The Expatriates Query and Synopsis
The Expatriates is the second full-length dramatic work I have written, and the culmination of over a year and a half's research, rough drafts, and improvisations. Though it has taken me this long to finally bring it near completion, I would like to say that there is still room for improvement, and that is why I chose to submit it to the Playwrights Workshop of Scotch n' Soda.
The script is largely based on fact, though there are of course obvious deviations and creative licenses taken with several scenes and many of the characters and their attributes. It is set in Paris during the first thirty years of the Twentieth century, in the salon of Gertrude Stein, peopled by some of the most prolific authors and artists of our times, including Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Pablo Picasso.
To me, the action of the play does not center around the artists' works, though there are many references to them, but more importantly on their private lives, and how they felt to be part of an "oppressed" group after World War I, since the social standards of America shifted greatly at that time. The play is in some ways a historical drama, but there are many underlying themes that I have tried to work into the structure of the plot. The most important and apparent, I hope, is that the piece is a thinly veiled account of the life of anyone who seems to be or is an outsider. It also deals with the struggles of creating something, whether it is fiction or poetry or visual art, and how others around you can affect artistic vision. Another theme is that of escapism; the fact that all of these people fled their homelands in search of a place of refuge for their creative outlets is one of the common traits among all the characters. Even in this place of "sanctuary," however, they were unable to avoid the kinds of problems and responsibilities they gave up after leaving America. Paris, to them, was both a place to express themselves, but also a place to hide from their own troubles and emotions. During a time when life was seemingly becoming more and more realistic and disturbing and utterly unbearable, each one created his or her own world to live in, ignoring their troubles until it was too late to pretend. In the end it is these truths about themselves that metaphorically "destroy" them. One could even consider the salon as nothing more than a masquerade ball where the dancers never seem to leave the floor, even after the strains of the last waltz are echoing into nothing.
The play deals with Stein's lesbianism, Hemingway's bullishness and adultery, Hadley's naivete, Fitzgerald's alcoholism, and Zelda's schizophrenia. It can be performed simply enough, with ten high back chairs, assorted furniture, and a massive collection of Twentieth Century art, which hangs from either a cyclorama, a fly, or is simply the back wall. The action is continuous, with an intermission between acts. The cast calls for six men of varying age, four women of varying age, a young boy, and numerous servants who act as crew in moving set pieces on our off with the actors. Running length is about two hours, give or take.
A Play in Two Acts
Charles L. Cron
"...you do not grow up in America, you and your children and their children with the goyische names. You do not live in America. No such place exists."
- Tony Kushner
Angels in America
Cast of Characters:
Gertrude Stein Ernest Hemingway Alice B. Toklas F. Scott Fitzgerald Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald Hadley Richardson Hemingway Sherwood Anderson Leo Stein Ezra Pound Pablo Picasso John Hadley "Bumby" Hemingway Various Servants, a Photographer, and his Assistant
The action takes place in the salon of Gertrude and Leo Stein, 27 rue de Fleurus, Paris, during the first thirty years of the Twentieth Century.
There is no front curtain; the stage and its setting are visible as the audience begins to enter the theater. Placed on the stage are ten gold high back chairs, each with red velvet seats and backs. Five of the chairs are placed downstage at the proscenium running parallel to the apron. The other five are placed slightly upstage of these. Hanging upstage of the chairs is an enormous array of cubist and fauve paintings. Beyond this hangs a blank cyclorama.
The lights dim down to almost nothing, making the chairs nearly indiscernible. At the same time, the light and shadows of a paneled glass door fall on the stage near the extreme left proscenium, making it appear as if it were dawn. Bathed in the light is a stout, elderly woman, looking off left into the distance, admiring the sun rising on the new day. This is Gertrude Stein, more than seventy, clutching her hands to her breast almost in awe. As she speaks, half to the audience and half to herself as if in a trance, the lights on the chairs dim out completely.
STEIN (dreamlike and almost inaudible): In my life I have seen many people. I have sat with the most gifted and prolific men and women of my generation, as well as the next. I have made many friends, and nearly twice as many enemies, but that is of precious little concern to me. And in my life I have written more than twenty books, and encompassing a countless number of words. My life had amounted to nothing more - a word. (turning) Mark Twain once said, "The difference between the right word and the wrong word is like the difference between lightning and a lightning bug." I would tend to agree with him, on most accounts. I have read many books by men and women, and corrected the works of such men as Hemingway and Fitzgerald. I have written of my own life through the life of my companion, and I have found that when one examines one's own life, one can only realize how frivolous that existence can be. And in my life, I have found that mine was the most frivolous of them all. I made my domain Paris, in a tiny salon filled with the paintings of struggling artists, all of whom are famous now. I have had writers and admirers alike sit at my feet and listen to my every word, as if I were a goddess they were sacrificing to. In these days my callers are young GI's on leave in France; not that there is anything wrong with that, but I do miss the geniuses who once people my studio, long ago in the early days. (pause, turning left) The sun has come at last - and it will bring another day, and another crowd of eager visitors, waiting to nod and gaze at the dowager empress who it seems will never die. Me, who is really no one in particular. Just the fact that I once knew men and women who have become modernlegends is enough for tourists to come bustling by, and drop in to see this chapter of history. I have often thought of writing an autobiography of my life with the world of geniuses and almost-geniuses who have inhabited it. It has been nearly forty years since they came to visit me, and I have forgotten many of their names and thoughts and ideas and works. Yet I can still see their faces.
She stops and remains frozen. From the right side we hear a door open and close, and Gertrude's lifelong companion, Alice B. Toklas, enters, dressed in a Chinese nightgown and carrying a silver tea service.
ALICE: You are up early this morning, Gertrude.
She sets the tea things down on one of the upstage chairs, and begins to cross left.
STEIN: Nonsense, I never went to bed. It is my custom to start my work near midnight, and fall asleep as the sun begins to rise.
ALICE: As you have done so many times before.
STEIN: Yes, but standing here and remembering has made me forget to go to bed.
ALICE: No matter, lovey, I brought breakfast. There are some excellent croissants from across the Seine...
STEIN: Not this morning. I am tired, and I need my rest.
Gertrude turns back and looks off left again. Alice nods and crosses right to take the tea things off right. As she does, Gertrude speaks.
STEIN (listlessly and dream-like): The sun is already nearly over the hill.
Alice picks up the tray, and begins to exit; then she half-turns toward Gertrude on her way out.
ALICE: It sounds like a very good opening line for your autobiography.
Gertrude turns and looks toward her as Alice exits right.
STEIN: My companion, Miss Toklas, has been an extremely devoted friend and confidante over the course of my life, and it was she who first thought of writing an autobiography. I teased her about the idea, and after several days of prodding, she told me she would be incapable of writing it herself. So I wrote it for her. (motioning to herself) I have never truly had an autobiography. It shall become my crusade, as Jason's was to seek the Golden Fleece.
The lights suddenly come up on stage.
STEIN (crossing to the second chair): I must first explain the place and time. The setting is constant - Paris, France; most specifically, my apartments in Montparnasse, 27, rue de Fleurus, to be precise. The time - varying, dependent on subject, but mostly during those Roaring Twenties the people in America were so constantly abuzz about. And the characters... (acknowledging herself) Myself... my companion, Miss Toklas...
Alice comes on again from the right, now dressed in a simple dove gray dress and hat, carrying a massive needlepoint she will work on during the course of the play when the action is not focused on her. At the same time, Ernest Hemingway, a little more than twenty, and his wife, Hadley, eight years his senior, enter from the left. He is dressed in a newsman's suit of light brown, she in a dark skirt and faded blouse.
