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RECETAS CUBANAS

By Stephen Jenkins,2014-08-12 11:26
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RECETAS CUBANAS ...

    A WORLD THEATRE FAVORITES SAMPLE

    TREES DIE STANDING TALL

    A Play In Two Acts By Alejandro Casona

    English version by Lia Beeson

    Translated from Casona’s Los Árboles Mueren De Pie.

PROFESSIONAL RECOMMENDATION:

     Casona’s plays were translated into fourteen languages, staged in twenty-

    four countries, in some for three consecutive years, adapted to movies and TV in four countries and acclaimed by professional drama critics in the international press, for example:

    “In the barren landscape of our Buenos Aires theatre, this play is an oasis of verdant flora and clear springs.” (Mundo Argentino, Buenos Aires, Argentina)

     “Casona is one of those playwrights who, when they write down what has tickled people through the ages, it becomes theatre at its best.” (El Universal, Caracas,

    Venezuela.)

     To read the play in full contact liabson@yahoo.com .

CHARACTER BREAKDOWN:

     (5 female, 4 male. May be played by 6 actors.)

    The Director’s Secretary, mature in age and expertise, of any suitable age

    The Typist, assistant secretary, a woman of any suitable age

     Martha as herself and as Isabelle, a timid young woman of any suitable age

    Grandma Bailey, a strong woman dealing with family losses, of any suitable age

    Genevieve, Grandma’s housekeeper and confidante, of any suitable age

    F-48, former professor staffed as Pastor and Seaman, a man of any suitable age

    Francis Bailey, Grandma’s husband and builder of hopes, of any suitable age

    The Director as himself and as Maurice, self confident leader of any suitable age

    The Other, the Baileys’ estranged grandson, of any suitable age

     PLACE: A large city (Act I) and a country manor (Act II)

     TIME: A few days in the 1940s.

SUMMARY:

     ACT I. Scene 1: Martha’s apprehensions snowball seeing the irregular comings

    and goings of members of the staff while she waits for the office Director she received anonymous advice to meet. Same happens to Mr. Bailey, the old gentleman sitting by her in the waiting room. Her apprehensions escalate to fear that makes her scream. The Director comes out to the waiting room, calms her fears and brings her in to his private office for her interview.

     Scene 2: During her soul-baring interview with The Director Martha learns it was he who thwarted her planned overdose to end her life the night before. The Director convinces her to join their “soul welfare” group. At his private interview Mr. Bailey tells

    the Director his problem began when he threw his grandson Maurice out of the house twenty years before, then held from his wife their grandson became a gangster abroad and, to heal the old lady’s heart, faked loving correspondence from the grandson. But

    now the real grandson wired Grandma he’s coming. The paper reports the ship sank with

    no survivors and to save Grandma from a possibly fatal blow, Mr. Bailey has to come up with a loving grandson. After a long discussion, The Director agrees to impersonate his loving grandson for a few days with newly-recruited Martha as his wife Isabelle.

     ACT II. Scene 1: At the Baileys, Genevieve helps Grandma cope with her

    overwhelming emotions. Maurice and Isabelle come in with Mr. Bailey. Maurice seems in control of the situation until he blunders in his conversation. Isabelle, emotional, has a momentary breakdown but recovers. Mr. Bailey does his best to save their pretense. Maurice saves the evening improvising at the piano and leading all in a fun song. Grandma gets tipsy and retires for the night. Maurice evaluates Isabelle’s performance

    and his own, impersonally. Isabelle tells him her own, quite different evaluation of the evening. They retire for the night, separately.

     Scene 2. After several days, Maurice instructs his secretary by phone to send a fake telegram calling him back. Grandma learns from Genevieve Maurice was sleeping separate from Isabelle. She confronts Isabelle who improvises an excuse for it and tells Grandma passionately how she loves Maurice. Unexpectedly The Other Maurice steps inhe took another ship to ward off policeand demands from Bailey a quarter million

    dollars to repay what he swindled his gang out of or they’ll kill him. Bailey refuses. The

    Other demands to see Grandma. Bailey explains to him the actual situation with Grandma. The Other, suddenly impacted by his grandmother’s presence, lets Maurice

    walk him out, yet demanding his money for the following day.

