Antonio Bibalo – THE GLASSMENAGERIE a chamber music-theatre in 8 scenes
Libretto by the composer, based on the eponymous play by Tennessee Williams First performed in November, 1996, at the theatre Trier in a production of Heinz Lukas-Kindermann This recording is an arrangement of the orchestral score for piano. The music was realized with virtual instruments in MIDI format. SCENE 1
The Wingfield apartement faces an alley and is entered by a fire-escape, a structure whose name is a touch of accidental poetic truth.The fire-escape is included in the set – that is, the landing of it and steps descending from it.The scene is memory and is consequently non-realistic. The interior is therefore rather dim and poetic. (Tom enters from the fyre-escape) (TOM – stops and lights a cigarette) (Speaking to the audience)
Yes, I have tricks in my pocket, I have things up my sleeve. But I am the opposite of a stage magician. He gives you illusion that has the appearance of truth. I give you truth in the pleasant disguise of illusion. I turn back time. I reverse it to that quaint period, the thirties, when the huge middle class of America was matriculating in a school for the blind. Their eyes had failed them or they had failed their eyes, and so they were having their fingers pressed forcibly down on the fiery Braille alphabet of a dissolving economy. In Spain there was revolution: Guernica. Here there was only shouting and confusion: labour fights – sometimes pretty violent, in otherwise peaceful cities such as Chicago, Cleveland, Saint Louis,…well,..
This is the social background of the play. The story is memory… dimly lighted, sentimental, non realistic and as memory everything seems to happen to music. I am the narrator of the play, and also a character in it. Other characters,.. my mother Amanda, (distant (sad) voice of Amanda):
Tom, Tom, where are you going? my sister Laura, (Laura’s voice):
Where have you been all this time, Tom? and a gentleman caller for the final scene. (Jim’s voice):
I didn’t know that Shakespeare had a sister. A fifth character this larger size photograph…
(points to an overdimensional portrait of his father on the wall) our father who left us a long time ago. He was a telephone man who fell in love with long distance, gave up his job and went away. The last we heard of him was a picture postcard from Mexico, containing a message of two words –
‘Hello! Good-bye!’ and no address. (spoken) All the rest of the play will explain itself … (Amanda and Laura are waiting for Tom to come to the dinner table) Amanda: Tom, Tom, we can’t say grace until you come to the table! Tom (going to the table): Coming, Mother. (Together they join hands for the ‘grace’) (They eat in silence) Amanda (To Tom, petulantly pointing at)
Honey, don’t push with your finger. The thing to push with is a crust of bread. And chew, chew your food! Animals have sections in their stomachs which enable them to digest flood without mastication, but human beings are supposed to chew their food! A well-cooked meal has lots of delicate flavours. Flavours, that have to be hold in the mouth for appreciation. So chew your food! And give your salivary glands a chance to function! (Tom exasperate – pushes back his chair):
I haven’t enjoyed one bite of this dinner! Your constant direction, your hawk-like attention to every bite I take! Just sickening! Just sickening! Spoils my appetite! All this discussion of – animals’ secretion – salivary glands -mastication! Amanda (lightly):
Temperament like a Metropolitan star! Tom (rises – with mockey):
La la lalala Amanda: You are not excused fromthe table!
Tom: I’m getting a cigarette.
Amanda: You smoke too much! Laura:(raises take the dishes away)
Amanda (stops her): No, little sister, resume your sit. I want you to stay fresh and pretty for a gentleman caller! Laura: I’m not expecting any gentleman callers. Amanda: Sometimes they come when they are least expected! (rises and goes to the kitchenette, and comes back again) (dreamingly) Why, I remember one Sunday afternoon in Blue Mountain. Tom: I know what’s coming!
Laura: Let her tell it.
Laura: She loves to tell it. Amanda: One Sunday afternoon in Blue Mountain, your mother received seventeen gentlemen callers! Tom (slightly ironic): How did you entertain those gentleman? Amanda: Girls in those days knew how to talk!
Tom: What about? Amanda: Things of importance going on in the world! My callers were gentleman, all,all! Among them were some of the most prominent and young sons of planters of the Mississippi Delta. Yes, I could have married anyone of them! Mind you! But – I picked your father, your father! Laura: Let me clear the table mother! Amanda: No, dear, stay fresh and pretty! It’s almost time for our gentlemen callers!
Laura: Don’t believe it, mother, nobody will come tonight!
Amanda: No one? No one? Why? Laura (looks at Tom – apologetic):
Mother’s afraid I’m going to be an old maid. SCENE 2
Laura’s room Laura is seated at a small claw-foot table. she is washing and polishing her Glass-Collection. Suddenly Laura hears a rumor outside – she rushes imediately to her type-machine. On the door appears Amanda, with a grim and martyred look, walks stright to the Victrola and stops the music. Laura: Hello, Mother, I, I was… Amanda: Deception! Deception! Deception! Laura: How was the meeting? Didn’t you go to the meeting, Mother?
. Amanda: No, no. I did not have the courage! (Darkly) I wanted to find a hole in the ground and hide myself in it forever! (She goes to Laura – removes the paperfrom the type writer and tears it into pieces.) Laura (shocked): Why did you do that, Mother? Amanda (sarcastic): Why? Why? Why? How old are you, Laura? I thought that you were an adult; it seems that I was wrong! Laura: Please don’t stare at me, Mother! Amanda: What are we going to do?
Laura: What’s happened? Amanda: What is the future?
Laura: What’s happened? Amanda: I was supposed to be inducted into my office at the D.A.R. this afternoon. Instead I went to the college to speak with your typing instructor what progress you were making down there.