STEIN (motioning to the left): My prized pupil, Ernest Hemingway.
HEMINGWAY (motioning to Hadley): And my wife, Hadley Richardson Hemingway.
He helps her to her seat, the first in the second row near the left proscenium, then goes to his seat, the first of the front row. As he does, F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald enter, dressed in traveling clothes and coats. He is a handsome, post-college type young man, his wife is a fiery and vivacious Southern belle.
STEIN (motioning to them): F. Scott Fitzgerald, patron of the Jazz Age.
FITZGERALD (motioning to Zelda): And my wife, Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald.
Fitzgerald helps Zelda to her seat, the fourth in the front row. She impishly regards it and sits down poutfully with a swish of skirts. He smiles and goes to his seat, the third in the front row, and sits. At the same time, Sherwood Anderson, an astute, older gentleman enters from the right, dressed in a dark suit and carrying himself with an assured manner.
STEIN: My good friend from Ohio, Sherwood Anderson.
Anderson bows slightly to her, then goes to his chair, the fifth and closest to the right proscenium in the front row, and sits. As he does, Leo Stein, Gertrude's older brother, enters and comes down to her side. He is just as dignified as his sister, in the way he walks, speaks, and dresses.
STEIN: My brother, Leo, who shares identical tastes with myself, especially in the arts.
He sniffs and walks to his seat, the third in the second row, and sits. As he does, Ezra Pound enters, dressed in a shabby brown suit and hat. Despite his clothes, he is passionate in appearance, with a dark goatee beard and penetrating eyes.
STEIN: Ezra Pound, every inch the vie de Boheme, from head to toe.
Ezra goes to his seat, the fourth in the second row, and sits. As he does, Pablo Picasso enters, dressed in an artist's smock and carrying his easel. He is wide-eyed and humble-looking.
STEIN: And Pablo Picasso, my one and only genius discovery of art nouveau in the Twentieth Century.
He sits. Gertrude takes a step forward and with a swooping gesture acknowledges all on stage.
STEIN: These were the prominent people in my world, the world of Paris in the early Twenties.
The stage goes suddenly black, except for a tight light on Gertrude near her chair.
STEIN: But before I proceed into that world, and what happened afterward, as well as the terrible insurrection that tore us all apart, I must first explain briefly how my brother and I arrived in Paris in the early days of the Twentieth Century.
The lights come up on the stage again, which is now empty, except for Gertrude and Leo, and their two chairs. The portraits and paintings have disappeared.
STEIN: Being of an old and distinguished family, my brother and I were brought up and educated in some of the country's finest schools. Why my brother first took to painting and writing is obvious. We had both traveled about Europe, and seen a great many works of art, but we had never been serious up until that time. My brother...
Leo clears his throat and interrupts her.
LEO: I was accepted at the Academie in Paris one summer, and Gertrude and I received a convenient telegram from a distant cousin of ours who was currently looking at studios in the Artist's Quarter.
A servant enters with a telegram, which Leo takes and reads. Gertrude crosses toward him and reads over his shoulder. Another servant brings out their coats and gloves.
LEO: "Charming, elegant ground-floor apartments in rue de Fleurus in Montparnasse, Paris, France. Atelier and rooms above optional. Needs decorum though. Wire in reply."
STEIN: Sounds a bit seedy, don't you think?
LEO: Why do you say that?
STEIN: I don't know. (putting on her coat and gloves) Come along, or we'll miss the steamer.
The lights change suddenly. They cross downstage to the apron.
LEO: We went to Paris that summer, and found the rue de Fleurus quite...
STEIN (interrupting): ...seedy.
LEO (looking at her perturbed): ...appropriate.
They turn upstage, and as they do, the lights change boldly to suggest that we are now in Paris, and the rue de Fleurus. Beat, as they walk upstage hesitantly, looking around, turning about in circles. Another long beat.
STEIN (finally): I told you it sounded a bit seedy.
LEO: It's large enough for all artistic purposes.
STEIN : It's perfectly awful. (regarding the blank cyclorama) White-wash wall, and in the middle of the suburbs. No one lives in the suburbs, except poor, seedy artists and poor, seedy tourists.
LEO: I think it will do quite nicely.
STEIN : It needs some color.
LEO (absentmindedly): Well, perhaps we'll buy a few paintings to spice it up a bit.
Gertrude looks at him resolutely, and the lights dim down again.
LEO: Shortly after our arrival in our new studio we began a modest collection of new paintings. Our chief interests were in Matisses, but since my brother and his wife owned several exceptional canvases, and Gertrude and I had two or three ordinary ones, we developed other tastes. In Cezanne we found a celebration of life and shape. Our only difficulty in buying paintings was our different choices.
During the above, paintings have slowly descended from the flies.
LEO: Vollard was our chief patron in outfitting us with the new painters, and we often went to the vernissage of the independent, where we saw Duchamp and Seurat and others we would come to collect.
STEIN: It was at Vollard's one afternoon that we found, quite accidentally, a tiny nude portrait by a young Spanish gentleman.
They cross upstage and look back and forth as if examining canvases at Vollard's shop.
STEIN (turning to Leo): This Pablo Picasso is certainly talented.
LEO: Mmmm, yes. I like the blue color scheme, but not the forms. How about the large Cezanne landscape?
STEIN (motioning left): I'm rather fond of the Picasso.
Leo looks left, as if toward the Picasso, and rolls his eyes.
LEO (to audience): Our typical problem, as usual.
STEIN: And the typical solution was to buy the two of them, and satisfy the both of us.
A servant brings on two canvases, which he hands to Leo and Gertrude.
STEIN: I wonder where we could meet this Picasso.
LEO: What on earth for?
STEIN: I think he has potential. Potential to become a new renaissance artist. (to audience) On our next visit to the shop, I inquired to Vollard as to where we could find this extraordinary talent. After much dallying, which culminated in our buying two more Cezannes, he told me where his Picasso's flat was.
She hands her canvas to Leo, who exits off left as Pablo Picasso, in his white artist's smock, enters right. He places his easel so that the audience can view the painting he is working on now, another cubist nude. At the same time, a servant brings on a small stool and places it near the left proscenium.
STEIN: His studio was extremely, and terribly, but was not entirely devoid of charm.
PICASSO (bowing): Mademoiselle Gertrude...it is a pleasure to finally have you here. Vollard has spoken so highly of you.
STEIN: Thank you, Monsieur Picasso.
PICASSO: Please, sit down.
PICASSO: Was it something in particular you wanted?
STEIN (confused): I'm not quite sure what you mean.
PICASSO: I propose a portrait.
STEIN (surprised): Of me?
PICASSO (readying his brush): Yes.
STEIN (to audience): It was as simple as that. I had come to visit my new art interest, with nothing more in mind than talk, and he had instantly asked me to pose for him. It was an odd sort of patronage, but I liked it.
He gets up, and takes her hand, posing her for the portrait. He takes a new, blank canvas, and turns the easel away from the audience.
STEIN: The sittings were innumerable, and too often unbearable due to the chill now descending on Paris for the winter.
Picasso begins to paint, studiously examining his work and absentmindedly talking.
PICASSO: Did you hear that charming little story about Henri?
STEIN (to audience): Matisse. (to Picasso) No, what?
PICASSO: It seems that Henri bought some rather expensive fruit this autumn, to paint. But he had to keep it as cold as possible while he painted it to prevent it from spoiling. So he deliberately kept his studio quite frigid, in order to finish before it was rotten.