     Scene 3. Next day, Isabelle packs. Grandma locks herself up in her room. Maurice tells Isabelle he is powerless against The Other’s ultimatum. Isabelle tells Maurice she

    won’t go back to work with him. Maurice tells her he doesn’t want to live without her on

    his bed, in his place or hers. She throws herself in his arms. When The Other comes in, it is Grandma, who has prodded the truth out of her husband the night before, who faces The Other and orders him out of the house. She feels dead inside yet standing tall like a tree. To spare Maurice and Isabelle the bitterness of their fiasco, Grandma makes them believe The Other left the house without saying a word to her.

    The musical excerpts sung by Me onstage are featured at the end of the play.

10-PAGE DIALOGUE SAMPLE:

    ACT I

    Scene 2 (Excerpt)

The Director’s office. Two chairs, a desk, a portrait of Dr. Allen on the wall.

    Onstage, Maurice and Isabelle. She, in a chair, her coat draped on the chair’s back. He, at his desk.

    MAURICE

    Relaxed now? (Isabelle nods.) Really? No longer afraid?

    ISABELLE

    No. Now it’s something deeper. I feel my whole life depends on what you are going to

    tell me.

    MAURICE

    First, answer me this, please. What happened to you last night?

    ISABELLE

    You have no right to ask me that! Leave me alone. Don't make me recall it! (Chokes

    with sobs.)

    MAURICE

    Easy now. Look me in the eye. Not a policeman’s or a judge’s eye. Please, tell me. What happened last night?

    ISABELLE

    I was desperate. I could take no more. When I lost my job yesterday I felt such a loser, good for nothing. I tried to think of something hopeful but I couldn't. Only an idea kept twirling in my head, "You won't be able to sleep." I went out and got some barbital. I’m sure the streets were full of lights and people as always but I saw nothing. It was raining and I didn't realize it until I was back in my room shivering wet. The stupid sleep obsesion began mushrooming. "Why just tonight? Why not for good?” I poured the whole tube in the glass. I felt as if a rock had been thrown in through the window. Something had fallen in the room. I turned the light on, so scared. I saw a bouquet of roses with a one-word note: "Tomorrow". Where did that message come from? Who picked, out of all words, the one that would save me? I needed to know who did it. I felt I couldn’t die that night without knowing that. I went to bed with my rosesfirst ones I

    ever got in my life. “Tomorrow.” The word soaked me through like the rain had. (Pauses.) When I woke up in the morning(Looks in her purse.)

    MAURICE

    Slipped under the door there was a blue card saying, "Don't lose hope. We are awaiting you."

    ISABELLE

    (Looks at him, stunned.) You?

    MAURICE

    Me.

    ISABELLE

    Why? I don't know you. I never saw you before. How could you know?

    MAURICE

    (Smiles.) We keep informed. When I saw you walking without feeling the rain I realized I should follow you.

    ISABELLE

    I hadn’t thought yet of doing it. How did you guess it?

    MAURICE

    The barbital tube was suspicious; and more so, going into your boarding house without closing the door behind you. It looked like you didn’t give a damn.

    ISABELLE

    Don't make fun of me. Who are you? What is this place?

    MAURICE

    You are going to know right now. But please, don't take it so seriously. Everything serious can be said with a smile. (Stands in front of a portrait.) Have you ever heard of

    Dr. Allen?

    ISABELLE

    I just heard his name a moment ago.

    MAURICE

    That’s he, our founder. A man of great fortune, great generosity, grreat creativity with a poetic flair for doing good. Since time immemorial, countries have organized public welfare. Some see it as justice, others as necessity, others as business. Dr. Allen thought of it as a performing art.

    ISABELLE

    (Disillusioned.) Is that it? Public welfare? (Proudly ready to go.) Thank you, sir. But I

    didn’t come here for a handout.

    MAURICE

    Relax. This is not about shelter and bread. We aim at welfare of the soul.

    ISABELLE

    (Stops.) Of the soul?

    MAURICE

    Many take care of the physical needs of others. But who cares for those others ending their lives without a special memory? Or for those who haven’t realized a single dream?

    Or for those who were never thrilled by a gust of mystery or expectation? Do you follow me?

    ISABELLE

    I'm not sure. All this is so strange. Are you really serious? It sounds like out of a book.

