I know what you do. You live. You get born, go to kindergarten, school, university, and then you get married and deliver children. You work and work and work…During your work you manage to get in touch with your kids, look after your elderly, a little, go to the country on hot summer days, have some food on your saved up money and get bored. Get bored and fed up with everybody and everything, even with your fake rest. And wait, all this time. Wait to love, to be loved, wait for your own apartment which you will try to turn into your castle and paradise, wait for the kids to return from school, wait to pay the utilities and become happy because this month you pay less than in comparison to the previous one. Wait for the dull news report. Wait and hope that it wouldn’t be worse than yesterday’s. Wait for your wife or husband to return from their work and mechanically and even indifferently ask, ‘’How are you? What’s new? And listen to the same answer, ‘’ It’s OK, what about you?’’. And in between get interested in which cemetery it’s possible to acquire a piece of land at a comparably cheaper price. And when everyone is asleep, you look at the empty wall and try to empty yourself of the dust of the day, of hopeless emptiness. And in the morning everything will start again, but with a crazier rhythm. And the same dust and emptiness will obtain your mind and body. And only at night, when the desired sleep finally wins and breaks the daily nightmare, for a while, one can fearfully give in to dreams, which are nearly the same for everyone – an island hidden far in the ocean where one can forget about the time and live freely and happily. Go to sleep on that island and have a dream in which all the nightmares and expectations all your life has been spent on is just a hard dream…
A mono-play – tragicomedy in one act
Tragedy, comedy, humor, sorrow and even sarcasm are interwoven in this mono-play. In parallel with the development of the mental state and the theme on the one hand tragedy should be enhanced, on the other hand-comedy, but more often they should be expressed simultaneously by means of acting, feelings, even mimics and gestures. Musical composition is also important, such as Bach’s ‘’Goldberg Variations’’, ‘’The Well-Tempered Clavier’’, at love scenes Edith Piaf’s “La vie en rose”. Ideally there should be a pianist in a front corner of the stage.
In the background of the stage there is a building wall with a love formula A+B= L.
On a second floor level there is a shamrock window behind which a curtain can be seen, and behind the curtain, a mannequin. Below is a caricature of a donkey painted by a child. On the left side of the wall, again, there is a shamrock door, with a crooked, clumsy inscription on it, ‘’BREAD’’. Along the wall, next to the audience, there are several naked mannequins standing in line. There is a human-size free space between them. In the corner, there is a light chair without backrest. Under the wall, here and there, there is some garbage and crumpled newspapers.
From the right side of the stage the Man of an incomprehensible age in a simple chiton-dress literally rushes in. He stumbles and is about to fall, but he picks himself up and surprisingly looks at the mannequins standing in line. Then he turns to the audience, the same surprised look slides across the hall. The music stops, there is silence for a few seconds, and then the radio sounds a time signal. The Man points with his index finger to keep everyone silent and listen to the radio.
Radio – It’s five o’clock in the Bread Line. There is no news.
Man – (casting his look from the hall to the mannequins, then again to the hall). Hear? Got it? It’s 5 o’clock. (Pause). It’s 5 o’clock! (Pause). There is no news. (Pause). No news is good news. Don’t ask me if it is 5 PM or 5 AM. I’ve no idea. To tell you the truth I don’t want to know it. What should I do with it? It’s just important that there is no news, ‘cause we don’t need news. I myself surely don’t need it. Do you need it? (Looks at the hall from the first to the last rows). It turns out, you don’t need either. Well, talking too much forgot my doing.
He turns around and approaches the free space between the mannequins and tries to squeeze between them.
Man – Gosh, I got tired… But at least got my place. (Applying to the front mannequin). Don’t complain, madam, it’s my place. This has always been my place. Since ancient times. (Applying to the rear mannequin). Sir, please, calm down. I told you it has always been my place. Yes, it is so forever and ever. You’re no better than me. I didn’t tell you I’m better than you, I’m just one of you. Don’t you remember? Hm… not good, not good… My face is not familiar? And is it important? Look at my hands. A person’s hand is their face. (Opens his palm and shows everyone). See? Yes, it’s my number. My lucky number. Do you believe me now? Good. I know, I know, the number is important. What is face? Today you have it, tomorrow you don’t. Today it’s young and fair, tomorrow it’s wrinkled and hairy… But the number… (Shows his palm in admiration and tenderly kisses it). Number is everything. I feel pity for those who don’t have numbers… I have… I’m lucky. Don’t be jealous, mam. You’ve also got your number. Will you show me? No! You can’t, it’s your personal number. But I know it (Cunningly smiling). Shall I say? If we add one to my number we’ll get your number. So, did I guess correctly? And you’re complaining. Look carefully at me. Don’t you recognize me? Well… (looks at the bakery line). There is no bread yet, right? When will they get it? Haven’t said? What are your assumptions? (Points to the sky). And what do the stars say? Don’t say? Haven’t you read the horoscope? No? It should be written there. Yeah, when there can be bread… Haven’t read? That’s a pity. Well, let’s hope the radio will announce it one day. Wish you an awesome day, cheerful and productive!
