Voyage by Dugout or The Play of the Film of the War
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Voyage by Dugout or The Play of the Film of the War
Translated by Scott Abbott

Voyage by Dugout premiered June 9, 1999 at the Burgtheater, Vienna, directed by Claus Peymann.

Dedicated to the memory of the Catalan journalist Josep Palau Balletbó (and to the theatre as a free medium)

Mistakes by others that highlight equivalent errors of our own precipitate a moral disappointment that permits us to assume the strict and noble stance of both judge and victim and gives rise to an inner state of moral euphoria. This euphoria distances us swiftly and surely from the process of personal moral perfection and makes of us terrible and merciless and even bloodthirsty judges.

Ivo Andrić,, Signs by the Wayside

It is . . . a subtlety that requires discernment and that must permeate the whole; it is extremely important because it alone separates poetic and historical discourse.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Serbian Songs

Da selo sa selom pase. (One village should share pastures with the other.)

King Dušan's Book of Law, ∫72, Fourteenth Century

Characters

  • JOHN O'HARA, American film director

  • LUIS MACHADO, Spanish film director

  • AN ANNOUNCER

  • A TOURIST GUIDE

  • A WOODSMAN or VAGABOND

  • A CHRONICLER or VILLAGE NEIGHBOR

  • AN HISTORIAN

  • A BEAUTY QUEEN or BEAR SKIN WOMAN

  • THREE INTERNATIONALS or MOUNTAIN BIKERS (two men, one woman) [End Page 61]

  • A PRISONER or MADMAN

  • A MAN BLOWN IN WITH THE SNOW or A GREEK or AN EX-JOURNALIST

  • A POET (from another film, with CHILDREN, DOG, and DONKEY)

  • A PHILANTHROPIST (international, silent)

  • A PRESIDENT or WINNER (silhouette)

  • SEVERAL NATIVES and INDETERMINATE CHARACTERS (double and triple roles)

The story takes place about a decade after the last war for the time being. The stage directions are not necessarily stage directions.

The stage is the dining room of a large provincial hotel somewhere deep in the innermost Balkans. Absent the tables, some set, some not, the spacious, open hall might well be the waiting room of a train station. There are no doors to the invisible but nonetheless discernible hotel: reception, foyer, hint of a forecourt. The only wall is the backdrop to one side, somewhat distant, remote: the kitchen wall, with two swinging doors, one for delivering food from the kitchen, the other for clearing up; in each of the doors a kind of porthole with frosted glass. The portholes glow, the only brightness in the room; and in the kitchen, which appears to be as large as the dining room, there seems to be something underway. In the restaurant, on stage, as the play begins, the lights now rise, excessively bright lights, exceeding the normal brightness in a hotel reception hall (not to mention the normal lighting of a provincial Balkan hotel). Here and there between the bright chandeliers, spotlights are switched on, some of them hanging, some on stands, for a film, or rather for screen tests. In the center of the now brilliantly lit hall, the spots illuminate a platform, a full dozen steps from the two swinging doors to one side upstage. On the platform, the musical instruments, microphones, etc. are being quickly removed or shoved to the side: making room. Just as quickly, one of the dining tables is cleared to act as a desk or work space, a couple of other tables are pushed aside: making room here too; the restaurant chairs at the table are replaced by two "director's chairs" with names across the respective backs: LUIS MACHADO and JOHN O'HARA. One part of the wall farthest upstage has been replaced by a huge plastic tarpaulin with the imprint of international organizations (U.N.Q.R., E.F.T.A., U.E.F.A., or whatever), donated to the war-damaged hotel; the tarpaulin moves from time to time, but allows no glimpse outside; in front of the tarpaulin, the only decoration in the hall, an evergreen shrub topped by a child...


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