Fable of the Cosmic Egg
a patchwork melodrama
robbed by Stefanovic!
Translated from Serbian by Marko Fancovic
Act One: Black hole
Act Two: Steel Room
Act Three: A Hill in Space
Act Four: Space
Author's notes for dessert
Dubravka Knezevic: Is the earth egg-shaped?
(about Zoran Stefanovic's play "Fable of the Cosmic Egg")
(Dark. The universe pulsates with sounds reminiscent of a blood circulation or mother’s heartbeat. In occasional flashes of a fading star crumpled bodies in foetal positions can be made out, back to back. The beings are of indeterminate sex, faces wrinkled by deposits of many years. Lichens and moss stick to semi-nude bodies. Parasite plants cover their faces and join their backbones, making Siamese twins of them. The beings appear dead.
The universe’s pulsating gets louder and louder. First suddenly starts to breathe in accord with the monstrous pulse. Offstage his dark and calm voice is heard.)
OFF-FIRST: Was I sleeping, while the others suffered?
(With a weak voice First manages to actually utter the sentence.)
FIRST: Was I sleeping, while the others suffered?
(Chokes with the effort of speech. Second shudders slightly as if he had heard something.)
OFF-FIRST: Am I sleeping now?
FIRST: Am I sleeping now?
(Second shudders. First smiles faintly.)
OFF-FIRST: (Very satisfied.) Tomorrow, when I wake, or think I do, what shall I say of today?
FIRST: (Childishly or senile.) A dog came in the kitchen
And stole a crust of bread
Then cook up with ladle
And beat him till he was deaaaad!!!
(He chokes. Makes an effort to catch his breath.)
OFF-FIRST: A dog came in the kitchen... And stole a crust of bread...
FIRST: Charming evening we’re having...
(Second starts to breathe in harmony with the pulse of the universe, too. First pricks his ears. Breathing of Second becomes speedier and harder, turns into a whimper.)
FIRST: Will you stop whining!
(Second whimpers on. First by ultimate effort moves a finger, his muscles convulse and he manages to move a trembling hand to his face and pull off the plant parasite from his eyes. Looks over his shoulder to Second, who is still whimpering. The eyes of First squint, unaccustomed to watching.)
FIRST: I’ve had about my bellyful of your lamentations!
(First brings a fist to the face of his mate and slowly starts to strangle him. He struggles, First smiles. Than he lets him go.)
(Second fights for breath, finally manages to utter.)
(First is surprised to hear his voice.)
FIRST: There... there... I’m there... don’t be afraid...
(Second pricks his ears. Calmly nods his head.)
SECOND: I’m cold... I was falling...
FIRST: It’s all over, it’s all over.
SECOND: We are not tied?
(First starts to wiggle, trying to extricate himself, but he does not succeed. Second murmurs to himself, very frightened. First carefully takes off the plant that joins their backbones. One more effort, and he is in command of his upper body.
He flexes his muscles. Tries to get up, but he’s not able to. Second in panic manages to move his hands feeling the empty space.)
SECOND: Where do we come in?
(First manages to get up shakily.)
FIRST: Take your time.
SECOND: On our hand and knees...
(First limbers up his leg muscles, smiles to his comrade ironically.)
FIRST: As bad as that?
(Second in panic tries to reach him with his fingers. First takes pity and carefully removes the moss from the eyes of his comrade who hollers. When that one is finally used to the light, he looks at First in amazement, and than screams like an animal. First hugs him.)
SECOND: You gave me a fright!
(First smiles and spits on him. Than continues to remove the parasites. Second thinks, and than shakes from some inner coldness.)
SECOND: I was falling.... I was on the top of a –
FIRST: Don’t tell me! Come, we’ll walk it off.
(Catches Second by the arm and tries to make him stand up. Second falls back on the ground like a log and hysterically snaps at First.)
SECOND: That’s enough! I’m tired!
FIRST: You’d rather be stuck there doing nothing?
FIRST: Please yourself.
FIRST: I’ll leave you.
(First limbers up some more, and than slowly goes off into the dark, waiting for Second to stop him. That one is silent. But, in the last moment, when First already steps into the dark, Second screams.)