STEIN: Sounds a trifle excessive, don't you think?
PICASSO (dabbing his brush in a rag): That is his style, Mademoiselle Gertrude. The green stripe on the nose, pour example.
Beat. He takes a step backward and stops, examing his work.
PICASSO: I am done...for today, at any rate.
Gertrude turns her head, and gets up to look at the painting. Her face registers general disgust.
STEIN: It looks nothing like me.
PICASSO: Ah, but that is the charming part, Mademoiselle Gertrude, truly. I am not painting your face as it is now. I am painting it as it will be tomorrow, or the next day, or the next. It is a portrait of the future, Mademoiselle Gertrude, not a portrait of the present.
STEIN (smiling): You must come to our flat in the rue de Fleurus this Saturday evening. My brother is giving a party for his friends at the Academie. You may perhaps find a potential buyer.
PICASSO (bowing): It would be an honor.
She smiles at him again, crossing to the center of the stage as the lights go down. Picasso goes off with his easel.
STEIN: My brother, of course, did not care for the portrait, neither when it was being painted nor when it was finished.
The stage is overtaken by a brilliant flash, and glitters almost immediately. The servants come onstage carrying trays of wine. Gertrude, in her dark corduroy dress, takes a glass and drinks. Leo comes onstage with Alice. Picasso, dressed in a tidy formal jacket, enters. Underneath, we hear the bustling sounds of voices and laughter from the "invisible" people. We also hear the opening strains of Mozart's Serenade in G. As the refrain begins, Gertrude addresses the audience.
STEIN: It became our custom to hold Saturday evening parties with our friends and associates. (turning) Monsieur Picasso.
PICASSO: Mademoiselle Gertrude.
STEIN (explanatory): His first mistress, Fernande, often accompanied him. She was a beautiful creature, every bit as beautiful as a young French girl should be. Leo's friends from the Academie would often come, as would some of our elder brother's and his wife's.
LEO: Gertrude, I would like you to meet Miss Alice B. Toklas. She has only just arrived from the United States, and has been staying with a friend at the rue Notre Dame des Champs.
STEIN: The same Miss Toklas whom Michael and Sarah met in San Francisco after that terrible earthquake?
ALICE (embarrassed): The same, I admit.
STEIN (delighted): Darling, it is a pleasure.
She kisses her on both cheeks. Alice is rather taken back by her extreme informality.
STEIN: How long are you planning to stay in Paris?
ALICE: I'm not sure. Harriet, my traveling companion, thought of returning next fall, but we still haven't made up our minds.
STEIN: It is good to get away from those troubles in America. Dearest Michael tells me that you would like to go abroad, perhaps?
ALICE: Quite possibly. I have always wanted to travel abroad. I'm afraid I haven't had much chance, until the death of my grandfather. His legacy to me has paid my fare to France.
STEIN: Then you must come with my brother and me on our next trip abroad this summer.
ALICE: That would be very nice, Miss Stein, but...
STEIN: Indeed, it would be very nice...
ALICE: ...But I should like to see what my companion thinks, first.
STEIN: Of course, you must. I've decided. Leo and I would love to have you come with us this summer. Wouldn't we, Leo?
LEO (surprised): I really haven't given it any thought.
STEIN: That was the whole point.
LEO (pausing): Yes, I suppose so.
ALICE: You are most kind, Mr. Stein. And you as well, Miss Stein.
STEIN: Miss Toklas, may I present Pablo Picasso, a friend who resides in Montparanasse. He is currently working on a painting of me for my studio. (as Alice shakes Picasso's hand) Monsieur Picasso's lady friend, Miss Fernande, gives several teas during the afternoons here, and is an excellent tutor in French. Are you learning much French, now that you are in our beautiful city?
ALICE: I was hoping to catch on to some of it as Harriet and I continue to live here.
STEIN: Oh, but wouldn't it be perfect for you to take French lessons from Fernande? She's truly very talented, isn't she, Monsieur Picasso?
PICASSO: Genuinely. She is a native.
STEIN: Then that is settled, too. Tomorrow afternoon, vous allez chez Fernande Picasso pour votre premier lesson de francais.
Alice is caught up in all of this, looking from person to person confusedly. The lights dim down slightly, and a light comes up on Alice.
ALICE: Up until now, I had not met so many geniuses in my life. I have only ever known three legitimate geniuses - two of whom I met that night at the Stein studio. The first was Miss Stein, who had an air of god-like assurance about her from the moment I met her. After reading some of her earlier works, I was convinced. The second was Monsieur Picasso, whose paintings I first saw on the walls in the rue de Fleurus, and which I examined later that evening.
The lights come up again.
STEIN (looking around): There are many important people here tonight, Miss Toklas, and I shall feel obliged to take you under my wing and introduce you to them all.
ALICE: That really is most kind of you, Miss Stein, but you needn't feel...
STEIN: Tut-tut, say no more. Come, we have guests to attend to.
Gertrude links her arm with Alice's, who is quite surprised and a little shocked at her forwardness. The lights dim, and Alice addresses the audience again.
ALICE: I had never expected to find so many polite and wonderful people. It was as if suddenly I had been thrust through the looking glass into a world peopled with geniuses and their counterparts, and I was suddenly caught up in that world. I wanted to be part of that world forever.
The lights remain dimmed as Gertrude and Alice pantomime walking through the crowds of people and talking and greeting and smiling and laughing. As they do, the humming and talking of the "guests" grows exceedingly louder until everything is overtaken by darkness and sound, and then sharply cut-off. When the lights come up again, we are in Picasso's studio. Gertrude is sitting in her chair, frozen, as Picasso is painting her portrait. Hanging center stage is the huge Les Desmoiselles d'Avignon. Alice is standing directly in front of it, engrossed in it. She turns around to watch Picasso and Gertrude, then back to look at the painting. Picasso turns toward her and addresses her.
PICASSO: What do you think of it, Mademoiselle Alice? It is beautiful, is it not?
ALICE: I don't quite know what to think of it, Monsieur Picasso.
STEIN (turning toward them): I believe it is a testament to modern art.
PICASSO (extremely flattered): Really?
STEIN: Yes, I do. I think it is visually stunning. I love the bold shapes.
ALICE: I like the...colors.
PICASSO: Thank you, Mademoiselle Alice, but I was not inviting a compliment.
STEIN: Oh, yes, you were indeed inviting a compliment. All artists like it when people fawn over them, and more especially fawn over their work.
PICASSO: Surely, Mademoiselle enjoys looking at my paintings?
STEIN: Yes, I do. But I won't enjoy looking at my portrait if you don't hurry up and finish it.
PICASSO: But, Mademoiselle Gertrude, it must be perfect.
STEIN: And how many more sittings until perfection will be achieved?
PICASSO: It is hard to tell. (beat) So, Mademoiselle Alice, when do you return to America?
ALICE: Harriet and I were thinking of leaving in about a month, maybe two.
STEIN (almost child-like): This is a disturbing subject, I don't wish to hear about it.
She folds her arms across her breast.
PICASSO (looking intently at the canvas, agitated): You have stirred from your original position.
She looks back at him, then unfolds her arms. He smiles at her and continues to paint.
PICASSO: How was your French lesson at Fernande's?
ALICE: I was very enlightening.
STEIN: It's such a shame you two have quarreled and gone away from each other. It certainly put a damper on last Saturday evening's party.
PICASSO: I'm very sorry to have upset your guests.
