NEW POST
SUGGESTED MUSIC TO START

[Chimes ring.]
NANCE: That’s just the clock, don’t mind it . Being a dancer, perhaps you’d like some music to make an entrance? There’s a music – box. I’ll turn it on.
MUSIC BOX
NANCE: Do come in!
PIANO THEME OF CHOPIN (from Mompou variations – the music box continues into the piano version)
NANCE: You’re beautiful as the chauffeur.
JOSIE: That does it! I’m going to call my husband again to pick me up, crazies I won’t sit with! [She dials phone.] —Pat, you come right over and pick me up here, I can’t take no more of this creature I’m sitting with. She’s still acting indecent with her hands in her lap and staring at that naked man’s statue and you come here, this is no place for a clean – living woman. Know how long I sit here? Till midnight, probably later, while the Mother and her friend are out with pick – ups. Now you come right over. Or I’m going to walk out without pay. I left you the address, Fifty – fifth and Park, come quick, before I — You heard me! [She hangs up.]
[The statue becomes the apparition of Vaslav Nijinsky. He advances to the parlor door.]
PIANO VARIATION 1
and or VARIATION 3
NANCE: Oh, how do you do!
JOSIE: How’s who do?
[VASLAV assumes a dancer’s first position with grave concentration.]
JOSIE: Answer me, you disgusting idiot!
[JOSIE shakes Nance. Nance pushes her away rather violently.]
NANCE: You are not allowed to touch me!
VASLAV: You have an unpleasant companion. I understand what that’s like. To be stupid is worse than to be mad, but probably more comfortable to be.
NANCE: Pay no attention to her, she’s employed to sit with me.
VASLAV: I can’t perform if she creates a disturbance.
JOSIE: Here’s your pill.
NANCE: I’ve had one already.
JOSIE: Then go up to bed.
NANCE: Not till midnight. Please return to your chair and go on sewing.
JOSIE: If I was your mum I’d lock you up and throw the key away. [She returns to the chair and her sewing.]
VASLAV: You would like me to dance.
NANCE: Yes, please.
VASLAV: It’s been so long and there isn’t much space. NANCE: But you can leap, I’ve read you spring like a bird. VASLAV: I had great levitation.
[He leaps over a small table. Nance gasps and applauds.]
VASLAV: Don’t applaud ’till I bow.
JOSIE: This makes me sick, I’m going to the bathroom. [She exits.]
VASLAV: The harpie’s out. [He dances for a few minutes.] —The music’s stopped.
NANCE: Shall I start it again or will you? I wish you’d sit by me here and talk.
MUSIC VARIATION 8
VASLAV: I went mad, you know, and when I talk it’s madness.
NANCE: Just sit beside me a while.
VASLAV [on sofa]: Are you a lunatic too?
NANCE: Mother says I’m a child.
VASLAV: But you’re not.
NANCE: No. I’m very different, though.
VASLAV: —Yes, very — different, though.
NANCE: I wish that you would embrace me.
VASLAV: Impossible. You wouldn’t feel it at all, it would be nothing.
NANCE: Well, may I touch you?
VASLAV: Physical touches — dissolve me.
NANCE: They make you —
VASLAV: Disappear, go away.
NANCE: No, no, don’t!
VASLAV: Then no touches between us, just —
NANCE: It’s — unbearable — to just sit here beside you without any contact.
VASLAV: But you know, I’m an apparition.
NANCE: A fantasy?
VASLAV: Something — similar, yes, it’s like a vision, or a shadow or a figure in a dream.
NANCE: — I — don’t dream.
VASLAV [with a sad smile]: You mean you don’t distinguish be-tween waking and sleeping.
NANCE: Just that the room is darker when I sleep.
VASLAV: Otherwise, no difference?
[Nance shakes her head. Pause.]
NANCE: I don’t understand apparitions.
VASLAV: They’re contradictory, paradoxical things: maybe only possible on a stage, in a play written by a madman.
NANCE: I want to touch and be touched.
VASLAV [touching her hand]: This is my touch. Do you feel it?
NANCE: If you say so.
VASLAV: You’ll believe so?
[Nance smiles.]
VASLAV: The licenses of madness are almost unlimited. I know, since I’ve explored them too.
NANCE: You’re — beautiful.
 VASLAV: Well, I created the illusion. Et ça va. That’s how it goes Actually, I was short. Slant – eyed, my hair receded early. My legs were so muscular that my upper torso, while hairless and well – formed, seemed inadequate to them. However, costumes and light and the creations of Bakst and my passion for my art, and, I must admit it, the possessive care that Diaghelev gave me ’till I defected to matrimony and madness, made me appear to have beauty. And I had an arrogant way. Well. The apparition of a dancer leaps without effort, nothing to make him breathless. — You seemed to be dressed for a little girls’ party.
NANCE: Mother prefers me to. [Pause.]
VASLAV: Little frosted cakes: petit fours.
NANCE: Won’t you have one?
VASLAV: Oh, I don’t eat, apparitions can’t, no digestive tract.
NANCE: Well, sit down with me on the sofa again, and —
VASLAV: Embrace you? I thought I’d shown you that apparitions can be seen but not touched and not touch. I understand erotic impulses, was taught them early in life and was a good pupil. But, finally, found them inadequate as my torso to my abnormally muscular legs. To be disembodied is a release from passions. But music haunts me still.
NANCE: Music. Arensky’s “Vals a Deux Pianos”? [She returns to the music box.]
[DK NOTE: Maybe a little is played. He shakes his head no]
VASLAV: You want me to dance again?
NANCE: Please.
MUSIC VARIATION 12 (first part) THE GALOP 
[He dances. She stands ecstatic. He stops and bows.]
VASLAV: Applaud, applaud, shout Bravo and I will take bows.
NANCE [applauding]: Bravo, bravo!
[He takes repeated bows.]
NANCE: Isn’t that enough?
VASLAV: I would take fifteen, twenty, in a storm of flowers.
NANCE: Do you still care about that, I mean does your — apparition?
VASLAV [imperiously]: Hand me those roses! [He indicates flowers in a vase on incidental table.]
NANCE: Oh, but — that mean old woman will notice!
VASLAV: Vite, vite, do as I say, the house is thundering with applause!
[She rushes to hand him the roses; they fall from his hands to the carpet. JOSIE enters from the hall.]
JOSIE: Oh, throwin’ things about, are you! [She kicks viciously at the roses.]
NANCE: I can’t imagine a person kicking roses! Can you imagine anyone kicking roses?
VASLAV [ecstatic]: I don’t imagine, I bow with Karsavina! Now with Pavlova! Now with the corps de ballet and the ovation continues, now Stravinsky joins us, and now— [His face darkens.] That demon Diaghelev. [He swears in Russian and spits.] Chort s nem* — Now Bakst . . . [He takes a final bow.] —Nothing afterward ever really existed! — Madness and death are unbearably lonely . . . [He averts his head in torment.]
NANCE: So are madness and life.
JOSIE [frightened]: Too goddam much! I’ll wait outside for my husband!
[JOSIE exits through the hall. VASLAV returns to the sofa.]
NANCE: She’s gone now, we’re alone. [She touches his face and throat lingeringly.]
VARIATION 10
VASLAV: I’m sorry I can’t respond. — What is your name?
NANCE: My name is Nance.
VASLAV: Enchanté. —Why haven’t you gone to the party? NANCE: I wasn’t invited to one.
