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Poetry by Rachel A. Gold

Distraction

Drew Hurley

Distraction is a one act play incorporating original dialogue written by Drew Hurley with adapted material from the following sources: Miguel de Unamuno, The Tragic Sense Of Life; Miguel Cervantes, Don Quixote; Aldous Huxley, The Devils of Loudon; Nikos Kazanzakis, Zorba The Greek; Martin Luther King, Jr., I Have A Dream; Jean-Francois Steiner, Treblinka; Dale Wasserman, The Man From La Mancha; and Jean Anouilh, The Lark.

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Cast of Characters

Miguel de Unamuno -- tragic humanist; Philosopher & Narrator

Herbert Floss -- the organized Man; Concentration Camp Director

Sancho Panza -- realistic materialist; Don Quixote’s companion & friend

Alexis Zorba -- dynamic humanist; Greek heroic archetype

Sewerman -- skeptical realist; confidant of Urbain Grandier

Don Quixote -- unrealistic idealist; Cervantes’ hero

Boss -- rational doubter; Zorba’s overly cautious friend

Martin Luther King, Jr. -- idealistic activist; he bettered peoples lives

Urbain Grandier -- theological idealist; he found God

Joan D’Arc -- the follower of dreams; a woman willing to die for right

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Setting of the stage:
There are five basic scenes in which this play takes place. They will be spaced in a roughly semi-circular fashion around the stage. The narrator, Miguel de Unamuno, will walk from scene to scene to introduce each vignette.

Each small set will be individually lit by spotlights, or torpedo lights, exclusively, and each set must have its own direct and individual lighting because there will be times when all of the lights will be on. Each basic set is remarkably simple. Herbert Floss requires only a blackboard and some chalk. The background for the Don Quixote/Sancho Panza should be a large “blow up” picture of a Spanish windmill. They will also need a chair and a garden hoe as props. The Martin Luther King set requires a large “blow up” picture of the “Lincoln in his seat” picture from the Lincoln Memorial. His only prop will be a Bible. The Zorba the Greek/Boss set requires a large “blow up” of a fishing village scene, a row boat and a fishing net. The scene for Grandier and the sewerman requires a bit more. The sewerman must appear to be standing in a sewer (although he will actually be sitting or kneeling in a paper mache mock-up of a sewer entrance -- without a steel grid -- which should also show a sidewalk and gutter). Behind the mock up, there should be a “blow up” photo of the entrance to a Cathedral. The sewerman should have a small shovel and the priest should be wearing clerical garb and holding a set of rosary beads.

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Curtain Rises

Stage Directions:
The stage stands, seemingly bare, the curtain open and completely dark. There are no props or objects to be seen from the audience -- all stage effects are masked by the darkness, as are the characters awaiting in their respective places. They will be illuminated by spot lights (or torpedo lights) at the appropriate time.

Unamuno:
(A male figure enters the stage from the rear. He walks slowly, yet methodically to the front of the stage. As he takes each step the spot light focused on him gradually becomes brighter. The actor is wearing a conservative blue pin striped suit. The actor is of a nondescript age -- being at least 40, yet not senile or showing any signs of old age. The actor walks all the way to the very front of the stage, clasps his hands together, and begins to speak:) Ah, Good evening my friends, good evening. My name is Miguel de Unamuno, and I am your host for tonight. I hope that you will enjoy our discussion this evening, for I brought some friends to share their views regarding this matter of reality.

Let us begin by introducing the gentlemen who will be talking with you tonight.

Over here we have Sancho Panza, the side kick and friend of Don Quixote. Sancho the materialist; the realist. (A spotlight focuses slightly left of center stage to reveal a short, stocky, somewhat sloppily dressed 25-35 year old man of swarthy complexion wearing baggy pantaloons of 16th century Spanish styling. Sancho looks about the audience, as if trying to spot a friend; he seems to recognize someone and offers a timid wave, then with his hand over his mouth, stifles a giggle. After which, Unamuno speaks:) Thank you, Sancho. (To this, Sancho bows to the audience but remains silent. The light goes out.)

Next we have Alexis Zorba, the humanist. The hero of Nikos Kazanzakis’s famous novel, Zorba The Greek. Ladies and gentlemen, Zorba, the man. (The spotlight to the right center of the stage focuses on a tall thin man with a robust physique and a dark tan. He is wearing soiled white trousers with no shirt. Draped over his shoulder, he is carrying a fishing net and standing beside a row boat. When introduced, he looks to the audience and tips the Greek sailor’s hat he is wearing. He say nothing. The light goes out.)

Over here we have a sewerman. A man so debased and humiliated by having to work in the sewers of a major French city everyday that this degradation has given him an unholy elevation from which to view, and scorn mankind. He is a man that history forgot; we can no longer remember his name. He is a cynic, a skeptical realist. (On the right side of the stage we see a fairly young, extremely intense man from his mid-torso up -- he is wearing a very dirty, torn shirt -- the rest of his body appears to be hidden in the pit he is supposedly standing in. When the spotlight focuses on him, he scowls and waves a clenched fist at the audience, but says nothing. The light goes out.)

Here we have a man by the name of Herbert Floss. Herr Floss is a businessman, indeed, an expert on the affairs of commercial enterprise and efficiency. He is the epitome of the organized man. (On the left side of the stage, the light comes on to reveal a very average looking, middle aged man wearing a contemporary business suit. He visibly smiles at his introduction and gives a nod that is almost a 1/4 bow. He says nothing and the light goes out.)

Next we have Don Quixote, the hero of Miguel Cervantes’ famous novel, which, as it so happened, was the first novel ever written. It was a revolutionary new form of writing about a revolutionary character: the unrealistic idealist. (A thin and haggard looking man stands in the same spot Sancho had been earlier. He is wearing a breast-plate and helmet and holds a sword in his hand. He looks extremely intense, as if he were a tightly wound spring ready to explode, or attack. Yet when introduced, he manages only a clumsy curtsy. He says nothing. The light fades out.)