STEIN: Think nothing of it. I considered it entertaining. Fernande asked after you.
PICASSO: Did she?
PICASSO: So, now do you speak French like a native, Mademoiselle Alice?
ALICE (laughing): Oh, hardly. I am still learning my pronunciations, and my verbs. The talk, however, never strays from the subject of hats.
PICASSO (stopping suddenly): That will be all for this afternoon. Have you brought the papers?
STEIN: Unfortunately, no, I gave them to Fernande as we were leaving.
PICASSO: You must bring them next week, then.
STEIN: I will indeed.
Picasso goes off stage, carrying his easel. As he does, the painting flies up and out, leaving Alice and Gertrude alone, as the lights dim down.
ALICE: I believe that painting is horrific.
STEIN: It will be remembered long after we're all dead and forgotten. I believe that's the beauty of art. Its permanence.
ALICE: Why did you promise him the comic papers the next time, after you promised Fernande you would do the same?
STEIN: Because, my dear, by that time both of them will be back together again, and we won't have to worry about who to give the comic papers to.
Alice nods, and the lights come up on Leo, sitting center stage reading. Next to him is a table with various articles on it, including two umbrellas and two fans. Gertrude and Alice join him.
STEIN: Oh, let's not talk about painting anymore. I so want to get away from here. Where shall we go this summer?
STEIN: Oh, God, not again. Let's go to Venice.
LEO (moaning): Venice? If you plan to go to Venice, you can find some other traveling partner. I couldn't stand to see it again.
STEIN: Oh, very well, Alice will go.
ALICE (surprised): Me?
STEIN: Yes, of course, you. We've talked about it before, my dear.
ALICE: But Harriet and I were planning to...
STEIN: Oh, nonsense, you can go back to America alone after the trip, can't you?
ALICE: Yes, but...
STEIN (taking an umbrella): Say no more...we're going.
She opens the umbrella, motions for Alice to do likewise, and the lights brighten a little. There is a sudden burst of bright music, as she and Alice cross right, and "circle" around Leo, who rises and calls after them as they go. As he speaks servants remove the table and chair.
LEO: You had better not bring anything useless back, like the last time. I still haven't found a place for the gondolier's hat.
He exits, and Gertrude and Alice come full circle downstage left, fanning themselves. They look out over the audience as if it were the Venetian countryside.
STEIN: Oh, isn't that breathtaking?
ALICE: Yes, it is.
STEIN: I could walk barefoot from here to Assissi, and not care at all how rough the road was. Just to watch the landscape go from here to the horizon, and beyond. (inhaling deeply, invigorated) Let's go walking now, shall we?
ALICE: Certainly, but I'm not taking my shoes off.
STEIN (laughing heartily): Oh, Alice! (crossing the stage leisurely) My first trip to Venice was shortly after my brother and I were in enrolled in Johns Hopkins.
ALICE: Was it interesting? I mean, with all that medical training and background?
STEIN: No, it was stifling, and really rather dull.
ALICE: Really? And why did you leave? Surely not because it was dull. Why did you go to Italy?
STEIN: Liberation. He and I were tired of living in that world of stiff-necked shirts and mechanical thinking. Medical school is an appalling place for a creative person to be imprisoned in. We felt that we needed to escape. Liberate ourselves. It was shortly after our trip to Venice that we left the medical profession. Then we went to London. There I discovered I had a flair for writing, more so than at Radcliffe of Johns Hopkins, and Leo discovered his flair for painting. Of course our interests then became chiefly both.
ALICE: You've really been to all those places?
STEIN: Yes, we have. We've never really settled down.
ALICE: And Leo will not marry, and settle down?
STEIN: Oh, no. He's been courting this woman, Nina, and he says that he loves her, but I don't believe him. I highly doubt that he's ever truly felt a love for anyone before.
ALICE: For no one? Not even your parents? Or you?
STEIN: Well, perhaps he adores our older brother Michael, but no, he's never been in love. As for loving me, I couldn't say. I never have, either, been in love, that is.
STEIN: No...I have never truly felt a liking or a loving for anyone on this planet. Anyone excluding myself...and Italy, of course.
ALICE: That does seem odd, doesn't it?
STEIN: Well, to a supreme narcissist it is a way of life.
ALICE (laughing): And that is how you picture yourself? As a supreme narcissist?
STEIN: To a certain extent, yes. I have never truly loved anyone else. Perhaps that is why I "settled" into writing. They say to write best, you should write what you know. I have never known anything other than myself. That is why many of my pieces are autobiographical. And many more are biographical. I have written portraits of Picasso, and Leo, and people I have met. But my strongest points are the autobiographies.
ALICE: Do you ever think that when you write your own autobiography, it will be very famous?
STEIN: Quite possibly. So long as I never fall out of love with myself.
STEIN: Let's stop in the piazza and feed the pigeons.
She stops and folds her umbrella, exiting off right. Alice folds her umbrella and addresses the audience.
ALICE: "Dearest Harriet - Our trip to Venice was wonderful. Gertrude and I strolled constantly up and down the city streets and talked and talked. We stopped and ate at little restaurants tucked away from society, and I must confess I feel their is something very remarkable and peculiar about my companion, the writer. I can't quite put my finger on it yet. Oh, well, it will pass, surely. I'm sorry you had to return to the States alone. I'm not sure when I'll be home. but when I am, I'll be sure to be in touch as soon as I can. Must close now; I'm attending another one of Gertrude's salon parties tonight. Goodbye for now. - Love, Alice B."
Simultaneously with her name, the lights come up on the salon. Light music and voices in the background again. Gertrude enters and greets her.
STEIN: My dear...(kissing both of Alice's cheeks)...It is wonderful to see you again. Has your friend left for America yet?
ALICE: Yes, while we were away.
STEIN: How sad. I'm sure you wanted to see her off yourself, or perhaps even go with her.
ALICE: Yes, I'd hoped to. She seemed quite upset when we left.
STEIN: But you'll surely make it up to her, then, won't you, my dear? (Beat) Listen, I've has the most insatiable urge for American food, good American cooking. I don't know what it is all of a sudden. Anyway, why don't you come by tomorrow afternoon and cook me something palatable from the States, I've so longed for some I'm wasting away.
ALICE: Very well, if you'd like.
The lights dim down and the voices and music cease.
ALICE: When I arrived the next afternoon, there was no one to be found. The maid let me in, and I could find no sign of my host. Leo had gone away for the afternoon, and I found myself quite marooned.
Gertrude rushes on from stage right.
ALICE: Yes, what is it? What is wrong?
STEIN: You must come quickly!
ALICE: Why, what has happened?
Gertrude grabs her hand and quickly pulls her across the stage. The lights slowly come up on two chairs, facing each other, placed on the stage right apron. On one is a pile of papers.
STEIN (smiling): Read.
Alice looks down at the papers, then up at Gertrude.
ALICE: This was the emergency? This is what was so exciting?
ALICE: My meal is getting cold, and you know how I hate eating cold meals.
STEIN (adamant, but not forceful): Read.
Alice looks down at the papers, sighs, and sits and reads. Gertrude sits also. Alice is dazzled by what she holds in her hands. She speaks with awe and happiness as she addresses the audience.
ALICE: It was amazing...It was a portrait...of me. My name was changed, of course, to Ada...and it was beautiful. It was so touching, so hauntingly evocative of my past life, that at that moment, I knew I had been imprisoned, and that by reading this manuscript I would be free. Liberated, as Gertrude said when we were walking down the piazzas in Venice. I nearly wept. I was so overcome with joy.
