I Bertolt Brecht
by Victor A. Grauer
Voice from loudspeakers: Act I, Scene 4. Our hero, thoroughly disgusted and depressed by the revelations of scene 3, has taken to his bed. But the specter of the strange German poet is on a mission and will not let him be. In the guise of Mephistopheles, he appears to him in the middle of the night and the two of them enact an appropriate scene from Goethe's Faust. Brecht/Mephistopheles plays on his sense of guilt, tempting him with some of the most painful ironies of the global economy and the New Capitalism. Like the character in Brecht's play, our hero is being seduced, recruited into an army, whose purpose is not at all clear. Does he see through their scheme? Will he play their game? Does he really want to save the world? Or simply shoot himself?
[Total darkness. To stage right is a small room with one window containing a bed, a small chair and, next to the chair, a table, on which sits an unlit lamp. VG is lying in the bed, tossing and turning restlessly under several layers of blankets. In one corner of the room is the same little wooden "outhouse" booth as in scene 1. Beside VG's bed, slowly rocking in a rocking chair, is the hooded figure in violet. He will continue to quietly rock this way throughout the entire scene, ignored by the others.
The scene begins in total darkness, except for the light of the same flickering candle that's become visible at various points in the previous scenes. After two or three minutes BB, in a leather jacket and worker's cap, enters from stage left, carrying an unlit cigar and a folded newspaper, illuminated by a very dim, soft spot, which follows him as he slowly and carefully makes his way to the center of the stage. He picks up the candle, very slowly and carefully lights a cigar with it, then blows it out. At that moment, the gong sounds, as before, and the spot goes out. Taking a deep puff on his cigar, BB continues across the stage to VG's room, leaving the trail of the lit cigar as he goes. When he arrives, he seats himself on the chair, facing the sleeping VG. He then takes another puff and waits.
After a minute or so, he sings:]
[During the following episode, lights hidden behind the bed should very gradually intensify, but never to more than a fairly dim illumination of the room only, in silhouette.]
BB: Gegen Morgen in der grauen Fruehe pissen die Tannen
Und ihr Ungeziefer, die Voegel, faengt an zu schrein.
Um die Stunde trink ich mein Glas in der Stadt aus und schmeisse
Den Tabakstummel weg und schlafe beunruhigt ein.
[As he sings, BB pantomimes the action of the song, draining a glass of wine, stubbing out his cigar, stretching, and going to sleep.]
[As BB sings and for a while afterward, from the various onstage loudspeakers, certain words and phrases, such as "pissen die Tannen," "Ungeziefer," "faengt an," "zu schrein," "beunruhigt," etc. are echoed over and over again by a chorus of male and female voices, each reciting independently. Superimposed on this are voices reciting the English translation, also with the English equivalent of the same words and phrases repeated many times.]
[The translation: Toward morning in the grey dawn the fir trees piss
And their vermin the birds begin to cheep.
At that hour, in the city, I drain my glass, stub out
My cigar and drift into troubled sleep.]
Toward the end, VG joins in with the disembodied voices, singing the following:
VG: Toward morning in the gray dawn the Hudson River belches
And its victims the fish begin to weep.
At that hour, in the city, I rise to take a piss, then flush
The toilet and return to fitful sleep.
While singing, VG pantomimes the text, getting out of bed (ignoring BB) and entering the booth. After a few seconds we hear the same flushing sounds as in scene 1. VG emerges from the booth and returns to bed, tossing and turning as before.
After about a minute, BB shakes himself awake and knocks three times loudly on the table.
During the following episode, all dialogue in German will be translated by the same disembodied, amplified voices as above. The voices will use different translations at the same time. Suggestions for such translations will be provided in brackets. At the same time, various words and phrases from the original AND the translation will be projected onto the on-stage screen and other parts of the set.
VG: Es klopft? Herein! Wer will mich wieder plagen?
[I hear knocking. Come in! Who could it be at this hour?]
[What's that? Knocking? Enter, please. Who wants to bother me again?]
[It knocks? Here in! Who will me again plague?]
