Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Elizabeth Wray | FORECAST: A Parable

A Parable

by Elizabeth Wray

Forecast was first presented at the Intersection Theatre in November 1982, with the following cast:

Woman ….. Priscilla Cohen
Man ….. Ellery Edwards

Director: Elizabeth Wray

Place & Time Peru, 2050

Characters POTATO FARMER – small, thin, dark woman, around 30.
ASTRONAUT – tall, athletic, blond man, around 35.

1. Prolog
2. Work
3. Remembering/Imagining
4. Watching. Sleeping
5. Storytelling
6. Building a Fire
7. Nesting
8. Not Knowing
9. Nightsoil
10. Changing Weather


Woman plants potatoes. She hears something, puts her ear to the ground. Man enters. Woman is on guard.

MAN: I'm from the United States. My capsule crashed. . . Do you speak English? My capsule crashed [makes sound of crash] over there. I'm hungry.[Indicates hunger] Food. . potatoes....
He reaches toward potatoes on the ground. She groans and knocks him down, pulling a knife on him. He retreats, scrambling out of the way. They watch each other carefully. Neither moves. He points to the sky.

Rain [Makes sound and gestures of approaching thunder storm]. . .Storm.

He looks at the sky and remains looking, transfixed. Finally she returns to her planting, cautiously. She stops working, looks to the sky, looks at the man. She throws him a potato, which he starts to devour.

WOMAN: Hey! [Man looks up] When is the rain? [He looks at her amazed that she speaks his language.]


WOMAN: Forecast. C'mon. Forecast, goddamnit.
MAN: I'm waiting for my french fries.
WOMAN: I can't plant until I know the forecast.
MAN: Country style french fries. And leave the skins on.
WOMAN: There's not much food left.
No response. She throws him a potato.
MAN: Double order.
She throws him another potato.
MAN: Temporary deterioration. Strong breezes ahead.
WOMAN: Yeah? Hmmmmmmm. Maybe I should wait.
MAN: Large branches in motion. Whistling in telegraph wires.
WOMAN: There aren't any branches.
MAN: It spices up the forecast.
WOMAN: There aren't any branches because there aren't any trees. Face it.

She returns to planting.

MAN: Umbrellas used with difficulty.
WOMAN: Umbrellas! Ha!
MAN: Umbrellas!!!!!
WOMAN: Ha!!!!!
MAN: [undertone] Umbrellas.


She squats with a stick, drawing a map in the dirt.

MAN: Got things all figured out?

She groans at him.

MAN: You know what color my eyes are?
WOMAN: Doesn't matter.
MAN: It matters.
WOMAN: Not to me.
MAN: Yeah, I bet you think you got things all figured out.

She continues figuring in the dirt. He cracks a stick. She puts her ear to the ground. He throws sticks down in front of her.

MAN: Doesn't do any good to try to figure things out. Things change.
WOMAN: Very deep. [Pause] You'd think somebody who spent most of his life in outer space would have more to say.
MAN: I know where we're going.
WOMAN: You do not.
MAN: Yes, I do. I've imagined it many times.
She beats sticks together.
MAN: What color are my eyes?
WOMAN: I don't know.
MAN: Imagine.


They both keep watch. She watches low to the ground. He looks to the horizon. She thinks she hears something, puts her ear to the ground. He puts his ear to the ground. False alarm. He yawns. He falls asleep. She watches. He wakes up screaming.

MAN: Opening. . .black hole. . .fire ....
WOMAN: Wake up. Wake up. You're dreaming. Wake up.
MAN: Can't breathe. . .watch out. . .ship's opening up....
WOMAN: Stop it! You're dreaming. Look at the ground. It's all right. Look at it.
MAN: No.
WOMAN: Look at it!
MAN: No!
WOMAN: You were dreaming about before.
MAN: We had to abandon ship.
WOMAN: Now you're here. All right? The ground is underneath you. It's not going anywhere.
MAN: I'm scared.
WOMAN: Go back to sleep. I'll keep watch.
MAN: You won't go to sleep?
MAN: Promise?
WOMAN: I promise.

She watches. He sleeps. He wakes up. She sleeps. He watches. She wakes up screaming.

WOMAN: Falling! Fire bombs! Falling!
MAN: It's OK. It stopped.
WOMAN: Make them stop falling.

He pushes upward with his arms.

MAN: Only stars up there. See for yourself.
WOMAN: I was dreaming about before.
MAN: There haven't been any bombs for a long time. I wish you'd look at the stars. Looks like a picture postcard. Nightsky over moonlit bay. If you looked at it, you wouldn't be scared any more.
WOMAN: I'm going to try to sleep.
MAN: Red sky at night. Farmer's delight.
WOMAN: It's not really red, is it?
MAN: See for yourself.
WOMAN: It couldn't be red.
MAN: You'll never know.
WOMAN: You won't go to sleep?
MAN: Don't worry.


WOMAN: [frog] Ribit.
MAN: [whistles bobwhite] Bobwhite.
WOMAN: Ribit. Ribit. Ribit. [Etc.]
MAN: Bobwhite. Bobwhite. Bobwhite. [Etc.]
MAN: [crow] Caw. Caw. Caw. [Etc.]
WOMAN: [dog] Argh. Argh. Argh. [Etc.]
MAN: [small plane] Putta. Putta. Putta. Putta.
WOMAN: Putta? Putta? Putta? Putta?
MAN: Putta. Putta. Putta. Putta. [Larger plane] Vrrrrroooooom. Vrrrrrroooooooom. Vrrrrrrrrrroooooooooooooom.
WOMAN: Argh. Argh. Argh. [Etc.]
MAN: Vrrrrrooooooom. Whooooooosh. Vrrrrrooooooooom. Whooooooosh. [More threatening] Nyyyyyrrrrrrrrrrrrr. Nyyyyyrrrrrrrrrrr. Nyyyyyrrrrrrrrrrr.
WOMAN: Argh. Argh. Argh. [Wolf] Auwoooooh. Auwoooooh. Auwoooooh.
MAN: Nyyyyyrrrrrrrrrrr.
WOMAN: Auwoooooooh. Auwoooooooh.
MAN: Auwooooooh.
WOMAN: Auwooooooh. Auwooooooh. Auwooooooh.


The man looks out. The woman plants potatoes. She stops, looks at him.

WOMAN: Say something.

No response. She continues to stare. He continues to look out. She returns to her planting.

MAN: I was imagining all the ways to leave here.

He looks out. She continues planting. She gets a sack and spills it at the man's feet. It's full of dried, black potatoes.

WOMAN: Fuel.
MAN: These?
WOMAN: It's getting cold. We need a fire.
MAN: We can burn these potatoes?
WOMAN: That's why I dried them out.
MAN: They look like charcoal brickettes.
WOMAN: What's that?
MAN: What we used to barbecue hamburgers.
WOMAN: Hamburgers?
MAN: Cow. Ground up pieces of cow.
WOMAN: Yech!
MAN: They were good.
WOMAN: To me they look like ears. In the shed they looked like a big pile of ears. Cut off by the soldiers of men who didn't want to be overheard.
MAN: Yuck! I'm glad I didn't grow up in your country. It's made you too paranoid. That's no way to live your life. With your ear to the ground.
WOMAN: It's the way it is.
MAN: Well, the way it is is pretty boring.
WOMAN: What do you want?
MAN: I want to go home.
MAN: I don't know. I haven't figured it out yet. It would help if you could get behind the idea a little bit.
WOMAN: You're free to go.
MAN: What about you?
WOMAN: This is my home.
MAN: This! Home! Ha! That's a laugh! You don't remember much do you? This is no fucking home, lady! Homes were. . .
WOMAN: What?
MAN: Full. . .yeah, full. . .full of things.
WOMAN: What things?
MAN: Warm things. . .like. . .
WOMAN: We're building a fire, aren't we?
MAN: No! I mean like love.
MAN: You're blind, you know that? You refuse to let the world in. [Picks up two blackened potatoes] These are your eyes.
WOMAN: There's no room for love any more.
MAN: [picking up potato] This is your heart.
WOMAN: [grabs potato from him and bites into it] See! The toughest part of the body! The heart isn't the place where love grows.
MAN: Where is it then?
WOMAN: [throws potato back into fuel pile] Let's light the fire.

They light the fire. Silence. She reaches out her hand to him. He reaches out his hand to her. They clasp hands.

WOMAN: What color are my eyes?

Slowly they look into each others' eyes. Stare. Then slowly look away. Silence.

MAN: Say something.

No response. He looks at her. Silence. He returns to looking out.

WOMAN: I was thinking it's too late for children.


The man drags out a large, nest-like piece of his space capsule.

WOMAN: What the hell is that thing?
MAN: Part of my capsule. I found it out there, over that rise.
WOMAN: What's it for? MAN: Does it have to be for something.
WOMAN: We could use it.
MAN: It's my goddamn capsule. This is very special.
WOMAN: It would make a good potato hut.

He climbs in the capsule.

MAN: Get in. I want to show you something.
WOMAN: What?
MAN: Something special.

She gets in.

MAN: Now lie down.
WOMAN: I don't want to.
MAN: C'mon.

She lies down. So does he.

MAN: Well?
WOMAN: I don't like it.
MAN: Why?
WOMAN: Things could fall on you.
MAN: What things?
WOMAN: Bird shit.
MAN: Have you seen any birds lately? [Pause] Now look up at the sky. Are you looking?
WOMAN: I'm looking.
MAN: Now I'm going to teach you how to daydream.
WOMAN: Is that what you did in outer space?
MAN: No. That's what I did when I was a boy in my country.
WOMAN: A child's game.
MAN: More than that. All the dreams came true.
MAN: You start out imagining yourself leaving your body.
WOMAN: That's impossible. MAN: Just try imagining it. You just sort of float out of your body and go somewhere.
WOMAN: Where?
MAN: Just go. You'll find out where.

They begin rocking slowly, back and forth, in the capsule.

MAN: Floating. . .floating. . .
WOMAN: [following his lead] Floating. . .

It is peaceful. They are dreaming. They repeat the word floating from time to time, as they continue to rock the capsule. They rock in wider and wider arcs until they are near the point of tipping over.

WOMAN: . . .floating. . .falling. . .falling. . .
MAN: . . .falling!!!!!

The capsule tips over, spilling them onto the ground. They lie in each other's arms. Silence.

WOMAN: Smell there.
MAN: Wet pine.
WOMAN: Smell there.
MAN: Trout. Smell there.
WOMAN: [singing] Ahhhhh ah ah ahhh Ahhhhh ah ah ahhh
MAN: What's that?
WOMAN: An old song.
WOMAN: Ahhhhh ah ah ahhh
Ahhhhh ah ah ahhh Silence.
MAN: [singing] Ahhhhh, ahhhhhhhhh, ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh
WOMAN: What's that?
MAN: A song from my grandfather's time. C'mon. I'll teach it to you.

They stand up.

MAN: Ahhhhhhh, ahhhhhhhhhh, ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

Shake it up baby

WOMAN: [following along] Shake it up baby.
MAN: Twist and shout
WOMAN: Twist and shout
MAN: C'mon c'mon c'mon c'mon baby
WOMAN: C'mon baby
MAN: C'mon and work it on out
WOMAN: Work it on out
MAN & WOMAN: Ahhhhhh, ahhhhhhhhh, ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh


WOMAN: You say all your dreams came true?
MAN: Is that what I said?
WOMAN: Did the poor people's dreams come true?
MAN: I didn't know any poor people.
WOMAN: You didn't know?
MAN: I didn't know.
WOMAN: Did you know that your country arms the soldiers in my country?
MAN: No. I didn't know.
WOMAN: You didn't know?
MAN: I didn't know.

She grabs her knife and points it at him.

WOMAN: I should cut your heart out.
MAN: Why?
WOMAN: For not knowing. [She throws the knife into the ground. Silence.] When the soldiers come, you'll know.
MAN: When the soldiers come, I'm going home.
WOMAN: They'll kill you.
MAN: They couldn't. It would make a stink in my country.
WOMAN: They'll throw you in the potato shed. You'll rot there. Your country will never know.
MAN: I'll tell them who I am.
WOMAN: Who are you? You look like a potato farmer.
MAN: Will you come with me?
WOMAN: I should cut my own heart out.
MAN: You will come with me?


The man and woman squat near each other, relieving themselves.

MAN: It never worked in my country.
WOMAN: What?
MAN: Recycling. Nobody had time. [Slight pause] Too busy recycling soldiers, I guess. [Pause. Laughs. Stops. Keeps laughing.]
WOMAN: What?
MAN: Nothing. [Keeps laughing]
WOMAN: What?
MAN: I was just thinking my buddies should see me now. Doing my duty with my girl in the middle of nowhere.
WOMAN: What's so funny about that?
MAN: See, in my country men and women shit separately.
MAN: I don't know. It was just the custom.
WOMAN: Why? It ends up in the same potato bed.
MAN: We had some stupid customs.


Thunder. The woman looks at the sky. The man figures in the ground with a stick.

WOMAN: I think we'll have more rain this year.
MAN: Mmmmmmm.


WOMAN: When I was girl I believed the thunder was the voice of God.
MAN: I went to church every Sunday till I was 7. Then I read about the German massacres in my great grandfather's time. I never went to church again.
MAN: It felt like a part of my past I wanted to get away from.


MAN: Maybe that is the voice of God.
WOMAN: But you didn't get away from it.
MAN: I kept a scrapbook of all the wars, even the little ones. My Lai. El Salvador. I wanted to be aware. . .
WOMAN: No one gets away from the massacres.
MAN: I knew that my country was involved in some of them. But it was hard to know for sure. The wars never felt real to me.
WOMAN: How could they? You were 500 miles up in space.
MAN: Until I found myself here. [Digging in dirt] This dirt may be covering a mass grave. Thousands of your countrymen gunned down. Not so long ago. Rotting. Bulldozed over. [Pouring dirt in her hands] Little rotting baby brains oozing out. . . .
WOMAN: Stop.
MAN: We live on them. We eat their flesh.

She grabs his hand, stops his digging. They are on their knees in the dirt. Thunder. They look to the sky.


The man squats in the dirt pulling up potatoes. The woman watches the sky.

MAN: What else?
WOMAN: Gale wind. Donkeys hide. Chimney pots explode.
MAN: Chimney pots?
WOMAN: Chimney pots.
MAN: Explode!
WOMAN: Explode!
MAN: Ha!
WOMAN: Ha! [She goes to the capsule and sits in it; to the man:] Once upon a time there was an astronaut who was always looking up.
MAN: [looking at her] Once upon a time there was a potato farmer who was always looking down.

He pulls a carrot out of the ground. They are amazed. They devour the carrot, laughing.

© 1982 by Elizabeth Wray
CAUTION: All rights strictly reserved. Professionals and amateurs are hereby warned that Forecast is subject to a royalty and is protected under copyright laws of all countries covered by the International Copyright Convention. Permission in writing must be secured before any performance or reading is given. All inquiries should be addressed to the author, 464 Eureka Street, San Francisco, CA 94114.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Douglas Messerli "No One's Home"

by Douglas Messerli

Jeffrey Lane (book), David Yazbek (music and lyrics), based on the film by Pedro Almodóvar Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown / New York, Belasco Theatre, the performance I saw was on November 12, 2010

Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, shouted Ben Brantley's review in The New York Times "needs—immediately and intravenously"—Ritalin. The musical "is...a sad casualty of its own wandering mind." Los Angeles Times reviewer Charles McNaulty ageed: "all the frenetic activity — with Sven Ortel’s projections lending Michael Yeargan’s fast-moving sets the hyperactive feeling of a fashion video — can’t conceal the gaping flaws of the show any more than decorative icing can improve a cake made without enough baking soda or eggs." "By midway through the second act," observed the Chicago Tribune, "the audience can no longer track the multicharacter action through chaos suited only for film, and palpably checks out of the entire proceedings."

