Do you know what longing is? Do you know? You do know… Perhaps it’s just longing that makes us human beings. At the time of our birth God together with the soul submits into us the feeling for longing. In order to remain a human being. Didn’t know? I didn’t, either. I thought longing was for suffering. Then, much, much later I realized it was not the case. Longing is for living and for making others live. Do you know what happiness is? If you don’t know yet, go to the sea. Then you’ll tell me…
Tell me also about love between son and father. A million poets entered the grave, praising mother’s love. And a hundred million people haven’t just found proper words to become a poet. But you tell me about love between father and son… It’s nearly impossible to express by words what is beyond words, in another place. The place where the eternal longing exists…
Mono-play with two protagonists in one act
The stage is almost empty. There is only one incomprehensible object in the center, covered with a light colored cloth. Behind the white wall various animations are presented: ocean, waves, beach, animals, sky, forest, dawn, sunset, trees, flowers, stones, fire, people, children, a very beautiful young woman, family bliss, mountains, a river, streets of an old city, a wedding ceremony in the church, horses, birds, a plane in the sky, an old bridge, ocean fish, other animals, corals, etc. The video projector is positioned so that the images fall on the actor as well, always with his shadow on the back wall.
In front of the stage, there is a simple chair with the middle-aged actor, the Son, in his black cloak, sitting with his back to the audience. The soulful music of Jean Michel’s (“Oxygen”) or Wagner’s (“Prelude to Lohengrin”) is played. The Son, with a happy smile on his face, pays close attention to the screenshots.
The volume of the music goes down. The Son slowly gets up from the chair, turns around, looks at the audience a smile on his face. The images stop at a beautiful scene.
Son – (surprised). People… (in admiration). People… What amazing creatures you are! (Points to random people). You…And you…And you…And you…What am I saying? All of you…Beautiful, kind, honest, loving and loved… How much I’ve missed you! Do you know what longing is? (surprised). Do you know? You do know… Perhaps it’s just longing that makes us human beings. At the time of our birth God together with the soul submits into us the feeling for longing. In order to remain a human being. Didn’t know? I didn’t, either. I thought longing was for suffering. Then, much, much later I understood that it wasn’t the case. Longing is for living and for making others live. (Pauses, looks at the audience, then, accompanied by music, takes the chair and slowly moves to another place. Returns to the center of the stage, to the audience).
Son – It’s an old story but I love it. My father had two sons. Me, who was the younger, once said, ’’Give me my share of the estate’’. What should he have said or done? He got upset a bit but divided his property between us. I was in a blissful state. I applied to the clever moneylenders and soon all my possessions, the furniture, everything was turned into ringing money. I’d been dreaming of travelling for a long time. I wanted to see other lands: the sea, mountains, deserts with yellow sand, other trees, other flowers, other people, other animals… In a word, I went away. And I saw. The sea… (A picture of the sea appears on the wall; the sound of the waves is heard). Have you seen the sea?(Happily). It’s a miracle… Infinite, big and powerful. The waves come and go on the rocks and sands of the coast, aphrodisiacs are born from the foam and revolve around you like mermaids and sing their secret song that darkens one’s soul. Then the sun goes down and begins to sink into the faraway waters. If you eavesdrop carefully, you’ll hear its whisper. The sea is painted in all the colors of the world, and the sky merges with the earth. At that moment your soul breaks from the sands out of blissfulness and soars in the air… (Opens his arms like an angel and makes soaring movements). Then comes warm night. The mermaids dance, the sea ripples, the wine burns your lips… (Turning to the audience). Do you know what happiness is? (Pausing a moment looks at the audience). If you don’t know, go to the sea. Later you’ll tell me… (Takes a few steps on stage). And I fell in love. With a beauty as light as a mermaid. (With a loving glance points to a girl in the hall). Like you. Or you… (another one) Or you…Wine, sea and love…Does one need much to be happy? Probably, no, if you have wine, sea and love…Oh my God, how fast time flew from the sunrise to the sunset… (pauses, his face gets serious. The music stops). Then happened what should have happened…I didn’t notice how I wasted all my possessions. Why? ‘Cause I was living a wasteful life. I ran out of money. (Puts his hands into the pockets of his cloak and pulls out the empty