Laura (faintly): Oh… Amanda: I introduced myself as your mother, but the instructor didn’t know who you were. “Wingfield? We don’t have any student wi!th the name of Wingfield here.” No, I said, Laura, my daughter, has been going to school ev’ry day since last January. (spoken)
Excuse me, she said, now I remember well, a terribly shy girl who after some typing tests broke down completely. She was sick at the stomac. After that morning she never came back here. Oh! I felt so weak I could barely keep on my feet! All our plans, my hopes and ambitions for you, (with sorrow) all gone! All gone! (Laura gets up. She crosses to the victrola and winds it up.) (spoken)
Amanda (angrily) Whatare you doing?
Laura: Oh. (stops and returns to her seat)
Amanda (impatiently): Where have you been all the time instead? Laura (timidly): All sorts of places, mostly in the park. Amanda: That’s not true. Walking? In winter? Where? (Laura places nervously around, stops, looks out the window) Laura (as dreaming): Winter? Winter? I went inside places to get warmed up. (absently picks up a piece of her glass collection):
I went in the art museum and the bird-houses at the Zoo. I visited the penguins every day. Sometimes I did without lunch and went to the movies. Or I spended the afternoon in the jewel-box, that big glass-house where they raise tropical flowers. Amanda: You did all this to deceive me, just for deception? (with sorrow) So what are we going to do the rest of our life? Amuse ourselves with the glass menagerie, or eternally play those worn-out phonograph records your father left as a painful reminder of him? (spoken) Is this the only future we have? (gently) Of course – some girls do marry! Amanda: Haven’t you ever liked some boy?
Laura: Yes. I liked one once. Amanda (dissapointed): Oh – a high-school boy.
Laura: Yes. (dreamingly) I came across his picture a while ago (get’s up – goes to the table and brings a big manual) here in the year book! His name was Jim. (both look at his photo) and he had a (with nostalgy) wonderful voice. He used to call me – Blue Roses (looks aut the window) Blue Roses. Amanda (slightly ironic): Why did he call you like that? Laura: When I had that attack of pleurosis – he asked me what was the matter when I came back. I said pleurosis. He thought that I said Blue Roses. So that’s what he always called me after that and Whenever he saw me, he’d say, ‘Hello, Blue Roses! He went out with a girl. they must be married by now. (spoken)
Amanda: That’s what you’ll do, little sister!
Laura: I’m cripple, mother! Amanda: Nonsense! Laura! (goes to her)
I’ve told you never, never to use that word. You’re not …Just have a little defect! You have to develop your charm. (nostalgically)One thing your father had plenty of – was charm! (goes to the window and looks out) Oh, what a splendid moon! (turns to Laura)
Come here, Laura, and make a wish to the moon. Now darling make a wish! (Laura comes over looking puzzled as if called out of a sleep – timidly) Laura: What shall I wish for, mother? Amanda (nearly in tears): Happiness! Good fortunes! (puts her arm around Lauras shoulder) SCENE 3
Tom’s room (Tom seats at his desk, writes on a pad. Amanda comes in, silently goes behind him, ruffles his hairs. She wears a very old bathrobe. Her hairs are in metall curlers.) Amanda: Comb your hair, Tom! You’ll feel better! (dreamingly) Your father, yes, never looked untidy! (Tom gets up) Amanda: Where are you going? Tom (expressionless): I’m going out to smoke. Amanda: You smoke too much! A pack a day at fifteen cents a pack. What will be in a year? You could save instead. Enough to give you a night-school course at the University. Just think what a wonderful thing that could be for you, Son! Tom: I’d rather smoke. Amanda: Just the same egoist! Tom: What in Christ’s name am I? Amanda (angry): Don’t you use that expression in my house! You big idiot! Tom: Ohhh! I don’t have a single thing in my life for my own. Everything is…
Amanda: Lower your voice! Tom: Yesterday you confiscated my books!
Amanda: Books? Amanda (with emphasis): I took that horrible novel by the insane Mister Lawrence to the library! Yes! I WON’T ALLOW HERE SUCH FILTH IN MY HOUSE ! No! No! And no! Tom: House? House? Who pay the rent of it? One makes the slave of himself to. Tom: Let me tell you.Tom: Let me tell you.
Amanda: I dont want to hear it!
