[A minimum of ten speaking players is required, many of whom play multiple roles]
FRIEDERICH WILHELM NIETZSCHE, our hero
LISBETH FORSTER-NIETZSCHE, his sister
LOUISE VON SALOME, his true love
PAUL REE, his friend and rival [BAYREUTHER, DESK CLERK, SERVANT]
RICHARD WAGNER, the composer [BONNET, GENTLEMAN, FUHRER]
COSIMA WAGNER, his wife
FRANZ LISZT, his father-in-law [GENTLEMAN, LANDLORD,SOLDIER]
COUNT JUKOWSKY, his set designer [GUIDE, GENTLEMAN, SOLDIER]
BERNHARD FORSTER, his advocate [GENTLEMAN, GRAND DUKE, SOLDIER]
SOPRANO, [WAITRESS] BOY, [non-speaking role]
No stationary sets are required; the actors move furniture and carry props on and off stage as the action continues around them. Changes in light and scrim projections indicate changes in time and place, thus allowing the action to be more or less continuous, rapid and energetic.
Save for the twentieth century Epilogue, the action takes place in various European locals during the last two decades of the 19th century.
All stage directions are from the point of view of the audience.
PROLOGUE AND ACT ONE
SCENE 1- The turn of the century. The NIETZSCHE Archives. Weimar, Germany.
SCENE 2 - Spring, 1882. Lucerne, Switzerland. Lion Park.
SCENE 3 - The next day. Tribschen, Switzerland. The Wagner Estate.
SCENE 4 - Two months later. Bayreuth, Germany. The Wagner music room.
SCENE 5 - One month later. Tautenburg, Germany. A Country Inn.
SCENE 6 - Two months later. Leipzig, Germany. Nietzsche's flat.
SCENE 1 - Christmas week, a year later, Naumburg, Germany. The Nietzsche
SCENE 2 - Three years later. Berlin, Germany. Lou Salome's flat.
SCENE 3 - Five years later. Turin, Italy. Nietzsche's flat.
SCENE 4 - Psychiatric clinic. Jena, Germany 1890.
EPILOGUE - August, 1934. The Nietzsche Archives. Weimar, Germany.
The audience, having entered the house to musical selections from Wagnerian opera, confronts an upstage scrim bearing the words, WELCOME TO THE NIETZSCHE ARCHIVES, and reproductions of Nietzsche memorabilia, mementos, and sepia photographs pertaining to N's career. Many photos of the Wagners, Bayreuth, Tribschen, and pre twentieth century German nationalistic pride.
And as the house lights dim, ENTER the mad NIETZSCHE down the center aisle from the back of the house, dressed in a long, white, Brahmin-like dressing gown and wearing his famous white lion's mane and walrus mustache but no spectacles. He carries a lighted coachman's lantern, which he holds high over the heads of several members of the audience seated on the aisle, searching their faces and shaking his head.
Proceeding rapidly to the stage, he climbs up on to the apron and, holding his lighted lamp out over the audience, peers out, shielding his eyes with his hand.
NIETZSCHE: Murderers! Murders! I can't find him anywhere! We've killed him!
AUDIENCE: Who, Professor? Who have we murdered!
NIETZSCHE: [raising the coachman's lamp high over his head with both
hands] God! We've murdered God! [smashing the lamp violently
to the ground at his feet, and wailing out of the darkness of BLACKOUT]
is dead! God is dead!
The turn of the century. The Nietzsche Archives. Weimar, Germany.
Lights come up on the mad NIETZSCHE dressed as he was in the PROLOGUE, sitting on the boards, center apron of the stage with the Archives scrim behind. He sits in a fetal position hugging his knees, off in his own world, staring out over the audience--passive, silent, remote, unresponsive, an expression of infinite weariness on his face.
[ENTER LISBETH Forster-Nietzsche and the Grand DUKE of Saxony]
LISBETH: No, he is no longer aware of his condition or where he is.
DUKE: [with a strong Prussian accent] My, God. I've never seen such a dreadful picture of collapse.
[LIS is a very well-preserved fifty-four year old widow, modishly dressed for guests in a long black silk taffeta gown suitable to her role as mistress of the Nietzsche Archives and First Lady of Weimar. The bemedaled Grand DUKE is resplendent in full military dress]
LIS:Yes, he's been like this for over a decade now. It was exactly eleven years ago today that he collapsed in Turin trying to prevent a cabman from beating his horse.
DUKE: He threw his arms around the horse's neck, I understand.
LIS:And collapsed, yes. And when he regained consciousness several hours later, he was no longer himself; no longer my genius brother, the creator of ZARATHUSTRA and ECCE HOMO and his many other holy books, but this poor sad creature you see before you. [histrionically] His saintly spirit, however, dwells in boundless solitude, endlessly distant from all human affairs, enthroned in eternal timelessness like a god on Olympus.
DUKE: [taking her hand] Please allow me to kiss the hand of the sister of our national treasure, the First Lady of Weimar. May I commend you once again on the extraordinary work you have accomplished here at our internationally acclaimed Nietzsche Archives. One can't open a newspaper these days without seeing the Nietzsche name. And I understand pilgrimages to Weimar are becoming quite de rigeur.
LIS:Why, only yesterday two scholars all the way from America called to pay their respects.
DUKE: You have made your ardently beloved brother world famous.
LIS: When you think that, outside the circle of our family and intimate friends, no one in Germany had even heard the Nietzsche name before his collapse . . . [hands folded under her chin in her characteristic manner] And now, the entire world is clamoring for our books.
DUKE: Weimar and all of Germany owe you a great debt for your enormous editorial undertaking.
LIS: Germany has no idea to what lengths I've gone to bring my brother's work into conformity with the spirit of the New Reich. Enemies of the Reich may call my editorial practices unscrupulous, but considering how unstable my poor brother was during the last few years before his collapse, how he suffered .
DUKE: Ah yes, syphilis is a terrible disease.
LIS: Syphilis? Absurd! More false charges brought by enemies of the Reich. With all due respect your Excellency, my brother is an ascetic, celibate from the womb! All medical tests for lues proved absolutely negative.
[Suddenly, N begins howling as the famous LION STATUE in Lucerne's Lion Park replaces the Archive image on the scrim]
DUKE: My God! What's wrong!
LIS: The poor dear's hallucinating again.
DUKE: What horrors must he be suffering!
LIS: [tapping N's face gently and lifting him to his feet] Fritzy darling, we have a visitor.
[The Archive image reappears on the scrim as N responds lethargically]
LIS: His Excellency the Grand Duke of Saxony, liebchen.
The DUKE hands N a small nosegay of lilacs, and N's eyes light up. He smiles broadly at the DUKE, reaching for the nosegay, gazes at it with tears in his eyes and limply slips down into his original fetal position but with his back to the audience this time as the LION STATUE replaces the Archive image again on the scrim and hurdy gurdy or zither renditions of familiar Strauss waltzes very softly pervade the house.
LIS: He's gone again, off into his own private world.
DUKE: How sad.
LIS:I blame myself! Had I been here for him when he needed me, instead of off with my husband colonizing the jungles of Paraguay.
DUKE:You mustn't blame yourself, Frau Forster. You were the inspiration of not one but two German heroes.
[ENTER various "fin de siecle" types silently strolling arm-in-arm behind LIS and the DUKE and rolling in props for the next scene--top hats, parasols, bicycles, a flower cart, a few park benches, a guide silently explaining the significance of the Lion Statue to tourists. A waiter setting up a small sidewalk table. A strolling hurdy gurdy or zither musician playing Strauss waltzes]
LIS:Thank you, Excellency. Poor Fritzy lamb! [caressing his head] Still, it's my own fault. I never should have left him. Never. That scraggly, smelly, she-monkey with the false breasts poisoned his body as well as his mind!
DUKE: Ah, the infamous Louise Salome?
LIS:[suddenly ranting] The first time I saw that infernal photograph of them, I should have . . . Unholy Trinity, indeed! The world's greatest philosopher driven mad by a twenty year old girl,. a twenty year old girl with a whip . . . [regaining her poise as quickly as she had lost it] Forgive me Excellency. The mere mention of that name . . . [taking the DUKE's arm and leading him toward the wings] Perhaps my sainted brother will be more responsive after lunch. Your Excellency will be so kind as to pose for a photo portrait with him? For the archives? Feeding him a piece of strudel perhaps.
[EXIT LIS and DUKE, right, as N remains in his own private world as the music becomes louder and segue into next scene]
Spring, 1882. Lucerne, Switzerland. Lion Park. Early afternoon.
GUIDE: [In a comic French accent] . . . by Lucas Akron from a model by Bertel Thorvaldsen depicts a dying lion with a spear sticking in his side . . .
[ENTER LOU and REE, left, arm in arm and seat themselves at the sidewalk table]
[REE is a dark, graceless young man in his early thirties, dressed all in black, rather like a Jesuit, resembling as much as possible REE in the famous trinity photograph]
[LOU is a beautiful young woman of twenty, tall, thin, flat-chested, her hair bunned severely back, giving her a very boyish look. She wears a severe, high-collared, long, black mannishly tailored suit-dress with white lace at throat and cuffs. A mannish-looking derby sits on her head, and she uses her wrapped parasol very much the way REE uses his walking stick]
GUIDE:. . . representing the loyalty and fidelity of our brave Swiss Guard who sacrificed their lives defending the Tuilleries and their adopted sovereign Louis XVI's family from his own subjects.
[N removes his white lion mane and walrus mustache and sheds the hospital gown. Donning a pair of tiny wire-rimmed spectacles, he stroll into the set happily sniffing the lilac nosegay. N is now a handsome young man of thirty-seven, dressed in professorial garb--starched collar, string tie, velvet-trimmed lapels. Finding his derby and cane on a park bench, he tilts the derby rakishly on his head and using his cane expertly, strolls directly to the sidewalk table and bowing, hands LOU the nose gay, which she accepts with an exaggerated curtsey as N, embraces REE warmly.
GUIDE:[moving away with his group] The statue, hewn out of the living sandstone rock, is 28 feet long and 18 feet high, and . .
REE:[shouting to the waiter] Champagne! Champagne!
LOU: [amused at the GUIDE's performance, gazing up at the projected statue] It IS magnificent isn't it? Poor, tragic Lion.
REE:Looks a bit like our Fritzy suffering one of his famous migraines. [to N] And how is our invalid professor this afternoon?
[N takes one of LOU's hands as REE holds the other, and gazes into her face, reticently, in a quiet, shy, diffident manner characteristic of him when sober and quite different from his demeanor when drinking or in the throes of philosophical or artistic inspiration]
N: Much better now that you're here--both of you [as both men kiss LOU's hands] Spring has come to the Swiss Alps, at last.
REE:All about us life renews itself.
LOU: And our lives too shall be renewed.
[ENTER WAITER with champagne]
REE: I'll drink to that! [examining the bottle] Bravo! Dom Perignon!
[The WAITER pops the cork, to the raucous joy of all, pouring a taste for REE who sips ecstatically]
REE: [standing and raising his glass] To Paris in the fall!
LOU:[standing and raising her glass] The three of us!
N:Your mother's approved?
LOU: Not exactly.
REE: The old girl's dead set on dragging our Lou back to Russia with her.
N:You're not serious!
LOU:Yes, just when I'm beginning to live. However, she's perfectly aware I'll spend next winter studying in Paris with or without her approval, though it break her heart.
REE: Chaperoned by Herr Doktor Professor Nietzsche.
REE:Just for the record. Cheer up old man! Honestly, to look at you, anyone would think you'd modeled for that wounded old Lion up there. Which is precisely the point. A gloomy, old, retired university professor provides our venture exactly the degree of respectability the old girl requires to rationalize her begrudging consent.
LOU: You, Professor, are the perfect trois for our menage a, as it were.
N:I'll drink to that. Bottoms up?
REE: Bottoms up, is it? I beg your pardon, sir! [glancing at LOU's derrière and protecting his own with his hands] Just as I feared; the old bugger's contemplating a winter of secretarial use and sexual abuse.
LOU: Paul! How crude! Please excuse him, Professor, he's such a boor when he's drinking.
N:Secretarial use and sexual abuse? Not what I had in mind at all. . However, I must admit, Fraulein, your intelligence and courage have so enthralled me that I . . .
REE:Don't let his academic good manners fool you. Behind that lamb-like facade lurks a caged Lion--the blond beast of the Teutons.
N:I beg your pardon, sir!
LOU:Well, judging from your poems, Professor, . . .
N:You've shown her my IDYLLS?
LOU: [laughingly reciting from memory]
N: [to REE] You didn't?Said the goat herd of his maiden,
Many a he-goat's been blessed
With her favor?
Like my she-goats,
Anyone can try her?
LOU: He did. I insisted. I'm one of the boys. Nothing more, nothing less! Anything you share with Paul, you must share with me. Anything! I mean ANYTHING!
REE: Insists on discussing sex as openly as we do religion or anything else.
LOU:And why not? I take as much pride in myself as a free spirit as you do, Professor.
N:[raising his glass] Well, then. To Paris!
LOU:Just the three of us--the Unholy Trinity!
REE: I'll drink to that!
TOGETHER: [raising their glasses] THE UNHOLY TRINITY!
[N and REE draining their glasses. LOU takes only a sip at first but imitates the men draining her glass also as REE pours again all round]
REE:[his hand over his eyes] As the blind Dom said on first tasting his bubbly, "Join me quickly, Brothers, I'm drinking stars!"
N:To the stars from which we dropped down to each other here today! [draining his glass]
REE:To the stars! [draining his glass]
LOU: [refusing to be intimidated into guzzling] I can't imagine what star you may have dropped from, Herr Doktor Professor. But Mother and Paul and I arrived from Rome by train.
REE:How prosaic, Snailie! Fritzy's spent only God knows how many sleepless nights dreaming up his poetic toast, and . . . Waiter! More champagne!
LOU:Not for me, thank you.
N:[mockingly, loosening his tie and opening his collar, tipsily]
One of the boys is it?
LOU:Indeed. A sober one.
REE:[tipsily] This calls for a photograph. To celebrate and enshrine the occasion.
LOU:To commemorate our glorious menage?
REE:The famous Bonnet Studio is just around the corner.
LOU:Without an appointment? Never! Bonnet's an artiste.
N:We'll see about that! Follow the leader!
[N snatches a bucket of champagne from the WAITER, drapes a towel over his arm, and gathering up two clean champagne glasses EXITs right followed by LOU and REE carrying their glasses]
[Simultaneously, ENTER Monsieur BONNET left, setting up a tripod camera and, with his head under a cloth, directs it at a small farm cart which is rolled in and stationed before a portable screen with a rural scene painted on it--the same farm cart found in Bonnet's famous portrait of the trinity. A makeshift whip and a coil of rope are conveniently attached to the cart]
[The LION STATUE disappears from the scrim and ranked portraits of fin de siecle types appear as on a studio wall]
[ENTER N, LOU and REE left, confronted by BONNET's rear as he bends under the camera cloth. N and REE "harrump" a bit, trying to get the photographer's attention before LOU boldly taps his rear. BONNET is a comic French stereotype, and reacts delightedly, thinking N responsible]
BONNET: [flirtatiously] And what can I do for the charming gentleman?
N: Une portrait? S'il vous plait?
BONNET:Ah, mais monsieur, avais vous une rendez-vous?
N: [offering a glass] Mais oui! Dom Perignon!
BONNET: [kissing his fingers] Une plaisance to be of service! Monsieur . . . er . . . a . . .
N: [clicking his heels, and saluting militaristically] Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche! Formerly, Professor of Classics, Basel University, now a roaming fugitive.
[N pops the cork and fills glasses all round]
BONNET [tasting like a connoisseur] Superb! [clicking his heels and saluting LOU in the French manner] Mademoiselle?
N: Pardon Monsieur! Mademoiselle von Salome, et monsieur Paul Ree.
BONNET: Mademoiselle! Monsieur! But we must hurry. My next appointment, eh? [arranging LOU and REE together on a small divan] Voila! Et le professor. . . [standing N behind them with his hands on his lapels] Et Voila!