BB: Ich bin's. [It's me.] [It is I.] [I am here.]
VG: Herein! [Come in!] [Enter!] [Here-in!]
BB: Du musst es dreimal sagen. [You have to say it three times.] [Three's the charm.] [Thou must it three times say.]
VG: Herein denn! [All right then, "come in."] [Come in already!] [Here-in then!]
BB: No need. I'm already here. Been here all along.
VG: You speak English?
BB: Oh yes. English especially.
VG: Why are you here? What do you want from me?
BB: We have to find a better outfit for you. Do you like silk? I always wear silk shirts. Like the way it feels against my skin. And a worker's cap, like the one Lenin always wore. But 100% wool, of course. And a leather jacket, genuine leather, the best quality, very soft to the touch, made from the skin of newborn calves.
VG: In jedem Kleide werd ich wohl die Pein
Des engen Erdenlebens fuehlen.
[No matter what I wear, I feel the crushing pain of Earthly life.]
[Who cares what I wear, what difference does it make? Life is just an awful pain.]
[In whatever outfit, will I well the pain of crushing Earthly life feel.]
VG: Ich bin zu alt, um nur zu spielen,
Zu jung, um ohne Wunsch zu sein.
[I'm too old to play around/ Too young to be without desire.]
[I am too old for this sort of play/ too young to give it up.]
[I am too old, um, only to play/ too young, um, without wishes to have.]
VG: Nur mit Entzetzen wach ich morgens auf,
Ich moechte bittre Traenen weinen,
Den Tag zu sehn, der mir in seinem Lauf
Nicht einen Wunsch erfuellen wird, nicht einen.
[In deep distress I wake each morning/ Knowing that before it's done
The day which is so brightly dawning/ Will grant me not a single wish, not one.]
[Only in distress wake I each morning up/ I might bitter tears be weeping
The day to see which for me in its course/ Not one wish would grant, not one.]
VG: Auch muss ich, wenn die Nacht sich niedersenkt,
Mich aengstlich auf das Lager strecken;
Auch da wird keine Rast geschenkt,
Mich werden wilde Traeume schrecken.
[Thus must I, when night sinks deep/ With anguish stretched out upon my bed;
Deprived of rest, try hard to sleep/ Though fearful dreams fill me with dread.]
[Also must I, when night sinks down/ Stretch myself on the couch with anguish;
Also will no rest be given/ At me will wild dreams strike terror .]
VG: Und so ist mir das Dasein eine Last/ Der Tod erwuenscht, das Leben mir verhasst.
[Existence is for me a heavy weight/ Death is what I wish for, life is what I hate.]
BB: Perhaps I have arrived too late?
VG: Was willst du armer Teufel geben?
Ward eines Menschen Geist in seinem hohen Streben
Von deinesgleichen je gefasst?
Doch hast du Speise, die nicht saettigt, hast
Du rotes Gold, das ohne Rast,
Quecksilber gleich, dir in der Hand zerrinnt,
Ein Spiel, bei dem man nie gewinnt,
Ein Maedchen, das an meiner Brust
Mit Aeugeln schon dem Nachbar sich verbindet,
Der Ehre schoene Goetterlust,
Die wie ein Meteor verschwindet?
[What have you to offer, poor Devil?
You who've never been able to comprehend
A human spirit striving for what is noblest.
Food which doesn't satisfy?
Wealth which perpetually
Runs like quicksilver between the fingers?
A game of chance no one could ever win?
A beautiful woman who, nestled in my arms,
Flirts shamelessly with every man in sight?
Honor, noblest treasure of all,
Which like a meteor comes and goes?]
BB: No no nothing like that. You're confusing me with someone else.
[BB crosses his legs, turns on the lamp, casually opens his newspaper and begins to read.]
BB: Here's an item in the New York Times that may interest you.
[BB begins to read -- the Secretary and Translator appear on the far edge of stage left -- as he reads, the chorus sings Brecht's poem, "Weihnachtslegend," in the original German (see the Collected Poems, Suhrkamp edition, p. 123) while the English version is read over the loudspeaker.]