Tom: I’m going out! Out! (goes to the door) Amanda: Come back here, Tom Wingfield! You’re selfish! One day jeopardize your job and the security of us all! Tom: Listen! Listen! You think I’m crazy for my job? You think I’m in love with the Continental Shoemakers? (pacing around) You think I want to spend fifty-five years down there in that – celotex interior! (spoken) Look! I’d rather somebody picked up a crowbar and battered out my brains – than go back mornings! (spoken) But I go! Every time you come in yelling that God damn ‘Rise and Shine!’- ‘Rise and Shine!’ I say to myself, ‘How lucky dead people are! But I get up. I go! For sixty-five dollars a month I give up all that I dream of doing and being ever! And you call me selfish! (points at his fathers picture) I’d be where he is gone. Tom: (starts to go to the door)
Amanda: (tries to stop him) Amanda: Where are you going (grabs his arm) Tom (rudely): Don’t grab me, Mother! I go to the movies! Amanda (spoken): I don’t believe that lie! (Tom crouches towards her. Amanda backs away, gasping) Tom:You’re right, Mother! I’m going to the opium dens! Yes opium. Dens of vice and criminals’ hang-outs! I’ve joined the Hogan gang. I’m a hired assassin, I carry a tommy-gun in a violin case! They call me Killer, Killer Wingfield! Ha,ha! I’m leading a double-life, a simple worker by day, by night a dynamic tsar of the underworld, Mother! I spin away fortunes on the roulette table! wear a patch over one eye and a false moustache. Sometimes I put on green whiskers and in that occasions they call me El Diablo! (spoken) EL DIABLO! Oh, I could tell you things to make you sleepless My enemies plan to dynamite this place some night! We’ll blow up, sky-high, Mother! And I’ll be glad and happy, and so will you. You’ll go up, up on a broomstick, over Blue Mountain with seventeen gentlemen callers! (gesticulates histerically – spoken) You ugly – babbling old – witch. (hurls his coat across the room and strikes the shelf of Laura’s glass collection, There is a sound of shattering glass.) Laura (cries out as if wounded) My glass menagerie! (covers her face) Amanda (with shaking voice): I won’t speak to you – until you apologize! (turns away and leaves) (Tom goes to the shelf, drops on his knees to collect the fallen glass, glancing at Laura as to speak, but he can’t.) SCENE 4
Tom’s room (Some faint light, which comes from the alley, illuminates the dark interior of the room.) (Laura comes in.) (She stares at Tom’s empty bed, wonders about a little.) (Tom comes in noisily.) Laura (timidly): Tom, Tom? What are you doing? Tom (tipsy): Looking for a door-key. Laura: Where have you been all this time? Tom: I have been to the movies. Laura: All this time? Tom: There was a big programme. Garbo, Mickey Mouse, newsreel and of course there was a also a stage show with a (hip) magician. He performed wonderful tricks, many, many of them, such as pouriing water back and forth between pitchers. (with a misterious attitude. Tom approaches Laura.) First it turned to wine and then it turned to beer and then it turned to whisky. (toneless) Whisky. (with voice) I knew it was whisky. He was a nice fellow, generous, he gave souvenirs. (From his sleave he pulls out a shimmering rainbow-coloured scarf.) He gave me this. Is his magic scarf. For you, Laura! (pulls the scarf on Laura’s head) (with a misterious tone) You wave it over a canary
cage and you get a bowl of gold- fish. You wave it over the gold-fish bowl and they fly away… (drags the scarf away) Canaries! Ha, ha, ha! (spoken)
Laura(anxiously): Tom, Shhh!
LAURA: You’ll wake up mother!
TOM: Goody, goody. (sarcastic) Pay ‘her back for all those ‘Rise an’ Shine’ ‘Rise an’ Shine’! Ha,ha,ha… Tom: (flops on the bed and removes his shoes)
Laura: (goes out in a hurry) SCENE 5
Tom’s room (early morning – faint light enters from the street. Tom stills sleep.) (An alarm clock goes off in Amandas room.) Amanda: Rise and shine! Rise and shine! Amanda: Laura! (impationtly) Laura! Go to tell your brother to rise and shine! Tom (little sarcastic): I rise but I won’t shine Laura (comes to Tom, with anxiety): Tom!- It’s nearly seven. Don’t make mother nervous. Go and apologize, speak to her! Tom: She won’t to me.
Laura: She will! (spoken)
Amanda (form the kitchen): Laura, are you going to do what I asked you, or…
Laura: Yes, mother, I come, just I get my coat. (rashes awkwardly for the coat) Butter and what else? Amanda: Just butter, and go!
Laura: Going, going. (goes out – a moment later she cries out) Ahh… Amanda (rushes anxiously in) Laura?
Tom (springs out and crosses the door) Laura?
Laura (faintly): I’m allright, just stumbled, but I’m allright! (Tom closes the door and enters for his coffee.) Tom (glances to his mother): Mother, I apologize, mother. I’m sorry I didn’t mean it. Amanda: (sits down – act as she’s crying) (sadly) My devotion has made me a witch . Amanda: So I make myself hateful to my children.
Tom (laconic) No, you don’t! I worry so much, I can’t sleep! I’ve to fight a solitary battle all these years! But you’re the only help! Tom (darkly): I try, mother, Tom: I try!
Amanda: Promise, Son, never be a drunkard.
Tom (tiredly): I promise! That’s what frightened me. But please, eat something! Amanda: (sits down)
Tom: (sits down for his coffee) Amanda: You can’t put in a day’s work on an empty stomach. You’ve got ten minutes – don’t gulp! Drinking too hot liquids makes cancer of the stomach. Amanda: Put cream in to cool it.
Tom (exasperate): No, no, Mother! Just coffee, just coffee!
Amanda (timidly): To cool it!
Tom: No, thank you,I want it black! Tom: (drinks his coffee)
Amanda: (sits near and watches him) (spoken)
Amanda: I sent out your sister so I could discuss something with you.
Tom: What about mother?
Tom: Oh, Laura? (rises) I have no time!
Amanda: You still have five minutes!
Tom: (sits down again) Amanda (sad): Tom, you know how Laura is. So quiet but – still water runs deep. She notices things and broods about them. A few days ago I came in and she was crying. Tom (impatiently): What about? Amanda: You! She has an idea that you’re not happy here. Tom: Why? Amanda: Because you act so strangely. Tom,Tom, life’s not easy There’s so many things in my heart that I cannot describe it to you! I never told you, never, but, I love your father. Now you are taking after him, staying out late and also drinking! But why, Tom, why are you so restless? Amanda: Where do you going ev’ry night?
Tom (slightly irritated): To the movies. Why do you go to the movies so much? Tom: Because I like adventures. Adventure is something I don’t have much of at work. Amanda: But Tom, you reminds me your father.
Tom: I like a lot of adventures!
Amanda: He was always out, then, one day he left! Yo will do the same! Tom: Man is by instinct a lover, a hunter, a fighter! Amanda: Don’t quote instinct to me! Only animals have to satisfy instincts! As monkeys and pigs! Your aims are higher than theirs! Tom: I reckon they’re not. (rises) I haven’t much time! Amanda: You have five minutes. I want to talk about Laura.
