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The Winners – English translation – מיכאל גורביץ'
מחזאי ובמאי

THE WINNERS

by Michael Gurevitch and Daniel Lappin

Scene 1:  Executive Meeting

 

(Table at stage centre.  Manager at head of table, his back to audience.  The smoke of his cigar curls above his head.  Opposite him to left – Dolly, the Artistic Adviser, opposite him to right – Batya, the accountant. The chair furthest from the Manager is empty.  Hezzy and Robby enter.)

 

Hezzy:  And here, in this room, is where it all started.

Robby:  Here?

Hezzy:   The Manager sat there, with his cigar.  There, if I’m not mistaken, sat Batya, the accountant, and over there sat Dolly, the Artistic Adviser of the Theatre. They were waiting for Cherner.

Robby:  Who is this Cherner?

Hezzy:  Aryeh Cherner.  You don’t remember Cherner?

Robby:  I was a child. 

Hezzy:  Robby, he acted in this theatre for years, and in those days he was head of the actors’ committee.  That’s why he sat in on the executive meeting.  There was a major crisis.

Robby:  Waiting for Cherner.

Hezzy:  Waiting for Cherner.

Hezy:  Come, I’ll show you where we lived, near the sales office.  (Hezzy and Robby on their way out)

(Cherner enters through the hallway and seats himself in the empty chair)

Manager:  Can we start? (a brief pause) Thanks.  I won’t pretend that the meeting of Theatre Managers which took place yesterday at Habima wasn’t a difficult experience for me.  In fact, it was traumatic.  I sat there in the hall with our Artistic Director, Mooly, right?

Dooly:  Gooly

Manager:  Goory?

Dolly:  Gooly

Manager:  Gooly Ben Asheshet?

Dolly:  Mosheshet.

Manager:  Ben Mosheshet?

Dolly:  Ben Mosheshet.

Manager:  Me and names…  In any case, I am sitting there and everyone is talking about their successes.  This one five hundred performances, another seven hundred and thirty, another nine hundred.  Hits, one after another.  It’s my turn to speak…  What have I got to say?

Dolly:  Our production of “The Miser” ran more than two hundred times.

Manager:  Two years ago.  And “We The Cavalry” ran how many times?

(Pause.  Angry)

How many times?

(Pause.  Very angry)

How many times?

Batya:  Sixteen performances.

Manager:  Fifteen.

Dolly, Batya, Cherner:  Sixteen!

Manager:  Sixteen – including the free performance we gave at Dolly’s son’s bar-mitzvah because she wanted to save the cost of a magician.

               So I sit there and listen to Noam Semel and Tzipi Pinnes, Tzipi Semel and Noam Pinnes and as Begin said:  I can’t go on any longer.

               Another meeting like that… no way.  Over my dead body.  (Points towards the audience)  The next play we do, if it’s not a hit, heads will roll.  I’m not saying a thousand shows, I’m not saying eight hundred, but don’t talk to me about less than six hundred.

               Cherner:  The big question is how do we do this?

               Manager:  What do you say, Mr. Cherner, head of the actors’ committee!  The question is how do we do this.  What do I pay you salaries for?  Knock yourselves out, you and your actor friends.  I want a hit!  Understand?  That’s what I want!  They want songs, there’ll be songs.  Special effects? there’ll be special effects.  Dancers, an orchestra, Indians, Cowboys, everything.  And cheap, because money we don’t have.

      (Pause)

      Okay, ideas.  I’m listening.

      (Dolly raises her hand)

      Yes Dolly.

(Rises)

Dolly:  I happen to think that the Khan is unique because until now we didn’t look for ratings but content, quality.

Manager:  Right.  Thanks.  Batya, valium.

(Batya gives him a pill, he swallows it with water from the glass near him.)

Okay, bring in the artistic director.

(Cherner exits, Batya sits. Pause)

Manager:  What’s his name again?

Dolly:  Gooly Ben Mosheshet.

Manager:  Gooly Ben Mosheshet?

Dolly:  Gooly Ben Mosheshet.

(Pause. Manager contemplates)

Manager:  Gooly Ben Mosheshet?

Manager:  Gooly Ben Mosheshet?

Dolly:  Gooly Ben Mosheshet.

Manager:  Who is that?

Dolly:  The artistic director.

(Gooly enters, Cherner enters after him and remains standing in the corner)

Manager:  Gooly-boy, how are things going?

Gooly:  Fine.

Manager:  Listen.  We’ve reached a decision.  Our theatre has a hit.

Gooly:  We have a hit?

Manager:  Will have.

Gooly:  Which play?

Manager:  You tell us.

Gooly:  Whatcha mean?

Manager:  What have we got in our repertoire that you think can turn into a phenomenal success?

Gooly:  Well, we have “Makhinel”.

Manager:  The play with the murderess? That begins at the end and finishes with the black priest and an execution.  Some recipe for success!  Maybe you can suggest something else?

Gooly:  “Life is a Dream”.

Manager:  Nonsense, who says?

Gooly:  That’s the name of the play.

Manager:  Yes, yes, I know.  What else?

Gooly:  “Summer”

Manager:  The play with the mice?

Gooly:  The cats.

Manager: (To Dolly and Batya) They’re cats!  (To Gooly) I was misled…

Never mind.  Listen Ben Mosheshet.  With this kind of repertoire neither you, nor I, nor the theatre will get very far.  Do you understand me?  (Repeats last as Gooly answers.)

Gooly:  It’s a very high quality and unique repertoire…

Manager:  Quality again?!  I want a hit.

Batya:  May I?

Manager:  Yes.

(Batya stands)

Batya:  I heard that at the National Theatre they did a play based on the songs of Tzvi Pik with Yael Bar Zohar and Amir Fay Gutman.

Manager:  So?

Batya:  Well, when the audience knows the characters it gives the whole show a push.  And in our theatre the actors are anonymous.

Manager:  So…

Batya:  Maybe we can do a dramatic epic on the life of Yael Bar Zohar, on her love affair with Yehuda Levy and so on and have two or three stars who will also draw crowds.

Manager:  Like who?

Batya:  In the role of Yael Bar Zohar we could have, for example, Ninette Tayib and for Yehuda Levy, Yehuda Sa’ado.  Or else we could do a play on the life of Ninette and her affair with Yehuda Levy with Yael Bar Zohar as Ninette and Yehuda Sa’ado as Yehuda Levy.

Manager:  You know how much these guys cost? Who can pay them?  Have you any idea how much a Yehuda Sa’ado costs?  What is he, Cherner?  Give up your annual salary and maybe we can get him for a month.

Batya:  I think we could explain to him what a difficult situation the theatre is in…

Manager:  Okay, I’ll tell you what to do.  Go knock yourself out and find a way to get the money so we can give our artistic adviser a budget for an attractive production.  In a few hours we should have the results of the survey…

Gooly:  What survey?

Manager:  You don’t know that we’ve done a survey?

Gooly:  I didn’t hear anything about a survey.

Manager:  Finally we’re starting to use progressive techniques in this theatre.  A first rate American expert is conducting a survey for us to find out what the audience wants.

Gooly:  To tell you the truth…

Manager:  What?

Gooly:  We’re working on a play right now and I have the feeling, tu tu tu, I don’t want to jinx anything, touch wood…

(bangs on the table three times, everyone joins him with various gestures to ward off evil)

Everyone:  Tu tu tu…

Gooly:  That if all goes well…

Manager: yeees…

Gooly:  It can really take off.

Everyone:  (banging three times on the table) Tu tu tu.

Manager:  What’s it about?

Gooly:  Allow me…  The play takes place in Moscow.

Manager:  Moscow?

Gooly:  Like old times…

(As he speaks, Batya, Dolly and Cherner clear the stage; other actors prepare the next scene)

 

 

 

SCENE TWO:  TOMORROW’S NEWSPAPER   

 

              (Moscow. Clinic.  The doctor, Dr. Poznick, accompanies a patient out.  They are speaking Russian.)

               Patient:  Spasiba, doctor.  Spasiba vom bolshoya zeh passiv.  (Thanks doctor.  I appreciate everything you have done for me.)

      Dr. Poznick:  Paslayadushi nidyelya (next week).

      Patient:  Vesryadushi vafiyat.  Ya bodo zayis vesryado robena vafiyat.  Spasiba vom bolshoya (on Wednesday at five.  I’ll be here on Wednesday at five.  Thank you very much.)

      (Patient exits)

      Dr. Poznick: Maria, gazyato. (Maria, the newspaper.)

      Gooly:  In a moment Maria will enter.  She is a nurse in the clinic who works with the doctor.

      (Maria the nurse enters.  She is about 20 and holding a newspaper.  She hands it to the doctor.)

      Manager:  Nice.  (Cell phone rings)  Hello.  (exits)

      (Poznick seats himself, opens the newspaper and begins reading.  Maria exits.)

      Poznick:  Maria!

      (Maria enters)

      Look what it says here!

      (Reads from the paper.)

      “A week after the death of General Anton Poppa, his wife has begun to raise funds for his memorial.”

      Maria:  And so?

      Poznick:  Don’t you notice something strange?

      Maria:  No.

      Poznick:  General Anton Poppa…  What’s the name of the patient due here at four forty five, in less (looks at his watch) than two seconds?

      Maria:  General Anton Poppa.  Dear God…  He died!

      Poznick:  When do you suppose he died?

      Maria:  It says in the newspaper…  A week after his death… so, a week ago.

      Poznick:  But he made the appointment this morning.

      Maria: (realizing) Right!!!

      Poznick:  Interesting. (The doorbell rings.  Brief pause)

      Four forty five.  Open the door, Maria my dear.

      (Maria goes out to open the door, Poznick reads the paper.) April ninth, how strange.

      (General Poppa enters, Maria behind him)

      Poppa:  My dear Dr Poznick!

      (They shake hands)

      Poznick:  How are you General Poppa?

      Poppa:  Excellent.  Never been better.  I’ve come for a routine examination.

      Poznick:  Please come in.  I’ll join you momentarily.

      (The general steps out) Maria, please look at the date on the newspaper.

      (Maria comes close.  He points at the top of the page.)

      Maria:  April ninth two thousand and six.

      Poznick:  And what is the date today?

      Maria:  April second?!  (brief pause) How…

      Poznick:  This is next week’s newspaper.

      (The general enters)

      Poppa:  I beg your pardon, Dr. Poznick, I promised my wife to return promptly.  We have tickets for the Bolshoi.

      Poznick:  Yes, yes, here I am

               (exits)

      Maria (song)

      What the future holds I cannot know,

      But my heart does whisper and overflow,

      It trembles, it tosses to and fro,

      Tells me something is about to occur.

      Is it from fire to water that I go,

      Or from water to fire – I cannot know.

      Only my heart I hear to and fro,

      Tells me something is about to occur.

      (Poznick enters)

      Poznick:  Good Lord in heaven.

      Maria:  What happened Dr. Poznick?

      Poznick:  He’s dead.  General Anton Poppa died.

      (Music. Lights out)

 

 

 

                                    SCENE THREE:  THE SURVEY

 

      Gooly:  (in the dark) What happened?  Who turned off the light?

      (Light goes on over the Manager and Gooly. The Manager sits in armchair on set clutching his head in despair.)

      Manager:  I did.  (brief pause)  What do you think you’re doing Ben Mosheshet?!

      Gooly:  (confused) What am I doing?

      Manager:  You’re leading us straight to hell.

      Gooly:  But…

      Manager:  What is this supposed to be?

      Gooly:  What?

      Manager:  In the first scene a general dies?

      Gooly:  What’s wrong?

      Manager:  What is this, a parable?

      Gooly:  Not a parable…

      Manager:  And in Moscow?! You’re alienating the audience.  Why Moscow? What do you need Moscow for?