Am Heiligen Abend heut/ Sitzen wir, die armen Leut
In einer kalten Stube drin/ Der Wind geht daussen und geht herin.
Komm, lieber Herr Jesus, zu uns, sieh an:/ Weil wir dich wahrhaft noetig han.
Wir sitzen heute so herum/ Als wie das finstere Heidentum
Der Schnee faellt kalt auf unser Gebein/ Der Schnee will unbedingt herein.
Komm Schnee, zu uns herein, kein Wort: / Du hast in Himmel auch kein Ort.
Wir brauen einen Branntewein/ Dann wird uns leicht und waermer sein
Einen heissen Branntewein brauen wir/ Um unsere Huett tappt ein dick Tier.
Komm, Tier, zu uns herein nur schnell:/ Ihr habt heut auch keine warme Stell.
Wir tun ins Feur die Roeck hinein/ Dann wird's uns allen waermer sein
Dann glueht uns das Gebaelke schier/ Erst in der Frueh erfrieren wir.
Komm, lieber Wind, sei unser Gast/ Weil du auch keine Heimat hast.
Loudspeaker: On this holy Christmas night/ We poor folk sit in this dim light
Huddled in our tiny shack/ While wind blows in through every crack.
Come to us our dear Lord and see:/ How badly we have need of Thee.
In a circle now we sit/ Like lost souls cast into the pit
The snow falls cold upon our skin/ The snow is freely coming in
Come, snow, with soft and silent grace: / Like us, in heaven you have no place.
We're brewing brandy as you see/ To warm us in our misery
As we add a bit of yeast/ We hear outside some big fat beast
Come, beast, inside, come quickly pray: / Beasts too have no warm place to stay.
Let's throw our coats into the fire/ For warmth is what we most desire
Burn the roofbeam too my friends/ We might not freeze before night ends.
Enter wind, and be our guest: / For you too have no where to rest.]
[As the song ends, sounds of wind are heard from the loudspeakers. As the scene progresses, these sounds become more intense and violent.]
BB: [During the course of this reading -- from an article by Seth Mydans, in the July 18, 2000 issue of the New York Times -- Jewish memorial candles are lit in various places onstage.] Maria Luz Ochandra ran for her life, pursued by an erupting volcano of garbage that roared like a wounded giant, heaved like a tidal wave, then burst into flames as it buried the shantytown where she lived, along with her little boys Raymond, Ruel and Ryan.
S: [Suddenly illuminated by a spotlight.] ''I thought it was the end of the world,'' she said. ''The smell was horrible. I thought I was going to choke. Everywhere it was mud and flames. Everything got dark.
''And I passed out. When I came to, there was light, and I thought, 'Thank God, I'm alive.' But then I realized that I only had one of my children, Bryan, the youngest. The others were dead.'' [Spotlight out. The same usage of the light whenever T or S speak.]
BB: Loosened by a week of monsoon rains, the huge garbage mountain here -- the symbol of the nation's poverty -- had collapsed and smothered hundreds of squatters who made their livings picking through it with metal hooks for scraps of refuse.
Today, one week later, rescuers still dug through hundreds of tons of muck, working in one-hour shifts because of the rot of the soaking garbage, the poisonous gasses it emits and the stench of the decomposing bodies.
About 200 bodies have been recovered. Residents estimate that up to four times that number may have died, though a complete toll will probably never be known.
The people here knew that they were living in danger. This was not the first garbage landslide that they had seen. But they say they had nowhere else to go, homeless migrants who shift from village to city, from one squatter colony to another, nibbling at the edges of society.
In a message of condolence, Pope John Paul II called the people here
T: ''among the poorest in the world.''
BB: They are a living metaphor, the local parish priest said, the product of the overpopulation and urban migration that is a growing disaster for poor countries around the world.
T: ''They are the waste of the waste, they are the leftovers,'' said the priest,
BB: the Rev. Joel Bernardo, who lives among them in this shantytown with the tragic name Promised Land.
T: ''The next day after the avalanche they were back to work in the garbage. They had no choice. They had to live.''