Here we have the employer of Alexis Zorba. We know him only as “Boss.” But, that is sufficient, except to note, that he is a very troubled man; a man who doubts everything. (In the spotlight where we had previously seen Zorba, there now appears a young man in his twenties. He is nicely dressed in white pants, a blue blazer and a nautical captains’ hat. “Boss” is resting his foot on the bow of a row boat and he is leaning on his raised knee, with his chin in his hand. He briefly takes his chin from his hand and looks about the audience, but quickly returns it to his original position. He shows no signs of recognition. He says nothing. The light goes out.)

Now we find Urbain Grandier, the theological idealist. A man who found God, and thereby became the last man to die for heresy during the inquisition of the middle ages. He was the priest of the city of Loudon, in the year 1610. (Standing in front of the Cathedral door, as if just having come out, is a young, very handsome man dressed in a Priest’s robes and holding rosary beads in his hands. He looks about the audience and gives a light nod. He says nothing. The light goes out.)

Our last guest tonight is very special: he has most recently joined us. We hope that some of you still remember him: Martin Luther King, Jr., a man with a dream. (A medium sized, stocky black man stands firmly on two well planted feet, looking upward -- as toward heaven -- with his eyes open, holding a Bible in his hands. He is wearing a contemporary suit and show no indication that he is aware the audience exists. The trance-like state of his prayer is not broken. He is silent. The light goes out.)

Well. That concludes these brief introductions, except for myself, Miguel de Unamuno. I am a philosopher of twentieth century man, and his realities. That is why I have been selected to host our panel tonight.

So. Let us begin. The topic that has brought us all together on this forum is reality. I suggest that we begin by talking about our dreams. The first type of dream we shall consider is the “dulcinea.” This is such a lovely word that is used to describe a fantasy or illusion of great beauty, or of great clarity. It is an elaborate and complex mirage. Gentlemen...? (The Light fades out on Unamuno and on for Don Quixote and Sancho Panza.)

Quixote:
(Don Quixote is standing squarely facing the audience. He puts his hand above his eyes and scans the horizon. He is clearly on the look out as Sancho sits slightly behind him, and to his left side polishing Don Quixote’s sword. Don Quixote, drops his hand to his side and speaks.) To each his dulcinea
that he alone can name,
to each a secret hiding place
where he can find that haunting face (puts his hands to his face)
to light his secret flame.
To each his dulcinea
beside him so to stand,
a man can do quite anything:
out fly the bird upon the wing (flaps his arms)
hold moonlight in his hand. (holds his hands in a cupped fashion)

Sancho:
Yet if you build your life on dreams (he sets the sword aside)
it is prudent to recall (stands)
a man with moonlight in his hands (cups his hands together)
has nothing there at all. (he pulls his hands apart, dangling his fingers)
There is no dulcinea,
she’s made of flame and air.

Quixote:
And yet how lovely life would seem (with sadness)
if every many could weave a dream
to keep him from despair.
To each his dulcinea (with a little more enthusiasm)
though she’s only flame and air.
(The light on Don Quixote and Sancho slowly fades out as the light returns on Unamuno.)

Unamuno:
What is a dream? What is that flash of light, that vision, that fleeting glimpse of God which enables a man to live his life -- a man?! A dream defies definition -- we let sensations and impulses slip through our finger-tips as we try to use words to describe them (he cups his hands, then pulls his fingers apart). A dream must be felt with all of the body and all of the soul; with the blood, with the marrow of the bones, with the heart, with the lungs, with the belly, (he respectively touches his heart, lungs, and belly) with the whole LIFE! (with conviction!)

One must marry a great and pure idea, and beget children by it. (He is slightly subdued, but with conviction.) One must be willing to commit one’s self to it, to live by it, and die for it. Only then can it become the essential ingredient of human life.

(The light slowly fades out on Unamuno and returns on Don Quixote and Sancho Panza. Don Quixote is standing facing Sancho’s back; as Sancho’s back is squarely facing the audience. Sancho appears to be working with a hoe.)

Quixote:
(Excitedly.) Sancho, I found you!

Sancho:
(Turning to face Don Quixote) Found me, my Lord? I’ve been here all my life.

Quixote:
I need you for my squire in my adventures as a Knight Errant. I have become a Knight to serve God and redress all manner of wrongs. With you, my horse, and my armor, I will go out in search of adventures, following in my way the practice of Knights Errant.

Sancho:
Errant in what? What are you talking about?

Quixote:
(Pretentiously) It is the custom among Knights Errant to grant their squires wealth, to make them governors of isles or kingdoms they have won.

Sancho:
Humphf. (This is a snort. The he pauses before addressing the audience directly) This sounds good, if it is for real. But, I think this man is crazy -- you know, ‘loco en la cabaza!’

Quixote:
Think Sancho, (very pointedly stated) with me, you can gain all the things you want: wealth, possessions, kingdoms. Everything you desire!

Sancho:
You are offering me, Sancho Panza (looking directly at Don Quixote, he then points to his own chest), wealth and riches?

Quixote:
(Firmly) Yes, Sancho.

Sancho:
(Addressing the audience) He is crazy! But, he is also serious. I will put up with this madness, this foolishness, long enough to get my riches. This may be for real.

Quixote:
You’re coming, then?

Sancho:
Well, yes. But....

Quixote:
(He hands Sancho his sword) Take care of my things, then. Off we go. We must begin our quest for adventure, right now.

(The two of them take a few short steps in silence)

(Suddenly, Don Quixote stops and points toward their backdrop “blow up” of the Spanish windmill/s) Look over there, friend Sancho Panza, where more than thirty monstrous giants appear. I intend to do battle with each of them and take all their lives.

Sancho:
What giants?

Quixote:
Those you see there, with their long arms extended.

Sancho:
Take care, you worship. Those things over there are not giants, but windmills.

Quixote:
It is quite clear that you are not experienced in this matter of adventures. Hand me my lance (Sancho quickly hands him his sword, Don Quixote points it at the windmill), let us be off!

Charge! (Quixote takes a could of quick steps and the light quickly cuts off.)

Unamuno:
(Speaking in the darkness, after a very brief pause) The man of flesh and bone; the man who is born, suffers, and dies -- above all, who dies; the man who eats and drinks, plays and sleeps, thinks and wills; the man who is seen and heard; the brother, the real brother.

(The light comes on to reveal Zorba standing in front to the row boat, with the fishing net in his hands. Boss is standing on the other side of the boat with his foot perched on the bow.)