Anyone who has become acquainted with my theater writing will know that I have not always been kind to Broadway shows. But by the time I saw this original musical, directed by the admirable Bartlett Scher, I could only wonder what all this critical hostility had been about. Perhaps Scher had trimmed away some of his actors' frenetic motions in the week since its opening, or perhaps these critics had simply gone to another play, for both I and the audience in which I sat thoroughly enjoyed the musical—a far better work, it seems to me, than most other musicals, originals and revivals, currently on Broadway.

I presume these critics had all seen Almodóar's film on which the musical was based. McNaulty even attempts to compare the two. Yet it seems strange that having witnessed the campy hysteria of the film, that they might not have expected a fast-moving theater event. Indeed, the whole metaphor of both film and the musical is that everyone, having lost or about to lose their sense of position or place (symbolized by love and home), is dropped into a whirling world of accidentally interrelated events. Everyone is on the move: Pepa (Sherie Rene Scott), deserted by her lover Ivan (Brian Stokes Mitchell), wants to rent her penthouse and run off—unless she can convince Ivan to return—going so far as to burn her bed; her sexually active friend, Candela (stunningly performed by Laura Benanti), has fallen in love with terrorist and is desperate for advice and fearful of being arrested; Ivan's ex wife, Lucia (Patti LuPone), having just returned from a mental institution, is intent on tracking down Pepa and Ivan for revenge; her and Ivan's son Carlos, eager to leave his mother's insane household, is intent on finding some new place where he and his fiancée might discover themselves. Add a passing Telephone Repairman and the gossipy/prayerful concierges of Ivan and Pepa and you are certain to create a farcical entanglement of people on the run.

Only the taxi cab-singing Danny Burstein seems to truly comprehend the world in which he exists; prowling the streets to provide services to Pepa and others, he has stocked his cab with medicine, food, magazines, newspapers and anything else his customers on the move may need. This is clearly a world where no one's home; and the idea that constant motion should be reflected on the stage is exceptional. Few other musicals that I can recall—Mahogony and Sweeney Todd being obvious exceptions—have so thoroughly taken to the streets.

The only stop to all this action is, predictably, a Gilbert and Sullivan like magic elixir, in this case Pepa's Valium-laced gazpacho. And it is in the arms of the sleep it provides that Carlos and Marisa, Candela and the Telephone Repairman, and the Chief Inspector and his Detective can discover the joys of love and regain a sense of stability and peace.

The two strong women at the center of this work, Pepa and Lucia, must come to terms with their violent passions by themselves, realizing, in the case of Lucia, that her husband had been "invisible" all along, and perceiving, in Pepa's case, that she is suffering from an "overdose of love." Lucia's song, performed in Patti LuPone perfection, is perhaps the most touching of the entire production.

And that is the real problem with Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown. The singers, the acting, even the sets and costumes, the projections on the wall which some critics found so distracting, are all quite excellent in capturing the sense of this fast-moving, love-forlorn 1980s Madrid. Although David Yazbek's lyrics and music at moments ("Lie to Me," "The Microphone" and "Invisible") rise to the occasion, overall they are simply not fetching and powerful enough to glue this musical into a coherent whole. And without these two central elements of musical theater, no production can long survive.

For all that, however, I think Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown is an admirable failure, a larger-than-life statement of a culture that has lost its center and identity—clearly a subject that should have great significance for US citizens today.

New York, November 13, 2010
Copyright (c) 2010 by Douglas Messerli

Friday, November 19, 2010

Douglas Messerli "Pool of Survivors"

by Douglas Messerli

Enda Walsh Penelope / performed by Druid theatre company at St. Ann's Warehouse, Brooklyn, New York / the performance I saw was on November 13, 2010

At the bottom of Penelope's swimming pool four men gather each morning to await the appearance of Penelope, whereupon they take turns trying to woo her into marriage. Odysseus has been away for years and these four, now middle-aged and elderly, are the leftovers of what was once hundreds of suitors, all seeking the wealth and protection marriage with her might bring.

None of them, we quickly realize, is suitable for the beautiful Penelope, who watches from her window without saying a word. The most elderly and learnéd man of the group, Fritz (brilliantly performed by Niall Buggy) is a bald and wizened oracle, spending most of his day reading Homer's tales of the missing king. His bid for Penelope's hand is based mostly on his recognized inability to believe in or do anything. Like a Beckett character, he pleads, at the edge of nothingness, for the transformation into a possibility of life, for a new start. Like Beckett's characters his plea is nearly meaningless, but his words, carefully chosen and lovingly performed, seem to move the implacable queen's heart.

The portly Dunne (Denis Conway) is perhaps a more gifted speaker, a wittier entertainer, but his speech to Penelope turns quickly into a series of scatological metaphors, his and her body becoming the center of his perceived universe. It is clear that he has eaten himself into excess, and that excess has spilled over into his thinking, infuriating the others—and, at times, even himself. Dunne, the son of a even more overweight woman, he tells us, was loved only when he put jam behind his ears. He is, in short, more desperate to be loved than he himself is a loving being.

The worst of these survivors, the Alpha male Quinn (Karl Shiels), dresses only in speedos as he poses in muscle builder's stance before attempting to light the barbecue, dropped one day into the pool from above. Yet the machine won't light, and he is forced to cook his dinner with a propane blowlamp. His own body is flabby rather than firm. In this empty world people and things have broken down, disintegrated.

On the day we witness, one out of hundreds for these stolid men, Quinn has had a dream that Odysseus will return, killing each of them, beginning with Fritz. When the other three admit that they have had the same dream, it is apparent that the event will occur. And he suggests, to possibly save themselves, that they each support one another in their performances before the queen. Quinn, the most abusive of the speakers, is the last to perform, and we await that speech with great anticipation. Yet when it becomes his turn, we witness only a series of outrageous tableaux, performed with the help of the abused Burns (Tadig Murphy)—who Quinn treats throughout, much like Lucky in Waiting for Godot, as a tortured manservant—dressing, alternately, as Gone with the Wind's Rhett Butler and Scarlet O'Hara, as Napoleon and Josephine, Romeo and Juliet, and Jack and Jackie, transforming himself in magic-whisks-of hand as if he were acting in Charles Ludlam's The Mystery of Irma Vep. The result is everything but sexually enticing or romantic.

The much put-upon Burns helps with these quick changes, but you can see his hate building up against the three men, particularly Quinn, in the previous scenes. For despite his stupid obedience of these dunces, Burns has secretly begun to think, gradually recognizing their brutality, most importantly the psychological terrorism of Quinn, who has caused the death of Murray, Burns' best friend. From his growing resentment of that event, it is clear that despite all the hateful competition these men have enacted and endured, love has nonetheless survived. And it is that recognition of "love," however puny it may be, that convinces Fritz, Dunne, and Burns that Quinn must be destroyed, that were he to win Penelope's hand, love might be wiped away from their society.

In a sense, all of these men are already dead, not simply because they will be killed by the returning hero, but because they have destroyed themselves, have turned the world to stone through their language of wit, lies, mockery—hate. Basically repeating his role of Sean in Walsh's The Walworth Farce, Murphy's character stabs Quinn to death, freeing their world from the cut-throat menace of eternal battle.

For Burns there is suddenly the possibility to return to "the real world" of men and women rising each morning listening to the simple sounds of nature, who tell stories they have heard instead of cunningly creating a wall of meaningless words. Yet his long ending speech, also made up of words, is so powerfully human that it moves Penelope to momentarily descend into this symbolic hell. But at that same moment, we know Odysseus has returned to port, the barbecue furiously flaming up in the symbolic renewal of love and desire.

Walsh's play is perhaps too preachy and strained to be great, but it is certainly a work worth witnessing, if only for the intelligent cast I saw perform it.

New York, November 14, 2010
Copyright (c) 2010 by Douglas Messerli.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Douglas Messerli "Winter in a Summer Town"

by Douglas Messerli

Ellen Hovde, Albert Maysles, David Maysles, and Muffie Meyer (directors), with Edith Bouvier Beale and Edith “Little Edie” Bouvier Beale Grey Gardens / 1975
Doug Wright (book), Scott Frankel (music), Michael Korie (lyrics) Grey Gardens / Walter Kerr
Theatre, New York / the performance I attended was on December 9, 2006

The year is 1941, and the young Edie Bouvier Beale is in a state of great excitement as she prepares for the arrival at the family home in East Hampton, Long Island of her fiancé Joseph Patrick Kennedy’s parents and the return from Manhattan of her own father, Wall Street attorney Phelan Beale. The family’s beautiful 28-room mansion, Grey Gardens, is lit up and decked out for the evening’s celebration, during which their engagement will be announced. As she and her two smaller cousins, Jackie and Lee Bouvier, scurry about the lawns and house, Edie’s imperious mother Edith prepares, with her composer-accompanist George “Gould” Strong, for an “impromptu” performance of a recital of songs beloved by her local audiences.
Strolling the mansion lawns, Edie and Joe discover that they have some very different ideas about marriage: she plans a life in theater, while he envisions her as a complacent wife in his political career, including, perhaps, the presidency of the United States. They are hopeful, however, that their love will overcome their differences. Although Edie is somewhat miffed by her mother’s planned performance—it is she who should, after all, be the center of attention—she lovingly compromises with mama, who will sing only eight numbers instead of nine. But in the charmed world they inhabit, neither Edie nor Joe can possibly imagine the truly horrifying future they face.

The handsome Harvard graduate would be killed only three years later as his plane—loaded with more than 21,000 pounds of Torpex (torpedo explosive) destined for the German V-3 cannon located near Mimoyecques, France—detonated before he and his crewmate could parachute out. By the end of that special afternoon in 1941, the girl’s mother Edith, after having discovered that her husband had flown to Mexico for a quickie divorce and that her dear friend and pianist Gould was planning to return to New York and his gay life, succeeded—as she had with all of Edie’s suitors (John Paul Getty and the Rockefellers in particular)—in scuttling the relationship between her daughter and beau by communicating to Joe how Edie had earned the nickname “Beautiful Body Beale.” By the end of the afternoon, Kennedy has reconsidered his proposal and scurried off to catch his parents at the train station, leaving Edie in the lurch.
So begins the musical version of Grey Gardens, the first act of which is based on facts that preceded the terrifying portrait of the two women, living together as recluses years later in that now derelict mansion, caught on tape by the Maysles brothers in 1973.

Film commentator Robert Osborne has described the experience of the documentary like “watching two trains colliding head on,” but I would argue that it’s even more terrifying and compelling. The painful daily encounters between the Edies big and little, filmed over six weeks, is a study in human decay—the despair of old age, frail health, lost beauty, and the failure of dreams and ideals, embarrassingly expressed and played out in self-degrading “performances” by the two women for voyeurs, camera and audience, a world gone literally “to the dogs”—or perhaps one should say, “to the cats”—that haunts the mind long after the close of the shutter.

Yet despite the distaste it leaves, one cannot help but recognize in both women a kind crazed tenacity for living that transcends all else. The condemned house, infested with raccoons and fleas, smelling of defecating animals and rotting wood, is somehow a perfect dramatic backdrop for the elder’s dreadful renditions of her favorite songs and the younger’s absurdly outlandish costumes. In Edith’s duets with ancient records, we can almost hear the lovely songs of her youth (performed so stunningly in the musical version in act one by Christina Ebersole), and in the mix and match wardrobe of little Edie (performed in the second act by Ebersole as well) we glimpse a secret connoisseur of style.* If they squabble—as Edith herself describes it—“like fish wives,” the two also keep one another alive through their challenges and goads. And despite the horror of their obvious interdependency, we recognize they share a deep love.

The musical version, which I witnessed in December 2006, soon after its premiere, white-washes the grotesquery of the original by turning the crumbling mansion into an Adams family-like habitat, while abandoning most of the brittle dialogue that makes the two so fascinating in the documentary version. Yet there are moments when, through music and lyrics, the Broadway rendition nearly matches the dark and crazed faith in life and love to which both women aspire. Particularly in the songs—splendidly performed—“The Revolutionary Costume of Today,” and “Around the World,” Ebersole’s little Edie comes alive, most dramatically in the former song’s repeated nonsense phrase—the evocative “Da-da-da-da-dum”—sung like a naughty school-girl’s hum. Mary Louise Wilson, as the elder Mrs. Beale, gets the opportunity to transform her bed-bound character into a woman still alive with sexual energy and maternal instincts in the Sondheim-inspired ballad “Jerry Likes My Corn,” a ridiculously simple yet loving paen to the young boy who stops by on his way home from school each afternoon to help them out.

Jerry likes the way I do my corn.
Isn’t he a treasure?
Look how he chows right through my corn.
It’s my only pleasure.
I boil it on the hot plate
Till all the juice is gone.
He knows which side
My corn is buttered on.

However, it is the recognition that the daughter is doomed by the relationship—granted only a short respite from her mother while Little Edie lived in the Barbizon Hotel in New York (1947-1952)— that elicits our sympathy. Her sad admission of living in the wrong place at the wrong time, “Another Winter in a Summer Town,” is less centered on Grey Gardens in East Hampton than it is on a metaphorical death descending upon a once passionate, beautiful and witty woman—now bald, fat and aging—condemned to live out her days in abjection, while watching her cousins, Jackie Kennedy and Lee Radziwill, move in worlds she once imagined for herself. As Ebersole sings it—

The pink paper lanterns
Still twinkle in place.
My young navy hero,
His tender embrace.
That sapphire blue ocean…
Oh, how can I face
Another winter in a summer town?
Oh God…
Oh God…
My God…

—the piece is less a lament than an orison to put the world of her past to rest, an unanswered prayer to bury the American dream.

Los Angeles, January 14, 2007
Copyright (c) 2007 by Douglas Messerli

*Along with the new edition of the documentary, Todd Oldham is interviewed, wherein he says that many designers have imitated Little Edie’s style, and that she had a wonderful sense of color and proportion.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Douglas Messerli "The Brotherhood"

by Douglas Messerli

There is a Brotherhood of Man,
A Benevolent Brotherhood of Man,
A noble tie that binds
All human hearts and minds
Into one Brotherhood of Man.

—Frank Loesser, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying

It may seem strange, particularly to young theater-goers, that one would want to write a short essay on the death of a Broadway producer. If younger people have any concept of a producer, it may resemble the notion presented in Mel Brooks’s film and musical comedy, The Producers; many of today’s producers, moreover, represent larger groupings of commercial entities (Walt Disney Studies, Warner Brothers, etc.), and they rarely have a public persona. Not so for the producers of the great period of American theater existing from the mid-1940s through 1965—what the New York Times recently described as “the heyday of the American musical.” In those years, producers were often as visible as the creators of the works they presented, and like the American film studio executives, held great power over all events that occurred upon their stages. Names like David Merrick, Kermit Bloomgarden, Robert Griffith and Harold Prince, Saint Subber, Roger L. Stevens, and Cy Feuer and Ernest Martin struck terror and imparted hope into the hearts of young actors and chorus members as well as playwrights, composers, directors, designers, and choreographers.

The death on Wednesday of Cy Feuer, accordingly, almost marks the end of an era: a time when plays and musicals weren’t just discovered (a process to which our numerous revivals attest), money found, and the right “team” brought in, but an age when producers often “imagined” what would make a good play or musical and sought out the artists—in every category—to make it happen.

From his earliest years, Cy Feuer seemed destined to become a Broadway legend. His life could have been the pattern for a hundred bio-films of the lives of significant composers and musicians. Born into poverty on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, Seymour Arnold Feuer (who later changed his name to Cyrus and then to Cy) went to school in South Brooklyn, where, with his mother’s encouragement, he played trumpet in the school band. His mother also made sure that he attended Juilliard for further trumpet studies, which led, in turn, to Cy’s performing in the pit of the Roxy Theater on West 47th Street, a job he quit to join the Radio City Music Hall orchestra. He left Radio City in the mid-1930s to join Lionel Belasco’s society orchestra.