BB: One-third of the 74 million people in the Philippines fall below the poverty line, earning no more than $1 a day. For people like Mrs. Ochondra, life at the edge of the dump, with its steady income, can be considered success.
VG: [Interrupting. From this point on, VG's speech and the news report are presented simultaneously, with VG intermittently shouting down the others.] I see what you're trying to do. You can't fool me. I'm not impressed. "What is to be done," wasn't that Tolstoy? Echoed by Lenin? Then trashed by Stalin? The "Wretched of the Earth," yes I know all about them. The most subtle temptation of all, the grand illusion that one can save the world. Sorry, I'm not tempted. [pause -- the news report continues]
It's been tried, hasn't it? What a delusion, what a disaster! Bloody revolutions were fought, one after the other. So many killed, maimed, tortured, sentenced to hard labor, slave labor. And for what? [pause]
Rejected by the very people they thought they were saving. Because those very people became their slaves. The saviors became the tormentors. Finally, it seems, they no longer cared any more about those people, no longer even saw them, all they thought about was themselves, their privileges, their power and ultimately, their own hides, which had to be preserved at any cost. [pause]
The road to Hell is paved by good intentions. The best intentions. Leading to the worst possible results. [pause]
There is a specter haunting Europe, yes. The specter of Communism. The specter of Bertolt Brecht. Because you are both dead! [pause] Over! [pause] Kaput! [pause]
Hey, I'm an artist! I know that to you it's a dirty word, "art." You wanted to make your plays into educational experiences, NOT artistic ones. I know all about that, don't think I don't. The Epic theater, yes, verfremdung, estrangement, the "alienation effect," so the audience would resist the hypnotic effect of theatrical "art", NOT get involved, see behind the illusion to "come to terms" with the world as a human construction, learn how "external conditions" produce what the Bourgeois call "nature." To make the audience "think" for itself. What a joke! And all the time you were pulling their strings, manipulating them, getting them to salivate on cue, yes. You sacrificed your great poetic gift to make simple minded propaganda for Stalin and his ilk, so that's what you want ME to do? [pause]
You know, I marched, I protested, I rioted, I even sabotaged -- almost. We all did, back in the Sixties. Some put their lives on the line. I pushed the envelope pretty far, you know, pretty far. Lost my job over it, threw away my career. Gladly. I didn't want a career anyhow, just wanted -- needed -- art. [pause]
You're dead, a spook, you can't do anything anymore but try to get to me, so I can take your place, carry on your mission. Why? It's over, it's failed, forget it, it's no longer new. [pause]
I refuse to politicize my art. I know how that sounds, in the "postmodern" age, which never ceases to remind us that EVERYTHING is politics, that we can't escape it. Fine. Good. I don't care. I insist on doing things my way, I insist on the freedom to be irresponsible, to question EVERYTHING, NOT just "external conditions" but internal ones as well, I'm proud to be an artist, NOT ashamed. If that's an elitist attitude, so be it, I don't care! [VG pauses until the end of the report.]
S: ''All my children were born here,'' she said,
BB: all boys, from 7 to 1 1/2. The filth and the stench and the millions of flies that cover everything was the only life that they had known.
Today Mrs. Ochondra, 35, joined a group of survivors who arrive each day to watch the creaking backhoes in the hope that their relatives' bodies might be found. They still tremble when they tell their stories, and the sound of the collapsing garbage mountain echoes in their minds.
Like a plane landing, they say, like a clap of thunder,
T: ''like a big wave of surf crashing over you, only it's not water -- it's garbage.''
BB: People were running and screaming,
S & T: ''Landslide, landslide!''
BB: Some walked in circles in a daze. Cries for help could be heard from under the shifting muck. The methane in the garbage exploded into flame, ignited by cooking fires or broken electric lines.
Mrs. Ochondra's husband, Rogelio, 36, who was out buying bread, ran to look for his family. But his house, he said, was already
T: ''embraced by garbage.''