Zorba:
That’s me -- Alexis Zorba! I have other names, if you are interested.

Boss:
What other work do you do?

Zorba:
I got hands, feet, head. Who the hell am I to choose! They do the job. To work, I am you man. Any work. But, in things like playing, and dancing, and singing. I am my own. I am free.

Boss:
Well, ugh, are you married then?

Zorba:
Is a man not stupid? I am a man. So, I’m married -- wife, children, house, the full catastrophe.

(A muffled howl id heard off stage -- from Joan D’Arc.)

Boss:
(Looking puzzled) Catastrophe? Well, do you not love women?

Zorba:
How can I not love them? Poor weak creatures, and they give you all they’ve got. I must love them. Listen, God has a very big heart, but there is one sin he will not forgive: if a woman calls a man to her bed, and he will not go.

Joan:
(From off stage) Ohh!!! (Almost a howl) I protest!! This is outrageous! (She enters from the side and approaches Unamuno) Miguel, do you intend to let him get away with a Chauvinistic crack like that? Besides, this whole discussion has dealt exclusively with men talking about men.

Unamuno:
Joan, what a pleasant surprise! (Speaking sincerely) Would you please join us?

Joan:
(Slightly more subdued) Are you asking me to stay?

Unamuno:
Of course, we’d be delighted, and honored, to have the esteemed Joan D’Arc join our discussion. Please, come join me.

Joan:
Well, all right. (She joins at center stage front) But, I still don’t like Zorba’s quip, and all this other man this and man that stuff.

Unamuno:
Well, it seems to me that we have been using the term MAN as a generic form of the word mankind. Man, in this sense, also means woman.

Joan:
Perhaps you need to make that point more clearly.

Unamuno:
Indeed. I see what you mean. Henceforth, we shall certainly try to make that point more clearly. As to the intent of Mr. Zorba; Alexis, would you care to answer Joan’s question?

Zorba:
I would. I meant no insult. Believe me, I dearly love women. I merely believe that a woman has the right to refuse a man, but a man does not have the right to refuse a woman.

Joan:
Why is that Mr. Zorba? It seems to me that you are using an unjust standard. I see no reason why a man should not have the right to refuse a lady’s invitation.

Zorba:
I would like to agree; and in an ideal world I would agree with you. However, Women have be discriminated against in society for so long -- and for which they bear all of the consequences -- it seems to me, they deserve this privilege.

Joan:
(With a hint of sarcasm and humor) Such a mixed privilege that is. I would prefer to merely end the discrimination. In any event, you would not be too likely to refuse such an invitation, would you, Mr. Zorba?

Zorba:
No. I would not refuse such an invitation -- but not because of some foolish sense of duty -- because it would a great honor and a true privilege.

Joan:
(With sarcasm) Oh, that is very nice.

Zorba:
(Overlooking the sarcasm, he bows slightly) My pleasure.

Unamuno:
(Speaking to Joan) From Alexis’ cultural perspective, his views are not quite so Chauvinist, after all.

Joan:
I suppose you’re right. I shouldn’t have barged in like that. I would like for you all to continue.

Unamuno:
Don’t be too sorry. You were quite right about one point: we were assuming that everyone realized that women were a part of Mankind. That was a significant oversight. Please stay, for the rest of our discussions.

Joan:
All right, I will.

Unamuno:
(Speaking to Zorba and Boss) Alexis, Boss, are you ready to continue?

Boss:
I’m quite willing.

Zorba:
Sure.

Boss:
In this case, I was about to tell Zorba that I, like you (gesturing toward Joan) have had a great deal of trouble trying to understand him.

Zorba:
As far as Joan is concerned, I think that we had a simple misunderstanding. Now that we have explained the issue, we each now understand, and respect, the other better for this exchange. I am tempted to use the old cliché: ‘no harm has been done.’ But, in truth, we have both profited more than that line implies. Indeed, much good has been done.

(Turning to face Boss) But, with you, Boss, the situation is different. You try to analyze everything. And not just once; but over, and over, and over again. You think too much. That is your trouble. Clever people, and grocers, they weigh everything too much.

Boss:
But, there is so much that I do not understand, and it is such agony to try.

Zorba:
Life is trouble, only death is not. To be alive is to undo your belt and go looking for trouble. Boss, I like you too much not to say it. You’ve got everything -- except one thing: madness! A man need a little madness, or else....

Boss:
Or else?

Zorba:
(Speaking firmly) Or else, a person never dares to cut the rope and be free.

Joan:
(Speaking in darkness) True. So, true!

Unamuno:
(Also in the darkness) The scene is Washington, D.C., August 28, 1963, at the Lincoln Memorial.

King:
(The spotlight quickly focuses on King) Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise (lifting his hands slowly) from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quick-sands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. (Letting his hands fall) Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children.

There will be neither rest nor tranquillity in America until the Negro is granted his full citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until that bright day of justice emerges.

There are those who are asking the devotees of Civil Rights, ‘When will you be satisfied?’ But, we can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities.

We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their selfhood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating: ‘for white only.’ We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and the Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote.

No, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like the water, and righteousness like a mighty stream.

(Brief pause.)

Now, I say to you today, my friends, even though we face the difficulties of today, and tomorrow; I still have a dream. I have a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be Self-evident, that all men are created equal.”

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of the people’s injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.

This is our hope. This is the faith that I will go back to the South with. With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair, a stone of hope.

I have dream.

(There is a brief pause as the light goes out on King and comes back on Unamuno.)

Unamuno:
God creates with his word -- that is to say, with his thought. Man creates with his dream -- and by this, creates all that exists, We do not need a dream to teach us the truth of things, or the beauty of them, or in order to safeguard morality by the means of a system of penalties and punishments, but in order to save us that we may not die utterly. But, this is a bitter redemption: for all is pain and agony. And good is that which satisfies our vital longings. Evil is that which does not.

(The light goes off on Unamuno and comes on for Herbert Floss.)

Floss:
We, at Treblinka, have had a major industrial problem. The responsibilities for which have been delegated to myself, Herbert Floss.