On a trip to Los Angeles, Feuer—who apparently already had the persuasive powers necessary for producing—talked his way into becoming the West Coast representative of Republic Pictures’ record label, Brunswick; and before long, he had convinced Republic Pictures to appoint him as their music director. Feuer was what he later described as a “second-rate trumpet player,” and his scoring capabilities were on the same par, but Republic, a B-movie studio, seemed oblivious to his lack of talent as he composed for numerous films from 1939 to 1948. World War II briefly interrupted, and upon returning to Republic he met a young would-be producer, Ernest Martin, joining forces with him and returning to New York.

The rest of his life is Broadway history. Just as the great Broadway musicals began to be produced—works like Oklahoma! (1943), Carousel (1945), Finian’s Rainbow and Brigadoon (both 1947)—Feuer and Martin bought up the rights to a turn-of-the-century cross-dressing farce, Charley’s Aunt. The team negotiated with Ray Bolger (well known for his 1936 appearance in The Wizard of Oz) to play the lead, “closing the deal,” one might note, by signing Bolger’s wife, Gwen Rickard, as co-producer. Veteran playwright, director and all-around-theater doctor George Abbott was hired to direct and write the adaptation. But the most brilliant of Feuer and Martin’s brainstorms was to choose then-unknown composer, Frank Loesser (recognized primarily for his World Wary II ditty “Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition” and as a lyricist for several film tunes), to compose his first Broadway score, which included the hits, “My Darling, My Darling,” and Bolger’s campy rendition of “Once in Love with Amy.” Despite reviewer reservations, the 1948 musical was a long-running hit with 792 performances.

It was Feuer and Martin’s 1950 musical Guys and Dolls, however, that truly defined their achievements. Their original idea, to present the Damon Runyon story as a serious love tale, was fortunately scrapped with their rejection of Jo Swerling’s book. To liven up the work they hired writer Abe Burrows (known primarily for his writing of “The Milton Berle Show”) and composer-friend Frank Loesser. Throwing out Swerling’s book, Burrows wrote a new work around Loesser’s songs—and what marvelous songs they were! From the opening trumpeting (performed, in the original, by black trumpeter Joe Wilder) of “Fugue for Tinhorns” to the religious conversionary testament of “Sit Down You’re Rocking the Boat,” Loesser’s score, in my estimation, is the very best of Broadway musicals before and since. “Adelaide’s Lament” and “Luck Be a Lady” would be among my choices for the best songs ever composed for the Broadway stage. I’ll save any further discussion of this great musical for a piece I’m planning on the influence of Damon Runyan on theater and film. Let us just note the great success of this masterwork: in its original production it ran for 1,200 performances; the 1992 revival, which I saw, ran for another record 1,143 performances.

Had Feuer stopped here his name would still have been a force to be reckoned with in Broadway history. Soon after this hit, however, Feuer and Martin asked Burrows to write and direct another show—a work they had little notion of except for its period and locale, Paris in the late 1890s. A researcher presented the producing team information on the noted “can-can,” the notorious dance of the period which, even in this notoriously “libertine” city, drew the ire of groups of the day such as the League Against Licentiousness of the Streets. Traveling to England, Feuer and Martin sought out Cole Porter to do the score. Porter warned them, the critics will judge the show “not up to my usual standards,” but agreed to the task. The result was another hit, Can-Can (892 performances), despite the critical reaction Porter had predicted. In truth, it was not his best score, but with songs such as “I Love Paris,” “It’s All Right with Me,” and “C’est Magnifique,” and the discovery through this musical of a brilliant, young, red-headed dancer, Gwen Verdon, who can complain?

The team’s next production was The Boy Friend, British composer and writer Sandy Wilson’s 1920s satire (The Drowsy Chaperone of its day) which opened in 1954 with a then-unknown Liverpool-based performer (no, not one of the Beatles) Julie Andrews. It was not a long-running show, but survived a reasonable run of 485 performances. It later became a favorite of amateur theater companies.

Feuer himself directed the team’s next Broadway effort, Cole Porter’s Silk Stockings, which premiered in 1955. The book was a “collaborative” affair by George S. Kaufman, Kaufman’s wife of the time, Leueen MacGrath, and Abe Burrows. Fired from the production, Kaufman quipped that when he died and was cremated “someone should throw my ashes on Feuer and Martin’s faces.” Although not one of their hits, this musical also had a reasonable run (478 performances).
While at work on these last two productions, Feuer and Martin were encouraged by Loesser to option his friend Meredith Willson’s autobiographical book on his experiences playing in John Philip Sousa’s band, and to turn it into a musical. The team agreed, but because of their current commitments, postponed the project. When Kermit Bloomgarden offered to take up the project, Feuer and Martin readily agreed to give it up. The Music Man opened to phenomenal success two years later, in 1957. It must have reminded Martin of his partner’s previous failure to take up his suggestion of producing George Gershwin’s An American in Paris. Feuer’s reply is legendary: “It’s a tone poem. It’s not a show.” In some respects, I agree with his judgment.
I do not agree with some of his later choices of works such as The Act, starring the over-acclaimed Liza Minnelli, or his decision to produce the motion pictures Cabaret and A Chorus Line. The former was, at least, successful—if sales and trophies are all that matter. A Chorus Line was a failure. Feuer summarized: “We took a second-rate play and made a first-rate movie in Cabaret, and in A Chorus Line we took a first-rate play and made a second-rate movie.” To my way of thinking Cabaret was a far better stage musical than the overblown and politically confused motion picture. But what does my point of view matter? The imperious Feuer believed in what he produced.

And why shouldn’t he have? As if their string of successful stage musicals were not enough, the producing team entered the 1960s with another of their very best productions. Buying up the rights to a book few might have imagined as theatrical fodder, Feuer and Martin were determined to see the “how-to” satire How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, transformed by writers Jack Weinstock and Willie Gilbert into a musical, relying again on collaborators Abe Burrows and Frank Loesser to bring it into shape. The producing team, writer and composer succeeded, with a great deal of “trying” I am sure, in bringing what was to be their one of their last Broadway productions into theater history.

Without a true “hero,” How To Succeed depends entirely upon the likeability of the Machiavellian window washer, J. Pierpont Finch, and the comparative incompetence, greed and neuroses of the other business characters. In this sense, there is no moral center in this spoof of office life. Secretaries, the executives are warned, are not to be treated as “toys,” but they the secretaries are all definitely out to catch the boys, and Finch—the cutest kid in the office pool—is also the most aloof as he centers his entire behavior on himself, swooping into conversations merely to drop his name and to flatter those who might reward it. The major musical numbers are centered around an office memorandum about the role of secretaries, an impending coffee-break, obedience to company policy, what to do at the end of a long day, a college pep song, and the hero’s belief in his own capabilities sung to the bathroom mirror! Only when he is revealed as a fraud does Finch come to perceive any moral connection with the world, expressed in the boardroom in a revivalist-like paen to “The Brotherhood of Man.” How could it succeed? Loesser and Burrows, blessed by Feuer and Martin’s brilliant casting of the puckish charmer Robert Morse as the young Machivellian window washer and agéd movie-star Rudy Vallee as the pompous and befuddled company president—to say nothing of his neurotically infantile nephew, played by Charles Nelson Reilly—brought it all off with the greatest of ease. Bob Fosse replaced the young choreographer Hugh Lambert in out-of-town tryouts, creating a stylized conga-line for the “Coffee Break” number that was so original filmmakers could not successfully reproduce it on celluloid.

That is what producers used to do! They were not merely sources of money or data banks of potential funders.

In 2003, I determined to edit a book on responses by major world figures on the impending war in Iraq. But the question I posed to the hundreds of individuals to whom I sent the correspondence was not about Bush, America and Iraq, but about war in general. I wrote:

My interest in the subject has no specific political agenda behind it; I simply feel that it might be important for our age to compile such responses (Reasons Not To Go to War) and pass them on to our own and other generations. We all know that war is sometimes necessary and that it occurs with regular frequency throughout the world; Machiavelli even argued
that a prince “must have no other object and no other thought than war, its methods and conduct.” But I do also believe that most men of reason detest war. Perhaps by sharing those reasons, we can give generations new hope that they may live in peaceful times.

Out of some 600 such letters to people in science, religion, art, literature, music, dance, film, politics, theater, and numerous other areas, I received about 40 responses—mostly from people in the arts. Among the serious responders was Cy Feuer:

Dear Douglas,

In the case of Iraq, it seems all too obvious that what’s behind this bellicose administration’s agenda is a combination of greed (oil), imperialism and a quasi-psychotic need to control and bully. I’m still in a state of shock that the Supreme Court placed Bush/Cheney in the White House to begin with. At 92, I can honestly say I’ve never been this embarrassed by my government. Having served in WW II, I have strong feelings about the need to overcome the harshest of adversaries, but this imminent, arbitrary destruction is unacceptable.
Apologies for not quite adhering to your request, but due to the exigency of today’s threat, I can’t address war as a concept without being specific. If you’ve any thoughts or comments regarding what I’ve said, I’d me most interest.

Somewhat coincidentally, my autobiography, I Got the Show Right Here (Simon & Schuster), is being published March 6. It includes many chapters on my experiences during the war. I was a captain in the Army Air Corps.

Best of luck with your project. It sounds excellent.


[signed] Cy

It is not his politics I applaud—although I most certainly agree with them—but his commitment, his concern. I never knew Cy Feuer personally and I suspect, as Fosse, Kaufman and others have testified, he was a fairly difficult person. Later he described himself, quite unlike the major character of How to Succeed in Business, as being “on fire with ambition,” as someone who “didn’t follow the expected rules or play the predictable game for the sake of ease or expectations.” Feuer was also a man who clearly loved what he did and cared for the society in which he functioned. Perhaps that is why musicals—when they were not frivolous entertainments—spoke to the culture at large in those days and still do—when they are created with imagination and empathy—to those of us who love this now almost dead genre.

Los Angeles, May 20, 2006
(c) Copyright 2006 by Douglas Messerli

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Eugene O'Neill | THE HAIRY APE

The Hairy Ape, original 1922 New York production

from the Irish Repertory Theatre production

by Eugene O'Neill




SCENE--The firemen's forecastle of a transatlantic liner an hour
after sailing from New York for the voyage across. Tiers of
narrow, steel bunks, three deep, on all sides. An entrance in
rear. Benches on the floor before the bunks. The room is crowded
with men, shouting, cursing, laughing, singing--a confused,
inchoate uproar swelling into a sort of unity, a meaning--the
bewildered, furious, baffled defiance of a beast in a cage. Nearly
all the men are drunk. Many bottles are passed from hand to hand.
All are dressed in dungaree pants, heavy ugly shoes. Some wear
singlets, but the majority are stripped to the waist.

The treatment of this scene, or of any other scene in the play,
should by no means be naturalistic. The effect sought after is a
cramped space in the bowels of a ship, imprisoned by white steel.
The lines of bunks, the uprights supporting them, cross each other
like the steel framework of a cage. The ceiling crushes down upon
the men's heads. They cannot stand upright. This accentuates the
natural stooping posture which shovelling coal and the resultant
over-development of back and shoulder muscles have given them.

The men themselves should resemble those pictures in which the
appearance of Neanderthal Man is guessed at. All are hairy-
chested, with long arms of tremendous power, and low, receding
brows above their small, fierce, resentful eyes. All the civilized
white races are represented, but except for the slight
differentiation in color of hair, skin, eyes, all these men are

The curtain rises on a tumult of sound. YANK is seated in the
foreground. He seems broader, fiercer, more truculent, more
powerful, more sure of himself than the rest. They respect his
superior strength--the grudging respect of fear. Then, too, he
represents to them a self-expression, the very last word in what
they are, their most highly developed individual.

VOICES--Gif me trink dere, you!

'Ave a wet!




Drunk as a lord, God stiffen you!

Here's how!


Pass back that bottle, damn you!

Pourin' it down his neck!

Ho, Froggy! Where the devil have you been?

La Touraine.

I hit him smash in yaw, py Gott!

Jenkins--the First--he's a rotten swine--

And the coppers nabbed him--and I run--

I like peer better. It don't pig head gif you.

A slut, I'm sayin'! She robbed me aslape--

To hell with 'em all!

You're a bloody liar!

Say dot again!

[Commotion. Two men about to fight are pulled apart.]

No scrappin' now!


See who's the best man!

Bloody Dutchman!

To-night on the for'ard square.

I'll bet on Dutchy.

He packa da wallop, I tella you!

Shut up, Wop!

No fightin', maties. We're all chums, ain't we?

[A voice starts bawling a song.]

"Beer, beer, glorious beer!
Fill yourselves right up to here."

YANK--[For the first time seeming to take notice of the uproar
about him, turns around threateningly--in a tone of contemptuous
authority.] "Choke off dat noise! Where d'yuh get dat beer stuff?
Beer, hell! Beer's for goils--and Dutchmen. Me for somep'n wit a
kick to it! Gimme a drink, one of youse guys. [Several bottles are
eagerly offered. He takes a tremendous gulp at one of them; then,
keeping the bottle in his hand, glares belligerently at the owner,
who hastens to acquiesce in this robbery by saying:] All righto,
Yank. Keep it and have another." [Yank contemptuously turns his
back on the crowd again. For a second there is an embarrassed
silence. Then--]

VOICES--We must be passing the Hook. She's beginning to roll to
it. Six days in hell--and then Southampton. Py Yesus, I vish
somepody take my first vatch for me! Gittin' seasick, Square-head?
Drink up and forget it! What's in your bottle? Gin. Dot's nigger
trink. Absinthe? It's doped. You'll go off your chump, Froggy!
Cochon! Whiskey, that's the ticket! Where's Paddy? Going asleep.
Sing us that whiskey song, Paddy. [They all turn to an old,
wizened Irishman who is dozing, very drunk, on the benches
forward. His face is extremely monkey-like with all the sad,
patient pathos of that animal in his small eyes.] Singa da song,
Caruso Pat! He's gettin' old. The drink is too much for him. He's
too drunk.

PADDY--[Blinking about him, starts to his feet resentfully,
swaying, holding on to the edge of a bunk.] I'm never too drunk to
sing. 'Tis only when I'm dead to the world I'd be wishful to sing
at all. [With a sort of sad contempt.] "Whiskey Johnny," ye want?
A chanty, ye want? Now that's a queer wish from the ugly like of
you, God help you. But no matther. [He starts to sing in a thin,
nasal, doleful tone:]

Oh, whiskey is the life of man!
Whiskey! O Johnny!

[They all join in on this.]

Oh, whiskey is the life of man!
Whiskey for my Johnny! [Again chorus]
Oh, whiskey drove my old man mad!
Whiskey! O Johnny!
Oh, whiskey drove my old man mad!
Whiskey for my Johnny!

YANK--[Again turning around scornfully.] Aw hell! Nix on dat old
sailing ship stuff! All dat bull's dead, see? And you're dead,
too, yuh damned old Harp, on'y yuh don't know it. Take it easy,
see. Give us a rest. Nix on de loud noise. [With a cynical grin.]
Can't youse see I'm tryin' to t'ink?

ALL--[Repeating the word after him as one with same cynical amused
mockery.] Think! [The chorused word has a brazen metallic quality
as if their throats were phonograph horns. It is followed by a
general uproar of hard, barking laughter.]

VOICES--Don't be cracking your head wid ut, Yank.

You gat headache, py yingo!

One thing about it--it rhymes with drink!

Ha, ha, ha!

Drink, don't think!

Drink, don't think!

Drink, don't think!

[A whole chorus of voices has taken up this refrain, stamping on
the floor, pounding on the benches with fists.]

YANK--[Taking a gulp from his bottle--good-naturedly.] Aw right.
Can de noise. I got yuh de foist time. [The uproar subsides. A
very drunken sentimental tenor begins to sing:]

"Far away in Canada,
Far across the sea,
There's a lass who fondly waits
Making a home for me--"

YANK--[Fiercely contemptuous.] Shut up, yuh lousey boob! Where
d'yuh get dat tripe? Home? Home, hell! I'll make a home for yuh!
I'll knock yuh dead. Home! T'hell wit home! Where d'yuh get dat
tripe? Dis is home, see? What d'yuh want wit home? [Proudly.] I
runned away from mine when I was a kid. On'y too glad to beat it,
dat was me. Home was lickings for me, dat's all. But yuh can bet
your shoit noone ain't never licked me since! Wanter try it, any
of youse? Huh! I guess not. [In a more placated but still
contemptuous tone.] Goils waitin' for yuh, huh? Aw, hell! Dat's
all tripe. Dey don't wait for noone. Dey'd double-cross yuh for a
nickel. Dey're all tarts, get me? Treat 'em rough, dat's me. To
hell wit 'em. Tarts, dat's what, de whole bunch of 'em.