      Gooly:  What’s wrong with Moscow?  The Hebrew theatre started in Moscow.  We have a history there…

      (Batya enters holding a portfolio, followed by Dolly and Cherner.)

      Batya:  The survey is here.

      Dolly:  The survey has arrived.

      (Batya gives the portfolio to the Manager who looks inside.)

      A delivery boy just brought it in.  They’re so organized, those Americans.

      Manager:  Just as I said.  In fact, exactly as I said.  See?  This is an American expert, not me, who does surveys for Broadway.

      Batya:  The survey was carried out among most of our subscribers, plus workers committees in large companies, as well as in smaller companies, high-school students from grade nine up, teachers, nursery school teachers, special education teachers, members of the regular army, heads of community centres and subscribers to the Culture Centre.

      Gooly:  The Culture Centre has subscribers?

      Manager:  The Culture Centre in Kfar Saba.

      Gooly:  Kfar Saba has a Culture Centre?

      Manager:  Like the Culture Centre in Tel-Aviv, just a little closer to Kalkilya.  In any case, the results are clearcut.

      Gooly:  (pale and trembling) Yeah?

      (brief pause)

      Manager:  Audiences want an original play.  Something that takes place in Israel. (Gestures towards the audience)  People want to see themselves on the stage, Gourry…

      Dolly:  Gooly.

      Manager:  …to see events relevant to their own lives.  Hebrew holidays, tradition, roots, folklore.  You know as well as I do:  Salah Shabati was a hit, The Sephardi Orchard – a hit.  You did a play with cats – I had to ask my sister to come with the kids so there would be people in the audience.  Now the national theatre is putting on the mythical film (to Dolly) what’s the name?

      Dolly:  Gooly Ben Mosheshet.

      Manager:  The film!!

      Dolly:  “The Army Ensemble”

      Manager:  The Army Ensemble.  A phenomenal success, a winner.  And they are reviving themselves at Habimah.  Once they had Hanna Rovina, now they have Shiri Maimon.  Once there was Meskin, now there is Bukie.

      Dolly:  Mukie.

      Manager:  And you, you’re stuck in Moscow!  What are you doing in Moscow?!

      (brief pause)

      I want to give you some advice, Ben Mosheshet – TAKE IT OR LOVE IT.

      Gooly:  Okay.

      Manager:  A musical on beautiful Israel, eh?  With dances, songs, like we used to have.  Love of the homeland.  Give it to them, Ben Mosheshet, give it to them.  Believe me.  Do you remember Godik?

      Gooly:  I was a little boy.

      Manager:  I was a line dancer for him in “I Like (tries to recall) well…

      Dolly:  Mike.

      Manager:  (points to the pianist and sings) To the health of our nation, our nation, our nation, how good that this is our nation (everyone joins in the song except Gooly)… Remember?

      Gooly:  I was a little boy.

 

      SONG ON THE BEAUTIFUL LAND OF ISRAEL

 

      Manager:  Listen Moully…

      Dolly:  Gooly…

      Manager:  Gourry…Hear and believe!

      Your cat plays you must finally leave!

      Abandon your Seinfeld…

      Dolly:  Shakespeare…

      Manager:  What’s the difference!

      Give us Israel, give us relevance!

 

      Manager:  Show them the Zionists from far and near,

    How they built malls and shops on the swamps here.

      Last Shabbat we went to the nearest mall,

      The crowds, the throngs, we could hardly crawl.

 

      Chorus (everyone):  Oh what malls, oh what shops,

     

All so huge with parking lots,

      Where else are malls like this,

      So beautiful and Zionist,

      There is no other nation like this,

      With joyful pastimes like this.

 

      Batya:  We need to show the positive too,

      How backs against the wall we fought and still do,

      Manager:  We wiped out Yassin, bumped off Dirani,

      But despite it all – humane we remain.

 

      Batya and Dolly:  This is a brainy nation, pal, and bold,

      Which can’t be fooled and can’t be sold.

      Cherner:  (True, for example…)  I went to Kalkilya to fix a wheel,

      Got a rock in the head – but what a deal.

 

      Chorus:  What a nation, what a nation,

      Oh so smart, all jubilation,

      Oh so clever and so sane,

      So Zionist and so humane.

      No other nation is like this,

      With a character like this.

 

      Dolly:  We need an airport scene I say…

      Manager and Cherner:  Packed there at dawn like before a holiday.

      Dolly:  I was in New York, Paris, Milano,

      I was in Shanghai, Brussels, Lugano,

      All:  And there is no duty free packed like ours, oh!

 

      Chorus:  Oh what a what a duty free,

      All so new, all so healthee,

      Oh how good in the duty free,

      Lovely and Zionist to a tee.

      There is no other nation like this.

      No other with a duty free like this.

 

      Gooly:  (Sings over the Chorus):

      There is dramatic potential for a fine production, indeed,

      A scene at the airport, I feel oh I feel that’s what we need.

 

      Gooly and Chorus:  A fine production indeed.

      The challenge I undertake.

      Manager (joins):  And real, not fake,

      Full of joy and real,

      Manager:  The Zionist ideal.

 

All (Gooly’s Chorus):  In our duty free Havana cigars are always on sale,

Electronics and French perfume for a dollar, all for less than retail.

 

All (join Gooly in final lines):

There is no other nation like this

That has a duty free like this.

 

Oh what malls, oh what shops,

All so huge with parking lots,

Where else are there such shops.

 

This wondrous nation, without delay

Deserves a first-rate play.

 

Dolly:  I know him, he has an idea.

Manager:  Genius. (cell phone rings)

Dolly and Batya:  Sshh

Gooly:  Second scene.

Manager:  Hello.

Gooly:  A week later…

Manager:  I know you opened the sewer.

Gooly:  Still in Moscow…

Manager:  How much does it cost to open a blockage in the sewer?

Gooly:  But on the way to Israel.

Manager:  One thousand five hundred shekel…

Gooly:  To work.

 

(All exit)

 

 

                   SCENE FOUR:  MARIA’S FATHER

 

(A week later.  The clinic.  Dr. Poznick sits reading the newspaper.  Suddenly notices an item.)

Poznick:  Great God in heaven!

(Maria enters)

Maria:  The newspaper?  Again from next week?

Poznick:  Yes…

Maria:  (scans his face) Dr. Poznick, you’re as white as snow.  I beg of you, please, pray tell what happened.

(pause)

Poznick:  (hands her the newspaper) Read please this item.

Maria:  (reads) “Lev Antolovitch Chorney who was murdered the day before yesterday in Jerusalem, will be buried this evening at the cemetery in the centre of Moscow.  His daughter went specially to Israel to arrange for transport of the casket.”  Dr. Poznick, what is so unusual about this item?

Poznick:  This daughter…

Maria:  Yes?

Poznick:  Who went specially to Israel to arrange for transport of the casket…

Maria:  Yes?

Poznick:  This daughter, my dear Maria, is you.

(pause)

Maria: (as if to herself) What do you say, Dr. Poznick, what do you say…?

Poznick:  Hear me, my dear Maria, hear me.  When I was a student at the university I had a close friend, a soul mate.  I studied medicine and he studied literature and theatre.  After we completed our studies, life separated us and we saw each other only at distant intervals.  But one day he knocked on my door in the early hours of the morning, in his hand a small parcel enfolded in a blanket.  He said nothing, save that he was in trouble and had to flee.  He asked me to watch over the small, precious parcel that he left in my hands.  Inside the parcel I found you, my little Maria, and the name of my dear friend, the name of your father, was Lev Antolovitch Chorney.

Maria:  Have you spoken to him since?

Poznick:  No.  Only a single letter arrived some years ago from Jerusalem.  The letter has been lost.  Only the envelope remains.  (takes an envelope out of his pocket and hands it to her.)

Maria:  From the Land of Israel?

Poznick:  Lev Antolovitch was a Jew.

Maria:  So that is the reason you wanted me to learn Hebrew.

(He smiles.  She studies the envelope.)

Emek Rafa’im St number fourteen, apartment six, Jerusalem.

Maria:  Dear Dr. Poznick, my father has five days to live.  I must go to Israel to rescue him.  To hear from him who my mother was, why he gave me away, why he abandoned me.  I must discover who I am.

Poznick:  Go then, my little Maria, go to the Land of Israel, and I will accompany you in my thoughts and my dreams.  May God be with you.

 

(Music.  Darkness)

 

 

SCENE FIVE:  BEN GURION AIRPORT

 

(In the dark the voice of a steward on the plane is heard.)

Steward:  Ladies and gentlemen, we have just landed at Ben Gurion Airport; we wish you a pleasant stay in Israel…

(Lights up on a group of people entering through open doors.  They are holding bags and cases.  Singing)

 

­­­­­How Good to Return to our Land

 

Pleasant…

Quiet…

Beauty…

Light…

Shadow and sun…

Heat and cold…

Magic…

Calm…

Good to return…

 

Oh how good to return to our land,

Oh how good to return to this place,

Oh how good to return to our land,

Soon we’ll find our very own space…

 

Valley…

Earth…

Desert…

Hills…

 

Sea…

Jellyfish on the beach…

Suntan lotion, shoulders, bodies…

 

Oh how good to return to our land…etc.

 

Humous…

Tehina…

Amba…

Spice…

 

What eyes she’s got – a pair!…

Shlomo Artzi…

How he sings, eh?…

Cola…

Pita with schwarma…

 

The Carmel Market…

The Tikvah Market…

Ten shekel…

Hey, open your bag…

 

Scram, idiot…

Shut up all of you…

And suddenly I heard a boom…

 

How good to return to our land… etc.

 

Pleasant…

Quiet…

Beauty…

Light…

Shadow and sun…

Heat and cold…

 

Hot…

Hamsin…

Heat wave…

Airconditioning…

 

Humous…

Tehina…

Amba…

Spice…

 

 

On Shabbat at our place…

The kids too…

 

We’ll barbecue!…

 

Oh how good to return to our land,

Oh how good to return to this place,

Oh how good to return to our land,

On Shabbat at our place.

 

(At the end of the song they disperse.  Maria is seen.  Here begins a scene in which Maria collects her baggage, then tries to find her way at the airport between the escalator and the passengers.)

 

 

 

                 SCENE SIX:  MARIA IS ACCULTURATED

 

(Maria, baggage in hand, stands at centre stage, looks right and left as one who doesn’t know where to go.  Naftali, about sixty, watches her from a distance.)

 

Naftali:  Excuse me…

Maria:  Yes, please?

Naftali:  From where?

Maria:  Russia.

Naftali:  Waiting for someone?

(Maria shakes her head no.)

Naftali:  (takes out a cellphone) Want to call someone?  Relatives?  Is someone waiting for you?

Maria:  Jerusalem is where I need to be.

Naftali:  I am going to Jerusalem.

Maria:  No, yes yes, I…–

Naftali:  The holiday is starting soon.  Where will you have the Passover Seder?  There are no buses running now.  Taxis are expensive.  (Draws closer, holds out his hand.)  How do you do, Naftali.

Maria:  (Shakes his hand) How do you do, Maria.

Naftali:  (Holds her hand)  My family has an inn.  Clean, pleasant.  My son Shmuel is the manager.  You’ll get a room, not expensive but very nice.  What do you say?

(Brief pause)

Maria: Very well.

Naftali:  (Takes her suitcase)  My father was born in Russia.  At home we spoke Russian.

Maria:  Vi gavriti Poruski (do you speak Russian)?

Naftali:  Da (yes).

Maria:  Vassya duma gavriat Poruski (does the whole family speak Russian)?

Naftali:  Nyet (no).