Alice looks up at Gertrude, who leans forward and tenderly places her hand against Alice's cheek. Beat.
STEIN (quietly): This is for you...Alice...
ALICE: This was her declaration of love...this portrait...
STEIN: I have fallen for you, Alice...I have fallen out of love with myself for you...
ALICE: This was her handwriting...
STEIN: I have found what I want in life...and that is for us to be together, forever and ever...
ALICE: This was her signature...
STEIN: I want you to come and live with my brother and me. I want the two people whom I know I love to be close to me. Will you have me?
Alice has been totally taken aback by this sudden burst of feeling. She slowly nods her head as the lights fade out. When the lights come back up, Alice is standing center stage. The chairs to the right are gone. Upstage, and with their backs to the audience, are Gertrude and Leo, with their arms distinctly folded across their chests.
ALICE (quietly): Thus began my thirty years as the wife of a genius. The marriage would have been handled more discreetly at that time, had it not been for our strange openness. My first duty as secretary was to finish typing the documents and proofs of Gertrude's Making of Americans, her everlasting chronicle of her family, which had oddly turned into an everlasting chronicle of everyone's family. As I sat one day in the atelier typing I distinctly heard my destiny being quarreled over by Gertrude and her brother.
Gertrude and Leo turn and march downstage toward each other as if going to war. Alice crosses downstage between them, facing the cyclorama.
LEO: Why didn't you come and talk to me before you went ahead and asked her?
STEIN: What for?
LEO (outraged): What for?! May I remind you that you are not the only living, breathing person in this household! We could have discussed this rationally first.
STEIN: What was their to discuss?
LEO: Do you think we can afford to have another mouth to feed?
STEIN: Certainly we can afford. We've been affording many more mouths every Saturday evening for nearly a year now, if you don't recall.
LEO: I wasn't referring to once every so often, but constantly.
STEIN: You make it sound as if Paris were the most expensive place in the world to live.
Leo stops, defeated, and pauses. He is groping for a more pertinent excuse.
LEO: I'm not opposed to it financially...
STEIN: Then why all the fuss? It seems to me like you can't find an excuse to object to it.
LEO (pause, stuttering): It's the principle of the thing.
STEIN: What "thing?"
LEO: You know damned well what thing I mean!
STEIN (looking surprisedly at him): What, Alice's coming to live here?
STEIN: Why should anyone care one way or the other what I do or think?
LEO: Because...don't you have any pride?
STEIN: Pride? I don't see where pride has anything to do with it.
Leo turns away from her, covering his face with his hands.
LEO: You could have at least come to me to consult this sudden addition to the staff.
STEIN: Nonsense. Alice is no "addition to the staff."
LEO: Then what is she then?
STEIN: She is my everything. She is the light that awakens me in the morning, the face I see opposite my own at breakfast, the woman I walk with during the afternoons, the lady who corrects my handiwork. Alice is more to me than another addition of hired help. She is much more than I can say.
LEO (beat): And you don't care whether or not you'll be the talk of every cafe in Paris before the season is over?
STEIN: They've talked of me before, why should I care about what they say now?
LEO: Yes, they've talked of you before, but not in this vein.
STEIN (coolly): Have you ever truly known what it is like to love someone?
LEO (resolved): Yes.
STEIN: Then put yourself in my place.
Alice now comes downstage to join them as Leo looks at Gertrude in contemplation.
ALICE: Dinner will be served at any moment now.
She stops a moment, looking at Leo, whose stare is transfixed on Gertrude. Gertrude looks from Leo to Alice and back again.
ALICE: Excuse me.
She passes between the two of them, and exits quickly off right. Beat before Leo speaks again.
LEO: I've decided to leave here.
STEIN (level-headed): Leave? But where will you go?
LEO: Nina and I are to be married. We are going to live in Italy.
STEIN (pause): I wish you my deepest congratulations.
She leans forward to kiss him, but he takes a step back, then exits quickly off left. Gertrude looks after him as he goes, then turns resolutely to the audience.
STEIN: I sometimes blame myself for bringing Alice here. Leo always thought that her presence drove a wedge between him and me, and indeed the rest of the world. As much as I think of it now, I can see he was right. My acceptance of Alice isolated me from mankind. In any event, our years of happiness together would not have been had he not left. And with him, nearly half the collection of paintings.
The lights come up to reveal the better part of the collection gone. Hanging prominently, however, is Picasso's finished portrait of Gertrude. A solitary light comes up on it as the lights fade slowly, and a single light comes up on Gertrude.
STEIN: My first truly noteworthy guest in the salon, excluding Picasso, was Sherwood Anderson.
Sherwood Anderson comes on from right, carrying a letter. Two servants bring on two chairs and place them center stage as Stein speaks.
STEIN: He had written me an extremely flattering letter of introduction from his home in Ohio. I felt myself in Picasso's position, finally attaining a loyal subject.
ANDERSON (to audience): I had read many of her earlier works and found them amazingly structured and at first hard to comprehend.
STEIN: Sherwood was the first to look for context in my work, rather than dismiss it as a total, nonsensical rubbish.
ANDERSON (bowing to her): May I say how privileged I feel to finally meet you in person.
STEIN: It is I who should be thanking you. You are my first disciple, and I'm not quite used to being a patron.
ANDERSON: Nonsense. You have the manners of a saint.
STEIN: Thank you, dear Mr. Anderson. May I get you something to drink?
ANDERSON: Thank you, no, Miss Stein.
STEIN: Very well.
They sit facing each other.
STEIN: I feel awkward in your telling me that you are familiar with my work, but I am afraid I cannot return the complement by saying that I am familiar with your work.
ANDERSON: No matter. My pieces are not as well known as yours.
STEIN: Oh, if they were well known, you would surely not be the first to come and visit me. Still, you have had experience in writing?
ANDERSON: Yes, to a certain degree.
STEIN (smiling, turning to audience): The conversation was full of lovely innuendoes about how wonderful my work was. I felt like telling him that he was masterful at flattering people. Our talk lasted for hours, until finally my disciple was departing. But not before informing me of better things to come.
ANDERSON (rising): I have found the most promising young writer in my travels in the States.
ANDERSON: Yes, he has become a European correspondent for a Toronto newspaper, and will be leaving for abroad shortly. when I return, I must tell him to come.
STEIN (to audience): I was having enough trouble coping with one follower, and before I could adjust, he was sending me another! (turning back to him) Yes, of course, of course he may come. (pause) What is his name?
ANDERSON (proudly): Hemingway. Ernest Hemingway.
Anderson smiles and bows, then exits off right. Gertrude comes downstage and addresses the audience. Two servants bring on two additional chairs, which they place together stage left. The other two are placed together stage right.
STEIN: Sherwood Anderson sent his prized pupil that March. Anderson had later spoken of Ernest's straight-forwardness, but had not overdramatized it one bit. I was surprised when the bell rang one afternoon, and Alice went down to answer it, and returned to inform me that...
Alice has entered during the above, and interrupts.
ALICE: ...a Mr. and Mrs. Hemingway have come to see Miss Stein and Company.
STEIN (turning to Alice): Send Mr. and Mrs. Hemingway up straight away.
Alice departs off left. Gertrude turns in the direction of the door. Hemingway strides on briskly from the left, carrying a bundle of manuscripts under his arm.
STEIN: I was immediately intimidated by his bullish nature as soon as he entered the room. His wife, however, was rather different.
Hadley enters from the left, timidly, her head slightly bowed. She looks up at the audience calmly and collectedly with indifference.
