sleazy dancers, creepy M .C. and
Nazis?
ALPHONSE
Creepy M .C.?
GENEVA
Sorry. Im being silly.
ALPHONSE
I mean, cabaret, like sit outside and pop a Primus. Not sleazy, not creepy.
GENEVA
(laughs)
And the Nazis?
ALPHONSE
Too boring for them.
GENEVA
Guess a farm girl from Kansas should fit right in then.
ALPHONSE
I hope so, M iss Geneva. This may feel strange at first, but I hope that feeling doesnt last
long. Wait here, please. Ill go get the car.

Deceived by Silence 3.

ALPHONSE exits with luggage.


GENEVA
M onique, Im here. Can you believe it? Seventeen hours of Delta discomfort, but look at
this! Africa!! What?! Its true what they say. The difference is...I dont know. Surreal
seems too trite. The smell of the flowers, the hills everywhere you look, the bird songs,
the friendly people. Not what I expected. Not here anyway...Rwanda. (big breath) Thank
you for making this happen. If it werent for you, Id...what? Still be lashing out at the
world, scaring everyone away by my need to be forgiven. M y need! Ha...get over
yourself, right?
Scene is shifting to cabaret. Small table and chairs.
ALPHONSE brings two beers and sits at table. GENEVA
continues with monologue.
GENEVA (CONT)
(pause)
Keep telling yourself that.
GENEVA joins ALPHONSE at table and drinks.
GENEVA (CONT)
This is perfect. A Rwandan tradition I could get used to.
ALPHONSE
Excellent, excellent. So tell me why you came all this way to our little country. It couldnt
have been for the beer.
GENEVA
I dont know. This is pretty good beer.
ALPHONSE
You were just thirsty. Let me know if you still feel that way after a week.
GENEVA
M y fellowship is for a month, so well see.
ALPHONSE
I hope you stay that long. The school needs you.

Deceived by Silence 4.

GENEVA
What makes you think that?
ALPHONSE
It just seems to me, the students need someone with no connection to Rwanda, to 1994.
GENEVA
The genocide.
ALPHONSE
(pause)
Yes, of course.
GENEVA
But why should that make a difference. I mean, my lack of connection? After all, that was
fifteen years ago.
ALPHONSE
Here, when you look into any pair of eyes, you see that connection and its very
important for us to move beyond what those eyes have seen. You bring us new eyes.
Very beautiful, by the way, and very innocent. They have not seen tragedy. You will see
how much these young ladies need to understand what your eyes have seen. And then
maybe they will be able to focus on that vision instead.
GENEVA
(pause)
And, you, what do you do at the school?
ALPHONSE
Alphonse does everything. M ows the lawn, paints the classroom, helps in the kitchen,
cleans the toilet, picks up teachers and introduces them to Primus.
GENEVA
M mmmmm...you do your job very well, too.
ALPHONSE
I do! Thank you for noticing. But you didnt answer my question.
GENEVA
Sorry. What question?

Deceived by Silence 5.

ALPHONSE
Why did you come here?
GENEVA
I dont suppose youd believe me if I just said it was for a job.
ALPHONSE
Nobody comes here just for a job. Not from America.
GENEVA
I wanted to help. To do something useful.
ALPHONSE
And you couldnt be useful in America? You had to fly 7000 miles?
GENEVA
(pause)
Weve all seen our share of pain.
ALPHONSE
Interesting place to try and run from pain.
GENEVA
Dont know if I can escape it, but Id like to find some perspective, you know? M aybe a
little distance will help with that.
ALPHONSE
And maybe seeing the pain of others?
GENEVA
M aybe. (pause) I dont really know, Alphonse. This seemed like a chance to put myself
out there, a lot, and see if I can shake myself free a bit. Help others at the same time-ALPHONSE
And meet fascinating people who introduce you to cabarets without sleaze and
creepiness.
GENEVA
(laughs)
And cold beer.

Deceived by Silence 6.

ALPHONSE
There you go! Sounds like an excellent reason to me. And now, another beer or the
school?
GENEVA
Id better choose the school or the director might put me on the next plane home.
ALPHONSE
No worries about that. She would never give up this opportunity. The students will be
transformed by you. I know it!
GENEVA
Stop. Thats a lot of pressure.
ALPHONSE
Youre American. You can handle it.
GENEVA
You havent met many of us, have you?
ALPHONSE
(laughs)
Enough, but none who wanted to pop a Primus with me. So you are most excellent,
excellent in my book.
GENEVA
Well, I hope we can do this again--if I survive the first day. Shall we?
ALPHONSE
Of course. This way, mademoiselle.
They exit. Shift to school office. GENEVA and
FRANCINE enter.
FRANCINE
And finally, here we are in my little office. Yours, too, when youre not in the classroom.
Please, lets sit. You must be exhausted.
GENEVA
Thank you. It has been a pretty overwhelming day. A lot to process, you know?

Deceived by Silence 7.