[The subjects remain still for a moment as BONNET rearranges his camera, turning it away from the country scene]
LOU:But I prefer the country scene!
N: Then country scene it is. [taking LOU by the hand to the farm cart] Kneel in it. Yes, go ahead!
[LOU looks to REE who shrugs his shoulders as she kneels in the cart taking the makeshift whip N hands to her]
BONNET: [coming out from undercover] No! No! It is tooo awkward. Not at all suitable for za young lady.
[N hands Bonnet the coil of rope and stations REE and himself on opposite sides of the wagon tongue]
N:Monsieur, s'il vous plait. Tie it to our arms so mademoiselle can hold it like a rein.
LOU:Hurry! My knees!
REE: [as BONNET, with a great deal of reluctance, harnesses him] Vite, monsieur! Vite! Mademoiselle est uncomfortable!
LOU: [flicking the whip delightedly] This is toooo delicious.
[BONNET, shakes his head and hands LOU the reins and ducks back under the camera cloth]
BONNET: [poking his head in and out] All right. Hold still now. Please?
LOU: Hurry! Please! My knees!
N: With rhyme she stoops to conquer!
REE: I need another drink!
LOU: [using her whip] Hush, you clowning jackasses!
N AND REE: [braying] HEEHAW! HEEHAW!
REE: Fritzy Lion become Fritzy Long Ears. We need a drink.
BONNET: S'il vous plait, Monsieure! My next appointment . . .
[N and REE straighten their ties and pose stiffly]
LOU: [posing with her whip, reins in hand] Voila, monsieur! La trinite Infernal!
BONNET: [undercover now, holding up a flash gun] Voila, Madame! UN, DEUX, TROIS, . . .
[The flash powder explodes, and simultaneous BLACKOUT as a huge blow-up of the famous original black and white Jules Bonnet photo of N, LOU, and REE displaces the studio portraits on the scrim,
and EXIT ALL carrying and rolling
off any props, but leaving the park benches]
The next afternoon. TRIBSCHEN, the Wagner Estate on Lake Lucerne.
Bonnet's Trinity photograph continues to be projected on the scrim as music from Wagner's TRISTAN fills the house, and the lights come up on LOU, with opened parasol, strolling about casually, looking up at the photo on the scrim while N and REE, wearing derbies and carrying walking sticks, sit cross-legged on a park bench, looking at a pocket-sized photograph.
REE: [in high spirits] And Bonnet's supposed to be an artiste? Why we could dispute the prize for ugliness between us!
N: Well, it isn't exactly a work of art; you're right about that. Nevertheless, I find the lovely silhouette atop the rack wagon quite charming,
LOU:And I, the handsome stallions in harness.
REE:You mean jackasses don't you? HEEHAW! HEEHAW!
LOU:The only ass is you, Paul! God he's such a boor. But let's not let him ruin our outing.
[LOU snatches the photo out of REE's hand and slips it into her purse, at which precise moment the projected photo on the scrim is replaced by panoramic scenes of TRIBSCHEN, the former WAGNER estate on Lake Lucerne.
And, as the dialogue continues, occasional strollers cross the stage]
[REE's high spirits are suddenly gone as he looks to N for support]
N:All for one and one for all! We're off to Paris in the fall! Just the three of us!
LOU:Or perhaps just the two of us. Come Professor, shall we stroll beside the lake?
REE:Oh, planning to run off with the old bugger without me, are we? You'd die of boredom, both of you!
LOU:Just as I suppose we'd die of boredom this afternoon if you petulantly returned to the hotel instead of entertaining us with your boorish witticisms?
REE:Perhaps I'll do just that! Perhaps I'll just wander back and inform Madame von Salome that I've decided not to escort you to Paris this winter after all.
LOU:A delightful suggestion! Come Professor!
N:But what about the trinity? All for one and one for all! I . .
REE:The trinity be damned! As of this afternoon, you're menage a trois is now a pas de tout!
N:But Paul, my friend . . .
[EXIT REE hurriedly. N makes a move to go after him, but LOU holds him back]
LOU:Oh, let him go. Good riddance! We'll have a much better time without him.
N:Now was that necessary?
LOU:Quite! you and I haven't been alone together since we arrived in Switzerland.
N:You don't mean you deliberately . . . [laughing sardonically] Honestly, watching the way you manage to get your own way is an education for me. Why, you have the poor fellow eating out of your hand like a . . .
LOU: Like a what?
N: Honestly, if I weren't so selfishly blinded by my own feelings for you . . . Sometimes I just have an urge to take Paul aside and tell him what a lap dog he's becoming.
LOU: I beg your pardon, sir?
N: No, really. I feel genuinely sorry for him. It's one thing to go back to the hotel this afternoon, but to forego the trip to Paris .
LOU: I won't tolerate emotional black mail!. . . making preposterous threats he knows very well he's incapable of carrying out .
N: You certainly do know how to goad him into being his own worst enemy. He's all but completely under your domination. You treat him more like a younger brother than a . . . a . . .
LOU: A what? Out with it!
N: And he always comes back for more.
LOU: More like a younger brother than a what? A lover? Certainly you don't think Paul and I . . .
N: Frankly, as for your choosing Ree over me in any kind of showdown . . . Let's face it; despite all your independent pretensions, you're a woman after all. And every woman needs a real man deep down in the depths of her womanly soul no matter how much she tells herself she prefers someone she can dominate rather than be dominated herself.
LOU: And it was with these confident delusions that you set off with me this beautiful May morning on our pilgrimage to Tribschen. Why have you brought me here? Why do you absolutely refuse to tell me anything about the significance of this place and continue to waste a marvelous afternoon brooding over Paul?
N: Brooding? I'm not brooding.
LOU: Then when will you to tell me about the Wagners? You're the one who insisted on bringing me here. Perhaps we should return to the hotel.
N: [gazing around, and after a long sigh] How I love this place. It's so beautiful. And the memories . . . Ah, what happy hours I've spent in that house, here in this garden and by this lake. But that was a million years ago.
LOU: What was she like?
N: Cosima? [looking out over the audience as though over the lake] Cosima Wagner is the ideal wife for an artist--devoted to Richard to the exclusion of everyone and everything else. How I envy him. I suppose I've always been a bit in love with her. Why, if she hadn't already been married to Richard . . .
LOU: [fascinated] You would have proposed to her? Truly?
N:I was a very young professor of philology at the time, and Cosima was just the kind of wife I thought I needed to fulfill my destiny. Brilliant, with a masculine mind, fearless, immune to scandal. An illicit love affair turned into a family idyll.
N: Cosima deserted a husband of many years for Richard, who was himself married at the time. She two children with her.
LOU: Which, of course, only added to the daring couple's glamour.
N: Precisely. How I adored her and admired and envied Richard. He was like a father to me. No cloud ever obscured our sky.
LOU: My God, what possibly could have changed all that? You sound like you worshipped him--both of them.
N: I did, which was precisely the problem.
LOU: The problem?
N: They moved to Bayreuth!
LOU: I don't understand.
N: The Wagners became Germans.
LOU: But you yourself are German.
N: Not at all. I gave up my citizenship when I accepted the chair at Basel. I'm a European, a citizen of the world! Richard and Cosima too were Europeans, citizens of the world, in those early days--[scronfully] before Bayreuth!
[The opera house at Bayreuth is projected on the scrim, and the music changes from TRISTAN to DIE WALKURIE]
N:[in a mockingly German accent, his arm raised in a German salute and clicking his heels] German Music! Und German cutlets, und sausage, und strudel! Und German BEER!
[Scenes from various Bayreuth festivals flash on the scrim--adoring crowds, sauerkraut, sausages, beer]
[in his own voice again] Patriotic platitudes. Vanities, Parochial jealousies. Wagner strutting like a peacock amid crowds of fawning admirers. Someday, for the edification of posterity, a typical Bayreutheur should be stuffed with sauerkraut and preserved in beer, with the inscription: "A specimen of the spirit on which the German Reich was founded."
LOU: Surely you exaggerate . . .
N:One has to see for one's self, even to believe it, much less understand. [a thought strikes him] Yes, you will see for yourself; I want you to. My sister still attends; you can go together, use my ticket
LOU: But what about you?
N: Haven't been to Bayreuth in six years.
LOU: And your sister . . . why . . .
N: Lisbeth still hopes to patch things up with the Wagners, the silly goose.
LOU: I'd be very happy to go with her, but couldn't I perhaps persuade you, for may sake . . .
N: Accompany you to Bayreuth? For the premiere of PARSIFAL? Not on your life! I . . . [N's voice breaks, and he turns away from LOU and with his walking stick begins drawing figures in the sand] [ after a long pause] Oh my God, how I once loved that man--loved him like my better self. And being here at Tribschen again brings it all back to me with such force and melancholy . .
LOU: [looking into N's eyes] Why, you have tears in your eyes. [searching about in her purse for a handkerchief]
N: [turning away] Forgive me! [removing his spectacles and pressing his fingers to his eyes]
LOU: [dabbing his eyes with a handkerchief] What is there to forgive? I'm honored and flattered that you brought me here to reveal this painful episode in your life. Why, I've never seen you without your spectacles before. How strangely beautiful your eyes are, and even bluer than my own.
[N takes LOU abruptly into his arms]
N: You, my precious Lou, will fill the place in my heart Cosima once held--you, my FEMALE counterpart, my OTHER self. The disciple I've been searching for since Bayreuth--the heiress and successor of my philosophical ideals!
LOU:Your Cosima? You're not suggesting . . . ?
N: Oh, Lou, the moment I first saw you, you merged in my mind with a marvelous new vision I have of myself--blinding flashes of insight, my mission to revalue all values, to proclaim the coming of the great distant human-kingdom and the extremist doctrine of affirmation the world has ever known--the eternal recurrence.
LOU: Eternal recurrence? What on earth is that? And what does it have to do with us . . .here . . . now . . . like this?
N: It came to me as an overture to our meeting. I was walking alone one day along the lake and stopped beside a huge, towering, pyramidal rock . . .
[The pyramids at Gaza flash on the scrim]
N: [histrionically] There it came to me. Like a thunderbolt on a mountain top, six thousand feet beyond man and time!
LOU: WHAT came to you?
N: And that's exactly how I feel here alone with you in this sacred place--six thousand feet beyond man and time. Oh, my darling, don't you see? We've been here together like this, just like this, who knows how many times before. Every word we utter, we've uttered before and will again over and over into eternity!
LOU: Whatever are you talking about?
N: This life, as we live it now and have lived it, we will live again and again, times without number. Every pain and every joy and every thought and sigh and all the unspeakably small and great events in our life must return to us--and everything in the same series and sequence and in the same way.
[On the scrim the universe whirls simulating the Big Bang and the expansion and contraction of the universe and the unending, eternal dance of Shiva]
LOU: This moment, now? Here at Tribschen?
N: Yes, yes! Here, now, among the lilacs and the sunlight on the lake. The eternal hour-glass of existence will be turned again and again--and us with it--dust of dust!
LOU: And this is your new doctrine of . . . what did you call it?
N: Yes, The Eternal Recurrence, the ultimate question in all and everything is, "Do you want this again and again, eternally, times without number?"
LOU:Do you realize how greatly one would have to love one's life to want it over and over again into eternity?
N:Well, how much do you love your life? Now, here, at this very moment.
LOU: Now? Right now? At this very moment? Honestly?
N:Now, here! Honestly, by all means.
LOU:[turning away and after a long pause] Yesterday, I would have run in horror from your doctrine of eternal recurrence as from a demon out of hell. But today, now, after having experienced this holy moment here with you . . . Honestly?
LOU:[passionately] Well then . . . I say . . . I say . . .
[LOU kisses N passionately like a lover, surprising N, who breaks away perplexed. But when he realizes what he has done and tries to embrace LOU again, she slips from his grasp]
N: My darling, Lou. Please. I owe to you the most beautiful dream of my life. Everything makes sense now--my suffering, my solitude, my long wait for a disciple. Fortune, with one stroke, has granted me all my wishes.
LOU: [flustered, afraid of her emotions, falling back on her intellect, pretentiously as she straightens her hair and clothes] The magic of this place, I'm afraid, has bewitched us both, carrying us away into emotional excesses quite unacceptable in the prosaic world.
N: Damn the prosaic world!
LOU: I'm afraid that was precisely what I was preparing to do and, had you not broken our embrace at the precise moment you did, I . I don't know what might have happened.
N: But you can trust me, my darling, to . . .
LOU: But can I trust myself? Damn! I'm such a weakling, I . . [coldly] You must promise never again to court me. If you do, I'll disappear, and you'll never see me again.
N: Why? Because you're afraid of your own vulnerability, or merely scornful of my failing to make the most of the moment?
LOU:I don't know. I . . .
N: But I haven't forever lost the opportunity to make you my own? I must know that?
LOU: It's late. Time to go. Paul will be furious. And Mother .
N: To hell with Paul and your mother! To hell with everyone but us! Only say you'll be my disciple, my . . .
LOU: And what about my own plans, my own ideas of "free discipleship," a mentally passionate non marital relationship?
N: No! No! No, secretarial use and sexual abuse--that's Friend Ree's personal bug-a-boo. I'll be your teacher and benefactor, not your suitor. If that's the way you want it. For now at least. Only say you'll come to me in Tautenberg after the Bayreuth festival!
[During the following speeches, Wahnfried, the Wagner home in Bayreuth, flashes on the scrim as behind LOU and N the stage is slowly transformed into the Wagner music room. Liveried servants roll in a baby grand piano and arrange chairs and the benches to face the piano]
LOU: [lost in her own thoughts] Bayreuth! Imagine. I'll meet them all. Richard and Cosima and . . .
[ENTER WAGNER and COSIMA arm in arm in animated silent conversation followed by FRANZ LISZT. The WAGNERS are elaborately dressed, and the elderly, white-haired, supposedly pious LISZT wears a black soutane of his holy Order}
N: I don't want to be lonely anymore; I want to learn to be human again. And you'll teach me, dearest Lou. At Tautenburg, you'll teach me a new way of life, one taking me away less from people and things.
N:Yes, I'm spending the summer there. You'll come--after the festival, with my sister. It's a beautiful Thuringian resort town where we can . . . can get to know each other.
LOU: [annoyed] But I haven't even yet decided on Bayreuth, and you're already insisting on exerting your will over me . . . [relenting] Never mind. If you and your sister can convince Madame Ree--I'll be under her care after mother goes back to Russia--I'd love to see Bayreuth.
N:Excellent. Bayreuth and then Tautenburg.
LOU: Bayreuth and perhaps Tautenburg. Just think, Richard Wagner!
[ENTER the rest of the participants in the following scene elaborately gowned, etc., in silently animated conversation. LISBETH on the arm of Bernhard FORSTER. The SOPRANO on the arm of COUNT Jukowsky etc. They seat themselves after WAGNER seats COSIMA close to the piano, bows and, after silent clapping of the stage audience, mimes accompanying the silently singing SOPRANO as orchestral music from DIE WALKURIE begins to pervade the house]
N: And I, I'll accompany you in spirit, whispering this and that in your ear. Perhaps that way I can even tolerate the music of PARSIFAL. But the truth is, everything there is finished between Richard and me. And how happy I am, my darling Lou, that for us everything is just beginning.
LOU: Bayreuth. Imagine! Do you think Cosima will like me?
[COSIMA opens a fan and begins to cool herself as LISZT begins to nod off on his cane]
N: She'll love you. Doesn't everyone?
LOU: Think of it; I'll meet them all. Richard Wagner and Franz List and perhaps even King Ludwig himself.
N:And Lisbeth Nietzsche too, my sister. Don't forget my darling sister.
[EXIT N and LOU arm in arm and segue into the next scene]
Two months later. Bayreuth.
The Wagner music room. A gathering of typical Wagnerians are seated about on chairs and benches.
WAGNER, in beret, and his indispensable silks and satins, is seated at the piano accompanying a bosomy SOPRANO dressed as Brunhilde, helmet, shield, spear and all, who sings the last few bars of an aria from DIE WALKURIE as scenes from the opera are projected on the scrim.