As an organized man, (he picks up a stick of chalk from the tray on blackboard, and turns slightly so that he can still see the audience and write on the board at the same time) I have divided the task into its major component parts: combustion proper, and fuel (he prints “C O M B .” in big letters on one side of the board and “F U E L” on the other side); this second part was further divided into two parts: extraction and carrying and loading (he draws two short lines below ‘FUEL’ and prints “E X T .” by one and “C & L” by the other, then turns squarely to face the audience). As combustion was limited only by the number of fires, which could be increased at will, the rate of production would therefore depend upon the efficiency of extraction, and carrying and loading.

We began increasing production slowly. As a first innovation, the excavators would extract the units and set them in a pile outside the ditch, where the prisoners would find and transport them to the fires at a ration of two prisoners per unit. Then I noticed that it was difficult for the three excavators to put their loads in the same place, and that the prisoners were crowded for room. So I divided the prisoners into three teams, each of which served one machine: progress (he emphatically points his index finger upward). But, a bottleneck soon occurred at the fires. The number of fires was increased to three: progress (an even more emphatic gesture with his finger). But, then a new problem developed: below a certain level, the units extracted were dismembered and the prisoners transported them in pieces, a leg under one arm and a torso under the other. As a result, they transported much less. To remedy this, we re-enlisted the litters that had been used to carry the bodies from the gas chambers to the ditches: progress (This time he raises several fingers upward). But it happened that limbs fell off along the way, during the transfer, which was done at a run. So the litters were then modified; the canvas was replaced by crates: progress (a less emphatic gesture, this time) Then it was observed that the rails were sagging under the effects of the heat. Consequently, new supporting pillars were constructed within the enclosure: progress (he pumps a clenched fist into the air).

We have now increase production tremendously. Today we burned two thousand bodies. This is good, but we must not stop here. We will set ourselves an objective and devote all our efforts to reaching it. Tomorrow we will do three thousand, and the day after tomorrow four thousand, then five thousand, then six thousand, and so until ten thousand bodies. Every day we will force ourselves to increase our output by one thousand units. Men of Treblinka, I count on you to help me. We will make Treblinka the best, the most efficient, Jew Encampment in all of the Third Reich, where progress is our most important product (He clicks his heels together and snaps to a full, straight-armed Nazi salute, and hold it). Seig, Heil! (The light rapidly fades out with Floss still holding his salute.)

Unamuno:
(The light finds Unamuno with his head bowed, and shaking his head sadly from side to side. He speaks softly, but clearly:) Let us restrain this fierceness, this fury, this ambition, in case some time we dream again. And dream we will for we are in so odd a world that just to live is to dream. For, the ultimate reality of man is determined by what each man want to be. And, what is life? A madness. What is life? An illusion, a shadow, a story. And the greatest good is little enough: for all life is a dream, and dreams themselves are only dreams.

(The light cuts out on Unamuno and turns on the sewerman standing in his sewer, stooped over as if working. Grandier walks into view, up either a ramp or steps to the sidewalk behind the sewerman. Grandier is now holding a bouquet of flowers.)

Sewerman:
Why, whatever is this?

Grandier:
Flowers? I must have picket them somewhere. I can’t remember. Here, you have them. (He hand the flowers to the sewerman.)

Sewerman:
Thank you (he takes the flowers, and sniffs them). They smell sweet. (With sarcasm) Very suitable.

Grandier:
Sewerman, may I sit with you?

Sewerman:
Or course. I’ve no sin to confess this morning, though. (With a cutting edge of sarcasm) Sorry....

Grandier:
(Kneeling next the sewerman) Let me look at you.

Sewerman:
(With self-contempt) Do you like what you see?

Grandier:
(With sincere warmth) Very much.

Sewerman:
What’s happened? You’re drunk with mystery.

Grandier:
(Speaking in a very distant voice) I’ve been out of town. An old man was dying. I sat there with him for two nights and a day. I was seeing death for the hundredth time. It was an obscene struggle. It always is. Once again a senile, foolish and sinful old man had left it rather late to come to terms (he voice slow grows closer in sound). He held my hand so tightly I couldn’t move (he wrenches his hands at the memory). His grimy face stared up at me in blank surprise at what was happening to him. So I sat there in the rancid smell of the kitchen, while in the darkness the family argued in whispers, between weeping, about how much money they would find under his bed.

He was dirty and old, and not very bright. And I loved him so much (with growing empathy in his voice), for he was standing on the threshold of everlasting life. I wanted him to turn his face to God and not peer back longingly at this mere preliminary. I said to him (with real passion): be glad. Be glad. (Much more softly, now) But he did not understand.

His spirit weakened at dawn. It could not mount another day. There were cries of alarm from the family. I took out the necessary properties. All the vulgar little sins were confessed, absolved, and the man could die at last. He did so. Brutally hold on to the end. I spoke my usual words to the family, with my Priest’s face in place (he gestures toward his face and suddenly looks very solemn). My duty was done.

But I could not forget my love for the man.

I cam out of the house. I was tired, but I heard Saint Peter’s bell in the distance. I decided to walk back, and air myself after the death cell.

The road was dusty. Ah (showing a spark of recognition and enthusiasm), I remember the day I first came here. I was wearing new shoes. They had gotten white with the dust from the road. Do you know, I flicked them over with my stole, before being received by the Bishop. I was so vain and foolish, then. Ambitious, too.

I walked on. There were men working in the fields, and they called to me. And I remember how I loved to work with my hands (with tears of joy and sadness). But how my father said it was so unsuitable for one of my birth.

I walked over the crest of that small hill, just outside of town and I could see my church in the distance. Suddenly, I was so proud (quickly), but in a humble way. I thought of my love for the beauty of this not very beautify place. And I remembered night in the church, with the gold, lit by the candlelight, against the darkness.

I thought of you. I remembered you as a friend.

I rested. The country lazily stretched out before me. Do you know where the rivers join, on the edge of town? That’s where I was. I made love there once.

Children came past me. Yes, of course, that’s where I got the flowers. I didn’t pick them. They were given to me. The children gave me the flowers.

I watched the children go. They went hopping and skipping and singing merrily down the road. Yes, and I was so very tired. But, I could see far beyond the point my eyes could see. There were castles, valleys, mountains, oceans, plains, forests -- and -- (Gasps!)