STEIN: Hadley Hemingway, formerly Hadley Richardson, had met Ernest shortly after World War I, and they were married in 1921. I must say the two seemed an extremely amusing couple, because of their overall appearance as a pair of the two most uncomfortable people I have ever seen together.
HEMINGWAY (to audience): There are only two ways of seeing Miss Stein's lavish home in the rue de Fleurus - one may be either asked to dine at her salon at one of her many parties, or one may suddenly appear on her doorstep late one Saturday afternoon and ask to be let in. The former being the more polite way, the latter being the more rough and casual, I decided, after the tales Anderson had told us, we could not wait forever for an invitation to dinner, so we came one lovely spring afternoon to see her beautiful studio of abstract and cubist art.
STEIN: I was to remain "Miss Stein" in his eyes for the next three years or so, and as far as I know he never even referred to Alice, or if he did, it was always as "Miss Stein's friend," or some other strange pronunciation of her name.
Gertrude crosses upstage to them.
STEIN: Mr. Hemingway, it is an honor to meet you at last. Sherwood has told me so much about you.
HEMINGWAY: Thank you, Miss Stein, I can only return the compliment. This is my wife, Hadley.
STEIN: How do you do?
HADLEY: How do you do, Miss Stein?
STEIN: Would either of you care for a drink? We have the most wonderful apricot and raspberry eau-de-vie. It's truly remarkable. A glass?
HEMINGWAY: By all means.
STEIN: And you, Mrs. Hemingway?
HADLEY: No, thank you, Miss Stein.
STEIN: Alice, go and fetch Mr. Hemingway a glass of apricot.
Alice disappears off right and returns with a cut glass carafe and two glasses. She pours Gertrude and Hemingway a drink, then sits down next to Hadley and commences on her needlepoint.
STEIN: Now, Mr. Hemingway, what is it that you've come for?
HEMINGWAY: Sherwood Anderson has told me to bring you a sample of my work for you to proof.
STEIN: How kind. However, Sherwood says so much that if one were to pay attention to every minute detail, one would find that he contradicts himself. He rambles on about this and that, and in passing mentions that you should bring me copies of your work, and that I know what I am talking about. He truly thinks that he knows what he is talking about, and I don't.
HEMINGWAY (somewhat muddled): The invitation is still open, I trust?
STEIN: You are here, and your glass is full, your throat wetted, so why not stay?
HEMINGWAY (relieved): Thank you.
STEIN: I love Anderson's warm, Italianesque eyes. They're really remarkable, you know. Next time you see him, make sure to take note of his eyes. His writing is lacking in all aspects, however, but he has the warm Italian eyes to do it with.
HEMINGWAY: I didn't know he was Italian.
STEIN: He's not.
They sit. He opens the bundle and gives it to her. Hemingway turns to the audience.
HEMINGWAY: She sat there for more than an hour, studying my work, hardily, sternly, never looking away to me, or to Hadley, or her friend, but only at the glass of apricot and raspberry wine which her friend filled whenever her hand went out to her side.
Gertrude holds the empty glass out, and Alice rises and refills it. Alice returns to her seat and continues with her needlepoint.
HEMINGWAY: I could not tell if she was either pleased by my work or otherwise, for she remained silent, except to inquire about the hour at discreet intervals.
ALICE (looking up, almost methodically): Half-past four.
STEIN: Thank you.
HEMINGWAY: And during the entire time, her friend kept watch over my wife, indulging in conversation with her, but not deeply enough so that she could not hear the call of Miss Stein.
HADLEY: That's a lovely needlepoint you are working on.
ALICE (without looking up): Thank you, Madame. It has taken me more than a month to get this far.
HADLEY: Oh, my. So much time involved in such a beautiful thing. Do you work at it constantly?
ALICE: No...sometimes, but not recently.
HADLEY (beat): I must say it is certainly worth the effort.
Beat. Hadley waits for Alice to say something, but she doesn't. She looks at the floor and continues.
HADLEY: Yes, it is very pretty.
Beat. She places her hands on her lap nervously.
HADLEY: Does Miss Stein...?
ALICE: No, I am the only one who sews.
HADLEY: Oh. (pause) I shouldn't wonder, since your work is so exquisite, she must feel she needn't...yes, it is so pretty.
ALICE: Thank you, again.
HADLEY: I'm sorry, Miss Toklas, that my conversation is so bland...
HEMINGWAY: And all that time, Hadley, being of the less bold nature, attempted to carry out a simple talk with Miss Stein's friend...
ALICE (to audience): ...who had no immediate or particular interest at that time in what Mrs. Hemingway had to say...
HADLEY: ...since it was her customary duty to preside over the wives of writers...
HEMINGWAY: ...and make them feel welcome and at home...
HADLEY: ...something Miss Stein's friend had completely neglected to do.
HEMINGWAY: Finally, after nearly two hours of waiting, Miss Stein spoke.
STEIN (looking out over the audience): They're very good.
HEMINGWAY: Thank you...
STEIN: Except this one.
She presents him with nearly half the bundle. Hemingway takes it from her and looks at it, astonished.
HEMINGWAY: This one? "Up With Michigan?"
STEIN: Yes, it's inacchrochable.
HEMINGWAY: I'm sorry?
STEIN: It's inaccrochable.
HEMINGWAY: With all due respect, I have never heard of the word "inaccrochable."
STEIN: Well, now you have. It's as if a painter paints a picture, and does not know how to hang it, and no one will buy it, for they do not know how to hang it either.
HEMINGWAY: But this is not a picture, it is a serious short story.
STEIN (rising, losing patience): Hemingway, if you ever want to succeed as a writer, or get somewhere in this world, you must study not only the good but the bad. And you must learn to never write anything that is inaccrochable.
HEMINGWAY: And how do you know whether or not your work is, as you say, inaccrochable?
STEIN: You will know when.
HEMINGWAY (pause): I see.
STEIN: Hemingway, are you serious about writing?
HEMINGWAY (pause, then definitely): Yes.
STEIN: Then that means you are willing to give up your job as correspondent to this Toronto newspaper?
HEMINGWAY (pause): I suppose so. I haven't given it much thought, really...
STEIN: The only way to know the world is to write. You must let this job go.
HEMINGWAY (challenging her): And how am I to earn any money, without this job?
STEIN: By writing. You must write constantly, and you must write well. You must be prepared to suffer, as any artist will tell you, in particular one friend of mine, Picasso. And you must continue to write, but not inaccrochably.
HEMINGWAY (grunting): Unh-huh.
STEIN: Do you have any money, apart from this job?
HEMINGWAY: Yes, I think so. Hadley and I have established a trust since our marriage...
STEIN: Then in the meantime you must use this money to live on. You can buy either clothes or paintings, and given the choice between the two, you should choose paintings. You may save up the money, and you must publish something for something. This will give you a start, and should help you on your way.
HEMINGWAY: And what am I to do now?
STEIN: Oh, come now, Hemingway. Relax. Forget about writing for a moment. Tell me about yourself, and about your wife.
The attention now shifts to Alice and Hadley, who have remained silent up until this time. Alice seems to be consumed in her needlepoint, and Hadley looks about nervously, attempting to adjust to her new surroundings. She glances from time to time at the portraits. Alice looks up and smiles at her; Hadley smiles sheepishly back at her, and focuses on her lap again. Suddenly Alice breaks the silence.
ALICE: So...how long have you and Mr. Hemingway been acquainted?
HADLEY (very shy): Nearly two years.