The radio sounds a time signal again. The man leaves the line and makes a sign for everybody to keep silent and listen carefully. He himself becomes motionless.
Radio – It’s five o’clock in the Bread Line. There is no news.
Man – Oh, what a fine thing! It’s amazing when there is no news. And there is no bread either. How I love waiting for bread! Who has said there is no happiness? Waiting for bread – isn’t it happiness? (Looks at he mannequins, then at the hall). You’re happy, aren’t you? Of course, you are. I feel it from your looks. What? Getting bored? With what? Could you do anything better? Are you getting bored with waiting? That’s a pity. Well, let me entertain you a bit. I’ll tell you something interesting. About what? Oh my God! About me, of course. Whom else? I don’t know any other stories. Ask the radio about other stories. I know only about myself. Wait…wait… Listen, it’s rather interesting!
He slowly approaches the chair, looks at it eagerly, extends his hand, as if inviting to a dance. Then he hugs the chair, dances it in the air and puts it in the center of the stage. He bows his head in gratitude. Then he wipes the seat with his chiton and sits down. He turns around for a moment, looks at the mannequins, and then looks at the hall.
Man – Well, what was I saying? It’s very interesting. Listen! (Makes a pause for a moment, and then goes ahead). I was born in one thousand ninety… (confused). God bless my memory. I don’t remember in which year, right here in the Bread Line. A document was tied upon me stating my weight, height and mother’s name. Then that rag was lost and I don’t know when I was born. (Applying to the mannequins). Haven’t you seen a piece of paper here? A size of a match. Haven’t seen? If you find it, please, give it to me. I’ll put it in the museum. (Dreamingly). We’ll open a wonderful museum and exhibit interesting things over there. We’ll call it “Bread Museum”. Let people know their history. It’s important. (Turns to the audience and stops. Sends an air kiss to a point in the last row). I’ll continue my story. Listen, it’s interesting! Where did I hold on? Well, both my mother and father were born in the Bread Line, so were my grandmother and grandfather. (Points to the mannequin at the window). This schizophrenic boy, who looks out of the second floor window all day long, was also born here, so were his mother and unknown father, moreover, the Minister of Bread and Bakery, and their children. All people have been born in the Bread Line. All. Some people are just timidly silent. Others either don’t know or don’t want to know (Flirtingly). Still others try to prove that they stand in the line not for bread, but for something else. (Seriously and in a cruel voice). The poor naives, whom do they want to deceive! All of us are in the same line, in a happy line to get our piece of bread…
He turns around, approaches the mannequins, and squeezes between the two again. For a moment he stands up like a soldier, takes honor, then gets out of the line again and goes to a corner of the stage. The light falls on him and accompanies him as he walks on stage. Slowly Bach’s ‘’Goldberg’’ is played with a piano performance, gradually lowering for the Man’s voice to be heard.
Man – Well, what was I telling about? (With a happy nostalgic smile). So, I was born in one thousand nine hundred…, don’t remember the exact year… in the Bread Line. I went to school at the age of six. Just here in the Bread Line. The first lesson was about Bread. How interesting it was! Twelve years later the theme of my final essay again was about Bread. When I became 18, I joined the Unit defending the Bread Line for two years (With a military march he walks from one corner to another, then approaches the chair, honors the spectator, and again assumes a free posture). What a good time it was! To cut it short, I left Bread School, you won’t imagine, I got a diploma which still more confirmed my place here (Turning to the line). This is my place. I’ve never left it. Don’t even hope for it, I’m always here (turning to the audience smiling). And where can I go? There’s no place. I’m very happy here. See? I’ve my personal number (Shows his palm to everybody). It’s a lucky number… Of course, there are people standing behind and in front of me. They’re also happy (Turning to the mannequins). You’re happy, aren’t you? (Looks at the audience). They’re happy… Out of happiness they don’t even have a desire to speak. Well, what was I saying? A special prize was envisaged for the billionth standing in the line – he’s given a piece of bread. Can you imagine? A piece of bread. (He kneels down and kisses his hands tenderly. Then he stands up). Out of happiness he lost his mind a little, now he’s being cured. Where? (Laughs). Where else?! (Points to the window) Sure, in the Bread Line hospital.