FRANCINE
Yes, yes, I can only imagine. Some day I hope to fly to America and better understand
your sense of...what?
GENEVA
(like an overly excited teenage girl )
Ahhhhhhh! Im in Rwanda!
FRANCINE
(laughs)
Yes, thats the word I was looking for. Ahhhhhh! So tell me...you still feel ready for
this?
GENEVA
Im not flying back tomorrow if thats what youre asking. Am I ready? How does
anyone ever honestly answer that question? I dont know, Francine, but I really want to
try. Im committed, I know that much.
FRANCINE
Hopefully you wont need to be committed after being here for a month. I know the girls
are so excited to meet you.
GENEVA
What are they like?
FRANCINE
What do you mean?
GENEVA
Theyre not much younger than me, but of course, were very different, experienced
different...pressures? Im wondering how thats affected them. What can I expect when I
see them tomorrow?
FRANCINE
Ah, well, thats maybe two very different questions. Of course, its very difficult to
imagine what theyve seen and experienced. But you can try.
GENEVA
I have a pretty active imagination. And Ive read the books and seen the movie.

Deceived by Silence 8.

FRANCINE
Its a little sad that our country has been defined by the outside world because of what
happened. Of course, it is our reality, but weve done so much to move past it -- to make
sure we never go there again.
GENEVA
Id love to understand that.
FRANCINE
The fine art of moving on?
GENEVA
Yes, that one. A lot of us could use some of it.
FRANCINE
Youll see it. But its not an easy art and the healing is very slow.
GENEVA
I can imagine.
FRANCINE
The stories in books and movies only touch the surface, you know.
GENEVA
Thats another reason Im here.
FRANCINE
Oh? The surface wasnt bad enough?
GENEVA
Sorry. Im not trying to pry into things I couldnt possibly -FRANCINE
Its okay. I understand the fascination.
GENEVA
God, Id hate to think thats what it is. Im not looking to be fascinated by someone
elses tragedy.

Deceived by Silence 9.

FRANCINE
Can I ask what you are looking for? Your application letter was full of all the right things
to say and I do believe that youre here to help, but there must be something more than...
altruism. Thats the right word, yes? (pause) Its okay. You dont have to tell me if -GENEVA
No, its a fair question. (smiling) Im on the run.
FRANCINE
(laughs)
Really? Bank robber? Wrote a few bad checks?
GENEVA
Yeah, thats me all right. Wanted in seven counties.
FRANCINE
Really, though. What are you running from?
GENEVA
(pause)
M yself? Things I wish I could undo. Start over...fresh. M e and a million others, right?
FRANCINE
(nodding)
Yes. A million others. (pause) I dont know what you did or think you did...and I wont
pry. Thats your business to share when and if you want. But I do know that those
million others are right here...perhaps seeking the very thing youre running from.
GENEVA
If Im lucky, Ill find it.
FRANCINE
Lucky? I dont know. Fresh starts can be painful, too. Because you must know that the
past never goes away and it will color every encounter you have.
GENEVA
For better or worse
FRANCINE
(nodding)
For better or worse.

Deceived by Silence 10.

GENEVA leaves the chair as scene shifts to cabaret.


GENEVA
Thats what you were always saying, right? M ove on, Geneva. Forgive him. Forgive
yourself. For better or worse. But thats such a cliche, M onique, and I dont want it.
Why cant we accept the middle ground? Better and worse. Cuz thats what Im feeling
most days. One moment, a little better then, bam...worse. Does he feel that way, too? I
doubt it. Hes not living with the consequences. Im the one who gets to do that. Running
away is helping, though, a little. So thanks again. Really...thanks.
GENEVA joins ALPHONSE. They are having another
beer together.
GENEVA (CONT)
Nothing like I expected. Not really, anyway.
ALPHONSE
What did you think it would be like here?
GENEVA
(referring to the shared beers)
Not this, thats for sure! I thought it would take a lot longer than a week for me to
become comfortable.
ALPHONSE
Primus always helps with that.
GENEVA
True. Cheers!
ALPHONSE
What else did you expect?
GENEVA
Feeling like a foreigner. I hate that.
ALPHONSE
Im sorry to be the one to tell you this, M iss Geneva, but you should look in the mirror.
It will say, Hello, M uzungo!

Deceived by Silence 11.

GENEVA
(hitting him, playfully)
Stop! Youre supposed to be my friend.
ALPHONSE
What can I say? Friends dont tell lies.
GENEVA
M uzungu. Im going to buy one of those shirts Ive seen that say, M y name is not
M uzungu.
ALPHONSE
Yes, please. That would be great.
GENEVA
Of course, then everyone would stare at me and thats another thing I expected but
havent seen much of.
ALPHONSE
Not polite to stare.
GENEVA
I still expected it, though. And I thought Id have trouble communicating and just want to
stay locked up in my room whenever I wasnt working with the students.
ALPHONSE
And instead?
GENEVA
So many colors and birds and smiles. Oh, yesterday I was walking home -- home, see??
-- and -- wait, thats another thing I didnt expect?
ALPHONSE
What?
GENEVA
The walks! Oh my God, my legs were so sore from all the hills. Fine now, but I had no
idea.
ALPHONSE
Hills? We have hills?

