Translated by Chris Hariasz
Theatre real and imagined,
or past and future – 2020 and 2021.
The new production of Emil Varda.
The fire in the living room fireplace is already out. The family is getting ready to go to bed. They spent an evening by the fire, reading the catechism on impending fascism in which Timothy Snyder admonishes:
Be as brave as you can.
If no one wants to die for freedom
all of us will be killed by tyranny.
But that's the end of a pleasant family gathering. Emil goes upstairs, and by the time he gets to his bedroom he will stop by the studio and there, maybe in an hour or three, he will fall asleep in a chair while reading or writing. In a moment, he will email me a picture and ask: Do you remember?
For a few seconds, before the picture appears on the screen, I assume it will be some old photo from Poland or from the 1980s in New York City. Instead, a picture from a theatre dressing-room is displayed. Two girls are sitting in front of a mirror, Angels or Erinyes – Rivers and Mia with whitened faces, next to them Eliott – Venichka. Why should I remember an event that is happening right now?
After all, every day, when we are not filming a rehearsal or performance, Emil calls to say that they are about to start, and the house is over half-full, so it’s good. Do I have to remember what I saw yesterday and I will probably see it again in two days? Of course not. It is a vision from a past dream, the dressing room in the third theater, just before the performance of "All Roads Lead To The Kurski Station", from autumn 2018. Unless ... this is a picture of the preparations for a new show, which they have not yet started... preparing.
Therefore, I must recall a photograph of a still non–existent, future performance from more distant memories. Do you remember? – so everything that’s already gone, is constantly receding, fading away. Theater happens only in the present. After all, a video made for the archives is not a performance.
Tomorrow, Eliott, or Ryan, or an actor I don't know yet, will drink two sips less than he did today, and he won't perform as well as he does right now. The future also ebbs away, recedes, and together with the past it becomes more and more unattainable, absent, untouchable. Only the present exists, the fire is going out, the faces are whitened.
End of 2020.
The plague persists. This is not news or an urgent message for today, yesterday, or or tomorrow.
I wrote this sentence with a quiet hope that some unknown day in the future, in a year equally unknown, I would read it as a memory from the past. If I live to see that unknown day.
When we were not even suspecting that this kind of global scourge would afflict our generations (ours – from the end of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st century), Emil came up with an amazing happening with the intention to surprise and shock the viewers
, involving figures of people with huge raven or parrot beaks. It was about a year before the pandemic started. I don't remember why he wanted to show these characters in Florida after one or two stagings on the streets of New York, and I don't remember how the show was supposed to go.
It seemed to Emil that the figures in long black coats, wearing the masks with big beaks and eyes covered in white would be a surprise and a peculiarity to American viewers, because there were no such doctors and corpse collectors here in the times of the plague; we thought they were figures only from the European tradition. We had to let go of such assumptions after reviewing the Web. In the US, this disguise is in the Halloween costume collections. The effect of surprise in the Emil's imagined performance would not pan out.
It was only when the real Covid–19 pandemic broke out that I remembered Emil's old idea and started, for my own use, secretly suspecting him of prophetic abilities. In this case, I unnecessarily concealed my suspicions, as it turned out that Emil thought the same; modestly, not exactly comparing himself to Nostradamus, but nevertheless.
Not so long ago, he told me that he had a dream in which he had been warned about a fire, and a day or two later, for unknown reasons, he felt uneasy and reluctant to close the restaurant at the normal time of the night, and suddenly he smelled smoke. He saw a fire starting in the chimney, and had he not have been lingering that night, perhaps someone else might have called the fire department, but it certainly would have been too late.
Earlier, I was writing about Emil's second production entitled “The Sickness”, staged in February 2020, that is at the last minute – just before the closure of all theaters in New York, which continues until today. The year of the Covid pandemic ends in three days, and it looks like the first half of the second year will be quite similar. In the February production,"the sickness" was a drug addiction, but if it were about a virus, Emil would’ve become the most famous director of 2020 in New York City.
The first spectators arrived at the theater very early. There were four of them. They looked around the hall and picked up the program brochures. They were not interested in free coffee. They were reading, lining up just in front of the house entrance, with a clear intention take the best seats. They didn't know that the best ones were already reserved. Or maybe Emil reserved these chairs just for them? However, they certainly did not think that the performance would not start on stage, but on…
Nothing of the sort happened. There was no third performance, it is still not happening and it is not known when and if it will take place at all. The above account of a theatrical event is completely fabricated, this review is a bogus piece, that is a myth, an apocryphon, or a legend. I am not writing this text to deceive the reader, but to trick myself, to cheer myself up by thinking that everything is OK, that everything is normal, that nothing falls to ruin, does not crumble into splinters.