The car is in this direction… (they exit)

 

                  INTEMEDIATE SCENE

 

(The Manager, Batya and Dolly enter, followed by Cherner.)

 

Manager:  Excellent, excellent, excellent.  How good to return to our Israel and I mean return.  And our Cherner, so talented when he wants to be.

(shakes his hand)

I really liked your role at the airport.

Cherner:  Thank you very much. (Repeats a number of gestures from previous scene.  Laughs)

Batya:  And I have more good news for you.

Manager:  Well…

Batya:  We found a way with Dolly to increase the budget.

Dolly:  Leave me out of this.

Batya:  You’re against the idea but you understand why.

Dolly:  I don’t understand and I’m against it.

Manager:  Okay, okay.

Batya:  I’m talking about additional income of no less than nine thousand six hundred dollars, with more options.

Manager:  What are you talking about?  (Dolly mutters no)  Dolly, let her talk.

Batya:  My neighbour, a very nice, decent chap, his landlord is selling the apartment he rents because prices have gone so high.  The landlord has given him a deadline to be out of the place by tomorrow at noon.  I spoke to him and agreed that we would rent him a room at the theatre.

(pause)

Manager:  (to Dolly) Just a minute, just a minute…  (to Batya) How much will he pay?

Batya:  Eight hundred dollars a month, plus property tax and electricity.

Manager:  Fantastic.  When does he move in?

Batya:  Today.

Dolly:  Which room are you giving him?

Batya:  Well, actually there are a few options…

Dolly (to Cherner):  “There are a few options”…

Batya:  First, the men’s dressing room.

Manager:  Where will the men change?  That’s what I need now, more arguments with the actors committee!

Batya:  Second, if it’s possible to clear out the costume storage room…

Manager:  It’s not possible to clear out the costume storage room.  Where would we put the costumes?  In your house?  Clear out the costume storage…

Batya:  Then – Dolly’s room.

Dolly:  What do you mean Dolly’s room?!

Batya:  There aren’t many choices.

Dolly:  What do you mean there aren’t many choices?!

Batya:  Your room is the most convenient.

Dolly:  My room is out of the question.  It’s the room of the artistic adviser.  Where will I sit?  In the toilet?  My room is where all the artistic consultations take place…

Manager:  Dolly, it’s temporary.  He’ll live there for a few months, we’ll get over the crisis and you’ll return to your room.

Dolly:  Excuse me, excuse me, excuse me.  This is insane.  The artistic adviser’s room is the heart of the theatre.  That’s where I and Gooly Ben Mosheshet sit, discuss the repertoire, make artistic decisions.  Excuse me.  You can’t just rent it out to God knows who.

Batya:  The Hazan family.

Manager:  Family?

Batya:  A single father and his son.  The mother walked out.

(pause)

Manager (to Dolly):  Your room is the most suitable.

Batya:  Habibi will put in two beds, there’s an airconditioner, the washroom is at the end of the corridor near the sales office, and they can use the actors’ shower.

Manager:  Nine thousand six hundred dollars a year…

Batya:  Plus options.

Manager:  Fantastic.  What’s more, there’s another thing that you, as artistic adviser should be pleased about: this is an excellent way to attract an audience that usually doesn’t go to the theatre.

(Dolly exits in a fury)

Manager:  Not to worry.  She’ll calm down.

Cherner (to Manager):  Excuse me… I know this isn’t a good time… But can I be taken out of the play?

Manager:  What do you mean taken out of the of the play?

Cherner:  I need a break, a vacation…  Can you find someone else?

Manager:  Someone else?  What are you talking about?  A play without Cherner?  What will the audience say?

Cherner:  Only this one play.

Batya:  What a pity, just when the play is starting to take off.

Manager:  Cherner, I’ll talk to the artistic director.

Cherner:  Thanks.

(Cherner exits)

Batya:  What’s his problem?

Manager:  Not to worry.  He’ll calm down.  Talk to Habibi about getting Dolly’s room ready.

 

(A long table set for a Passover Seder, surrounded by chairs, is brought in. 

(A cell phone rings.) 

Manager:  Hello…  We’ll meet at the sewer.

(Batya and Manager exit)

 

 

            SCENE SEVEN:  SEDER IN A WHORE HOUSE

 

(Living room in middle class home.  Table set for Passover Seder.  Maria and Naftali enter.  Naftali holds Maria’s suitcase)

Naftali:  Happy holiday.

Malka:  (from outside)  Happy holiday.

Naftali:  The table is all ready for the Seder…  (Takes her to the window)  From here you can see the Old City.

Maria:  How beautiful.

Naftali:  Smell the pure air…  Jerusalem on Seder night.

(Malka enters)

Malka:  Happy holiday!

Naftali:  Malka, this is Maria.  (to Maria)  This is Malka, my wife.

(the two shake hands)

Maria:  How do you do.

Malka:  How do you do.

Naftali:  I invited Maria to the Seder.  We met at the airport.  She just arrived from Russia.

Malka:  Excellent.  Here, rest for awhile.  You’ve come from a great distance. (offers her a chair.  Maria sits down.  Malka calls to Shmulik)  Shmulki! (to Naftali)  Go bring her a glass of borscht. (Naftali exits) Do you enjoy the Seder?  Me, until I was seven I used to get so excited that the moment the Seder started I would pee in my pants.

Maria:  I don’t know what a Seder is.  Until yesterday I didn’t even know that I was Jewish.

Malka:  Oho… You’re in for lots of surprises.

(Shmuel enters)

This is our son, Shmulki.  Shmulki, this is Maria.

Shmuel:  How do you do.

Malka:  Shmulki manages our inn.

Naftali:  (enters with a glass of borscht.  To Shmuel) 

Maria has just arrived from Russia.

Shmuel:  Excellent.

Malka:  She’ll have the Seder with us and afterwards we’ll integrate her into Israel.

Maria:  I am so grateful for your warm reception.  But after the Seder, I will have to leave.

Malka:  Why?  How leave?  What leave?

Naftali:  (together with Malka) Why leave?

Maria:  I came here to find my father.  To rescue him.

Malka:  Where is he?

Maria:  I don’t know.  I don’t even know him, but in four days he will be murdered.

(Naftali and Shmulik exchange glances)

Malka:  But it’s a holiday.  Everything is closed.  You won’t even find a dog on the street.  Wait until after the holiday and Shmulki will help you find your father.

(Bentzi enters, a municipal parking inspector)

Bentzi:  Shmulki, there’s a car out here in the no-parking zone.  One of yours?

Shmuel:  I don’t think so.

Malka:  Maria honey, go shower because we’re just about ready to start the Seder.  Naftali, show her to her room.

Naftali:  Come Maria.

(Maria and Naftali exit)

Shmuel: How’s it going, Bentzi?

Bentzi:   As long as I’m here, how about a quickie? Are you guys still open?

Shmuel:  Yeah, sure.  Right mom?  He wants a quickie.

Malka:  Actually I’ve sent most of the girls home for the holiday, but maybe there is still one around.  (calls out) Maytal? 

Maytal:  (From outside) What?

Malka:  Are you staying here for the Seder?

Maytal:  Yes.

(enters dressed for the holiday)

My family is off to the Dan Hotel in Eilat for the Seder this year.  I don’t like Seders in hotels, makes me feel like an outsider.

Malka:  Bentzi wants a quickie.

Maytal:  I’m all dressed up already…

Bentzi:  Come on, a short quickie…

Maytal:  Bentzi honey, who do you always turn up at the last minute?

Bentzi: Maytal honey, c’mon, I finish my shift in half an hour. Think of it as a gift for the holiday.

Maytal: (To Malka laughing) He’s such a doll. (thinks moment and decides) Okay, okay, come on.  (Takes off her blouse, drapes it on the back of a chair.  Remains in minimal dress.)  Bentzi pulls out his wallet and pays Shmulik.)

Shmuel:  Bentzi, keep it short. 

Makla: (Maytal and Bentzi exit) Just look where she put her dress – On Elijah the Prophet’s chair… 

        (Sisco enters)

Sisco:  Hey, what’s going on?

Shmuel:  What’s new?

Malka:  How are you, Sisco?

Sisco:  Fine.  The Seder is at our place this year so I don’t have much time.  Is anyone working now?

Malka:  Maytal.  But she’s in the middle of a job.

Sisco:  Will it take long?

Shmuel:  No, it’s Bentzi, he’s in the middle of a shift.

Malka:  Shmuel, where are the cokes I told you to buy?

Shmuel:  In the car.

Malka:  Go get them and put them in the freezer so they’ll be cold for the meal.  (aside to Shmuel) And get your knife out of here.

Shmuel:  Sorry, mom.  Whoops… (Takes a switchblade from the table, folds it up and puts it in his pocket.  Turns to Sisco on the way out) Do you want me to put it on credit?

Sisco:  My salary comes in on the tenth.

Shmuel: No problem!

(Shmuel exits while entering something into a small notebook.  Malka continues setting the table.)

Sisco:  Tell me Malka, how’s it going?

Malka:  What can I tell you?  Like clockwork.  Everyone screws everyone and we pile up the dough.  The girls haven’t even got time to wax their mustaches.  Naftali just brought reinforcement from Russia.

Sisco:  Bravo.

Malka:  But we’ll take it slow.  So she won’t disappear on us like the girl from Moldava.  So it’ll take two three days.  What’s the rush.  (suddenly remembers) Oy, the soup!

(Sisco slaps Malka on the rump as she exits)

Malka:  That’s sexual harassment.

Sisco:  Don’t worry.  I won’t sue you.

(Malka exits.  After a few moments Arnon enters)

Arnon:  Shalom… ah… where… is there…  I’m looking for …

Sisco:  A girl?

Arnon:  Something like that.

Sisco:  They all went home for the holiday.  There’s only one.  Someone is with her now.  I’m after him.

Arnon:  I’m after you.

(Both sit. Quiet)

Arnon:  There’s nowhere to park in this town.

Sisco:  Where did you park?

Arnon:  In a no-parking zone.

Sisco:  You’ll get a ticket.

Arnon: It’s a holiday, I didn’t see a single inspector outside.

Sisco: That’s because he’s inside.

Arnon: Who?

Sisco: The parking inspector. He’ll be out in a minute.

Arnon:  (stands) I’d better go move the car.  I’m after you. (exits. After a few moments Shoshani enters)

Shoshani:  Are you the only one on line?

Sisco:  There was someone else.  He went to move his car.

Shoshani:  Went to move his car?  That’s his problem.  I’m after you.

(Benzi enters)

Sisco: Hi Bentzi, how’s it going?

Bentzi: Hey Sisco, have a happy and kosher holiday.

(Sisco exits, Bentzi exits. Arnon enters)

Arnon:  Where’s the guy who was here before?

Shoshani:  Just went in.

Arnon:  I’m after him.

Shoshani:  No you’re not.

Arnon:  I went to move my car!

Shoshani:  Go move it back.

Arnon:  It’s my turn now.  I told him I was just going to move my car.  It was in a no-parking zone.  I moved it and now it’s my turn.

Shoshani:  Right, but you’re not going in before me!  Isn’t that something?

Arnon:  Look, do me a favour, I have to go in.  I can’t wait.  I have to go in, I’m not allowed to wait in line.  I have a release from the army.  It’s a medical matter.

Shoshani:  No… no… no, your not going in.  I’m also not allowed to wait in line.  What are you talking about?  I’m not allowed, even the army…

(Shoshani gets in front of Arnon)

Arnon:  (pulls him back) Hey!

Shoshani:  Who do you think you’re touching?

Arnon:  I’m going in now!

Shoshani:  Move, I tell you! (pulls Arnon back)

Arnon:  Hey, who do you think you’re touching?

Shoshani:  I’m going in!

Arnon:  Come here.