And then -- my son, my son -- and then -- I want to tell you....

Sewerman:
Do so. Be calm.

Grandier:
My son, I (gasps!) -- am I mad?

Sewerman:
No. Quite sane.

Tell me. What did you do?

Grandier:
I created God!

I created him from the light and the air (gaining speed, rapidly), from the dust of the road, from the sweat of my hands, from gold, from filth, from the memory of women’s faces, from great rivers, from children, from the works of man, from the past, the present, the future, and the unknown. I caused him to be from fear and despair. I gathered in everything into this mighty act, all I have ever known, seen and experienced; my vanity, my love, my hate, my lust. And, at last I gave myself, and so made God! (progressively slower, and with more assurance) And he was magnificent. For he is all these things.

I was utterly in his presence (he leans forward, as if praying on his knees). I knelt by the side of the road. I took out the bread and the wine, and worshipped him in communion. And in this understanding, he gave himself humbly and faithfully to me, as I had given myself to him.

(There is a pregnant moment of silence.)

Sewerman:
You’ve found peace.

Grandier:
More. I’ve found meaning.

Sewerman:
That makes me happy.

Grandier:
And, my son, I have found reason.

Sewerman:
And that is sanity!

(After a very short pause, the light fades out on Grandier and the sewerman and turns on for Unamuno.)

Unamuno:
A dream, an ideal, is necessary for life. It is not enough, however, to give life to Don Quixote. We must also give life to Sancho. His faith is even more admirable than his master’s, because it is more beset by doubt. Sancho is an indissoluble half of Don Quixote.

Now, the conventional view of the idealism of the master and the realism -- one might say, materialism -- of Sancho, does not obscure, that as Cervantes’s book unfolds, Sancho gradually become Quixotic. To be sure, he becomes so unconsciously, and never claims to be more than his master’s shadow. But, by the end of the book, he proves that he has completely assimilated Don Quixote’s spirit, and his Quixotism is even more pure than his master’s.

In the final analysis, it is Don Quixote who has corrupted the purity of his own faith through an excessive pride in is own self-confidence, whereas Sancho, so full of common sense and so timid in his courage, never once jeopardizes the true Quixotic faith. Sancho’s faith is of the right kind; it is not faith in himself, but in his master -- who seems to him to be the incarnation of an ideal.

(There is a small pause as the light fades out on Unamuno and slowly brightens on Don Quixote and Sancho Panza. The scene begins with Don Quixote sitting on a chair, staring off absently toward the wings, with his back turned toward Sancho who begins plaintively addressing him:)

Sancho:
Don’t you know me?

Quixote:
Should I?

Sancho:
I am Sancho.

Quixote:
I am sorry. I do not recall anyone by that name.

Sancho:
Please, my Lord!

Quixote:
Why do you say, ‘My Lord?’ I am not a lord.

Sancho:
But you are, my Lord. My Lord, Don Quixote.

Quixote:
You must forgive me. I have been ill. I have become easily confused by shadows. It is possible that I once knew you, but do not remember?

Sancho:
Please! Try to remember!

Quixote:
Sancho:
It is everything! My whole life. You made me your squire, and everything was -- different!

Quixote:
Different?

Sancho:
Your spoke of your dream, and how you must follow your quest!

Quixote:
Quest?

Sancho:
Yes! About how you must fight, and it doesn’t matter whether you win or lose, if only you follow your quest!

Quixote:
The words. Tell me the words!

Sancho:
To dream the impossible dream -- but they’re your own words!

To fight the unbeatable foe -- Don’t you remember?

To bear with unbearable sorrow -- You must remember!

To run where the brave dare not go ----

Quixote:
To right the unrightable wrong,

Yes.

Quixote:
To love, pure and chaste, from afar,

Sancho:
Yes! (Clasping his hands together as if offering a prayer)

Quixote:
To try when your arms are too weary,

To reach the unreachable star (he struggles to his feet).

Sancho:
Thank you, my lord!

My Lord, you are not well! (Concerned)

Quixote:
Not well! What is sickness to the body of a Knight Errant? What matter wounds? For each time he falls, he shall rise again -- and woe to the wicked! Friend Sancho?

Sancho:
Yes, your Grace!

Quixote:
My armor! My sword!

Sancho:
More mis-adventures!?!

Quixote:
More ADVENTURES, old friend!

Oh the trumpets of glory now call me to ride, Yes, the trumpets are calling to me, and wherever I ride, ever staunch at my side, my squire and my friend shall be ...

I am I, Don Quixote....

Floss:
Stop! Stop!! (All spotlights come on, and stay on) Stop!!! (Speaking to Unamuno) You must stop this drivel. It is absolute madness. All of you are crazy. I don’t know what the hell I’m doing here. But, you can’t get away with it. I will not let you deceive these poor people (pointing toward the audience).

Life is simply not like that. It is not flowers and wine, peace and harmony, forever amen. And, believe me, love does not make the world go ‘round. I’ll tell what does: it’s money. Money: that is what this world is all about.

Listen, do you think there would be a single government left on earth a year from now if everyone on the face of the planet refused to pay any more taxes? There is no way!

All that power and glory is built upon the foundation of tax dollars paid into the government coffers by tax payers everywhere. If everyone suddenly stopped paying up when the tax man barked, those power hungry bastards would have to pack up their bags and go home. But, of course, this plan would only work if everyone -- all over the world, quite at the same time -- stopped paying their taxes. Otherwise, if it were just a few people doing it, the politicians would put them in jail and throw away the key. But they simply could not jail everyone in the whole country. And, of course, people in all countries have to stop their payments at the same time, or some countries would have more money and manpower and they would be able to just walk over the rest of the world....

Unamuno:
Mr. Floss, you interrupted our presentation to talk about money? I really am at a loss as to how to deal with this. We were talking about reality, and you brought up money, which is one of the most abstract, constantly changing and whimsical apparitions afflicting men. Please, what is the point of this interruption?

Floss:
The point is this: you are misleading the public. All this crap about dreams and reality is just going to mess up the minds of most people. Life isn’t like that. If you want to help people deal with the real problems of the world, you ought to tell them: kiss every rich ass you can, trade-off or collect every favor you can. Lie, cheat, steal, just get hold of -- and save -- every god-damn penny you can get you fucking hands on. Rich is where it is at!