VASLAV: You’re dressed as a little girl for a bal masque, for a masquerade party.
NANCE: No. This is how I dress when alone every night.
VASLAV: Hmmm. — If I were still human, I would be — sympathique . . . Please remove your hand. —I suspect that you will have no love in your life outside of your fantasies, because when people go mad, they’re usually, almost always, kept under close custody, and intimacies are forbidden.
NANCE: — There are diamonds of perspiration on your forehead and throat.
VASLAV: You do — imagine — well . . .
NANCE: I feel this blue vein pulsing in your throat and I feel —
[He catches her hand.]
VASLAV: No, no. No more, I’m sorry. I can’t go back that way, not even in your fantasy. It was too much: it burned me up, it interfered with my art and finally blasted my mind. I know how sad it is, to be deprived of gratification of strong natural longings, but there are other things, there’s a lifetime of dreaming before you in this elegant house, or at least till — you’re abandoned.
[She continues to caress him.]
VASLAV: No, no, I said no. —Well, of course if you have to. — I’ll — submit, I was — always passive permissive. — You do know where to touch to thrill the skin — if the skin of apparitions could be thrilled.
[She continues her touches.]
VASLAV: However — If you go on with this, I’ll dissolve. You’ll find your hands are empty, moving in air. —Of course I admit that’s probably not much different from the caresses of those that caressed me and whom I caressed when I lived but there is a difference and that difference is a great one. —You’ve defiled me! I’m not yet entirely free from the memories of my body and the disgust of being exploited as a body when I existed as a great dancer and wanted only that. I told them and wrote in my diary that I am spiritual food.
NANCE: I know your diary. I have read that, too.
VASLAV: Begun in St. Moritz, a place of retreat from war.
NANCE: You devoted yourself to music and choreography and then your words to the world.
VASLAV: I informed the world that I am spiritual food. People go to the church in order to pray and there they are made to drink wine and are told that it is the blood of Christ. The blood of Christ does not intoxicate — on the contrary, it makes people sober. Catholics do not drink wine, but make use of it in a symbolic way. They swallow white wafers, thinking that they swallow the blood and flesh of Our Lord. I am the spirit in the flesh and flesh in the spirit.
NANCE: Yes, remember the flesh, it cries to be remembered. VASLAV: In becoming an apparition, I rise, I rise, above flesh!
NANCE: Please, not completely! Not above my — desire!
VASLAV: Don’t play Diaghelev with me. [He retreats.] He dyes his hair in order to look young. Diaghelev’s hair is white. He buys black dyes and rubs them in. I have seen this dye on Diaghelev’s cushions. His pillowcase is blackened by it. I hate dirty linen and therefore was disgusted by this sight.
NANCE: Not with me, please not disgusted with me!
VASLAV: Then control your hands, control your ravenous lips!
NANCE: I know my age is disguised by inappropriate clothes. Please be tolerant of my hungry flesh, my — my ravenous lips, they’re human!
VASLAV: Accept me as I am.
NANCE: You are?
VASLAV: I am the Lord. I am Man. I am Christ.
NANCE: I know, I read, I remember, but for tonight — for me? Be man?
VASLAV: Woman disguised as child, false child, lonely woman. NANCE: Loneliest woman, prisoner of child’s clothes!
VASLAV: I consent no longer to the service of lechery, at the height of my ascent into purity as an artist. You know my words by heart but you don’t understand me. No. You’re a lunatic in their eyes, so was I. Led about, watched over, treated like a pet monkey on a chain!
NANCE: But there was Romala. You had flesh for her, were man, not apparition!
VASLAV: In her I bred Kyra, direct descendant of Christ. A difference, no?
NANCE: Let me be Romala for you; breed for you a descendant of Christ!
VASLAV: Watch what your hands reach for! I don’t live there except in your madness and fever. Stop it! — I am Spirit! [He retreats from her hands.] Or I will leave you and not come back. You can stare your eyes out at my photographs in a book and I’ll not enter the room . . .
NANCE [extending her hand again]: Please, it can’t be wrong to —
VASLAV: Not just wrong but impossible. You must learn to accept. IT — WILL — NEVER — BE — REAL! You can only — dream!
NANCE: How long can you stay if I — don’t touch.
VASLAV: Till you go up to bed or till the moon – vines close.
NANCE: But touches I just imagine, if they satisfy me, if they seem so real, why can’t I, why won’t you permit it?
VASLAV: I can’t bear to be reminded of — being used for — don’t make me repeat all that.
NANCE: But it’s agony for me.
VASLAV: When Diaghelev took Massine and out of spite I married on that long Pacific voyage this woman who used me for ambition, to advance herself from the chorus to first ballerina, that was agony, too.
NANCE: But yours is past. Mine’s now!
[There is the sound of a door opening offstage.]
VASLAV: Someone is coming in.
NANCE: It’s Mummy and her friend.
A BREAK FOR THE SCENE OF THE MOTHER AND AIDA RETURNING.
AFTER THE MOTHER AND AIDA RETURN AND LEAVE
[The light returns to VASLAV.]EPILOG (second part of VARIATION 12)
VASLAV: What strange women, quite shameless.
NANCE: Why don’t they take me with them and their young men?
VASLAV: Be satisfied with your fantasies.
NANCE: They’re not always as lovely as you are. [She continues caressing him.]
VASLAV: I wish you would sublimate these desires. What you caress is totally unresponsive, it’s all your fancy, rien de plus.
NANCE: Oh, but it’s so — real to me! [She drops to her knees before him.]
VASLAV: Stop it, I said stop, or I’ll leave at once as I warned you before!
 NANCE: No, no please!
MOTHER [from offstage]: Nance, was that you screaming?
NANCE: — No, Mummy — practicing — classic drama.
VASLAV: If you continue, I’ll disappear again, and this time completely and not appear ever again.
NANCE: Oh, I’ll — kill myself if you leave before morning.
VASLAV: Then don’t go on with imaginary love – making. NANCE: To me it’s real.
VASLAV: To me it’s a degrading memento of what I can’t accept now. [He springs up from the sofa.] God loves the artist.
NANCE: I know, but —
VASLAV: God loves and protects the artist, even your fantasies of one. Bonsoir, je pars!
[He rushes into the dark hall. Nance screams despairingly. Her Mother and Mrs. Aid rush into the hall.]
NANCE: WHEN WILL YOU COME BACK? WHEN? WHEN? [She collides with the antique sculpture in the dim hall.]
MOTHER: Nance! What are you — ? Child, what is it now? She’s cut her forehead, it’s bleeding.
MRS. AID: Yes, I see. She tried to embrace the statue in the hall, collided with it violently. And look! There’s blood on the fig – leaf.
MOTHER: Gracious — yes!
MRS. AID: Obscene, salacious, face it, you’re harboring a mon-ster in your house, a travesty of a child in a ruffled white skirt and pink sash and Dotty Dimple curls!