(First smugly comes back.)
SECOND: Kiss me. (Pause.) Will you not kiss me?
SECOND: On the forehead?
(First takes moss of his face, makes a squeamish expression.)
FIRST: I won’t kiss you anywhere.
(Second extends a hand to him.)
SECOND: Give me your hand at least. (Pause.) Will you not give me your hand?
FIRST: I won’t touch you.
SECOND: Then I’ll leave you.
(First looks at him pitifully. Second makes an effort to stand up, very determined. First limbers up and watches his comrade struggle. Than he determinedly puts him on his feet. Second balances unstably. His face is shining.)
SECOND: Ah! That’s better.
(First looks at him, tenderly pets him on the head, and then catches him by the nose. Second pulls out. First smiles and breathes in a lungful of air.)
FIRST: Let’s go.
(Second holds his hurt nose.)
SECOND: So soon?
FIRST: One moment.
(First looks around him, and then looks at their nakedness, and even more concentrated continues to look for something. With a bit of imagination to him the male, and to Second the female sex could be ascribed.
Second is busy taking the plants off her face. Out of the dark First appears with two pairs of tight-fitting smoking jackets and derby hats. Second looks questioningly at him, First shrugs his shoulders. For a moment they look at the clothes, and then simultaneously topple to the ground.)
FIRST: I’m tired.
SECOND: So am I.
(They stare absently. First, very concentrated, picks his nose. Than Second starts doing the same. First stops, starts to pick his ear absent-mindedly. Second also absent-mindedly repeats that. First belches lightly. Second repeats that, and then is astounded at herself.)
SECOND: (Contrived.) Ape!
FIRST: (Roughly.) Punctilious pig!
(Second raises a hand to strike him, but the hand falls impotently. First joyfully waits for his moment and tries to kick him with his leg, but he cannot raise it. Breathing heavily, the two of them again became still. They look at nothing melancholically. Both at the same time turn towards each other conciliatorily.)
SECOND/FIRST: Do you-
FIRST: Oh, pardon!
SECOND: Carry on.
FIRST: No, no, you first.
SECOND: No, no, you first.
FIRST: I interrupted you.
SECOND: On the contrary.
(They look at each other, flushed.)
SECOND: (Screams.) Ceremonious ape!
FIRST: (Screams.) Punctilious pig!
(They look at each other puzzledly. Then they laugh.)
SECOND: Hee-hee- you conventional-hee-hee-ape...
FIRST: He-he-you pig... He-he-punctilious pig.
SECOND: Ihi-hi-ape... Uuuu-hi-hi-ape!
(Cries with laughter. First gets serious, and then strikes him a strong blow on the face. Second also gets serious and returns the slap.)
(Suddenly they realize that they managed to move their limbs. They jump to their feet in an explosion of joy. They dance the children’s dance. They put the suits on each other. They look through the pockets, find various items. Second finds a lipstick and a piece of mirror. Clumsily rouges the lips and becomes She. First finds in the pocket false mustachios and a cigar. He carefully sticks the mustachios on. Shows the cigar to Second. She nods her head, remembering. He looks for a match with no success. Than he pretends to light the cigar and enjoys the make-believe ‘rings of smoke’. Second happily look in the mirror. She’s got lipstick all over her chin. She is singing a waltz. Closing her eyes, she remembers. Slowly starts to turn rhythmically, clumsily but steadily.)
SECOND: My first ball! (Long pause.) My second ball! (Long pause, closes her eyes.) My first kiss!
(She makes a kissing sound with her lips. First finds a newspaper in his pocket, pretends not to listen to her. She opens her eyes, dissatisfied.)
SECOND: My first kiss! That was a mister Johnson or Johnsten, or I might call him Johnsten. Very bushy moustaches, very yellow-brown. (Respectfully.) Almost like ginger. (Pause.) In a shed, although I have no idea whose shed. We did not have a shed and he most certainly did not have a shed. (Closes her eyes.) I see piles of jars and some knicknacks. (Pause.) And deeper and deeper shadows between the beams.