Unamuno:
And if they do all of these things, what will it get them?

Floss:
Success! Power! Wealth!

Joan:
And what good are they?

Floss:
(Incredulously) What good? God-damn. That’s what life is all about. Success! Wealth is power. Power is success. Success is what most men live for; or ought to.

King:
Surely you jest?

Floss:
Listen, that is a hard, cruel world out there. It is kill or be killed. The rich and the powerful just fare a little better than the rest of us because they can afford to buy the insurance to keep from being killed.

Joan:
Killed? Who was talking about war? We were talking about life.

Floss:
Surely you, of all people, understand war. It is a jungle. All life is the same way: survival of the fittest.

Joan:
I know war better than that. Fitness had nothing to do with it. It is determination, desire and the motivation to pay whatever honorable price is necessary in order to bring victory: that is what winds wars. Fitness; no. The indestructible desire for freedom and the will to make a contribution to mankind -- even in one’s own death -- that is what wins wars. I know.

Floss:
Well, perhaps things have changed since your time. In my war, it was kill or be killed.

Zorba:
Kill or be killed? Were all of those people in your concentration camp threatening to kill you?

Floss:
Well, not me personally. But they were a threat to the whole nation. They were killing Germany!

Sewerman:
Come now! I know my life’s work. I am an expert on sewers and what flows in them. That last statement was pure, unadulterated shit. There was not a single Jew in all of Germany that was in anyway remotely a threat to Germany or its national security.

Floss:
But Zionism was....

Grandier:
Zionism was not treat to Germany. In fact, it only became a serious social movement as a consequence of what was done to them by the Nazis. In fact, had it existed earlier and their been an alternative homeland, you could have easily packed them off to their new ‘Fatherland.’ Instead, it looks like all you really wanted was a flimsy excuse to take away someone else’s money and property so that you could claim it for yourself.

Sancho:
They did more than just take some money away from a few folks. Remember, there is a big difference between robbery and murder. An awful lot of people were murdered.

Unamuno:
That is quite true, Sancho. And, Mr. Floss, as an expert on the subject, would you please tell us the reasons why you so systematically murdered so many hundreds of thousands of people?

Floss:
They were Jews.

Unamuno:
They were people.

Floss:
Don’t you understand, we were at war!

Unamuno:
But these were you own citizens. And one certainly doesn’t treat one’s prisoners of war in such a brutal fashion.

Floss:
Look. If you are at war, you’ve got to do everything you possibly can to win. That means silencing all internal opposition and going all out to win.

King:
You could not have found some constructive use for all of those people?

(Shaking his head in despair) No, I guess you couldn’t have....

Joan:
Don’t you see, Herbert, you only chance for victory was to have all of the German people -- including its Jewish citizens -- fighting and contributing to the same great national cause.

Floss:
But they were opposed to the principle of Aryan Supremacy. They would have undermined the war effort.

Grandier:
They were opposed to stupidity, that is true. If anything, their opposition to Aryan Supremacy should have told you that this was a severely flawed concept. Suppose for a moment that Hitler had come up with a better, a more homogenous philosophy that ALL Germans could have supported, think of how much more successful your war effort would have been.

Unamuno:
I suppose that we could speculate all night about what would have happened if this or that had been different. But, I would like to point out that there is a major logical fallacy in Herbert’s reasoning. Even if he is correct in assuming that the Jewish citizens were opposed to Hitler’s notions of Aryan Supremacy, there is no evidence to support the contention that they would have undermined the war effort. If anything, this paranoia on the part of the Nazi leaders indicates how far out of touch with reality they really were. Which leads me to my next question:

We’ve seen what happened when you lost the war. Could you please tell us what you would have expected to gain, had you won?

Floss:
Gain?! (Incredulously) The whole world. We would have ruled the whole world!

Zorba:
You can’t possibly think, not even for one single moment, that you, or any of the Nazis, could rule the entire world, with it’s diversity of peoples and cultures. You are the one who is crazy!

Grandier:
Alexis is right. It is not the ruling that was important to you and the Nazis, it was the conquering. Your whole political, economic and social system was designed for one purpose: waging war. And you didn’t even do that well. None of you were the least bit concerned with governing.

It is not that you, or the others, wanted to wisely control the affairs of state. If that had been the case, there would have never been a war. All that can be won with military might can also be obtained diplomatically, with far less expense and far greater ease. The compulsion to wage war is little more than the machinations of an adolescent fantasy to ‘prove one’s manhood’ run wild -- to its most bizarre extreme. Tell me, Mr. Floss, did you, like Hitler and Napoleon, suffer from gross feelings of insecurity and self-doubt?

Floss:
It wasn’t like that, really. I was just a soldier doing my job.

Quixote:
We know better than that. The orders you received were extremely vague, and only authorized you to ‘take care of’ trouble makers. There was no order for the mass murders you initiated. ‘Take care of,’ is tremendously ambiguous, but it requires real madness to use that as the justification for the murder to millions of people.

Unamuno:
There is another point that is important here, also. Emile Durkheim has reminded us that a man cannot commit any act just because he is ordered to do so. In order for a human being to commit and behavior -- however good or bad -- he must believe that his behavior is either right, or at the very least, desirable. Tell us, Mr. Floss, why did you order the murder of all of those people?

Floss:
(Visibly shaken) Well, our resources were getting low. The war was going badly and food supplies were shrinking. If we eliminated the food consumed by the prisoners, there would be that much more for the soldiers.

Unamuno:
Did you ever consider putting the prisoners to work in the factories, growing food or processing your materials and supplies?

Floss:
(Weakly, now) No. I never thought of that.

Unamuno:
But you did, personally, take charge of supervising the execution of numerous prisoners?

Floss:
Certainly. (With subdued pride) Such a horrendous task. I could not delegate the responsibility to a lesser officer.

Joan:
(Bitingly) And you could not delegate the responsibility of personally taking an automatic rife and shooting down prisoners, yourself? How many times?

Floss:
You know about those times, huh?

Unamuno:
We all know. And we know how “big” and man-like it made you feel. Tell me, do you now think that money can give you the same feelings of “Machismo” and power?