 

NOTES

CHARACTERS:
NANCE
THE MOTHER
MRS. AID (the mother’s friend)
MRS. JOSIE FLATTERY (the babysitter)
AN APPARITION OF VASLAV NIJINSKY

DESCRIPTION OF THE SCENERY from A Cavalier for Milady:

A parlor in an old house in a smart section of Manhat­tan. The furnishings are Victorian – chic, an interior that could be created by Johnny Nicholson.

 
https://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/09/dining/johnny-nicholson-whose-manhattan-cafe-attracted-new-bohemian-crowd-dies-at-99.html

“a spirit of mad eclecticism, combining trash-bin chic with florid romanticism, a look he once described as “fin de siècle Caribbean of Cuba style.”
 
09nicholson-obit-3-superJumbo.jpg

the photo is by his partner, Karl Bissinger “who served the cafe as an early business partner and a sometimes gardener and host, made a living curating social tableaus for magazines like Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar.”(John T. Edge, “Debts of Pleasure”, Oxford American, Issue 82, September 16, 2013;)

From Annette Saddik’s (the editor) notes on the play:
 In the Harvard Theatre Collection there is a draft of the play titled “Magic is the Habit of Our Existence.” 

DK Notes: “Magic is the habit of our existence” is a line of dialog in Williams’ play Out Cry (a 1971ish rewrite of the 1966 version of his The Two-Character Play.).  In  a 1971 interview Williams said of the first version of The Two-Character Play, “I wrote it when I was approaching a mental breakdown and rewrote it after my alleged recovery. I was thoroughly freaked out.”

 

From Annette Saddik’s notes:
Dating the action of the play:

This play mentions the television show Cannon, starring William Conrad, which was a crime drama series that aired Tuesday nights on CBS from 9:30 – 10:30 and ran from Sept 14, 1971 to March 3, 1976.
ACTING STYLE:
Tennessee Williams is thinking of Spectre de la Rose, of course. I’m thinking of the hands in this video
(Nikolay Tsiskaridze’s hands, but also the acting and arm gestures of Zhanna Ayupova- dig the bonnet!) All of this suggests an acting style to me for the dancers (and actors).

The Ladies as Cinderella’ Stepsisters

and longer:

— check out 1:30 to 3:30 the ladies dancing with their cavaliers

*by the way — I saw this — I had a big crush on Anthony Dowell….
NOTE ON NIJINSKY
Nijinsky, at the time that Williams is writing and thinking about “Cavalier for Milady” is part of a pantheon of great artists whose lives fascinated Williams, all of whom had cracked up.  These include F. Scot Fitzgerald, Zelda, too, Van Gogh and Jackson Pollock.  In fictionalized form, a little earlier: the great ladies of “Sweet Bird of Youth” and “The Milktrain Doesn’t Stop Here Anymore.”
This echoes his consideration of his own career (and forced asylum in the “Friggins Division of Barnacle Hospital in the city of Saint Pollution,” as he puts it in the poem “What’s Next on the Agenda, Mr. Williams?”
The split between the earlier acclaimed “dancing spirit” which had fled the aging body is dramatized in Williams’ “Clothes for a Summer Night” (with its ballet imagery connected to Zelda), in Williams’ “Day on Which a Man Dies” (with its Gutai performance art), and is a part of Williams mythic images as far back as “The Parade” in 1940 when the older (29!) writer is watching the younger (19) dancer identified with Nijinsky with an understanding that he, the 29 year old writer, will have a longer shelf life (“Something Cloudy, Something Clear” articulates the balance of this understanding as Williams grew older).
My point is that the Nijinsky of the play is not the Nijinsky of history, or the diaries as we know them now, but the Nijinsky of Williams’ understanding and projections, and Nijinsky‘s diary as published and shaped by Romola. She writes in her introduction to her version of the diaries:  ” He could not escape, with his incorporeal, sensitive nature, the fate of all great humanitarians — to be sacrificed.”
This kind of twaddle echoes in Suddenly Last Summer, etc, but I think Williams is sensitive enough to the manipulation of his own image (by himself and others) to try to get to the “spirit” of Nijinsky freed from the facade of the diaries.
Nance reaching out to embrace, or just touch, Nijinsky is not just lust, but the desire to connect to the dancing spirit of past artistry, as Williams puts it in the Jackson Pollock-inspired painter of “The Day on Which a Man Dies”:

MAN: Where are they, where did they go, the images, the visions?