COSIMA WAGNER is a
tall (much taller than Wagner), imposing, definitely unbeautiful woman.
Her octogenarian father FRANZ LISZT, in his priest's soutane and long white
hair, sits beside her with his chin on his cane, snoring.
LIS is seated beside BERNHARD FORSTER.
ENTER LOU on the arm of COUNT JUKOWSKY, the Russian stage designer. She gaily suppresses laughter as the COUNT laughingly mumbles something about the photo he holds in his hand and looks about for a place to sit.
LIS, obviously mortified and shaking her head, carries on sotto voce conversation with FORSTER behind her fan. Others in the small gathering are similarly preoccupied with things other than music. However, no one makes a sound, as the SOPRANO finishes her aria and WAGNER emotes at the keyboard, his eyes closed looking heavenward as his playing comes to an end.
LISBETH, still preoccupied with LOU's behavior, automatically claps enthusiastically twice and stops horrified when no one else claps and all turn to look askance at her. WAGNER is transfixed at the keyboard, eyes closed, looking heavenward long after the last vibrations of the sound board die away. No one moves to clap until LISZT snores and COSIMA begins daintily, followed by exuberant applause from all especially LISZT who, having been shaken awake by his daughter, is humorously preoccupied with the ample bosom of the bowing SOPRANO.
WAGNER leaves the piano and bows repeatedly to excessive applause, holding
up his hand as though modestly suggesting he doesn't deserve it though
he obviously enjoys it and expects no less from his disciples. COSIMA curtsies
beside him. LISZT now stands beside the clapping SOPRANO, clapping himself
but obviously for her bouncing bosom, not for WAGNER. COSIMA, mortified
by her father's behavior, attempts to get him to the piano as WAGNER with
false modesty addresses the gathering.
WAGNER: Thank you, Faithful. So much. So much. A delightful little respite from Parsifal, eh? [bowing to the SOPRANO] Delightful, my dear. Delightful. But enough Wagner for this evening. Now we shall hear from the grand master of the piano, himself.
[WAGNER helps COSIMA drag her reluctant father away from the SOPRANO's bosom]
COSIMA: Come Daddy, you promised.
[LISZT, throwing a kiss to the SOPRANO, is wrestled to the piano bench. WAGNER raises his arms and everyone sits back down as on a puppeteer's strings, all save LISBETH who is too preoccupied with the COUNT's attentions to LOU]
LISBETH: [to FORSTER, interrupting the enormous silence] Nothing like repression ever tempts that girl! Really!
[Hearing her own voice, LIS is mortified, her hand to her mouth as all glare at her. LOU never even looks up, the COUNT holding her hand now and gazing into her eyes as LIS, turning and smiling saccharinely at the WAGNERS, sheepishly seats herself]
WAGNER: My esteemed father-in-law, Maestro Franz Liszt.
[LISZT, stretching his neck and very pompously massaging each of his old fingers, poises for a long time with his hands raised over the keyboard and then breaks into a very rousing, madly wild rendition of his MEPHISTO POLKA]
[COSIMA is horrified when LISZT pulls her down onto the piano bench beside him with a free hand for a duet and, after a few more bars, springs jumps up and coaxes the blushing SOPRANO into a polka as all the guests make room for them and he keeps bouncing his head in time to her bouncing bosom or lays his head in her bosom as they dance or some such other farcical business while COSIMA, mortified, nevertheless plays on. WAGNER too grabs a buxom young wench which is a signal for the guests to follow suit. COSIMA tries to smile weakly as she continues to play.
The COUNT, having passed the photograph to another dancing couple, dances with LOU as the photo makes its way from hand to hand around the floor eliciting various exhibitions of amusement. When it arrives at LISBETH, the Bonnet photograph flashes on the scrim again, and LIS stops dancing in horror, glaring at LOU as she and the COUNT dance by. While LIS shows the photo to the horrified FORSTER, a passing dancer snaps it out of her fingers as the COUNT and LOU break away from the dancers and, as the music fades into the background along with the revelry of the dancers, converse together on the apron of the stage near one wing. LIS and FORSTER, still dancing to the background music but isolated from the background revelry, converse near the other wing]
COUNT: [to LOU In a lisping Russian accent as he looks at the photograph which has once again arrived in his hand] And you're planning to run off with both of them to sinful Paris in the fall? A menage a trois? How scandalous!
LOU: Scandalous? Not at all! Now on the other hand, were YOU joining the gentlemen for a winter in Paris . . . .
COUNT: [titillated] Touché! Touché! What a delightful thought! How deliciously saucy!
LIS: [to FORSTER, contemptuously] As though bragging about their winter plans all over Bayreuth weren't enough. Now that disgraceful photo. Oh my poor, innocent Fritzy.
FORSTER:How is it, mine liebchen, that you travel with this . . . a . . . shall I say, "foreigner?"
LIS: But she's only half Russian, her mother . . .
FORSTER: Surely von Salome is a . . . Semitic name? And her association with Paul Ree . . .
LIS: But my brother . . .
FORSTER: Your brother's reputation is suffering from his association with such people. Despite King Lugwig's official toleration, these foreigners are ruining our country.
LOU: [to COUNT, placing the photo in her purse] How dreadful of King Ludwig not to be here. I so looked forward to meeting him.
[The trinity photo disappears from the scrim and is replaced by Ludwig's castles and scenes from PARSIFAL]
COUNT: Oh he's such a darling little monarch. We're intimate friends you know. [giggling] Not nearly so intimate as he and Richard used to be of course. Before Ludvy found himself a new a er . shall we say, "soul mate."
LOU: [her eyes still following WAGNER] Soul mate?
COUNT: Poor Richard's devastated at his former . . . ehem . . . "soul mate's" refusal to attend his premiere. [mimicking WAGNER's customary pomposity] "Can a drama like my incomparable PARSIFAL, in which the most sublime mysteries of the Christian faith are shown upon the stage, be produced in theaters such as ours, before such audiences as ours, as part of an operatic repertory such as ours?" [in his own voice again] If his Ludvy hadn't built it for him, there'd be no Bayreuth, no PARSIFAL, no . . .
LIS: [to FORSTER] But if these foreigners are ruining the country as you say, why does Richard surround himself with so many of them?
FORSTER: Jukowsky and Levi are exceptionally talented. And since our mad king's new lover is a twenty-four year old actor of Semitic descent, Ludwig has declared religious and racial differences unimportant compared with the essential brotherhood of genius.
LISBETH: Is Ludwig really mad, do you think?
FORSTER: Mad as a hatter, and his homosexually-inspired, official tolerance of the racially impure is certain to bring about Germany's ruin. Richard and I have both warned him. But, completely rejecting the racial message of PARSIFAL, Ludwig has . . .
LISBETH: Racial message? PARSIFAL?
FORSTER: Of course! Parsifal is the aryan Christ.
LISBETH: How fascinating. Herr Forster, may I be so bold as to say that I find you the most intellectually stimulating of all the extraordinary guests assembled here on this extraordinary occasion.
LOU: [to the COUNT] Oh I wouldn't have missed this for the world! What a spectacular occasion. Why I've not only met Richard and Cosima but celebrities from all over the world--I can't believe it. This little Bavarian town . . . Why, it's without question the absolute center of the world of music.
COUNT: This may be PARSIFAL year for the rest of the world, but for me it's Louise von Salome year. My spiritualist assured me a tall, blue-eyed, skeletal, marvelously liberated, bewitching and heartless young woman, a virtual vestal virgin and she-Narcissus combined would come into my dreary life this year and torment me out of my very wits. And voila, here she stands. I must, I simply MUST take you to the seance tonight and show Madame Vlabatsky how really clairvoyant her spirits are. You WILL join us? Not afraid are you?
LOU: Afraid? I, afraid? Of what? [laughing] Spirits?
COUNT:Of public opinion, perhaps?
LOU:Pooh to public opinion!
COUNT: In that case, Jukowsky shall create a gown for you this very minute to celebrate our . . . rapprochement?"
[The COUNT snaps his fingers, and from the wings liveried servants sweep in bearing bolts of cloth which are unrolled with great verve as the COUNT flips yards of brightly colored fabric like banners in the air and about the body of the startled but fascinated LOU. The dancing stops, and all excitedly gather about to watch the display]
LIS: [in a repressed frenzy] I can't watch. How humiliating!
FORSTER: Your brother's reputation is in great jeopardy. I warn you!
[The COUNT and his dressmaker entourage flounce about the stage in a ballet sequence, disrobing LOU down to her petticoats and creating a magnificent gown right on her body to the accompaniment of LISZT'S MEPHISTO POLKA as both COSIMA and WAGNER play a wild duet, and LISZT indulges in farcical business with the buxom soprano]
LIS:I'll write to him immediately. That shameful photograph and now this. This Russian's already done irreparable harm to his reputation.
FORSTER:What sort of serious thinker would allow a girl with a whip to direct his course?
[The guests all follow the COUNT and LOU and their entourage off stage right with great revelry, carrying off any Bayreuth props and rolling the piano off]
LIS: I must write to him immediately! She's nothing but a common adventuress. Oh, Bernhard, my poor, innocent Fritzy!
[EXIT left LIS weeping into her handkerchief, con-soled by the EXITing
FORSTER as deep, Thuringian pine forests with sun rays shining through
tree branches fill the scrim, and segue into the next scene]
Tautenburg. A month later. Early afternoon. The patio of a country inn.
ENTER right, DESK CLERK, a humorous, monocled, German stereotype, and the WAITRESS, a buxom young German milk-maid stereotype with generous bosoms generously exposed, indulging in playful pats on the rear and other such farcical nonsense as they cheerfully, the
DESK CLERK whistling ACH DU LIEBER AUGUSTIN, arrange some chairs around a small table.
The age difference between the WAITER and WAITRESS is approximately that between N and LOU. When the stage is set, the DESK CLERK looks about and cups his hands round the WAITRESS's bosom. An amorous struggle ensues which culminates in their furtively and comically looking about before disappearing behind some potted plants, followed by much amorous giggling and sighing and the WAITRESS's final furtive glance out from between the foliage before disappearing with a shriek of delight.
ENTER LOU and N, left, N in derby with walking stick and carrying a
book, and LOU charmingly dressed like a country boy in trousers, brightly
colored shirt and suspenders, her hair tucked into a cap rakishly tilted
on her head. She is barefooted and carries her walking shoes in her hand.
N:[in high spirits] But truthfully now, you don't really bare your feet every time you enter a forest or meadow?
LOU: Yes, every time.
N: Like a Moslem entering a temple?
LOU:I enter as if for a short stroll through childhood and once inside feel bound to every living thing, identical with everything, thrust into the summit of unity, [dancing about playfully, head thrown back] feeling frolicsome and silly as a calf.
N: [feigning annoyance] Damn! And I thought it only for my benefit!
LOU: Oh, I'm so pleased with this place, this forest, this lovely Inn, my charming room back at the vicarage. Sorry, we couldn't celebrate my arrival last night, but I was so weary after my train trip.
N:We'll celebrate at lunch instead.
LOU:I'm famished. What an invigorating walk. What exciting conversation.
[They seat themselves as the WAITRESS with order book and pencil, straightening her hair and bodice, appears from behind the foliage as the DESK CLERK tiptoes off EXITING, right]
WAITRESS:[with a comic accent, flirtatiously displaying huge amounts of bosom as she preens flamboyantly] Za usual Herr Professor? [suggestively measuring eight or ten inches with her hands] Eine grosse Wurst und bier, bitte?
N: [with eyes only for LOU] Champagne, Heidie. And some cheese and fruit please?
WAITRESS:[to LOU, flirtatiously] Und for za handsome young gentleman?
N: What'll it be, Herr Lou?
LOU: [impersonating a man] No, grosse Wurst for me, thank you my dear!
N:A bottle of Dom Perignon, bitte. And fruit and cheese for the young gentleman also.
[EXIT WAITRESS, flouncing off to LOU's and N's suppressed laughter]
LOU: What a ninny. Such imbeciles give all womanhood a bad name. As I said in my epigrams . . . Oh, but you haven't yet told me what you think of them?
N: Them? You mean her . . . ? [indicating large breasts with his hands]
LOU: No, silly! My epigrams.
LOU: On women? The ones you promised to read before my arrival?
N: Oh those. [teasing] I read them and thought that--for a young gentleman, that is--you have some extraordinary insights into the thinking of the opposite sex.
LOU: Now be serious, please! And very frank.
N: Frankly, I found the style of the first part horrible.
LOU: That bad?
N: Don't misunderstand. I'm not at all suggesting you put them away as a bad idea.
LOU: They're not totally hopeless then?
N: Quite the contrary. But take for instance your epigram on domination.
LOU:"The dominated woman finds power in the very feeling of life; the dominating woman finds a feeling for life only in power?"
N: Lets cut it down to size. How about, "Some get a feeling for life only from power; others get power from a feeling for life?"
LOU: Lovely! And what about, "What does not engage our feelings, does not long engage our thought either?"
N: Alas, that I can't improve upon. If you wouldn't mind, I'd like to jot down some helpful books for you. I've had so little opportunity for this sort of thing since I left teaching.
LOU:I'm your most devout student and fully intend to take notes on our conversations.
N:Nonsense! It isn't the content of our conversations that counts; it's the meeting of our minds. When I speak to you I come face to face with my own soul.
LOU:And I with mine. Which is precisely why your sister's accusations upset me so. To think that you might actually suspect me of making fun of you at Bayreuth, when the only reason I passed that photo around was out of pride of knowing you.
N:But that's precisely why I call Lisbeth "llama." Peruvian llamas, you know, squirt their spittle and half-digested fodder at their opponents as a means of defense.
LOU:[laughing] And I thought it was a term of endearment . . .
N: So does she.
LOU: [delighted] How appropriate! And how cruel!
N: You disapprove?
LOU: I? [They both laugh gaily] I think your answer to her outrage at Jukowsky's designing his gown "on my BODY," was priceless.
N: "But my dear sister isn't that where women usually wear gowns--on their bodies?"
LOU:She doesn't really think I'm Jewish does she?
N:It's your association with Ree, I imagine.
LOU: Poor Paul. That explains a great deal; she spent an awful lot of time with Herr Forster.
N: [perturbed] So I gathered from her letter! I've never met the man, but I understand he's an insufferable bigot.
LOU:He certainly said some nasty things about Paul. And when I lost my temper, that was when Lisbeth attacked me and retracted your invitation to Tautenburg.
N: The silly goose! She never imagined you'd come anyway, or that I'd welcome you after her hysterical report on the festival.
LOU:The truth is, I wasn't really planning to come before she withdrew your invitation. But she so infuriated me . . . And Paul You know, Lisbeth's not the only one opposed to my being here. Paul insisted you'd certainly regard me as your fiancée if I came.
N:Which sealed your decision to come. Good for you!
LOU: You've no regrets? I know you love your sister and would prefer not to hurt her. And of course I feel the same about Paul.
N: All that matters is we're here together amid these pines, and you in your bare feet.
[ENTER DESK CLERK with a towel over his arm carrying a champagne bucket.
Also ENTER WAITRESS bearing fruit basket and cheeses. The DESK CLERK performs
the champagne ritual as obsequiously as
DESK CLERK: Will there be anything else, Herr Doktor Professor, sir?
[N whispers into the DESK CLERK's ear, who nods smiling at LOU and EXITS, right, along with the WAITRESS, whispering into her ear]
N: [raising his glass] Here's to us! Dearest Lou! You've made my Tribschen dream come true. I owe to you the most beautiful dream of my life.
LOU: Now, now. That's forbidden terrain; I thought we agreed.
[ENTER WAITRESS and DESK CLERK with a book and the toy whip from the Bonnet scene, for which N thanks them, and they EXIT together playfully]
N: [cracking the whip over his head] I have a little something for you. [histrionically] When you go to women, don't forget your whip!
LOU: I don't believe it! You saved it!
N: A little present to welcome you to our forest retreat. [removing the dried flowers pressed between the pages of the book] I saved the lilac nosegay too.
LOU:The nosegay too? I do hope the translation's satisfactory. I adored it in the original Russian.