The volume of the music gets louder. The Man, with a smile on his face, bows down in front of the chair, as if inviting to a dance. Then he raises the chair and dances around the stage , carefully puts it down and bowing gratefully, stands in that position for a few seconds. The sound of a radio signal can be heard. The music is silent. The young man, with a disfigured face, makes restless movements on the stage, running from the chair to the mannequins, then to the audience, goes down, gesturing to keep everyone silent. He is astonished for a moment.
Radio – It’s five o’clock in the Bread Line. There is no news. The next news is at five o’clock.
Man – (His serious glance slides across the hall) Did you hear? (Pointing to different spectators). Hear? What about you? And you? (Runs to the stage and addresses the mannequins). Did you also hear? How unlucky! It’s five o’clock, but still there’s no news. The next news is at five o’clock. We’ll wait. What should we do but not wait! Is there anything better than waiting? There’s no better thing than waiting for a good thing. There has never been, there isn’t and there will never be. (Again occupies his place in the line, addresses the mannequin ahead of him). Mam, you’re happy, aren’t you? And you, sir? Hello, it’s me. Say something. No, wait a moment, putting your hand on your heart. (Folds the mannequin’s hand towards it’s chest). Here it is. It’s better now. So, do tell me. You’re happy, aren’t you? Wonderful… It should be so. (Goes out of the line and sits on the chair). Of course, you’re happy – life is meaningful, the ideal is known, the goal is clear and visible… (Points to the bakery sign and keeps silent for a moment). The matter is not to be sated. The day one becomes sated, everything loses its meaning. The life will turn into a waste of hours…No, I don’t need it. I’m happy here… My life is cheerful, my ideal is known, and my goal is clear and visible… Bless me and bless us… Imagine, one day when you’re no longer in this line and you’ll be taken to an unknown place with your feet forward, in your obituary it’ll be written… (Pulls a folded newspaper out of his pocket, opens it carefully, stands, reads with pathos and solemnity). ‘’He stood in the Bread Line until the last minute of his life. Take him as an example. He was a Great liner. (Looking at the last rows of the hall). A Great liner! With a capital letter M‘’.
Music can be heard – Bach’s soft, joyful and tragic ‘’Goldberg Variation’’ or something like it. The Man carefully folds the newspaper, puts it in his breast pocket, on his heart, and presses his hand to his heart.
Man- It’s worth living for the sake of it. Chapeau bas.
The man raises his chair and, dancing with a happy expression on his face, takes it to his original place. He bows down as a sign of gratitude. Then he approaches the line and takes his place, looking at the other person’s neck and the shop sign. The ’Goldberg Variation’’ continues to be heard throughout. Suddenly a donkey growls and the music stops. The man anxiously leaves the line and walks around the stage in a daze. Then he stands in the opposite corner of the window and points to the mannequin in the window.
Man – It’s him. (Turning his head to the audience). Hear? It’s him. I know that voice. Creeping into your heart like a thief in the darkness of night… (Looking at the window, then putting his palms to his mouth in a cylinder way).Hey, you…Hey… (Lowering his hands). He can’t hear me. But it’s more important for us not to hear him. It’s terrible (Approaches the standing mannequins and in turn addresses them). You didn’t hear, yeah? And you? You didn’t hear, either, did you? Yeah, there’s no news, who needs it? You stand here. I’ll be back shortly. I’ll see my acquaintances and come back. No, where should I go? I’m here, at the other end of the line. Yesterday, today, tomorrow, forever and ever. Amen. (He walks towards the audience, carefully descends from the stage and sits facing the hall. The stage lights are dimming. A light falls on the Man).