The show is about a pandemic, or more precisely – also about a pandemic, but it cannot take place right now, when new variants of the virus are raging and the media will soon announce that the 500,000th American has died.
You cannot see this show in any theater, on any stage, because we have to look around when we are walking, standing, or sitting; whether we maintain the so–called "social distance" and whether we are not generally too close to each other, and whether there is maybe someone not wearing the mask around.
The beginning of 2021.
Recently, rumors were being spread among actors in New York that in June, and almost certainly in September, the situation would be better, that rehearsals would begin, and theaters would open.
It's late January 2021. The current President tells the truth about what is and what awaits us.
A previous guy in the White House was lying, talking nonsense and was only interested in his orange image, not the pandemic in America.
Does this unstageable play speak of such a plague? We will see. We will see, because if the theatrical performance about a pandemic could not take place last year, and its fate this year is also uncertain, since opening the door to the audience seems as unrealistic as pears in a willow, it will be logical to return to the four people in the hall, who read the program of the show, especially since there is already a large crowd of spectators behind them.
Four young people with brochures in their hands. a strange guy in ragged clothes pushes on to them through the crowd. He looks like an ordinary New York homeless man, not very dirty, but not very clean, with rather alcoholic complexion and eyes staring at the non–existent horizon. Why exactly does he want to approach them? Is it because they are the first in line? He might be one of those guys who camp in Penn Station, Grand Central and the streets of the Big City. How did he get inside the theater?
The guy is carrying a black plastic bag, you can't see what's in it, but something big. He bumps someone and looks at that person angrily – “Hey you, be careful where you stand. You stand in my way.” But there's no fuss because the dude continues pushing his way. Yet he doesn't aim at these four young people at all. A woman is sitting on the floor next to them. Typical homeless woman with packages in plastic bags – The Bag Lady.
The dude puts his package on the floor next to her, pulls the plastic up and exposes the accordion. He bends down with difficulty, picks up the instrument, puts the straps on his shoulders. People at the door were confused because they didn't even notice when the Lady sat down beside them.
"You drive God away...," – the one with the accordion mumbles and starts to play. Someone in the crowd bursts into a short laugh.
"What god?" – the Lady asks. – "There is no God in Manhattan... there is no God."
“I have to dry my laundry... need a hot radiator...where can I find one... You, tell me where a hot radiator is around here.” – the Lady nudges the leg of a girl standing by the door to the auditorium. The girl looks at her a little amused, a little scared. Automatically, she looks around. Her friend says softly to her – “Some freak. A hot radiator at this time of year?”
"There is no god in Mahattan" is a line from the previous play "The Sickness". The "Lady" on the floor is Mia, the drug addict girl from that play. Now I barely recognize her because she's dressed in a disheveled wig, multiple skirts, two sweaters, three scarves around her shoulders and hips, while in "The Sickness" she appeared in a T–shirt and boxer shorts.
I'm not making up anything. This is how it will begin... This is how the new performance of Emil Varda begins. It has the title “…the birds are gone and never coming back...."
Or maybe the beginning of the performance will not be exactly like that, but it will surely all start in the theater lobby, with "bums" (in New York speak), or, more politely speaking, "homeless" characters.
In May 2020, Emil had written so much of the script that he could send it to Chris and me for the first reading and opinions. However, he made a stipulation that this is was not the final product, as he is still working on more scenes.
In the summer, the virus seemed to have disappeared somewhere, so the playwright imagined that he might perhaps turn into a director in the fall. I am not a chronicler of the plague, yet I cannot help but to recall that in the fall the virus returned in a new version, mutated.
The script about the plague, i.e. the birds that have flown away and will never come back, was created in the spring. Emil had plenty of time since March 16; that day they closed the restaurant. Also that day, Mia put on a face mask for the first time, and the rest of the cooking and waiting staff laughed at her pioneering zeal. After that, there was no opportunity to laugh because there was no work.
That evening, Emil was returning home from New York on an almost empty train and dared to try on an anti–virus mask. He began to write down his theatrical idea, and at the same time, following an unbridled script, the plague took off in New York City.