Shoshani:  Hey, who do you think you’re touching?

Arnon:  I’m going in first!

Shoshani:  Move, I tell you!

Arnon:  Hey, get your hands off.

Shoshani:  Why, what’ll you do?

Arnon:  Get your hands off me.

Shoshani:  Why, what’ll you do?

(Arnon grabs Shoshani’s ear)

Arnon:  Get your hands off.

Shoshani:  Let go of my ear.

Arnon:  Why, what’ll you do?

Shoshani:  Let go of my ear.

Arnon:  Why, what’ll you do?

(Shoshani grabs Arnon’s balls)

Arnon:  Let go of my balls.

Shoshani:  Let go of my ear.

(Arnon butts Shoshani with his head)

Arnon:  Let go of my balls, I told you.

Shoshani:  Ouch… You shit eating prick! Asshole, shit faced mother of the Georgian who hustled your limping sister you madman.  Ya….  (notices that Malka entered)  Halloo Malka.

Malka:  Mr. Shoshani, I would expect you to set a personal example in public places, especially you, as a member of Knesset. 

Shoshani:  Why always me?  He doesn’t know what a line is, and you sound off at me?

Arnon:  I was here first. I just went…

Shoshani:  I didn’t interfere with you, don’t you interfere with me.

Malka:  Out! Go home.  We’re almost ready to start the Passover Seder.  Go home.  We’re closed.

Shoshani:  Will you be open again the evening after the holiday?

Malka:  The evening after right after the holiday, yes.

Shoshani:  Have a nice Seder and a nice opening the evening after the holiday.

Malka:  The same to you.

(Shoshani exits)

Malka:  (to Arnon):  Whenever he comes around – hollering.  You’re new here.  (Shakes his hand) Malka.

Arnon:  Yes, I…

Malka:  Maytal will receive you right away.  I just need to call my son to sign you in and explain everything.  (calls out) Shmulki!  (to Arnon) We have very attractive specials now. (Shmulki enters with the cokes) We have a new customer here.  What’s your name?

Arnon:  Arnon.

Shmulik:  How do you do.  Come into the kitchen with me.  We have a special now – every fifth visit you get a free ticket to the Jerusalem Theatre…

(Sisco enters)

Sisco:  Have a happy and kosher holiday.

Shmulik:  Happy holiday, Sisco.

Sisco:  Thanks for the tickets.  It was… (makes a gesture to indicate wonder)

Shmulik:  Ah, you were at the theatre.  What did you see?

Sisco:  (tries to recall) Don’t remember…  But it was… (again the gesture indicating wonder)

Sisco:  (to Arnon)  Enjoy, Maytal– she’s… (again the same gesture of wonder) See you.

Shmulik:  (on the way out) Come to the kitchen.

(Sisco turns to exit.  Shmulik and Arnon exit to kitchen.)

Malka:  Sisco, honey, I hope we see you after the holiday.

Sisco:  Sure, sure.

(Sisco exits while Danino enters.)

Sisco:  Happy holiday, Danino.

Danino:  Happy holiday, Sissi.

Malka:  Hello Danino.  Happy holiday.

(Danino enters with bottle of wine and Haggada –Passover prayer book)

Danino:  Shalom to you Malka, happy Passover.

Malka:  Happy Passover.

(Danino and Malka kiss on the cheeks.  Danino places the wine on the table)

Malka:  Thanks… We’re starting the Seder. Naftali! Shmulki! Maytal! Maria!

Danino:  Who is Maria?

Malka:  She’s new, from Russia.

Danino:  Ah, Russia…

Malka:  Easy, Danino, take it slow.  She just arrived today.

(Maytal enters wearing the blouse she had earlier discarded)

Maytal:  (to Danino) Shalom, Danino.  Happy holiday…

Danino:  Happy holiday of the ten plagues, May-tal.

(Shmulik and Arnon enter.  Shmulik leads Arnon to Danino.)

Shmulik:  Happy holiday.

(They shake hands)

Danino:  I heard there’s a new Russian girl.

Shmulik:  This is Arnon – it’s his first time here.

Danino:  How do you do.

Shmulik:  (To Arnon) This is Danino, our first client.  He goes way back to when my mother was still working.

Arnon:  Good for you.

Shmulik:  (To Maytal, referring to Arnon):  Maytal, a new client.  Would you mind taking him in now?

Maytal:  Gladly.  (to Arnon) But you’ll have to wait a bit.  I want to start the Seder with everyone… just until after plagues.

(Naftali enters)

Naftali:  Aha, Danino is here so everything is fine.

(Danino and Naftali shake hands)

Danino:  Happy Passover, Naftali.

Malka:  Where’s Maria?  (calls outside) Maria, Maria.

(Maria enters dressed in holiday finery.  Her hair is damp.  Everyone looks at her.  Danino is overwhelmed.)

Maria!  How beautiful you are.

Maria:  Happy holiday.

All:  Happy holiday.

Shmulik:  Come, lets down.

Malka: (to Maria):  You sit here.

Danino:  (draws closer to Maria.  Shmulik blocks him.)

Danini:  Is this the Russian?

(Shmulik leads him to the other side of the table.)

Shmulik:  Yes, but not tonight.

Malka: (to Maria in reference to Maytal) Maytal’s like a member of our family…

(Danino returns to other side of table, close to Maria.)

And this is Danino, an old friend of ours.  He conducts the Seder for us every year.

Maria:  Pleased to meet you.

Danino:  I’m very pleased, Miriam.

Malka:  Okay, okay, sit and we’ll start.

Shmulik:  (to Arnon):  Come sit with us for awhile.  Maytal likes the part with the plagues.

Arnon:  Gladly.

Shmulki:  This is Arnon.

All:  How do you do.

Danino:  Before we start, I suggest that we explain to our guest, to the lovely flower from Russia, why we celebrate the Seder…

(all sing)

 

Slaves we were in Egypt, slaves we were, now we are free, we are free.

 

Slaves we were to Pharoah,

To Pharaoh in Egypt.

It seems he had no Pakistanis,

And no Chinese,

So he took us in lieu,

His contract work to do.

That’s how we became

Builders of fame.

 

We toiled from dawn to night,

With bricks of mud and straw,

We had no labour rights,

For us there was no law.

 

Our lives were sad,

Bitter and sad,

For we simply were,

Foreign workers there,

Only foreign workers there.

Maria:  Foreign workers?

 

Maria, this lesson we remember well,

We will remember it forever: 

Foreign workers – not us, never!

The Pakis can do it just as well.

 

Years of misery,

Years of pain,

When we wanted out,

‘Closure’ they’d shout

 

But in the end,

The plagues were sent,

Frogs did rain

The firstborn slain.

Then they asked for disengagement:

Get out, halt the plagues, get out,

Get out, get out, get out.

 

So what do we learn from this tale?

To recall we must never fail,

There are nations – not ours of course,

That understand only force.

 

Pharaoh’s gang,

Drowned in the sea.

With Miriam we danced and sang,

To celebrate,

Our happy fate,

And tonight we have

The Seder plate.

 

(During the song, Danino aggressively tries to pull

Maria outside and Shmulik wards him off, continuing to dance and sing with everyone.)

 

(At the end of the song)

Slaves we were and now we are free, we are free.

 

(All seat themselves at the table.  Maria seats herself last, slowly)

 

Danino:  We will now drink the first cup. 

(Raises his cup.  Everyone opens their Haggada and starts looking for the place.

 

Maytal:  How did we get to first cup already?

Danino:  Here we are ready and prepared to carry out the commandment of the first cup.  Blessed art

Thou O Lord our God King of the universe who has created the fruit of the vine.

All:  Amen!

(All drink.  Danino pours himself another cup and drinks it up.

Danino:  And another cup!

Malka:  Another cup?

Danino:  A toast to Miriam. (drinks)  Miriam!  I am eager to hide my afikomen matza in you!

Maria:  (rises, somewhat confused)  What is the meaning of afikomen?

Shmulki:  An ancient Jewish custom…

Danino:  (Cuts him off.  Drinks straight from the bottle.  Draws closer to Maria, still holding the bottle.)

I’ll explain to you what an afikomen is.

Maytal:  Danino, come to Maytal.  You can hide your whole matza in me.

Danino:  Get away from me!  I want the Russian!

Shmulik:  (pulls him away) Come here.  (Pulls him to end of room.)  Do you want her to run away?

Maria:  I must leave.

Shmulik:  (comes to her side to calm her) You can’t leave.

Maria:  Where is my suitcase?!

Shmulik:  You don’t get up in the middle of a Seder and leave.

Maria:  I request my suitcase, please!

Shmulik:  All is safe, sweetie, not to worry.  Just work for a few days and you’ll get your suitcase back.

Maria:  What do you mean ‘work’?  I cannot remain here.  I told you, I must find my father.

Danino:  (drawing closer) Come to daddy, honey…

Shmulik:  (to Danino)  Leave her alone.

Malka:  (aside to Shmuel) Lock her in the upstairs room.

Shmulik:  Alright Maria, come with me.  I’ll give you your suitcase. (Exits with Maria)

Malka:  Everything’s fine.  Let’s continue.

Maria:  (from outside) What are you doing?  Let me out. Let me out… (knocks are heard)

Malka: (begins singing)  Had you taken us out of Egypt and not given us the Torah, it would have been enough…

All join:  Dai dayenu, dai dayenu, dai dayenu…

(pause)

Maria:  (from outside) Let me out

(dark)

 

 

 SCENE EIGHT:  AFTER THE WHORES’ SEDER

 

(The Manager sits at the Seder table.  Pause)

(Gooly enters)

Gooly:  You called me?

Manager:  A Passover Seder in a whore house… (rises and tries to catch him)  I’m gonna kill you!  I’m gonna kill you now!

Gooly:  (escapes as if in fright from the table) What, what did I do?  What do you want from me?

Manager:  A whore house?  A Russian girl arrives in Israel and you take her to a whore house?!  (Batya enters)

Batya:  There’s another problem.  Dolly refuses to move out of her room.  She tied herself to the file cabinet with a bicycle chain.

Manager:  There are shears in the storage shed.  Cut the chain and get her out of the room.

Batya:  Me?

Manager:  You want me to do it?  She’ll sue me for sexual harassment.

Batya:  But how can I…

Manager:  Batya! With determination and sensitivity. (Batya exits, to Gooly) I’ll show you a whore house.

(A chase ensues which ends with Gooly under the table.)

The idea was to show the beautiful Land of Israel, so you show me a collection of pimps and…

(Gooly peeks out from under the table.  Angrily)

Gooly: Excuse me, excuse me, okay.  Did I invent something?!  Isn’t it like this? Shopping malls?! That’s all we have here? Anyone who thinks that I’ll deny my truth for a few miserable pennies is making a big mistake, a very big mistake.  Forget it.  I’m an artist…

Manager:  (removes a shoe with the intention of throwing it at Gooly)  Artist!

Gooly:  …an artist,  understand?  No one tells me what to do.

(Gooly again ducks under the table and continues from there.  Only his voice is heard)

Gooly:  Our role in the theatre is to reveal the truth, reveal reality, even if it hurts, even if it’s tough for the audience to accept (Batya crosses stage with shears) …even if it isn’t nice.

Manager:  (to Gooly who is under the table) Get out!

Gooly:  (stands on other side of table) We are soldiers in the army of truth, and we are fighting for our very lives, fighting bloody battles in the forests of hypocrisy and lies of a corrupt and rotten society.

(brief pause.  All of a sudden the Manager grabs a bottle from the table and again starts to chase Gooly who flees.)