N:What? Oh the novel. Well, I certainly love the inscription. [reading from the flyleaf] "A novel by an heroic seeker after truth, for an heroic seeker after truth." Thank you darling. Reading Dostoevsky is like reading my own soul. And to think that you come from the same town in Russia as he. Oh, darling Lou, the long crisis of my dreary, illness-wracked existence is over at last. You've come to me as my destiny.
LOU: And you to me. Oh I'm so glad Paul and your sister aren't here to spoil all this with their antiquated bourgeois morality. Just the two of us.
N:Two heroic seekers after truth.
LOU:Here alone together in our marvelous forest. And it makes no difference at all that you're a man and I'm a woman. As if the so-called inviolable bounds drawn by convention are nothing but innocuous chalk lines.
N:Exactly! Innocuous chalk lines to be stepped over, if not totally erased.
LOU: That's what I told, Paul. If remaining within those so-called inviolable bounds means sacrificing what's most glorious on earth and hardest won, namely freedom, then overstep them I must.
N: Nevertheless, my dear Lou, for propriety's sake, I consider myself duty bound to ask you to become my wife.
LOU:Your wife? I long for freedom, and you offer me secretarial use and sexual abuse?
N:Those are Ree's words, not mine. I'm asking you to marry me.
LOU:Let us understand each other, Professor. I'll admit I was immediately struck by you--on our very first meeting. Your fascinatingly strange manner, at once gay and solemn; your magnificent lion's head, your beautiful, defective eyes which seem to be looking at once inwards and out into the greatest distance as if into the future. And what's more, you attract me sensually.
N: [embracing her] And you, me! I need you, Lou. Marry me. Become my wife.
LOU:[tearing herself away] And play Cosima to your Wagner? Promise to love honor and obey you for the rest of my life? Legally allow you to dominate me body and mind? Devote my life to you and your philosophy to the exclusion of my own? No, Fritzy Lion, animal passion there is between us; that neither of us can deny. But the determination to wage unrelenting warfare against all bourgeois temptations to be carried away by it must be stronger. Why, my and Paul's relationship . . .
N: Relationship? With his well-advertised disgust of sex? His philosophical stance as an unshakable pessimist who'd never under any circumstances consider propagating the species and increasing the number of unfortunates already overpopulating the planet?
LOU:Precisely! Paul is my surest defense against the intellectual and erotic attraction I feel toward you. His tutorial ideal is my self development at his side--a mentally passionate non-marital relationship. With Paul, I run no emotional risk.
N: But LIFE is emotional risk!
LOU: Marriage is out of the question. It's unnecessary, a relic of bourgeois paternalism. You've said so yourself. Now, no more bourgeois romantic silliness or I'll . . . I'll . . . [raising the toy whip over her head]
N:I knew I should have raped you in Switzerland instead of putting that whip in your hand.
[N shrugs and obligingly turns and raises his coattails. However, instead of whipping N's rear, LOU takes his coattails in her hand like reins]
LOU: [playfully using the whip] Giddiyup, horsey! Giddiyup!
[N whinnies like a horse and, to the delight of the DESK CLERK and WAITRESS, LOU and N circle the stage at a gallop, LOU holding N's coat tail and brandishing the whip and N whinnying obligingly]
LOU and N: Giddyup, horsey! Whinny! Giddyup!
[EXIT LOU and N, left, at a gallop]
DESK CLERK: [lifting the WAITRESS's skirt from behind and snapping an imaginary whip] Giddyup horsey! Giddyup!
[The WAITRESS, shrieking with delight, begins galloping round the stage whinnying like a horse as the desk bell sounds impatiently offstage, right]
[ENTER LISBETH, right, in traveling clothes and large brimmed hat with feathers and plumes, carrying a parasol and one small traveling bag. She watches the prancing servants in disbelief for a moment]
DESK CLERK and WAITRESS: Giddyup, horsey! Whinny! Giddyup!
LISBETH:Well, is this an inn or a stable?
[Ceasing their activity, the DESK CLERK and WAITRESS stand at attention]
DESK CLERK: [sheepishly] Beg pardon, Madame. May I be of service, bitte?
LISBETH:Do I understand correctly, that my brother is residing here?
DESK CLERK: Your brother, Madame?
LISBETH:The renowned philosopher and scholar, Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche.
[ENTER LOU and N, left, crossing the stage tipsily engrossed in their game, unaware of LISBETH's presence as they EXIT opposite wing]
LOU and N: Giddyup horsey! Whinny! Giddyup!
LISBETH: [her hand to her mouth in disbelief, completely flustered] It can't be! [looking up to heaven and crossing herself] I'm dreaming!
N and LOU:[offstage] Giddyup, horsey! Whinny! Giddyup!
LISBETH: That infernal photograph has come to life. Just as Bernhard prophesied. The breastless she-monkey has bewitched him! This is war by God! HOLY WAR!
[EXIT LIS, stomping offstage into the inn as the DESK CLERK and WAITRESS
playfully prepare the set for the next scene rolling in a divan]
Two months later. LEIPZIG. N's modest flat. After midnight.
Projections of 19th century Leipzig nightlife--the opera house, the theater, cab horses, restaurants, bistros etc.--fill the scrim, and offstage, German Lieder and laughter pervade the house.
LOU and N: [offstage] Giddyup horsey! Whinny! Giddyup!
[ENTER LOU and N dressed for an evening out, playing Giddyup Horsey, LOU holding N's coattails and brandishing an imaginary whip, as the lights come up dimly]
LOU: [laughing gaily, a little tipsy] I can just see his face when he realizes we're gone.
N: [also slightly tipsy] Let's pray that isn't for some time.
LOU: Pray tell, what does the gentleman have in mind?
N: [undoing her wraps and letting them drop to the floor, menacingly twirling his mustache] Bondage and discipline? Whips and harnesses?
LOU: [giggling, titillated] Oh do be serious for a moment. I'm genuinely grateful to Professor and Mrs. Overbeck for this opportunity to be alone with you on your birthday.
N: Needless to say I am. But poor Overbeck. How he hates Ree's somber moralizing when he's in his cups. I must make it up to him.
LOU: I want to give you your birthday present.
N: But I thought the theater tickets . . .
LOU: Paul insisted on paying for them. Here's my present to you. [handing N some papers from her purse] Happy birthday, Professor.
N: What's this?
LOU A rough draft of my proposed sketch of your life and works. I intend to bring it to completion before your next birthday.
N: [deeply touched] This is the happiest birthday of my life. [reading for a bit] Oh, darling, your idea of reducing all philosophical systems to the personal lives of philosophers is truly an idea from a sister brain. I . . .
LOU: [stopping his lips with her fingers] Shhhh! Not tonight. The play has so excited me; I just can't stop thinking about it. As much as I respect Professor Overbeck's theatrical sense, he's completely wrong about Lessing's handling of his magnificent Jewish sage.
N: Really, must we discuss Lessing? There are so many more important things on our first opportunity alone together in months.
LOU: Well, if you're thinking of bringing up my quarrel with your sister again . . .
N: Not what I had in mind at all. I . . . Oh, Lou, It's been a trying time for me, this waiting, knowing you were with Paul all the time and there was nothing I could do about it. Even now that you're finally here . . .
LOU: NOW what have I done to upset you?
N: It's what you haven't done . . . Ever since Tautenburg, I've been . . .
LOU: . . . wondering whether you made the right choice? Whether perhaps your sister's recriminations were justified after all?
N:She and Mother, with a great show of Lutheran righteousness, both insist I've fallen into the clutches of an evil woman, am a disgrace to the family, and my pastor father must literally be revolving in his grave from shame.
LOU: And so you fled here to this miserable flat in Leipzig with all your medicines and anodynes, vowing never again to return home to Naumburg. Well, serves you right.
N: I made the right choice. It's just that . . . I don't suppose I've ever before endured such melancholic moments as I have this autumn waiting to hear from you . . . to . . . You and Ree are the only family I have now, and . . .
LOU: And what?
N: [coldly, getting up and looking out over the audience] You've taken rooms together!
LOU:Well, I certainly couldn't stay here with you, could I? Not the way we feel about each other. Paul and I are like brother and sister.
N: You certainly bicker like brother and sister.
LOU: Exactly like you and Lisbeth? He's as suffocating here in Leipzig as your sister was in Tautenburg. The two of them, self-righteous martyrs dedicated to saving us from each other. Why if it hadn't been for Professor Overbeck's deliberately plying Paul with spirits after dinner so I could spirit you away with me . . .
N: The way you and Paul have evaded making a commitment in your letters . . . I was beginning to think you'd changed your mind about Paris all together.
[Muffled KNOCKING off stage and music ceases]
[EXIT N left and reENTER immediately]
N:There's no one at the door.
[More muffled knocking off stage from a different direction this time]
LOU:They're spirit thumpings; I know it.
N: Spirit thumpings? Nonsense! Those damned Bayreuth seances. There ought to be a law . . . Jukowsky's medium's a charlatan, nothing more--all that garbage about you and Ree being brother and sister in another life, and you believing it.
LOU: What better way to explain Paul's and my relationship. Why, the very thought of our sleeping together is incestuous. We've said as much long before Jukowsky's seances.
[More knocking from another direction]
N: And what about the knocking? [laughing sardonically] Perhaps it's brother Ree's peripatetic spirit warning you against being alone with me so late at night? Perhaps it knows I'm planning to get you drunk on cognac [pulling a silver flask from his pocket] and unceremoniously raping you. [offering LOU the flask] What say? Shall we se nd you back to Paul deflowered?
LOU: I can't conceal the sorts of feelings I have for you. I can subdue them, but I can't hide them. And being alone with you in your flat like this at this time of night . . .
N: Afraid you might just succumb to my manly lust, are you? Allow me to have my way with you perhaps, without screaming very loudly?--so as not to wake the neighbors?
[More muffled knocking from another direction]
LOU: You brought cognac?
N: [with a deep bow] As the lady commanded.
[LOU takes a swallow directly from the flask and hands it back to N, coughing slightly]
N: And leaving a kiss within the cup . . .
[N takes a long hard pull on the flask and shuddering with eyes closed and fists clenched, does some sort of clownish routine, perhaps crowing like a cock]
LOU: [sitting on the divan] Come here, you madman, sit beside me.
N: [looking heavenward] Brother Ree, you old spirit-thumper. Better knock now or forever hold your peace.
[N seats himself beside LOU and offers her the flask again. Instead of taking it, she carefully removes his wire spectacles and looks into his eyes as N squints and rubs them with his fingers]
LOU: [taking N's hand from his eyes] Poor, poor, genius eyes. How tired they are and raw, reading and writing all day long and
far into the night. Here, close them and rest your head in my lap. [N obliges] My poor, sick genius. How I worry about you, your health, your migraines, your . . .
N: [without lifting his head or opening his eyes] . . . my potential madness?
[Another muffled knock, somewhat louder]
LOU: [an embarrassed pause, laughing unconvincingly] That's Paul's diagnosis. Not mine. I know that despite your physical weakness, you're mentally the healthiest soul I've ever met.
N: Ree may be right, you know. My father died mad, and sometimes when the headaches burn through my brain, I don't know how I can possibly retain my sanity for another minute. It's like the top of my head will surely blow off spattering my brains all over the wallpaper like a floral design.
LOU: Please! I can't bear it! [caressing his head] This beautiful, massive Lion's head . . . [sighing] It's strange how motherly I feel toward you tonight.
N: [reveling in her caresses] That's precisely what's so fascinating about you, your remaining every bit a woman despite your masculine self-will and mind so like my own.
LOU: [after a long pause, looking off into the distance] Did I ever tell you about my Tante Caro?
LOU: Tante Caro was my uncannily clever and charming maiden aunt who treated me as the special girl I always knew I was. In Tante Caro's vocabulary, "freedom" meant acting out of deep unconscious needs, and a woman's deepest innermost need is to snuggle up to someone both physically and mentally no matter how much her mind tells her to stand alone. A woman has to choose, she used to say, between fulfilling her own innermost female need and having a mind of her own.
N: [snuggling into her almost nonexistent bosom] Men too have a need to snuggle.
LOU: [still looking off into the distance, absently caressing his head] A capable woman will always choose independence, Tante Caro said, . . . unless . . .
LOU: . . . unless she finds a man soooo . . .
N: Soooo . . .
LOU: . . . so whole, so masterful and intelligent that . . .
LOU: . . . that to submit to him would mean . . .
N: Go on!
LOU: . . . not to bow down and surrender . . . indeed, the very opposite. [looking down at N] In which case, suffer though she may before accepting her destiny and settling into the sweetness of peace, of leaning on a man and looking up to him, she . . . . [placing a finger on N's lips as he tries to speak] Aunty Carro never found that man, but she promised me that someday I . . .
N: [taking LOU's hands and kneeling before her] Please darling, don't go back to Ree! Stay with me tonight, please! I'll . . .
LOU: [looking into his eyes, ] Tonight, here and now, I pronounce myself at one with you against Ree! Believe me when I say that nothing of Paul's rationalistic philosophy excites me anymore. Rather . . . rather, YOU excite me. YOU and your work.
N:And you, you're closer to me now than anyone's ever been before, closer even than Lisbeth who lived with me at Basel almost like a wife.
[LOUD KNOCKING offstage]
LOU: [startled] It's Paul!
N: Nonsense. It's . . . It's the wind against the shutters.
LOU: But there's no wind tonight.
N: Nevertheless . . .
LOU: There's no question about it; I can feel his presence warning me against you.
N:This is preposterous.
LOU: [getting up] Nevertheless, it's time to go.
N: [still on his knees holding LOU's hands} But you mustn't leave me! Fate has brought us together and . . .
LOU: [coolly] All the more reason we must be doubly careful. Few roads lead from sensual to spiritual love, but many lead in the other direction. And I'm afraid you're still harboring hopes I thought we'd buried once and for all.
N: But you . . . we . . . Didn't you just say . . .
LOU: You're like an old fortress, Fritzy. You have so many dark dungeons and hidden passages in you, that I . . . Sometimes I wonder whether I know you at all.
N: But you just said . . . Didn't you just say you were with me against Paul?
LOU: Sometimes I think that deep down within the hidden depths of our beings we're soul mates. And other times . . . I . . . I actually have premonitions that one day we'll be the bitterest enemies.
N: Enemies? Us? Never! I love you, Lou. Don't you understand? I want to mary you.
LOU: [reciting an epigram] "All love is tragic. Unrequited love dies of starvation; but requited love of satiation."
N: [still on his knees] Damn your insufferable epigrams. Requited love may die of satiation, but death by starvation is a slower death by far, and much more painful. Don't you realize that's exactly what you're condemning my love to--a slow and painful death? [shouting at the top of his lungs] I love you. I want to marry you!
[ENTER REE, quite drunk and disheveled as N leaps to his feet]
REE: [waving a champagne bottle] Ah, ah ah! So here you are! Couldn't remember the flat number. Knocked on every gottverdamnte door in the building. [good humoredly and a bit comically] Thought you could outwit old Nathan The Wise did you. Not a chance, we Jews, we . . . [noticing the champagne bottle in his hand] we need to wee wee. But first another drink. [drunkenly officious] Glasses woman! Vite! Vite!
LOU: Don't order me about you drunken slob!
N: [to LOU] Now just a minute.
REE: [waving the bottle] She's right. Drunken shlob. Drunken Jewish shlob.
LOU: Why do you have to drink so swinishly every time we . . .?
REE: Why did you insist on that bloody sheeny play?
LOU: No one asked you to come. We would have all been happier without you.
N: Now just a minute, Louise.
REE: Damned sheeny play. Nathan the Wise-assed Jew. What an absolutely stupid evening. I wish I were dead.
N: [annoyed, to REE] I wouldn't tolerate such talk in my home from anyone else, Paul. Coming from the cabbage brains bigots at Bayreuth is one thing but . . .
LOU: An anti-Semitic Jew--how ludicrous.
N: We've all had too much champagne. By the way, where are the Overbecks?