Deceived by Silence 12.

GENEVA
Silly. Anyway, as I was walking down my street a car was sitting there and this little
boy, maybe five years old, was alone in the passenger seat and he put his hand out for a
high five as I walked past. Probably one of the best moments so far.
ALPHONSE
All of this sounds quite normal.
GENEVA
Exactly -- and thats what surprises me and makes me feel so comfortable and safe, even
in my otherness.
ALPHONSE
M uzungu.
GENEVA
Want me to hit you again?
They laugh.
ALPHONSE
And the school? You are good there?
GENEVA
I love it. The girls make me feel special. Theyre all so sweet and eager to learn. They ask
a lot of great questions. Its awesome, really. Again, not quite what I expected.
ALPHONSE
Sounds like Rwanda is a perfect place with no problems.
GENEVA
Perfect? Lets not get too carried away. Im sure theres a lot bubbling under all the
smiles. I see it in the students eyes when theyre not trying to impress me. And Ive
read the books.
ALPHONSE
We are not like that anymore.
GENEVA
I know. Thank God. But its still there, right? You cant ignore that, can you?

Deceived by Silence 13.

ALPHONSE
No, youre right. Its our very hard and very real...reality. But that doesnt mean we
should stay sad. Life is for living and smiling and doing all we can to be...perfect. Now.
GENEVA
Okay, Ill drink to that.
They clink their glasses and quietly finish.
Shift to school office. FRANCINE is at her desk grading
papers. She is very somber from what she is reading.
After a moment, GENEVA enters.
GENEVA
M uraho.
FRANCINE
Oh, hi.
FRANCINE quickly wipes her eyes and tries to smile.
GENEVA
Whats wrong? Do you want me to leave?
FRANCINE
No, please. This is normal, Im afraid.
GENEVA
What is it? If you want to tell me. You dont have to, though. Really.
FRANCINE
Whats your impression been of the girls now that youre getting to know them better?
GENEVA
Ive told you how great they are. Theyve made me feel very welcome, but I know
theres so much theyre hiding from me, of course.
FRANCINE
(holding up the paper)
Yes, but they share it with me.

Deceived by Silence 14.

GENEVA
That makes sense. I wish theyd trust me enough to share with me, too.
FRANCINE
They will eventually. Its important for them to do that. But are you sure you want to
know? Isnt it better to see them as happy people now?
GENEVA
Its not real, though. I mean, yes, they are happy much of the time, but I didnt come
here to have a half-experience. I want to better understand all of it.
FRANCINE
Im not sure thats possible.
GENEVA
No, probably not, but still...
FRANCINE
Okay, sit down, please.
GENEVA
You dont have to do this if you dont want. I feel so intrusive.
FRANCINE
No, you deserve to better understand, hard as that will be. So let me try. And then you
can read some of these essays. After that, the smiles you see on their faces will, perhaps,
have more meaning for you.
GENEVA
Id like that. Thank you.
FRANCINE
(after checking to make sure they are not
overheard, then referring to the essay)
This one, she shows here the value of facing, in writing anyway, all the pent up horror
that keeps her from sleeping at night. I have them write their stories to help...unbottle
them?
GENEVA
Sounds tricky?

Deceived by Silence 15.

FRANCINE
Yes, but important, I think. So in this, she asks us to imagine waking up one beautiful
morning in April, a morning just like any other, but when you step outside, instead of
bird songs you hear your little brother screaming. When you turn to look at him you see
why he is screaming. He is holding your mothers hand and your neighbor has just used
his machete to chop off her arm as she tries to pull your brother away from the blade.
The Hutus father uses his machete to cut your mother across the neck and as you start
to join in their screaming and your brother turns to you with eyes wide and pleading, you
watch the neighbor--the boy who took you on a walk only last week--cut your little
brother. And then you run and run and run. And you hide in the swamp with others and
listen to your people being hunted and cut out of this world. (pause) M ost of our
students are Tutsi orphans. Some of them were raped and that spared their lives until
they could escape and hide. M any were cut themselves. And all of them knew the people
who brought this evil into their world. (pause) These are your students, Geneva. This is
what you are seeing in their eyes, behind the smiles. And this is why they look into your
eyes, hoping to see something vastly different from what theyve already known. You
bring them America, with your Ahhhhhh! With your hope-filled smile, your muzungu
magic. Please continue to use those gifts wisely and I know they will adore you for
bringing them blessed moments of forgetfulness. Thats all they can hope for now. Those
brief moments.
GENEVA
There has to be more to hope for than that.
FRANCINE
Im sorry. Youre absolutely right. What kind of hope is that? You see how easy it is to
slide back to that April. No, we must give them more hope than that, of course. Their
lives will get better, eventually. Thats why Im so glad youre here.
GENEVA
I keep feeling a lot of pressure here.
FRANCINE
No, please. We believe in living one moment at a time now, so theres no need for
pressure. I take back what I said. Who else has made you feel this pressure?
GENEVA
Oh, it was nothing. Alphonse basically said the same thing you did. About how badly
Im needed here.