(Second cries. First pretends to read the newspaper and to ignore her. He cannot hold back the tears either. She loudly blows her nose on the jacket sleeve, and than with a ladylike gesture removes a lock of hair from her forehead. First still sobs discreetly. And than, determined to break the unpleasant silence, reads loudly from the newspapers.)
FIRST: A court reception for fine youth!
SECOND: A court reception?
(She puts a hand to her chest, as if she is out of breath. They turn around as if they have just then realised where they are. She, alarmed, runs into his embrace. A wind starts to blow. They hold each other tightly. The wind slightly rocks them. It is mingled with a kitsch copy of catholic sacral music. First clears his throat, tries to follow the melody, but he is out of tune.)
SECOND: (Silently.) Sometimes I hear sounds. (Listens. With a normal voice.) But not that often. (Pause.) They are a blessing, sounds are God’s blessing, they help me... To get the day... Over.
OFF-SECOND: The old style!
(The smile vanishes.)
SECOND: Yes, merry are the days with sounds.
(Sudden dead silence. Second does not pay attention, but First is truly scared by the sudden silence.)
OFF-SECOND: When I hear sounds...
SECOND: (Confidentially.) I have thought... (Pause.) I say, I have thought that they are in my head. (A smile.) But no. (An even wider smile.) It was just pure logic...
FIRST: (Comforted.) It was just pure logic...
OFF-SECOND: I have not lost my mind.
SECOND: Not all of it. (Pause.) Some is left...
(First in fear moves away from her. She holds him with a spasmodic, deathly grip. He tries to pull away.)
SECOND: Something like a little... tearing, a little... dismembering. (Pause. Silently.) It is from the things! (Pause. In a normal voice.) In the bag, out of the bag.
(First still tries to pull away, spasmodically. Her grip is like steel.)
OFF-SECOND: Sometimes I hear sounds, a chime...
SECOND: Sometimes I hear sounds, a chime... How... (Pause.) How many times have I told myself: pay no attention to that, ignore the chimes, let them go, just sleep and wake up...
(First manages to tear away from her lunatic grip. Strikes her hysterically, trying to silence her. Second falls down, but continues talking as if not noticing him.)
FIRST: Shut up! Shut up! Shut up!
SECOND: ...starting with the womb itself, where life began, little Mildred has her memories and she will...
(First is tired from kicking, lies over her, panting.)
SECOND: ...have her memories, she will remember the womb before she dies, mother’s womb. (Pause.) She has four years now, or six already, and she recently got a large wax doll... Fully clothed...
(First tries to catch his breath. Second lies on her back, mumbling as if in a trance. Her voice sounds satisfied, it is increasingly silent, until it becomes completely intelligible.)
SECOND: And the eyes... Dhey drift off to where it seems they will close in peace... To watch... In soulful peace...
FIRST: Soulful... Peace?
SECOND: Not mine.
SECOND: Not now.
(For a short moment the two of them are still. They allow the anticlimax to clear their heads. Than Second gets up slowly rocking in the wind that has started again. She smiles lightly, like a teenager apologising. Her moves are slight, spontaneous. She makes a charming try to straighten the crumpled clothes. Carefully touches the places where she was struck. Then does a pirouette. First raises his bloodshot eyes, watches her. She joyfully helps him to get up. Dusts him. His trousers are loose and falling down.)
SECOND: Pity we haven’t got a bit of rope.
(He looks at her with pity.)
FIRST: Come on. It’s cold.
SECOND: Remind me to bring a bit of rope tomorrow.
(He pulls her hand, impatiently, like he’s dealing with a lunatic.)
FIRST: Yes, yes. Come on.
(He drags her, she innocently slows down.)
SECOND: How long have we been together all the time now?
FIRST: I don’t know. Fifty years perhaps.
SECOND: Do you remember the day I threw myself into the river?
FIRST: We were grape-harvesting.
(She remembers with satisfaction. He with disgust.)
SECOND: You fished me out.
(First, unnerved, suddenly catches her by the lapel.)
FIRST: That’s all dead and buried.