Tom (sits down again – toneless): All right! Amanda (seriously): We have make some plans for her. She’s older than you, two years, and nothing has happened. Amanda(sadly): She just drifts along, that’s frightens me, and…
Tom: What do you mean? Amanda: I mean that as soon as Laura has got somebody to take care of her, then you’ll be free to go where you please. But until that time you’ve got to look out for your sister. Not me, your sister! I am old Tom (impatiently): What can I do? Amanda: Overcome your selfishness! Self, self, self is all that you ever think of? Tom: (springs up in a hurry) I’m to late! Tom:(put up his coat)
Amanda (shyly): Down at the warehouse, aren’t there some – nice young men?
Tom: No! Amanda (with hope): There must be some,
Tom (exasperate – spoken): Mother, oh my God!!
Amanda: doesn’t drink, for your sister to meet.
Tom: (starts to go)(with hope) There must be som. Amanda: Will you? Will you? Will you, dear)
Tom (calling back – irritated): YEEES!!! (exit, slams the door behind him) (Amanda picks up the phone and dials.) Amanda (spoken): Ella Cartwright? This is Amanda Wingfield !How are you, honey? How is that kidney condition? Well, I noticed that your subscription to the “Companion” has run out and…(fading out) SCENE 6
Evening (faintly a light-spot opens on Tom, who sits in a corner of the darkroom) (spoken)
The idea of getting a gentleman caller for Laura began to play a more and more important part in Mother’s calculations. It became an obsession. Like some archetype of the universal unconscious, the image of the gentleman caller haunted our small apartment. Mother’s preoccupied look and in my sister’s frightened, apologetic manner – hung like a sentence passed upon the Wingfields! Mother was a woman of action as well as words. For needs extra money, late that winter, she conducted a vigorous campaign on the telephone, roping in subscribers to one of those magazines for matrons called “The Illustrated Companion”, a journal that features the serialized , sublimations of ladies of letters…(gets up) Ladies, who think in terms of delicate cup-like breasts, slim tapering waists, rich, creamy thighs, eyes like wood-smoke in autumn, fingers that soothe and caress like strains of music, and bodies as powerful as Etruscan sculpture. (goes slowly to the window) (Amanda enters with the phone on long extension cord. She is spotted in the dim stage.) Amanda (speaking in the telephone): Ida Scott? This is Amanda Wingfield! We missed you at the meeting last Monday! I said to myself: She’s probably suffering with that sinus condition! How is that sinus condition? Ohh, heaven have mercy! You’re a Christian martyr, yes, that’s what you are, a Christian martyr! Well, I just have happened to notice that your subscription to the Companion’s about to expire! Yes, it expires with the next issue, honey !- just when that wonderful new serial by Bessie Mae Hopper is getting off to such an exciting start. Oh, honey, you must not miss it! Do you remember Scarlet O’Hara in “Gone With the Wind”? Well, this is a serial that critics already compare with the famous “Gone With the Wind”! What? Burning? Oh, honey, don’t. I’ll wait! Heavens! (crossed) I think she’s hung up! (puts down the phone turns, s Tom and goes to him) Amanda: What are you looking for? Tom (with a gesture of his hand): The moon. Amanda: A little silver slip of the moon. Have you make a wish, Tom? What did you wish for? Tom: That’s a secret. Amanda (slightly irritated): Well, I won’t tell mine either. I will be just as mysterious as you. Tom: I can guess what you wish for. Amanda: No, I don’t have secrets. I don’t have a secret. I wish success and happiness and fortunes to my precious children, my precious children, my children! I wish for that whenever there’s a moon, and whenever isn’t a moon too. Tom: I thought you wished for a gentleman caller. Well, we are going to have one. Amanda (gasping in surprise) What? You mean you have asked some nice young man to come over? Tom: Yes. I’ve asked him to dinner. Amanda: You did, and did he – accept?
Tom: He did.
Amanda: He did? Amanda: Well, well, well, well! That’s wonderful! Soon? Tom (as teasing): Very soon! Amanda: When soon?
Tom: Tomorrow! Amanda (gasps): Tomorrow? Tom, tomorrow gives me no time. Tom: Time for what? Amanda: For preparetion. Tom: You don’t need to make any fuss. Amanda: Tom, of course I have to make a fuss. The silver have to be polish. The windows have to be washed, in short… Tom: This boy is no one to make a fuss over. Amanda: What is his name? Does he drink your father did?
Tom: He doesn’t drink! Tom: His name is James Delaney O’Connor! Amanda (surprised – sarcastic): Irish, and doesn’t drink? Amanda: One has to be careful. Things are discretely handled to keep a woman to make a tragic mistake. Tom: Then, how you did it happen to you? Amanda: The innocent look of your father had everyone fooled. He smiled and the world was enchanted. Amanda: About this boy, does he study?
Tom: Yes. Tom: Radioengineering and public speaking. Amanda: Marvelous! A great chance for the future. Tom: Just I invited him to dinner. You mustn’t expect too much of Laura. She’s terribly shy and lives in a world of her own. A world of little glass ornaments, and plays old gramophone records, and that’s (toneless) all about! (cross to the door). Amanda (sharply): Where are you going? Tom (cold): To the movies! Amanda: Every night? Tom: (goes out)
Amanda: I don’t believe it! Amanda: (goes slowly to the window – looks out again) Oh, Laura, the moon, maybe our wish come through. (sends a kiss to the moon) (remains on the window in extasy) SCENE 7 Tom (to the audience – spoken)
And so the following evening I brought Jim home to dinner. I had known Jim slightly in high school. In high school Jim was a hero. He had tremendous Irish good nature. He was a star in everything. He seems to move in a continual spotlight. He was a star in basket-ball, captain of the debating club, and he sang the male lead in the annual light operas.