LONG--[Very drunk, jumps on a bench excitedly, gesticulating with
a bottle in his hand.] Listen 'ere, Comrades! Yank 'ere is right.
'E says this 'ere stinkin' ship is our 'ome. And 'e says as 'ome
is 'ell. And 'e's right! This is 'ell. We lives in 'ell, Comrades
--and right enough we'll die in it. [Raging.] And who's ter blame,
I arsks yer? We ain't. We wasn't born this rotten way. All men is
born free and ekal. That's in the bleedin' Bible, maties. But what
d'they care for the Bible--them lazy, bloated swine what travels
first cabin? Them's the ones. They dragged us down'til we're on'y
wage slaves in the bowels of a bloody ship, sweatin', burnin' up,
eatin' coal dust! Hit's them's ter blame--the damned capitalist
clarss! [There had been a gradual murmur of contemptuous
resentment rising among the men until now he is interrupted by a
storm of catcalls, hisses, boos, hard laughter.]

VOICES--Turn it off!

Shut up!

Sit down!

Closa da face!

Tamn fool! (Etc.)

YANK--[Standing up and glaring at Long.] Sit down before I knock
yuh down! [Long makes haste to efface himself. Yank goes on
contemptuously.] De Bible, huh? De Cap'tlist class, huh? Aw nix on
dat Salvation Army-Socialist bull. Git a soapbox! Hire a hall!
Come and be saved, huh? Jerk us to Jesus, huh? Aw g'wan! I've
listened to lots of guys like you, see, Yuh're all wrong. Wanter
know what I t'ink? Yuh ain't no good for noone. Yuh're de bunk.
Yuh ain't got no noive, get me? Yuh're yellow, dat's what. Yellow,
dat's you. Say! What's dem slobs in de foist cabin got to do wit
us? We're better men dan dey are, ain't we? Sure! One of us guys
could clean up de whole mob wit one mit. Put one of 'em down here
for one watch in de stokehole, what'd happen? Dey'd carry him off
on a stretcher. Dem boids don't amount to nothin'. Dey're just
baggage. Who makes dis old tub run? Ain't it us guys? Well den, we
belong, don't we? We belong and dey don't. Dat's all. [A loud
chorus of approval. Yank goes on] As for dis bein' hell--aw, nuts!
Yuh lost your noive, dat's what. Dis is a man's job, get me? It
belongs. It runs dis tub. No stiffs need apply. But yuh're a
stiff, see? Yuh're yellow, dat's you.

VOICES--[With a great hard pride in them.]


A man's job!

Talk is cheap, Long.

He never could hold up his end.

Divil take him!

Yank's right. We make it go.

Py Gott, Yank say right ting!

We don't need noone cryin' over us.

Makin' speeches.

Throw him out!


Chuck him overboard!

I'll break his jaw for him!

[They crowd around Long threateningly.]

YANK--[Half good-natured again--contemptuously.] Aw, take it easy.
Leave him alone. He ain't woith a punch. Drink up. Here's how,
whoever owns dis. [He takes a long swallow from his bottle. All
drink with him. In a flash all is hilarious amiability again,
back-slapping, loud talk, etc.]

PADDY--[Who has been sitting in a blinking, melancholy daze--
suddenly cries out in a voice full of old sorrow.] We belong to
this, you're saying? We make the ship to go, you're saying? Yerra
then, that Almighty God have pity on us! [His voice runs into the
wail of a keen, he rocks back and forth on his bench. The men
stare at him, startled and impressed in spite of themselves.] Oh,
to be back in the fine days of my youth, ochone! Oh, there was
fine beautiful ships them days--clippers wid tall masts touching
the sky--fine strong men in them--men that was sons of the sea as
if 'twas the mother that bore them. Oh, the clean skins of them,
and the clear eyes, the straight backs and full chests of them!
Brave men they was, and bold men surely! We'd be sailing out,
bound down round the Horn maybe. We'd be making sail in the dawn,
with a fair breeze, singing a chanty song wid no care to it. And
astern the land would be sinking low and dying out, but we'd give
it no heed but a laugh, and never a look behind. For the day that
was, was enough, for we was free men--and I'm thinking 'tis only
slaves do be giving heed to the day that's gone or the day to come
--until they're old like me. [With a sort of religious
exaltation.] Oh, to be scudding south again wid the power of the
Trade Wind driving her on steady through the nights and the days!
Full sail on her! Nights and days! Nights when the foam of the
wake would be flaming wid fire, when the sky'd be blazing and
winking wid stars. Or the full of the moon maybe. Then you'd see
her driving through the gray night, her sails stretching aloft all
silver and white, not a sound on the deck, the lot of us dreaming
dreams, till you'd believe'twas no real ship at all you was on but
a ghost ship like the Flying Dutchman they say does be roaming the
seas forevermore widout touching a port. And there was the days,
too. A warm sun on the clean decks. Sun warming the blood of you,
and wind over the miles of shiny green ocean like strong drink to
your lungs. Work--aye, hard work--but who'd mind that at all?
Sure, you worked under the sky and 'twas work wid skill and daring
to it. And wid the day done, in the dog watch, smoking me pipe at
ease, the lookout would be raising land maybe, and we'd see the
mountains of South Americy wid the red fire of the setting sun
painting their white tops and the clouds floating by them! [His
tone of exaltation ceases. He goes on mournfully.] Yerra, what's
the use of talking? 'Tis a dead man's whisper. [To Yank
resentfully.] 'Twas them days men belonged to ships, not now.
'Twas them days a ship was part of the sea, and a man was part of
a ship, and the sea joined all together and made it one.
[Scornfully.] Is it one wid this you'd be, Yank--black smoke from
the funnels smudging the sea, smudging the decks--the bloody
engines pounding and throbbing and shaking--wid divil a sight of
sun or a breath of clean air--choking our lungs wid coal dust--
breaking our backs and hearts in the hell of the stokehole--
feeding the bloody furnace--feeding our lives along wid the coal,
I'm thinking--caged in by steel from a sight of the sky like
bloody apes in the Zoo! [With a harsh laugh.] Ho-ho, divil mend
you! Is it to belong to that you're wishing? Is it a flesh and
blood wheel of the engines you'd be?

YANK--[Who has been listening with a contemptuous sneer, barks out
the answer.] Sure ting! Dat's me! What about it?

PADDY--[As if to himself--with great sorrow.] Me time is past due.
That a great wave wid sun in the heart of it may sweep me over the
side sometime I'd be dreaming of the days that's gone!

YANK--Aw, yuh crazy Mick! [He springs to his feet and advances on
Paddy threateningly--then stops, fighting some queer struggle
within himself--lets his hands fall to his sides--contemptuously.]
Aw, take it easy. Yuh're aw right, at dat. Yuh're bugs, dat's all
--nutty as a cuckoo. All dat tripe yuh been pullin'--Aw, dat's
all right. On'y it's dead, get me? Yuh don't belong no more, see.
Yuh don't get de stuff. Yuh're too old. [Disgustedly.] But aw say,
come up for air onct in a while, can't yuh? See what's happened
since yuh croaked. [He suddenly bursts forth vehemently, growing
more and more excited.] Say! Sure! Sure I meant it! What de hell--
Say, lemme talk! Hey! Hey, you old Harp! Hey, youse guys! Say,
listen to me--wait a moment--I gotter talk, see. I belong and he
don't. He's dead but I'm livin'. Listen to me! Sure I'm part of de
engines! Why de hell not! Dey move, don't dey? Dey're speed, ain't
dey? Dey smash trou, don't dey? Twenty-five knots a hour! Dat's
goin' some! Dat's new stuff! Dat belongs! But him, he's too old.
He gets dizzy. Say, listen. All dat crazy tripe about nights and
days; all dat crazy tripe about stars and moons; all dat crazy
tripe about suns and winds, fresh air and de rest of it--Aw hell,
dat's all a dope dream! Hittin' de pipe of de past, dat's what
he's doin'. He's old and don't belong no more. But me, I'm young!
I'm in de pink! I move wit it! It, get me! I mean de ting dat's de
guts of all dis. It ploughs trou all de tripe he's been sayin'. It
blows dat up! It knocks dat dead! It slams dat off en de face of
de oith! It, get me! De engines and de coal and de smoke and all
de rest of it! He can't breathe and swallow coal dust, but I kin,
see? Dat's fresh air for me! Dat's food for me! I'm new, get me?
Hell in de stokehole? Sure! It takes a man to work in hell. Hell,
sure, dat's my fav'rite climate. I eat it up! I git fat on it!
It's me makes it hot! It's me makes it roar! It's me makes it
move! Sure, on'y for me everyting stops. It all goes dead, get me?
De noise and smoke and all de engines movin' de woild, dey stop.
Dere ain't nothin' no more! Dat's what I'm sayin'. Everyting else
dat makes de woild move, somep'n makes it move. It can't move
witout somep'n else, see? Den yuh get down to me. I'm at de
bottom, get me! Dere ain't nothin' foither. I'm de end! I'm de
start! I start somep'n and de woild moves! It--dat's me!--de new
dat's moiderin' de old! I'm de ting in coal dat makes it boin; I'm
steam and oil for de engines; I'm de ting in noise dat makes yuh
hear it; I'm smoke and express trains and steamers and factory
whistles; I'm de ting in gold dat makes it money! And I'm what
makes iron into steel! Steel, dat stands for de whole ting! And
I'm steel--steel--steel! I'm de muscles in steel, de punch behind
it! [As he says this he pounds with his fist against the steel
bunks. All the men, roused to a pitch of frenzied self-
glorification by his speech, do likewise. There is a deafening
metallic roar, through which Yank's voice can be heard bellowing.]
Slaves, hell! We run de whole woiks. All de rich guys dat tink
dey're somep'n, dey ain't nothin'! Dey don't belong. But us guys,
we're in de move, we're at de bottom, de whole ting is us! [Paddy
from the start of Yank's speech has been taking one gulp after
another from his bottle, at first frightenedly, as if he were
afraid to listen, then desperately, as if to drown his senses, but
finally has achieved complete indifferent, even amused,
drunkenness. Yank sees his lips moving. He quells the uproar with
a shout.] Hey, youse guys, take it easy! Wait a moment! De nutty
Harp is sayin' someth'n.

PADDY--[Is heard now--throws his head back with a mocking burst of
laughter.] Ho-ho-ho-ho-ho---

YANK--[Drawing back his fist, with a snarl.] Aw! Look out who
yuh're givin' the bark!

PADDY--[Begins to sing the "Muler of Dee" with enormous good-

"I care for nobody, no, not I,
And nobody cares for me."

YANK--[Good-natured himself in a flash, interrupts PADDY with a
slap on the bare back like a report.] Dat's de stuff! Now yuh're
gettin' wise to somep'n. Care for nobody, dat's de dope! To hell
wit 'em all! And nix on nobody else carin'. I kin care for myself,
get me! [Eight bells sound, muffled, vibrating through the steel
walls as if some enormous brazen gong were imbedded in the heart
of the ship. All the men jump up mechanically, fie through the
door silently close upon each other's heels in what is very like a
prisoners lockstep. YANK slaps PADDY on the back.] Our watch, yuh
old Harp! [Mockingly.] Come on down in hell. Eat up de coal dust.
Drink in de heat. It's it, see! Act like yuh liked it, yuh better--
or croak yuhself.

PADDY--[With jovial defiance.] To the divil wid it! I'll not
report this watch. Let thim log me and be damned. I'm no slave the
like of you. I'll be sittin' here at me ease, and drinking, and
thinking, and dreaming dreams.

YANK--[Contemptuously.] Tinkin' and dreamin', what'll that get
yuh? What's tinkin' got to do wit it? We move, don't we? Speed,
ain't it? Fog, dat's all you stand for. But we drive trou dat,
don't we? We split dat up and smash trou--twenty-five knots a
hour! [Turns his back on Paddy scornfully.] Aw, yuh make me sick!
Yuh don't belong! [He strides out the door in rear. Paddy hums to
himself, blinking drowsily.]



SCENE--Two days out. A section of the promenade deck. MILDRED
DOUGLAS and her aunt are discovered reclining in deck chairs. The
former is a girl of twenty, slender, delicate, with a pale, pretty
face marred by a self-conscious expression of disdainful
superiority. She looks fretful, nervous and discontented, bored by
her own anemia. Her aunt is a pompous and proud--and fat--old
lady. She is a type even to the point of a double chin and
lorgnettes. She is dressed pretentiously, as if afraid her face
alone would never indicate her position in life. MILDRED is
dressed all in white.

The impression to be conveyed by this scene is one of the
beautiful, vivid life of the sea all about--sunshine on the deck
in a great flood, the fresh sea wind blowing across it. In the
midst of this, these two incongruous, artificial figures, inert
and disharmonious, the elder like a gray lump of dough touched up
with rouge, the younger looking as if the vitality of her stock
had been sapped before she was conceived, so that she is the
expression not of its life energy but merely of the
artificialities that energy had won for itself in the spending.

MILDRED--[Looking up with affected dreaminess.] How the black
smoke swirls back against the sky! Is it not beautiful?

AUNT--[Without looking up.] I dislike smoke of any kind.

MILDRED--My great-grandmother smoked a pipe--a clay pipe.

AUNT--[Ruffling.] Vulgar!

MILDRED--She was too distant a relative to be vulgar. Time mellows

AUNT--[Pretending boredom but irritated.] Did the sociology you
took up at college teach you that--to play the ghoul on every
possible occasion, excavating old bones? Why not let your great-
grandmother rest in her grave?

MILDRED--[Dreamily.] With her pipe beside her--puffing in

AUNT--[With spite.] Yes, you are a natural born ghoul. You are
even getting to look like one, my dear.

MILDRED--[In a passionless tone.] I detest you, Aunt. [Looking at
her critically.] Do you know what you remind me of? Of a cold pork
pudding against a background of linoleum tablecloth in the kitchen
of a--but the possibilities are wearisome. [She closes her eyes.]

AUNT--[With a bitter laugh.] Merci for your candor. But since I am
and must be your chaperone--in appearance, at least--let us patch
up some sort of armed truce. For my part you are quite free to
indulge any pose of eccentricity that beguiles you--as long as you
observe the amenities--

MILDRED--[Drawling.] The inanities?

AUNT--[Going on as if she hadn't heard.] After exhausting the
morbid thrills of social service work on New York's East Side--how
they must have hated you, by the way, the poor that you made so
much poorer in their own eyes!--you are now bent on making your
slumming international. Well, I hope Whitechapel will provide the
needed nerve tonic. Do not ask me to chaperone you there, however.
I told your father I would not. I loathe deformity. We will hire
an army of detectives and you may investigate everything--they
allow you to see.

MILDRED--[Protesting with a trace of genuine earnestness.] Please
do not mock at my attempts to discover how the other half lives.
Give me credit for some sort of groping sincerity in that at
least. I would like to help them. I would like to be some use in
the world. Is it my fault I don't know how? I would like to be
sincere, to touch life somewhere. [With weary bitterness.] But I'm
afraid I have neither the vitality nor integrity. All that was
burnt out in our stock before I was born. Grandfather's blast
furnaces, flaming to the sky, melting steel, making millions--then
father keeping those home fires burning, making more millions--and
little me at the tail-end of it all. I'm a waste product in the
Bessemer process--like the millions. Or rather, I inherit the
acquired trait of the by-product, wealth, but none of the energy,
none of the strength of the steel that made it. I am sired by gold
and darned by it, as they say at the race track--damned in more
ways than one, [She laughs mirthlessly].