(She, astonished, touches her face and clothes to reassure herself that she’s real.)
FIRST: That’s all dead and buried..
SECOND: Dead... And buried? (Remembers with joy.) My clothes dried in the sun!
FIRST: There’s no good harking back on that. Come on.
SECOND: Where to? I’m cold.
(First, disgusted, pushes her away.)
FIRST: I wonder if we wouldn’t have been better off alone...
(She does not understand.)
FIRST: Each one for himself.
(He goes off into the dark alone. She does not hold him back.)
FIRST: We weren’t made for the same road.
SECOND: (Without anger.) It’s not certain.
FIRST: (Sarcastically.) No, nothing is certain.
SECOND: We can still part, if you think it would be better.
(With no turning back or such sentimentalities First goes off. She, childishly interested, watches him go.)
SECOND: It’s not worth while now.
OFF-SECOND: No, it’s not worth while now.
SECOND: Well, shall we go?
OFF-SECOND: Yes, let’s go.
(All the muscles of her body are trembling with the effort of trying to walk, but she cannot move. The kitsch copy of sacral music echoes.
Her breathing is out of control. Dark.)
End of act one
(Second stands in the same position. But, through the darkness steel walls nearly to her height that obscure her view can be made out. In some moments, her muscles remember their intention, but she is still immobile. A brief flash for a moment lights First who sits leaning on one of her walls, knees gathered under the chin, deep in thoughts. Their suits have shrunk. He turns a bit and looks at her. Sights lightly.)
FIRST: Do you think this has gone on long enough?
SECOND: Yes! (Pause.) What?
FIRST: This... this... Thing.
SECOND: I’ve always thought so.
FIRST: I can’t leave you.
SECOND: I know. And you can’t follow me.
SECOND: If you leave me how I shall know?
FIRST: (Briskly.) Well you simply whistle me and if I don’t come running it means I’ve left you.
SECOND: You won’t come and kiss me good-bye?
FIRST: Oh, I shouldn’t think so.
(Pause. First picks his nose.)
FIRST: But you might be merely dead in your ... Kitchen.
(She drums on her walls playfully, like on tin pots.)
SECOND: Kitchen?!? (A smile.) The result would be the same...
FIRST: Yes, but how would I know, if you were merely dead?
SECOND: Well... Sooner or later I’d start to stink.
FIRST: You stink already.
FIRST: Stinks of corpses...
SECOND: The whole universe.
FIRST: To hell with the universe! (Pause.) Think of something.
(First starts slowly and determinedly to tear her walls apart. She is not overly impressed. He slowly puts together the walls so they make an even tighter room. Than he enters it, sits in the corner and starts looking at her over his knees. She tries to move. Succeeds. She is lively.)
SECOND: You must be happy, too, deep down, if you only knew it.
FIRST: What for?
SECOND: To be back with me again.
(He belches. Looks with interest on her face, smeared with lipstick and very tormented.)
FIRST: Would you say so?
SECOND: Say you are, even if it’s not true.
FIRST: What am I to say?
SECOND: Say, I am happy.
FIRST: I am happy.
SECOND: So am I.
FIRST: So am I.
SECOND: We are happy.
(Belches. Scratches his armpit and stomach.)
FIRST: This is perhaps not one of my bright days, but frankly...
(Looks at her, she does not listen.)
FIRST: What is it?
SECOND: We’re not beginning to ... to... Mean something?
FIRST: You and I? Mean something?
(Neighs with laughter. Gets up and draws her to him. She is still concentrated on her thoughts.)
SECOND: I wonder... Imagine if a rational being came back to earth, wouldn’t he be liable to get ideas into his head if he observed us long enough. (Voice of rational being.) “Ah, good, now I see what they’re at!”
(First jerks a little but still begins kissing her on the neck. She very carefully removes lint from his jacket. Does not interfere with him.)
FIRST: (Eagerly.) Let’s go from here, the two of us! South!
(She slowly accepts the idea.)
SECOND: You can make a raft...
FIRST: ...and the currents will carry us away, far away...
SECOND: ...to others!
(They look at each other.)