[A Stage Assistant opens the panel again to reveal an abstract design ofbirds in flight.]

MAN: —They say if you wait for them, they’ll come back. – Sometime, by something or someone, something was broken in me and to repair the break I used a-what? -imitation of–what? -a frantically and fiercely aggressive imitation of a pride I could only feel under liquor and drugs, and out of this I -created, attempted to-create.

MUSIC NOTE:

His dance to the music box : Music. Arensky’s “Vals a Deux Pianos”?[She returns to the music box.] Vaslav: You want me to dance again? Nance: Please.[He dances…
[DK MUSIC NOTE: Maybe maybe, from the beginning of the curtain rise, the two minute overture to Spectre de la Rose* is playing.
–and the jump of Nijinsky into the room in the music, but not in the onstage action is when the p.o.v. moves to Nance at
NANCE [clasping her hands ecstatically]: Oh, VASLAV!]
NYC SPECIFICS
“And today I had a lunch catered by Chanticleer under the drier at Mme. Rubenstein’s.”
Helena Rubenstein’s salon was at 715 Fifth (between 55th and 56th)
“Le Chantelcair” — if that’s what she means was 18 East 49th (just off Fifth

TEXT SPECIFICS

Scene: A parlor in an old house in a smart section of Manhat­tan. The furnishings are Victorian – chic, an interior that could be created by Johnny Nicholson. On a little period sofa in a three-windowed bay is seated Nance, a young woman dressed a child going to a party, the dress corresponding in period to the decor. The actress should be between twenty-five and thirty.

At rise Nance holds an open book on her lap [Spectre of the Rose echo in pose] the book is Lincoln Kirstein’s shiny gold-covered Nijinsky Dancing, published in 1974

and is staring dreamily at a dim arched doorway opposite her.
What appears to be a piece of life – size statuary, a Greek Apollo with fig leaf, is dimly visible through the doorway.
DK NOTE: Apollo is the role of Serge Lifar, who replaced Nijinsky as the Ballet Russes male beauty. The fig leaf is from Nijinsky’s faun.

https://www.lanottemag.com/post/apollo-from-serge-lifar-to-nowadays

MOTHER: And today I had a lunch catered by Chanticleer under the drier at Mme. Rubenstein’s. Smoked brook trout. Salad Niçoise. Very low calorie lunch but — mm — delicious!

[Mrs. Aid has rushed to the dim pier-glass in the parlor.]

NOTE: a large mirror, used originally to fill wall space between windows. A pier glass or trumeau mirror is a mirror which is placed on a pier, i.e. a wall between two windows supporting an upper structure. It is therefore generally of a long and tall shape to fit the space. It may be as a hanging mirror or as mirrored glass affixed flush to the pier, in which case it is sometimes of the same shape and design as the windows themselves. This was a common decorating feature in the reception rooms of classical 18th-century houses. A console table typically stood below the pier glass.

MRS. AID: Yes, these lunches at beauty salons are catching on at Elizabeth Arden’s too. I had a cheese souffle to end all cheese souffles there today.
DK NOTE: [they are looking at themselves to see if lunch made them gain weight]

MOTHER: Bad as that? [DK NOTE: reference to something related to Mrs. Aid and her figure] [She calls out.] [DK NOTE: having heard/ sensed the entrance of someone? No doorman =no doorman]
Come in please, Miss JOSIE.

[A stocky, fiftyish-looking woman enters glumly.] DK NOTE: Could easily be a black woman (which would bring out resonance to her insistence on what she is called).

MOTHER: Heavens, don’t glower like that! —This is my child. Nance, dear, this is Miss JOSIE.
JOSIE: The name is Missus. Flattery.
MRS. AID: Flattery will get her on the wrong side of the Queensborough Bridge. [She pirouettes flirtatiously before herself in the pier-glass.] JOSIE: I think you better give me the cab fare to and from. There’s something not natural here.
MOTHER: Now, Miss JOSIE.
JOSIE: I told you Missus Flattery is my name.
MOTHER: The child always calls her sitters Miss Something or other.
JOSIE: She better not call me Miss, I’m a married grandmother.

[DK NOTE: Maybe maybe, from the beginning of the curtain rise, the two minute overture to Spectre de la Rose* is playing.
–and the jump of Nijinsky into the room in the music, but not in the onstage action is when the p.o.v. moves to Nance at
NANCE [clasping her hands ecstatically]: Oh, VASLAV!]

*Hector Berlioz’s orchestration of Carl Maria von Weber’s Aufforderung zum Tanz as L’Invitation à la Valse

More Lifar (with Josephine Baker!):

https://vintageblackglamour.tumblr.com/post/54371677636/the-ebony-venus-and-the-bronze-apollo

MRS. AID: … It was at the Pavillon. We’d wined and dined them and you said, “Dear, would you mind paying the check?”, slipping a couple of hundred to him under the table. He smiled with delight, and said, “Why, yes, of course, but excuse me a mo­ment while I drop by the boys’ room.” Well, he dropped by it forever, not a sign of him since. [Direct address to the audience, a la Tom in Glass Menagerie]
MOTHER: Aida, shall we?
MRS. AID: Shall we what?
MOTHER: Dispense with reminiscence and get on the go?
[The cab honks.]

