Arthur Danin Adler - Scene4 Magazine | www.scene4.com

Arthur Danín Adler

I offer you a historic note to the fact that the theatre has always been alive and well.

It was a difficult piece to write and even more difficult to perform. But byjees, it worked. It was the actors, the actors, the actors who made it happen. And they paid for it, with serious mental instability: some losing their sense of gravity, others becoming preteramnesiacs, and one becoming a Hollyood movie star (true amnesiac).

Here’s a brief taste of what the brouhaha was all about.

(Variations On a Theme of Maurice Ravel)
(featuring six men or six women or some of each)

The driving, climactic progression of Ravel's Bolero is the theme for a string of dramatic variations—eight short plays, designed for consecutive performance in one evening. But this is not a musical. It is a dark comedy of love, sex, betrayal and bent gender-bending. It's also not a "La Ronde"!  Because... the dialogue repeats in each  play, though the characters and plots are different.  Got it?  Same words, different plots, building on each other until it ends in rolling thunder! 

Eight One-Act Plays:
She, Her Husband, His Wife, and Her Lover
I Come, I See, I Conquer, uh...
3 Years, 12 Days In A Dark, Warm Place
He to She to Him... Bingo!
The Closet Has Two Back Doors
My Lover Is A Doodad
Sweet French and Spanish Kisses
In The End There Is A Soft Beginning


She, Her Husband, His Wife and Her Lover
The stage is set with a series of platforms at different levels. We begin in the dark with faint light high up in the background. There is the suggestion of a window with a piece of curtain moving easily in a breeze. A touch of music, soft drumbeats in the background. Then a moan, anxious and erotic. Another moan joined by a low humming voice. The dim outline of a couple appears. They are turning and rolling together in what appears to be a bed. Flashes of moist skin as they move through and around each other. Her moans linger, his hum becomes constant, louder.

SHE.  Yes, yes, oh yes.

LOVER.  Uh-huh, uh-huh, uh-huh.

SHE.  Yes-yes, yes-yes, yes-yes!

LOVER.  Mmmm, mmmmmmm, mmmmmmmmmmm.

(Their sounds rise to a peak and stop suddenly as a door opens and a shaft of light cuts across the space. )

HUSBAND.  I’m back early. I didn’t think you’d be…

SHE.  Oh my god!

( HUSBAND reaches for an unseen lamp and turns it on, flooding the space with bright light. The two are stunned  for a moment. Then they panic, frantically scrambling to cover their naked bodies, but unable to find a blanket or a sheet. SHE ends up holding his boxer shorts in front of her, stretching them in an effort to cover herself.  LOVER can only find her bra, which he spreads between his legs like a jock- strap. The three are frozen in amazement, unable to move.)

SHE.   You’re… back… early.

HUSBAND.   I… am.

SHE.   This is… my friend. And this… is my…

LOVER.   I know.

SHE.   …husband!

LOVER & SHE.   Oh my god!

HUSBAND.   And she… is my…

LOVER.   I know.

HUSBAND.   …wife!

LOVER & SHE.   Oh my god!

(HUSBAND suddenly screams. The other two join him in a chorus of screams. They stop. HUSBAND begins to walk in a circle around the bed. )

HUSBAND.   I’m trying, very hard, to be calm, to be very... calm!

LOVER.   Please, don’t kill me.

SHE.   What?!

LOVER.   Oh, sorry. Don’t kill… us, please.

(HUSBAND stops pacing and stares at them. He begins to laugh, louder and louder. It’s infectious, they laugh too, until all three are almost screaming again.)

HUSBAND.   Stop!

(They do)

I can’t think.

LOVER.   (hesitantly) About what?

HUSBAND.   I can’t get a clear picture in my head.

LOVER.   Be calm.

HUSBAND.   I am. I just don’t know what to say, I don’t know
what to do.

SHE.   Don’t say anything. Don’t do anything. Just go back out and come in again. Everything will be all right.

(LOVER is shocked. He looks at her, then at him.)

SHE.   Shhhh… just go.

(HUSBAND turns out the light  and leaves.)

LOVER.   I don’t believe it.

SHE.   Don’t say anything. Don't do anything. Just get dressed…

(They scramble looking for their clothes. She comes up with a couple of towels.)

LOVER.   Why are you speaking with a British accent?

SHE.   Because I need to use deceptively persuasive English to address our audience.

(To the Audience)
Dear friends and beloved ticket-buyers,
What you are seeing is the beginning of a round and round and round dramatization with the great Maurice Ravel's Bolero as its inspiration. No politics here, no moral preaching, no jerking tears or anything else. Just stories of people, like you, and me, and all our neighbors.

(The door suddenly swings open, a shaft of light floods the space. HUSBAND steps in with LOVERLY.)

HUSBAND.   I'm back.

SHE.   Oh...

HUSBAND.   (to LOVERLY) This is my...

LOVERLY.   I know.

HUSBAND.   ...wife!

SHE.   And that is...

LOVERLY.   I know.

SHE.   ...my husband!

HUSBAND.   (Pointing to LOVERLY) And this is... my... friend!

LOVER.   Oh...

LOVERLY.   (Pointing to LOVER)  And do you... know... who that is?


From this point, the work rolls through the 7 other pieces and finishes with a rousing ending to the first piece. Each time, the dialogue repeats, though the characters and plots are different.

The performance was toured by the original Playwright's Ensemble out of San Francisco. Audiences cheered, and booed, and occasionally threw organic vegetables (and fruits) at the stage, and occasionally sat in stone-eyed silence. Once when that happened, the company was swiftly escorted out of Humboldt County by two cars with flashing lights.

They loved it in Iowa.

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Arthur Danín Adler is a playwright, writer and the founding Editor of Scene4. He is the author of Medea Noir, directs the Talos Ensemble and produces for Aemagefilms. More at
Darcy-Kane. His latest book, The Lyriana Nocturnes, will be published in January of next year.
For more of his commentary and articles,
check the Archives.

©2019 Arthur Danín Adler
©2019 Publication Scene4 Magazine


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