But in the end his speed had definitely slowed. Six years after he left high school he was holding a job that wasn’t much better than mine. He was the only one at the warehouse with whom I was on friendly terms.He called me Shakespeare – for my secret practice to work on poems, and took a humorous attitude toward me. I knew that Jim and Laura had known each other at the high-school, and I had heard Laura speak admiringly of his voice.I didn’t know if Jim remembered her or not. In high school Laura had been as unobtrusive as Jim had been astonishing. If he did remember Laura, it was not as my sister, for when I asked him to dinner, he grinned and said, “You know, Shakespeare, I never thought of you as having folks!”
He was about to discover that I did… (Friday evening – a delicate light is in the Wingfield apartment. Amanda has worked very hard in preparation for the gentleman caller. The result was astonishing. Open boxes and tissue paper are scattered on the floor.Laura stands in the middle with lifted arms while Amanda crouches before her, adjusting the hem of the new dress. The dress is coloured and designed by memory. he arrangement Of Laura’s hair is changed; it is softer and more becoming.A fragile, unearthly prettiness has come out in Laura: she is like a piece of translucent glass touched by light.) Amanda (adjusting the hem of Lauras dress): Here! And here, and here… Why are you trembling? Laura (in dismay): You make nervous! Amanda: Why, and how?
Laura: By all this fuss! Amanda: Wait! I have an idea! (produces two powder puff) (She wraps them in handerchiefs) (and stuffs them in Lauras bossom.) Laura: What are you doing? (reacting) I wan’t have them! Amanda: You will! You will! Laura: Why should I?
Amanda: Because, because, your chest is flat. Laura: You made it seem like a trap.
Amanda: All pretty girls are a trap Amanda: (takes Laura in front of the mirror) Now look at yourself, young lady. This is the prettiest (tenderly) you will ever see. (spoken) I’ve got. to fix myself now ! You’re going to be surprised! Just a little patience! (goes out) (Laura takes the two powder puffs out of her chest and hides them away.) (Amanda comes in. she wears a girlish frock of yellowed veile with a blue silk sash. She carries a bunch of jonquils.) Amanda: Now, just look at your mother! This is the dress in which I led the cotillion at Sunset Hill. See how I moved around the ballroom, Laura? (raises her skirt and does a mincing step around the room) (dreamingly) I wore it on Sundays for my gentlemen callers! Evening dances! Afternoons, long, long rides! Picnics – lovely! So lovely, that country in May. All flooded with jonquils. That was the spring I had the craze for jonquils. It was an absolute obsession! Mother said, ‘Honey, there’s no room for them! And still I kept on bringing in more jonquils. Whenever I saw them, I’d say, “Stop ! Stop! I made the young men help me to gather them. It was a joke, Amanda and her jonquils! No vases to hold them? All right, I’ll hold them myself! Dances, jonquils, and then I met your father, (stops in front of the picture) this boy! (She switches on the rose-coloured lamp) (faint thunder’s sound far away) Amanda (looks out of the window): I hope they get here before it starts to rain. Laura: What did you say his name was? Amanda (flatly): O’Connor! Laura: His first name? Amanda: I don’t remember. Oh, yes, I do. It was – Jim!
Laura (gasps): Jim? Laura: Not-Jim!
Amanda: Yes, it was!
Laura: O’Connor Amanda: Yes, why? Laura: He is the boy in the year book! Amanda: Laura, Laura, were you in love with that boy? Laura: I don’t know, Mother! If is him I won’t come to the table! Amanda: Nonsense! (angrily) You will come to the table! And you…(stopps, Doorbel rings) Amanda: They are here! Laura (panicky): Oh, Mother, answer the door! Amanda: Laura, sweetheart, the door! Laura (with anxiety) Please, answer the door, mother please! (Tom gives a long ring.) Amanda (call out): COMING! JUST A SECOND! (pointing to the door) Now you answer it, Laura! Amanda: Answer it!
Laura: Oh! (toneless) Oh! (darts to the victrola, and winds it up frantically and turns it on) Amanda: Laura Wingfield! Stop that! (clapps angrily in her hands) You march right to the door! Amanda: (exits in a hurry)
Laura: (slips to the door) (draws it cautionally open) Tom: (enters with the caller Jim O’Connor) Tom: Laura, this is Jim! (to Jim) Jim, this is my sister, Laura! Jim: (toneless) Oh, (with voice) I didn’t know that Shakespeare had a sister! Laura (very shyly): How – how do you do? Jim: Fine, thank you! (holding her hands) Your hand’s cold, Laura! Laura: Well- I’ve been playing the victrola… Jim: Did you play classical music on it? You ought to play a little hot swing to warm you up! Laura: Excuse me. (turns awkwardly away and darts inside) Jim (to Tom): What was the matter?
Tom: Oh, Laura is terribly shy! Jim: Shy? It’s unusual to meet a shy girl nowadays. Jim: I don’t believe you ever mentioned you had a sister!
Tom: Well, now you know. (Tom lights a cigarette.) Tom: I’ m planning to change. (spoken)
Tom: I’m tired of the Warehouse! I’m tired of the movies!
Tom: Yes, movies! Tom (ironic) Movies? Movies? All the glamorous people – having adventures – gobbling the whole thing up! Ha! People go to the movies instead of moving! Everybody in America sits in a dark room and watches them, and watches them – yes, until there’s war! But I don’t want to wait till then! (spoken)
Tom: I’m about to move!
Jim: Move? When?
Tom: Soon1 (finds a paper) Look, I am a member!
Jim (reading): The Union of Merchant Seamen!! How about your mother, your sister?