sacks). I was left without any penny. I’d lent some money to many, but they all vanished. I’d invested in some deals they went bankrupt… I had some saving at the moneylender’s. It was also lost…There was no wine and my mermaid left me… Submerged into sea waves and never got out. I tried to sleep on the seashore, but I was sent away from there. I wanted to beg, but I had no gift for it. I tried to steal, but got caught and got a good beating. There was no job. Then I don’t know what happened but there was severe famine in that country. I became a poor and penniless nonentity. Out of despair I went to a citizen of that country whom I knew a bit. He sent me to his fields to feed pigs. Oh my God, how slowly the days passed from the sunrise to the sunset. And I was hungry, very hungry… Do you know what hunger is? Later you’ll tell me… I longed to fill my stomach with that… (Disgustingly). Pods that the pigs eat… But even that wasn’t given to me. I was suffering in spirit and in body. (Makes a pause, closes his face and cries). But one day I came to my senses and told myself,’’ How many of my father’s servants have food to spare in my father’s home and here I’m starving to death. I will set out and go to my father and tell him (with pathos), ‘’Dad, I’ve sinned against heaven and against you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son, make me like one of your hired servants’. (Turns around, looks at the unknown thing in the middle of the room, then again turns to the audience). So I set off to my father’s home, hungry, barefooted, in rags and sick. And while I was a long way off, my father noticed me and filled with compassion for me. He ran towards me, threw his arms around me and kissed me. Tears were running down from his eyes. Or from mine, as everything turned upside down in my heart. (Kneels down). I knelt down, hugged my father’s feet and somehow said what I’d said hundreds of times in my mind while I was on my way home. (Pause). And I told him (in an upset voice and looking down), ‘’Dad, I’ve sinned against heaven and against you, I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Let me be one of your servants. Let me live in a corner, away from your eyes, ‘cause I cannot look into your eyes out of shame. Let me be your son, even if a lost one. (Stands up). At that time my father told his servants to take off my old robe immediately (with abrupt movements he takes off his robe and the white remains under it), bathe and dress him, put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate ‘cause my son was dead and is alive again, he was lost and is found now.
Music (Marcello’s “Adagio” or Bach’s “Solo Aria”). He pauses and looks around the hall with a sad look. Then he slowly walks to the chair, picks it up and puts it in front of the stage. He sits down with the same sad, anxious look. Then a smile appears on his face. The music becomes almost inaudible.
Son- My story was nice, right? Did you like it? Of course, you did. (Makes a pause and smiles cynically).Especially, because it wasn’t mine. I’ve heard it. It’s an old story. I just told in the first person to make it more interesting. (Laughs). It’s a theatrical technique. I’m not in the right mood to make up such stories. (Angrily). I’ve neither brains, nor memory. Neither have I a ring, and have never had. Even I’ve no clothes and sandals. I’ve nothing, not even me. And very likely I’ve never been. Everything is a dream, it’ll stop for a moment and vanish. (Ironically).Sea, love, wine… I’ve seen in my dream… Perhaps in a dream… I myself don’t know… (Turns and looks at the sea image). No, I haven’t seen…You say sea? Will you tell me about the sea?
The volume of the music gets louder. He looks at the hall and looks away. He nods, then gets up from his chair, slowly takes it to one of the corners, and with a slower, less expressive look, hovers over an unknown object in the center of the stage. The light falls on the object. The other lights and screen go out. The music is interrupted. He looks at the object in surprise, then at the audience, then at the object again. Carefully pulls back the object, rotates it in the air, and throws it aside. There is a mannequin kneeling under the cloth with crumbs, eyes hanging, arms outstretched. The Son walks back in fear, looking at the mannequin in amazement, then at the hall, then at the mannequin again.
Son – (To the audience in a low and upset voice). Did you recognize? No? I didn’t recognize at first, either… He’s changed so much… Got older… Thinner… There’s no hair left on his head… The face and hands are in wounds… Bare-footed… Feet are bloody and covered with blisters. Poor… My poor… (to the audience) Dad… How old he’s become! I could hardly recognize him. Wait, hush…He’s saying something.
The son approaches the mannequin, kneels down and listens for a few seconds. Then he stands up so that the mannequin is kneeling before the Son with his legs half-hugged. Low music can be heard.