(They turn in fear. Look at the darkness. Look at each other again. Fall into a convulsive embrace. They are silent. He puts a hand on her breasts. Squeezes tightly. She smiles; than she quickly pulls off and flees into the dark. However, he is faster by far; tackles her. Pause.
She smiles. He smiles too. She bites his hand strongly. He screams. Strikes her with his upper arm. She smiles. He strikes her again. After her repeated smile he smiles too. Than he starts tearing up her clothes with maniacal intensity. When he notices a left-off plant through her torn pant’s leg he takes it off. Looks at the parasite with noticeable curiosity. For some moments his unarticulated sounds are heard: neither choking nor giggling or sobs.
Second waits patiently all the time. He finally puts the parasite in his bosom and continues tearing her clothes. She neatly puts the pieces of her torn clothing by her side. A brief pause for her prayer, he is puzzled.
Coitus: more like a choreographed oriental art than a wrestler’s grip. The sacral music now sounds as if the tape is slowing. The moment looks frozen in time.
The star is flashing.
Rest after the act. She is lying on her back and examining her hands. His head is on her feet. She is authoritative.)
SECOND: Get working on that raft immediately. Tomorrow I’ll be gone. For ever.
FIRST: (Laughter.) Gone for ever?!?
SECOND: I’ll embark alone!
FIRST: (Joyfully.) I’ll start straight away (Worried.) Will there be sharks, do you think?
SECOND: If there are there will be.
FIRST: Ah, that’s the spirit!
(Second shrugs her shoulders.)
SECOND: I don’t know.
(His smile pours over the space. She gathers her rags closer around her. Smiles together with him. Darkness. The echoes of laughter still last. A weak but recognisable sound mixes with them: her poor copy of his sounds – neither choking nor giggling or sobs.)
End of act two
(When the leaves start falling, First raises his head and gravely looks into the night sky. Their room is dismantled. Steel walls lie crossed around them, making the Hill-in-Space. Second carefully puts a multicoloured bandanna on her head, and holds her derby puzzledly. And for the second time, their clothes and hats have shrunk, so they now look like children’s replicas of real clothes.
First buttons his coat satisfactorily. Looks at himself in the steel boards, feels his unshaven chin. Frowns slightly. Refreshed, goes round the hill. She still crumples her hat nervously. He does not pay attention to her. Tries to capture a professorial tone of voice, which he obviously is not used to any more.)
FIRST: Given the existance as uttered forth in the public works of Puncher and Wattmann...
(He is not satisfied. Changes the depth and tone of his voice until he hits the right level.)
FIRST: Given the existance as uttered forth in the public works of Puncher and Wattmann of a personal God, outside time without extension, who from the heights of divine apathia – divine athambia – divine aphasia loves us dearly with some exceptions for reasons...
(Pause. Looks at her to check the effect of his bygone skill. She does not react, emptily stares at nothing. He continues, dissatisfied.)
FIRST: ...for reasons unknown! But! Time will tell...
FIRST: ...and suffers like the divine Miranda... (Pause.) Eyes?!
SECOND: How are your eyes?
(He waves a hand in front of his eyes.)
SECOND: But you can see.
FIRST: All I want. (Impatient to continue the speech.) Plunged in torment! Plunged in fire whose fire flames if...
SECOND: How are your legs?
FIRST: (Unnerved.) Bad!
SECOND: But you can walk.
FIRST: I come and go!
(He opens his mouth to continue the speech when she starts to warn him, quietly and seriously.)
SECOND: One day you’ll be blind, like me. You’ll be sitting there, a speck in the void, in the dark, like me.
(Dead silence. He comes to her, frightened, and waves a hand in front of her eyes. Screams. Realises that she is blind. She just smiles slightly. He, distraught, stands across from her and with slow heavy steps moves toward her.)
FIRST: Do you see anything coming?
FIRST: Do you see anything coming?
(First shakes her by the shoulders.)
FIRST: (Screams.) Do you see?
SECOND: No need to shout! (Conciliatory.) One day you’ll say to yourself, I’m tired, I’ll sit down...
(She sits down tiredly.)
SECOND: And you’ll go and sit down.