Le Pavillon (pa-vee-YAWN) was a New York City restaurant that defined French food in the United States from 1941 to 1966. [DK note: and closed in 1971. The speech is a reminiscence.]
The restaurant started as the Le Restaurant du Pavillon de France at the 1939 New York World’s Fair run by Henri Soulé (1904–1966). The restaurant formally opened on October 15, 1941, at 5 East 55th Street on Fifth Avenue, across the street from the St. Regis Hotel. In 1957, Le Pavillon moved to the Ritz Tower on Park Avenue and 57th Street. Soulé died in 1966, and Le Pavillon closed in 1971.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Le_Pavillon_(Henri_Soulé_restaurant)

Brigid Berlin, daughter of Honey Berlin, wife of the chairman of the Hearst Corporation and a friend of the Duchess’s, told me, “Yes, they had lunch every day at Pavillon and the Colony, and got all dressed up and went to the hairdresser before going to lunch. But they didn’t eat. They pushed their food around their plates. They were on Dexedrine. My mother used to have four asparagus—that was it.”
https://www.vanityfair.com/style/2012/02/ladies-who-lunched-201202https://thenewyorkcityrestaurantarchive.wordpress.com/2018/01/05/le-pavillon/https://timesmachine.nytimes.com/timesmachine/1973/03/28/97122202.html?pageNumber=49
MRS. AID: If I were you, I’d remove some of those rings.
MOTHER: This escort service assured me the young men had excellent character references.
MRS. AID: I hope that’s not all they’ve got.
NANCE [to the statue in the hall]: They’re leaving: then you can enter!
MOTHER: Nighty – night, Nance, darling, be a good little girl. Oh, my gloves and purse.
MRS. AID: In opposite importance. [Direct address to the audience]
MOTHER: Au contraire! En avant!
[They go out.]

Scene: …. On a little period sofa in a three-windowed bay is seated Nance, a young woman dressed a child going to a party, the dress corresponding in period to the decor. The actress should be between twenty-five and thirty.

At rise Nance holds an open book on her lap [Spectre of the Rose echo]   
and is staring dreamily at a dim arched doorway opposite her.
What appears to be a piece of life – size statuary, a Greek Apollo with fig leaf, is dimly visible through the doorway.

[DK NOTE: have her down center, looking at the audience as if the Apollo was out there.]
{DK NOTE: is the pediment of the bay window like a little stage? The windows and the curtains like a small proscenium?]

JOSIE: —What’re you lookin’ at, Miss?
NANCE: The moon-vines are open.

[and later:

VASLAV: Watch what your hands reach for! I don’t live there ex­cept in your madness and fever. Stop it! — I am Spirit! [He retreats from her hands.] Or I will leave you and not come back. You can stare your eyes out at my photographs in a book and I’ll not enter the room . . .
NANCE [extending her hand again]: Please, it can’t be wrong to —
VASLAV: Not just wrong but impossible. You must learn to ac­cept. IT — WILL — NEVER — BE — REAL! You can only — dream!
NANCE: How long can you stay if I — don’t touch.
VASLAV: Till you go up to bed or till the moon-vines close.

From Williams’ KIRCHE, KÜCHE, KINDER :
MAN: As the sun begins to fade over SoHo, the giant daisy of day is mysteriously retracted, yes, it disappears through that window by which it entered and is shortly replaced by a fragrant night-blooming vine . . . Now this transparent wall which I face, the wall which is called, in theater, the fourth wall — is white, plain white, unadulterated, yes, unbesmirched by whatever good – natured vulgarities may occur in the course of this, uh — performance. It represents, you see, the basic innocence of nature — not visible and therefore — invisible . . . SoHo? SoHo . . you see, the basic innocence of nature — not visible and therefore — invisible . . . SoHo? SoHo . .

MAN: The daisy of daytime, Miss Rose, has now completely folded — like many a good play in Boston . . . The night-blooming vine is now appearing in the daytime daisy’s place. So time’s passing’s intruding even here, walled off from things external. But time is not a thing that can be walled off as external. It is within all places and organisms as well, be they of the animal or vegetable kingdom . . . 

[Over the following lines, a night-blooming vine slowly uncoils from where the daisy of daytime appeared and vanished.] 

MAN: The night-blooming vine trails delicately down the wall from the window.

MAN [facing the chair front]: Aye, there’s sorrow in a man’s life but there’s much of joy, too . . . Interpretation of experience never fails to discover elements of the beautiful as one discovers bits of a broken bottle catching sunlight in an otherwise sordid and ugly heap of rubbish. I do not deny that most of experience is a heap of rubbish, but I affirm, as I have always affirmed, there is somewhere hidden in this sordid heap of rubbish the translucent and hence lovely fragment of broken glass refracting the pure light of heaven as a mirror held to the eyes of Our Lady Immaculate. I have seen it with reverence and wonder in the eyes of the mad, innocent beings too fondly touched by the moon . . . 

FURNITURE AND PROPS:

MOTHER:  the little Regency chairs, they’re delicate antiques, you wouldn’t be comfortable in them and they’d collapse, so compose yourself on the big leather chair by the table. [DK NOTE: Regency Furniture Style (1800 – 1837) Regency furniture tended to have flat surfaces without carvings or contoured lines with delicately painted and/or veneered wood, metal inlay, and classicizing motifs like rosettes, lion masks, and metal paw feet.]

MOTHER: I see you’ve brought your sewing. [DK NOTE: could be wrong, could be crochet or knitting]

NANCE: Please return to your chair [DK NOTE: not the Regency chair, but one near the phone]

VASLAV [on sofa]: Are you a lunatic too?

MOTHER: soft drinks in the cooler of the little bar over there, there’s ice in the silver bucket.
[DK NOTE: perhaps the drinks etc., are never seen]

a valium tablet from this little pill-box.

[He leaps over a small table] [DK NOTE: different from the table by the phone?]

NANCE: The phone is on the table, right beside you, behind the jar of peppermint stick candy.

the book of photographs

[He indicates flow­ers in a vase on incidental table.] [DK NOTE: third table?]

[She rushes to hand him the roses; they fall from his hands to the carpet. 

They admire themselves in the mirror.] [DK NOTE: the pier-glass]

I’ll — pay — extra! [Snatches her mother’s evening-bag from the table.] [She turns about excitedly, snatches a candle from the candelabra on the table and rushes out to the entrance, which be comes visible as the interior is dimmed. Nance is lighted with her lighted candle and evening-bag.]