T: ''I saw my wife,'' he recalled, ''and I asked her, 'Where are our kids?' And she said,
S: 'I wasn't able to save them, only Bryan.' ''
BB: It was as if he himself had died, Mr. Ochondra said.
T: ''Not even one more?'' he asked her.
BB: The Promised Land is a real mountain, 50 feet high and covering 74 acres, the main dump for 10,000 tons of garbage produced in Manila every day. It began as a ravine, and the garbage was meant as landfill for a planned housing project.
But in 1994, when the government closed a famous dump known as Smoky Mountain as part of a beautification campaign, the garbage kept coming, and a new mountain began to grow here. Many Smoky Mountain scavengers moved here, too, skilled at their work and ready to accept its unpleasantness.
T: ''There's always smoke, there's always fire, even when it rains,'' said Paz Calopez, who lives at the edge of the mountain. ''The garbage is always glowing, even at night, and you hear popping sounds. We think it's batteries exploding. It smells worse than a bathroom, especially when the bulldozers come through. Then you really smell the smoke. You cannot breathe. Your eyes water.''
BB: And as the new mountain grew, a whole economy developed around it, with middlemen buying and reselling the salvaged scraps and shanty shops springing up to sell soap and shoes and bicycle parts and school supplies and ice cream.
T: ''It's raw capitalism working here,'' Father Bernardo said. ''And it really generates money. Millions of pesos revolve through here every day.''
BB: In a complex system, he said, the owners of junk shops specialize in particular commodities -- plastic bottles, cardboard boxes, copper wire, aluminum, glass, broken toys and bits and pieces of machinery. At the top of the hierarchy are those shops that have contracts with large enterprises, particularly hotels, to claim and recycle their garbage. The contractors prepay for those truckloads and control the scavengers who pick through them.
Most scavengers are poor farmers who have moved to the city for survival.
T: ''Now they are like peasants in the cities,'' Father Bernardo said. ''Pockets of peasants in the slum. Urban peasants. And similarly they work for landlords, the middlemen who support them with cash advances and then put them in bondage, just the way they were in bondage to their landlords in the countryside.''
BB: But as in the countryside, an even lower rung exists -- freelance scavengers who cannot pay or do not have the connections to work for the junk shops. They make their livings as gleaners, picking through what is left when the choice material is gone.
Some bold youngsters leap onto the trucks before they dump, snatching what they can and often suffering serious injury. They are known, Father Bernardo said, as
BB: The trucks dump garbage around the clock, and it is in the deepest hours before dawn that the gleaners and the jumpers are most active.
Robert Gil C. Calopez, 15, has been a gleaner for five years, and he is proud of his ability to earn money.
T: ''There's all sorts of stuff in there,'' he said. ''A lot of times, we find watches, and all they need is a battery and they start right up.''
BB: The best thing he ever found, Roberto said, was an ink roller from an Epson printer. It earned him $3 at a junk shop, though he is sure that he could have gotten more.
Mr. Ochondra and his wife are both migrants from the island of Samar, one of the poorest areas in the country, and in their own way, they had lived a charmed life until now.
But now, he said, all he has in his life is his missing sons.
The bodies of Raymond and Ruel have been recovered and reburied. The body of Ryan is still somewhere under the garbage.
T: ''I went back to where our house used to be,'' he said, ''and I promised my children: 'Don't worry. I'll try to get the three of you so you can be together.'
''I cannot sleep now. It's like I hear my sons calling: 'Papa, help me! Papa, help me!' You know, they used to play the Pokemon cards. What fun they had!''
BB: Mrs. Ochondra said she could not stop worrying about her lost children.
S: ''I know my sons miss me,'' she said. ''They can't really sleep well at night unless they're beside me.''
BB: Looking back now, she said, her life seemed to be filled with premonitions of tragedy. She would wake at night and gaze at the faces of her children and smooth their pillows.
S: ''At night during the summer, the mountain of garbage would just light up, and I would say to my husband: 'Look, it's like candles are burning,'' she said. ''It's like we are living in a cemetery.' ''
[By this time, several memorial candles should have been lit and arranged in irregular groupings onstage -- all stage lights are now gradually dimmed.]