Deceived by Silence 16.

ALPHONSE pops his head into the room.


ALPHONSE
Excuse me, please. I heard my name?
GENEVA
Oh, hi.
ALPHONSE
Everything going well? Do you need some-FRANCINE
No. Were fine.
After a brief moment, ALPHONSE nods once and exits.
GENEVA
Is something wrong?
FRANCINE
Of course not. Why?
GENEVA
Ummm...that was just a little tense. And awkward.
FRANCINE
Youll need to get used to that.
GENEVA
I dont understand.
FRANCINE
(looking to see that ALPHONSE is gone,
then quietly)
Alphonse was Hutu.
GENEVA
Yes? (pause) But not all of...them...participated, right?
FRANCINE
No, not all. (pause)

Deceived by Silence 17.

GENEVA
Oh, Jesus. Whats he doing here, then? With all these Tutsi girls?
FRANCINE
We must call them Rwandans now. There are no more Hutus and Tutsis.
GENEVA
Right, sorry, but still. How can you let him work here?
FRANCINE
It was not up to me. Government-imposed reconciliation demanded that they return to
their old jobs and villages. This is very necessary if were going to move on and heal.
GENEVA
M y God, I would have never guessed. I liked him. He-FRANCINE
Yes, well, what can we do now? Welcome to our very awkward reality. And this is why
forgetting is so hard. How can we? How can we really?
GENEVA
(pause)
And you? Why are you here?
FRANCINE
(pause)
Im only here, each morning, because courage comes to my bed, grabs me by the hand and
says, Get up.
GENEVA leaves the scene.
GENEVA
Get up. M ove on. Smile whenever possible. Dont dwell. God, Im tired of these bandaids. Nothing is changing underneath. Not for me. Not for the people here. These people.
I honestly dont know how they do it -- put on this daily mask. Not after what they
experienced -- survived. Did they survive? I mean really? At the core? I keep asking
myself what it would take for them to heal -- even a little. The church preaches
forgiveness -- so do you, right? But how do you do that? Seriously. Some things cannot
be forgiven, excused, washed away by words. But if he would just tell me -- look me in
the eyes and tell me what he did and make me believe that he is sorry -- that he knows
and really believes that he was wrong -- then maybe I could do the same?

Deceived by Silence 18.

Too late, though. For that. For me to say those words. I need more band-aids, my friend,
and Im not sure how long I can keep finding them here.
Shift. Outside the cabaret. GENEVA and ALPHONSE
drinking Primus.
ALPHONSE
So? What do you think?
GENEVA
Hmm? About what?
ALPHONSE
The Primus. Its been two weeks now, so how is it holding up? Still most excellent or...?
GENEVA
Oh, right. No, its still great.
ALPHONSE
And you are still here.
GENEVA
Looks that way. Takes more than a bunch of scared students to make me click my ruby
slippers.
ALPHONSE
Sorry? Ruby slippers?
GENEVA
A magic way to go home. Oz again. Sorry.
ALPHONSE
Nobody wishes you to go home.
GENEVA
Its just been a lot to take in.
ALPHONSE
Yes, I would imagine so.

Deceived by Silence 19.

GENEVA
Going a little crazy trying to figure out what Im doing in the classroom each day.
ALPHONSE
Big job.
GENEVA
Yeah. Not sleeping very well, either.
ALPHONSE
Anything I can do to help?
GENEVA shakes her head and drinks.
ALPHONSE (CONT)
Okay, forgive me, but you are so different from last time we were here. Something is
bothering you. I can tell.
GENEVA
True again.
ALPHONSE
Tell me, please.
GENEVA
I dont know how. Not without hurting you.
ALPHONSE
That serious? M iss Geneva, if you are worried about me, I can assure you, there is very
little you can say that would be worse than Ive already heard.
GENEVA
I just feel way over my head on this. Ive been playing out different conversations and
running movies in my head that only make me more confused.
ALPHONSE
I think I know what is bothering you. She told you about me. Thats it, yes?
GENEVA
Alphonse, Im trying really hard to stay objective.
ALPHONSE
Why? Why not judge me like everyone else? Its what I deserve--

Deceived by Silence 20.