Man – To tell you the truth, I’ve nothing to hide from you. I feel pity for that boy. (Points to the window). Yeah, that schizophrenic boy. He’s hardly ever stood in the Bread Line. They say he’s deluded about some kind of light, some kind of kingdom of heaven, though he himself asks for daily bread. What else should he ask for?… (Laughing). It’s said that he often remembers his father and cries. He gives us some silly advice on what to do and not to do. Once (Almost giggles) riding a donkey he tried to approach the Bread Line and preach his stupid ideas. Can you imagine? Do this, do that, don’t do that… In other words – bullshit. He saw us being indifferent and his heart sank. And can you imagine what he said? ‘’Give me a piece of bread and I’ll multiply it so that you’ll all be satisfied. (Looks at the audience with a crooked smile). Did you imagine? Good. Imagine, in order not tell me later that my stories aren’t interesting. You could never have heard anything like this. Even in newspapers. (He is silent for a moment, then smiles crookedly). Fortunately we realized in time what the danger was. First we beat him severely… Thirty-nine lashes. (Makes whipping movements). Not a big deal. Then we sent him back. Let him delude as much as he wants, but away from us. Poor schizophrenic, do you think one can (pointing to the mannequins and the audience) cut off these honest people from great and glorious work? Standing in the Bread Line. (Silence). Will people change their happiness of standing in the Bread Line for your nonsense? This endless line which has united us is our happiness, our past, present and future. We can’t lose time. It’s a great luxury. We’re born for a great deal, standing in the Bread Line. The Bread Line defends us and we defend the line. Hour by hour, day by day, year after year, from the birth time till death and timeless.
Fictitiously crosses himself, rises from his seat. Bach’s music is heard. The Man looks around the hall. His look seems to rest on one of them. For a moment he gazes at him, then shakes his hand, turns around and slowly returns to the stage. At the same time, the lighting of the stage increases. The Man approaches the chair, looks, then carefully hugs and carries it to the opposite end of the stage. He wipes the imaginary dust with the tip of the chiton, and then slowly approaches the line. He stops for a moment at the window and stares at the mannequin in the window. Then he takes his place in the line. The volume of the music gets louder. The Man is motionless for fifteen to twenty seconds. The sound of a radio signal is heard. The music is silent.
Radio – It’s five o’clock in the Bread Line. There is no news.
The Man carefully goes out of the line, looks at the mannequins, points out that it’s his place, and then turns around.
Man – (Turning his look from the hall to the mannequins, then back to the hall). Did you hear it? Did you get it? It’s five o’clock. (Pause). It’s five o’clock. It’s a historic moment. (Pause). There’s no news. (With a smile). No news is good news. Don’t ask me whether it’s 5 PM or 5 AM. I don’t know. And don’t want to know. What should I need it for? What’s important is there’s no news, ‘cause we don’t need it. I myself don’t need it. Do you need it? (Looks at the hall from the first to the last row). I know you don’t need, either. You may not answer. One moment, men, silence… This is my monologue, not yours. When your turn comes, you can talk as much as you wish. And I’ll sit in one of those soft chairs and eavesdrop you. But what should you say, that I don’t know? (Laughs).Then, it’s better to be silent and enjoy the remaining hours of our life. Living like this is blissfulness. Maybe the poor schizophrenic meant just this. Truly, (emphasized) earthly heaven… He pronounced one letter incorrectly, but we’re generous and we can forgive him. What do you expect from a stammering schizophrenic? (Smiles). To speak without mistakes? He’s a child, let him speak… (Seriously). But away from us…What we know is enough. We’re proud people. Of course, we’re proud. And we’re moral people. And let him speak in his room. Out of sight, out of mind.
I think that’s what he’s trying to teach us. (Grinning). He kept saying, ‘’Reject the pride of your hearts.’’ Stupid being… Oh, I’m tired… Let me go to have a rest … My grandmother was definitely smarter. She used to say, ‘’Where there is bread, there is my homestead”. The wise old woman was a thousand times right. It’s her statue that should be put here so that her memory will remain in us forever and ever… Amen.
He returns to the line and takes his place, turns around and smiles at the mannequin behind him. He lightly touches the mannequin ahead of him and smiles at him. The volume of the music gets louder. The Man is in a blissful state, with a happy smile on his face.