REE: Nathan the Wise-ass gave'em the slip. Told'em had to wee wee. Didn't tell'em was coming all the way back here to do . . hic . . . so. [crossing his legs] Reminds me. Scuse all!
[EXIT REE hurriedly]
LOU: What a boorish slob! I tell you . . .
N: We've all had too much to drink.
LOU: Not as much as he's had, the drunken slob.
N: That's enough, Lou! His drunkenness is a minor indiscretion compared to your coarseness toward him. Not only calling him a slob, but your choice of play.
LOU:[offended] But I did it for us. Assuming he'd beg off and we could celebrate your birthday without him. Next you'll be coupling me with your darling sister and her Bayreuther bigots.
N: Well, since you insist on bringing it up, your quarrel with Lisbeth has been praying on my mind. I've heard recently that talk is spreading in Basel . . .
LOU: It's that vile-mouthed sister of yours. Don't blame me if you lose your Swiss stipend; blame her.
N: Up till tonight I've been stalwartly above blaming you for anything. Yet day by day I'd hoped to find you at least sorry about the outburst between you, or at least about its outcome. But you seem simply to take my break with my family to be good riddance for me, and your outburst to be more than ever valid.
[ENTER REE without the champagne bottle]
REE: And why not? Surely you're not taking sides with that bigoted sister of yours against our Lou.
LOU: I don't need any drunken slob defending me, thank you.
N: That beats all! Instead of taking issue with you, he . . . Well, he's apparently taken a lot worse from you--which is, of course, precisely his advantage in our, up till now, unavowed castration competition; he's reliable at least; I'll give him that.
REE: As for her crude language and her choice of play and her misbehavior at Bayreuth, you're perfectly right, my friend. But that changes nothing in MY relationship with her. Nothing! [slamming his fist drunkenly on the piano, and comically frightening himself] Where was I? Ah yes. . . . and if it does yours, well that shows how shallow your relationship is. You don't want her for a friend, you want her for a wife.
LOU: Don't be absurd Paul. You can be such a trial at times.
REE: So long as he understands that my claim to your favors is much more substantial than his--you're sharing an apartment with me--and I'm getting thoroughly fed up with his persistent refusal to face facts. . . . I'm trying to tell you as gently as possible, my friend, that your drunkenly amorous behavior tonight, your schoolboy antics down on your knees, embarrasses Lou as much as it does me because she doesn't share your feelings and never has, neither at Tribschen, nor Tautenburg nor any place else.
N: Nonsense! If you weren't so drunk you'd recognize . . . Tell him, Lou! Tell him how much more in common you have with me than with him and his shallow rationalism! That he's a fool if he thinks for a minute you prefer him to me?
[LOU does not respond. She just looks on disgustedly, shaking her head]
REE: How could he possibly not have noticed that since his Tautenburg idyll, you and I have been living together on the most intimate terms--adjoining rooms, sharing the same bath? [picking up LOU's wraps off the floor]
N: [laughing] That's his idea of intimate, sharing the same bath, picking up after you like a hausfrau. Surely, you've told him of your pledge at Tautenburg? How I've been leading you deeper and deeper into the mysteries of my new philosophy, of my Eternal Recurrence . . . of the impact we'll have together on the world.
REE: [neatly folding Lou's wraps on the divan] Surely you've told HIM how the very words Eternal Recurrence makes your blood run cold. To think that there's no relief from life, chained to it like galley slaves, returning again and again to the same miseries--what morbid nonsense!
N: Tell him we both know he doesn't have the courage to bear such thoughts, carrying his phial of poison around with him just in case life should become unbearable, thinking he can steal away from it all like a thief in the night.
N: He hasn't shown you the phial?
LOU: Phial? Of poison?
N: No, you're not the man for my new philosophy. You lack courage and imagination. What good is intellect without imagination? I've invited Lou to explore with me the far reaches of the soul that lie beyond the bounds of intellect! What do I care about intellect? I respect nothing but drives, instincts, and that's exactly what Lou and I have in common.
REE: Lou knows full well why you scorn my rationalism. And she may very well have doubts about it herself. No question, your irrational forces of life fascinate her . . . but . . .
N: Would a life devoid of awe, faith and mystery be worth living? Suicidal hopelessness.
REE: But what could be more hopeless than your Eternal Recurrence?
N: For the man of imagination it holds the fascination of a glacier: silent, white, and menacing.
REE: You're not really a philosopher at all, you know that? You're a goddamned mystic and a rather cloudy one at that. It's genuinely amusing to listen to your oracular pronouncements, and downright comic to hear you pontificate on the world-shaking impact of your ludicrous ideas. [as LOU moves to protest] No! More and more often I find it difficult to keep a straight face when listening to his absurd prophecies. What may have sounded convincing in the twilight of the Tautenburg forest makes little sense in a gas lit room in Stibbe or Liepzig. Quite frankly, I regard your prophesies with undisguised scorn and have been watching Lou's growing disenchantment with satisfaction.
[N looks to LOU, but she turns away]
REE:I've long suspected something was seriously wrong with you, my invalid friend, and I'm afraid your overweening vanity has, alas, turned pathological, attempting to dominate the thinking not only of Lou and everyone else you know but the entire world, the entire century for that matter. And, the less people take your pretentious posturing seriously, the more you try to shock. Your entire philosophy is based on shock effects, a mixture of madness and nonsense. In order to impress, you alternately bellow imperious commands in the name of future generations of Nietzschean Supermen or make hushed allusions to your preposterous wheel of eternal recurrence and other pretentious metaphors. That's why no one but your closest friends read you--not to say understand you. For God's sake, why speak of "blood and iron and unrelenting warfare" when what you're really talking about are internal battles, making war on one's own inner weaknesses? It's pathetic madness! Tell him, Lou! We've suspected for some time now he's gone round the bend, haven't we?
LOU: That's enough, Paul. You're going too far.
REE: No, I'm drunk and going to tell him what we think. A milksop like me, certainly couldn't do it sober. And you want me to, you know it. You think he's crazy too. You've said so a thousand times.
LOU: Nonsense! Fritz is a genius! [to N] Forgive him! He's drunk. He . . .
REE: Well, you can have your mad, genius. I'm finished with both of you. This time for good. You can go to Paris without me--or to hell for all I care!
LOU: [stamping her foot] Don't be a spoiled child! Come back here this instant!
N: Let him go. It's time completely to abandon his philosophy for mine. Think of the heights our thoughts reached in Tautenburg, those intoxicating moments of truly creative joy. We'll go off to Paris together. How can you hesitate? I'm offering you a chance to participate in the deepest mysteries of the age.
LOU: You're not serious. You and I in Paris alone, just the two of us?
LOU:[coldly] Understand that under no circumstances will I go to Paris with you alone.
N: But he told us to go without him.
LOU: He's had too much to drink. He doesn't mean what he says. He's as jealous of you, as you are of him. You're both behaving like children.
N:[taking hold of her] We don't need him. Stay with me, here, tonight, and tomorrow we'll pick up your things at the hotel . .
LOU: Please, you're hurting me. I'm going now. No need to see me to the hotel; Paul will be waiting in the street. Men! Honestly .
N: I warn you, if you walk out on me now . . .
REE: [offstage, drunkenly] He'll run after you on his knees. Narcissus in pursuit of his mirror!
LOU: Paul! Listening at keyholes? My God!
REE: Back for my champagne. [whinnying like a horse]
LOU: Behave yourself!
REE: HEEHAW! HEEHAW!
[EXIT REE opposite wings]
N: [coldly, with icy calm] It's your decision. Paul or me. Either you send him on his way and stay the night with me or . .
LOU: Ultimatums, is it? I don't know which of you is the bigger ass.
[ENTER REE, dashing across the stage waving the champagne bottle]
REE: HEEHAW! HEEHAW!
N: [coldly, calmly] I refuse to play the jackass any longer.
LOU:Suit yourself, Professor. You're obviously not the man Tante Caro promised me--no Wagner to play Cosima to. That's quite clear to me now.
N:Cosima's a woman. Whereas you . . .
LOU: And Wagner's a man! Whereas you . . . [grabbing REE by his loosened tie as he gathers up her wraps] Come along, you drunken ass.
REE: HEEHAW! HEEHAW!
[EXIT LOU leading the grinning REE off by the tie]
REE: [offstage] HEEHAW. HEEEEEEEEHAW! [whinnying like a horse]
[The sound of a door slamming, and N suddenly clutches his head, spins violently about, staggers and falls to his knees pulling his hair. He is having a severe migraine attack but does not cry out, does not moan. The spasms of pain jolt his head and his entire body as though he were undergoing shock treatment, and he begins dry vomiting, his body heaving. Helplessly he begins to whimper and moan culminating in a prolonged, unearthly scream]
Christmas 1883. The Nietzsche family residence, Naumburg, Germany. After midnight. Christmas caroling off stage.
Dream lights come up on N, left, harnessed like a horse to the cart from the Bonnet Studio scene. Barefooted in spectacles, and wearing the long, white Brahmin nightshirt, lion's-mane wig, and walrus mustache of SCENE 1, ACT ONE, he looks like a partially paralyzed and nearly blind old man.
ENTER WAGNER, right, holding a small BOY by the hand. They stop and gaze at the cart as N stands dejectedly, like a horse shaking off flies.
ENTER LOU, left, dressed like a boy as she was in the Tautenburg forest scene--bright shirt, suspenders, her hair up in her cap. She carries a coiled, mean-looking horsewhip.
ENTER with her, Paul REE dressed as usual like a Jesuit, and also a bemedaled Bernhard FORSTER. They carry beer steins and mime toasting each other and singing drunkenly.
ENTER also COUNT Jukowsky, COSIMA, her father, Franz LISZT in his soutane, and the bosomy SOPRANO, boobs bouncing and carrying her spear and shield.
LOU mimes shouting and beckoning all to climb into the cart. Jumping in first herself, she gathers up the reins and stands upright at the front of the cart and cracks the whip as all scramble up behind her. LISZT pushes the bosomy SOPRANO into the cart by putting his shoulder under her rump as all mime laughter and LOU cracks her whip over N's head and shoulders.
The formerly gay "Giddyup horsey! Whinny! Giddyup!" sounds of the Tautenburg scene now echo ominously offstage as N tugs with all his might but cannot move the overburdened cart, scraping his feet, grunting and flinching under the blows showering down on him, panting and stopping and then beginning to tug again, almost ready to drop as LOU wields her whip more and more brutally.
ENTER LIS hurriedly from the wings, dressed in a robe, slippers and
nightcap and carrying a lamp. She is quickly pulled up into the overburdened
cart where, handing her lamp to FORSTER, she takes the whip from LOU and
flails away at N savagely. N simply submits to the lashing without even
trying anymore to pull the
cart, as FORSTER conducts, and all mime singing drunkenly, accompanied by recorded Christmas caroling off stage, STILLE NACHT, HEILIGE NACHT, etc.,
LOU regains the whip, and as she flails away at N, LIS reaches down into the cart bed, and coming up with a long handled ax, brings the blunt end down heavily on the back of the wretched N. The blow is a crushing one; N staggers, sinks down and then makes another effort to get up but falls to his knees as if his legs were cut from under him as the bosomy SOPRANO, cracking LISZT over the head with her shield as he tries to maul her boobs, sings out gloriously--one sustained high note like an operatic scream.
FORSTER, and REE jump down from the cart, snatch the ax and whip out of the women's hands and run to the dying N and strike at his face and eyes. Others follow suit, using sticks and anything that comes to hand as LOU and LIS remain in the cart with lamp held high watching and cheering them on. N shudders, draws a deep, laboring breath, and collapses accompanied by another operatic scream from the SOPRANO.
WAGNER shields the horrified BOY's eyes and tries to draw him away, but the BOY breaks away and runs heedlessly towards N wringing his hands and weeping. Crawling on hands and knees between the legs of the crowd, he puts his arms round the dead N's face dabbled with blood, and kisses his bleeding eyes.
The DREAM LIGHTS begin to fade as WAGNER catches the BOY up and carries him out of the crowd, right, the BOY sobbing uncontrollably as the lights fade to BLACKOUT.
EXIT the cast with the cart, preparing the stage for the next scene to the accompaniment of offstage German Christmas caroling. LIS and N, however, remain on stage--N where he fell and LIS kneeling at his side with her softly glowing lamp raised over him.
N: [his voice out of the darkness] Papa! Papa! Why did they murder that poor horse?
[Stage lights come up slowly on LIS in her robe and nightcap kneeling beside the thirty-eight year old N, who is lying on the stage barefooted in his Brahmin nightgown as in his dream but minus the white lion's mane and mustache. The inscribed copy of CRIME AND PUNISHMENT lies on the floor beside him, his glasses folded in it.
LIS: Wake up, Fritzy. It's all right. Your Llama's here.
N:[still dreaming]! Why did they . . .? Why did they . . .?
LIS:Wake up Fritzy! You're dreaming. [putting the lamp down and taking N's head in her bosom, she pats it like a mother with a sick child] Your Llama's here. Nobody can hurt you now..
N:[looking up at LIS, frightened] Why did they . . . Why? Why?
LIS:Why did they what, Fritzy? You're still dreaming.
N:Why did they murder that poor horse?
LIS: What horse? Why, you're trembling like a leaf. Come I'll help you back to bed and read you to sleep.
N:[still not fully awake] What did I say? Was I talking in my sleep?
LIS:Sleepwalking. You called me "Papa." Lying on the floor in the middle of the room, yelling something about killing a horse of all things.
N:Killing a horse? How strange! [picking up the novel and removing his glasses from between its pages] There's a passage I was reading .
LIS:[snatching the book from N's hand] What's this? . . . A Russian novel? Why read these dreary Russians? No wonder you have nightmares!
N: You're probably right. There's a passage where a crowd of drunken Muzhiks beat a poor old dray horse to death. [dreamily] It's a dream. A little boy and his father are on their way to church when they pass this tavern with this pathetic old dray horse standing out front and . . .
LIS: Remember how we used to tell each other our dreams when we were little? How I used to read you to sleep in Basel? All those lovely months alone together without mother, without anyone. Just the two of us living alone almost like man and wife. My genius brother. Only twenty-five years old and already a University professor. I was so proud! Oh, Fritzy darling it's so good to have you home for Christmas.
N:[staring out over the audience as the caroling begins to fade into the distance] Good to be home. Look, it's snowing again. How beautiful. Falling straight down in the lamps of the carolers trudging through the drifts.
LIS: Let's hope they haven't woken mother. The caroling was lovely earlier this evening, but at this hour when people are trying to sleep . . . Drunk no doubt. All of them!
N: It's Christmas eve, Liesel. Only comes once a year.
LIS:Well, how benevolent coming from an arch atheist.
N:I've nothing against Christmas, people celebrating the birthday of a greatly misunderstood man.
LIS:[crossing herself] Jesus was not a man, he's God, and for you to . . . on Christmas eve . . . I . . .
N:[making the sign of the cross in the air like a priest] [amiably] Peace! Peace! Let's not start, or we'll wake mother for certain.
LIS:You're right darling. It's been such a lovely Christmas. Come! Back to bed now. I'll get something pleasanter from my room to read to you and . . . [reading the flyleaf] What's this? . . . "from a seeker of truth to a seeker . . . Lou?" Salome? [dropping the book like a poisonous snake] I thought we were rid of that breastless she-monkey once and for all! You promised if I didn't mention Bernhard, you wouldn't mention that . . . that . . .
N: But I haven't mentioned her. Just because I happen to be rereading a novel she gave me . . . [picking up the book] However, since we're on the subject, I promised Mother I'd speak to you about Forster.
LIS:Never mind! I know! According to her I spent entirely too much time with him before he left for Paraguay.
N:She says you write everyday.
LIS:Ridiculous! But what if I did? It's my life, and I'll do with it as I please. As much as I love and admire you, Fritzy, I will not allow you to interfere with my . . . my . . .
N:. . . your love life? Anymore than you interfered in mine?
LIS:Oh, Fritzy, give it up. You're still hoping against hope they'll invite you to run off to Paris with them. Well, forget it! She's Ree's now! There are rumors of marriage.