S: What a marvelous thing. Capitalism. The "new economy." The "new world order."
VG: My God! This is unbearable. I can't stand to hear it. How can people be expected to live like that? What is to be done? What is to be done? What is to be done?
T: Well, what do YOU think should be done? Can such a human catastrophe be dealt with simply by permitting "free speech," holding "free elections"? Aren't stronger measures required, don't such conditions cry out for such measures, despite everything you say?
BB: Did Communism really fail? And if so, what about that which has taken its place? The "former Soviet Union," what does that amount to now?
T: Compare Russia and China. One has cast Communism aside, the other still embraces it. Where would you rather live?
VG: I wouldn't last two days in Communist China. I'd say the wrong thing and be arrested. Or deported. Or murdered.
BB: And what would you choose to say, my friend?
VG: I don't know. I'd think of something.
S: Look at Russia, the way things are now. Or look at India, now there's a lesson in "Democracy" for you. China and India. Before Communism, both were so much alike. Class. Caste. Pariahs. Untouchables. Poverty on a scale unimaginable to us, horrible exploitation, human misery on a scale we can hardly contemplate.
BB: Now India is a "Democracy." China is not. China has changed. India has not. India is a disaster area. China is thriving, it's people have decent housing, health care, education, they are poor, certainly, but not starving, not desperate, not degraded not exploited. And Russia now, since its "democratization," is becoming another India.
VG: Of course the Chinese people are exploited. By the state. Which controls every detail of their lives. Over which the people have not the slightest influence. Of course they're starving, many at least are starving, or on the edge of starvation. There's just too many people, not enough resources, the commissars can't deal with it, but they want us to think they can, so they put on a happy face. What phoneys.
T: The "commissars" as you call them take responsibility for the well being of the people, which is more than I can say for the government of your United States, where simple human needs, like health care, or even a neighborhood shop in which to buy food, are left at the mercy of "market forces". Even in a poor country like Cuba, the government does the best it can to provide for the basic needs of its people.
VG: Well, if Castro is doing such a great job for "the people," and they love him so much, why can't he trust them enough to hold free elections?
S: Elections in Cuba would be controlled by American money, any thinking person knows that. Castro would lose, and so would Cuba, which would become like Russia is now -- corrupted and degraded -- exploited by the Robber Barons.
T: Look, if you really want to do something, you can. You can contribute to a fund that's been set up to help the poorest of the poor in the Phillipines. You can write a check.
VG: Well, OK, this sounds like a good cause. I can give you some cash, sure. [digs into his pocket]
S: And you can sign this petition, on behalf of working people all over the world, a pledge to help in the fight against exploitation . . .
VG: A petition? What do you mean? Let me see it. [she hands it to him] No. I'd rather not sign. Leave my name out of it, OK? I don't want my name mentioned.
[All freeze. Voices are heard over the loudspeaker system, presenting a news report, an interview (from a report broadcast originally on PBS).]
:Interviewer: I am here with Pavel Voshanov, formerly press secretary of Boris Yeltsin. Mr. Voshanov, when we met a few months ago, you said that in many ways Russia has ended up just where it began. Can you describe those ways to me?
Voshanov: After I looked at everything that's taken place between 1985 and the year 2000, I began to realize that Russia had run in a strange, terrifying circle, and now finds itself almost in the same place where it was at the dawn of perestroika. In 1985-87, there was no multi-party system in Russia. . . . We came full circle and now find ourselves in a situation where we do not have a multi-party system. . . . There is only one political party, and that is the party of the bureaucracy. Second, we started the reform with a complete disregard for the rights of citizens and have arrived back at the same situation. A human being, with his concerns and opinions, is of no interest to the political elite. He was of very little interest to politicians back in 1985, just like in 2000. But what is the most frightening is that, in 1985, we started with a society that was angry and disoriented. We ran this circle and ended up with an angry and politically disoriented society that is ready to accept any political slogans that the elite offers them. The public is ravenous. In 1985, there was no society in our country--what was then the Soviet Union. There was a population; but no society, no public opinion, no public pressure, no public oversight for what the government does. Look at what we have now. Everything is the same. There is a population, but there is no society. That's why there is no public opinion, there is no public oversight, there is no public pressure on the authorities. None of this. And this population is as easily manipulated as it was in 1985. Only one thing has changed. Now those who were in power in 1985 are flying different colors and are singing different hymns than they did back then--although nothing, in essence, has changed. . . . If you look at the moral core of Russia's politicians, you'll see that we escaped the corruption of the Communist Party only to find an even greater corruption--this time by non-Party members--not within one specific party, but on the level of the state. This corruption is even worse, and hard to fight. So I really think that our country has come full circle. We failed to build democracy in Russia.