Manager:  An innocent girl arrives in the Land of Israel, a Jew picks her up at the airport, a Jew…  (calls outside) Avinoam! (Avinoam enters, stands beside Manager), a Jew old enough to be your father, or mine… (to Avinoam) thanks… (Avinoam exits) He takes her to his family, all of whom, every last one of them, earn their livings from one thing – white slavery.  Is there no high-tech in this country?!  I ask you –no high-tech?  No industries?  No volunteers?  Tell me, where do they produce “Mai Eden” (mineral water)? In China?  Norway?  Where?  We could have been sponsored  by Mai Eden.  But no.  You have to show a whore house.  Who’s gonna sponsor us now?  The Alperon crime family?!

(from outside Dolly’s kicks and screams are heard:  Leave me alone, leave me alone, fascists! 

Batya:  Dolly, please, you’re only making things worse.

Batya enters dragging Dolly who is hooked onto a chain attached to a file cabinet)

Dolly:  (screams at the Manager) Shame on you.  Shame on you.

Manager:  Dolly, I’ll talk to you later.

Dolly:  A Jew doesn’t throw another Jew out of his room.

Manager:  Batya, put her up in the wardrobe room.

(they exit)

Manager:  Now, listen to me and listen carefully!  Go and take that poor girl out – what’s her name?

Gooly:  Maria:

Manager:  Go and take her out of your little whore house and find her a real Israeli family, a decent, down to earth family so that the audience can say – these are the kind of Jews we know, that’s how we look, this is Israeli theatre, I’m proud to be a subscriber to this theatre!

(calls outside)

Cherner!

(Cherner enters)

Call the actors please.

Cherner:  Have you found a replacement for me?

(pause)

Gooly:  Replacement?

Cherner:  He didn’t tell you?

Manager:  Cherner, I understand what’s upsetting you.  We’re changing the play.

Cherner:  Changing?

Manager:  Changing, changing.  Altogether different.  And now the actors.

(Cherner looks at him doubtfully and exits)

Gooly:  A replacement?

Manager:  Yeah, he asked for a replacement.  What do you think?  An actor like Cherner wants to act in plays like yours?  (to the actors)  Come on in…

(the actors enter, take chairs from around the table and seat themselves)

Manager:  (to pianist) Play…

(begins to sing The Winners’ Song)

      

The Winners Song

 

I tell you one and all,

Writing talent’s sublime,

Acting talent is fine,

Important overall.

But of this I’m sure, I am,

Neither’s worth a damn,

Just shove them up my ass,

On both of them I’ll pass.

 

That’s my point of view,

That’s what I believe,

This I know is true,

This we can achieve:

The only talent that counts,

The only one we need,

Is the talent to succeed,

The talent to succeed

The talent to succeed

 

Chorus:

I just want success,

A winner nothing less.

Gooly:

Culture, truth and quality?

Manager:

These aren’t my reality.

I want the box-office to explode,

No matter if the critics implode,

I want the crowds to clap and shout,

I can’t take another drought.

Chinni and Gooly:

Shakespeare, Chekhov and Moliere?

Manager:

They are welcome to go elsewhere.

I want success!  Nothing less!

 

Actors:

          I wanted to act here,

           Macbeth or King Lear,

           To say at last like Hamlet,

          “To be or not to be”.

 

Manager:

But you have to admit:

Hamlet and also King Lear,

They’re neither worth a shit,

Unless we have a hit.

 

Do you remember Ben-Itai?

 

Actors:

An actor superb!

Cherner:

Also director!

All:

His plays always had a certain magic,

His plays were superb, both comic and tragic…

Gooly:

Bears and princes were on stage.

Gooly and Chinni:

The critics called him “King of the Age”.

He always created magic,

Both comic and tragic.

 

             Manager:

Great great, but one thing’s clear,

Needs to be said loud and clear:

A star he never became

That is, I mean to say,

The public didn’t know his name…

 

That’s why we need to have a success.

Gooly: 

Just a success?

Manager:

Just a success, nothing less.

 

Gooly and Cherner:

What about acting, directing and depth?

 

Manager:

No no, that won’t do anymore.

All:

Content doesn’t count anymore,

He wants success, nothing less.

Manager:

I want the box office to explode,

No matter if the critics implode,

I want the crowds to clap and shout,

I can’t take another drought.

All: (breaking in)

That’s the only thing he wants.

Gooly:

Shakespeare, Chekhov and Moliere?

Manager:

No problem, they can go elsewhere.

All:

If that’s what’s happening here today,

I don’t need another role to play.

Manager + All:

I only want success,

Nothing, nothing less.

 

(cellphone rings)

Manager:  The sewage pipes. (answers, whistles and exits)

(enter Batya, Hezzi and Robby)

Batya:  As I was saying, here is the shower (points to right) and here’s the room (points left). I see that the child is somewhat confused.

Hezzi:  He’s under a lot of pressure…

Batya:  I see, well, it’s obvious…  This must be traumatic for him.

Hezzy:  What can I tell you Mrs. Batya, they’re throwing us out of the apartment from one day to the next…

Batya:  Yes, that is traumatic. I want to introduce you to the actors in our ensemble.  (to the actors) This is Mr. Hazzan…

Hezzi:  Hezzi.

Batya:  Hezzi was forced to leave his home and at the last executive meeting we decided to come to the aid of him and his son.  The Hazzan family will be living for awhile in Dolly’s room.  I’m sure we are all delighted to be able to take some positive community action and that we’ll welcome them with open arms in their difficult situation.

(pause)

Thank you and good luck to all.

(she shows him the way out and Hezzi and Batya exit)

Hezzi: Robbie, this way (Robbie exits)

Gooly:  And now, a room in, ah… in a whore house.

(actors set up next scene on stage)

 

 

 

        SCENE NINE:  BEN MOSHESHET RESCUES MARIA

 

(Dramatic music.  A room in the whore house.  Maria sits on the bed.  In the window Gooly Ben Mosheshet appears.)

Gooly:  (whistles) Come here.  I’m getting you out of here.

(Maria is uneasy)

Maria:  Who are you?

Gooly:  My name is Gooly.  Gooly Ben Mosheshet.  Nice to meet you.  Come on.  (His head disappears.  Pause. He returns.) Well?

Maria:  What do you mean?  Where to?

Gooly:  I don’t quite know yet.  There are changes… in the plot… it doesn’t matter…  The important thing is to get you out of here.

Maria:  I don’t believe you, any of you.

Gooly:  Hold on a minute, what is this ‘any of you’?  I’m an artist.  What, are you comparing me to those pimps?  Never mind, we won’t go into that.  (climbs over sill and enters room) What is important is to get out of here fast.  This scene is taking too much time.  (attempts to take her hand)

Maria:  Don’t you dare touch me.

Gooly:  What is this, what’s wrong with you, what are you doing?  I’ve come to rescue you.

Maria:  I don’t believe you.

Gooly:  Okay, okay.  Fine. You don’t believe me.  That much is clear.  Why should you believe me?  They hurt you, cheated you, you’ve lost your faith in people.  In…  (to audience) Actually an interesting character.  Fine.  Wait here.  I have an idea.  I’ll be right back.

(He leaves by window.  Maria begins to sing.)

 

What the future holds I cannot know,

(Hezzi and his son enter stage, towels in hand.  She continues to sing without noticing them.)

 

But my heart does whisper and overflow,

It trembles, it tosses to and fro,

Tells me something is about to occur.

 

Hezzi:  Robby, I think it’s this way. (sees Maria and signals to Robby to be silent)

(Batya enters after them)

Batya:  Mr. Hazzan, Mr. Hazzan.

(the two halt)

Not through here, Mr. Hazzan.  This is the stage.  Around the other side.

(Leads them out, they exit.  Maria continues singing.)

(Gooly again enters through the window; behind him – Poznick.)

Gooly: Maria!

Poznick:  Maria!

Gooly:  Here is Dr. Poznick, Maria! 

Maybe now you’ll see,

Maybe now you’ll trust me…

(But Maria cuts him off, amazed to see Poznick.)

Maria:  Ho, Dr. Poznick!  Sergey Ivanov!

What are you doing in the Middle East?

What are you looking for in this street?

Is it really you Dr. Poznick?

Poznick:  Indeed it is me, Dr. Poznick!

Maria:  Is it really you, Dr. Poznick?

Poznick:  Oh yes it is me, Dr. Poznick!

Maria:  Tell me, tell me, Sergey Ivanov!

Poznick:  Maria! 

Darling, amazed child!

It’s only a dream, darling child!

And I before you stand,

An image in dreamland.

Maria!

Suspicious child and sad,

Trust the lad…

His intentions are true,

He means to rescue you,

To rescue you –

Gooly:  Maria, don’t fear

 Danino and Shmulki, my dear!

Ah, I’m falling in love, Maria!

 

Like a knight in legends of olden days,

Maria, my heart for you is ablaze.

Suddenly I know it, Maria

Suddenly, now,

This very day…

Poznick:  The lad is in love with you, Maria…

Maria:  He’s in love?  Just like a knight?!

In this land?  In the Middle East?

Poznick:  It may be strange – yet it may be right…

But there are times when it’s for the best!

Maria:  I don’t love!  I don’t want!

I haven’t a drop of faith anymore,

They want to turn me into a whore.

Gooly:  O my love, O my love –

Just listen a moment to me my dove…

Maria:  Let him declare! Let him beg! Let him plead!

I won’t believe!  Or my name isn’t…

 

Gooly:  …Maria!

Listen this once, Maria!

I’ll get you out of here,

Whenever you want, my dear

Maria –

 

Your fate to mine forever is bound,

For without you the play will run aground!…

 

Maria and Gooly:

What the future holds I cannot know,

But my heart does whisper and overflow,

It trembles, it tosses to and fro,

Tells me something is about to occur

Maria and Gooly:

When will love come at last, when will it come?

Dr. Poznick:  When will I return at last to my Moscow clinic, my home?

All:  When will love come, when will love come,

When will love come when?…

(at the end of the song, Poznick exits through the window.  Gooly and Maria remain)

Gooly:  Now do you believe me?

(pause)

Come on.

Maria:  Where are we going?

Gooly:  (embarrassed) I haven’t the faintest idea.

Maria:  (pulls the envelope out of her pocket)  Emek Rafaim St. 14.

Gooly:  That’s the next scene.

Maria:  (excited) What?

Gooly:  Emek Rafaim St. 14.  Not to worry.  There’s a wonderful family there.  Come on.  (he helps her climb over the window sill.  Shmulik enters)

Shmulik:  Hold on, hold on!  What’s going on here?

Gooly:  Don’t be afraid, Maria.  I’ll handle him.  Emek Rafaim 14, we’ll meet there. (Maria disappears out the window.  Gooly turns to Shmulik) What happened?  You’re angry?  I took your heroine away.  What are you gonna do to me?  (climbs on the window sill)

I invented her.

(disappears out the window.  Shmulik goes to window, looks down and turns to exit.  Lights out)

 

 

SCENE TEN:  CRAZY FAMILY

               

(Apartment:  couch, coffee table, armchair.  Mother – Tzvia, daughter – Reuvena, friend – Rafael.  All are preparing living room for a party:  hanging balloons, cleaning, etc.)

Reuvena: (on the ‘phone) Emek Rafaim St. 14, Leon.  What’s wrong with you?  You’ve been here a thousand times!

Tzvia:  (with feeling) Hang up the ‘phone, Reuvena!

Daddy will be here any minute!

Rafael:  (urgently) We need more balloons!

Tzvia:  (to someone o/s) Nadav, bring more balloons!

Reuvena:  (into ‘phone)  Leon, I can’t talk now.  Get here as fast as you can because Daddy is supposed to be here any second.  (hangs up)  He’s always late, that Leon.

Rafael:  Well what do you expect?  He works hard.

Reuvena:  Where does he work?