[DK NOTE: offstage garden/ upstairs bedroom] 

CONFIDENCES TO THE AUDIENCE

VASLAV: Well, I created the illusion. Et ça va. [That’s how it goes] [DK NOTE: DIRECT ADDRESS:] Actually, I was short. Slant – eyed, my hair receded early. My legs were so muscular that my upper torso, while hairless and well – formed, seemed inad­equate to them. However, costumes and light and the creations of Bakst and my passion for my art, and, I must admit it, the posses­sive care that Diaghelev gave me ’till I defected to matrimony and madness, made me appear to have beauty. And I had an arrogant way. Well. The apparition of a dancer leaps without effort, noth­ing to make him breathless. — You seemed to be dressed for a little girls’ party.

and

[DK NOTE: DIRECT ADDRESS:]I understand erotic impulses, was taught them early in life and was a good pupil. But, finally, found them inadequate as my torso to my abnormally mus­cular legs. To be disembodied is a release from passions. But music haunts me still.

 

POEM

The Paper Lantern

My sister was quicker at everything than I.
At five she could say the multiplication tables with barely a pause for breath,
while I was employed
with frames of colored beads in Kindy Garden.

At eight she could play
Idillio and The Scarf Dance
while I was chopping at scales and exercises.

At fifteen my sister
No longer waited
Impatiently at the White Star Pharmacy corner but plunged headlong into the discovery, Love!

Then vanished completely —

for love’s explosion, defined as early madness,

consumingly shone in her transparent heart for a
season and burned it out, a tissue-paper lantern!
—        torn from a string!
—        tumbled across a pavilion!
flickering three times, almost seeming to cry …

My sister was quicker at everything than I.

IMAGES OF NANCE:
http://davidkaplandirector.com/spectre-images-nance/

 

DANCE OPPORTUNITY

[DK NOTE – Aida dancing at the mirror  – body extensions large enough to be seen from the back / Mother seen from front wanting to dance / Mother dancing with Aida

MOTHER: I suspect that she’ll call you nothing at all unless you force her to. force her to. She seems not to notice your presence and maybe that’s just as well. Now do get settled. Nance? Nance?
NANCE [impatiently]: Yes, Mummy?
MOTHER: This is your sitter tonight. She’ll sit with you ’till Mummy returns from her social engagement. [To JOSIE.] If we’re out till midnight, tell the child it’s bedtime. The child’s nursery is the second room to the right in the upstairs hall.
JOSIE: —How old is this “child”?
MOTHER: We don’t discuss that in her presence.
JOSIE: I don’t sit with mental patients.
MOTHER: Nance will give you absolutely no trouble.
JOSIE: I sit with infants and I sit with small children but not with nothing morbid, nothing unnatural, no.
MRS. AID [at the mirror, gaily]: How limiting. [Aida dancing at the mirror]
MOTHER: Look at the child.
JOSIE: I see her, that’s enough. I waited twenty minutes outside the door. My fee is five an hour so with cab fare from Queens and back —
MRS. AID: We have escorts waiting! This is intolerable! [DK NOTE – singsong rhythm of the words, dancing at the mirror.]

MOTHER: Mrs. Flattery, please don’t invent complications. Nance has the breeding and manners ofa sweet little girl well-brought – up. Now my friend is right. We have gentlemen waiting for us, and so we must go.

NANCE [clasping her hands ecstatically]: Oh, VASLAV! [ something changes here – END OF MUSIC] 

JOSIE: Who’d she speak to, why’s she sitting like that with her eyes bugging out? [Josie has come in front enough to see Nance’s face, or Nance has turned around]
MOTHER: Because you’ve disturbed her. The child is sensitive, she’s led a very sheltered life. Please don’t disrupt it at a single sitting. Now everything’s at your disposal but the little Regency chairs,
[DK NOTE – maybe moving the knitting off the Regency chairs]they’re delicate antiques, you wouldn’t be comfortable in them and they’d collapse, so compose yourself on the big leather chair by the table. You’ll find soft drinks in the cooler of the little bar over there, there’s ice in the silver bucket. If you prefer beer, there’s beer. I see you’ve brought your sewing, so just settle down and sew, and if Nance appears restless, give her a valium tablet from this little pill-box.
JOSIE: Oh, drugs, is it?

MOTHER: Heavens, no, a prescription medication. She likes a card – game sometimes. And is quite good at rummy or double – solitaire or even Black – jack. Of course if she wants to go out, di­vert her from the idea, oh, and she hates TV unless it’s something artistic on the educational network.
JOSIE: I always watch Cannon, Cannon is on tonight.
MOTHER: The child detests such unrefined things on the tube, you mustn’t expose her to them.
JOSIE: I never been on a job of this type in my life.
MRS. AID: She’s inventing problems to over – charge you.
MOTHER: That I know. Josie, you can see she’s reading a book, not restless and won’t be restless unless you’re unpleasant. We’ve never had trouble with sitters that weren’t unpleasant. Now just enjoy a fewhours in charming surroundings including the child.

JOSIE: She ain’t readin’ no book, she’s starin’ at a naked man’s statue in the hall there. [DK NOTE – how is this reconciled with looking at the audience?.]

MRS. AID: This is a woman with a dirty mind.[Aida dancing at the mirror, back to us, the mother joining her]
MOTHER: Tais – toi. Je peux faire la paix. Tu peux appeler un taxi.
JOSIE: Talkin’ in some secret foreign langwidge, something secret?
MRS. AID: Oh, mon Dieu! Les hommes attendent: dépêche – toi!
MOTHER: Miss, excuse me, Mrs. Slattery? Is it?
MRS. AID: Call her Madam and kiss her goddam ass, we’ve got to go.

JOSIE: Flattery and no madam.
MOTHER: The child looks into space when she’s meditating.

NANCE [behind her hand]: Wait, wait, don’t go!