    MAURICE

    I was getting there. Why bind poetry in books? Why not bring poetry out to the open

    parks, streets? Are you beginning to understand? (She shakes her head.) You'll

    understand it in a minute. Remember the ghost appearing seven consecutive Saturdays at Lilacs Manor?

    ISABELLE

    Sure. That’s my neighborhood. It was the talk of the factory for three months.

    MAURICE

    (Interested.) What did they say at the factory?

    ISABELLE

    Everything. Some said, hallucinations. Others, that they saw it with their own eyes. Others laughed at ituneasy. By the end of the day we were telling spirit stories.

    MAURICE

    So, an industrial neighborhood where the talk was always about numbers, for three months talked about the spirit. See? There’s your gust of poetic mystery.

    ISABELLE

    But you can't possibly believe the ghost actually appeared.

    MAURICE

    How can I not believe it, when it was me!

    ISABELLE

    (Jumps off.) You?

    MAURICE

    I’m serious. I swear. Don't you think planting a thrill or a hope is at least as worthy as planting corn?

    ISABELLE

    Frankly, no. It may be a fun game. But I don’t see what’s the use.

    MAURICE

    You don't? (Gazes at her, lowers his voice.) Would you be here now if I hadn't played a

    fun game last night?

    ISABELLE

    I’m sorry. (Sits down.)

    MAURICE

    If you look at our files you'd be surprised the benefits that can be achieved with a little fantasycounting, of course, on the other person's fantasy too.

    ISABELLE

    Must be quite a difficult job. Do you always succeed?

    MAURICE

    We’ve had our failures too. For instance, one afternoon a child disappeared from the

    park while his nanny was chatting with passersby. Next day another child disappeared while his mademoiselle was absorbed in her knitting. Shortly after, another did, and another, and anotherremember the panic spread over town?

    ISABELLE

    Were you the child abductor?

    MAURICE

    Mhmbut be assured they never got more tender loving care than in here.

    ISABELLE

    Why did you do it?

    MAURICE

    Theories of the child psychologist. Actually, it was painful seeing the little ones so neglected by their parents, always left in strange hands. Where were the parents? At their clubs and socials. It was logical to expect parents would cling desperately to their children when the panic started. Right? From tomorrow on we all go to the park together. But all went contrary to our expectations. Parents kept going to their clubs and socials and children were locked up at homea total failure. We fired the child psychologist

    and replaced him with a clown magician. (Isabel smiles.) Thank you.

    ISABELLE

    For what?

    MAURICE

    For letting me see your smile. And, for the records, it’s a great smile.

    ISABELLE

    What about the fellow shouting Tyrolean, wanting fifty dogs?

    MAURICE

    He’s our protector of poor hunters—hides in the woods, sets rabbits on the loose, gives dogs away.

    ISABELLE

    I see. And the one counting necklaces and watches?

    MAURICE

    The thief of thieves? He’s our gold fingers. He specializes in juvenile thieves leaving

    detention with an attitude. (Gesture for stealing.) Do you know what I mean? He

    follows them and

    ISABELLE

    (Repeats the gesture delicately with the tip of her index and thumb.) Huh?

    MAURICE

    Exactly.

    ISABELLE

    And then what?

    MAURICE

    Then the stolen objects are returned to the owners. The young thief receives a card

    saying, "Don't do it again, please, you are jeopardizing us!" Sometimes it works.

    ISABELLE

    Your associates are professional actors, I suppose.

    MAURICE

    Actors, yes; professional, neverthey would demand, at least, to work with a famous star.

    ISABELLE

    This is incredible. But why do you operate so secretiveas if you were doing something illegal?

    MAURICE

    Unfortunately, that may be the case. Children abduction isn’t legal. (Gets closer to her.)

    Would you like to join us? Think about it. Please. Here you have a good job, a home,

    good friends.

    ISABELLE

    Thanks. But what can I do? I’m good for nothing. I’m tired of hearing it at the factory.

    MAURICE

First, believe you are useful. Then, you'll be useful. And don’t think a great talent is a

    must. Sometimes all it takes to save a life isa bouquet of roses. You, to begin with, have a charming smile.

    ISABELLE

    Thank you, very nice of you.