ALICE: Oh? And where did you meet?
There is a pause, as Hadley looks down at her lap shyly. She is very timid and mousy, as usual, but as the story progresses she seems to blossom and almost be comfortable by relating her story. Hemingway is as always assured, but with a more tender attitude toward his side of the story.
HADLEY: It seems so long ago.
HEMINGWAY (to Gertrude): I had returned to America after my tour in Italy.
HADLEY (to Alice): First, my mother passed away, and I didn't know what to do with myself.
HEMINGWAY (to Gertrude): I was invited to come visit some old war chums of mine in Chicago; Don Wright, Bobby Rouse, and another close one called Y.K.
HADLEY (to Alice): I went to stay with a girl-friend of mine, Katy Smith, who was living with a boy named Kenley and his friend Doodles.
ALICE (to Haldey): Such strange names.
HEMINGWAY (to Gertrude): We all liked slang terms. It was our own special way of communication.
HADLEY: At first I couldn't understand him, with all his words like "seeds," or "eatage," or his names like "Ernie," "Hemingstein," and "Oinboines."
HEMINGWAY: I think she was extremely frightened of the way we were. Especially the talk. Always the talk. So I included by calling her something else.
HADLEY: I could never really feel at ease when I was in his company, at (smiling, slight intake of breath) He gave me a pet name...
HEMINGWAY: It reminded me of her beautiful auburn hair. In return, she called me...
HADLEY: So I nicknamed him...
HADLEY: He was always so athletic, so loud and boisterous.
HEMINGWAY: She was timid and shy, notably when she was with me.
HADLEY: He was young and fresh and new, and I was eight years his senior.
HEMINGWAY: She kept dropping her eyes and staring at anything other than me.
HADLEY: He would always say silly or weird things that made me feel uncomfortable.
HEMINGWAY: She would smile, and nod, and say nothing more.
HADLEY: I had to leave to go to St. Louis. Part of me felt relieved to be gone from him, but another part longed to be near him again.
HEMINGWAY: And when she went away to St. Louis, I had Katy Smith give me her address so that I could write her letters.
HADLEY: And whenever I received something in the mail from him, I would always write back, as soon as possible.
HEMINGWAY: Then one fine day, the next time I saw her again, I proposed.
HADLEY: I felt so strange, and so wonderful.
HEMINGWAY: We were married a year later.
HADLEY: And now we are here.
ALICE (pausing, to make sure that she is done): Well, that seems a romantic and colorful story. Though one question remains.
Hadley looks up at Alice, the life suddenly fleeing from her. She becomes wide-eyed again, having returned to her normal state of timidity.
HADLEY: What is it?
ALICE: Your family didn't object to your marriage with someone eight years younger than yourself?
HADLEY (pausing, looking remorsefully at her lap): No. My mother had just died, and my father took his own life when I was a school girl.
ALICE (a beat): I'm so sorry.
HADLEY: No, don't be. It made me less...naive about things. The world. In general.
ALICE: And there was no one else in Mr. Hemingway's life?
This new inquiry stirs Hadley's memory, and she looks off into the distance, trying to remember, trying to dig through the years that have followed her. Both their moods become dream-like and absent, as if they were in a kind of trance controlled by their own emotions.
HADLEY (to Alice): There was one...a nurse...in Italy when he was in hospital for his wounds.
HEMINGWAY (to Gertrude): I had been in combat when a mortar shell blew near my leg. I was there for weeks, but there was only one truly lovely person to look forward to seeing.
HADLEY: Her name was...
HEMINGWAY: ...and she was beyond belief.
HADLEY: When he was younger, and when he told me everything, he spoke of her.
ALICE (not prying, but sensitively): Was she beautiful?
HADLEY (tears in her eyes, barely audible): Yes...they say she was the most beautiful woman in Milan. All the men there fell in love with her...but she chose him.
HEMINGWAY: My chums competed with me, to see who would be the first to get well, and get a date with her.
HALDEY: After his leg healed, she went with him everywhere.
HEMINGWAY (looking off to the left audience): She said she loved me...and I thought she meant it.
HALDEY (looking off to the right audience): And she broke his heart.
HEMINGWAY (unconvincingly): I've forgotten all of that now.
HALDEY (complementing his mood): But that was a long time ago, and he has surely gotten over her.
Beat, leaving silence. Immense silence.
HEMINGWAY: I don't know why I fell in love with Hadley after that.
HADLEY (quietly): I can't imagine why he chose me.
ALICE: Why do you ask yourself that?
HADLEY (smiling): Oh, Miss Toklas, please. You needn't be polite with me. I'm not beautiful. I never pretended I was. After her I can't understand why he fell in love with me. I couldn't compare with her.
HADLEY: No, it's true. I feel silly being the wife of Ernest Hemingway.
Beat, as the attention shifts to Gertrude and Hemingway.
STEIN: And why did you chose Hadley?
HEMINGWAY (collectedly): She was pretty, but not beautiful. After the girl in the hospital, I vowed that I would never be hurt by a beautiful woman again.
STEIN: And do you think that Hadley would hurt you?
HEMINGWAY (shaking his head): No. I know she wouldn't do anything to harm me. I don't think she is capable of any other emotion other than...
STEIN (beat): ...Love?
HEMINGWAY: Yes...perhaps that is all. Only love...and fear.
STEIN: Fear? Of what?
HEMINGWAY: Everything. She's so fragile...like a china cup. I'm almost afraid to look at her, because she might break. Even when we make love...it's the same.
A beat, where both Hemingway and Hadley are instantly awakened and refreshed by their surroundings.
HEMINGWAY: Well...it is getting late, and I'm afraid that Hadley and I must be on our way.
STEIN: Of course.
Hemingway crosses toward Hadley as she and Alice rise.
HADLEY (curtsying): We would like to thank you for your hospitality, Miss Stein. I only hope Ernest thought well of your critique.
STEIN: I don't know whether he thought well of it, just that he thought of it. And you and your husband are quite welcome here. Whenever you feel like coming, do. We shall always be here, and if we are not at home, then you may come anyway. Our home is open to you.
HADLEY (smiling politely): And you must come to our flat in the place du Tertre and have tea with us one afternoon, someday soon, perhaps.
STEIN: Alice and I would be delighted, and honored Mrs. Hemingway.
HEMINGWAY (taking the manuscripts from Gertrude): Thank you. Good day. (as he passes by Alice, nodding) Miss Tocraz.
Hemingway and Hadley exit off right.
ALICE (frozen): Tok-las.
Gertrude looks at her and laughs heartily.
STEIN: I take it, Alice, that you do not approve of our Mr. Hemingway?
ALICE: Not in the least. He's too assured a male, like a cock among hens. I rather like his wife. She's very polite.
STEIN (looking after them off right): Yes...it's the first time in my entire life that I have ever seen an elephant married to a mouse.
The lights dime down and the two go off. Hadley and Hemingway come on from the left. They stop and quickly mime unlocking and opening the door to their flat and "enter" it. A light comes up on them.
HADLEY: I don't like that place.
HEMINGWAY: I thought it was a very fine salon.
HADLEY: I think those paintings are dreadful. All those naked women with their bodies painted in those rude positions. And I don't think Miss Stein's criticism of your stories was very fair.
Hemingway thrusts the manuscripts down, sits, and begins to write again.
HADLEY: What are you doing?
HEMINGWAY: I'm rewriting the story.
HADLEY (crossing and placing her hands on his shoulders): But why, Tatie? I think they're all beautiful the way they are.