Tom: I’m like my father! The bastard! Son of a bastard! Tom (points at the portrait): See how he grins after an absence of sixteen years! Amanda: (enters in the room)
Tom (to Jim): Shhh! (exit) Amanda: Well, well, well! So this is Mr O’Connor! I’ve heard so much about you from Tom. I finally said to Tom, why don’t you invite this gentlemen to supper! Now I have the pleasure to meet you! Sit down! (Both sit down.) Mmm, so warm already! And not quite summer, even! Tom, please, let the door open! We’re going to bum up when summer really starts. Heaven! Already summer! I put on this light dress, terribly old historical almost – But feels so good and cool, you know. (spoken)
Amanda (calls out): Tom!
Tom (from inside): Yes, Mother?
Amanda: Ask your sister if supper is ready! (to Jim) We are having a very light supper. Amanda: Have you meet Laura? Jim: Yes,she…
Amanda: Good! Amanda: Laura is not only pretty but also sweet and domestic. I’m not! I could never make a thing! Well, in the South we had many servants. Now gone! Gone! Gone! Gone all vestige of gracious living! The gracious living! I wasn’t prepared for what the future brought me. All of my gentlemen callers were sons of planters! I could have marry anyone of them! Instead, instead I married that gallantly smiling gentleman over there! (Points to the picture) A telephone man who fell in love with long distance! Now he travels and I don’t even know where! But what am I going on for about my tribulations? I hope you don’t have any! Amanda (toneless): Tom! (rises and looks through the portieres)
Tom (returning): Yes, Mother?
Amanda: Where is Sister? Tom: Laura don’t feel well and thinks she’s better not come to the table! Amanda: Amanda: What? nonsense! Laura? Laura?
Laura (off stage – faintly): Yes, Mother? Amanda: You’re keeping us waiting. Amanda (to Jim): Please, come mister O’Connor! (walks toward the table) You sit over there and I’ll…
Laura: (comes in) Laura (suddenly stumbles – she catches at a chair with a faint moan) Ohh! Amanda: Laura!
Amanda: Are you sick? Amanda: Tom, help your sister! (a distant sound of thunder) (Tom helps Laura out and into the living room to lying down on the sofa) Amanda (apprehensive): Is Laura allright now?
Tom (coming from the living room): Yes Amanda: (looks out of the window) Well? What is that? Rain? A nice cool rain has come up! I think we may have grace now. Amanda: Tom, honey – you say grace!
Tom (toneless): Oh! (They joing hands.) Tom (monotously): For these and all thy mercies – God’s Holy Name be praised. (They bow their heads and sit down.) (in the living room Laura stretched on the sofa, clenches her hand to her lips, to hold back a shuddering sob.) (The scene dims down.) Scene 8
(Some time later – dinner is just being finished – Laura is still in the other room) (Suddenly the light goes out. Some faint light comes in from the street.)
Amanda & Tom: Ooh!
Jim (spoken): Hey there, Mr. Light Bulb! Tom: (gets up and goes in the kitchen) Amanda: Hmmm, where was Moses when the lights went out? Haha! Do you know the answer, Mister O’Connor? Jim: No, Ma’am. (laughs appreciatively) Amanda: (lights a pair of candles) Jim: What can be? Amanda: I guess the fuse has burnt out, Mister O’Connor. Jim (gets up): Where is the fuse-box?
Amanda: Right here.
Jim: Just a minute. Jim: (starts to look at the fuse-box) Amanda (as to an invisible audience): Is not electricity a mysterious thing? We live in such a mysterious universe, don’t we? Some people say that science clears up all the mysteries for us. In my opinion it only creates more! Jim: Ma’am. All the fuses look fine to me. Amanda (calling out): Tom! Toom! (Tom comes out from the kitchen)
Didn’t you neglect to pay the light-bill by any chance?
Tom (embarassed) Why, I… Jim: (spoken) Haha! (sung) Shakespeare probably wrote a poem on the bill, Mrs Wingfield! Amanda: I shouldn’t have trust him! There’s such a high price for negligence in this world! Jim: Candlelight is my favourite kind of light. Amanda: You are romantic! But that’s not excuse for Tom. (points to the candle) (half jockingly, half serious) Tom, as a penalty you help me with the dishes! Jim: Let me give you a hand.
Amanda: Indeed you will not! Thank you! Amanda (takes him gently by the arm): Instead (with deep feeling) go to Laura! She is all by her lonesome. Please, keep her a little company. Amanda: (gives him a chandelier. Then takes two glasses, puts them on a tray and filles them with wine.) And, what about a little wine too? (gives him the tray) Can you carry both at once? Jim: Sure. I’m Superman! Amanda (toneless): Tom, come with me. (Both are going in the kitchen.) SCENE 8 a
(Jim enters the room. Laura sits up nervously as he enters.) Jim: Hello, Laura.
Laura (faintly): Hello.
Jim: How are you feeling now? Better?
Laura: Yes. Yes, thank you.
Jim (gaves her a glass): This is for you. A little wine
– but don’t get drunk! (laughs) Laura: Thank you.
Jim: Where shall I set the candles?
Laura: Oh – oh, anywhere.
Jim (sets the candelier on the floor):I like to sit on the floor. Mind if I do?
Laura: Oh, no. Jim: Give me a pillow?
Jim: A pillow!
Laura: Oh,…(hands him one quickly) Jim:How about you? Don’t you like to sit on the floor?
Laura: Oh, yes.
Jim: Why don’t you, then?
Laura: I,…I,…will. Jim: Take a pillow!
Laura: (sits down a little away from the candles)
Jim: I can’t hardly see you sitting over there.
Laura: I can – see you. (moves her pillow closer) Jim: Good, now I can see you. Confortable?