GENEVA
Because I like you! And I cant believe that youre like all the others. How could you
possibly be, right?
ALPHONSE
(pause)
Thank you for wanting to believe Im better than the others. Im flattered, but-GENEVA
I just cant put you into that scene. M y mind wont do it. Youre too good and fun
and...normal.
ALPHONSE
I am all those things, yes. At least I try to be. But it is important, I think, that you know
the truth. I am only who I am now -- purified, if you will -- because of wickedness.
GENEVA
(pause)
How? How is that possible?
ALPHONSE
When I think back to that time, it does not seem like it was me, Alphonse. The things
that happened, they belong to someone else and the person sharing this beer with you is
left with the damaged shell. Believe me, no one escaped from all of that.
GENEVA
But help me understand. Please, I need to know how this man who shines with such joy
could have been part of all that.
ALPHONSE
Joy? (pause) We all play our parts to keep breathing. How could I possibly continue
bothering to exist if I didnt try to create joy, now! This is my chosen path for survival.
Without it, this life would be meaningless. I have seen what happens in a world without
meaning and I will not go there again.
GENEVA
So the killings-ALPHONSE
Were without meaning! And things without meaning made animals, beasts out of us.

Deceived by Silence 21.

GENEVA
All those deaths cant be brushed away by calling them meaningless.
ALPHONSE
Thats not what I mean. Of course they meant something. How could I deny that when I
see the meaning in the eyes of everyone, every one, who looks at me?
GENEVA
So what made it meaningless for you?
ALPHONSE
(pause)
We were simply killing cockroaches. That is what we were made to believe. Yes, it was
evil and maybe at first we even believed that it was, but you must understand. In Rwanda
we respect and obey our leaders. Often blindly. They told us to pick up our machetes
and we did. And all the important people, the United Nations soldiers, the Belgians, the
whites, the African presidents -- all of them -- people from humanitarian organizations,
newsmen from around the world, priests, bishops and even God himself -- all of these
important people did nothing when the killings began. Nothing! Why not? Why didnt
God strike us down or show even the tiniest sign of disapproval? He did nothing and in
His silence we were deceived. Deceived into believing that we had His blessing and that
our leaders were right in telling us to kill the cockroaches.
GENEVA
And this is what you fight with your joy?
ALPHONSE
Please dont misunderstand. I cannot purge myself of these memories. Believe me, Ive
tried. I deeply regret letting myself be mislead. I regret the people I killed. I know that I
thought wrong, went wrong and did wrong. And all of it was evil. You are looking at
someone who chooses to put on the mask of joy only because his life, every moment
of it actually, is steeped in misery. There is no punishment that will restore things to the
way they once were. All I can do is try to keep things from being worse. Ive already
done the worst that can be imagined. Now I simply want to do and be the opposite.
GENEVA
Courage grabs your hand, too.

Deceived by Silence 22.

ALPHONSE
(pause)
I dont know if its courage. I see no other path, thats all.
Shift to the school office. GENEVA and FRANCINE
enter. They are silent as they enter and sit.
FRANCINE
(after a long silence)
Sobering, isnt it?
GENEVA
Yes.
FRANCINE
(pause)
Are you okay?
GENEVA
No.
FRANCINE
Good.
GENEVA
How could anyone be okay after that?
FRANCINE
Every April we visit the memorials. Every April we force ourselves to remember, to see
it all again, to feel the pain again, the horror. We never want to be okay with what
happened.
GENEVA
I thought I was prepared to see it, you know? The sheer number of bodies is staggering.
FRANCINE
Im never prepared. Even though the feelings are always the same.
GENEVA
Why do you go there, if it hurts so much?

Deceived by Silence 23.

FRANCINE
I simply must. Survivors owe a debt to all those who didnt make it -- who are there in
that church, in the bones on all those shelves, the piles of clothes that once covered the
bones. Those bones that were -- are -- my family and friends. They prayed in that church
where hell exploded around them. So now, I go there to stare at the impossible and
remember that it was possible.
GENEVA
Still so hard for me to believe, even after seeing it.
FRANCINE
(pause)
Its a fearful mystery.
GENEVA
An abomination.
FRANCINE
Well, yes. But for me, it goes deeper. This was not simply the criminal act of hoodlums.
No. Intelligent, important people -- doctors, burgomasters, subprefects, even priests -they all killed and with their own hands. These well-educated people calmly rolled up
their sleeves and got a good grip on their machetes. They cut and cut and cut, sometimes
so hard they broke their own arms with the force of the blows. I am a teacher, charged
with helping my students understand human nature. How do you teach the reason why
such normal people could murder a million others in only twelve weeks? I am daily
faced with this very fearful mystery.
GENEVA
I dont think anyone outside Rwanda fully grasps any of this.
FRANCINE
Of course not. How could they? This is an impossible reality.
GENEVA
What I find impossible is the way youre able to carry on as if none of this happened.
FRANCINE
What would you have me do?

Deceived by Silence 24.