N: Marriage? Never! Ree's not nearly strong enough to hold her. Which is not to suggest she'll ever return to me . . . or that I'd want her to. You still refuse to believe I'm over her don't you?
LIS:You won't be over her till she's back in Russia where she belongs. I've already informed the police of the going's on in Berlin, as well as Mrs. Ree and the Russian's mother. There are means of getting rid of undesirable aliens.
N:Whoa! Whoa! That's going a bit far don't you think?
LIS:I want revenge! She alienated you from your family and treated you like nothing more than a low-minded rapist. They're living in sin together in defiance of all civilized laws of decency.
N:Nonsense, they're living like brother and sister. Precisely the way you and I did in Basel.
LIS: You'd like to believe that, of course. But Cosima says they're not only living together out of wedlock, Lou's running off on weekends with all sorts of men, young and old. And Ree not only tolerates it but even encourages her.
N: [laughing] Cosima? Why, she and Richard lived together out of wedlock for years.
LIZ: Cosima may have indeed violated traditional morality, but she did so as a sacrificial offering to genius. Quite unlike this Russian, who does it in a frivolous mood of adventure, which is contemptible. She's a living disgrace to our sex, and I promise you before I'm through with her . . .
N:Still my unforgiving Llama, eh? I can't say that I blame you. The pity is that I didn't listen to you from the beginning. You were right about her all along. And to think I once actually took her for my Ariadne, the earthly apparition of my ideal, the intended recipient of my philosophical legacy! Observe! [removing his spectacles] I have poor eyesight.
LIS:[taking N's spectacles and massaging his forehead and around his eyes] Oh thank God, you've come to your senses.
N:You warned me, liebchen. When I think of what an adolescent schoolboy she made of me . . . How when I first learned they were living together, the shock all but unhinged me. Like a wounded animal, all I wanted to do was crawl into a hole and lick my wounds, to get away from it all, especially from Leipzig where I'd been so terribly humiliated.
LIS: I was so worried. No one would tell us where you'd gone, not even the Overbecks.
N: Venice, Genoa, The Riviera . . . The nightmare that first year brought . . . I tell you, the thought of suicide is a strong means of consolation; it pulled me through many a bad night. Unrequited love nearly devoured me.
LIS: Nonsense! You never loved that poisonous reptile. What you loved was a figment of your own supercharged imagination.
N: You're right; philosophers and artists love only ghosts. Woman is too imperfect a thing. But oh, how lonely I am!
LIS: So are all sages lonely who stand so high above the crowd.
N: Sage am I? Why, to them I'm nothing but a semi-lunatic, sick in the head, dazed by long solitude and wounded vanity. I can just see them laughing together over my letters.
LIS:Oh Fritzy, let's not allow unpleasant memories to spoil our Christmas.
N: It's my fate, I suppose, to go to the grave unloved. I've already buried my thirty-ninth year and no woman, not a single one has ever loved me.
LIS: I love you, silly! Mother loves you.
N: If there's one persistent refrain in my writing about women, it's that they lure men from the path of greatness and spoil and corrupt them.
LIS:Nonsense! Some of us are inspirations to our men. Loyal to them even after their deaths. Take Cosima for instance. Why, Richard's star is rising higher now than when he was alive, thanks to her.
N: Perhaps you're right. It was no accident that the birth of my greatest book was gestated during those nine months I knew Lou. Her rejection of me gave birth to our son, ZARATHUSTRA. Can you imagine what kind of books I'd have written if she'd accepted my proposals?
LIS: I refuse to believe you ever proposed marriage to such a creature and will deny it to my dying day. Now, no more of this, Fritzy!
N:Instead of a hermit, I'd have been a husband. Instead of dejected, elated. Such moods would never have given birth to ZARATHUSTRA! That book was mined out of bitterest pain. Why, if I hadn't hit on the alchemical trick of turning even the dross of that sad affair into gold, I should have taken my life.
LIS:Do you really expect me to believe that the life and work of one of the great spirits of the age and perhaps the very course of history itself, depended on the yes or no of a twenty year old international trollop? Fritzy, you're still dreaming. Wake up, for God's sake.
N:[histrionically] No, I did not marry Lou in that incredible winter of 1882; neither did I commit suicide. Instead I gave birth to myself, to ZARATHUSTRA and sent him out into the world on February l3, 1883. On the very afternoon, as fate would have it, of Richard Wagner's death in Venice
LIS: A coincidence of the greatest mystical significance!
N:Yes, Richard's star may indeed be rising higher since his death than ever, but before long my Zarathustrian sun will dissipate the foggy realms of the Niebelungen once and forever.
LIS:Ridiculous. You're two of a kind, you and Richard. The two great German geniuses of our century. Whether you'll admit it or not, your Zarathustra is a reincarnation of Richard himself. That's the mystical significance of your sending it off on the very afternoon of his death. Wagner IS Zarathustra!
N:[furiously] Are you mad? Wagner, Zarathustra? I can't believe this! [nervously taking a swig out of a bottle he carries in his robe pocket]
LIS:What is that you're taking?
N:[refusing to let LIS take the bottle] Chloral hydrate. Veronal. I'm not sure. Maybe both.
LIS: Oh, Fritzy, you owe it to yourself and to all of us, to all of Germany to stop devouring these poisons. Zarathustra is the superman we've all been yearning for, the fulfillment of Richard's dream of regenerating our beloved country through compassion, heroic self-denial, Christianity and Aryan colonization. My Bernhard . . .
N: [holding his head] Stop! I can't bear it. No sooner have I risen above my despair and written my great prose poem heralding the coming of a new man, a superman who will sanctify the earth and not wait with fear and trembling for a nonexistent heaven and hell, and you, my sister, my soul mate from childhood, cast your lot with my avowed enemies, luxuriating in hypocritical, pseudo-Christian Wagnerian sentimentality in the company of the likes of a Bernhard Forster!
LIS:But that's precisely the point, silly. Richard and Bernhard aren't your enemies. You all want the same good things for Germany .
N:[taking another long swig on his bottle] I can't believe this is happening. I'm still dreaming; hallucinating all this. I'm not even here in Naumburg. Why would I come back here? I hate Germany, and despise Germans . . .
LIS: Of course you do, darling. That's precisely the point. Your and Richard's ideals will make for a newer, stronger, powerful Germany full of happy dedicated supermen. A Germany we can all love and be proud of again. And my Bernhard is just the man to bring your glorious ideals to fruition!
N:My ideals? MY ideals! All this talk about a pure Aryan race is nonsense, utter nonsense! Only racial mixture can save Germany from Teutonic atrophy. Can't you see you're betraying everything I stand for, embracing these bigots? This Bernhard, this rabble rousing . . .
LIS:I won't have you speak this way of my future husband! I . . .
LIS:I planned to keep it a secret until after Christmas for Mother's sake.
N: You can't be serious? Marry Forster?
LIS:As soon as he returns from Paraguay.
N: [panicking] You would never marry such a man! Please, Liesel I couldn't bear the shame. [holding his head and draining his medicine bottle] Liesel, please! I gave up Lou for you, and now you must give up Forster for me. He's just as dangerous for you as Lou was for me. I agree with you about her; you were right. But also I'm right about this monster you propose to marry. [holding his head and rocking back and forth] My God! I can't believe this is happening. It's a dream.
LIS: [solicitously embracing him] Come with us to Paraguay, Fritzy. Invest in our future and the future of Germany. Bernhard admires your Zarathustra as much as I do, and with our colonizing venture, we take the first steps toward the rise of the Aryan super race.
N: [breaking roughly out of her embrace] Super race? That does it! You have no understanding of my philosophy whatsoever. You distort and twist everything to conform to your Bernhard's and Richard's ridiculous, racial and religious deformities. No, It's all over between us. [throwing up his hands] I should have known there was no possibility of a reconciliation with a bigoted bitch like you!
LIS: Here, come to sister; you're trembling all over.
[N thrusts her away, violently, as if he is ready to kill]
LIS:[frightened] This is not you, Fritzy. You're out of control with drugs! Why, you're shivering like a leaf.
N: [horrified] My dream! My dream! I suddenly remember my dream!
LIS: Enough of this morbid dream. You'll bring on another migraine.
N: [sipping at the bottle] My God! I've got to get out of here! Out of Naumburg. Out of Germany!
LIS: Nonsense! You're in no condition to travel. [picking up her lamp and turning to leave] Besides, I want you here when Bernhard returns. I fully expect you'll see the error of your ways when you meet my future husband. [turning to leave] We belong together as family and as good Germans.
N: Family? Good Germans? I hate Germany. I'm leaving Germany forever! Forever!
LIS:I'll never forgive you, if you do. We're planning to marry on Wagner's birthday, and I expect you . . .
N:Wagner's birthday! That's the last straw! To hell with your infernal wedding. I wouldn't attend if my life depended on it. I'm leaving right now.
LIS:Nonsense! It's snowing out. Get some sleep and we'll discuss it in the morning; it's after midnight. [as an after thought] Happy Christmas.
[EXIT LIS, right]
N: [shouting after her] Christmas? Happy Christmas? Wagner and Forster and their Aryan Christ, and you talk of Christmas! Fools! Assassins! Can't you see that the vulgarization of my ideas at the hands of idiots like you can open a Pandora's box of destructive drives that will leave the world in shambles. You have no idea, no idea whatsoever of the dynamite I carry in my head. Dynamite that will blow your cozy, bourgeois, hypocritical, bigoted, pseudo-Christian world to smithereens!
[EXIT N, left, guzzling Veronal as lights fade and images of World War
I devastation flash silently on the scrim as ENTER participants in the
next scene, and segue]
Three years later. Berlin, 1886. LOU's flat.
The images on the scrim change to scenes of 19th Century Berlin and out of the darkness, stage right, LOU's voice is heard over a buzz of salon conversation.
LOU: The intellectual air in modern Germany is so supercharged, what with the great post-Kantian systems of philosophy being replaced by positivistic and Darwinistic movements. Religious, philosophic, social and economic values are undergoing profound change. Everything is in flux. Every tradition is subjected to rigorous scientific examination.
[A SPECIAL slowly illuminates two dandified gentlemen, one a young man in Prussian military dress, and the other much older in formal clothes, conversing on the apron of the stage, left, helping each other on with their cloaks and capes, and gathering up top hat and cane etc.]
1st GENTLEMEN: Yes, Her Excellency announced her engagement last week.
2nd GENTLEMAN: A June bride, I understand.
1st G: Quite. And her "maid-of-honor," is so jealous he could spit.
2nd G: Maid of honor?
1st G: Paul Ree. Haven't you heard? They're no longer living together. Not since his book failed and the University turned him down for an academic post.
2nd G: Rotten luck!
1st G: "Batching" it in flat near the University, I hear. Studying medicine or some such rot.
2nd G:But why "maid-of-honor"?
1st G: A little joke, don't you know. Going back to when they lived together and she allowed herself to be wooed by all sorts of suitors. I myself was one of the most ardent. We went off on several weekends together while poor old Ree pined away back at the flat.
2nd G:You old dog, you. [laughing rakishly] You call her Excellency?
1st G:We all do. In our little intellectual circle Lou reigns supreme. Her sovereign contempt of all petty virtues, her indifference to middle class morality, the unusual quality of her mind and distinguished origin has caused us all, one by one, to fall madly in love with her. [guffawing] Friend Ree has had one devil of a time keeping track of us all. And now, with the favorable reviews of her novel, she's more in demand than ever.
[The lights come up on LOU, right, surrounded by Gentlemen of all ages in capes and cloaks, hat's and canes in hand, kissing her hand Goodnight. REE stands off to one side, sulking, smoking a long black cigar, a champagne glass and bottle in hand]
LOU: Yes, I simply adore the times, Gentlemen. Once again the intellect gains dominance over the heart. It is a harsh unfeminine climate, but one in which I thrive! However, it is getting rather late, and so I must bid you all goodnight.
2nd G:She is magnificent isn't she. I could listen to this brilliant and exotic Russian all night. But I suppose our reigning monarch must get her beauty rest, eh? [guffawing]
LOU:Thank you all, Gentlemen. Until, next week. My Fritzy will be back from Hamburg by then and is looking forward to meeting you all.
3rd G:[cavalierly, to all] To gloat over his victory over us no doubt, eh Gentlemen? Lucky dog! Shall we draw lots for best man, fellows?
4th G:[to REE] "Maid-of-honor" here can hold the lots.
[general laughter among all but REE, including LOU, as EXIT GENTLEMEN boisterously. Silence reigns for a few seconds before LOU speaks]
LOU:Thank you for staying. [sipping Ree's champagne and taking his cigar and smoking it herself as he lights another] I have something to show you. [producing a letter] It's from Fritzy.
REE: Ah, he's withdrawn his proposal and gone back home to Hamburg for good.
LOU:No, not MY Fritzy, silly. Not Andreas, my soon to be husband. OUR Fritzy. Our Fritzy lion, silly! Your old mentor and greatest friend, Herr Doktor Professor Nietzsche.
REE:I thought YOU were my greatest friend.
LOU:Just teasing. Greatest friends don't refuse dedications of books as he did yours, now do they? And it shouldn't come as a surprise that he disapproves of my dedicating mine to you.
REE:Not at all. I wondered myself why you dedicated to me a book that's so patently a love letter to him.
LOU:Practically his very words. See for yourself. [handing REE the letter, which he does not take, turning away from her as she reads it aloud] "All artistic disguises aside, this nun's fantasy you've written is obviously a recounting of our brief but passionate affair."
REE:"Nun's fantasy," indeed. An exercise in wishful thinking from start to finish. From his seducing you, to your seducing him, to his turning out to be your father. A roman a clef of the most unsubtle kind.
LOU: You're just jealous since your own book was such a failure. But listen! [reading aloud] "All in all, it's a secret message to me: the declaration of a love that could never be. Like two stars traveling in the same orbit: we were fated to clash if we met." [holding the letter to her heart] That's rather beautiful don't you think? He's still in love with me, no doubt about it, poor thing, and crushed that I'm engaged though he'd never admit it. Listen to this.
LOU:Oh, don't be such a child. I want your opinion.
REE:Not without another drink. [pours more champagne]
LOU: [reading aloud] "Dearest Lou. You must believe me when I say I wish you all the luck in the world in your coming marriage.
[As LOU reads, the lights fade as a special comes up on N who ENTERs reading a letter, pen in hand. He is dressed in a very disheveled manner, unshaven, holding his head in pain. For a time, both his voice and LOU's can be heard reading simultaneously until her voice, growing softer and softer, finally fades away. N's speech is slurred as though he were drunk, and he holds the letter extremely close to his double-thick spectacles]
N:"Don't let my former outbreaks of megalomania' or `wounded vanity' bother you too much--and if I should one day happen to take my own life in some fit of passion, there wouldn't be anything in that to worry about overmuch. What are my fantasies to you! I . .
[Stopping, he rubs his eyes under his spectacles and drops to his knees and furiously crosses something out of the letter and then proceeds to scribble on the page for a moment before continuing to read again while still on his knees]
N:"Just bear clearly in mind that I am, after all, a semi madman totally confused by solitude. I came to this, as I think, reasonable view of the situation after I had taken--from despair--an enormous dose of opium. [reaching, into his pocket he comes up with a bottle which he swigs, getting to his feet and pacing as he reads aloud] Instead of losing my senses, I seem at last to have come to them. To be sure, I've been very ill for weeks and if I say I have had Tribschen weather ever since your engagement announcement arrived, I don't need to say any more, except that I . . .
[N gets down on his knees again, crossing out and scribbling a bit, and then back to his feet]
I myself really do not feel ashamed of our little affair. I have felt the strongest and most genuine emotions for you, despite friend Ree's insistent `secretarial use and sexual abuse' theme. I feel like a gambler who has staked everything on one card and lost. It was a completely useless waste of love and heart. [pulling out a handkerchief, wiping his eyes under his spectacles and blowing his nose] Well, to tell the truth, I am all the richer for it. I wrote Zarathustra as a challenge hurled against a world that had so cruelly disappointed me. And Zarathustra says, `Are you visiting women? Do not forget your whip!' I foolishly put the whip in your hand in Bonnet's studio, and so it was all over between us almost before it started.