AUNT--[Unimpressed--superciliously.] You seem to be going in for
sincerity to-day. It isn't becoming to you, really--except as an
obvious pose. Be as artificial as you are, I advise. There's a
sort of sincerity in that, you know. And, after all, you must
confess you like that better.

MILDRED--[Again affected and bored.] Yes, I suppose I do. Pardon
me for my outburst. When a leopard complains of its spots, it must
sound rather grotesque. [In a mocking tone.] Purr, little leopard.
Purr, scratch, tear, kill, gorge yourself and be happy--only stay
in the jungle where your spots are camouflage. In a cage they make
you conspicuous.

AUNT--I don't know what you are talking about.

MILDRED--It would be rude to talk about anything to you. Let's
just talk. [She looks at her wrist watch.] Well, thank goodness,
it's about time for them to come for me. That ought to give me a
new thrill, Aunt.

AUNT--[Affectedly troubled.] You don't mean to say you're really
going? The dirt--the heat must be frightful--

MILDRED--Grandfather started as a puddler. I should have inherited
an immunity to heat that would make a salamander shiver. It will
be fun to put it to the test.

AUNT--But don't you have to have the captain's--or someone's--
permission to visit the stokehole?

MILDRED--[With a triumphant smile.] I have it--both his and the
chief engineer's. Oh, they didn't want to at first, in spite of my
social service credentials. They didn't seem a bit anxious that I
should investigate how the other half lives and works on a ship.
So I had to tell them that my father, the president of Nazareth
Steel, chairman of the board of directors of this line, had told
me it would be all right.

AUNT--He didn't.

MILDRED--How naive age makes one! But I said he did, Aunt. I even
said he had given me a letter to them--which I had lost. And they
were afraid to take the chance that I might be lying. [Excitedly.]
So it's ho! for the stokehole. The second engineer is to escort
me. [Looking at her watch again.] It's time. And here he comes, I
think. [The SECOND ENGINEER enters, He is a husky, fine-looking
man of thirty-five or so. He stops before the two and tips his
cap, visibly embarrassed and ill-at-ease.]


MILDRED--Yes. [Throwing off her rugs and getting to her feet.] Are
we all ready to start?

SECOND ENGINEER--In just a second, ma'am. I'm waiting for the
Fourth. He's coming along.

MILDRED--[With a scornful smile.] You don't care to shoulder this
responsibility alone, is that it?

SECOND ENGINEER--[Forcing a smile.] Two are better than one.
[Disturbed by her eyes, glances out to sea--blurts out.] A fine
day we're having.


SECOND ENGINEER--A nice warm breeze--

MILDRED--It feels cold to me.

SECOND ENGINEER--But it's hot enough in the sun--

MILDRED--Not hot enough for me. I don't like Nature. I was never

SECOND ENGINEER--[Forcing a smile.] Well, you'll find it hot
enough where you're going.

MILDRED--Do you mean hell?

SECOND ENGINEER--[Flabbergasted, decides to laugh.] Ho-ho! No, I
mean the stokehole.

MILDRED--My grandfather was a puddler. He played with boiling

SECOND ENGINEER--[All at sea--uneasily.] Is that so? Hum, you'll
excuse me, ma'am, but are you intending to wear that dress.

MILDRED--Why not?

SECOND ENGINEER--You'll likely rub against oil and dirt. It can't
be helped.

MILDRED--It doesn't matter. I have lots of white dresses.

SECOND ENGINEER--I have an old coat you might throw over--

MILDRED--I have fifty dresses like this. I will throw this one
into the sea when I come back. That ought to wash it clean, don't
you think?

SECOND ENGINEER--[Doggedly.] There's ladders to climb down that
are none too clean--and dark alleyways--

MILDRED--I will wear this very dress and none other.

SECOND ENGINEER--No offence meant. It's none of my business. I was
only warning you--

MILDRED--Warning? That sounds thrilling.

SECOND ENGINEER--[Looking down the deck--with a sigh of relief.]--
There's the Fourth now. He's waiting for us. If you'll come--

MILDRED--Go on. I'll follow you. [He goes. Mildred turns a mocking
smile on her aunt.] An oaf--but a handsome, virile oaf.

AUNT--[Scornfully.] Poser!

MILDRED--Take care. He said there were dark alleyways--

AUNT--[In the same tone.] Poser!

MILDRED--[Biting her lips angrily.] You are right. But would that
my millions were not so anemically chaste!

AUNT--Yes, for a fresh pose I have no doubt you would drag the
name of Douglas in the gutter!

MILDRED--From which it sprang. Good-by, Aunt. Don't pray too hard
that I may fall into the fiery furnace.


MILDRED--[Viciously.] Old hag! [She slaps her aunt insultingly
across the face and walks off, laughing gaily.]

AUNT--[Screams after her.] I said poser!



SCENE--The stokehole. In the rear, the dimly-outlined bulks of
the furnaces and boilers. High overhead one hanging electric bulb
sheds just enough light through the murky air laden with coal dust
to pile up masses of shadows everywhere. A line of men, stripped
to the waist, is before the furnace doors. They bend over, looking
neither to right nor left, handling their shovels as if they were
part of their bodies, with a strange, awkward, swinging rhythm.
They use the shovels to throw open the furnace doors. Then from
these fiery round holes in the black a flood of terrific light and
heat pours full upon the men who are outlined in silhouette in the
crouching, inhuman attitudes of chained gorillas. The men shovel
with a rhythmic motion, swinging as on a pivot from the coal which
lies in heaps on the floor behind to hurl it into the flaming
mouths before them. There is a tumult of noise--the brazen clang
of the furnace doors as they are flung open or slammed shut, the
grating, teeth-gritting grind of steel against steel, of crunching
coal. This clash of sounds stuns one's ears with its rending
dissonance. But there is order in it, rhythm, a mechanical
regulated recurrence, a tempo. And rising above all, making the
air hum with the quiver of liberated energy, the roar of leaping
flames in the furnaces, the monotonous throbbing beat of the

As the curtain rises, the furnace doors are shut. The men are
taking a breathing spell. One or two are arranging the coal behind
them, pulling it into more accessible heaps. The others can be
dimly made out leaning on their shovels in relaxed attitudes of

PADDY--[From somewhere in the line--plaintively.] Yerra, will this
divil's own watch nivir end? Me back is broke. I'm destroyed

YANK--[From the center of the line--with exuberant scorn.] Aw, yuh
make me sick! Lie down and croak, why don't yuh? Always beefin',
dat's you! Say, dis is a cinch! Dis was made for me! It's my meat,
get me! [A whistle is blown--a thin, shrill note from somewhere
overhead in the darkness. Yank curses without resentment.] Dere's
de damn engineer crakin' de whip. He tinks we're loafin'. PADDY--
[Vindictively.] God stiffen him!

YANK--[In an exultant tone of command.] Come on, youse guys! Git
into de game! She's gittin' hungry! Pile some grub in her! Trow it
into her belly! Come on now, all of youse! Open her up! [At this
last all the men, who have followed his movements of getting into
position, throw open their furnace doors with a deafening clang.
The fiery light floods over their shoulders as they bend round for
the coal. Rivulets of sooty sweat have traced maps on their backs.
The enlarged muscles form bunches of high light and shadow.]

YANK--[Chanting a count as he shovels without seeming effort.]
One--two--tree--[His voice rising exultantly in the joy of
battle.] Dat's de stuff! Let her have it! All togedder now! Sling
it into her! Let her ride! Shoot de piece now! Call de toin on
her! Drive her into it! Feel her move! Watch her smoke! Speed,
dat's her middle name! Give her coal, youse guys! Coal, dat's her
booze! Drink it up, baby! Let's see yuh sprint! Dig in and gain a
lap! Dere she go-o-es [This last in the chanting formula of the
gallery gods at the six-day bike race. He slams his furnace door
shut. The others do likewise with as much unison as their wearied
bodies will permit. The effect is of one fiery eye after another
being blotted out with a series of accompanying bangs.]

PADDY--[Groaning.] Me back is broke. I'm bate out--bate--[There
is a pause. Then the inexorable whistle sounds again from the dim
regions above the electric light. There is a growl of cursing rage
from all sides.]

YANK--[Shaking his fist upward--contemptuously.] Take it easy
dere, you! Who d'yuh tinks runnin' dis game, me or you? When I git
ready, we move. Not before! When I git ready, get me!

VOICES--[Approvingly.] That's the stuff!

Yank tal him, py golly!

Yank ain't affeerd.

Goot poy, Yank!

Give him hell!

Tell 'im 'e's a bloody swine!

Bloody slave-driver!

YANK--[Contemptuously.] He ain't got no noive. He's yellow, get
me? All de engineers is yellow. Dey got streaks a mile wide. Aw,
to hell wit him! Let's move, youse guys. We had a rest. Come on,
she needs it! Give her pep! It ain't for him. Him and his whistle,
dey don't belong. But we belong, see! We gotter feed de baby! Come
on! [He turns and flings his furnace door open. They all follow
his lead. At this instant the Second and Fourth Engineers enter
from the darkness on the left with Mildred between them. She
starts, turns paler, her pose is crumbling, she shivers with
fright in spite of the blazing heat, but forces herself to leave
the Engineers and take a few steps nearer the men. She is right
behind Yank. All this happens quickly while the men have their
backs turned.]

YANK--Come on, youse guys! [He is turning to get coal when the
whistle sounds again in a peremptory, irritating note. This drives
Yank into a sudden fury. While the other men have turned full
around and stopped dumfounded by the spectacle of Mildred standing
there in her white dress, Yank does not turn far enough to see
her. Besides, his head is thrown back, he blinks upward through
the murk trying to find the owner of the whistle, he brandishes
his shovel murderously over his head in one hand, pounding on his
chest, gorilla-like, with the other, shouting:] Toin off dat
whistle! Come down outa dere, yuh yellow, brass-buttoned, Belfast
bum, yuh! Come down and I'll knock yer brains out! Yuh lousey,
stinkin', yellow mut of a Catholic-moiderin' bastard! Come down
and I'll moider yuh! Pullin' dat whistle on me, huh? I'll show
yuh! I'll crash yer skull in! I'll drive yer teet' down yer troat!
I'll slam yer nose trou de back of yer head! I'll cut yer guts out
for a nickel, yuh lousey boob, yuh dirty, crummy, muck-eatin' son
of a--

[Suddenly he becomes conscious of all the other men staring at
something directly behind his back. He whirls defensively with a
snarling, murderous growl, crouching to spring, his lips drawn
back o'ver his teeth, his small eyes gleaming ferociously. He sees
Mildred, like a white apparition in the full light from the open
furnace doors. He glares into her eyes, turned to stone. As for
her, during his speech she has listened, paralyzed with horror,
terror, her whole personality crushed, beaten in, collapsed, by
the terrific impact of this unknown, abysmal brutality, naked and
shameless. As she looks at his gorilla face, as his eyes bore into
hers, she utters a low, choking cry and shrinks away from him,
putting both hands up before her eyes to shut out the sight of his
face, to protect her own. This startles Yank to a reaction. His
mouth falls open, his eyes grow bewildered.]

MILDRED--[About to faint--to the Engineers, who now have her one
by each arm--whimperingly.] Take me away! Oh, the filthy beast!
[She faints. They carry her quickly back, disappearing in the
darkness at the left, rear. An iron door clangs shut. Rage and
bewildered fury rush back on Yank. He feels himself insulted in
some unknown fashion in the very heart of his pride. He roars:]
God damn yuh! [And hurls his shovel after them at the door which
has just closed. It hits the steel bulkhead with a clang and falls
clattering on the steel floor. From overhead the whistle sounds
again in a long, angry, insistent command.]



SCENE--The firemen's forecastle. Yank's watch has just come off
duty and had dinner. Their faces and bodies shine from a soap and
water scrubbing but around their eyes, where a hasty dousing does
not touch, the coal dust sticks like black make-up, giving them a
queer, sinister expression. Yank has not washed either face or
body. He stands out in contrast to them, a blackened, brooding
figure. He is seated forward on a bench in the exact attitude of
Rodin's "The Thinker." The others, most of them smoking pipes, are
staring at Yank half-apprehensively, as if fearing an outburst;
half-amusedly, as if they saw a joke somewhere that tickled them.

VOICES--He ain't ate nothin'.

Py golly, a fallar gat gat grub in him.

Divil a lie.

Yank feeda da fire, no feeda da face.


He ain't even washed hisself.

He's forgot.

Hey, Yank, you forgot to wash.

YANK--[Sullenly.] Forgot nothin'! To hell wit washin'.

VOICES--It'll stick to you. It'll get under your skin. Give yer
the bleedin' itch, that's wot. It makes spots on you--like a
leopard. Like a piebald nigger, you mean. Better wash up, Yank.
You sleep better. Wash up, Yank. Wash up! Wash up!

YANK--[Resentfully.] Aw say, youse guys. Lemme alone. Can't youse
see I'm tryin' to tink?

ALL--[Repeating the word after him as one with cynical mockery.]
Think! [The word has a brazen, metallic quality as if their
throats were phonograph horns. It is followed by a chorus of hard,
barking laughter.]

YANK--[Springing to his feet and glaring at
them belligerently.] Yes, tink! Tink, dat's what I said! What
about it? [They are silent, puzzled by his sudden resentment at
what used to be one of his jokes. Yank sits down again in the same
attitude of "The Thinker."]

VOICES--Leave him alone.

He's got a grouch on.

Why wouldn't he?

PADDY--[With a wink at the others.] Sure I know what's the
matther. 'Tis aisy to see. He's fallen in love, I'm telling you.

ALL--[Repeating the word after him as one with cynical mockery.]
Love! [The word has a brazen, metallic quality as if their throats
were phonograph horns. It is followed by a chorus of hard, barking

YANK--[With a contemptuous snort.] Love, hell! Hate, dat's what.
I've fallen in hate, get me?

PADDY--[Philosophically] 'Twould take a wise man to tell one from
the other. [With a bitter, ironical scorn, increasing as he goes
on.] But I'm telling you it's love that's in it. Sure what else
but love for us poor bastes in the stokehole would be bringing a
fine lady, dressed like a white quane, down a mile of ladders and
steps to be havin' a look at us? [A growl of anger goes up from
all sides.]

LONG--[Jumping on a bench--hecticly] Hinsultin' us! Hinsultin' us,
the bloody cow! And them bloody engineers! What right 'as they got
to be exhibitin' us 's if we was bleedin' monkeys in a menagerie?
Did we sign for hinsults to our dignity as 'onest workers? Is that
in the ship's articles? You kin bloody well bet it ain't! But I
knows why they done it. I arsked a deck steward 'o she was and 'e
told me. 'Er old man's a bleedin' millionaire, a bloody
Capitalist! 'E's got enuf bloody gold to sink this bleedin' ship!
'E makes arf the bloody steel in the world! 'E owns this bloody
boat! And you and me, comrades, we're 'is slaves! And the skipper
and mates and engineers, they're 'is slaves! And she's 'is bloody
daughter and we're all 'er slaves, too! And she gives 'er orders
as 'ow she wants to see the bloody animals below decks and down
they takes 'er! [There is a roar of rage from all sides.]

YANK--[Blinking at him bewilderedly.] Say! Wait a moment! Is all
dat straight goods?

LONG--Straight as string! The bleedin' steward as waits on 'em, 'e
told me about 'er. And what're we goin' ter do, I arsks yer? 'Ave
we got ter swaller 'er hinsults like dogs? It ain't in the ship's
articles. I tell yer we got a case. We kin go ter law--

YANK--[With abysmal contempt.] Hell! Law!

ALL--[Repeating the word after him as one with cynical mockery.]
Law! [The word has a brazen metallic quality as if their throats
were phonograph horns. It is followed by a chorus of hard, barking

LONG--[Feeling the ground slipping from under his feet--
desperately.] As voters and citizens we kin force the bloody

YANK--[With abysmal contempt.] Hell! Governments!

