Sunday, October 21, 2012

Episode Two

In Episode 1, we saw how Jareth lured the mob away from Genia and Lusia and how they were found by Wachter and led to his house.  The following action takes place in Wachter’s living room, which is comfortable with worn furnishings. An inwardly opening door on the right, with a peephole, opens onto a quiet avenue that slopes downhill to the city. An adjacent door leads to the kitchen.   Doors on the left and in the back wall on the left open onto other rooms. Between the doors in the back wall is a heavily draped window. 

Now we meet Maury, self-appointed house manager; Dolek and his wife Sharon; Marek the counterfeiter; Mrs. Winkleman, cook and housekeeper; the Rabbi; Itzak the angry man; and Feodor the fiddler.
    It is Friday morning, and Genia, Lusia, Dolek and Sharon are listening to Maurey--

Maury: Good morning!
All:  Good morning.
Maury:  On behalf of Albert Wachter and all who live here, I welcome you. You needn’t be afraid.  You are safe here. 
Lusia:   My husband, Jareth… have you heard anything of my husband?
Maury: Herr Wachter is making inquiries. 
Lusia:  We were bombed out of our hiding place. A mob came after us when they saw  our yellow stars…we tried to hide…Jareth led them away…a man found us, led us here.  [With a sob]  I fear they caught Jareth, and…
Maury:  Herr Wachter will find Jareth!
Dolek:  What I want to know is, well—what sort of a place is this?
Sharon:  Let Maury talk, Dolek. He will tell us in good time.
Dolek: [Angry.] Let me ask a question anyway!
Sharon: You don’t have to flare up at me like that!
Maury:  Please, please.  I will tell you everything you want to know.  The important thing is that you are safe here.  Herr Wachter shelters us—all of us.  There are almost a dozen of us here now.
Dolek:  Jews?
Maury:  Jews.  All of us.
Dolek: What’s his game?  He’s a goy, isn’t he?  Why does he do it?
Maury:  He doesn’t say why and we don’t ask.  He works for the local military commissary where he gets food for us. And he has friends who help. 
Sharon:  We thank him.
Maury: We all do, but say nothing of thanks to him.  Only accept.  His home is a way stop on an underground railway. We don’t usually stay long; normally we’d be gone in a week.  But the Allied Armies are near and it is dangerous to travel, so we stay.
Lusia:  [As Genia tries to sit on her lap.] Not now, Genia.
Sharon:  I’ll take her. Come here, little knaydel.
     Three men enter from the cellar carrying a heavy object and pass through to the kitchen, from which is heard a loud clanking.
Maury: Ah, the part for the water heater. Finally.  As you can see we have a complete society here in this house. We even have a cemetery in the cellar for those who have ah…
[Mrs. Winkelman enters from kitchen.] This is Mrs. Winkleman. Mrs. Winkleman meet Lusia, her daughter Genia, and Dolek and wife Sharon.  Last names can come later.
Mrs. Winkelman:  How do you do.  I cook and keep house, and I could use some help.
Lusia: Oh, I’ll help! And Genia, too.
Sharon:  And I!
Dolek: [Mutters] that’ll be the day!
Sharon: [Stung] I will!
Maury: Please! We have a community here, and it must be peaceful.
   Marek enters and moves onto the door that leads to the cellar. He stops at Maurey’s words.
Maury: Wait, Marek.  I want you all to meet Marek.  [All murmur hellos] 
Marek: [Bobs] Pleased! 
Maury: Marek is famous. Famous? Is that the right word, Marek?
Marek: Better notorious.
Maury:  All right, since you said it.  Marek is notorious for a lifetime career as a counterfeiter and forger.  He is vital to us as he is plying his art in his cellar workshop, complete with printing press.  I want you all to make an appointment with Marek very soon. He will make you identity papers and give you a supply of money. Any questions?
Dolek: Is the money any good?  They re-issued it, you know.
Maury: A hundred percent good. Marek, a sample. [Maury holds up a Gulden to the light, crinkles it.]  The latest issue; better than the real thing.  Thank you, Marek.
Marek:  Thank you, I’m sure.  [Marek produces a rag doll; which he holds behind his arm so that it peaks out at Genia. Genia is fascinated and goes to him.] This little lady heard you were coming and wants to play with you, bubelah.  [Genia takes the doll, cuddles it.] 
Lusia: You are very kind.  Say thank you, Genia.
Genia:  [Curtseys] Thank you.  I shall call her Rivke.  Hello, Rivke.
Maury: [After a fond chuckle.]  Seriously, if this house is ever raided by the Gestapo, it’s every man for himself.  Keep the papers and money near you at all times, packed in a small bag with some food; see Mrs. Winkleman for that. If you hear loud knocking followed by a crash, go out the nearest door and scatter.  With papers and money, you have a chance. No papers…no money…no chance.
Sharon: Is it that serious?
Maury: Maybe you got here easy...  For others—not so easy.  Ask Lusia. And another point—very important! About the front door. Let Mrs. Winkleman answer the door, always, or Herr Wachter.  Only them. If you are in this room when a knock is heard, go immediately into another room, and be silent, no matter what you may hear.  Don’t come out unless called, for our lives depend on it. The world must think that only Herr Wachter and Mrs Winkleman live here. 
      The Rabbi enters.
Rabbi: Sholem Aleichem.  Peace.  It’s wonderful.
Maury: This is our Rabbi—Rabbi Horowitz.
ALL: Aleichem sholem.
Rabbi: I am at your service.  And speaking of Service, this being Friday, Sabbath begins at sundown.
     Itzhak enters from cellar, carrying a wrench.
Itzhak: Yes, it sure does. And we have to be polite…we have to listen to him.
Maury:  This is Itzhak.
Rabbi: Say something, Itzhak. Something kind.
Itzhak:  Something kind…let me think.  Oh, you’re lucky to be here. Outside, you’re dead!
Lusia: [Wailing, echoed by a cry from Genia] Oh-h-h!
Rabbi:  Itzhak!
Itzhak:  Oh, excuse me! Sorry lady…me and my big mouth.  Well, pleased to meet you all.  [Nods shortly; exits to kitchen.]
Rabbi: Be of comfort, Lusia.  As you can see, we have all types here—the radical, the conservative, the orthodox, the unorthodox.  It is a little world of or own making.  And we pray that the Allied armies will soon break through. 
Maury: We all work together in our little shtetl.
Rabbi: Maury is the arranger, the resident goniff. Who makes thing work, run smooth.  He is also a mimic.  Mimic someone, Maury.
Maury: [Mimics the rabbi] And speaking of Service, Sabbath begins every Friday at sundown.
Rabbi: [Applauding] Bravo…better even than myself.  Maury is also a distinguished actor…
Maury: Ready and willing to perform…[in the following rendition, his voice changes from high to low, to thundering, to a whisper as suits the role]…comedy, tragedy, tragical-comedy, drama, melodrama, farce, farcical-comedy, farcical-tragedy…
Rabbi: [Interrupting] …and a fine actor he is. Many times I have seen and heard him in the great classic roles of the Jewish theatre.
Maury: [Bows] You are too kind, Rabbi.
Rabbi: Play a short scene for us now, Maury, let’s say—a scene from the Dybbuk.   
Maury: Ah, the Dybbuk.
Rabbi: Come out, my friends—all of you. [All the occupants of the house enter] We are going to have a scene from the Dybbuk. 
Maury: What scene would you like? 
Rabbi: The scene where Rabbi Azrael casts out the Dybbuk from Leah, the beautiful maiden. The Dybbuk is a wandering spirit of a dead boy who loves Leah. When the Dybbuk speaks, it is the voice of the dead boy. Maury, I’ll be the Dybbuk. I know most of the lines.
Dolek: I know the lines, too—most of them anyway!
Sharon: We—Dolek and I--must have seen The Dybbuk a dozen times.
Maury: First, we set the scene.  The minyan of ten elders is gathered. The black candles are lit, and Rabbi Asrael and the elders are dressed in shrouds…
Rabbi: …the altar is covered with a black cloth. Now Rabbi Asrael speaks!
Maury: [Striking a pose.] It is clear that One of the Great Power stands beside him.
Rabbi: [in a half-whisper] He means that a special demon is supporting The Dybbuk.
Maury:  [Raising his arms in imperious command] Rise up, O Lord, and let Thine enemies be scattered before Thee, as smoke is dispersed so let them be scattered…sinful and obstinate soul, with the power of Almighty God and with the sanction of the Holy Scriptures, I, Asrael ben Hadassah, do with these words rend asunder every cord that binds you to the world of living creatures and to the body and soul of the maiden Leah, daughter of Channah…
Rabbi: [As the Dybbuk, he shrieks so loudly as to startle everyone.] Ah! I am lost!
Maury: [Pointing to the front door] Not so loud!
Rabbi: [As himself] Sorry.
Maury: [Again as Rabbi ben Asrael] I pronounce you excommunicate from all Israel…
Rabbi: [As the Dybbuk] Alas, I can fight no more…
Maury: Do you submit?
Rabbi: [In a dead voice] I submit.
Maury: Do you promise to depart of your own free will from the body of the maiden Leah, daughter of Channah, and never return?
Rabbi: I promise!  [As the Rabbi again] And so the Dybbuk is cast out from the body of the beautiful maiden, Leah.  Do I hear applause for Maury?
[All applaud quietly.]
Maury: And applause for you, Rabbi!  [Maury and the Rabbi take their bows.]
Now! Feodor, the Fiddler.  Come forth. 
   A few bars of a muted fiddle are heard offstage playing the early notes of Hava Nagila. Feodor enters. 
Maury:  Feodor! Mute your violin! Now, let us dance—quietly!
   Those who can assemble into dance formation, and dance the Hava Nagila to the muted tones of Feodor’s violin.   Normally a boisterous dance, they move like ghosts.   