[LOU's voice begins coming up reading the same lines as N's voice begins to fade along with his SPECIAL and the lights begin to come up on REE and LOU]
N and LOU: Therefore, as a recompense for my error in judgment, I am removing myself faster and faster from the living. Soon they will strike me off their list! It is the only way of sharing the privilege possessed by the dead, the privilege of dying no more.
[N's Special is extinguished, and EXIT N]
REE: He's gone over the edge, no doubt of it. He shouldn't be left alone. Go to him, Lou. I'd go myself but . . .
LOU: Nonsense. You only want to keep me from marrying Andreas. Both of you. You know as well as I that all this nonsense about opium and suicide is just to get me to come to him without his asking me outright. He's much too proud for suicide. Not like my "maid-of-honor" with his phial of poison. It's you I worry about, not Fritzy Lion.
REE:God in heaven, woman, have you lost all sense of compassion, throwing that shameful epithet in my face. Can't you see what a devastating insult it is to my manhood, my . . . Never mind! So you want my opinion as to whether Fritz still loves you, eh? What's much more important is that you're marrying a man as much like Fritz as you could possibly find--even to their identical first names. Not only in age and looks, but in their mutual interest in philology and Adreas's irrational admiration of Fritz's ZARATHUSTRA, a book that from any rational point of view is the work of a semi lunatic, all morbid vanity and raving in clever and beautiful phraseology,
LOU:Rational point of view, is it? Well, if you must know, it's precisely this utilitarian mentality of yours which strikes me as so pedestrian, that . . .
REE:. . . that you're deserting me for an advocate of instinct and unreason. In short, another semi lunatic, who you admitted yourself forced you to accept his proposal by stabbing himself in the chest with a penknife. [disgustedly] All of which makes me wonder whether you're not as mad as they, a victim of mental and erotic thralldom as much as Andreas or poor Fritz. Why, you've even taken up Fritz's pet expressions, mouthing them to your coterie of pseudo intellectuals as though they were your own . .
LOU: [unperturbed] Well, I certainly approve of his ZARATHUSTRA more
than that tedious opus to boredom of yours, if that's what you're implying.
As I remarked to the gentleman earlier tonight, Zarathustra perfectly illustrates
my theory of Fritz's creating himself as a God figure, a superman which
is everything he isn't.
Fritzy lamb, poor and suffering and half mad with solitude trying to change himself into an heroic Fritzy lion. What pathetic irony! Here, listen to this! [reading aloud] "The writing of Zarathustra enabled me to master my despair and think of you with greater detachment, dearest Lou. As far as I am concerned, this creative act, as much as your announced engagement to marry, closes the Lou chapter in my life forever. P.S. My apologies for the deportation actions my sister brought against you. I fought her futile effort from the beginning and now that she's married and gone off to Paraguay, thank God, she'll trouble us no more. And as for Friend Ree, I only wish it were not too late to retract my peevish refusal of his dedication. For he, despite everything, will always be for me the best expression of human goodness. And you, dearest Lou, are and remain for me a being of first rank, about whom it is a pity forever . . . Oh, I am so alone. But then, that is as it should be. Yours, N.
REE: [moved to tears] Oh God, you should have married him. What a feeble substitute Andreas is.
LOU: [turning away from REE] My commitment to the laws of my own nature rule out my ever becoming any man's follower, mentally or physically. Though I know you think I've given other men what I've denied you, you're wrong. Andreas has agreed that our marriage will not only never be consummated sexually, but that I remain free to see and travel with anyone I please. And that, of course, includes you, my darling Paul. Fritzy would never have agreed to such conditions. And therein lies the tragedy of our encounter: as he himself so poetically put it, "Like two stars traveling in the same orbit, we were fated to clash if we met." How I love that line! Why can't you write like that? Your prose style is so . . .
[Ree rushes offstage weeping as LOU continues to read N's letter to herself while behind her ENTER, EXIT and ENTER again several times, the LANDLORD of the next scene, a slovenly Italian dressed in winter clothing, coughing and carrying in props which turn the stage into N's lodgings in Turin, Italy--a small table and one chair, a narrow cot, manuscripts and proofs piled about on the floor and on a dilapidated old upright piano on which sits a tray of medicine bottles, jars and potions. A heavy wooden trunk full of manuscripts, etc. lies open nearby]
[After a few minutes, REE returns with a pen in hand and, saying nothing, hands LOU a photo and, bowing, EXITs backwards without taking his eyes off her. LOU simply watches him, shaking her head, and as she examines the photo, the Bonnet Trinity Photo flashes on the scrim]
LOU:[reading the back of the photo aloud] "It is written that one should never chase after a runaway horse. If it is truly yours, it will return of its own accord. Be merciful! Do not search for me!" [tearing up the photo and tossing it to the ground as it disappears from the scrim] So it is written; so be it! [looking again at N's letter] "Two stars traveling the same orbit . . . fated to clash if we met." [crumpling N's letter and tossing it to the ground] So be it!
[EXIT LOU, and segue into next scene]
Two and a half years later, January 3, 1889. Turin, Italy.
Nietzsche's cold water flat. Afternoon.
The piazza Carlo Alberto is projected on the scrim, with catharses and a view of the snowy hill country beyond.
The LANDLORD sweeps up the crumpled letter and torn photo-graph from the last scene as ENTER N wrapped in an overcoat and a ratty woolen scarf, under which he wears the jacket of his old field artillery uniform open down the front and military boots. Blowing his fingers and rubbing his hands together, he walks about reading manuscript, a pen behind his ear, his double glasses pressed close to the paper.
LANDLORD: I'ma feenisha cleana uppa, Professore, eh? [gestures to the horribly messy room] Is ok, eh? I no make a da fire causa you say the smoka burna you eyes, eh? [a long pause during which N does not look up from his reading] I'ma go now, Professore! You promisa now, eh? No more pounda the piano or I calla the Carabenieri.
[N suddenly stands stiffly at attention and salutes as the LANDLORD shakes his head]
LANDLORD: Adi verderchi, Professore!
N: Danke, mein Leutnant. Bitte? [holding his salute until the LANDLORD, shaking his head resignedly, returns it] Would you mail these letters for me please? There's a good subaltern.
[The LANDLORD takes the letters, and making the crazy sign with his finger to his head, EXITs, broom in hand]
[N reads for some time, rubbing his eyes, shaking his head, etc., blowing on his fingers, his head pressed close to the paper as he tries to decipher what he's written. Suddenly he drops the MS, grabs his stomach in pain, and rushes to the medicine tray, where retching emptily several times, he quickly tosses off some pills and drinks hurriedly from several bottles, leaning against the piano and holding his head, swaying as Wagnerian music is heard offstage. N, obviously hallucinating, suddenly shouts toward the wings]
N :Interruptions! Interruptions! Come in! Come in!
[EXIT N, rushing into the wings]
N: [offstage] You'll wake the dead with all that pounding! . . Come in! Come in!
[ENTER WAGNER with COSIMA on his arm, followed by N]
N: Back again Richard? You apparently spend more time invading my dreams than you spend in Hell.
WAGNER: Well, now that you're dreaming while awake as well as asleep . . .
N: Hallucinating, you mean. [going over to the medicine tray and drinking out of several bottles as ENTER LIS and FORSTER arm in arm. Offering a bottle to WAGNER] Drink? [to COSIMA] Madame? [to LISBETH] Llama, darling? Tincture of Opium perhaps? [drinking, smacking his lips] Marvelous for migraine, and really quite tasty. Or this perhaps for stomach cramps? [sucking on another bottle, making a face] Not so tasty. And this for spasmodic vomiting. [gulping some down] And this, against the slothful intestines. [gulping]
LISBETH: My god! What a frightful arsenal of poisons and drugs! Fritzy,
you must stop this immediately!
You owe it to yourself and to Germany and all the world to stop this.
FORSTER: This constant hallucinating us back and forth from Paraguay is beginning to interfere with our colonizing effort.
N:[delighted] Yes, I hear some of our colonial Aryans aren't entirely happy with their new homeland. Accusations of misappropriation of funds is it?
WAGNER: [to Forster] I do hope this isn't going to be another long-winded harangue on the deficiencies of our respective characters. [to the others very genially] Certainly I'm no saint, but surely my great musical genius more than compensates for any minor deficiencies in my character.
[All save N clap approvingly]
N:Thank god you were only a musician and not a general or politician . . .
WAGNER: Only a musician? ONLY a musician?
COSIMA: Pay no attention darling; he's mad! [to LISBETH] He should be committed.
N: [to the audience] To think that this is the woman I once thought the reincarnation of Ariadne. In fact, my landlord has just dropped a letter in the post containing this single line, "Ariadne, I love you." Signed, "Dionysus." Or was it "The Crucified"? Several other letters posted today to public figures announce that I, The Crucified, shall be going to Rome on Tuesday where the princes of Europe together with the Pope are to assemble. I addressed a notice to this effect to the Secretary of State of the Vatican.
LIS:[excitedly] A convocation of European potentates in Rome?
FORSTER:With the Pope presiding?
WAGNER:[shaking his head] Mad as hatters. The whole blessed family.
[N goes to the piano and begins playing Beethoven's APPASIONATA]
N:Now this is real music, masculine, healthy, not that effeminate decadent garbage you write . . . wrote, I mean. Are there pianos in hell, I wonder?
COSIMA: Mad! No doubt about it.
WAGNER: A raving fatality. Progressive megalomania brought on by long-term, excessive masturbation.
LISBETH: I've been trying for years to get him to take the waters.
COSIMA:Too late for the waters now. Really you should have him committed you know--for his own good.
N:[leaving the piano and directly addressing the audience] Nonsense! It's true, I've been sick for many years. Specifically infected myself twice with syphilis. But at the moment I feel uncommonly well and in highest spirits. For this is my great harvest time. Everything suddenly comes easily to me; everything I try succeeds. Danes and Swedes recognize my genius even if the Germans don't. Even the great Strindberg is an admirer. It's time at last to bring out my biggest guns. [to COSIMA, making her jump into WAGNER's arms] Watch out! Watch out! I may just shoot the history of mankind into two halves. I tell you I feel something cataclysmic coming over me--something decisive and fateful standing between two millennia.
WAGNER: You mean like Before Fritz and in the Year of Our MADMAN? [laughing] Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche, madman philosopher of our age!
N: No, not of OUR age. [pointing to the audience] The New Age! However, people are even today beginning to treat me as though I were someone extremely distinguished; there's a way of opening a door for me that I've never encountered before. I can't believe the fascination I exercise on people . . .
FORSTER: Megalomania, no doubt of it!
WAGNER: Delusions of grandeur.
N: Wherever I go, I'm taken for someone very distinguished. [to LISBETH] You'd be amazed with what pride and dignity your brother struts about in his student jacket embracing and kissing people in the street and climbing atop walls shouting, "Don't worry! Everything is fine. I'm God. This farce is my creation."
LISBETH: [proudly, looking to heaven and crossing herself piously] My brother, the mad genius! Germany's lunatic saint!
WAGNER: Lunatic is right! His books, although meant as an exegesis of the gospel according to Nietzsche, reduces that gospel to absurdity.
LISBETH: [ecstatic, hands folded under her chin, eyes gazing heavenward] My brother, the preacher of the new gospel! Founder of the new religion of the Super Race! [thumbing through some MS] Here, let me find a passage to prove it. And if I can't, I'll forge one.
N:[snatching the manuscript out of LIS's hands] No! NO! Religion is the business of the mob! I want no "believers"; I've always had a terrific fear that someday I'll be pronounced "holy." I don't want to be a saint; I would much rather be a clown. Perhaps I am a clown. [directly to the audience] I don't deny that my ideas provide powerful intellectual weapons for bigots and assassins. I certainly am well aware that some day my name will be bound up with the recollection of something terrific--of a crisis quite unprecedented. I know my destiny. I'm not a man, I'm dynamite.
[N begins to play the APPASIONATA again raucously, madly, as on the scrim the horrors of twentieth-century warfare are projected]
[Pounding is heard under the stage, simulating the Landlord's pounding on the ceiling below]
N:[pausing in his playing] You hear this fellow in the cellarage. [to the floor] Alas, old mole, you spirit-thumping hypocrite, she's all yours, all yours!
COSIMA:[looking out an imaginary window] Oh look who's just arrived by horse cab--Louise and Paul. And Daddy and Jukowsky too.
LIS:[at the window] Why, it's the entire Bayreuth crowd. How did they all manage to fit in that little cab?
N:Simple! They're all only bodiless hallucinations like the rest of you.
[ENTER LANDLORD as the WAGNERS and FORSTERS EXIT like departing ghosts into the wings]
LANDLORD: Ifa you no stoppa the pounding, Professore. I'ma calla the Carabinieri!
N: [rising from the piano with great dignity, smoothing his hair etc.] Ah, yes, yes. Show the lady in. Only the lady! [rushing past the LANDLORD into the wings] Come in my dear. Come in.
[EXIT N and ENTER LOU dressed as a bride. Her face is veiled and she carries a bridal bouquet of lilac nosegays and wears a gown similar to the one Jukowsky made on her in Bayreuth. She is of course unseen by the puzzled Landlord since she is N's hallucination. ENTER N]
N:[to LANDLORD] Grazi, Signior Alighieri! Now back to the infernal regions, old mole! [pointing down]
LANDLORD: Now no more pounda the piano, Professore! Or I calla the Carabinieri!
[EXIT LANDLORD shaking his head and making the crazy sign. And as N monologuizes, LOU, like an automaton, walks stiffly about the stage as though coming down the aisle at a wedding]
N: [bowing deeply] Welcome to my cave, my dear! I had hoped to greet your return in better surroundings, but you see, I've been working, and . . . well, these are my sole possessions, these few books and manuscripts and, in this graceless wooden truck, my last two shirts and a second worn suit. [going to the medicine tray] And of course these bottles and jars and potions. May I offer you a drink my dear? Some of these lovely sedatives against insomnia. [kissing the bottles] My darlings Chloral Hydrate and Veronal. My only helpers in the empty silence of artificially conquered sleep. [gulping and wiping his mouth in his sleeve and blessing LOU with the bottles like a priest with a cross] Bene vixit qui bebe latuit. Who has hidden himself well has lived well--my epitaph. You see what posthumous thoughts occupy my mind. But a philosophy like mine is a tomb; it seals one off from the living. Sit down! Here! Here, my beauty!
[N pulls up the single chair and seats the automaton LOU, placing a kiss on top of her head as she sits stiffly looking out over her wedding bouquet at the audience vacantly]
N:Here let me catch you up on what you've been missing since Leipzig. Signs and wonders! Greetings from the Phoenix. [double glasses pressed close to the paper] Damn! Handwriting's worse than ever, and my eyes . . . burn like the fires of hell!
[Rubbing his eyes under the thick glasses, N begins to read aloud from his manuscript pages, throwing them into the air as he looks for a particular passage]
N:This is my new autobiography in which I declare my immortality. I finished it last month and, taking a leaf from the Bible, call it ECCE HOMO. ECCE HOMO! Behold the Man!" [throwing his arms out and posing like one joyously crucified] But what would you like to hear? [reading, pacing wildly, tossing pages] WHY I AM SO WISE? [scanning pages and tossing them] No! WHY I AM SO CLEVER? [scanning and tossing] How about WHY I WRITE SUCH EXCELLENT BOOKS? [scanning and tossing] Or perhaps, WHY I AM A FATALITY. Ah! Yes! WHY AM I A FATALITY?
[Suddenly he circles LOU's chair, pointing at her vindictively]
N:We all know, some of us even from experience, what a "long ears" is. [braying like an ass] HEEHAW! HEEHAW! [throwing open the trunk and coming up with the makeshift whip from the Bonnet Studio scene, and brandishing it over his head, braying] HEEHAW! Do you remember? Eh? What a jackass I made of myself over you? [raising the whip] When you go to women, don't forget your whip! That's the mistake I made in Lucerne, putting the whip in your hands. But now [brandishing the whip over her head and suddenly tossing it aside] Whip, hell! The sword!