JOSIE: Who’s she tellin’ to wait? The naked man’s statue? She’s staring direckly at it.
MOTHER: What a disgusting suggestion! I think you had better not talk to the child if you have such depraved ideas. If we had time, I’d engage another sitter . . .
JOSIE: You wan’ me to go, I’ll be happy to go. I wasn’t told that I was engaged to sit with a grown woman disguised as a little girl. I noticed at once she wasn’t readin’ no book but was starin’ at that naked man’s statue in the hall and her hand is — look at her fingers, she’s —

[Mrs. Aid chuckles while preening at the pier-glass.] MOTHER: You are going too far. Sit down and stop express­ing these disgusting and ignorant ideas. Classic statues are called nude, not naked. And it’s wearing a fig leaf.
JOSIE: If they’re naked I call ’em naked and I expect a special price for a special job like this one.

MRS. AID [turning from mirror impatiently]: Oh, will you stop haggling with that biddy, we’re going to be late at the Plaza and find ourselves without escorts.

MOTHER: I was waiting for you to stop admiring yourself in the mirror, dear. Are you satisfied with your appearance now?
MRS. AID: Quite!  [DK NOTE: FINALLY TURNING AROUND SO WE SEE HER FACE]

 

THE VAUDEVILLE ACT


(worked directly to the audience — see the Dueling Bankheads. Can they get in front of Nance? Does Nance crouch low?

MOTHER: Now, Aida, on this occasion.
MRS. AID: Which?
MOTHER: Our adventure tonight.
MRS. AID: Ah?
MOTHER: Don’t be so aggressive. Permit the young man to make the first advances.
MRS. AID [realistically]: What if he doesn’t?
MOTHER: He will if you don’t grab at him practically on sight.
MRS. AID: You plan a date like an old general does a military campaign.
MOTHER: Yes, wisely and well.
MRS. AID: My advice to you is don’t pay in advance.
MOTHER: I wouldn’t dream of it.
MRS. AID: You wouldn’t dream of it but you did it, I haven’t forgotten if you have.

[Monologue to the audience, a la Tom in Glass Menagerie]

It was at the Pavillon. (pah vee YAWN) We’d wined and dined them and you said, “Dear, would you mind paying the check?”, slipping a couple of hundred to him under the table. He smiled with delight, and said, “Why, yes, of course, but excuse me a mo­ment while I drop by the boys’ room.” Well, he dropped by it forever, not a sign of him since.

MOTHER: Aida, shall we?
MRS. AID: Shall we what? [disturbed at being interrupted with her reverie, and interrupted with the audience]
MOTHER: Dispense with reminiscence and get on the go?

[The cab honks.]

MRS. AID: If I were you, I’d remove some of those rings. [what does the Mother do? rings/gloves?]
MOTHER: This escort service assured me the young men had excellent character references.
MRS. AID: I hope that’s not all they’ve got.

NANCE [to the statue in the hall]: They’re leaving: then you can enter!
MOTHER: Nighty – night, Nance, darling, be a good little girl. Oh, my gloves and purse. [what does the Mother do? rings/gloves?]
MRS. AID: In opposite importance.
MOTHER: Au contraire! En avant!

[They go out. JOSIE stares suspiciously at Nance.]

THE DUELING BANKHEADS

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DmFxOKb_c SEHEADS

 

BEHAVIOR CONTRARY TO THE DESCRIPTIONS:

DK NOTE: “She’s still acting indecent with her hands in her lap and staring at that naked man’s statue and you come here” — the audience does not see this, there is a split between what is described and what is going on — as if we were seeing what Nance imagines, or Nance’s disassociation from what other people apprehend. “The window is behind you” is perhaps another.

The music to entice Nijinsky into the room plays on a music box:

DK NOTE: THE FORM OF THE MOTHER & AIDA IS NOT NECESSARILY THE SAME AS JOSIE or NANCE & VASLAV
Juan Gris: Pot of geraniums, 1915

INVERTED ROLES DANCE

[JOSIE exits through the hall. VASLAV returns to the sofa.] [DK NOTE: a la Spectre, he is on the couch passive, extended, she is the aggressor with the fluttering hands]

NANCE: She’s gone now, we’re alone. [She touches his face and throat lingeringly.]

VASLAV: I’m sorry I can’t respond. — What is your name? [DK NOTE: a la Spectre, he is on the couch passive, mouth not moving]

NANCE: My name is Nance.

VASLAV: Enchanté. —Why haven’t you gone to the party?

NANCE: I wasn’t invited to one.

VASLAV: You’re dressed as a little girl for a bal masque, for a masquerade party.

NANCE: No. This is how I dress when alone every night.

VASLAV: Hmmm. — If I were still human, I would be — sympathique . . . Please remove your hand. —I suspect that you will have no love in your life outside of your fantasies, because when people go mad, they’re usually, almost always, kept under close custody, and intimacies are forbidden.

NANCE: — There are diamonds of perspiration on your forehead and throat.

VASLAV: You do — imagine — well . . .

NANCE: I feel this blue vein pulsing in your throat and I feel —

[He catches her hand.] [DK NOTE: a la Spectre somnambulistic] 

VASLAV: No, no. No more, I’m sorry. I can’t go back that way, not even in your fantasy. It was too much: it burned me up, it interfered with my art and finally blasted my mind. I know how sad it is, to be deprived of gratification of strong natural longings, but there are other things, there’s a lifetime of dreaming before you in this elegant house, or at least till — you’re abandoned.

[She continues to caress him.]

VASLAV: No, no, I said no. —Well, of course if you have to. — I’ll — submit, I was — always passive permissive. — You do know where to touch to thrill the skin — if the skin of apparitions could be thrilled.

[She continues her touches.]

VASLAV: However — If you go on with this, I’ll dissolve. You’ll find your hands are empty, moving in air. —Of course I admit that’s probably not much different from the caresses of those that caressed me and whom I caressed when I lived but there is a difference and that difference is a great one. —You’ve defiled me! I’m not yet entirely free from the memories of my body and the disgust of being exploited as a body when I existed as a great dancer and wanted only that. I told them and wrote in my diary that I am spiritual food.

NANCE: I know your diary. I have read that, too.

VASLAV: Begun in St. Moritz, a place of retreat from war.

NANCE: You devoted yourself to music and choreography and then your words to the world.