    MAURICE

    Please, understand. It wasn’t a compliment. It was a professional evaluation. I was

    talking to you as the director. My job is to turn a charming smile into a useful smile.

    Partners?

    ISABELLE

    (Going for it.) Partners.

    MAURICE

    Thank you. I knew it. (Through the intercom.) Hello. Helen? Come in, please. Bring the gentleman in.

    ENTER SECRETARY AND BAILEY

    MAURICE

    The young lady is joining us.

    SECRETARY

    After all! Congratulations.

    MAURICE

    Give her the room over the garden. Introduce her to everyone. She starts tomorrow.

    SECRETARY

    Yes, sir. This way, Miss. (They walk toward the exit.)

    ISABELLE

    (Shakes hands with Bailey.) Delighted to have met you, sir.

    MAURICE

    (When she gets to the door.) One moment, partner. First rehearsal: an encouraging smile.

    Let’s see it.

    ISABELLE

    (Smiles happily at him.) All right?

    MAURICE

    All right. Thank you. (The ladies exit.)

    MAURICE

    (Remains with his hand up in motionless wave. Obviously, her smile touched him beyond a mere professional evaluation. His eyes are pinned to the exit she took. Bailey coughs to get his attention. The Director turns, abruptly.) Oh, excuse me! Mr.?

    BAILEY

    Bailey. Francis Bailey.

    MAURICE

    I suppose Helen informed you of everything. Are you at ease now, sir?

    BAILEY

    I admit I got upset. Now I almost could laugh about itbut for the seriousness of what

    brings me here.

    MAURICE

    We'll do whatever we can. Talk without reserve.

    BAILEY

    (While he talks Maurice takes notes.) It started long ago. A happy family suddenly torn

    to pieces by catastrophejust two grandparents and a grandson were left. The fear of losing the only one left to us made us too indulgent with him. Dubious friendships, whole nights on the town, gambling debts. One of grandma's jewels would disappear and she’d say, "Just a madcap antic, don't say anything to him." When I tried to impose

    discipline it was too late. One day he came in at dawn with disturbed eyes and a strange voice. He was still a teenager but already had the attitude of a fallen man. I caught him forcing open my desk drawer. A scene I wish I could forget. He insulted me, raised his hand against me. Though feeling it in my own flesh I slapped himand shoved him out

    of the house.

    MAURICE

    And he never returned?

    BAILEY

    Never. Pride was his one virtue. We tried to find him. He had stowed away to Canada on a merchant shiptwenty years ago.

    MAURICE

    (Noting down.) Guilt feelings. Shall I say twenty years of remorse?

    BAILEY

    No. That was the worst night of my life but if it were to happen again I’d do the same again.

    MAURICE

    Have you had news of him?

    BAILEY

    I wish I hadn't: from cheating at gambling to smuggling and fraud; from neighborhood brawls to counterfeit money and a gun in his pocketa professional gangster. My wife

    knows nothing about this. But our home was ruined. She never said a word of reproach to me. But the tense silence year in year out was the hardest accusationas if I were the

    guilty one. One day she got a letter from Canada.

    MAURICE

    Couldn't you have prevented her getting a letter that could kill her?

    BAILEY

    It was a letter of reconciliation. My grandson begging forgivenesstwo sheets full of

    pleasant memories and beautiful promises.

    MAURICE

    I’m sorry. It was stupid of me to jump to conclusions.

    BAILEY

    You are jumping to conclusions now. I wrote that letter.

    MAURICE

    You?

    BAILEY

    What else could I do? My poor dear old lady was dying on me day by day. Those two sheets opened her mouth again.

    MAURICE

    (Notes down.) And then, what?

    BAILEY

    She answered happily. I had no choice but to go on with the farce. Every two or three months, a new letter from Canada. One day he graduated from Montreal University. Another day he took a sleigh ride through evergreens and lakes. Another, he opened his architect studio. He fell in love with a charming girl. After prolonging the engagement as long as I could I had to marry them. She couldn't get enough. And now(His voice

    breaks.)

    MAURICE

    Something happened to upset your plans.

    BAILEY

    Last week, when I came home, my wife came out to hug me, mad with joy, a telegram in hand. My grandson was announcing his return.

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