[N reaches into the trunk again and comes up with his old field artillery sword, which he slowly and menacingly draws out of it's scabbard]
N:Yes, my sweet, times have changed! I can now assert without the slightest fear of contradiction that I have the smallest of all ears. [doing some expert sword work] As an old field artilleryman, I'm an expert with two weapons, saber and cannon--and possibly even a third [holding the sword at groin level] This interests women not a little, eh? It seems to me they FEEL . . . [doing one grind and bump with the sword held like an erect penis] that I now understand them better? A man must be FIRM. [making an obscene gesture] He must stand surely on his three legs. Otherwise he cannot love at all. What does he know of love who doesn't learn to despise just what he loves most?
[N drinks some more, wiping his mouth in his sleeve and burping loudly]
N: Indeed, women know this only too well, don't they, eh? They don't care a straw for unselfish, purely objective men like Friend Ree. As Zarathustra says, "Men should be trained for war, and women for the recreation of the warrior. All else is folly!" May I venture to suggest, by the way, that I know women? Who knows? Perhaps I am the first psychologist of the eternal feminine. They all like me.
[N, very vindictively, paces about, taking huge cuts out of the air with the sword as LOU cringes]
N:Save, of course, for the abortions among them, the emancipated ones. Fortunately, I'm not willing to let myself be torn to pieces! The emancipated woman tears you to pieces when she loves you: I know these amiable Maenads . . . What a dangerous, creeping, subterranean little beast of prey a woman is! And so agreeable at the same time! A little woman bent on revenge would annihilate Destiny itself. Woman is indescribably more wicked than man, and cleverer also. In a woman, goodness is already a sign of degeneration. But I say no more lest I become medicynical. [bursting out laughing] Medi-cynical? Get it? [taking a swig from a medicine bottle] Here read this!
[N tosses LOU's wedding bouquet toward the wings and places some manuscript pages in her hands which LOU reads aloud walking about as before doing the wedding step like an automaton]
LOU: [reading] " Women wish to become independent, so they are beginning to enlighten men about `woman as such': that is one of the worst steps forward in the general uglification of Europe. I think him a true friend of women who calls out to them today: `women should keep quiet about women'! When a woman has scholarly or political yearnings something is usually out of order with her sexually."
N: [directly to the audience] Have people listened to my definition of love? It is the only definition worthy of a philosopher. Love's methods are WAR; love's basis is the mortal hatred between the sexes. [confidentially] Have you heard my answer to the question how a woman can be cured, "redeemed"?--Give her a child! A woman needs children; man is always only a means; also sprach Zarathustra!
LOU: [reading] The emancipation of women: this is the instinctive hatred of degenerate--that is, barren women for those who are healthy. The battle against man is always only a means, a pretext, a tactical move . . .
N:[shouting at LOU, vehemently] And there are no more certain means to this end than UNIVERSITY EDUCATION, TROUSERS, and the rights of voting like CATTLE!
[N grabs LOU roughly by the arm and seats her in the chair, putting blank paper before her and placing the pen in her hand]
LOU: [ironically to the audience, peeking out from under her veil behind N's back,] Oh goody! Secretarial use!
N: What's that? What's that?
[LOU drops the veil over her face again and sits stiffly with pen poised]
N: [suddenly, very calmly, with his hands behind his back, like a professor
dictating as LOU takes down his words in shorthand] No longer am I the
jackass of Bonnet's Studio in Lucerne. On the contrary, I find myself pinning
a donkey's tail on the most serious things. For I am now the anti-ass par
excellence; I am a centaur,
[whinnying like a stallion] half animal, half man, and on this account alone a monster in the world's history-- DIONYSUS, the ANTICHRIST!
LOU:[lifting her veil again, ironically to the audience] Oh goody--sexual abuse?
N:I heard that! I heard that!
[N removes LOU's bridal veil menacingly and tosses it toward the wings where ENTER REE. Squatting, REE retrieves the veil. And as LOU's hair spills out over her shoulders, N, not noticing REE, lifts LOU out of the chair and begins to kiss and maul her menacingly, making movements of fornication. But as he lifts her bridal gown, discovering that she is dressed like a boy under it as she was in the Tautenburg forest and dream scenes, wearing trousers and a blue shirt, he begins to strip her]
N: [shouting] Away with these pseudo-masculine symbols. A woman is at her best naked and unashamed!
[As LOU submits joyously to N's mad advances, N notices REE busily on his knees picking up the abandoned pieces of clothing from the floor and laughs out loud]
N: Look who 's come to join our Ass Festival, the Black Priest of Stibbe, impotent, emasculated, and down on his knees. And how is it in accordance with thee, old Pope, to adore an ass in such a manner as God? [exposing LOU's derrière to REE] Kiss it, old pious pontiff-heart! Kiss your god!
[REE, on his knees, devoutly kisses LOU's naked derrière]
REE:[to LOU] Our horse cab's waiting, darling!
N: [laughing aloud] Better to adore God so, in this form, than in no form at all, eh? [pursing his lips and making obscene kissing sounds] But put thy finger to thy nose! [pinching his nose between two fingers and talking funny] Ah the fumes!
[waving his hand under his nose, eyes rolled heavenward]
[Still fully clothed and buttoned up, N obscenely attacks LOU from behind like a rutting satyr]
N: [to the audience] God seemeth to me most worthy of belief in this form. [braying] HEEHAW! HEEHAW! Divine donkeyism! The holy trinity reconstituted. Secretarial use and sexual abuse! It's what she longed for all the time. Oh, had I only raped her body as well as her mind in the Thuringian forest, she would have been mine all mine, mein liebchen, my heart of hearts.
[Suddenly pushing the all but naked LOU away from him, he shouts joyously, pointing at REE, who still kneels on the ground picking up LOU's discarded clothing]
N:But then who would have written Zarathustra? Who would have. Why, I would have become like him, impotent, emasculated, down on my knees. "Is it not better to fall into the hands of a murderer than into the hands of a woman in heat?" Thus spake Zarathustra.
[Laughing madly, N tosses LOU at REE, who catches her, futilely trying to cover her nakedness with the torn clothing. Then bowing to N obsequiously, REE hurriedly forces LOU offstage]
LOU:[reaching yearningly back toward N] Secretarial use, and sexual abuse . . . please!
REE: Darling please! Our horse cab's waiting!
[EXIT LOU and REE, REE braying like an ass]
REE: [off stage] HEEHAW!
N: [his fist raised defiantly] Go! Go! Leave me! I have no time for ass festivals, no time for love, for marriage, for children! It is a dear price a man pays for being immortal: he must die many times over during his life. I draw circles around me and holy boundaries. In me all opposites are resolved. I hurl Lightning bolts toward undreamed-of futures. Superman becomes the greatest reality--the highest of all living things where everything heavy shall become light, and every spirit a bird and every body a dancer--verily that is my ALPHA and OMEGA!
[N dances, whirling, and falling to his knees breathlessly, but as music begins softly to pervade the house, suddenly he is weeping and tossing manuscript into the air despondently, like a snow fall]
N:I have no time for love, for marriage, for children. This is my marriage, my children! LOU! LOU! Oh how I love you, love you eternally and ever more. How I want it all back again, all of it, all the joy and all the woe and pain. Everything. All of it entangled, ensnared, enamored. For all joy wants eternity. Joy wants the eternity of all things, wants deep, wants deep, deep eternity. Amor Fati!
[Suddenly, the recorded whinnying of a horse in pain is heard offstage
from the rear of the house, punctuated by the recorded operatic screams
of the SOPRANO and the recorded ominous voices of the company shouting
alternately, first LOU, then LIS, then FORSTER, COUNT JUKOWSKY, COSIMA,
and the entire company in a rapid jumble of voices and sound effects, the
lashing of whips etc.]
[LOU] Giddyup! Giddyup! Get in, everybody get in. I'll make her gallop! She'll gallop all right! Giddyup!N: [looking out over the audience, shouting] What are you doing? You'll crush her; you'll kill her! [ rushes down into the audience, running up the center aisle to the back of the house, as THE COMPANY continues its recorded rant and ENTER LANDLORD]
[LIS] Come on lads, all bring your whips. No being sorry for her!
[FORSTER] That's it; let her have it! Lash her! Lash her!
[LIS] WILL TO POWER! LIVE DANGEROUSLY! BECOME HARD! MASTER RACE! SUPERMAN!
[N] Papa! Papa! look what they're doing! They're beating that poor horse.
[FORSTER] Beat her to death! Give it to her!
[LOU] Get in some more of you! Everybody get in! She's damn well going to gallop!
[FORSTER] Let's have a song lads.
[COMPANY] [singing] Stille Nacht. HEILIGE NACHT. etc.
[laughter and the whinnying and the operatic screams growing louder and louder]
[THE COMPANY] [alternating] Lash her! Lash her! Why are you stopping? She's tough. Take and ax to her. Finish her off with one blow! This time she'll go down for certain lads! With one blow! Look out! [sounds of a crushing blow] Finish her! Finish her! Hit her on the nose! And across the eyes! Beat her across the eyes!
N: Stop it! Stop it! You'll crush her! You'll kill her!
LANDLORD: [shouting from on-stage after the fleeing N] Professore, where you go? Professore, come-a back! Come-a back!
[The recorded sounds of whipping, whinnying and operatic screaming continues from the back of the house and BLACKOUT]
N: Murderers! Murderers! You've killed Her. She's dead! GOD IS DEAD!
LANDLORD:[wailing] Jesu Christi, Professore! Jesu Christi!
[BLACKOUT and segue into next scene]
PSYCHIATRIC CLINIC - JENA, GERMANY - (1890)
The lights come up on N sitting in a fetal position in a white hospital gown before the closed curtain. LISBETH in traveling clothes is conferring with a white coated DOCTOR carrying a pen and clipboard.
DOCTOR: His landlord in Turin reported the patient running out of his lodgings on the morning of the third of January to stop a cab man from beating his horse. This was at the cab rank in the Piazza Carlo Alberto. [flipping pages on his clipboard] Ah, here! [reading] " With a cry the patient flung himself across the square and threw his arms about the horses neck, lost consciousness, and slid to the ground still clasping the tormented animal."
LISBETH: A cab horse you say? How strange.
D: [reading] "The patient was carried back to his room through the gathering crowd and attended by a local physician. He lay unconscious for several hours and when he awoke was no longer himself, maintaining that he was a famous man and calling for women. When quieted down, he began writing rather mad letters to friends and dignitaries which he signed THE CRUCIFIED."
L: THE CRUCIFIED? My God!
D: "A letter to Frau Richard Wagner contains the single line ARIADNE
I LOVE YOU! He insists it was Frau Wagner who brought him to the
clinic, when in fact it was a Professor Overbeck who smuggled him out of
before the Italian authorities could commit him." Ah yes, here is a direct quote: "My wife Cosima Wagner brought me here."
L: Cosima? His wife?
D: His behavior demonstrates a complete mental breakdown. Only one diagnosis is possible: paralysis progressiva due to an old infection, most probably syphilis
D: Yes, based on the clinical entry dated the day of the patient's admission, January 8, 1889, "the patient claims that he has specifically infected himself twice."
L: Syphilis? Infected himself? Absurd! My brother was an ascetic. He . . .
D: Herr Professor, you have a visitor.
[N responds only lethargically]
L: [weepy] It's your darling Llama, liebchen. Don't you recognize me Fritzy? I'm taking you home for Christmas. It's too horrible! I blame myself. Had I been here instead of off with my husband colonizing the jungles of Paraguay . . .
D: You will have enough to do caring for the patient at home without blaming yourself in the bargain. I advise you once again to leave the patient here with us. Losing a brother to madness and a husband to suicide, all in the course of six short months Frau Forster . . .
L: Frau Forster NIETZSCHE if you please! I have taken legal action to reinstate my maiden name. Preamble to filing suits against all who besmirch the family escutcheon whether by attributing my late husband's tragic death to suicide or my sainted brother's collapse to syphilis or any other cause save Chloral Hydrate poisoning. I have so publicly stated in the press and am prepared to defend in the courts You understand me Herr Doktor?
D: Chloral Hydrate poisoning. So be it. Shall we proceed then with the signing of the release papers, Frau Forster?
L: Frua Forster NIETZSCHE! Frau Forster NIETZSCHE.
[Nietzsche begins howling as APPLAUSE o.s. accompanies a black and white MONTAGE of the destruction of WORLD WAR I --Kaiser Wilhelm, trench warfare, the signing of the armistice, the chaos of the German Republic, bread lines etc.--culminating in the applause of the crowd gathered at the ARCHIVES in 1934.]
August 1934. Weimar, Germany. The Nietzsche Archives.
Recorded applause as lights come up on "WELCOME-TO-THE-NIETZSCHE-ARCHIVES" scrim, and ENTER LIS, now a very vital old woman in her late eighties, wearing granny glasses and a bonnet as in the famous photograph of her welcoming Hitler to the Nietzsche Archives in 1934.
A speaker's podium is set up before LIS, center the apron of the stage. The famous marble bust of N on a pedestal is placed to one side.
As the recorded applause dies down, LIS begins her address rather sweetly and feebly like an endearing old grandmother but, gathering strength, ends in a rant.
LIS: Ladies and Gentleman, welcome to Weimar, the home of Goethe and of the great Wagner Music Festivals, which are coming to rival even those at Bayreuth. And, of course, welcome to the home of our internationally renowned Nietzsche Archives on this thirty-fourth anniversary of my sainted brother's death. It is enough to make one weep with joy to see what has become of Nietzsche and the Nietzsche Archives in the nearly half century since I first dedicated my life, heart and soul, to the preservation of my sainted brother's name and holy writings. For which I have, as you know, personally been considered several times by the Swedish Academy for a Noble Prize.
Fifty years ago, my sainted brother's writings were virtually unread inside as well as outside Germany. Now ZARATHUSTRA is the bible of our new German youth and, thanks to our heroic new chancellor, these archives have become a center for the presentation of our new German ideology and my brother hailed as the philosophic father of National Socialism. Indeed, these last few years of our new chancellor's rise to power seem to me like a glorious resurrection of my own brother's heroic struggle up from the depths of obscurity to his rightful place in the hearts and minds of our nation. My brother's great doctrine of WILL TO POWER is reincarnated in the advent of Germany's new leader who has with incredible courage has taken upon himself the entire responsibility of his people, And were he with us today my brother would lovingly embrace our new Siegfried as the glorious embodiment of his own ideals. And, like the avid Wagnerian my brother was, he would compare the advent of our heroic new leader, to Parifal's final act of redemption. For like our new chancellor, my brother adored Richard Wagner's PARSIFAL above all other music in the world.
[PARSIFAL music is heard]
LIS: Yes, my brother would be drunk with enthusiasm because at the head of our government stands the SUPERMAN my brother called for in Zarathustra. And we have finally achieved the ONE Germany which for centuries our poets depicted longingly in their poems and for which we have all been waiting: [fervently, her hand raised in the Nazi salute] EIN Volk! EIN Reich! EIN FUHRER!
[DRUM ROLLS offstage and the recorded sounds of DEUTSCHELAND UBER ALLES played by an ump-pah-pah band fill the house as enter several goose-stepping Brownshirts in Austrian walking shorts, suspenders, and swastika armbands, followed by a genial ADOLPH HITLER similarly dressed who, smoothing his forelock and smiling broadly, clicks his heels and gallantly kisses LIS's hand as she curtsies shyly and relinquishes the podium]
SOLDIERS:[ saluting] Sieg Heil! [drum roll] Sieg Heil! [drum roll] Seig Heil! [drum roll]
[The stage is now lighted with maddeningly flickering strobes, as the recorded sounds of HITLER's ranting at Nuremberg etc. fill the house, accompanied by a fist-pounding, foot-stomping pantomime at the podium and a cacophony of wild Wagnerian music, the screaming, exploding sounds of warfare, clanking of tanks, dive bombers etc., accompanying appropriate images on the scrim and rising to a maddening crescendo as lights slowly fade to BLACKOUT]
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