Floss:
No. (Meekly at first, but with increasing strength) No, it’s not the same, but it does feel good.

Grandier:
Good!!! How dare you speak of good. You don’t know the meaning of the word!!!

Unamuno:
Urbain! Let’s not be too harsh.

Grandier:
Not be too harsh?! It is precisely because of people like Herbert Floss that Martin (pointing to King) and I were murdered. Don’t I have the right...?

Unamuno:
NO! You have not such right. You could have fought back, and you know it. Martin could have, too. Both of you decided on your own form of death by choosing to cling to your principles and values. You knew what you were getting into long before DeCerisay came to arrest you, and even then you chose to follow the dictates of your conscience rather than take the easy course of expediency that D’armagnoc and DeCerisay wanted you to follow, when they could have helped you most easily. No. You made it impossible for them to save you by upholding your honor and personal integrity.

Grandier:
You are right, of course. And Martin could have changed his destiny, too.

King:
No, I couldn’t. I could no more have turned my back on all that I hold precious and dear, than you could.

Unamuno:
As a philosopher, I must point out, Reverend King, the word you really want is “wouldn’t.” That is you would not change. There is a significant difference between “would not change” and “could not change.”

King:
I hate to quibble about words, Miguel, but you ought to know me better than that by now. When I say “could not change,” that is exactly what I meant. The choice to change was no longer mine once that initial commitment was made. At that point, I could make no other choice. What was it you said a little earlier about, “marry a great and pure idea, beget children by it, live by it, die for it?”

Unamuno:
Touché. But, in a way that is precisely the point. Because, you really did have a choice. Among them was a particularly hideous option. You, with your power of oratory and rhetoric, could have easily mobilized Black Americans as skillfully, and as quickly, as Hitler mobilized white Germans; and they would have done anything you asked them to. You could have been a Black American Hitler, but you rejected that option so fast, so quickly out of hand, that -- to your great credit -- you never saw it as a real choice.

King:
When the choice is between the glory, grandeur and prosperity of my people through peaceful progress, or the violent death and destruction of a whole nation for the sake of one man’s ego, that is no choice.

Floss:
But it is not as simple as all of that.

Unamuno:
Isn’t it?

Floss:
(Emphatically) No!

King:
After all this time, you still can’t see it, can you, Herbert?

Floss:
See what?

Zorba:
Life is simple, damn it! Very simple!

Joan:
Alexis, he’s not likely to believe that. Remember, he couldn’t even see how his blind lust for power turned him into a mechanical monster of murder. He hasn’t even realized that from this day forward, the entire world will recognize him for these maniacal deeds. What a life...

King:
Well said, Joan. That is the crucial point: what is the purpose of life? Surely it is something more than to merely die -- if that were the case, we’d all commit suicide as quickly, and early in life, as we possibly could. No. There is more to it than that. What, though? Herbert, what is your purpose for going on?

Floss:
Power. Glory. Wealth.

Joan:
It power and wealth are so great, why is it that those who have them always seem to want constantly more? Can it be that these things do not really fill the soul?

Grandier:
Amen.

Unamuno:
And Glory is not something that can be achieved directly. One cannot aspire to glory, it is only ascribed by others upon the accomplish of some tremendous effort or major achievement. It is the by-product of greatness.

Floss:
Well, what else is there?

Grandier:
Many things. But, of course, the one that is most important is the hardest to find because most people never think to look for it at all: happiness.

King:
You see, Herbert, happiness is like glory -- it is not something that you acquire. There is only one place that you can find happiness: deep inside your soul. Once you find it, it teams up with your conscience and takes control of your life. From that moment on, your destiny is marked for greatness, whatever you decide to do.

Zorba:
Martin, don’t make it sound so dramatic and stuffy. Let me tell you simply: Do what makes you feel good. Happiness is exactly what it is cracked up to be. Right, Don Quixote?

Quixote:
Absolutely.

Floss:
Do you really expect me to believe anything that crazy idiot believes?

Quixote:
No. You may believe anything you choose. That is the beauty of life. I am free to search for my adventures and follow my quest, and you can live your own fantasies and illusions.

Floss:
Am I supposed to just accept your jousting with windmills and challenging dragons....

Sancho:
Why not? You accepted Hitler’s insanities easily enough.

Sewerman:
OK. That’s it. I’ve had enough. You are all crazy. Can’t you see it? Man has a flaw in his character: greed. Floss is just a flawed man. You can’t rationally expect him to see his own weaknesses.

Unamuno:
You see it though, don’t you? We all do. So, why shouldn’t he? Those who make a point of finding specks of dust in the eyes of others can ill afford to overlook the boulders in their own.

Floss:
What makes you think that greed is a flaw? It may just have enabled man to survive this long.

Grandier:
His survival this long has occurred in spite of greed, not because of it.

Sewerman:
And I don’t believe that he can survive very much longer with it. The way I see it, with every man fighting for himself it is really every man fighting against every other man. The problems of the twenty-first century are going to be so horrendous that mankind’s only hope will be to join together and solve these problems. Even then, I’m not sure they can make it. Right now, it looks like they’ve only got a snowball’s chance in hell.

Grandier:
Or a sparrow’s chance in your sewer? Tell me, songbird, how did you make it?

Sewerman:
Now, Father, that wasn’t fair.

Grandier:
Was it fair for you to doomsay mankind so harshly?

Zorba:
Remember, we do keep fighting back, don’t we?

Unamuno:
Gentlemen and lady, we have wandered well off the topic of tonight’s presentation, shall we get back to it?

Joan:
But we have settled nothing?

Grandier:
Oh? What should we settle?

Boss:
Well, don’t we need to make a definitive statement to smash Floss and his kind forever?

Floss:
(He makes a pointed accusation) You are picking on me!

Zorba:
Boss didn’t mean anything personal by that, Herbert. He was referring primarily to the way you think, and define reality. Your person is no threatened.

Floss:
I don’t buy that. First, it is “smash my kind forever,” and now it is “nothing personal.” I think you are all ganging up on me.

Unamuno:
Doesn’t that last statement strike you as being “odd.” We are, collectively, the most peaceful and non-violent souls who have ever walked on the face of the earth. Herbert, please reign-in your paranoia. No one here would lift a finger against you. However, we really are concerned with those images in your mind and the processes of perception which you use to transform reality into a fantasy, and your nightmares into reality.