Jim (takes out a C-Gum from his pocket): Will you have some gum?
Laura: No, thank you. Jim: Your brother tells me you’re shy. Is that right, Laura? Laura (faintly) I don’t know. Laura: Mister O’Connor, do you still sing?
Jim: Sing? Laura: Yes. I remember what a beautiful (hesitant) voice you had. Jim (surprised): You have heard me sing? Laura: Oh, yes! Very often! I don’t know if you remember me at all. We were in the Chorus class together, if you remember? Jim: I have the idea I have seen you before as soon as you came to the door. But I could not remember your name that wasn’t a name. Laura (faintly): Blue Roses? Jim: My God, yes – Blue Roses! How was it that I called you so? I was out of school for a little while with pleurosis. When I came back you asked me what was the matter. I said I had pleurosis – you thought I said Blue Roses Laura & Jim: BLUE ROSES… Laura: That’s what you always called me after that.
Jim: I hope you didn’t mind.
Laura: Oh, no – I liked it. Jim: I remember all, all so that you You were very shy with people. Laura (sadly): I tried not to be but never could. You sung so beautifully. (spoken)
Laura: After a performance I wanted to ask you for an autograph on my programme.
Jim: Why didn’t you then? Give me the programme, Laura.
Laura: (gets up, searches in the Year Book and comes back with the programme) Laura: (hands the programme to him) Jim (signes with a flourish): There you are! My signature isn’t worth much now. Some day, maybe. (gives back the programme to Laura) How old are you, Laura? Laura: I’ll be twenty-four in June. Jim: Do you finished high school? Laura: I didn’t go back. Jim: But what have you done since? Laura: Nothing much. I have tried some business course. I had to drop it. It gave me – indigestion Oh, please don’t think I sit around doing nothing! (inspired) My glass collection takes up agood deal of time. Nearly all the time. Glass is something you have to take good care of and love. Jim (little surprised – spoken): What did you say – about glass? Laura (now very shy) A collection – I have one (turns away her face) SCENE 8 b Jim: The trouble with you is: inferiority complex! You lowrate yourself! I understand it because I had it, too. But my case is different! (pacing around) I took up public speaking, developed my voice, and learned that I had an aptitude for science! You, sorry, you don’t have the proper amount of faith in yourself! Therefore think of yourself as superior in some way! Take me for instance, (adjusts his tie on the mirror) (slightly pompous) My interest lies in electro-dynamics and I am taking that course. Why? Because I believe in the future of television! I have already made the right contacts and all the rest will go at full speed! Knowledge – Zzzzzp! Money – Zzzzzzp! Power! (toneless) Hahaa! That’s the cycle democracy is built on! (spoken) Isn’t there something you, take more interest in than anything else? Laura (spoken): Well, I do for my glass collection. Jim: What kind of glass? Laura: Here’s an example, if you’d like to see it. (picks up a glass object) This is the oldest. (gives it to Jim) Careful! If you breathe, it breaks! Hold him over the light, gently, gently, he loves the light! You see how the light shines through him? Shines through him? Laura: He is my favourite one.
Jim: What it supposed to be? Laura: A unicorn! Jim: Aren’t they not extinct in the modern world?
Laura: I know. Jim: Poor little fellow, he must feel lonely. Laura: He doesn’t complain. He stays on a shelf with some horses that don’t have horns and all of them seem to get along nicely together. Jim: Where shall I set him? Laura: Put him on the table. They all like a change of scenery once in a while! Jim (stretches): (toneless) Well, well, well. (sung) Look how big my shadow is when I stretch. Laura:Oh, yes – it stretches across the ceiling. Jim (goes to the window and opens it – spoken): I think it’s stopped raining. (Some music faintly comes outside.) (spoken)
Jim: Where does the music come from?
Laura: From the Paradise Dance Hall across the alley. Jim: How about a little dance, Miss Wingfield?
Laura: Oh, I can’t dance!
Jim: There again that inferiority stuff! Come on, try!
Laura: Oh, but I’d step on you!
Jim: I’m not made out of glass.
Laura: How – how do we start? (to be sung tonelessly possible)
Jim: Just leave it to me. Hold your arms out a little. Laura: Like this? Jim: a little higher! Right! Relax! (they go into motion)
Jim: Let yourself go, Laura! Just let yourself go!
Laura: I’m – Jim: Do not be stiff!
Laura: I know, but I’m – Jim: That’s better now!
Laura: I’m – Jim (exited): Lots, (he moves her about the room in a clumy dance) lots, lots better!
Laura (also exited): My godness! (spoken)
Laura: Ha,ha,ha,ha! Ohhh – (Suddenly they bump into a table – they stop.) Jim: what we did hit on?
Laura: The table? (The valse comes to an end.) Jim: I think something fall off it.
Laura: (goes down and collects the object) Laura: Yes – it was the little unicorn. Laura: Now it is just like all the other horses.
Jim (sadly): It’s lost his –
Laura (sadly): Horn. It doesn’t matter. Maybe it’s a blessing in disguise. Jim: Still I’m awfully sorry! Laura (a little more cheerful): Now he will feel more at home with the other horses, the ones that don’t have horns. Jim (seriously): I’m glad to see that you have a sense of humour. (little embarrased) You know – you’re – well – very different from anyone else I know! In a nice way. You make me feel – I don’t know how to say. Has anyone ever told you that you are pretty? People are hundred times one thousand but you’re one times one. Yes, people are common as weeds, but you – you – well, you’re – Blue Roses! Laura (timidly – a little sad): But blue is wrong for – roses – wrong for roses. Jim: Blue is right for you! You are pretty, your eyes, your hair, your hands are pretty! (holds her hands) Somebody needs to make you proud instead of shy and turning away and – blushing – Somebody -ought to – Ought to – kiss you, Laura! (suddenly turns her about and kisses her on the lips) (lights the cigarette, avoiding her look) I shouldn’t have done that! I shouldn’t have (toneless) done that! Tom made a mistake about me. I cannot do the right thing. Jim (darkly – spoken): I can’t call up next weekend, for a date. Laura: You won’t call again? Jim: No, Laura, I can’t.
