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A Quarterly Journal
Jeffrey Woodward, Founder & General Editor
Volume 6, Number 1, March 2012

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Charles D. Tarlton
Oakland, California, USA


Some Fragments of Lost Dialogue

1. FROM LEROI JONES (AMIRI BARAKA), DUTCHMAN, SCENE II

A black man and a white woman sit side-by-side on a NYC subway car. It could be night, it could be day, they are under the ground.

CLAY

"And I'm the great would-be poet. Yes. That's right! Poet. Some kind of bastard literature. . . all it needs is a simple knife thrust. Just let me bleed you, you loud whore, and one poem vanished. . . If Bessie Smith had killed some white people she wouldn't have needed that music. She would have talked very straight and plain about the world. No metaphors. No grunts. No wiggles in the dark of her soul."1

LULA

might have escaped
riding out on your iambic
drawn and quartered
shifting rivers of words
actions speaking louder

CLAY

some kind of tough
hard talker of brittle tunes

LULA

forbidden fruit
just about to blow your lid

[Pause.]

real-hard meets let's-pretend

CLAY

I'm having a difficult time remembering exactly where we are. Which story are we telling? I was in your fantasy of wet groping and belly grinding. To the music, one and two and. . . .

LULA

Look into my eyes! Can you see how fortuitous our meeting was? How I came on with death in my purse? Death meant for you?

CLAY

what did you say?

[Pause.]

I was trying to remember
when you came on
was I going somewhere?
where are we now, exactly?

[Pause.]

chance encounters
least expected often mean
more than just what's
planned; we skip like stones across
what first looked like our fate

LULA

you did not count
on me, for sure, no forethought
I'd be so strange
say one thing, mean another
draw you to the very edge?

You being black and all alone here on the train—what could you expect? The world easily turns against you.

[Pause.]

show me your throat
I have my knife ready
make your protests

CLAY

you'll find me iron-clad
I represent the good times

[Pause.]

Push up your belly dance, the dirty grind.

LULA

Push your heart up here against this blade.

CLAY

[Stands ceremoniously. Speaks in an aside.]

The moment freezes, the subway car stalls in a tunnel, and the lights flicker and go out. We can see tunnel walls, red lights every few yards, and the old dirty bricks in the faint light coming from the station down the way.

[Turns to LULA.]

which way to go
from here. What if each of us

LULA

turned and walked back-
wards up the aisle, made the clock
go in reverse, time the past

CLAY

throw off the out-
side forces moving time
immutable
time inexorable
grinding us to fine powder

LULA

We could go dancing like we planned, turn ourselves away from murder, purify our lusts, kiss each other's delicate hands, make wonderful promises.

CLAY

[Pause. In a dreamy voice.]

Black. . . Caucasian
euphony, a concert's
aspirations
joined, flying to the clouds
love and our sweet reason

LULA

"I've heard enough."2

 

2. FROM FEDERICO GARCÍA LORCA, THE HOUSE OF BERNARDA ALBA, ACT THREE

[Offstage, BERNARDA's voice, a hoarse disembodied whisper.]

BERNARDA

Silence! Silence! Silence!

In the dining room, BERNARDA, and her daughters. The sound of PEPE LE ROMANO's whistle is heard from outside. Although betrothed to Angustias, the oldest daughter, he is whistling for the youngest, ADELA . They have already been lovers.

ADELA

"I belong to him! Accept it! He's out there now panting like a lion.

BERNARDA

The gun, where is the gun!

[BERNARDA rushes out. A shot is heard. She comes back in.]

Find him now, if you dare."3

ADELA

death answers us
whatever the question is
silencing all
deeply examining this
crime and the punishment

BERNARDA

it will be I
who proclaims the future
lays down fiats
on regimens of purity
never a sign of weakness

Neither love nor money can persuade us to soften; there is no place on earth for sentiment, the world is rock-hard, we must turn a steely eye.

ADELA

You are just an old woman and your authority is only what is granted to you, granted by us. Your edicts stand over against our passions, our blood heated to the boiling point!

you cannot stop
me! My rapture is all youth
see my body?

[She tears open her blouse.]

all your rules are thus voided
before this body's law

BERNARDA

do you believe
honestly, that you're the first
who's recognized
the sensual, the disrobed
allurements of the Garden?

[Pause.]

all of us here
aroused in the same heat
we've stewed in it
some for longer than you've lived
don't be fooled. So cold, they say

you burn yourself
touching the long banked fires
blazing red hot
in the morning, we start up
on a soft breath, a rough touch

[There is a thud. The door to the outside opens and PEPE LE ROMANO enters. He is alive. His clothes are wet and muddy and he has been running in the darkness. ADELA rushes toward him, but BERNARDA stands in her way.]