GENEVA
(pause)
I dont know.
FRANCINE
Life has made its decision for us. We are here, alive now. We must simply go back to
living. Draw water, exchange neighborly words, sell food, teach others. Simply live.
GENEVA
Nothing more?
FRANCINE
What more would you have? Revenge? Suicide? Forgiveness?
GENEVA
Francine, I-FRANCINE
What would any of those accomplish? Would they bring back our families? Would they
make life any more liveable?
GENEVA
Ive been told that forgiveness has the power to -FRANCINE
No! Do not talk to me of forgiveness! Didnt you just see all of those corpses in that
church? A church, Geneva! Thousands of them. Babies, children, mothers, grandparents.
All of them butchered in the house of God! Were taught to love our enemies, yes? That
forgiveness is divine. To turn the other cheek. That God loves us! Well, where was he?
Where was he when his priests opened the doors of that church and said, There they
are. Theyre all yours. Where was he when I was being chased through the forest with
my little girl?
GENEVA
You had a daughter?
FRANCINE
Please tell me, Geneva. Why didnt God stop me when I shook her off my leg so I could
run faster?
A long moment. FRANCINE weeps. GENEVA goes to
her and holds her.

Deceived by Silence 25.

GENEVA
I dont know where he was.
FRANCINE
(after regaining composure)
Im sorry. I didnt mean to burden you with that.
GENEVA
I want to help.
FRANCINE
Thank you. April is always so hard. Im able to get through each day, most days, without
this. (Referring to tears.) But its important to remember at least once a year. I suppose
that all this will be forgotten eventually, twenty, fifty years from now.
GENEVA
It shouldnt be.
FRANCINE
No, it shouldnt. But it will, of course. It will simply become something read about in
history books. Calmly, without emotion and probably without much meaning.
GENEVA
I suppose so. Do you think this could happen again?
FRANCINE
We are working very hard to make sure it doesnt. But on days like today...
GENEVA
I cant believe Alphonse would ever-FRANCINE
Ha! Your friend would be one of the first to grab his machete.
GENEVA
What? How can you say that?
FRANCINE
I know him. He has no remorse.

Deceived by Silence 26.

GENEVA
I dont believe that. Hes changed, Francine. Hes suffering from what he did and I know
he would take it all back if he-FRANCINE
Suffering? Really? I see no evidence of that. I see a man walking around freely, smiling as
if nothing happened, back in his home, tending his garden, sharing drinks with a pretty
American girl. (pause) Im sorry. I dont blame you for being attracted to him.
GENEVA
Im not.
FRANCINE
Really?
GENEVA
Im sure that what he did was monstrous. Hes said so himself. But I also believe hes
recognized that and is trying to be a better person.
FRANCINE
So you would have me forgive him and what? Welcome him into my home?
GENEVA
No. I dont-- I cant tell you what to feel. I have no right to do that. I just have a hard
time believing hes the same person he was back then. People can change.
FRANCINE
People cover up who they are. But who they are does not change.
GENEVA
I dont want to believe that.
FRANCINE
Look, we all want to forget a little. Days like this, when we rehash old stories, comparing
details with other survivors -- there is no pleasure in that. So we spend most days trying
to forget the past. But the...others, like Alphonse, only want to live in the wonderful
present. They joke around, laugh, flirt, tell us how nice they are now and we, too, laugh
with them and let ourselves be transformed a bit by all their happiness. And in many
ways this is good. It eases our anger. Not our distrust, but the anger, yes. M ost of the
time, anyway.

Deceived by Silence 27.

GENEVA
Im not sure I could do it.
FRANCINE
But youve just been defending him. So why couldnt you live next door to him.
GENEVA
I cant make up my mind. This is all so complicated.
FRANCINE
Of course it is. The unthinkable always is. Until youve really walked in our shoes, both
his and mine, youll always be unsure where it is weve been and where were going.
(Smiles.) Its even difficult for me to know and theyre my shoes!
GENEVA
M aybe thats the key.
FRANCINE
What is?
GENEVA
Understanding better what its like to be in those shoes. As awful and impossible as that
can be. I just cant help but think that we have to try harder. God, that sounds so stupid.
What am I trying to say? Im not talking about forgiveness, just empathy, I guess.
Understanding why and how and, ultimately, who we are, all of us.
FRANCINE
A noble goal and thats why youre a good teacher. Keep those ideals in place for as long
as you can, my friend. For me, I no longer know who I am, so good luck understanding
me.
GENEVA
Not sure I know who I am, either. Thought I might figure that out by coming here.
FRANCINE
Silly girl.
GENEVA
No kidding.

Deceived by Silence 28.

FRANCINE
Some day you will have to tell me what youre looking for, okay? But not today. I have
one more memory walk to take and I need to do this one on my own, please.
GENEVA
Of course.
FRANCINE
Ill see you tomorrow. And thank you.
GENEVA
For what?
FRANCINE
For trying to understand.
FRANCINE exits.
GENEVA
Okay, that was truly awful, but I think I get it now -- a little, anyway. They just want
witness to be paid. Not denial, ignoring what happened. Pretending. They want what I
want. For him to look me in the eyes and say it. Just like I want to look my baby in the
eyes and tell her that I didnt want to do it, but didnt feel I had the choice. But I did.
And he did, too. They all did. We were wrong and we have to say those words. I get it
now. And it scares the hell out of me. I need someone to hold my hand. Why arent you
here with me?
Shift to Genevas apartment. GENEVA and FRANCINE
enter.
GENEVA
Welcome to my little home away from home. Sorry its taken so long to have you over.
FRANCINE
Youve been busy.
GENEVA
True, but thats no excuse. Can I get you something to drink?
FRANCINE
Sure. Anything is fine.