Emil never traveled by train again that or the following seasons. He would go to the City a few more times by car and call me on the phone, reporting how empty the city is, how many windows and doors he sees covered with plywood, and that there are more and more large, white containers on the streets in front of hospitals and emergency stations.
One day, without getting out of the car, he asked someone in protective coveralls what the containers were for. – “Come on, man! You know very well what for." This man was wearing a suit, like the characters in the movies about nuclear disasters. He had not had any large crow's or parrot's beak attached to his forehead. On March 17, 182 cases were reported in NYC, 1,133 two days later, and 4,970 a month later. In Emil's script, corpse collectors find the dead even in the stairwells. In New York, terrified inhabitants of large apartment buildings summoned corpse collectors to bodies found in staircases.
The president of an entire country, making silly faces Mussolini-style, advised people to disinfect themselves intravenously with chlorine bleach.
Emil hasn't been to the City for more than a month. On the other hand, Mia, who was to play the main female character in the production, really lived surrounded by the scenery of the plague, the scenery of reality theater. New York was declared a closed city. In late spring, after the riots in Soho, Mia walked through the neighborhood. In the photos, she captured an empty city, empty streets, windows covered with plywood, broken glass in windows not yet boarded up, closed gas stations and restaurants, empty stalls in the Chinese district, no cars on the streets. I counted eleven human figures on four dozen of her photos from the City. It was the second day of June 2020. 250 people were arrested the previous day. Some guy shot another guy in the chest. The president of the entire country spent an hour in the shelter, because stones were thrown at the police in the vicinity of the White House.
Less than a year later, a rumbling and smoking all over America volcano of fascism erupted on the Capitol. This is a parallel pandemic, an old but mutant virus. This old, familiar pandemic is lurking in the nooks and crannies along with the plague, just as Camus had warned.
At the beginning, Emil gave his script the title "The Pestilence”. In the sixth and the seventh scene of the play, things happen simultaneously – in a hospital, which is a prison, or in a prison, which is a hospital. It is one place that exists twice. A metaphor of the City or of the entire State?
It is supposed to take place in one space, but as if on two stages, with double scenery, and yet on a single set. I am not sure that I understand the director's sketched, unfinished intention; that is, I understand the message, but I cannot imagine how this is going to play out in his theater.
This of course is what happens in real theater, and it is clear and obvious. However, it is beyond my imagination, that the tea and orange–colored ideas, misgivings, and mental impairments, or the politics of returning to the so–called greatness that was as beautiful as hell – exist in parallel with the American Dream.
I suspect that the metaphor of a multifaceted plague, viral and ideological at the same time, made the author tired of the very title "The Pestilence," which confuses everything despite apparent obviousness, just as the metaphorical "Plague" once tired Camus, as he struggled to untangle the plague from politics and natural catastrophes from human ideas.
In the summer of 2020, Chris came up with a song to be sung in the production, based on Emil's idea that "...the birds are gone and never coming back..." I think Emil was relieved when he saw that this new poetic line can be used as the play’s title, and he abandoned the previous one .*
"I didn't have time to think about this show," said Mia.
She is supposed to be one of the three Yurodivies. These three are not literally American "bums", they are also not Polish "homeless" or "tramps", also not Parisian "clochards". Yurodivy is a Russian word, it means a crazy figure, religiously haunted, acting madly and against all accepted rules; he is a madman of God, sometimes prophesying, sometimes performing miracles, who begs, does not wash, he talks fiercely but makes no sense, sometimes he is completely silent.
They were a nuisance to the community but also half–saints. Accepted, as long as they did not begin to threaten social peace; then they were often chased away or even killed.
This is how the Yurodivies were described in the Middle Ages. In more recent times, the title of jurodivy could have been achieved by people of high society, such as, for example, Prince Myshkin in Dostoevsky's novel. Professor Wodziński claimed that all Karamazovs are yurodivies. Venedikt Yerofeyev was also a yurodivy, like Venichka from his poem "Moscow-Petushki".