(He screams silently. Her head falls. He runs to catch her before she falls into a heap over her knees. He in panic tries to wake her from the deathly slumber. Slaps her lightly a couple of times. She jerks.)
FIRST: Come on! Come on! Come on!
(He roughly makes her walk and be lively. By force he drags her from one end of the hill to another. Her vital functions wake up, she manages to move alone mechanically. Left-right, left-right. He loses his breath from all that exertion and falls down exhausted. She continues to walk, like a zombie, but very briskly. Her eyes are closed, her mouth is drooling. The breath does not exist. He looks at her, astonished . Suddenly, her body starts to convulse in mid-step. She slows down. Every muscle in her body
starts to shake with heavy and painful vibrations. She is turned towards him. On her distorted face is – besides horrific, dumb effort – also a hint of near relief, even pleasure. Orgasmic death. The strenuous shaking brings her down on her knees. With infinite effort she manages to open her eyes and look at First who is completely out of his mind. She watches him for an endless moment.)
SECOND: Co-come here till I embrace you...
(She reaches out towards him. Look like she’ll get up. First withdraws in panic.)
FIRST: Don’t touch me!!!
(First starts to scream. Second smiles slightly. With unprecedented force, a scream comes out of her lungs, more a warrior’s victory scream than a death scream. She falls forward, sinking her tearful face in the grass. She has died again.
A long pause. Unbelieving First kneels, slowly plucks some grass and rubs it in his face to refresh himself. He dares to get up and approach her. With lunatic concentration he listens to her heart, pulse, massages her chest, raises her arms, tries to resuscitate her. His movements get faster and faster. He even starts to chant and yell a bit. He carries her body around, forces her to act. He is persistent and louder and louder.)
FIRST: Come on! Come on! Come on!
(Chants. Hoarsely gives time to his efforts, like that is going to revive her. Than he stops, changes his mind. Looks at the board. Desperately pulls the hands of the watchers, the audience.)
FIRST: Come on! Come on! Come on!
(When he sees that no one is helping him he alone lifts the steel boards and tries to make some sort of shelter. It is not easy for him. Again he tries to plead with the audience. When he sees that it is hopeless, he continues alone – even more earnestly. Into the makeshift shelter he drags her body and crawls inside with her in his embrace. Seem like he is afraid to get soaked by the shower of leaves that are falling. His chanting and yelling, beating time, becomes sharper and higher. The light starts to flicker and blink to the rhythm of his voice.
End of act three
(Unbearable, rhythmical flash of the white star. The space is in negative. Leaves. Wind. A speeded-up kitsch copy of catholic sacral music. Offstage a murmur, endless prayers of innumerable dead souls. Embraced, draped in white clothes, First and Second jump like lunatics and chant in a very hacked rhythm. The light and sound are intense to the limit of psychical endurance.
Their eyes are closed. They are very concentrated on their activity. Out of numerous offstage murmurs two voices are discernible.)
OFF-SECOND: Hours of darkness... And now this... Faster and faster... Words... The brain... Winks like crazy... Grab quick and go on... And there nothing... Further to another side... Curses all the time... Something in her... Begs all that to stop... In vain.. .. Go on trying... Not knowing what... Body, like it is gone... Just the mouth... Frenzied... And so on... Continue...
(Repeats. Delirious dancers pay no attention neither to the music nor to the voices that are heard one over another.)
OFF-FIRST: I once knew a madman who thought the end of the world had come. He was a painter—and engraver. I had a great fondness for him. I used to go and see him, in the asylum. I’d take him by the hand and drag him to the window. Look! All that rising corn! All that loveliness! He’d snatch away his hand and go back into his corner. Appalled. All he had seen was ashes...
(Repeats. Into the general cacophony, still jumping, Second joins in.)
SECOND: Out... Into this world... A tiny creature... Premature... In a sa-... What? A girl? Yes... A tiny little girl... Into this... Out into this... Before her time... Into the sad pit called... Called... Later it came to her that she was actually punished... For her sins, many of which then... Doesn’t matter... Doesn’t matter... Doesn’t matter...