Rafael:  At the Mai Eden mineral water plant.

Reuvena:  He better not arrive together with Daddy and ruin everything.  Tell me, mommy, are you sure Daddy doesn’t suspect anything?

Tzvia:  Of course not. He doesn’t know a thing.

Rafael:  I spoke to him this morning and he didn’t say a thing.

(Nadav enters with package of balloons)

Nadav:  I brought more balloons.  Mommy, where’s the scotch tape?

(The doorbell rings.  Everyone freezes)

Tzvia:  (In a strained voice) That’s him!

Rafael:  (laughing and with strained voice) Hide everyone, fast!

Nadav:  (laughing and with strained voice) Hide, get down!

Reuvena:  (laughing and with strained voice) I’m scared…

Nadav: (on way out to the door with evident satisfaction) Boy, are we nuts!

Tzvia:  We’ll yell ‘surprise’, but only when I give the signal. (exits)

Rafael:  I’m dying to see his face!  What’s the signal?

Reuvena and Tzvia:  Sshh!  Quiet!

(Door opens and closes, Nadav returns with Maria)

Nadav:  It’s not Dad.

(All leave their hiding places)

Tzvia: (to Maria)  Hello…

Maria:  Hello.  Have I arrived at apartment six in Emek Rafaim Street 14?

Reuvena:  Yes…?

Maria:  My name is Maria and I require your assistance – (holds her head and sways)  Ah…  my head is spinning…

Nadav:  (brings a chair, speaks with concern) Have a seat, please…

Tzvia:  Reuvena, bring her a glass of water.

(Reuvena exits)

Maria:  I am searching urgently for my father, and I believe that here I will discover his whereabouts.

(Reuvena enters with a glass of water)

Reuvena:  Drink some water.

Maria:  Thank you kindly for I am indeed thirsty.

(Doorbell rings)

 Reuvena: (stops near Maria’s outstretched hand without giving her the water) It’s Daddy!

Nadav:  Everyone! Hide!

(Reuvena runs with the glass of water and hides with all the others.  Maria is left in the middle of the living room looking around in confusion)

Maria:  What? – Why – ?

Tzvia:  (returns, takes Maria to hide) Sshh!

(everyone hides.  doorbell rings again.  Nadav emerges)

Nadav:  Someone should open the door.

(all emerge from hiding places)

Reuvena:  I’ll open it. (exits)

Maria:  What is happening?

Rafael:  Surprise party –

Nadav:  Sshh, silence!

Reuvena:  (returning with Leon who holds a camera)

It’s not Daddy, it’s Leon.

Leon:  Congratulations, congratulations.  I brought a video camera to record the event.

Tzvia:  Leon, what kind of friend are you?  Why do you always have to be late?

Leon:  Me, late?

Reuvena:  No one comes late like you do, Leon –

Rafael:  You’ll even be late for your own funeral.

Leon:  I got news for you, I’m not going to my own funeral.  I’ll send you instead. (all laugh)

Maria:  May I beg your pardon that I impose myself upon you, but I need to find my father.  His life is in danger.  (pulls out the letter)  This letter was sent by my father from this apartment some years ago.

Tzvia:  What’s your father’s name?

Maria:  Lev Antolovitch Chorney.

Tzvia:  Lev Antalovitch Chorney.  Don’t know him.

Nadav:  Neither do I.

Reuvena:  I don’t either.

Rafael:  I know him.

Maria: (excited) Indeed?

Rafael:  He’s a good friend of mine.  This morning we had dinner together.

Maria:  Oh God in Heaven!  Thank you, thank you God.  Where is he now?

Rafael:  Just fooling.  I put one over on you, eh?  I have no idea who he is.

(all burst out laughing)

Leon:  Rafael, Rafael, aren’t you ever serious?

Maria:  So why did you say – ?

Rafael:  I was joking, it was just a joke. (hugs Maria) You fell for it.  I really pulled your leg.

Leon:  Rafael, you’re nuts, you’re out of your mind!

Nadav:  You’re a real wacko!

Reuvena:  (to Maria) Everyone calls us the jolly family.

Rafael:  (turning serious) But I bet I know who does know him for sure.

(everyone turns serious)

All:  Who?

Rafael:  Aaron.

All:  Right.

Tzvia: (to Maria) My husband.

Leon:  For sure.  If your father lived here once, Aaron knows him.  He has a phenomenal memory.

Maria:  And where is he to be found?

Tzvia:  He should be here any minute.  The surprise party is for him. He turns seventy today.

(cellphone rings, Nadav answers)

Nadav:  Hello?  (covers the mouthpiece) It’s Dad!

(all run to hide)  On the ‘phone!

(all halt in their tracks.  Nadav tries hard not to laugh)

What…  No, I’m not in Jerusalem.  I’m here, in my apartment, in Holon.  (all try hard not to laugh)  So how are you doing?  Where are you…?  (whispers to others)  He’s on the way, should arrive any minute…

(start to hide and come back)

(into ‘phone)  So listen, maybe I’ll come visit tomorrow…

Maria:  (signals to him.  Nadav remembers)

Nadav: Tell me, Dad, do you know someone by the name of…

Maria:  Lev Antalovitch Chorney. 

Nadav: Lev Antalovitch Chorney? Really? (to Maria)

He knows him.

Rafael:  I told you.

All:  Sshh

Nadav: (to ‘phone) Lived in our apartment?  (to Maria)  He lived in our apartment eighteen years ago.  I can’t hear you.  You’re breaking up…  Are you in the hallway?  (signals everyone to hide) Call me when you get home.  Bye… (shuts ‘phone) He’s on the way up!

Maria:  Forgive me, he really knows my father personally?

Nadav:  What… (emerges from his hiding place to pull her down) Now we need to hide.

(All hide, Leon under the table.  Maria remains standing at centre stage.  Nadav shoves her into Reuvena’s and Tzvia’s hiding place.)

Nadav:  (to Reuvena)  Let her in, let her in.

(Nadav hides Maria while Reuvena looks for another spot.  Nadav tries to crawl under table)

Leon:  I’m here.  I’m here.

Nadav:  Oops.  Sorry, sorry.

(Reuvena goes to hide behind the bureau where Tzvia and Rafael are)

Tzvia:  (to Rafael) Let her, let her.

(Rafael emerges and tries to get under the table where Leon is)

Leon:  I’m here, I’m here…

Rafael:  Oh, sorry, sorry. (He hides out on the balcony)

Tzvia:  (to Nadav)  It’s no good there, come here.

(Tzvia gives her place to Nadav and looks for another.  Tries under the table.)

Leon:  I’m here.  I’m here.

Tzvia:  Oh, sorry, sorry.

(Tzvia races around the room, tries the balcony)

Rafael:  I’m here, I’m here.

(Tzvia returns to her place behind the bureau, and Nadav returns to his former spot.  Brief pause.  Doorbell rings.)

Nadav: (from his hiding spot) The key is inside the lock.  He can’t open the door.

Reuvena:  (from her hiding place) Someone should let him in.

Nadav:  Go ahead, open the door.

Reuvena:  You go!  I’ll laugh!

Nadav:  I told him I’m in Holon.

Rafael:  I’ll go.

Leon:  No!  You don’t live here.  He’ll suspect right away!

Rafael:  Right!

(doorbell rings)

Tzvia:  (emerges) I’ll go.  Hurry, hide!

(everyone hides)

Tzvia:  (walking towards door) And wait for my signal. (exits)

Rafael:  (sticks his head out) What’s the signal?

All:  Ssshh!

(Tzvia and Aaron from outside – “hello”, “hello”, enter)

Tzvia:  Aaron, a kiss.

Aaron:  Is there anything to eat?

Rafael: (sticks his head out) Supri –  (realizes he’s the only one, quickly hides again.  Aaron turns, doesn’t manage to see Rafael.)

Aaron:  Has something happened?

Tzvia:  No, nothing, why?

(Aaron and Tzvia stand looking at each other, while Tzvia snaps her fingers, hits herself on the thighs, waves her hands above her head.

Tzvia:  Idiots, now!

(Everyone jumps from the hiding places – while Leon takes pictures.)

All:  Surprise!

(Aaron falls flat on the floor while everyone is singing “Happy Birthday to you”.)

Reuvena:  (bends over him) Daddy?

Tzvia:  What happened…  Aaron?  Aaron?

Reuvena:  Ambulance!  Call an ambulance!

Maria:  (Draws close to Aaron) Let me, I’m a registered nurse… (kneels near him)

Leon:  (photographs Aaron lying on the floor)  Aaron?  What happened to you?

Nadav:  (hysterical) Dad.  What have we done to you?!  Good God!  We’ve killed daddy!

Tzvia:  (weeping) How?  Why is this happening?

Reuvena:  For God’s sake, call an ambulance!

Maria: (from her place beside Aaron.  She is almost inaudible) He is alive.  Listen to me, he has a pulse.

Rafael: (talking on cellphone) Excuse me, we need an ambulance at Emek Rafaim 14, apartment six.  It’s an emergency.

Nadav: (hysterical) I killed my father!  I want to die!  I want to die!  (runs outside continuing to scream)

Rafael:  An ambulance is on the way.

Reuvena:  Give him some water…

Rafael:  I’ll bring water.  (turns to exit)

Tzvia:  Water!  Water!

Reuvena:  Water!  Water!

Rafael:  (on the way out, looks off stage and sees Nadav)  Nadav, no!

(Nadav enters with a bottle, hysterical)  I don’t want to live!  I want to die!

Rafael:  That’s a bottle of bleach!  It’s poison!

Tzvia:  Nadav!  Give me the bottle.

Leon:  (snaps a picture of Nadav) Don’t drink that!  Nadav…!

Reuvena:  Nadav, don’t do it.

(Nadav tips the bottle to his lips to drink; everyone screams)

Tzvia:  Nadav… No…!!!  That’s not healthy.  You’ll injure yourself for the rest of your life.  Nadav, I beg you, you’ve already drunk enough.

Leon:  (continues photographing) Nadav!  Don’t drink that.  It’ll burn your insides.

Reuvena:  Nadav!  Remember when you wanted to jump off the roof and I convinced you that life was beautiful, remember…?

Rafael:  Noooo.

(Nadav falls back into a chair, looks at the bottle of bleach as if disappointed.  Tzvia takes the bottle from him, examines the label, shows it to Reuvena.  Suddenly, Nadav starts to flail, distort his face, emit strange sounds, roll his eyes – in short, to perform as if in death throes.)

Tzvia:  Pour water on him!

Reuvena:  Not water, milk, only milk!

Rafael:  We should call the bleach company!

Maria:  Upon my soul, what is going on here?

(During his energetic death dance, Nadav hugs Rafael to the point of choking him.)

Tzvia:  Water. (brings a glass) I have water.

Reuvena:  Pour it on him.

Tzvia:  I’m pouring.

(the water sprays all over him Rafael)

Rafael:  Not on me…;

(Nadav releases Rafael and continues his death dance until he collapses.)

(Nadav, lying  on the floor, starts to tremble)

Tzvia:  Nadav my son.  (holds his hand, starts to tremble herself)

Reuvena: Nadav…! (Starts to tremble)

Rafael:  (holds Reuvena from behind, begins to tremble) Reuvena.

(Nadav emits a final scream, Reuvena pulls him to his feet; he stands and begins to laugh.)

(Silence. Shock)

Nadav:  Dad, get up.

Tzvia:  What?

Reuvena:  What’s going on here?

Nadav:  We pulled a good one on you! Ha! Just a joke.

Aaron:  You bought it, ha!

Leon:  I don’t believe this!  They fooled us!

Rafael:  Whew!  We sure bought it!

Tzvia:  You’re not normal, you two…! I have to ‘phone my husband and tell him what’s going on here!