ADELA

you can't stop me
my body's my prerogative
my heart to give!

BERNARDA

this is only a man
unfaithful as a hungry dog

ADELA

but he loves me

BERNARDA

he loves your sister's gold
but still he sniffs
coming around on the sly

ADELA

[turns to PEPE LE ROMANO.]

tell her how you love me

PEPE LE ROMANO

We have loved, in the burning moment, in the sweat and folly of a stolen morning.

[Pause.]

But, true love thrives only where there is wealth. Soft flesh and hard breaths to idle the hours, sure, there is much pleasure in that. But love, lasting love, with children and a fine house—money must be found for these things.

ADELA

But, what about your promises? You said I drove you crazy, that you couldn't stay away. You came to my window. You lured me into the corrals.

BERNARDA

now you can see
men are like the stallion
there, waiting for
the mares to be let in

[Pause.]

you even heard him panting

[ADELA rushes to seize the gun from BERNARDA. She turns and shoots PEPE LE ROMANO in the chest. He is dead immediately.]

ADELA

whoever wants
may love him now. His cold flesh
will turn fetid
dust under the pawing hooves

BERNARDA

"Silence, silence, I said. Silence."4

[ADELA runs out.]

 

3. FROM ATHOL FUGARD, MASTER HAROLD, AND THE BOYS, A PLAY IN ONE ACT

A black waiter and a white teenager in an empty restaurant in the afternoon in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. It is 1950, the year of the Group Areas Act.

SAM

"That sounds good! 'A World Without Collisions.'

HALLY

Subtitle: 'Global Politics on the Dance Floor.' No. A bit too heavy, hey? What about 'Ballroom Dancing as a Political Vision?'

[The telephone rings. SAM answers it].

SAM

Hally, it's your Mom.

HALLY

Just when you're enjoying yourself, someone or something will come along and wreck everything."5


[Pause.]

Hello? No, Mother. I wish he were dead, Mother. Honestly, I do. I would kill him before I'd let him come home.

[hangs up the phone]

SAM

how many ways are there
to die, to kill
you can keep someone in
the background, out of sight

HALLY

between pretty
worlds and the drunken filth
what would you choose?

SAM

we don't always get the chance
we are born into our worlds

HALLY

the family?
endless disappointments

SAM

into our skins

[Pause.]

better be on the last bus
or spend the night in jail

HALLY

You think it's easier in my skin? You think I wouldn't prefer to go with you at night, go to the dances, be invisible, have no rules?

SAM

put a good face
on it, think about both sides
we can live here
but you could never live there

HALLY

you could teach me to live

SAM

you're in two parts
already; the hurt part
loves everyone
the sadist down in there
lies in wait, club in hand

HALLY

You're right, I am two people, split right down the middle. This part, the part that's dancing and talking this afternoon, that's the fragile part, the baby.

there's another
knows exactly what to do
what he should think

[Pause.]

he thinks like my father
racist hard cold old Boer

[Pause.]

if he comes home
if she brings him back here
the dancer dies
in me, I'll stomp around
in farmer's boots, a cripple

SAM

He's your father and I know you love him. The split in you makes you want to hate him.

HALLY

I'm in-between right now.

[Pause.]

he stays away
then I'm half in, half out
some white, some black
it's goodbye if he returns
no more truck with the Other

SAM

So, let's just go on as if nothing was wrong. Can't we do that? We could relive our memories, stories of when we were happy, when the colors faded, black and white, to an idea of gray, or, better—silver!

dream of dancing
smooth as silk, romantic
gliding around
Count Basie in the air
better to dream than die

HALLY

if I grow up
won't I have to stop dreaming
think as I'm taught

SAM

if you can fly a kite
you can get above all this

[The telephone rings. No one goes to answer it. It keeps ringing.]

HALLY

"So much for a bloody world without collisions.

SAM

Too bad. It was on its way to being a good composition."6



Footnotes:

1. LeRoi Jones, Dutchman and The Slave (New York: William Morrow and Company, 1964), 35.
2. Ibid., 36.
3. Federico García Lorca, The House of Bernarda Alba (New York: Dramatist's Play Service, 1999), 46.
4. Ibid.,47.
5. Athol Fugard, Master Harold, and the Boys (New York: Penguin Books, 1982), 47.
6. Ibid., 50.

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