Deceived by Silence 29.

GENEVA
Im afraid all I have is Primus and some juice.
FRANCINE
Ill give you one guess.
GENEVA
Coming right up.
GENEVA exits.
FRANCINE
Youre comfortable here?
GENEVA (OFF)
It works. Not here forever, so...
FRANCINE
Hard to believe your time is almost done.
GENEVA (OFF)
I know. How did that happen?
FRANCINE
Will you miss us?
GENEVA reenters with two beers.
GENEVA
Yes. New topic, please.
FRANCINE
(taking her beer)
Thank you. And has this been good for you?
GENEVA
I dont know yet. Still processing.
FRANCINE
You never told me what you were hoping to find here.

Deceived by Silence 30.

GENEVA
Thats really complicated.
FRANCINE
Complications, I understand. Want to talk about it?
GENEVA
Not yet. Soon, I hope. New topic.
FRANCINE
The girls will miss you. Youve been good for them.
GENEVA
Thanks. I actually surprised myself. No idea what to expect, but they were great.
FRANCINE
Big Sister. Thats what they call you.
GENEVA
Really?
FRANCINE
Reason why, you have become family.
GENEVA
Okay, stop. Youre not allowed to make me cry. I need my wits about me.
FRANCINE
Why?
GENEVA
God, I hope this wasnt a mistake.
FRANCINE
Now youre making me nervous. Whats going on?
Knocking on door.
FRANCINE (CONT)
(pause)
Who?

Deceived by Silence 31.

GENEVA
Youll see. Its going to be okay.
GENEVA exits. FRANCINE sits nervously. GENEVA
reenters, followed by ALPHONSE.
FRANCINE
(standing)
What? Why would you invite him here, with me? Geneva, this is not -GENEVA
Im sorry. I should have told you. But please, will you just let him explain.
FRANCINE
Explain? Explain? Are you crazy? There is nothing that man can say that would -- You
had no right to do this.
ALPHONSE
Its not her fault.
FRANCINE
Really? You just showed up. With no invitation.
ALPHONSE
Please sit. She only wants to help. She doesnt know that she cant.
GENEVA
I dont accept that.
FRANCINE
Hes right.
GENEVA
No! Please, no! If thats true then Im completely lost and can never go back home.
FRANCINE
What crazy talk is that? Really, Geneva, between surprising me in this way and then
making the whole thing about you, I really dont know what to think anymore.

Deceived by Silence 32.

ALPHONSE
(pause, then to Geneva)
Why would you be lost?
GENEVA
No, shes right. This isnt supposed to be about me. (Pause, then to Alphonse) Do you
like me?
ALPHONSE
I -GENEVA
Will you be sorry to see me go?
ALPHONSE
Yes, of course.
GENEVA
(To Francine)
And you? Francine? Do you think of me as your friend?
FRANCINE
(pause)
If there was a way I could make you stay, I would do whatever it takes.
GENEVA
Thank you. Both of you. I feel the same and thats the only reason Im begging you to
talk about this...now. Without the...what? Government pressure to be civil and pretend
that you dont have feelings. Is it possible, just this once, to be human and fragile and to
need each others understanding? I know I cant possibly understand what youre both
feeling, but Im asking that you try to move forward and make peace with-FRANCINE
M ove forward? What do you think Ive been doing for the past fifteen years? Have you
really understood nothing?
GENEVA
Ive tried. And just when I think I get it, I talk to Alphonse and start questioning
everything again.
ALPHONSE
Im sorry for making things more difficult. That was never my--

Deceived by Silence 33.

FRANCINE
(to Geneva)
Fine, out of my love for you...What would you have me do?
GENEVA
I dont -FRANCINE
What? Forgive him? Embrace him? Pretend that nothing he did matters? Youve asked me
to be human and let my feelings out. Fine. I tell you this, I would have no trouble
watching him shot in public. Let God forgive him if he wants. For me, forgiving is not
something that has any meaning. It has no place here. None! It is beyond human
possibility.
GENEVA
Why? Forgiving doesnt mean denying what happened or taking the easy way out. Dont
you want some kind of peace from all this?
FRANCINE
Peace? What do you know of my peace?
GENEVA
Francine, I just want to -FRANCINE
That man, the one you find so very charming, the one I have to see every day, smiling,
whistling, so lucky to be free-ALPHONSE
How can you call me lucky?
FRANCINE
Because you are alive!
ALPHONSE
What can I do to take away this hate? Tell me and I will do it.
FRANCINE
A monster cant change.