Maria:  Your husband?  Isn’t Mr. Aaron your husband?

(All laugh. – “Yeah right, her husband!”

Nadav:  She’s not really our mother.  She’s an exchange mother.  She’s from Yeruham.  We’re in a TV reality show called ‘Exchange Mother’. (calls outside) Benny! Come on in!

(A TV director enters)

Benny:  Great material, guys, keep on going.

Maria:  Everything is a TV programme?

Nadav: Everything is on camera.

Benny:  (to Maria) There’s a camera, there’s a camera, and there’s a camera… (waves outside) Tuchler, give me a close-up of her amazement.

Maria:  Strange, how will I know what is real and what isn’t?

Nadav:  Everything is real.

Rafael:  (to Nadav and Reuvena):  Not quite.  Aaron’s heart attack wasn’t real.  That was a joke.

Tzvia:  Right, but the joke was real.

All:  Right.

Benny:  I’m going to take this material to the editing studio –   Great, gang, it came out really funny…

Rafael:  I think I’m blocking your car.  I’ll go down with you.

Reuvena:  I’ll go down with you too.  I left Daddy’s gift in the car.  I’ll be right back.

(Benny, Rafael and Reuvena exit.  Leon follows. Tzvia, Nada, Aaron and Maria remain on stage)

Tzvia:  I’ll go get the cake –

Maria:  (to Aaron) Pardon me, Mr. Aaron.  Your son spoke to you earlier on the ‘phone.  You said that you know my father, Lev Antalovitch Chorney.  Is that the case,  or was that too a prank, a jest?

Aaron:  Of course, I know him very well.

Maria:  Is that indeed so?

Aaron:  Nah!  Just a joke.  Never heard of the guy.

(All laugh.  Maria stands trembling with fury.)

Maria:  Forgive me!  Forgive me!

(All are silent)

Stop this crazy madhouse!  Have you no feelings!  Are you really so cold-hearted?  I am not a prank, not a jest!  I have come for help!  My father’s life is in grave danger!  I came from Russia to save him and now, for the last time, I ask:  do you know him?  Answer me yes or no!

(pause)

Tzvia:  She’s right.  We’ve gone too far.  Maria is in trouble.  Aaron, tell her now please if you know the name Lev Antalovitch Chorney.

Aaron:  The answer is yes, I know him.  He used to live here, in this apartment, eighteen years ago.  He was an actor in a theatre here in Jerusalem.

Tzvia:  Is that the actor you always talk about?

Maria:  An actor in a theatre in Jerusalem…  Perhaps you can tell in which theatre?

(Hezzy enters, in his underwear, a towel around his neck.)

Hezzy:  Excuse me, we can’t get into our room. Robby, over here, there are people here.  (Robby enters in short pants and a bathrobe.)

(Everyone stops and looks at them.)

Batya:  (to Hezzy) Mr. Hazzan, again on stage?  I asked you…

Hezzy:  Batya, honey, someone’s gone into our room, locked the door and left us outside, after our showers, with our what’s its name hanging out.

(Manager enters)

Manager:  Excuse me!  Could you please get off the stage?

Hezzy:  Where to?  Our door is locked.

Manager:  What do you mean locked?

Robby:  Someone is in there.  Some crazy woman screaming.

Manager:  (to Batya) Crazy woman…  Where’s Dolly?

Batya:  Locked in the wardrobe room.

Manager:  Locked?  You call that locked? She got out,  went back to her room and locked the door. Come on. (turns to exit)

Hezzy:  (to actors) Hey guys, sorry for the interruption.

(Manager, Batya, Hezzy and Robby exit)

Manager:  (steps back) Hezzy, please!  (to actors) Hey guys, sorry for the interruption.  (leads Hezzy out)

Maria:  (to Aaron) You said my father acted in the theatre – (doorbell rings)

Tzvia:  Who can that be?

Maria:  Perhaps you can tell me which theatre that might be? (exits)

(Tzvia and Gooly enter)

Gooly:  (notices Maria) Maria!

(they hug)

Maria:  Gooly!  This is Aaron.

(Aaron and Gooly shake hands)

Gooly:  Gooly Ben Mosheshet.

Aaron:  Nice to meet you.

Tzvia:  Tzvia.

(Gooly and Tzvia shake hands)

Gooly:  Nice to meet you.

Maria:  Aaron knows my father.  He says that he is an actor in a Jerusalem theatre.

Gooly:  Which theatre?

Aaron:  The Khan Theatre.

Gooly:  What?  I myself work at the Khan.  What is your father’s name?

Maria:  Lev.

Gooly:  Lev?  I don’t know anyone called Lev.  Maybe he left before I started working there.  I have an idea.  In the artistic adviser’s office there is an album with names and pictures of all the actors and their resumes.  Let’s go to the theatre and find him.

Maria:  Oh, what feelings suddenly overwhelm me…

Gooly:  Let’s to, to the theatre.

Maria:  Thank you.

(Maria and Gooly exit.  Aaron and Tzvia wave goodbye.

Aaron:  Goodbye Maria, goodbye…

Tzvia:  Good luck, Maria…  (turns to Aaron) Happy birthday, Aaron.

Aaron:  Thank you, Tzvialeh.

(they hug)

(Shmulik enters, accompanied by a threatening musical chord.)

Shmulik:  Hello, the door was open…  nice to meet you, Shmulik. I am looking for a Russian girl called Maria…

Tzvia:  She just left.  For the Khan. The theatre.

Shmulik:  Ah, good.  Thanks.  Thanks.

(exits. Dark)

 

 

 

SCENE ELEVEN:  IN FRONT OF THE ARTISTIC ADVISER’S DOOR

 

(Door to Artistic Adviser’s office.  Door is closed.  In front of door are the Manager and Batya.  Hezzy stands to one side, in underwear, Robby beside him in short pants and robe.  Manager knocks on door.)

Manager:  Dolly, do you hear me?  (pause)  Dolly.  (pause)  Dolly, I beg of you to be reasonable and do the reasonable thing.  (pause)  Dolly.

Dolly:  (from inside)  What do you want?

Manager:  Come out and we’ll talk like two adults.

Dolly (from inside):  I have nothing to come out for and nothing to discuss.  Look at what they did to my office, the two pigs.

Hezzy:  What is she talking about?  Pigs?…

Manager:  Dolly, I promise you we’ll settle everything and you’ll get your office back and…  We made a mistake.  It happens.  I apologize, in the name of the theatre.

Hezzy:  Hold on, what do you mean she’ll get the room back?  We paid a year in advance.

(Manager takes Hezzy aside)

Manager:  (whispering)  Can’t you see we’ve got a super emergency, Hezzy?  Do I have to explain to you what’s going on?  We have a crazy woman here, a woman who has gone off her rocker.

Dolly:  I’m crazy?…  I’m off my rocker?!!  I’ll give you crazy!!!

(from inside loud sound of breaking glass is heard)

Manager:  (Shocked, to Hezzy) What was that?  What did you have in there?  A vase?

Hezzy:  (to Robby)  Robby, what was that?

Robby:  Look, Daddy, water.

      (from under the door water flows out)

Manager:  What did you have there, a vase?

      (door opens, Dolly’s hand is visible.  She tosses out a small goldfish that falls on the floor.  Door closes.  Robby leans down and picks up the fish.)

Robby:  She broke the aquarium.  Look daddy, Lassy.

Hezzy:  She broke the aquarium.  She murdered the boy’s fish.

Manager:  (shaken up, pulls out his wallet) Here, please, buy him a new aquarium.  We’ll compensate you fully. (offers him a bill)

Hezzy:  What are you giving me here?

Manager:  Sorry, I didn’t mean to insult you.  I thought you should be reimbursed.

Hezzi:  A hundred shekel?

Manager:  No?

Hezzy:  A hundred shekel?

Manager:  So how much?

Hezzy:  The heating element alone costs a hundred and fifty.

Manager:  How much?

Hezzy:  (to Robby) Robby, show him the fish.

      (Robby shows the Manager the fish)

You know how much a fish like that costs?

Manager:  How much?

Hezzy:  And that’s without taking into account the boy’s anguish.

Manager:  How much?

Hezzy:  To him the fish are like the room to the nut.

Manager:  How much?

Hezzy:  Three hundred and fifty shekel.

Manager:  This one little fish?

Hezzy:  You think it goes by size?

Manager:  How many were there?

Hezzy:  Two couples.

Manager:  A thousand four hundred shekel?

Hezzy:  And the aquarium?

Manager:  How much?

Hezzy:  Another thousand four hundred.  We bought it for the boy’s bar-mitzva.

Manager:  Two thousand eight hundred.

Hezzy:  And the heating element.

Manager:  Two thousand nine hundred and fifty.

Batya:  (at the door, knocking) Dolly, do you hear me?  (pause) Dolly, do you hear me? (pause) Dolly do you hear me? (pause) Dolly do you hear me?

(to the Manager)  She doesn’t hear me…  (very quietly) she’s sick in the head.

Dolly:  (from inside the room) With you, Batya, I’ll deal separately.  Scumbag!

(Batya and the Manager look at each other with surprise and fear)

Manager:  (no voice, only his lips move) She hears everything.

Dolly:  (from inside) Everything, I hear everything, every word.

Batya:  Dolly, you can ask Habibi…

Dolly:  (from inside) I refuse to negotiate until she gets out of here.

Manager:  Dolly, your doing a great injustice to Batya.

Dolly: (sings) La donna mobile…

Manager:  Now… Dolly, I ask you, I beg you…  (Dolly continues singing. Suddenly he gets an idea.  Winks to Batya.) Batya, I’m asking you to leave the premises.

Batya:  (winks back) Okay, okay. Bye.

(Stomps her feet as if walking away and then quietly stands beside the manager)

Manager:  There, she’s gone.  Do you want to come out now?

Dolly:  She’s gone?

(Batya and Manager wink at each other)

Manager:  Yes, yes, gone.

Dolly:  Can I speak openly now?

Manager:  Of course.  No one can hear us.

Dolly:  Thank you.  Batya, I would like to know why you dance naked every night with Arabs in the Shabbat Square?

Batya:  Pardon me –

(the Manager doesn’t shut her up in time.  Batya realizes she has been duped)

Dolly:  Gone, ha?  Two cheats, crooks!  Behold! This is what the management of a repertoire theatre looks like!

Hezzy:  What about the money for the aquarium.

      (Gooly and Maria enter from the audience)

Maria:  This is the Khan Theatre?

Gooly:  Oh-oh, we’re in the middle of a performance.  Never mind.  Let’s go in.

      (Takes her hand and leads her quickly to the stage.  The characters on stage look at them.  Gooly and Maria go up on stage.)

Manager:  What’s going on.  Who is this?

Gooly:  This is Maria.  Remember?

Manager:  Maria, yes, of course (shakes her hand) a lovely character…  This is Mr. Hezzy Hazzan –

Gooly:  (cuts him off) Not now.  We need the actors picture album from Dolly’s room.

Manager:  It’s not gonna happen.  Dolly locked herself inside her room.

Gooly:  What?  (goes to door) Dolly, this is Gooly.  Please open the door.  It’s urgent.

Dolly:  You can go to hell too.  Where were you when they took my room away?

Gooly:  Dolly, I’m sorry, I…

Dolly:  Do you hear me?  Go to hell, “Mr. Artistic Director”!

(Gooly is helpless)

Hezzy:  I’m getting a very bad impression of labour relations in this place.

Manager:  Why is that?

Maria:  Please, leave me alone with this woman.  I do not know her, but I am certain that if I speak with her heart to heart, quietly, intimately, I will succeed in touching the mercy within her.

Manager:  What did she say?  I didn’t understand.