ALL--[Repeating the word after him as one with cynical mockery.]
Governments! [The word has a brazen metallic quality as if their
throats were phonograph horns. It is followed by a chorus of hard,
barking laughter.]

LONG--[Hysterically.] We're free and equal in the sight of God--

YANK--[With abysmal contempt.] Hell! God!

ALL--[Repeating the word after him as one with cynical mockery.]
God! [The word has a brazen metallic quality as if their throats
were phonograph horns. It is followed by a chorus of hard, barking

YANK--[Witheringly.] Aw, join de Salvation Army!

ALL--Sit down! Shut up! Damn fool! Sea-lawyer! [Long slinks back
out of sight.]

PADDY--[Continuing the trend of his thoughts as if he had never
been interrupted--bitterly.] And there she was standing behind us,
and the Second pointing at us like a man you'd hear in a circus
would be saying: In this cage is a queerer kind of baboon than
ever you'd find in darkest Africy. We roast them in their own
sweat--and be damned if you won't hear some of thim saying they
like it! [He glances scornfully at Yank.]

YANK--[With a bewildered uncertain growl.] Aw!

PADDY--And there was Yank roarin' curses and turning round wid his
shovel to brain her--and she looked at him, and him at her--

YANK--[Slowly.] She was all white. I tought she was a ghost. Sure.

PADDY--[With heavy, biting sarcasm.] 'Twas love at first sight,
divil a doubt of it! If you'd seen the endearin' look on her pale
mug when she shrivelled away with her hands over her eyes to shut
out the sight of him! Sure, 'twas as if she'd seen a great hairy
ape escaped from the Zoo!

YANK--[Stung--with a growl of rage.] Aw!

PADDY--And the loving way Yank heaved his shovel at the skull of
her, only she was out the door! [A grin breaking over his face.]
'Twas touching, I'm telling you! It put the touch of home, swate
home in the stokehole. [There is a roar of laughter from all.]

YANK--[Glaring at Paddy menacingly.] Aw, choke dat off, see!

PADDY--[Not heeding him--to the others.] And her grabbin' at the
Second's arm for protection. [With a grotesque imitation of a
woman's voice.] Kiss me, Engineer dear, for it's dark down here
and me old man's in Wall Street making money! Hug me tight,
darlin', for I'm afeerd in the dark and me mother's on deck makin'
eyes at the skipper! [Another roar of laughter.]

YANK--[Threateningly.] Say! What yuh tryin' to do, kid me, yuh old

PADDY--Divil a bit! Ain't I wishin' myself you'd brained her?

YANK--[Fiercely.] I'll brain her! I'll brain her yet, wait 'n'
see! [Coming over to Paddy--slowly.] Say, is dat what she called
me--a hairy ape?

PADDY--She looked it at you if she didn't say the word itself.

YANK--[Grinning horribly.] Hairy ape, huh? Sure! Dat's de way she
looked at me, aw right. Hairy ape! So dat's me, huh? [Bursting
into rage--as if she were still in front of him.] Yuh skinny tart!
Yuh white-faced bum, yuh! I'll show yuh who's a ape! [Turning to
the others, bewilderment seizing him again.] Say, youse guys. I
was bawlin' him out for pullin' de whistle on us. You heard me.
And den I seen youse lookin' at somep'n and I tought he'd sneaked
down to come up in back of me, and I hopped round to knock him
dead wit de shovel. And dere she was wit de light on her! Christ,
yuh coulda pushed me over with a finger! I was scared, get me?
Sure! I tought she was a ghost, see? She was all in white like dey
wrap around stiffs. You seen her. Kin yuh blame me? She didn't
belong, dat's what. And den when I come to and seen it was a real
skoit and seen de way she was lookin' at me--like Paddy said--
Christ, I was sore, get me? I don't stand for dat stuff from
nobody. And I flung de shovel--on'y she'd beat it. [Furiously.] I
wished it'd banged her! I wished it'd knocked her block off!

LONG--And be 'anged for murder or 'lectrocuted? She ain't bleedin'
well worth it.

YANK--I don't give a damn what! I'd be square wit her, wouldn't I?
Tink I wanter let her put somep'n over on me? Tink I'm goin' to
let her git away wit dat stuff? Yuh don't know me! Noone ain't
never put nothin' over on me and got away wit it, see!--not dat
kind of stuff--no guy and no skoit neither! I'll fix her! Maybe
she'll come down again--

VOICE--No chance, Yank. You scared her out of a year's growth.

YANK--I scared her? Why de hell should I scare her? Who de hell is
she? Ain't she de same as me? Hairy ape, huh? [With his old
confident bravado.] I'll show her I'm better'n her, if she on'y
knew it. I belong and she don't, see! I move and she's dead!
Twenty-five knots a hour, dats me! Dat carries her but I make dat.
She's on'y baggage. Sure! [Again bewilderedly.] But, Christ, she
was funny lookin'! Did yuh pipe her hands? White and skinny. Yuh
could see de bones trough 'em. And her mush, dat was dead white,
too. And her eyes, dey was like dey'd seen a ghost. Me, dat was!
Sure! Hairy ape! Ghost, huh? Look at dat arm! [He extends his
right arm, swelling out the great muscles.] I coulda took her wit
dat, wit' just my little finger even, and broke her in two. [Again
bewilderedly.] Say, who is dat skoit, huh? What is she? What's she
come from? Who made her? Who give her de noive to look at me like
dat? Dis ting's got my goat right. I don't get her. She's new to
me. What does a skoit like her mean, huh? She don't belong, get
me! I can't see her. [With growing anger.] But one ting I'm wise
to, aw right, aw right! Youse all kin bet your shoits I'll git
even wit her. I'll show her if she tinks she--She grinds de organ
and I'm on de string, huh? I'll fix her! Let her come down again
and I'll fling her in de furnace! She'll move den! She won't
shiver at nothin', den! Speed, dat'll be her! She'll belong den!
[He grins horribly.]

PADDY--She'll never come. She's had her belly-full, I'm telling
you. She'll be in bed now, I'm thinking, wid ten doctors and
nurses feedin' her salts to clean the fear out of her.

YANK--[Enraged.] Yuh tink I made her sick, too, do yuh? Just
lookin' at me, huh? Hairy ape, huh? [In a frenzy of rage.] I'll
fix her! I'll tell her where to git off! She'll git down on her
knees and take it back or I'll bust de face offen her! [Shaking
one fist upward and beating on his chest with the other.] I'll
find yuh! I'm comin', d'yuh hear? I'll fix yuh, God damn yuh! [He
makes a rush for the door.]

VOICES--Stop him!

He'll get shot!

He'll murder her!

Trip him up!

Hold him!

He's gone crazy!

Gott, he's strong!

Hold him down!

Look out for a kick!

Pin his arms!

[They have all piled on him and, after a fierce struggle, by sheer
weight of numbers have borne him to the floor just inside the

PADDY--[Who has remained detached.] Kape him down till he's cooled
off. [Scornfully.] Yerra, Yank, you're a great fool. Is it payin'
attention at all you are to the like of that skinny sow widout one
drop of rale blood in her?

YANK--[Frenziedly, from the bottom of the heap.] She done me doit!
She done me doit, didn't she? I'll git square wit her! I'll get
her some way! Git offen me, youse guys! Lemme up! I'll show her
who's a ape!



SCENE--Three weeks later. A corner of Fifth Avenue in the Fifties
on a fine, Sunday morning. A general atmosphere of clean, well-
tidied, wide street; a flood of mellow, tempered sunshine; gentle,
genteel breezes. In the rear, the show windows of two shops, a
jewelry establishment on the corner, a furrier's next to it. Here
the adornments of extreme wealth are tantalizingly displayed. The
jeweler's window is gaudy with glittering diamonds, emeralds,
rubies, pearls, etc., fashioned in ornate tiaras, crowns,
necklaces, collars, etc. From each piece hangs an enormous tag
from which a dollar sign and numerals in intermittent electric
lights wink out the incredible prices. The same in the furrier's.
Rich furs of all varieties hang there bathed in a downpour of
artificial light. The general effect is of a background of
magnificence cheapened and made grotesque by commercialism, a
background in tawdry disharmony with the clear light and sunshine
on the street itself.

Up the side street Yank and Long come swaggering. Long is dressed
in shore clothes, wears a black Windsor tie, cloth cap. Yank is in
his dirty dungarees. A fireman's cap with black peak is cocked
defiantly on the side of his head. He has not shaved for days and
around his fierce, resentful eyes--as around those of Long to a
lesser degree--the black smudge of coal dust still sticks like
make-up. They hesitate and stand together at the corner,
swaggering, looking about them with a forced, defiant contempt.

LONG--[Indicating it all with an oratorical gesture.] Well, 'ere
we are. Fif' Avenoo. This 'ere's their bleedin' private lane, as
yer might say. [Bitterly.] We're trespassers 'ere. Proletarians
keep orf the grass!

YANK--[Dully.] I don't see no grass, yuh boob. [Staring at the
sidewalk.] Clean, ain't it? Yuh could eat a fried egg offen it.
The white wings got some job sweepin' dis up. [Looking up and down
the avenue--surlily.] Where's all de white-collar stiffs yuh said
was here--and de skoits--her kind?

LONG--In church, blarst 'em! Arskin' Jesus to give 'em more money.

YANK--Choich, huh? I useter go to choich onct--sure--when I was a
kid. Me old man and woman, dey made me. Dey never went demselves,
dough. Always got too big a head on Sunday mornin', dat was dem.
[With a grin.] Dey was scrappers for fair, bot' of dem. On Satiday
nights when dey bot' got a skinful dey could put up a bout oughter
been staged at de Garden. When dey got trough dere wasn't a chair
or table wit a leg under it. Or else dey bot' jumped on me for
somep'n. Dat was where I loined to take punishment. [With a grin
and a swagger.] I'm a chip offen de old block, get me?

LONG--Did yer old man follow the sea?

YANK--Naw. Worked along shore. I runned away when me old lady
croaked wit de tremens. I helped at truckin' and in de market. Den
I shipped in de stokehole. Sure. Dat belongs. De rest was nothin'.
[Looking around him.] I ain't never seen dis before. De Brooklyn
waterfront, dat was where I was dragged up. [Taking a deep
breath.] Dis ain't so bad at dat, huh?

LONG--Not bad? Well, we pays for it wiv our bloody sweat, if yer
wants to know!

YANK--[With sudden angry disgust.] Aw, hell! I don't see noone,
see--like her. All dis gives me a pain. It don't belong. Say,
ain't dere a backroom around dis dump? Let's go shoot a ball. All
dis is too clean and quiet and dolled-up, get me! It gives me a

LONG--Wait and yer'll bloody well see--

YANK--I don't wait for noone. I keep on de move. Say, what yuh
drag me up here for, anyway? Tryin' to kid me, yuh simp, yuh?

LONG--Yer wants to get back at her, don't yer? That's what yer
been saying' every bloomin' 'our since she hinsulted yer.

YANK--[Vehemently.] Sure ting I do! Didn't I try to git even wit
her in Southampton? Didn't I sneak on de dock and wait for her by
de gangplank? I was goin' to spit in her pale mug, see! Sure,
right in her pop-eyes! Dat woulda made me even, see? But no
chanct. Dere was a whole army of plain clothes bulls around. Dey
spotted me and gimme de bum's rush. I never seen her. But I'll git
square wit her yet, you watch! [Furiously.] De lousey tart! She
tinks she kin get away wit moider--but not wit me! I'll fix her!
I'll tink of a way!

LONG--[As disgusted as he dares to be.] Ain't that why I brought
yer up 'ere--to show yer? Yer been lookin' at this 'ere 'ole
affair wrong. Yer been actin' an' talkin' 's if it was all a
bleedin' personal matter between yer and that bloody cow. I wants
to convince yer she was on'y a representative of 'er clarss. I
wants to awaken yer bloody clarss consciousness. Then yer'll see
it's 'er clarss yer've got to fight, not 'er alone. There's a 'ole
mob of 'em like 'er, Gawd blind 'em!

YANK--[Spitting on his hands--belligerently.] De more de merrier
when I gits started. Bring on de gang!

LONG--Yer'll see 'em in arf a mo', when that church lets out. [He
turns and sees the window display in the two stores for the first
time.] Blimey! Look at that, will yer? [They both walk back and
stand looking in the jewelers. Long flies into a fury.] Just look
at this 'ere bloomin' mess! Just look at it! Look at the bleedin'
prices on 'em--more'n our 'old bloody stokehole makes in ten
voyages sweatin' in 'ell! And they--her and her bloody clarss--
buys 'em for toys to dangle on 'em! One of these 'ere would buy
scoff for a starvin' family for a year!

YANK--Aw, cut de sob stuff! T' hell wit de starvin' family! Yuh'll
be passin' de hat to me next. [With naive admiration.] Say, dem
tings is pretty, huh? Bet yuh dey'd hock for a piece of change aw
right. [Then turning away, bored.] But, aw hell, what good are
dey? Let her have 'em. Dey don't belong no more'n she does. [With
a gesture of sweeping the jewelers into oblivion.] All dat don't
count, get me?

LONG--[Who has moved to the furriers--indignantly.] And I s'pose
this 'ere don't count neither--skins of poor, 'armless animals
slaughtered so as 'er and 'ers can keep their bleedin' noses warm!

YANK--[Who has been staring at something inside--with queer
excitement.] Take a slant at dat! Give it de once-over! Monkey
fur--two t'ousand bucks! [Bewilderedly.] Is dat straight goods--
monkey fur? What de hell--?

LONG--[Bitterly.] It's straight enuf. [With grim humor.] They
wouldn't bloody well pay that for a 'airy ape's skin--no, nor for
the 'ole livin' ape with all 'is 'ead, and body, and soul thrown

YANK--[Clenching his fists, his face growing pale with rage as if
the skin in the window were a personal insult.] Trowin' it up in
my face! Christ! I'll fix her!

LONG--[Excitedly.] Church is out. 'Ere they come, the bleedin'
swine. [After a glance at Yank's lowering face--uneasily.] Easy
goes, Comrade. Keep yer bloomin' temper. Remember force defeats
itself. It ain't our weapon. We must impress our demands through
peaceful means--the votes of the on-marching proletarians of the
bloody world!

YANK--[With abysmal contempt.] Votes, hell! Votes is a joke, see.
Votes for women! Let dem do it!

LONG--[Still more uneasily.] Calm, now. Treat 'em wiv the proper
contempt. Observe the bleedin' parasites but 'old yer 'orses.

YANK--[Angrily.] Git away from me! Yuh're yellow, dat's what.
Force, dat's me! De punch, dat's me every time, see! [The crowd
from church enter from the right, sauntering slowly and
affectedly, their heads held stiffly up, looking neither to right
nor left, talking in toneless, simpering voices. The women are
rouged, calcimined, dyed, overdressed to the nth degree. The men
are in Prince Alberts, high hats, spats, canes, etc. A procession
of gaudy marionettes, yet with something of the relentless horror
of Frankensteins in their detached, mechanical unawareness.]

VOICES--Dear Doctor Caiaphas! He is so sincere! What was the
sermon? I dozed off. About the radicals, my dear--and the false
doctrines that are being preached. We must organize a hundred per
cent American bazaar. And let everyone contribute one one-
hundredth percent of their income tax. What an original idea! We
can devote the proceeds to rehabilitatating the veil of the
temple. But that has been done so many times.

YANK--[Glaring from one to the other of them--with an insulting
snort of scorn.] Huh! Huh! [Without seeming to see him, they make
wide detours to avoid the spot where he stands in the middle of
the sidewalk.]

LONG--[Frightenedly.] Keep yer bloomin' mouth shut, I tells yer.

YANK--[Viciously.] G'wan! Tell it to Sweeney! [He swaggers away
and deliberately lurches into a top-hatted gentleman, then glares
at him pugnaciously.] Say, who d'yuh tink yuh're bumpin'? Tink yuh
own de oith?

GENTLEMAN--[Coldly and affectedly.] I beg your pardon. [He has not
looked at YANK and passes on without a glance, leaving him

LONG--[Rushing up and grabbing YANK's arm.] 'Ere! Come away! This
wasn't what I meant. Yer'll 'ave the bloody coppers down on us.