The character played by Mia is called Babcia Szamcia (Shamtzia) in Polish. Mia doesn't know Polish, she has to assume she is Grandma Imbibe. Wait, that's what she was called in the May production, in the September show her name was Theckla O'Munchin. Grandma Szamcia is an authentic figure from a university campus in Lublin fifty years ago. In the student café, she would take a table, spread her junk around, and it was not permissible to sit in empty chairs next to her, because they were not really empty. There were occupied by some “Them,” with whom Grandma was having conversations. Only unaware first–year students were trying to get through to Grandma. To the amusement of the entire café, they were chased away by her. Grandma was a part of and being tolerated by the cafeteria community.
A lot of tickets had been sold that day and the foyer is getting crowded. The crowd will not fill the all the seats, but the vestibule is not big. Grandma is the first to shove her way into the crowd. We already know that she is excessively dressed, we already know that despite the wig, one can recognize the actress Mia Vallet. She already shouted back the Accordionist. Suddenly she stops, surrounded by spectators, looks at their faces, looks up for no more than three seconds, but her eyes disappear under her skull and the absence of pupils is so terrible it seems to last forever. She sways. A girl beside her, fear in her eyes, but courageously stretches out her hand in a helpful gesture. Grandma begins with a terrible voice: "If He, if He..." She looks very closely into the brave girl's eyes and continues: “If He has left the earth forever, but still sees every one of us, I know that He never looked this way..." She pauses and pushes the young man standing too close away. "...but if He never left, if He has passed the whole of it, barefoot, dressed as a slave...then He bypassed this place...”
The accordionist answeres her: "Drink, screw, until you drop, this pestilence will have to stop."
At the beginning, Grandma repeated a line that Venichka spoke three years ago at the end of the production entitled "All Roads Lead To The Kurski Station"; driven to the walls of the Kremlin, he realized that he had not reached Petushki at all, and that two sweet Guardian Angels were in fact cruel Erinyes. Grandma is a yurodivy and perhaps the whispering of the wind suggested her this question, or ,maybe it was a voice she heard in the silence of the night.
"Your eyes were extreme today," someone said after the performance.
"Tomorrow everything will be different," Mia almost chuckled.
"Oh, I wonder how?"
Mia, like a real theater diva, was mysterious and haughty, she tapped her smartphone without a word. The next day, Grandma said her line with a devilish laugh.
"It's interesting how we will see our old selves from the time before the show now." –That's what Mia wondered a few weeks earlier during the first rehearsal of "The Birds" and she came on stage dressed in a multilayered costume, still as Grandma but with name Theckla O'Munchin. What was, is, or will be this date in the calendars?
Emil didn't have much time to think about "The Birds" in the fall. Restaurants were beginning to open their sidewalk tents. They had to deliver heaters at the tables in the November chill. One day, while waiting for the next delivery of heaters or some other devices that were supposed to allow his customers to eat a cutlet in the yard, Emil took out a bunch of papers and together with Mia they held a read-through rehearsal, the only real attempt at "The Birds" so far. Here, I don't have to make anything up. Then they did not have time for imaginary theater again.
In the summer of last year, the plague hypocritically and falsely subsided, and the atmosphere around the production was filled with a whiff of hope that something could begin in the autumn. Chris wrote a ghastly and at the same time lyrical ballad which he sang first with a guitar, and in the second version he added an accordion on which he also played. Everyone liked the ballad.
This landscape is hurting, bound with barbed wire
An empty can stumbles in utter confusion
The air is putrid and heavy with soot
Doors shut, and the windows are blind
Once rich and fragrant is now destitute
The legacy this plague left behind
"A sensational, great song, but why are there reeds in the city? They are too lyrical. This wind is supposed to blow garbage, dirt, papers, plastic bags, , used and discarded masks." – said Emil.
"There are a lot of reeds in Central Park," was Chris’ response. "And certainly next to some houses and squares in the City," I added in defense of the text. We didn't really convince Emil. Whenever he enters the city, he does not see the reeds, but a half–story "housing estate" of the homeless under the viaduct loops. The freezing New York yurodivies live in blankets, in duvets, in cardboard boxes, in furniture scraps, sheltered by umbrella tents.
Chris made a music video for his song walking around Akron, Ohio where he lives. The contrariness in this idea is based on a juxtaposition of the distopian content of the ballad and the lyricism of the catchy melody. Similarly, his film is interlaced with pictures of a gloomy "wasteland," views of the wilderness – an empty park, torn asphalt roads, barbed-wire fences next to them, scattered trash. Clouds and circling birds cut out of the sky as if with a knife, and the only dynamic element in the frozen landscapes are the reeds shaken by the wind. In some strange way, perhaps due to the lack of colors in the black and white video, it all seems both distant and close to the reality of New York, devastated by plague, and to the phantasms of the hospital–prison in the play.