Son- Dad, my dear Dad…What are you talking about? Wipe your eyes, please! I don’t want to see your tears. And why have you knelt down? You’ve all my kindness and compassion. Why do you beg for my mercy and forgiveness? What? And why do you keep saying that you don’t deserve to be called my father? What? Have sinned? Against Heaven and before me? What are you talking about, Dad? Stand up, please! Wipe your tears. I love you so much and nothing can lessen my love even a bit. (Strokes the mannequin’s head and shoulders fondly).
Son- (Strictly and imperatively addressing the audience). Why are you looking? Hurry up, take off his robe, bathe, put on new clothes, put some oil to the wounds. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Kill the fattened calf. Let’s have a feast and celebrate ‘cause my father was dead and is alive again, he was lost and is found now. (Addressing his father in a soft voice). Calm down, Dad… Now you’re here with me and nothing should upset and trouble you… What are you saying? Wait, I will kneel down myself…
The son gets down on his knees and puts his ear to the mannequin. He stays like that for a few seconds, then gets up. Moves the chair to the father.
Son- Get up, Dad, please! I’ll give you my hand.
He lifts the mannequin, removes its rag, puts on something relatively good, places it on a chair, sitting with its back to the audience. He strokes the mannequin’s head, then puts his hand on his shoulder and looks at the hall. Soft music plays.
Son – I know. Dad, I know… (Takes a pause. The same soulful images appear on the back wall). I know that you chat with me for hours, tell me about the light and the darkness, heavens, horses, the sea and mermaids … About wild tulips growing in a far away meadow that hasn’t seen the weight of a human foot. About the summer heat and the pure white first snow. In the stillness of the night you tell me about the scent of a bloody-colored rose. About the piano keys and the secret music immortalized in them. About the leaves of the trees and the gentle breeze you tell me. You tell me about the sweetness of pomegranate and grapes cracked from the heat of the sun and the apricot enchanted by the song of a wandering troubadour. And you tell me, Dad, about an island hidden in the depths of the ocean and a beauty waiting in the darkness of the night under an ancient wall. (Addressing the mannequin). Calm down, Dad…Now you’re with me, nothing should make you worry and upset … (Looks at the last rows of the hall). Do you know I’ve always admired and have been proud of you? I remember you standing in a bread line. All your life you kept standing in a bread line, though most of all you hated that very line. And although you did not subconsciously reconcile yourself to the idea that your son would have to stand in that humiliating line, you actually understood that this is the imperative of this life and the only way not to lose in natural selection. But, I don’t know, fortunately or unfortunately, I never came to the bread line to replace you, though I guess what you’re thinking and meditating during those cold and dark nights on the gray and gloomy sidewalk. I know your pain, Dad, believe me, I know… I’m your son, aren’t I? And you have all my kindness…
The Son takes a handkerchief from his bosom and wipes the mannequin’s eyes. He holds the handkerchief in his hand.
SON – (With sincere compassion). Wipe your eyes, please! I don’t want to see your tears. You’re my father, aren’t you? And why did you get down on your knees? You’ve all my kindness and compassion. Why do you ask for my mercy and forgiveness? What ?… Forget it, please… And why do you say you no longer deserve to be called my father? What? You’ve sinned against Heaven and before me…? What are you saying, Dad? You aren’t lost… You’re my father. My father can’t be a prodigal. Calm down, please… Now you will be bathed and your wounds will be oiled…And you’ll be given some food to eat. You should be hungry from the road. Now you aren’t alone, I’m by your side and with you. I love you, Dad… I miss you so much… Even now when you’re by my side. Let me kiss you, Dad… (Bends, kisses the mannequin’s head, wipes his eyes with a handkerchief). Here it’s better. Don’t worry. I’m with you now… (Takes a couple of steps, looking at the wall). Do you know what I miss most? (Smiles). You’ll never guess! Chatting with you. Every time either I was talking and you’re listening, or you’re talking and I was listening. But I could never chat with you giving my questions and listening to your answers. How much I wanted to hear you telling me loudly about the far away sea and heavens, wild horses and the beauty waiting eagerly under the ancient wall. Why didn’t it ever happen? Maybe we didn’t have enough time? We split up never being together, maybe, that’s the reason why I realize your existence just subconsciously. I miss you without perceiving the birth and meaning of it, without realizing the importance of communication between us.