YANK--[Savagely--giving him a push that sends him sprawling.]

LONG--[Picks himself up--hysterically.] I'll pop orf then. This
ain't what I meant. And whatever 'appens, yer can't blame me. [He
slinks off left.]

YANK--T' hell wit youse! [He approaches a lady--with a vicious
grin and a smirking wink.] Hello, Kiddo. How's every little ting?
Got anyting on for to-night? I know an old boiler down to de docks
we kin crawl into. [The lady stalks by without a look, without a
change of pace. YANK turns to others--insultingly.] Holy smokes,
what a mug! Go hide yuhself before de horses shy at yuh. Gee, pipe
de heinie on dat one! Say, youse, yuh look like de stoin of a
ferryboat. Paint and powder! All dolled up to kill! Yuh look like
stiffs laid out for de boneyard! Aw, g'wan, de lot of youse! Yuh
give me de eye-ache. Yuh don't belong, get me! Look at me, why
don't youse dare? I belong, dat's me! [Pointing to a skyscraper
across the street which is in process of construction--with
bravado.] See dat building goin' up dere? See de steel work?
Steel, dat's me! Youse guys live on it and tink yuh're somep'n.
But I'm IN it, see! I'm de hoistin' engine dat makes it go up! I'm
it--de inside and bottom of it! Sure! I'm steel and steam and
smoke and de rest of it! It moves--speed--twenty-five stories up--
and me at de top and bottom--movin'! Youse simps don't move.
Yuh're on'y dolls I winds up to see 'm spin. Yuh're de garbage,
get me--de leavins--de ashes we dump over de side! Now, whata yuh
gotto say? [But as they seem neither to see nor hear him, he flies
into a fury.] Bums! Pigs! Tarts! Bitches! [He turns in a rage on
the men, bumping viciously into them but not jarring them the
least bit. Rather it is he who recoils after each collision. He
keeps growling.] Git off de oith! G'wan, yuh bum! Look where
yuh're goin,' can't yuh? Git outa here! Fight, why don't yuh? Put
up yer mits! Don't be a dog! Fight or I'll knock yuh dead! [But,
without seeming to see him, they all answer with mechanical
affected politeness:] I beg your pardon. [Then at a cry from one
of the women, they all scurry to the furrier's window.]

THE WOMAN--[Ecstatically, with a gasp of delight.] Monkey fur!
[The whole crowd of men and women chorus after her in the same
tone of affected delight.] Monkey fur!

YANK--[With a jerk of his head back on his shoulders, as if he had
received a punch full in the face--raging.] I see yuh, all in
white! I see yuh, yuh white-faced tart, yuh! Hairy ape, huh? I'll
hairy ape yuh! [He bends down and grips at the street curbing as
if to pluck it out and hurl it. Foiled in this, snarling with
passion, he leaps to the lamp-post on the corner and tries to pull
it up for a club. Just at that moment a bus is heard rumbling up.
A fat, high-hatted, spatted gentleman runs out from the side
street. He calls out plaintively: "Bus! Bus! Stop there!" and runs
full tilt into the bending, straining YANK, who is bowled off his

YANK--[Seeing a fight--with a roar of joy as he springs to his
feet.] At last! Bus, huh? I'll bust yuh! [He lets drive a terrific
swing, his fist landing full on the fat gentleman's face. But the
gentleman stands unmoved as if nothing had happened.]

GENTLEMAN--I beg your pardon. [Then irritably.] You have made me
lose my bus. [He claps his hands and begins to scream:] Officer!
Officer! [Many police whistles shrill out on the instant and a
whole platoon of policemen rush in on YANK from all sides. He
tries to fight but is clubbed to the pavement and fallen upon. The
crowd at the window have not moved or noticed this disturbance.
The clanging gong of the patrol wagon approaches with a clamoring



SCENE--Night of the following day. A row of cells in the prison
on Blackwells Island. The cells extend back diagonally from right
front to left rear. They do not stop, but disappear in the dark
background as if they ran on, numberless, into infinity. One
electric bulb from the low ceiling of the narrow corridor sheds
its light through the heavy steel bars of the cell at the extreme
front and reveals part of the interior. YANK can be seen within,
crouched on the edge of his cot in the attitude of Rodin's "The
Thinker." His face is spotted with black and blue bruises. A
blood-stained bandage is wrapped around his head.

YANK--[Suddenly starting as if awakening from a dream, reaches out
and shakes the bars--aloud to himself, wonderingly.] Steel. Dis is
de Zoo, huh? [A burst of hard, barking laughter comes from the
unseen occupants of the cells, runs back down the tier, and
abruptly ceases.]

VOICES--[Mockingly.] The Zoo? That's a new name for this coop--a
damn good name! Steel, eh? You said a mouthful. This is the old
iron house. Who is that boob talkin'? He's the bloke they brung in
out of his head. The bulls had beat him up fierce.

YANK--[Dully.] I musta been dreamin'. I tought I was in a cage at
de Zoo--but de apes don't talk, do dey?

VOICES--[With mocking laughter.] You're in a cage aw right.

A coop!

A pen!

A sty!

A kennel! [Hard laughter--a pause.]

Say, guy! Who are you? No, never mind lying. What are you?

Yes, tell us your sad story. What's your game?

What did they jug yuh for?

YANK--[Dully.] I was a fireman--stokin' on de liners. [Then with
sudden rage, rattling his cell bars.] I'm a hairy ape, get me? And
I'll bust youse all in de jaw if yuh don't lay off kiddin' me.

VOICES--Huh! You're a hard boiled duck ain't you!

When you spit, it bounces! [Laughter.]

Aw, can it. He's a regular guy. Ain't you?

What did he say he was--a ape?

YANK--[Defiantly.] Sure ting! Ain't dat what youse all are--apes?
[A silence. Then a furious rattling of bars from down the

A VOICE--[Thick with rage.] I'll show yuh who's a ape, yuh bum!

VOICES--Ssshh! Nix!

Can de noise!


You'll have the guard down on us!

YANK--[Scornfully.] De guard? Yuh mean de keeper, don't yuh?
[Angry exclamations from all the cells.]

VOICE--[Placatingly.] Aw, don't pay no attention to him. He's off
his nut from the beatin'-up he got. Say, you guy! We're waitin' to
hear what they landed you for--or ain't yuh tellin'?

YANK--Sure, I'll tell youse. Sure! Why de hell not? On'y--youse
won't get me. Nobody gets me but me, see? I started to tell de
Judge and all he says was: "Toity days to tink it over." Tink it
over! Christ, dat's all I been doin' for weeks! [After a pause.] I
was tryin' to git even wit someone, see?--someone dat done me

VOICES--[Cynically.] De old stuff, I bet. Your goil, huh?

Give yuh the double-cross, huh?

That's them every time!

Did yuh beat up de odder guy?

YANK--[Disgustedly] Aw, yuh're all wrong! Sure dere was a skoit in
it--but not what youse mean, not dat old tripe. Dis was a new kind
of skoit. She was dolled up all in white--in de stokehole. I
tought she was a ghost. Sure. [A pause.]

VOICES--[Whispering.] Gee, he's still nutty.

Let him rave. It's fun listenin'.

YANK--[Unheeding--groping in his thoughts.] Her hands--dey was
skinny and white like dey wasn't real but painted on somep'n. Dere
was a million miles from me to her--twenty-five knots a hour. She
was like some dead ting de cat brung in. Sure, dat's what. She
didn't belong. She belonged in de window of a toy store, or on de
top of a garbage can, see! Sure! [He breaks out angrily.] But
would yuh believe it, she had de noive to do me doit. She lamped
me like she was seein' somep'n broke loose from de menagerie.
Christ, yuh'd oughter seen her eyes! [He rattles the bars of his
cell furiously.] But I'll get back at her yet, you watch! And if I
can't find her I'll take it out on de gang she runs wit. I'm wise
to where dey hangs out now. I'll show her who belongs! I'll show
her who's in de move and who ain't. You watch my smoke!

VOICES--[Serious and joking.] Dat's de talkin'!

Take her for all she's got!

What was this dame, anyway? Who was she, eh?

YANK--I dunno. First cabin stiff. Her old man's a millionaire, dey
says--name of Douglas.

VOICES--Douglas? That's the president of the Steel Trust, I bet.

Sure. I seen his mug in de papers.

He's filthy with dough.

VOICE--Hey, feller, take a tip from me. If you want to get back at
that dame, you better join the Wobblies. You'll get some action

YANK--Wobblies? What de hell's dat?

VOICE--Ain't you ever heard of the I. W. W.?

YANK--Naw. What is it?

VOICE--A gang of blokes--a tough gang. I been readin' about 'em
to-day in the paper. The guard give me the Sunday Times. There's a
long spiel about 'em. It's from a speech made in the Senate by a
guy named Senator Queen. [He is in the cell next to YANK's. There
is a rustling of paper.] Wait'll I see if I got light enough and
I'll read you. Listen. [He reads:] "There is a menace existing in
this country to-day which threatens the vitals of our fair
Republic--as foul a menace against the very life-blood of the
American Eagle as was the foul conspiracy of Cataline against the
eagles of ancient Rome!"

VOICE [Disgustedly.] Aw hell! Tell him to salt de tail of dat

VOICE--[Reading:] "I refer to that devil's brew of rascals,
jailbirds, murderers and cutthroats who libel all honest working
men by calling themselves the Industrial Workers of the World; but
in the light of their nefarious plots, I call them the Industrious
WRECKERS of the World!"

YANK--[With vengeful satisfaction.] Wreckers, dat's de right dope!
Dat belongs! Me for dem!

VOICE--Ssshh! [Reading.] "This fiendish organization is a foul
ulcer on the fair body of our Democracy--"

VOICE--Democracy, hell! Give him the boid, fellers--the
raspberry! [They do.]

VOICE--Ssshh! [Reading:] "Like Cato I say to this senate, the I.
W. W. must be destroyed! For they represent an ever-present dagger
pointed at the heart of the greatest nation the world has ever
known, where all men are born free and equal, with equal
opportunities to all, where the Founding Fathers have guaranteed
to each one happiness, where Truth, Honor, Liberty, Justice, and
the Brotherhood of Man are a religion absorbed with one's mother's
milk, taught at our father's knee, sealed, signed, and stamped
upon in the glorious Constitution of these United States!" [A
perfect storm of hisses, catcalls, boos, and hard laughter.]

VOICES--[Scornfully.] Hurrah for de Fort' of July!

Pass de hat!






ALL--[With abysmal scorn.] Aw, hell!

VOICE--Give that Queen Senator guy the bark! All togedder now--
one--two--tree--[A terrific chorus of barking and yapping.]

GUARD--[From a distance.] Quiet there, youse--or I'll git the
hose. [The noise subsides.]

YANK--[With growling rage.] I'd like to catch dat senator guy
alone for a second. I'd loin him some trute!

VOICE--Ssshh! Here's where he gits down to cases on the Wobblies.
[Reads:] "They plot with fire in one hand and dynamite in the
other. They stop not before murder to gain their ends, nor at the
outraging of defenceless womanhood. They would tear down society,
put the lowest scum in the seats of the mighty, turn Almighty
God's revealed plan for the world topsy-turvy, and make of our
sweet and lovely civilization a shambles, a desolation where man,
God's masterpiece, would soon degenerate back to the ape!"

VOICE--[To YANK.] Hey, you guy. There's your ape stuff again.

YANK--[With a growl of fury.] I got him. So dey blow up tings, do
dey? Dey turn tings round, do dey? Hey, lend me dat paper, will

VOICE--Sure. Give it to him. On'y keep it to yourself, see. We
don't wanter listen to no more of that slop.

VOICE--Here you are. Hide it under your mattress.

YANK--[Reaching out.] Tanks. I can't read much but I kin manage.
[He sits, the paper in the hand at his side, in the attitude of
Rodin's "The Thinker." A pause. Several snores from down the
corridor. Suddenly YANK jumps to his feet with a furious groan as
if some appalling thought had crashed on him--bewilderedly.] Sure--
her old man--president of de Steel Trust--makes half de steel in
de world--steel--where I tought I belonged--drivin' trou--movin'--
in dat--to make HER--and cage me in for her to spit on! Christ
[He shakes the bars of his cell door till the whole tier trembles.
Irritated, protesting exclamations from those awakened or trying
to get to sleep.] He made dis--dis cage! Steel! IT don't belong,
dat's what! Cages, cells, locks, bolts, bars--dat's what it
means!--holdin' me down wit him at de top! But I'll drive trou!
Fire, dat melts it! I'll be fire--under de heap--fire dat never
goes out--hot as hell--breakin' out in de night--[While he has
been saying this last he has shaken his cell door to a clanging
accompaniment. As he comes to the "breakin' out" he seizes one bar
with both hands and, putting his two feet up against the others so
that his position is parallel to the floor like a monkey's, he
gives a great wrench backwards. The bar bends like a licorice
stick under his tremendous strength. Just at this moment the
PRISON GUARD rushes in, dragging a hose behind him.]

GUARD--[Angrily.] I'll loin youse bums to wake me up! [Sees YANK.]
Hello, it's you, huh? Got the D.T.s, hey? Well, I'll cure 'em.
I'll drown your snakes for yuh! [Noticing the bar.] Hell, look at
dat bar bended! On'y a bug is strong enough for dat!

YANK--[Glaring at him.] Or a hairy ape, yuh big yellow bum! Look
out! Here I come! [He grabs another bar.]

GUARD--[Scared now--yelling off left.] Toin de hoose on, Ben!--
full pressure! And call de others--and a strait jacket! [The
curtain is falling. As it hides YANK from view, there is a
splattering smash as the stream of water hits the steel of YANK's



SCENE--Nearly a month later. An I. W. W. local near the
waterfront, showing the interior of a front room on the ground
floor, and the street outside. Moonlight on the narrow street,
buildings massed in black shadow. The interior of the room, which
is general assembly room, office, and reading room, resembles some
dingy settlement boys club. A desk and high stool are in one
corner. A table with papers, stacks of pamphlets, chairs about it,
is at center. The whole is decidedly cheap, banal, commonplace and
unmysterious as a room could well be. The secretary is perched on
the stool making entries in a large ledger. An eye shade casts his
face into shadows. Eight or ten men, longshoremen, iron workers,
and the like, are grouped about the table. Two are playing
checkers. One is writing a letter. Most of them are smoking pipes.
A big signboard is on the wall at the rear, "Industrial Workers of
the World--Local No. 57."

YANK--[Comes down the street outside. He is dressed as in Scene
Five. He moves cautiously, mysteriously. He comes to a point
opposite the door; tiptoes softly up to it, listens, is impressed
by the silence within, knocks carefully, as if he were guessing at
the password to some secret rite. Listens. No answer. Knocks again
a bit louder. No answer. Knocks impatiently, much louder.]

SECRETARY--[Turning around on his stool.] What the devil is that--
someone knocking? [Shouts:] Come in, why don't you? [All the men
in the room look up. YANK opens the door slowly, gingerly, as if
afraid of an ambush. He looks around for secret doors, mystery, is
taken aback by the commonplaceness of the room and the men in it,
thinks he may have gotten in the wrong place, then sees the
signboard on the wall and is reassured.]

YANK--[Blurts out.] Hello.

MEN--[Reservedly.] Hello.

YANK--[More easily.] I tought I'd bumped into de wrong dump.

SECRETARY--[Scrutinizing him carefully.] Maybe you have. Are you a

YANK--Naw, not yet. Dat's what I come for--to join.

SECRETARY--That's easy. What's your job--longshore?

YANK--Naw. Fireman--stoker on de liners.

SECRETARY--[With satisfaction.] Welcome to our city. Glad to know
you people are waking up at last. We haven't got many members in
your line.

YANK--Naw. Dey're all dead to de woild.

SECRETARY--Well, you can help to wake 'em. What's your name? I'll
make out your card.

YANK--[Confused.] Name? Lemme tink.