Hezzy:  Maria, could you repeat that…

Gooly:  Come on, let’s go.  Let her speak to Dolly alone.

      (He all but pushes them out.  Maria remains alone on stage.  She approaches the door and knocks gently.)

Maria:  My lady…

Dolly:  Who’s that?

Maria:  My lady does not know me.  My name is Maria.  I came from the land of Russia five days ago.  Great hardships have befallen me in my search for my father.  His name is Lev Antalovitch Chorney.  Do you know this man?

Dolly: (after brief pause) The name is familiar.

Maria:  I have reason to believe that he was an actor in this theatre and Gooly told me that perhaps I might find his picture in the actors’ album in your room.

Dolly:  So?

Maria:  Could you open the door for me?

Dolly:  Are you alone?

Maria:  Alone.  There is no one here.

(pause.  The door opens, Dolly peeks out, hands Maria the album.)

Maria:  From the bottom of my heart I am grateful to you.

(Maria puts down the album, turns the pages anxiously.  Dolly looks over her shoulder.)

Dolly:  If I remember correctly, I might have heard his name.  Even if he was here, it was many years before I came to the theatre.

Maria:  Someone has torn a page from the album!

Dolly:  Right.  A page has been torn out.  (looks to the side) Someone’s coming.

(goes back into the room quickly and shuts the door.  Cherner enters.  Pause.  Cherner and Maria look at each other.)

Cherner:  You…  Are you the girl from Russia?

Maria:  Yes.

Cherner:  Maria?

Maria:  Yes.

Cherner:  And you’re looking for your father?

Maria:  Yes.

Cherner:  What was his name, Lev?

Maria:  Lev Antalovitch.  Do you know him?

Cherner:  He was a friend of mine.

Maria:  Do you know where I can find him?  Every second counts.  I know that he is about to die.

      (brief pause)

Cherner:  (with a cynical smile) He’s already dead.

Maria:  What?

(Gooly enters)

Cherner:  A long time ago.

Maria:  How?…  From whence are you?…  Whereof do you know that he is dead?

Cherner:  (sits) How old are you?

Maria:  Soon I turn twenty.

Cherner:  He spoke of you a great deal.

Maria:  What did he tell you?  (pause)

Cherner:  He was panic stricken.

Maria:  What does that mean panic stricken?

Cherner:  He was very young when you were born.  At that age a person doesn’t know what is important.  He was an artist.  When his wife, your mother abandoned him and left him with a small baby, he panicked.  You understand?  So he did the first thing that came into his head.  He left you with his friend.

Maria:  Dr. Poznick.

Cherner:  He thought that his whole life was ahead of him… and art… (brief pause) so he fled.  And to where?  (chuckles sadly)  To where?!

To a land where the whores are TV stars and the pimps philosophers and the artists are beggars.

      (brief pause)

There are times when I miss him terribly.  (brief pause)  We met here, at this theatre.  In the beginning a passion burned within him.  But slowly slowly, with the compromises and the vulgarity, this place erased him.

Erased his soul.  He turned into a shadow.  And when he realized this, he tried to struggle.  But they didn’t give him a chance.  He got miserable roles, acted in dreadful plays.  And then… he gave up.  Not just gave up, he decided to end it all…  He never forgave himself for leaving you, for leaving himself…

You came for nothing.  Go back to Russia.

Maria:  Might you please tell where he is buried, my father?

      (Shmulik comes on stage from the hall)

Shmulik:  Hello.

Gooly:  What is this creep doing here?!

Shmulik:  So this is where the culture is…

Gooly:  (with a scornful smile) This isn’t the place for you!  Scram!

Shmulik:  (to Maria) Honey, you owe me money.

Gooly:  (chortles) What money?  What does she owe you money for?

Shmulik: (pulls out a notebook) A ride from the airport to Jerusalem.  A festive dinner plus a Passover Seder, a room for the night.  I’m not the welfare office, you know.

Maria:  How much do you want?

Shmulik:  A thousand five hundred shekel.

Maria:  I do not have an amount like that.

Gooly:  You don’t have to give him a cent.

Maria:  (to Shmulik) But I promise you that…

Shmulik:  Excuse me, honey, no promises.  You don’t have the money, come to work.

      (the Manager and Batya enter)

Manager:  Dolly came out of the room?

Gooly:  This is all I need now.

Manager:  (shakes Shmulik’s hand) How do you do.

Shmulik:  (shakes the Manager’s hand) Shmulik.

Manager:  Can I help you?

Shmulik:  I am owed a thousand five hundred shekel.

Manager:  (to Batya) The guy from the sewer. (opening his wallet) It just so happens I have no cash on me right now.

Batya:  (taking out her purse) I only have small change… (counts coins)

Shmulik:  I see that I have come to a really successful place here.  (grabs Maria’s hand)  Come, my sweet, we are going.

Gooly:  (almost laughing) Hey, hey!  Relax, okay…?

Cherner:  (to Shmulik) Don’t you dare put your filthy hands on Lev Antolovitch’s angel.

Manager:  Cherner, Cherner…

Shmulik:  I didn’t hear what you said.  Do you mind repeating it?

Gooly:  (drags Maria away from Shmulik) Don’t worry.

Shmulik:  Come back here!

          (Cherner pushes him away from Maria)

Shmulik:  Who do you think you’re touching?

Manager:  Just a minute…

Cherner:  Take your ugly face and get out of here.  This is a theatre, not a whore house.

Shmulik:  What’s the difference?  Except that we make money.

Manager:  You’ll be surprised.  We happen to be working on a performance that’s going to be a box office hit, with songs, dances…  (to the pianist) give me a… (pianist starts playing “Beautiful Land of Israel”)

Cherner:  (to Shmulik) Get out of here. (clasps his throat)

(Shmulik moves away from him holding a knife whose edge is stained with blood.  Shmulik turns to exit. To Maria) 

Shmulik:  I’ll be seeing you around, my sweet.

      (Shmulik exits.  Cherner grabs his stomach)

Cherner: (in shock) He stabbed me.

Gooly:  (hurries to him) Aryeh!  It’s blood.

Manager:  He stabbed him!

Maria:  Call an ambulance!

      (The Manager and Batya exit.  Cherner collapses, Gooly and Maria hurry to him.  He lies on the stage, Maria kneels beside him holding his hand, Gooly near her.  Cherner puts his hand on his chest)

Cherner:  Maria… here…

      (He dies)

Gooly:  (stands shocked and confused) That’s not how I planned it.  (leans over Aryeh)  What has he got here?  (gently moves Cherner”s hand)

      (Pulls a photo out of his pocket)

Maria:  What is that?

Gooly:  The picture of Lev Antalovitch Chorney.

Maria:  He tore it out of the actors’ album.

(she takes the photograph and looks at it, she realizes who the man lying at her feet is)

You know what comes into my mind, Gooly?

      So funny and sad,

      If I hadn’t gone to Jerusalem,

      Lev Antalovitch, whom you called Aryeh,

      My father,

      Wouldn’t have died.

      (The light fades slowly)

     

 

  SCENE TWELVE:  NIGHT CLUB

 

(Executive Meeting.  Table and chairs like in Scene One, except no one is sitting.  On either side of the table stand Hezzy, dressed in a suit, smoking a cigar, and Robby, also in a suit.)

Robby:  So this is where it all happened?

Hezzy:  Right here. (with a bit smile) And no one is waiting for Cherner anymore.

Robby:  Lev Antalovitch Chorney.  How strange.  So  how did you become manager of the theatre?

Hezzy:  I already told you.  (with a mischievous smile)  The leasing of that room cost them a great deal of money.

Robby:  Aside from the aquarium?

Hezzy:  Absolutely.  How do you think I could afford to send you to that boarding school in England?  That lunatic not only broke into our room and caused us material damage, we also proved that she caused you irreversible emotional damage.

Robby:  You don’t say?!

Hezzy:  Not me, the court said so.

Robby:  But I still don’t understand why they made you Manager?

Hezzy:  Ah, well, after all that mess, the board threw out the former Manager and looked for someone to replace him.  So they came to me.

Robby:  Why?  What do you know about theatre?

Hezzy:  What’s there to know?!  Since I was already living here they could save on travel expenses.

Robby:  Interesting that I don’t remember anything.

Hezzy:  You were a child and you also suffered a traumatic experience.

Robby:  Now what?

Hezzy:  Now you can say we’ve got a hit.

Robby:  I know.  The line outside goes all the way to the end of the street.

Hezzy:  Well, I finally understood that we were trapped in a conception.

Robby:  What conception?

Hezzy:  This conception about theatre.  Why do we have to be a theatre?!  Why not open ourselves to other possibilities. Now we do fusion…

Robby:  Fusion?

Hezzy:  A bit of theatre, some public singsongs, a little kariaoke, a little striptease, some cantorial stuff, and tomorrow evening we start a performance that will break the box-office.

Robby:  What?

Hezzy:  A magician who erases memory.

Robby:  In short, you’ve turned it into a nightclub.

Hezzy:  A nightclub broadcast live!  We’re also a TV studio!

(TV director Benny enters)

Director:  We’re starting.  Roll VTR five, four, three, two, one, action!  (Music.  Maytal enters, stands on table and starts to sing.)

 

A BIT OF A WHORE

 

Stripper (Maytal):

 

I’m a respectable lady to the core,

Only here and there a bit of a whore.

I have an audacious little store

Nearby (what’s between her legs she means)

Yes, I’m a bit of a whore.

 

Not only for material gain,

Do I gentlemen here entertain,

My heart has compassion, I feel for everyone,

Who needs a bit of a whore.

 

Chorus: 

 

And so,

I may be peculiar, weird and more:

My chest with idealism does heave,

And in my heart,

A sense of mission!

A bit of a whore!

Consideration!

 

I firmly believe,

That every virile guy,

Deserves help from such as I.

In my heart a bird does soar,

And this bird it is a whore.

 

Gooly:

 

I too have a corner in my soul,

Where I too am a bit of a whore,

A bit of a whore,

But not so bad, not to the core.

 

Manager:

 

A corner where all can be bought and sold,

Never cheap it must be told,

For learning and culture are bought with gold,

Therefore,

Become a bit of a whore.

 

Chorus (both, alternating):

 

I may be peculiar, weird and more,

My head with ideals is overstuffed,

And in my heart,

Culture and art!

A bit of a whore!

A sense of mission!

It’s my conviction,

We need a hit,

At any cost, let’s start.

In my heart a bird does soar,

And this bird it is a whore.

 

Shmulik:

 

The commandments I carry out with faith,

Every whore in the ritual bath I bathe.

My girls, I tell you in all honesty

Are clean,

And guard their modesty.

 

Shmulik’s mother:

 

At table there’s always a pot of soup,

That’s how I am, all for the group.

Since youth I was in this profession,

So to the girls

I say:  follow after my fashion!

 

Chorus:

(Brief chorus followed by music)

 

Both: 

 

And so,

I may be peculiar, weird and more…

 

She:  I’m the mother of a pimp.

He:  I’m the son or a whore.

 

Gooly:

 

Our whoring isn’t negative,

The goal is quite affirmative:

To develop creativity,

And cultural activity.

 

Hezzy:

Open your legs at the proper time,

Standing up can also work fine,

And when in cash we finally roll,

We’ll create something for the soul.

 

All:

With us the soul is really the core,

That’s why the ass we tend to ignore.

 

Since learning and culture are bought for gold,

One needs to become a bit of a whore.

 

Chorus:

I may be peculiar, weird and more,

My head with ideals is overstuffed,

And in my heart,

Culture and art!

A bit of a whore!

A sense of mission!

In my heart a bird does soar,

And this bird, it is a whore!

 

 

(Lights fade to Black)

 

 

 

CURTAIN