Floss:
You are all crazy! Every single one of you is out of your mind. I’m going to get out of here.

Boss:
Where would you go?

Floss:
Back to my office at the plant. The running of the machinery calms my nerves.

Zorba:
Why must you always treat men like machines and the machines like men?

Floss:
You are not men, you are lunatics!

Sancho:
Lunatics that you wish you could turn off with the flick of a switch?

Floss:
(He throws up his hands in exasperation) What is the Use?!

Quixote:
I’ll tell you what, why don’t you call in some of your friends and see if they can convince us, or we can convince them?

Sewerman:
Sure! (Scornfully) Who will he call? Hitler? Goebbels? Goering? Himmler? That crew couldn’t come up with one lucid constructive thought between them.

King:
True, but that’s not the point. Maybe they’d give Herbert some moral support. The fact that they cannot think except in terms of physical and violent excesses should only serve to underscore all that we have been saying.

Unamuno:
Exactly, Reverend King, exactly. That is why we’d welcome whoever Mr. Floss invited to join him. The truth is so simple that it is tragic that he can’t see it: we all have a different reality that is unique to each of us. We are different from him only in one fundamental and significant way: We each have continually -- and constantly -- dedicated our “Reality” to the enhancement of our fellow men; he, to their destruction and shame.

Yes, Mr. Floss, we are all crazy. Some labor under powerful fantasies and delusions, but all men suffer the same fate. What distinguishes us is only the matter of degree that we are controlled by our delusions. In the long run there is only one important distinction between all men. Has you noted: All men quest for glory. Some men would seek it through the destruction, humiliation, and degradation of other men. Those, like us, seek to find it in the help, service, and enlightenment of others. There is no doubt which profits mankind more.

It seems that fate has played a trick on you, Herbert. You sought out glory, and all you found was the cold hollow light of infamy and notoriety. Glory is so illusive and fickle that it can never be found by looking for it. Rather, it comes, quite of its own accord, only to those who try to bestow it upon others.

Joan:
That is true, but it gets overlooked everyday. We tend to think about it only in time of war or major catastrophe. But, everyday, men and women, determine the importance -- and the glory -- of their lives with everything they do, and say, and think, and everything they do not say, and do not do, and do not think. This is how we shape the future of the world -- and the glory that such a world brings to all men and women.

It is so simple that most people never see it. The way you do what you do -- whether you are a sewerman or a Priest (gestures towards Grandier and the sewerman), a junk collector or a soldier (gestures towards Don Quixote and Sancho Panza), doesn’t matter at all. It is HOW you do it that matters. So, as long as you act honorably and live you life with dignity, nothing else matters at all.

Unamuno:
Exactly. That is the point to life, isn’t it?

Boss:
All of that is well and good but, what are we going to do with Mr. Floss, now?

Unamuno:
Do with him? Nothing.

Boss:
But you know what he has done.

Unamuno:
Certainly. We all do. Indeed, now, EVERYONE DOES. But, we can do nothing more to him. Herbert has to live with that knowledge for the rest of eternity. What could we do to him that would be of comparable punishment?

Boss:
We just let him go?

King:
And with out blessing. He, too, is a brother.

Boss:
That’s it? Just like that? Can’t be do or say anything more?

Unamuno:
There is nothing more we can do. And what more can we say? Every man, and woman, has their separate reality. It is as simple as that. Each of us must hear what our soul has to say. Nothing more. Every man, and every woman, has got to hear it for himself, or herself.

If we restrain Herbert Floss in any way, then are we not as guilty as he?

Boss:
But we haven’t killed anybody?!

Unamuno:
It is a violation of the spirit. Shall we argue about the degree of its violation?

Boss:
No. But, can’t we do something to help others?

Unamuno:
Of course, and that is exactly what we are doing. If you want a man to be able to think independently you cannot spoon feed him someone else’s answers. You can only challenge him to consider more and different phenomena as deeply as he can.

In Herbert’s case, he sought only the approval and glory of Hitler, Himmler and Goebbels -- which he almost obtained -- while earning the condemnation and disgust of the rest of the world.

That point has been made abundantly clear, this evening.

Quixote:
Perhaps all too well. I don’t think we could possibly get back to the program we prepared for tonight.

Sewerman:
Does it matter?

Unamuno:
I guess not.

Boss:
Do you mean that we should just get up and walk off?

Zorba:
Why not? I have an invitation to a party that I want to attend.

Joan:
Always the celebration of life, heh, Zorba?

Zorba:
Absolutely! Would you care to join me?

Joan:
I might, at that. Thank you.

Sancho:
Before we call this evening off completely, I would like to point out some of the major and substantial changes I went through because of my association with this man, Don Quixote.

Floss:
Some changes! (Very scornfully) And you, a grown man!

Sancho:
Listen! (He is very huffy) I went by my own choice. And, besides, I loved every minute of it.

King:
And that is the point, isn’t it? We all, always, go by our own choice. The question is, how much do we really love our choice, and thereby find happiness?

And, as to the question of history: when it comes to examining the lives of Herbert Floss and Sancho Panza, there can be no doubt as to who will be regarded as the comic prince, and who will be seen as the tragic buffoon.

Unamuno:
Exactly, Mr. King. Exactly.

And with this I conclude -- high time I did, at that -- for the present, at any rate, these essays on the tragic sense of life in men and in peoples, or, at least, in myself -- who am a man -- and in the soul of my people, has it is reflected in mine.

I hope that some time while our tragedy is till playing, in some interval between the acts, that you and I shall meet again. And that we shall recognize one another. And, forgive men if I have troubled you more that needful or inevitable, more that I intended to do when I proposed to distract you for a white from your distractions.

(Loudly) AND MAY GOD DENY YOU PEACE, BUT GIVE YOU GLORY!

(Softly) And may God deny you peace, and give you glory!

.

(As Unamuno turns and walks off stage to the right, all of the other characters follow him off except Herbert Floss, who exists to the left, alone.

After a respectful pause for the applause, all of the actors may return to the stage for their bows.)

.

.



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Tuesday, 04-May-2010 14:47:44 EDT