Man- (Going two or three steps away from the line, facing the audience). Do you know what I regret for? Shall I say? Well… (With a sad smile). I’ll say… that I don’t know how to paint… I’d take a big canvas and draw it on a big frame, the size of this window. (Points to the window.) Or the size of this door. (Points to the door) Or the size of this wall. (Shows the wall.) I’d take the best paints in the world and paint these happy people… Look at these bright faces, carefree and proud. Will you see a lot of people who are proud of what they do? And these people are proud. What am I talking about? These people are happy! And I’m a part of them. I don’t want to be alone. I want to be happy! And I’ll be. Though what am I talking about? I’m already happy. Who am I obliged to for it? I don’t know. May God bless me a memory! Though what should I need it for? There’s no news. And I don’t want it to be. One minute (pointing to everybody to be silent). No… it just seemed to me. Don’t pay attention. There’s no news… What time is it? It’s five o’clock, as usual. That’s why I don’t wear a watch. I don’t need it, it’s always 5 o’clock, forever and ever (Distorting).Amen. But I diverted from my theme. What was I saying? Ah, yeah, a beautiful picture with these beautiful faces. And who has said there is no happiness? Sure, there is. One just needs to see and feel it. The picture I’d devote to these people or, perhaps, the radio reporter. I’m sure he’s also here in the line. Then what? Then, everything will be all right. Though I can’t imagine what can be better. Why are you searching for happiness like a stupid schizophrenic if it’s here and now? And every day. You should just feel and see that blissful state. (Turning to one of the mannequins). Am I voicing up your thoughts? And my story is the same as yours? Oh, my God. No, I haven’t copied it. No… I respect the copyright law. Why do you get surprised? What else could it be? Differences? We don’t need differences. Being different is a sin and a pointless test. We’re the same. Yeah, sir, the same. Thousand times you’re right. I’m proud. What? You’re proud, too? Awesome…. (Turns his face to the audience and smiles). Then, we’re proud together. We’re proud to be in the Bread Line. And blessed is the one who stands more firmly in the line. Bread is our idol – one can’t get closer to it, it should be only pursued. And that pursuit on which the hours, days and years of our life are spent is the best we can have. (Turning to the audience). Throw away your watches. Stand in the Bread Line and you’ll be happy. And never fill your head with the nonsense the schizophrenic looking out of the second floor window filled his head with. May God give him some brains… (Turning to the mannequins with a friendly smile). Let me draw you, please. Yes, I’m almost an artist… We’re all artists in our hearts…
The man walks on the stage, looking for something, finds an empty frame, leans back to the chair, and with admiration begins to paint the mannequins to the sounds of music. After a while, he finishes, compares, and then puts it in a corner so that the audience can see it too.
MAN – (To the audience). That’s fine, isn’t it? My technique is still a bit lame, but it’s done sincerely. Look at these happy people… I’m happy too. By the way, would you like me to tell you a little secret? (Looks around, as if wishing no one else would hear). Shall I say? (cunningly smiling). Okay, I’ll tell you. What should I hide from you? So, listen! (Winks and lowers his voice.) My painting was actually an excuse. What kind of artist can it be out of me… (with a cunning smile)? Here, in the Bread Line, I noticed a good girl with bread-color hair.
Edith Piaf’s song “La vie en rose” is heard. The Man carefully takes out a lady wig from his bosom, approaches the mannequin ahead of him, and enthusiastically puts it on its head. Then he bends down and kisses its hand. He carefully steps back towards the audience and turns around. The volume of the music goes down.
MAN – (smiling heartily, in a mysterious voice). I’ve made a love confession. If she doesn’t refuse, and I’m almost sure she will not. Well, why should she refuse, if I’m no different from everyone else? So when she says to me, ‘’Yes, I agree’’, we’ll get married and we’ll be happier together than we’re now, separately. We’ll have a son. When he grows up and understands the happiness of standing in the Bread Line, he’ll be proud of me, of his father. And when I’m no longer here (fictitiously crosses himself), they’ll tell him (with pathos and solemnly) “Your father was a Great liner. With capital letter M. Take a cue from him. He stood in the Bread Line until the last minute of his life.” (He is silent, admiring himself, looks at the audience for a few seconds, lowers his voice). But don’t tell anyone about it yet, right? Let it be our little secret. Well, let me go. I’ve a lot to do…
Radio- It’s five o’clock in the Bread Line. There is no news.
Bach’s music is playing. The Man listens and thumbs up. Then he puts his index finger to his lips as a sign of silence.