Just subconsciously I miss you, the caress of your hands, the words that come out of your mouth, whatever they say. I even miss your paternal strictness. Even your silence… When you’re beside me… (Pause). It’s always seemed to me and still it does that you would be proud of me, of your son. But, alas, Dad, today I’m unable to make you happy…Perhaps only subconsciously, as I’m very far away from you in other dimensions. Yes, I miss you so much, but I’m unable to approach. And what could fill the abyss between us? No matter how many bridges we build you or me…Well, Dad, don’t get upset, please… You’ve all my kindness…I don’t know whether filial love or longing are measurable. Did you say anything? Yes, you’re right. Perhaps it can be compared only with paternal love and longing… I know, Dad, I know you also miss me…But don’t get upset, please! We’ve waited each other so much. Now we should be happy- not sad, that we’re together…You’ve come back. You were lost but you turned up, you were dead and now you’re alive. Isn’t it a miracle?
(Points to a distant place). Look, they’re already preparing the table… Now we’ll eat together, drink wine and you’ll tell me … It doesn’t matter what. Anything. A grain of sand or a drop of water… Or, when we’re already a little drunk, maybe you can open your heart and tell me about the far away seas and wild horses. About a field with red tulips and a loving heart throbbing with excitement in the darkness of the night … (With rage). And I’ll listen to you. I’ll ask questions, enjoy your voice and stories. Your presence and… just you…
He approaches the mannequin and wipes its eyes again with a handkerchief.
SON – Don’t cry, please. I love you. Oh, it’s better now. Of course, I’ll tell you, though, I haven’t seen much to tell about. I only know one story, but I’ve already bored everyone with it. (Looks at the hall). Yes, everyone. To be honest, it’s a fictional story. I’ve heard from others. Or I’ve dreamt…I don’t remember… (Smiles). Okay, I’ll tell you one day… (Ironically). Me – a storyteller? Are you okay, Dad? Sit down, sit down. Don’t get up. You need to relax. You’ve suffered a lot. I know you’re hungry. We’ll eat something and drink wine soon…Don’t worry. Now we’re together. Yeah, yeah, you’ll have a bed to sleep in. Trust me and everything will be all right. (Pause). And do you know what I would like? I’d like to walk in your footsteps, first looking for your footprints, then walking in the darkness myself. I’d like to go through kingdoms, big and small, see people and talk to them. Sometimes it seems to me that I’ve a lot to say to them, and they themselves are longing for the Prophet to be resurrected in my image and to alleviate their grief and pain. But I can never do that, Dad, because I have no legs… (Smiles). Don’t be surprised, these aren’t mine. These are imaginary legs, imaginary. Of course I can walk. But only with imaginary steps… Never mind, don’t worry. The important thing is that in my subconscious I’m not disabled, but perfectly healthy. Oh no, don’t think that I’m rebuking you. Definitely I don’t. I believe and love you, you’ve all my kindness, don’t you? You’re my father, you don’t need to justify yourself at all. I feel and I understand you.
(Strolls on the stage). I know, I know, you didn’t want me to be corrupted by the ills of this world, so I’m not sure if I gained or lost by being cut off from earthly morals and people. But why do I worry about the distant existence of an earthly beauty? (In a dream). Maybe she’s waiting for me… But, alas, I’ll never see her sea eyes watered with longing, ‘cause have no eyes, either, father, and no lips to kiss her, ‘cause it all remained forever in your subconscious.
But, you know, from time to time I feel an uncontrollable warmth in the place where my lips should have been, and my feet squeak with the desire to run into the arms of that far away beauty, but I silently restrain my alien bodily needs and again end up where the tester can’t penetrate (Stops and turns to the mannequin). But explain to me, Dad, you who have kept me away from temptation and sin, why am I suffering from regret and longing? Should I suffer here in your subconscious from what you’ve suffered in your conscious?
He approaches the mannequin, hugs and strokes his head.
SON – Dad, Dad, again you repeat the same thing, you no longer deserve to be called my father… What? You’ve sinned, Dad? What are you talking about? Get up! You know you’ve my compassion and kindness, so what can soften my love? Wipe your eyes, please! I don’t want to see your tears. I want to look at you with enthusiasm and pride. You’re my father, aren’t you?