Interviewer: What are some of the reasons?
Voshanov: . . . What did all of our troubles start with? As soon as intellectuals said the word "market" aloud, bureaucrats sensed right away that the market was a new way to gain property. If you move from one to another, you need to divide property. How do you do that? You make sure that you become rich, and your relatives become rich, and those people who are connected with you become rich. So this doctrine of property distribution by the bureaucracy was feudal in nature. . . . Our reformers like to claim that the entire problem lies in the fact that the Russian people were used to living in a communist society, with its communist slogans and ideals, while they, the reformers, were trying to transform the people into a capitalist society, with its slogans and ideals. Their claim has nothing to do with what actually happened. These reformers were trying to take us back to feudalism, with rich and omnipotent lords and an impoverished and powerless population. So what we see today in Russia is this very feudalism, a feudalism with some elements of democracy. Every four years, serfs are allowed to elect their leader, to elect in such a way that the results of the elections have already been determined. Everyone knows the outcome. Even the serfs themselves know who will be elected. It'll probably take a long time before democratic ideas will become appealing to Russians. For the time being, democratic ideas have been discredited. . . . One may charge Yeltsin with many wrongdoings: corruption, economic chaos, a huge bureaucracy. And all of this is true. But Yeltsin's main crime lies in the fact that he has discredited the very idea of a democratic society. This is the biggest loss of the last ten years. It is hardly possible to restore it over the next five or ten years. It'll take a long time. We are doomed to live in a very strange political system for a number of years. We are going to live under a "party-less" authoritarianism, with some elements of democracy.
[Midway through the above interview, BB recites the following, in a loud voice: ]
BB: "Wenn die Verbrechen sich haeufen, werden sie unsichbar. Wenn die Leiden unertraeglich werden, hoert man die Schreie nicht mehr. Auch die Schreie fallen wie der Sommmerregen." [see Brecht, Collected Poems, Suhrkamp, pp. 552]
T: [Simulateous with BB's recitation, also in a loud voice] When crimes multiply, they grow invisible. When suffering becomes unendurable, one no longer hears the cries of the sufferers. They fall like summer rain.
[It begins to rain. The original back lighting fades in gradually. Visual rain effect, using some sort of projection, sound of rain over the loudspeaker system, mixing with the increasingly violent wind sounds. As the scene continues, the memorial candles are blown out one by one.]
[VG sits down on the floor of the stage, putting his head in his hands and cries out:]
VG: [This speech is overlaid with the remainder of the interview] Hopeless. It's hopeless! I'm tired. So tired. So DAMNED tired! [He reaches under his mattress and pulls out a pistol.] All I want now is to rest, that's all. Nothing's worked out. For me. For the world. After all the years of idealism, all the hopes and dreams, all the debates, the protests, the activism, where has it gotten us? Even in this country the "new economy" is a sham. Plenty of "jobs," sure. If you want to teach part time, for a pittance, or take a temporary job, no benefits, minimum wage. The only ones profiting from it are the wealthy. The CEO's of big companies are the old robber barons born again. Raking in millions every year, the companies they work for could succeed or fail, no difference for them. Whether in Russia, Japan, the USA, wherever, nobody seems to mind. Let them rob us blind, who cares? Who the Hell SHOULD care, the way things have gone? What can we DO about it, they seem to be sneering at us, what can we do that hasn't already been attempted, hasn't already failed?
