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  • The Imperialists at the Club Cave Canem
  • Charles L. Mee

When we decided to publish The Imperialists at the Club Cave Canem, the first question was: Which version? The first production was performed at HOME for Contemporary Theatre and Art and the Joseph Papp Public Theatre in 1988. When we did it again at the Market Theatre in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 2001 the dramaturg, Kathy White, and I had to update some of the names and references. This is the updated version.

The "original" (1988) script called for broken Greek columns and a Julian Schnabel installation. I didn't follow those stage directions; all the scenes took place in and around a bed. This worked well because it highlighted (with its expectations of intimacy) the many disconnects between the characters. My father has since changed the stage directions to read: "A couple in bed." So he has recorded what worked in a particular production. This script also calls for "A violin solo with tape" because that's what Guy Yarden, who composed music for the first production, did. At the Market Theatre, the band Neptune rocked out on instruments made from discarded industrial waste. The music was fabulous—but it was not a violin solo with tape. Directors and designers should not stick to the stage directions religiously; they should feel free to reconceive The Imperialists in a way that makes sense to them. "I write stage directions, and then everyone ignores them," my father says—with equal amounts of resignation, pride, pleasure, and disappointment.

—Erin B. Mee


(The monologue Rindecella:)

Rindecella was a grittylittle pearlwho lived in a wottage in the coodswith her two suglyister s and her sticked wetmother.

Now her sticked wetmother made Rindecella doall the wurtydirk around the houselike pining the shots and shans.(Wasn't that a shirtydame?) [End Page 105]

Well, one daythe ping issued a kroclamation:he said, "myson the pransom hince wants all the giligible earlsto come to the palace for a drancyfess ball."

Well, of course, the suglyister s had drancy fessesbut Rindecella onlyhad the wurty dags she worked in.So along came the gairyfodmother , and wouched her with her tand,and turned the wurtydags into a drancy fess,

and the hice into morses, and the cumpkins into a poach.

And said, "go to the palace and dance with the pransom hince all night long,but be sure and be home by the moke of stridnight."

So Rindecella went to the palace and danced with the pransom hince all night long,but at the moke of stridnight, she ran down the stalace peps,and at the stottom pep, she slopped her dripper.

The next day, the ping issued another kroclamation:he said, "my son the pransom hince wants all the giligible earlsto sly on the tripper."Well, of course, when the two suglyister s slied on the tripperit fidn't dit.

But when Rindecella slied on the tripper,it fid dit.

And Rindecella and the pransom hince mot garriedand hived lappilye ver after.


(A violin solo with voice tape.)


(A couple in bed.)



Did you hear about this two-ton guy?


Two tons?


About two tons, something like that, you know, like 240 pounds, five feet four, who didn't want to admit he was fat and so he wore clothes several sizes too small for him. He had a 44-inch waist but he wore pants size 38, and he choked himself to death on his shirt collar. One minute he was eating spaghetti with his fork and the next minute he was on the floor gasping for breath, and his shirt was so tight no one could get it unbuttoned. He died with a forkful of spaghetti in his hand.


I knew this guy who killed himself with his pants.


How did he do that?


He let them get so tight theychok ed off his circulation and he had a heart attack. [End Page 106]


You mean he gained weight?




A lot of weight.


A lot of weight, sure.

I don't know. I guess...


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