SECRETARY--[Sharply.] Don't you know your own name?

YANK--Sure; but I been just Yank for so long--Bob, dat's it--Bob

SECRETARY--[Writing.] Robert Smith. [Fills out the rest of card.]
Here you are. Cost you half a dollar.

YANK--Is dat all--four bits? Dat's easy. [Gives the SECRETARY the

SECRETARY--[Throwing it in drawer.] Thanks. Well, make yourself at
home. No introductions needed. There's literature on the table.
Take some of those pamphlets with you to distribute aboard ship.
They may bring results. Sow the seed, only go about it right.
Don't get caught and fired. We got plenty out of work. What we
need is men who can hold their jobs--and work for us at the same

YANK--Sure. [But he still stands, embarrassed and uneasy.]

SECRETARY--[Looking at him--curiously.] What did you knock for?
Think we had a coon in uniform to open doors?

YANK--Naw. I tought it was locked--and dat yuh'd wanter give me
the once-over trou a peep-hole or somep'n to see if I was right.

SECRETARY--[Alert and suspicious but with an easy laugh.] Think we
were running a crap game? That door is never locked. What put that
in your nut?

YANK--[With a knowing grin, convinced that this is all camouflage,
a part of the secrecy.] Dis burg is full of bulls, ain't it?

SECRETARY--[Sharply.] What have the cops got to do with us? We're
breaking no laws.

YANK--[With a knowing wink.] Sure. Youse wouldn't for woilds.
Sure. I'm wise to dat.

SECRETARY--You seem to be wise to a lot of stuff none of us knows

YANK--[With another wink.] Aw, dat's aw right, see. [Then made a
bit resentful by the suspicious glances from all sides.] Aw, can
it! Youse needn't put me trou de toid degree. Can't youse see I
belong? Sure! I'm reg'lar. I'll stick, get me? I'll shoot de woiks
for youse. Dat's why I wanted to join in.

SECRETARY--[Breezily, feeling him out.] That's the right spirit.
Only are you sure you understand what you've joined? It's all
plain and above board; still, some guys get a wrong slant on us.
[Sharply.] What's your notion of the purpose of the I. W. W.?

YANK--Aw, I know all about it.

SECRETARY--[Sarcastically.] Well, give us some of your valuable

YANK--[Cunningly.] I know enough not to speak outa my toin. [Then
resentfully again.] Aw, say! I'm reg'lar. I'm wise to de game. I
know yuh got to watch your step wit a stranger. For all youse
know, I might be a plain-clothes dick, or somep'n, dat's what
yuh're tinkin', huh? Aw, forget it! I belong, see? Ask any guy
down to de docks if I don't.

SECRETARY--Who said you didn't?

YANK--After I'm 'nitiated, I'll show yuh.

SECRETARY--[Astounded.] Initiated? There's no initiation.

YANK--[Disappointed.] Ain't there no password--no grip nor

SECRETARY--What'd you think this is--the Elks--or the Black Hand?

YANK--De Elks, hell! De Black Hand, dey're a lot of yellow
backstickin' Ginees. Naw. Dis is a man's gang, ain't it?

SECRETARY--You said it! That's why we stand on our two feet in the
open. We got no secrets.

YANK--[Surprised but admiringly.] Yuh mean to say yuh always run
wide open--like dis?


YANK--Den yuh sure got your noive wit youse!

SECRETARY--[Sharply.] Just what was it made you want to join us?
Come out with that straight.

YANK--Yuh call me? Well, I got noive, too! Here's my hand. Yuh
wanter blow tings up, don't yuh? Well, dat's me! I belong!

SECRETARY--[With pretended carelessness.] You mean change the
unequal conditions of society by legitimate direct action--or with

YANK--Dynamite! Blow it offen de oith--steel--all de cages--all de
factories, steamers, buildings, jails--de Steel Trust and all dat
makes it go.

SECRETARY--So--that's your idea, eh? And did you have any special
job in that line you wanted to propose to us. [He makes a sign to
the men, who get up cautiously one by one and group behind YANK.]

YANK--[Boldly.] Sure, I'll come out wit it. I'll show youse I'm
one of de gang. Dere's dat millionaire guy, Douglas--

SECRETARY--President of the Steel Trust, you mean? Do you want to
assassinate him?

YANK--Naw, dat don't get yuh nothin'. I mean blow up de factory,
de woiks, where he makes de steel. Dat's what I'm after--to blow
up de steel, knock all de steel in de woild up to de moon. Dat'll
fix tings! [Eagerly, with a touch of bravado.] I'll do it by me
lonesome! I'll show yuh! Tell me where his woiks is, how to git
there, all de dope. Gimme de stuff, de old butter--and watch me do
de rest! Watch de smoke and see it move! I don't give a damn if
dey nab me--long as it's done! I'll soive life for it--and give
'em de laugh! [Half to himself.] And I'll write her a letter and
tell her de hairy ape done it. Dat'll square tings.

SECRETARY--[Stepping away from YANK.] Very interesting. [He gives
a signal. The men, huskies all, throw themselves on YANK and
before he knows it they have his legs and arms pinioned. But he is
too flabbergasted to make a struggle, anyway. They feel him over
for weapons.]

MAN--No gat, no knife. Shall we give him what's what and put the
boots to him?

SECRETARY--No. He isn't worth the trouble we'd get into. He's too
stupid. [He comes closer and laughs mockingly in YANK'S face.] Ho-
ho! By God, this is the biggest joke they've put up on us yet.
Hey, you Joke! Who sent you--Burns or Pinkerton? No, by God,
you're such a bonehead I'll bet you're in the Secret Service!
Well, you dirty spy, you rotten agent provocator, you can go back
and tell whatever skunk is paying you blood-money for betraying
your brothers that he's wasting his coin. You couldn't catch a
cold. And tell him that all he'll ever get on us, or ever has got,
is just his own sneaking plots that he's framed up to put us in
jail. We are what our manifesto says we are, neither more or less--
and we'll give him a copy of that any time he calls. And as for
you--[He glares scornfully at YANK, who is sunk in an oblivious
stupor.] Oh, hell, what's the use of talking? You're a brainless

YANK--[Aroused by the word to fierce but futile struggles.] What's
dat, yuh Sheeny bum, yuh!

SECRETARY--Throw him out, boys. [In spite of his struggles, this
is done with gusto and eclat. Propelled by several parting kicks,
YANK lands sprawling in the middle of the narrow cobbled street.
With a growl he starts to get up and storm the closed door, but
stops bewildered by the confusion in his brain, pathetically
impotent. He sits there, brooding, in as near to the attitude of
Rodin's "Thinker" as he can get in his position.]

YANK--[Bitterly.] So dem boids don't tink I belong, neider. Aw, to
hell wit 'em! Dey're in de wrong pew--de same old bull--soapboxes
and Salvation Army--no guts! Cut out an hour offen de job a day
and make me happy! Gimme a dollar more a day and make me happy!
Tree square a day, and cauliflowers in de front yard--ekal rights--
a woman and kids--a lousey vote--and I'm all fixed for Jesus,
huh? Aw, hell! What does dat get yuh? Dis ting's in your inside,
but it ain't your belly. Feedin' your face--sinkers and coffee--
dat don't touch it. It's way down--at de bottom. Yuh can't grab
it, and yuh can't stop it. It moves, and everyting moves. It stops
and de whole woild stops. Dat's me now--I don't tick, see?--I'm a
busted Ingersoll, dat's what. Steel was me, and I owned de woild.
Now I ain't steel, and de woild owns me. Aw, hell! I can't see--
it's all dark, get me? It's all wrong! [He turns a bitter mocking
face up like an ape gibbering at the moon.] Say, youse up dere,
Man in de Moon, yuh look so wise, gimme de answer, huh? Slip me de
inside dope, de information right from de stable--where do I get
off at, huh?

A POLICEMAN--[Who has come up the street in time to hear this
last--with grim humor.] You'll get off at the station, you boob,
if you don't get up out of that and keep movin'.

YANK--[Looking up at him--with a hard, bitter laugh.] Sure! Lock
me up! Put me in a cage! Dat's de on'y answer yuh know. G'wan,
lock me up!

POLICEMAN--What you been doin'?

YANK--Enuf to gimme life for! I was born, see? Sure, dat's de
charge. Write it in de blotter. I was born, get me!

POLICEMAN--[Jocosely.] God pity your old woman! [Then matter-of-
fact.] But I've no time for kidding. You're soused. I'd run you in
but it's too long a walk to the station. Come on now, get up, or
I'll fan your ears with this club. Beat it now! [He hauls YANK to
his feet.]

YANK--[In a vague mocking tone.] Say, where do I go from here?

POLICEMAN--[Giving him a push--with a grin, indifferently.] Go to



SCENE--Twilight of the next day. The monkey house at the Zoo. One
spot of clear gray light falls on the front of one cage so that
the interior can be seen. The other cages are vague, shrouded in
shadow from which chatterings pitched in a conversational tone can
be heard. On the one cage a sign from which the word "gorilla"
stands out. The gigantic animal himself is seen squatting on his
haunches on a bench in much the same attitude as Rodin's
"Thinker." YANK enters from the left. Immediately a chorus of
angry chattering and screeching breaks out. The gorilla turns his
eyes but makes no sound or move.

YANK--[With a hard, bitter laugh.] Welcome to your city, huh?
Hail, hail, de gang's all here! [At the sound of his voice the
chattering dies away into an attentive silence. YANK walks up to
the gorilla's cage and, leaning over the railing, stares in at its
occupant, who stares back at him, silent and motionless. There is
a pause of dead stillness. Then YANK begins to talk in a friendly
confidential tone, half-mockingly, but with a deep undercurrent of
sympathy.] Say, yuh're some hard-lookin' guy, ain't yuh? I seen
lots of tough nuts dat de gang called gorillas, but yuh're de
foist real one I ever seen. Some chest yuh got, and shoulders, and
dem arms and mits! I bet yuh got a punch in eider fist dat'd knock
'em all silly! [This with genuine admiration. The gorilla, as if
he understood, stands upright, swelling out his chest and pounding
on it with his fist. YANK grins sympathetically.] Sure, I get yuh.
Yuh challenge de whole woild, huh? Yuh got what I was sayin' even
if yuh muffed de woids. [Then bitterness creeping in.] And why
wouldn't yuh get me? Ain't we both members of de same club--de
Hairy Apes? [They stare at each other--a pause--then YANK goes on
slowly and bitterly.] So yuh're what she seen when she looked at
me, de white-faced tart! I was you to her, get me? On'y outa de
cage--broke out--free to moider her, see? Sure! Dat's what she
tought. She wasn't wise dat I was in a cage, too--worser'n yours--
sure--a damn sight--'cause you got some chanct to bust loose--
but me--[He grows confused.] Aw, hell! It's all wrong, ain't it?
[A pause.] I s'pose yuh wanter know what I'm doin' here, huh? I
been warmin' a bench down to de Battery--ever since last night.
Sure. I seen de sun come up. Dat was pretty, too--all red and pink
and green. I was lookin' at de skyscrapers--steel--and all de
ships comin' in, sailin' out, all over de oith--and dey was steel,
too. De sun was warm, dey wasn't no clouds, and dere was a breeze
blowin'. Sure, it was great stuff. I got it aw right--what Paddy
said about dat bein' de right dope--on'y I couldn't get IN it,
see? I couldn't belong in dat. It was over my head. And I kept
tinkin'--and den I beat it up here to see what youse was like. And
I waited till dey was all gone to git yuh alone. Say, how d'yuh
feel sittin' in dat pen all de time, havin' to stand for 'em
comin' and starin' at yuh--de white-faced, skinny tarts and de
boobs what marry 'em--makin' fun of yuh, laughin' at yuh, gittin'
scared of yuh--damn 'em! [He pounds on the rail with his fist. The
gorilla rattles the bars of his cage and snarls. All the other
monkeys set up an angry chattering in the darkness. YANK goes on
excitedly.] Sure! Dat's de way it hits me, too. On'y yuh're lucky,
see? Yuh don't belong wit 'em and yuh know it. But me, I belong
wit 'em--but I don't, see? Dey don't belong wit me, dat's what.
Get me? Tinkin' is hard--[He passes one hand across his forehead
with a painful gesture. The gorilla growls impatiently. YANK goes
on gropingly.] It's dis way, what I'm drivin' at. Youse can sit
and dope dream in de past, green woods, de jungle and de rest of
it. Den yuh belong and dey don't. Den yuh kin laugh at 'em, see?
Yuh're de champ of de woild. But me--I ain't got no past to tink
in, nor nothin' dat's comin', on'y what's now--and dat don't
belong. Sure, you're de best off! Yuh can't tink, can yuh? Yuh
can't talk neider. But I kin make a bluff at talkin' and tinkin'--
a'most git away wit it--a'most!--and dat's where de joker comes
in. [He laughs.] I ain't on oith and I ain't in heaven, get me?
I'm in de middle tryin' to separate 'em, takin' all de woist
punches from bot' of 'em. Maybe dat's what dey call hell, huh? But
you, yuh're at de bottom. You belong! Sure! Yuh're de on'y one in
de woild dat does, yuh lucky stiff! [The gorilla growls proudly.]
And dat's why dey gotter put yuh in a cage, see? [The gorilla
roars angrily.] Sure! Yuh get me. It beats it when you try to tink
it or talk it--it's way down--deep--behind--you 'n' me we feel it.
Sure! Bot' members of dis club! [He laughs--then in a savage
tone.] What de hell! T' hell wit it! A little action, dat's our
meat! Dat belongs! Knock 'em down and keep bustin' 'em till dey
croaks yuh wit a gat--wit steel! Sure! Are yuh game? Dey've looked
at youse, ain't dey--in a cage? Wanter git even? Wanter wind up
like a sport 'stead of croakin' slow in dere? [The gorilla roars
an emphatic affirmative. YANK goes on with a sort of furious
exaltation.] Sure! Yuh're reg'lar! Yuh'll stick to de finish! Me
'n' you, huh?--bot' members of this club! We'll put up one last
star bout dat'll knock 'em offen deir seats! Dey'll have to make
de cages stronger after we're trou! [The gorilla is straining at
his bars, growling, hopping from one foot to the other. YANK takes
a jimmy from under his coat and forces the lock on the cage door.
He throws this open.] Pardon from de governor! Step out and shake
hands! I'll take yuh for a walk down Fif' Avenoo. We'll knock 'em
offen de oith and croak wit de band playin'. Come on, Brother.
[The gorilla scrambles gingerly out of his cage. Goes to YANK and
stands looking at him. YANK keeps his mocking tone--holds out his
hand.] Shake--de secret grip of our order. [Something, the tone of
mockery, perhaps, suddenly enrages the animal. With a spring he
wraps his huge arms around YANK in a murderous hug. There is a
crackling snap of crushed ribs--a gasping cry, still mocking, from
YANK.] Hey, I didn't say, kiss me. [The gorilla lets the crushed
body slip to the floor; stands over it uncertainly, considering;
then picks it up, throws it in the cage, shuts the door, and
shuffles off menacingly into the darkness at left. A great uproar
of frightened chattering and whimpering comes from the other
cages. Then YANK moves, groaning, opening his eyes, and there is
silence. He mutters painfully.] Say--dey oughter match him--wit
Zybszko. He got me, aw right. I'm trou. Even him didn't tink I
belonged. [Then, with sudden passionate despair.] Christ, where do
I get off at? Where do I fit in? [Checking himself as suddenly.]
Aw, what de hell! No squakin', see! No quittin', get me! Croak wit
your boots on! [He grabs hold of the bars of the cage and hauls
himself painfully to his feet--looks around him bewilderedly--
forces a mocking laugh.] In de cage, huh? [In the strident tones
of a circus barker.] Ladies and gents, step forward and take a
slant at de one and only--[His voice weakening]--one and original--
Hairy Ape from de wilds of--[He slips in a heap on the floor and
dies. The monkeys set up a chattering, whimpering wail. And,
perhaps, the Hairy Ape at last belongs.]