Probably out of perversion, Emil sent a short video showing a hideously littered street in NYC and thus devastating our lyrical "reedsness".
Grandma's two yurodivy companions are Copernicus and Accordionist, the latter known half a century ago as Mr. Rysio. It doesn't matter that the audience in the foyer has to endure sales pitches of Mr. Rysio, who tries to peddle a sip of booze from his bottles for five bucks – because here is Copernicus with a tirade.
I remember him accosting us half a century ago in the hall of the university library and telling us in a conspiratorial whisper that it would be enough to buy one plane with an atomic bomb, send it to fly over Moscow and – "then we'll talk." His arguments about the concave Earth followed the idea of the bomb.
Well, the Earth, says Copernicus to the people waiting in the hall, is neither round nor flat, because the shoes wear off on the toes and heels, which means that it is concave. Just like the real character in the past, the one in the play expects a Nobel Prize for overthrowing Copernicus' theory.
The difference between them is that the real one was going to buy a plane with an atomic bomb with the Nobel prize money. The one in the play convinces the audience that his real name is Boris Pasternak. Mr. Rysio, not willing to wait for the Nobel Prize, tries to charge five bucks per person for his friend's story.
I slowly retreat to the wall and sneak up the stairs, because in a moment there will be a macabre in this tight lobby.
The accordion opens wide, elbows to the ribs, bass in the ears, and Boris Pasternak starts going crazy, singing: Scythe... Scythe... Cut! Scythe... Scythe... Cut! Scythe... Scythe... Cut!
He pretends to be Death that cuts people unfairly, methodically and absurdly in a dance, a Dance Macabre. People instinctively retreat; a little blindly, without looking around, they step on each others’ feet. They all want to escape from the center of the room to the farthest corners. The macabre mower moves away from the front door.
I know that the performance in the theater hall should start now, I know that in a moment two strange Doctors will open the entrance door. They will be dressed in huge gas masks, military style, but maybe instead of hanging filters, they will have beaks protruding from them, like those of the medieval doctors and corpse collectors in the plague. ("Those beaks were stuffed with dried herbs and fruit," Emil reminded me one evening.)
Those two will open the door and, shushing yurodivies, they will invite the people to come in, but not only the tickets will have to be shown to them.
Everyone will have to empty their pockets of items which, God forbid, could carry the virus, i.e. passports, wallets, loose change, valuables, bracelets, rings, wedding rings, and first of all Swiss watches (if you have a Russian watch, you’re fine, because the virus does not stick to the Russian junk).
Grandma, Copernicus and the Accordionist should make their way to the stage, from where they will greet those who enter with a song about birds that have flown away and will never come back. But the door doesn't open.
Copernicus and the Accordionist do not leave the lobby. One doesn't mow anymore, the other doesn't play. They both slowly push their way towards me. They came up.
"We don't know what to do next," – says Copernicus.
"It's not written," – says the Accordionist.
"I understand," – I say. – "Emil completed only seven scenes so far."
"We can play through the seventh scene. Don't pretend. You haven't written anything about us since mid–December. You finished the story about us with "Scythe... Scythe... Cut". And what next? What's next with the show? It's already March of the following year. The show must go on."
I do not intend to throw my three cents into the theory of theater, so just for the sake of these trivial notes, I will posit that a theater that perhaps had a rich past, or that may even have a bright future, but is not equipped with the present, at least a bit of the present - does not exist.
In these notes, I am not recording the troubles of a director who is unable to stage his play in a theater; I am also not waiting for further developments in order to chronicle Emil's third production.
I am trying to attribute to "Birds" at least a shadow, a haze, a phantom of a suspiciously constructed present. I try to reach the "now" of this performance with not artful imagination, but rather a coarse memory, in order to remember it, but also to remember how it is woven into the present of the great scenery behind it in a barely visible weave, with a faint stitch.
I use the director's script not to correct the actors' mistakes, like a prompter, and not to check whether what is happening on stage is in line with the parameters of the project. This copy is my lorgnette through which I watch the show unfold, what it is like tonight; through theatrical binoculars I look at details that are not very clearly visible from a distant theater box.