And on top of it all, I didn't get my grant -- and my wife is leaving me. I'm tired, I need to rest, rest, I need Death, to end it, to rest, rest, rest, so tired . . . .
[S.makes her way across the stage, approaches VG gently, touches his face, moves her hand down to his shoulder, down his arm and finally to the pistol, which she gently holds, as though holding his hand.]
[All freeze until the interview is over.]
VG: [Shouting deliriously.] I can't stand it any more. [Casting S aside, he runs to the opposite end of the stage and lifts the revolver to his head.] End it now. Tired, so tired. End it now. I just want to sleep, to rest. End it. Forever. Sleep now. Sleep.
BB, S and T: [singing in both English and German (poem by Victor Grauer, translated by Tanya Cummings). As they sing, they walk slowly toward VG. He gradually lowers the revolver and sinks down to the floor.]
Rest now but not in death in life
No time in death no time for rest
In death time dies too rest rest now
While there is time make time for rest
Death can not rest no time for death
Death can't persist there is no time
No time to breathe to turn to think
No time to rest no time in death
So rest in life rest now now rest
Rest now in time while there is time
In life rest now now rest in time
In time now rest while living rest
Death has no time no time to rest
When time is dead death can't persist
No rest for death there is no time
To breathe to think to rest to die
So rest now while there is some time
Rest now in life don't wait for death
Take time to rest for death will wait
Until you're done and take you then
There is no death there only was
Some time to live some time to think
To think of death to think of time
No death for time I think no rest
Rest now while there is time for rest
Rest now there is no time in death
Rest now for if you wait for death
There'll be no time in death for rest.
Death strikes you when you are asleep
You die but then you wake again
Was it a dream you dreamed you died?
It felt so real but here you are again
You die you're dead a billion years
You wake and think it's all a dream
Those years have vanished in a blink
You've dreamed you died and here you are.
Ruh nun doch nicht im Tod im Leben
Zeit nicht im Tod Zeit nicht in Ruh
Im Tod Zeit stirbt auch ruh ruh nun
Wenn Zeit es gibt nimm Zeit zur Ruh.
Tod kann nicht ruhn kein Zeit für Tod
Der Tod harrt nicht aus Zeit ist nicht
Zeit nicht zu atmen zu wenden zum Denken
Zeit nicht zu ruhn Zeit nicht im Tod.
So ruh im Leben ruh nun nun ruh
Ruh nun in der Zeit wenn es Zeit gibt
Im Leben ruh nun nun ruh in der Zeit
In Zeit nun ruh wenn Leben ruht.
Der Tod ohn Zeit ohn Zeit zur Ruh
Ist die Zeit tot harrt der Tod nicht aus
Kein' Ruh zum Tod gibt es kein Zeit
Zu atmen zu denk'n zu ruhn zu sterb'n.
Ruh nun so es noch gibt etwas Zeit
Ruh nun im Leben wart' nicht auf den Tod
Nimm Zeit zu ruhn der Tod wird wart'n
Bis du fertig bist dann holt er dich.
Es gibt kein Tod er war doch nur
Noch Zeit zu leben noch Zeit zu denken
Zu denken den Tod zu denken die Zeit
Kein Tod fuer die Zeit ich denk ruh' nicht
Ruh nun so es Zeit gibt zu ruhn
Ruh nun es gibt kein Zeit im Tod
Ruh nun denn wart'st du auf den Tod
Wird Zeit nicht sein im Tod zu ruhn.
Der Tod holt dich im tiefen Schlaf
Du stirbst doch dann wachst du wieder
War's ein Traum du traeumtest du starbst
S'war so echt doch nun bist du wieder
Du stirbst du bist tot Milliarden Jahre
Du wachst und denkst es ist ein Traum
Diese Jahre verstreich'n doch im Nu
Da traeumtest du starbst und da bist du.
[During the recitation of the poem, VG falls into a deep sleep.]
BB: Quickly. Gently. Tie his hands. Carry him to the laboratory.
[S and T tie VG. All three carry him offstage. Blackout.]