(Mihaela and Pavel are actors. The character of Pavel is to be played by a female performer; Oana in the original production).
Hey, why don’t you have faith in yourself? It’s clear to see that you don’t.
What do you mean?
You’re… inhibited on stage. Why are you so wild? (laughs) One can see everything on stage, y’know: who you are, your level of education, if you come from a shanty or from a good family, if you are unfucked or a slut. One can even see what you’ve had for breakfast. (with self-conscious tenderness) So, to come back to my question, why don’t you feel good in your skin?
You can really see all this on stage? And you’re only telling me now?
Well, it’s only now that I feel we’re getting close. Besides, there are things you must already know yourself. You know that you’ll never play Juliet or Ophelia. You don’t have the face for that sort of thing.
Really? What faces do Juliet or Ophelia have?
White ones! (laughs) Hey, you must be aware of your assets. You don’t have a face for an ingénue, but to be fair, you have the coolest mouth I’ve ever seen. You’re smart, you have a sense of humour. You can drive any man crazy with these tits. So why don’t you believe in yourself? You could be a brilliant actress if only you got rid of your inhibitions.
MIHAELA (to the audience)
Why don’t I have faith in myself? And his hand touches my shoulder. He has never spoken to me like this before. Slowly but surely, his hand is sliding down my back, to help me relax. Bit by bit, it’s under my breasts, on my belly, so I can be a better actress. Next, taking its time, his hand makes it to my thighs, because I can’t be an actress if I have inhibitions and don’t feel comfortable in my skin. Carrying on at a steady pace, it gradually lands down there, so it doesn’t show on stage that I’m an unfucked wild creature.
Only after I realise that he has stuck his tongue down my throat while rubbing my crotch do I finally say: it’s NOT OK what you’re doing! I have nothing else on my mind, I feel that if other words were to come out of my mouth, they’d pour out like poison, they’d roll over me, roll over us just like his hands rolled over my body, and all the water in the world wouldn’t be able to wash this filth and shame away. I recognise this situation, there’s something familiar in this sensation, I’ve experienced it before. I don’t touch him at all, but still abandon my body in his hands. Why don’t I react?
What are you thinking about?
Pappy. It’s summer, and I’m at the countryside. I’m six or seven years old. Or maybe five? I’m with Pappy, an uncle twice removed, who has only two fingers and three stumps on one of his hands. The thumb and the index fingers. He doesn’t have children, because his wife Dodie couldn’t have any, so he really loves us, his nephews and nieces. We keep asking him to show us his stumps and to tell us how he had lost his fingers. We laugh. Pappy breeds pigs and says that they are his children. And us. We’re really fond of him. He keeps inviting us to visit so he can see how much we’ve grown. Every so often, I try to get out of visiting and come up with all sorts of childish lies. But as an adult, he’s more cunning and plays tricks on me. I’m embarrassed to say no or to annoy Pappy. Why is Dodie never home? He’s only inviting us to show us the piglets. Each has a name: Georgie Porgie, Lexi, the white one’s called Minister, the spotty ones Scabby 1 and Scabby 2, the black one Big Cheese. Each time, after checking the piglets out, we go inside. I know already that I don’t like being in the house and keep telling him that I want to stay with the piglets, as I was missing them a lot. Not to mention that he promised that he’d soon let me have Minister, and grandma told me that I could keep it in the house, in the summer kitchen. Pappy says that he’d let me have a piglet just to myself, but I’m naughty and, above all, ungrateful. I don’t want to annoy him, so I go inside.
He takes me in his arms, sits me on his knees and starts wiggling. He keeps swinging like this with me for a few minutes, holding me real tight with his stumps and two remaining fingers.
‘A bit more, come on, just a little bit’, and when I can no longer take it, I explode: ‘Please, Pappy, I want to go home, take me home.’
‘Come on, Alex, stay some more – he’d always call me by a boy’s name – you’re like a daughter to me, I love you as if you were my own child.’
For me, as for my sisters and cousin, he was indeed like a father, which is why we called him Pappy. I’ve never mentioned this business to them. I’ve never said anything to anyone, as I didn’t know whether it was right or wrong. But my body did know and would tense every time he took me in his arms and started wiggling as if he wanted to thrust something towards me. He’d never undress me or touch me down there, only keep swinging with me in his arms.
I had forgotten about Pappy. I really wanted to forget. You made me remember.
By Giuvlipen Theatre Company (Mihaela Drăgan, Bety Pisică, Nicoleta Ghiță, Oana Rusu, Zita Moldovan, Antonella Lerca Duda, Raj A).
The project was developed as part of the Active Art workshop ‘Politici în privat’ (Private Politics), coordinated by playwright and director Bogdan Georgescu.
Translated from the Romanian by Jozefina Komporaly
This is an extract from the volume Plays from Romania: Dramaturgies of Subversion, edited and translated by Jozefina Komporaly and published by Methuen Drama, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing.
It is reproduced here with the kind permission of the publisher.
You can read Lily Levinson’s review of the full volume here.