The action of the play is getting closer and closer to the double scene, actually two parallel scenes, written as the sixth and seventh.
The third scene has passed, in which two jewelry collectors, the Plague Doctors, that is, the corpse collectors, found dead effigies of yurodivies, Grandma and the Nobel Prize winner. In the course of events, both of them have already managed – Man One a bit better, Man Two not so well – to get used to the increasing number of victims of the plague, but they are shocked to see that also the free, mad, half-holy figures could not escape her.
The Accordionist, somehow a survivor of the pandemic, shows up on the stage, but he seems to be such an unreal, artificial figure that Man Two dreams up an idea of writing a treatise on the success of "Frankensteinism" in medicine in the 21st century.
The fourth scene has also concluded, in which both Men/Doctors construct something resembling a hospital or a jail; on one side – a prison cell, and on the other... perhaps a hospital room, or maybe the rest of the world?
Actually, I am not interested in the names of these places, because in this fragment of the production, other periods are woven into its own present time - two of them are clearly taken from the past of Emil's theater.
Another past tense, seemingly goes back to the above-described events from half a century ago, but is mixed with a much closer past. So the sixth and seventh scenes are mixing and multiplying the chronology, not the locations.
All this together may suggest that Emil Varda's main achievement (intention?) is the metaphorization of time in the theater.
Metaphorization, or maybe a different meaning of the present of events, where there is an interference of the still not closed past, and where the future of unrestricted changes in the old and current scripts is constantly inscribed?
The disrupted flow, or rather the stumbling or disability of time (ideas by Leśmian and Schulz), is impossible to report in the traditional chronology, which is treated ironically, almost mockingly.
Such poetics of ironic metaphor was already visible in the productions "All Roads..." and "The Sickness".
I would not like to go beyond the subject of theater, but I think that the director complicates and confuses (allusively? self-ironicly?) the whole matter by adding time from his own personal calendar to the theater time. What is allowed in poetry is not forbidden in the theater.
The new show is about the pandemic as much as it is about the time in which the pandemic has happened.
If you look at the efforts to combat the present plague, it is clear that what matters most is time - When did it start? When will vaccines be ready? Will we make it? How much longer? Until July 4? Until autumn? Before winter? Will it also be around next year?
The metaphor of time in his own theater is the intention of the creator of the play "The Birds": Venichka's time from his unfulfilled journey and the would-be meeting with his beloved in Petushki and the time of the conversation between woman X and man Y from "The Sickness" – both of these events are prolonged in the dialogue between Woman and Man characters in the cell. She and He appear in the sixth scene, while in happening simultaneously seventh, the Second Man/Doctor/Gravedigger with the Accordionist who claims that in Poland he listened to professor Wodziński's lectures on medieval Russian yurodivies.
The uncertain present tense of this performance that I see through binoculars is assisted by the past tense taken from bygone productions in order to create an uncertain future for the theater that will arrive after the pandemic. After all, I can also see that this time Venichka once again hardly experiences love fulfillment. It means - I can't see anything: She allows him to climb down to her bunk, but what is really going on there, it is impossible to see through the tight curtain of the bedsheet. It is probably again a fantasy in a breathless monologue, because her existence is as unproven as was the existence of the Angels-Erynies.
The irony of the times is that this play about time does not have a good time to be staged.
I have to stop my twisted meditations because someone is entering my box. It is Copernicus, who was replaced by a puppet and never appeared live on stage again. "You see, we somehow managed to get to the seventh scene," he says.
"Until six," - I correct. – "The sixth scene, in the cell, continues long after the final, seventh."
"I do not deny it," – says Copernicus.
"Emil is still working on this part of the script," I add in an insider's tone.
"You know anything about it or are you just guessing?"
I didn't even hear my own answer, as it gets muffled by the applause of the audience at the end of the performance.
*I do not want to go into too pompous associations on this occasion, but the new title seems to me to change a theatrical script into a poem; the mysterious duality of scenes in one play, which is troublesome for the viewers, would be obvious and appropriate for the readers of the poem. The possible loftiness of the idea is reduced to the lowlands by the simple fact of the literary existence of the text, in the face of the ephemeral future of drama. Emil does not challenge the concept of the poem, but as a theatre person, he listens without conviction to my supposition about the instrumental advantage of literature over theater, although I have already suggested to him that he should publish a book of a poetic character, even with illustrations.
* * *
transl. C. Hariasz