Laura (toneless): Why? Jim: I’m steady with a girl named Betty. She’s a house-girl like you. She’s Irish and Catholic. I met her last summer and from start it was love! Love has made a new man of me. Love changes the whole world, Laura! I wish that you would say something. Laura: (trembles but bravely smiles to) (picks up the broken unicorn – gently places it in the palm of his hand, then pushes his fingers closed upon it) Jim: What for, Laura?
Laura: A souvenir! Amanda (voice outside from the door – spoken): I’m coming! I’m coming!
(enters brightly in. She bears a tray with a pitcher and some glasses on it. She sings a banal little song) Amanda (amusingly): ‘Lemonade, lemonade Made in the shade and stirred with a spade. Good enough for any old maid! (looks at them – smiling) Have you know that song Mister O’Connor? Jim (uneasily): No, no – I never heard it. Amanda: Here I made a little refreshement for my children. (serves the drink filling the glasses with it) (a little apprehensive) Laura, you look so serious! Jim: We were having a serious conversation. Amanda: You modern young people are very serious-minded! I was always very gay as girl! Dear Mister O’Connor, I want you to be a very frequent caller all the time! (spoken)
Jim (embarrased): The fact is that – I’ve to be going.
Amanda (surprised): Going, now? Why so early? Of course if you really have to go, you’ll go, but next time you’ll stay later! Amanda: Isn’t Saturday night the best night for you to come? You don’t work at Saturday night, do you?
Jim: No, Ma’am, not work – Betty! Amanda (with choked voice): Betty? Betty? Who’s – Betty? Jim: Oh, just a girl. The girl I go steady with! Amanda: Ohh! Is it a serious romance, Mr O’Connor? Jim: We’re going to be married in June. Amanda (faintly): Ohh – how nice ! Tom didn’t mention that you were engaged to be married. Jim: Well, I didn’t spread the new yet in the warehouse. They’ll call you Romeo and stuff like that and you know how it is. (warmly) It was a wonderful evening, Missis Wingfield, a real Southern hospitality. Amanda: It really wasn’t anything at all. Jim (looks at his watch): I’m, I’m really a little late. Betty waits for me. She’ll be upset if I make her waiting. Amanda: I know – the tyranny of women! (spoken)
Amanda: Well, good bye, Mr O’Connor! I wish you luck, success and happiness. And so does Laura -Don’t you, Laura? Laura (faintly): Yes Jim (takes her hands): Good-bye, Laura! Thank you for the precious souvenir and don’t you forget the good advice I gave you! (spoken)
So long, Shakespeare! Thanks again, ladies – Good night (exit) (After Jim’s exit Amanda turns with a puzzled expression) (Laura crouches beside the Victrola to wind it.) Amanda (faintly to Laura): I don’t believe that I would play the victrola. O’Connor! He was engaged to be married! Tom! Toom! Tom (enters): Yes, Mother? (looks around) Has Jim gone away? Amanda (sarcastic): Of course! But what a wonderful joke you played on us! Tom: How do you mean? Amanda: You didn’t mention that he was engaged to be married! Tom (with surprise): Jim? Engaged? I didn’t know about that! Amanda (ironical): Didn’t you call him your best friend down at the warehouse? Tom: Yes, he is. The warehouse is where I work, not where I know things about people! Amanda: You don’t know things anywhere! (sarcastic) You live in a dream (points at him) you manufacture illusions! Tom: (crosses the door) Amanda (startled): Where are you going?
Tom: To the movies!
Amanda: To the movies? Now that you’ve had us make such fools of ourselves. All the preparations, expenses! The new dress for Laura, the new lamp and the rug! All for what? Go to the movies, go! Don’t think about us, a mother deserted, an unmarried sister who’s crippled and (Laura covers her face with her hands) has no future! (with despair) No future! (beside herself) Go to the movies! Just go for your selfish pleasure! Tom (brutally): I’ll go! But I won’t go to the movies! Amanda (hysterical): Go, then ! Then go to the moon – you selfish dreamer! (sobbs) Tom: (rushes out slamming the door) (Amanda and Laura hold each other, moving around as in a slow motion) (Tom enters from another side of the stage.) Tom (as to himself): No, I didn’t go to the moon, I went much further – for time is the longest distance between places. I tried to follow my fathers footsteps, attempting to find in motion what was lost in space. I travelled around and the cities swept about me like dead leaves, leaves, brightly coloured but tom away from the branches. I was pursued by something, something which took me by surprise by surprise. Perhaps it was a familiar bit of music. Perhaps it was only a piece of transparent glass. Perhaps I am walking at night, in some strange city. I pass the lighted window of a shop where perfume is sold. The window is filled with pieces of coloured glass. Tiny transparent bottles in delicate colours, like bits of a shattered rainbow. Then all at once my sister touches my shoulder. I turn around and look into her eyes … Oh, oh, Laura, Laura, I tried to leave you behind me, but I am more faithful than I intended to be! I can reach for a cigarette, I can cross the street, go to the movies or a bar, anything, anything that can blow your candles out! For nowadays the world is lit by lightning! Blow out your candle, Laura – Good-bye – good bye. (looks araound and goes out) (Amanda and Laura are as petrified – suddenly Laura blows the candle out) (The Scene dissolves.) END