Hava nagila

Let's rejoice
Hava nagila

Let's rejoice
Hava nagila ve-nismeḥa

Let's rejoice and  be happy

Hava neranenah

Let's sing
Hava neranenah

Let's sing
Hava neranenah ve-nismeḥa

Let's sing and be happy


Uru, uru aḥim!

Awake, awake, brothers!
Uru aḥim be-lev sameaḥ

Awake brothers with a happy heart

(repeat line four times)

Uru aḥim, uru aḥim!

Awake, brothers, awake, brothers!
Be-lev sameaḥ

With a happy heart

The stage slowly darkens as they sing, and the sound fades out, ending Episode Two

    Now you’ve met the main characters of the little community, who are huddled for protection in the house of Albert Wachter. There are more, of course: Maury said “almost a dozen.” Let them be unnamed for now. 

In the next episode, you will meet Albert Wachter who will bring a ball for Genia as well as a supply of food for all. Also, look forward to Interval Two, which will be published Monday, October 29.  There you will read background information about circumstances that led to refugee status of the people you have met, as well as a film review, and a link to a very special short film. And, don’t forget to check into the A Ball for Genia Facebook pages where you are requested to tell what you think about the play, and of course, your reaction to The Holocaust. Also don’t forget to send us an email, if you like, at geniaball*at* where you can express your comments about the play. 

And for your help in enhancing the goal of Holocaust Remembrance, Thank you!

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