(Repeats. The cacophony gets stronger and stronger.)
FIRST: Not the face nor any other body part never turned towards her neither she towards you but parallel all the time like two wheels on an axle and never turning towards each other but in the eye just the shimmering of misty edges of a wheat field without touch and always empty space between the two of you no necking not more nor less of shadow but just the expression of love...
(Repeats. Voices, passionate and absent, merged into a single organism. The two of them still jump in the torrent of leaves and wind. The tempo of chanting and movements and the loudness of the music get stronger and stronger. The light is unbearable. Suddenly Second screams.)
(Suddenly everything comes to a standstill. Just the patient white light digs into the pupils of the audience. The two of them look up, from where the leaves are coming. Second gathers her strength, and then screams into the split sky.)
SECOND: Samuel!!! Give us a chance!!!
End of fable
THE POINT: Many people tell a lie that an old man named Samuel Beckett spent his last years in a foetal position on his bed. People in his line of business were afraid of him, but did not respect or love him. The question is whether he deserved
any of that. Anyway, the old man died, so he and his crippled children were let to the Other Side. Blessings upon him whom the Beckettian kitsch left with a sound sleep.
THE CATCH: In this dramatic etude there is almost no part of dialogue that wasn’t written by Samuel Beckett. “Almost,” because one personal noun that was undoubtedly close to Beckett was added. So, into the drama (fable and stage directions) of ‘yours truly’, the dialogue pieces of following Beckett dramas were ruthlessly fitted: ENDGAME, HAPPY DAYS, WAITING FOR GODOT, THAT TIME and NOT I.
Laurels remain to those who laugh last. As long as they have oxygen.
Belgrade, February 1992.
(Translated from Serbian by Marko Fancovic, 1995)
About Zoran Stefanovic's play "Fable of the Cosmic Egg"
Note: Miss Dubravka Knezevic is critic, playwright and former teacher in Faculty of Dramatic Arts in Belgrade. Now lives somewhere in USA.
There is a childhood sickness that sooner or later anybody who tries to write dramas, the eternal children, artists, succumb to. The name of that sickness is Beckett. Whether in puberty, or after their first successful drama when they don’t know where to go next, whether at the end of their career, or in the moments of a nightmare, of crises more human than creative, all the writers rediscover the wise, silent old man who smiles at them from a divine distance. It isn’t necessary to like Beckett for that to happen, nor to know his dramas, it is simply a virus that, the more you run away and trick it, the more it gets to you. The worst thing an afflicted person can do is to consciously imitate the famous predecessor. The world of a closed system of associations is so powerful, that it completely drags the writer into itself, cocoons him and captures him for a long time. Sometimes lastingly.
The immunity to Beckett is acquired by a careful study of his work. That could last for a long time, so Zoran Stefanovic decided to shorten the process efficiently and effectively, to find a shortcut that won’t take away any of his creativity. Out of several Beckett’s dramas he made a new one, by postmodernist rules completely his and autochtonous. It speaks about the things that Beckett’s dramas carry inside, but does not speak directly—the writer had to tell it elsewhere and with a different reason – that the human life is most melodramatic of all the melodramas. That is the problem that the heroes of Stefanovic’s drama tackle. The young writer makes another shift by consciously using Beckett’s technical methods, from the structure of the play and acts, to introducing the off-voices of the personalities themselves, but not without a noticeable irony. In the “Fable of the Cosmic Egg” the awareness of the game, that the writer directly puts on paper at the end, is evident.
“Everything is already said,” says Gide, “but since no one listens, it should always be said anew.” Stefanovic has written an unwritten Beckett’s play anew, taking away nothing, but adding, just by a good combination of things already existing, the irony, optimistic distance and the thing that the primary author generally lacks—humor. Inasmuch that he gave to the planet that believes itself the center of space, while having no idea how it looks, let alone what space is, another artistic testimony of impotence. With that he has reminded us that the playfulness, forgotten and covered with every kind of vanity, is the essence of any creativity, including the “Big Bang” itself, if there ever was one.
// Projekat Rastko / Drama i pozorište / Savremena drama //
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