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Songs of the Half-Dead (Dramatic Scenes from Risorgimento Episodes) Alberto Savinio Translated by Christopher Bourseillerand Kathy Trageser Characters: The Bald Man; The Yellow Man; Daisyssina; The Mother of Pierre (The Yellow Man); Wrought-Iron Men; Two Angels ...; A Mad King; The Hit-Men; A Boy; Statues; A Voice. Set and costumes by the author. THE EPISODE Before the curtain rises, a gunshot, a scream, silence ... The curtain rises. A red place. A wall. A house with a single window, revealing a burning candle in a silver chandelier. Total night, but the sky is blue. The Bald Man is lying on the ground. Some armed Hit-Men are situated on either side of the wall. (The position of their hearts is indicated by painted red hearts.) Some black Wrought-Iron Men pass by, crawling along the length of the wall as they grunt. A continuous rumbling of a drum can be heard. Rolling in contortions and twisted by horrible stomach cramps, the Wrought-Iron Men cover the Bald Man with a heavy coat. Buckling at the knees and moaning, they exit. 89 I Suddenly the Bald Man's arm throws off the blanket. He holds a lamp that gives off a blinding light. A horrible sound of linens tearing is heard. Immediately the rolling of drums ceases. Silence. A VOICE: (From a megaphone.) Finally, Monsieur Burnes, will you reveal to which port the "Santa Barbara" is headed? Sailors' song. The song of deliverance. Sound of unlatched springs. The Hit-Men stretch out their iron arms. Then, rigidly, they perform Swedish gymnastics. (Curtain.) TOWER SCENE The set has two levels. The upper level: a tapering bedroom at the top of a tower. It appears to be the inside of a ship. Two windows, like portholes, open to the cold, hard sky. Skylights. Scarlet carpet. A black drapery divides the room. In the background, a cumbersome bed like a platform is concealed by some curtains . The lower level: the interior of the tower. A stone staircase. Near the ground, a square entry through which can be seen the masts of a schooner. In the center, the equestrian statue of a king. There are a few other statues around. Large inactive machines-with wheels and pistons. Through the portholes enter Two Lost Angels. They meet in the middle of the bedroom, where they kneel like the guardians of the tomb. A door opens behind the drapery. The Angels wail softly. Daisyssina enters, followed by the Yellow Man who, pushed by the invisible god of love, walks ecstatically. Daisyssina opens the bedroom curtains and sees the Bald Man, who jumps behind the wallhanging. Daisyssina stretches out on the bed. The Yellow Man emits a howl. THE YELLOW MAN: (Running in circles.) Death! Death! Gentle, scorching, fresh. As a child, I used to be haunted by the nightmare of innocence. Ah! The marvelous bed. I sleep. My heart is flowing away. My soul, a tube of crystal, slips between my fingers. Turn, turn, turn spiral. The axis of the spinning top runs through my body. All the hoops have closed upon themselves. There, the center, the red mark attracts like a magnet ... The bones have dissolved, I am nothing but blood. 90 THE BALD MAN: (Hidden.) Here is a man who imagines himself dying because he is assaulted by voluptuousness. THE YELLOW MAN: (In a terrible cry.) Daisyssina! The Yellow Man collapses on the bed. The Bald Man closes the curtains. Darkness. Moaning. Cries of pain. From the outside comes a burst of noisy military music. An artillery salute. The Bald Man quickly descends the stairs, carrying a lamp. Not a sound comes from the bed. Silence. Knocking at the door. A sob. Holding a candle, a Small Boy in a nightshirt enters. With the bottom of his slipper, he crushes a spider that was crawling on the wall. Trembling, he watches the squashed beast moving an antenna. A siren sounds. A VOICE: (Offstage.) Genova! Genova! The Bald Man climbs up the stairs. The Mother of the Yellow Man follows. When they reach the bedroom, the Bald Man draws the curtains and discovers the Yellow Man and Daisyssina asleep. The Bald Man gives the Mother...


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pp. 89-94
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