Deceived by Silence 34.

ALPHONSE

GENEVA

He can!

He can!
FRANCINE

(pause)
Really? If the machetes came out again, if all your brother Hutus said that we must die,
are you telling me -- honestly -- that you would not touch your weapon?
ALPHONSE
I am telling you that -FRANCINE
That you would tell them all to go to hell? That you are not a monster like them? Not
anymore?
ALPHONSE
I...I do not want to be -FRANCINE
That you will not kill children anymore? And laugh about -ALPHONSE
I didnt...I couldnt have -FRANCINE
That you would rather use your machete to cut off your cock than rape any more
teachers in my school?
GENEVA
(after a long pause)
Alphonse, you should go.
ALPHONSE
Forgive me, M iss Geneva. Please. I am not that man anymore. If I thought I were, I
would...
FRANCINE
(after a pause, calmly)
And this is why we do not talk about such things. I try to forget, but I can never forgive.
(To Alphonse) Understood?

Deceived by Silence 35.

ALPHONSE
Yes. Of course.
ALPHONSE exits.
FRANCINE
So you see why forgiveness is out of the question. M uch better to mute my sorrow, hide
all of this.
GENEVA
Im sorry. I should have listened to you.
FRANCINE
The choice to do or say something, you see...its not so simple, is it?
GENEVA
No.
FRANCINE
I must walk beside my sorrow. There are other choices but this is mine. Please respect
that.
GENEVA
I do. Im learning to walk, too. But its hard.
FRANCINE
Very hard. Every day.
Shift to cabaret. GENEVA and ALPHONSE sit nursing
their beers. Her suitcase is beside her. Silence.
ALPHONSE
So...Dorothy is flying back to Kansas.
GENEVA registers surprise at his Oz reference.
ALPHONSE (CONT)
I watched the movie.
GENEVA
Scary, right? And, yes, back to Kansas. Rwanda has too many lions and tigers and bears.

Deceived by Silence 36.

ALPHONSE
Oh my. (pause) I did tell you that everyone here is trying to move on from something
terrible.
GENEVA
Yes.
ALPHONSE
Im very sorry she told you.
GENEVA
Im not.
ALPHONSE
Geneva, the Alphonse you know now is not the same person he was then.
GENEVA
How do you expect me to believe that?
ALPHONSE
(pause)
I will not ask you to forgive me. I dont expect that from anyone. And its not something
capable of drying all the spilled blood. I know only God can do that -- so I ask him for it
every day. I give him everything I did. I dont know what he says, but I keep asking.
GENEVA
Good for you, then.
ALPHONSE
(pause)
I need your help.
GENEVA
What?
ALPHONSE
I must do something...finally. But Im not sure if I can.
GENEVA
Yes?

Deceived by Silence 37.

ALPHONSE
Do you know about Gacaca?
GENEVA
A little. The public confession of crimes committed during the genocide, right? What does
that have to do with me?
ALPHONSE
I must do this. When she shows up to tell you goodbye.
GENEVA
But we already know what you did. Last night-ALPHONSE
That was not everything.
FRANCINE enters upstage, unseen.
GENEVA
Im not sure I can hear any more.
ALPHONSE
Please. It needs to be said. I need to say the words. And I think she needs to hear them.
FRANCINE
What do I need to hear?
GENEVA and ALPHONSE stand. FRANCINE comes
downstage and GENEVA joins her.
ALPHONSE
M ay I say something, please? Its very important and I want you both to hear.
FRANCINE looks to GENEVA who holds up her hands
to show that she does not know what is about to happen.
FRANCINE nods to ALPHONSE.
ALPHONSE (CONT)
(long pause)
I want to tell you that I, Alphonse Rukundo, on April 21, 1994, joined my brothers and
chased you and your daughter into the forest.

Deceived by Silence 38.

And when your daughter fell my older brother killed her without stopping to think. I
yelled at him to stop, you must believe me, but it all happened so fast. It haunts me
every day and I want you to know that I am very sorry.
GENEVA takes FRANCINES hand.
ALPHONSE (CONT)
I do not ask forgiveness, though I need it badly. I should have acted more quickly, but I...
I want you to know that I will never let that evil into my life again. I will do anything I
can to be a good Rwandan and to work beside you to make this a better world for the
students. That is my penance and I will never stop paying it.
FRANCINE
(after a long pause, with great difficulty)
I accept your apology.
FRANCINE walks away from ALPHONSE with
GENEVA and then collapses into her arms with the
weight of it all.
FRANCINE (CONT)
(when she is able, to GENEVA)
Thank you. Go in peace.
GENEVA
I cant leave you.
FRANCINE
You must. This is my journey now and I will walk it alone.
FRANCINE touches GENEVAS face.
GENEVA
Well walk it together, in our own way.
FRANCINE
Yes.
They hug. GENEVA exits. ALPHONSE picks up her
suitcase. He and FRANCINE look at each other.