A filial smile on his face wipes the mannequin’s eyes with a handkerchief. He walks to the back of the stage, sits down and draws something on the floor with his finger. It is silent for a few seconds.
SON – (Continuing to draw on the floor). I understand you and I know that today I owe everything I’ve and don’t have to you, to your love and kindness. I’ve escaped the snares of this world’s prince, again thanks to you.
All lights go out. Only a ray falls on the Son from above.
SON – (Looking at the light and winking). I haven’t seen the Light… (The ray goes out and the stage buries into darkness. The animation disappears. Heartbeat can be heard). But instead, I don’t know the Darkness.
The Son takes a candle from his pocket, lights it with a match and puts it on the stage near the audience, so that to make his face a little brighter. The music sounds softly.
Son- (The sound of the voice fluctuates from joy to sadness). Yes, I didn’t stumble in the Darkness, but, alas, I didn’t feel the sweetness of the Light, either. I didn’t know Heaven, but I didn’t see the Earth as well. I couldn’t feel the panting of the horse’s body and I couldn’t hear its great heart’s beating. I didn’t see the tulips growing in the distant meadow, but I didn’t know that human blood as well has the color of those tulips. I wasn’t bothered by the summer heat, but I wasn’t ashamed of the white nakedness of the myrrh-defiled snow. I didn’t smell the scent of a rose that wafted through the stillness of the night, and my fingers never touched the magic keys of the piano. I didn’t walk on the autumn fallen leaves and on the sea. I didn’t sit under the apricot tree enchanted with the song of the Master, and my lips never enjoyed either the grapes or pomegranate cracked from the heat of the sun, or the mysterious kiss of a woman. And my eyes never saw the waiting eyes of a beautiful woman with a beating heart in the darkness of the night, the eyes of a woman who could be my mother and stroke my hair with her loving fingers… (Addressing the audience). Do you think I’m dead? No, I’m not dead… (Pause). I wasn’t even born… I don’t exist…
The lights are on. Surprised, the Son gets up from his seat, blows out the candle, wipes his eyes with a handkerchief, and looks at the audience.
SON – (Addressing the audience). Do you think I’m dead? No, I’m not dead… (Pause). I wasn’t even born… I don’t exist. You say wild tulips? I haven’t seen… A beautiful woman? I don’t know. Maybe, it’s a myth. Wild horses? Hmmm… I haven’t seen. Have you seen? So tell your children. Tell them about the wild tulips, the lovely beauty and the wild horses… You know better than I do… You might have seen. I haven’t seen because I don’t have eyes. I haven’t heard ‘cause I don’t have ears. And I haven’t smelt a rose, ‘cause I don’t even have a nose. And I haven’t felt the woman’s skin, ‘cause I don’t have fingers… And I don’t know the taste of tears and wine, ‘cause I have neither mouth nor tongue… I don’t exist…
He looks with a sad smile for a moment, then turns around and approaches the mannequin. He strokes its head with a gentle filial smile.
SON – Because you, Dad, had mercy and didn’t give birth to me, so that I would not suffer in an infinite line of bread… (Pause). I know, Dad, I know that you love me, and your love is so great that you didn’t give me a birth… (Pause). What? Do you want to stand? I’ll help you. (Carefully raises the mannequin). So, Dad. Keep calm, don’t hurry! Keep calm… Very good. (Corrects and carefully smoothes the mannequin’s coat. Strokes its hair with his fingers). Yes, we’ll soon eat and drink wine. Everything will be fine, Dad. Now you can relax. We are already together, aren’t we? Don’t cry, Dad, I love and understand you.
The same soulful animations reappear on the back wall, the same soulful melody sounds. The images fall on the Son and the mannequin. For a few seconds the Son follows the images, then squirms, kneels and hugs the mannequin’s legs. The photos disappear. Only a ray from a distance illuminates the mannequin and the Son. The music lowers but doesn’t stop.
SON – (almost roaring from the soul pain). But tell me, Dad, explain why I’m tormented by the insatiable desire to leave you and return to your arms again. Why can’t I kneel before you and whisper? “Dad, I’ve sinned against Heaven and before you; I no longer deserve to be called your son. I miss you so much. I want you so much to hug me and kiss me, Dad, I want so much… Will it never happen, Dad? “
Accompanied by music, the light slowly fades, and the stage buries in darkness.