VASLAV: I informed the world that I am spiritual food. People go to the church in order to pray and there they are made to drink wine and are told that it is the blood of Christ. The blood of Christ does not intoxicate — on the contrary, it makes people sober. Catholics do not drink wine, but make use of it in a symbolic way. They swallow white wafers, thinking that they swallow the blood and flesh of Our Lord. I am the spirit in the flesh and flesh in the spirit.

NANCE: Yes, remember the flesh, it cries to be remembered.

VASLAV: In becoming an apparition, I rise, I rise, above flesh!

NANCE: Please, not completely! Not above my — desire!

VASLAV: Don’t play Diaghelev with me. [He retreats.] [DK NOTE: He gets off the couch, they dance together. She is Diaghelev pursuing him] He dyes his hair in order to look young. Diaghelev’s hair is white. He buys black dyes and rubs them in. I have seen this dye on Diaghelev’s cushions. His pillowcase is blackened by it. I hate dirty linen and therefore was disgusted by this sight.

NANCE: Not with me, please not disgusted with me!

VASLAV: Then control your hands, control your ravenous lips!

NANCE: I know my age is disguised by inappropriate clothes. Please be tolerant of my hungry flesh, my — my ravenous lips, they’re human!

VASLAV: Accept me as I am.

NANCE: You are?

VASLAV: I am the Lord. I am Man. I am Christ.

NANCE: I know, I read, I remember, but for tonight — for me? Be man?

VASLAV: Woman disguised as child, false child, lonely woman.

NANCE: Loneliest woman, prisoner of child’s clothes!

VASLAV: I consent no longer to the service of lechery, at the height of my ascent into purity as an artist. You know my words by heart but you don’t understand me. No. You’re a lunatic in their eyes, so was I. Led about, watched over, treated like a pet monkey on a chain!

NANCE: But there was Romala. You had flesh for her, were man, not apparition!

VASLAV: In her I bred Kyra, direct descendant of Christ. A difference, no?

NANCE: Let me be Romala for you; breed for you a descendant of Christ!

VASLAV: Watch what your hands reach for! I don’t live there except in your madness and fever. Stop it! — I am Spirit! [He retreats from her hands.] Or I will leave you and not come back. You can stare your eyes out at my photographs in a book and I’ll not enter the room . . .

NANCE [extending her hand again]: Please, it can’t be wrong to —

VASLAV: Not just wrong but impossible. You must learn to accept.
IT — WILL — NEVER — BE — REAL! You can only — dream!

NANCE: How long can you stay if I — don’t touch.

VASLAV: Till you go up to bed or till the moon – vines close.

NANCE: But touches I just imagine, if they satisfy me, if they seem so real, why can’t I, why won’t you permit it?

VASLAV: I can’t bear to be reminded of — being used for — don’t make me repeat all that.

NANCE: But it’s agony for me.

VASLAV: When Diaghelev took Massine and out of spite I married on that long Pacific voyage this woman who used me for ambition, to advance herself from the chorus to first ballerina, that was agony, too.

NANCE: But yours is past. Mine’s now!  [DK NOTE: the dance and the music stop before the sound of the door opening]

[There is the sound of a door opening offstage.]

THE TOUCH ON SKIN

The Pronoun ‘I’
QUEEN [to the Young Revolutionary]: Since the boy never looks at my face why should I bother with this uncomfortable mask. —The charade, the bal masque is nearly over now . . . Now I offer you the secret of my young body . . . [She opens her padded robe.] If your preference is for boys, well, there’s Dominique, all but the genitalia exposed. A lovely – looking boy and his limitless narcissism — sadly amusing. — Victim, yes. We all are. — Victims . . . Our defects are not things chosen but things imposed. My defect — the eroticism that runs riot in my veins, an hereditary thing as common to my House as, say, the arrogance of the Hapsburgs and their pride . . . — collateral relatives. Name them, the Houses, I’ve got a bit of them all. But something entirely my own. [She leans forward.] I am very, very clever! — in that respect at least, allow me to say that I crown the lot of them. You’ll see! — Centuries from now this thing I have in my fingertips, this sensual stroking compulsion — would classify me as a —“skin – freak”? — So what? [She runs her fingertips over the body of her boy – beloved.] Music! Dance — celebration of the flesh! [She throws off her padded robe and whirls about the room in an ecstatically sensual dance.] — While obscene drawings of one I’m supposed to be are carried about the streets and effigies burned — of one gone long ago.

The Parade
DON: Sit back down. [She sits.] DON: — Closer — I’m cold. —That smooth skin of yours emanates — sun – warmth. — I’ve written a lot of verse this summer. I sent a batch of it off to my lady agent. She sent it back. “I’m sorry,” she said, “but we don’t handle verse.” [Pause.] Purity and passion are / Things that differ but in name / And as one metal will emerge / When molten in a single flame. MIRIAM: —I wish that your poetry was a little bit better, Don. DON [grinning]: So do I.

The Chalky White Substance: [Luke leans into his embrace.] Mark: It always amazes me, the smoothness of your skin under the robe, not granulated at all by the chalky white substance. Luke: I know you like the touch of smooth skin so I keep mine smooth for your pleasure.

The Traveling Companion
VIEUX: Look, Beau. I’m fully aware of the difference in our ages and attractions. [He lifts his hands.] All that I still desire is the finger touch, fingertips on the bare skin, light and caressing, that only: the Bangkok massage which I learned there.

Sunburst
GIUSEPPE: Preciouhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M6w4rfAq0Bgs commodity, running out fast. Five A.M. and sunup’s when? LUIGI: For me when Peterson rolls over slowly and starts the Bangkok massage mitt with me.

MOMPOU

The Variations on a Theme of Chopin is a work for solo piano by Federico Mompou. It is based on the Prelude in A major, Op. 28, No. 7, by Frédéric Chopin.

We first hear the Chopin prelude on the music box:

Another spooky version:

Listen too, to the Tick tock of clock into music box (different Chopin, but the strangeness of it is worth stealing:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M6w4rfAq0Bg

and then some things from

The recording of Mompou himself playing the variations. above

More dramatic version played by Daniil Trifonov