HEMINGWAY: Nevertheless, I'm rewriting them.
HADLEY: Are you rewriting them for yourself? Or are you rewriting them only for her?
Hemingway stops, looks out over the audience, and then up at his wife, who stares placidly down at him. Long pause.
HEMINGWAY (sighing): Both.
Hadley looks at him, and, smiling faintly, bows her head slightly and goes off upstage left. Hemingway watches her go and then turns and addresses the audience.
HEMINGWAY: It was then that I swore I would become a good writer, by the standards of Miss Stein anyway. Still, the problem remained as to whether or not the story was inaccrochable.
The lights come up fully and Hemingway rises.
HEMINGWAY: On my next visit to the rue de Fleurus, nothing more was said about it, at the start. She brought out her mangled copy of The Making of Americans, which her companion had begun to retype, and gave it to me as my first lesson in literature written in the "modern" style.
Gertrude comes on, carrying a think ledger with assorted papers, a few of which fall out of the book and glide lightly onto the stage. She crosses to Hemingway and presents it to him proudly.
STEIN: It has taken me I-don't-know-how-long to create it. Alice sometimes says that it is no longer a history of my family, but that of every family.
She hands it to him and exits off right. Hemingway regards it wistfully, then turns back to the audience.
HEMINGWAY: Her book was interesting, to say the least, and horrid, to say the most. It began extremely well, and continued for a time quite angelically, until somewhere near the middle, where it became a slop of incongruities and redundancies. Her views on inaccrochability seemed to end at my writing, but never transcended to her own. If she perhaps understood my stories, like "Up With Michigan," and more carefully examined her own mess, she would possibly and probably find the meaning of her strange and silly term for poor writing.
He sits and begins to flip through it, licking a pencil and crossing things out, circling them, and making notes in the margins. Gertrude comes on, followed by Alice.
STEIN: How is it progressing?
STEIN: Would you like anything t drink?
HEMINGWAY: No, thank you, though.
STEIN (watching as he writes on a page): Why do you keep scratching things out?
HEMINGWAY: Well, I've circled several passages in the latter part of the book that didn't quite seem to work.
STEIN: Not work? But that's absurd, it all works. It all works very well.
HEMINGWAY (handing her a few leafs): Here, I think you should take a look at these. Notice what I've written in the margin?
She reads them slowly, then looks back at him.
HEMINGWAY: So? (paging through) In the beginning, you contradicted yourself. It doesn't work. People will think that you've forgotten the important details. They'll think it's crap.
STEIN: Writing is taking the "crap," as you call it, and changing it until it works, and taking the good products that seem easy to pen and discarding them in the waste basket. And I don't believe that those pages are crap, so there will be no need to rewrite them.
HEMINGWAY: I thought so, too, until you did the same to my short stories.
STEIN: They're inaccrochable, and that's all I have to say about them.
Hemingway is worked up now, letting out all the air in his lungs and body forcefully, obviously hurt.
STEIN: I don't mean to be rude or haughty about it, Hemingway, but that's the truth. You must begin again with your writing, and this time you must think about what you are doing. As far as my own writing, I think the corrections will be unnecessary. Good day.
She exits the way she came in. Alice smiles at Hemingway, then follows her out. Hemingway turns to the audience.
HEMINGWAY: I had attacked her masterpiece, and this had upset her, no more so than when she attacked my own, which were not at all crap. I reworked the rest of her novel, and began to have it serialized in America, and upon the next visit to the rue de Fleurus, the argument was forgotten by both parties. Partly because I had other business on my mind.
The lights go out completely, except for a solitary glow on center stage. We hear a loud pounding on a door, followed by a pause, and then louder pounding. The lights come up a little, and Alice enters left, dressed in her Chinese dressing gown as if she were about to retire for the night. She is carrying a tiny lamp which glows faintly as she quickly crosses the stage. We hear the pounding grow louder.
ALICE (crying out, annoyed): All right, just a minute. You could at least be a bit more respectful and not call at this late hour.
She exits off right. We hear a door open, and Hemingway enters in a state of alarm. Alice quickly follows him in.
ALICE (shocked): Mr. Hemingway! What are you doing here so late?
HEMINGWAY (breathless, at a loss): Is Miss Stein awake?
ALICE: I...believe so.
She draws her robe about herself uncomfortably. As she does, we hear Gertrude from off left.
STEIN: Who is it, Alice?
ALICE (calling left): It's Mr. Hemingway. He's asking to see you.
A moment, and Gertrude enters, dressed in a large robe.
STEIN: What's the matter, Hemingway?
HEMINGWAY: I don't know where else to go...
STEIN: Why, has something happened? Something happened to Hadley?
HEMINGWAY (overlapping): I suppose I should be happy that it's happened, but I don't know how to feel...
STEIN: Hemingway, what is it?
Beat. Then the revelation.
HEMINGWAY: Hadley's pregnant.
STEIN (pause): Hemingway, that's wonderful...
HEMINGWAY (shaking his head): What am I going to do? (sinking into a chair) I have no money, and no prospects for any. She's going to have a baby in less than a year, and I don't have any money or any hope.
STEIN (pause, then resolutely to Alice): Alice, please fetch Mr. Hemingway a brandy.
Gertrude looks at her compassionately, and Alice exits off right, returning shortly with a tiny glass which she hands to Hemingway.
HEMINGWAY: It's funny; this should be the happiest thing in my life, but I can't see what's going to become of us. I'll never be able to write anything to secure us any money, not now.
STEIN: Nonsense, everything will be fine. You're just nervous, that's all. You'll adjust to becoming a father quickly.
HEMINGWAY (sudden realization): We'll go back to America. We'll go back to Oak Parks and live with my parents until the baby is born, and then, if we have enough money, we'll come back to Paris.
STEIN: Really, Hemingway, you don't have to decide now...
HEMINGWAY (quickly rising and downing the brandy): I must go. Thank you for your help, Miss Stein. Miss Tocraz.
He hands Alice the glass and dashes offstage right. Alice and Gertrude are left alone looking after him.
ALICE: I do wish he would get my name right, for a change.
STEIN: I honestly don't think his situation is as extreme as he said.
ALICE: Are we going to begin receiving callers in the middle of the night, now?
Gertrude smiles, and takes off her robe. Alice takes it from her and carries it offstage left as the lights come back up.
STEIN: That fall Hadley gave birth to John Hadley Nicanor Hemingway, and that winter the Hemingways returned to Paris with their son. Alice and I were asked to become godmothers of little "Bumby," as his father nicknamed him, and Hem seemed extremely proud of his baby boy.
The servants come out and move the chairs upstage into two diagonal lines, running against the proscenium. Hemingway and Hadley enter and both move upstage and sit next to each other. Gertrude comes all the way downstage.
STEIN: The next spring brought two unexpected visitors.
Alice enters right as she speaks.
ALICE: F. Scott Fitzgerald, the American author, and his wife are here.
STEIN (turning): Show them up.
Alice exits the way she came.
STEIN: I had heard much of the Fitzgeralds through Sherwood Anderson, who seemed very impressed by Scott's first novel, This Side of Paradise, and frankly so was I. The popularity of the book sky-rocketed the man into the public eye virtually overnight. In this case, however, I was more intimidated by the wife than the writer.
Alice enters again, followed by F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald. She leads them downstage to opposite of Stein.
ALICE: Mr. and Mrs. F. Scott Fitzgerald, may I present Miss Gertrude Stein.
FITZGERALD (shaking her hand): Delighted.
STEIN (smiling, motioning to Hemingway): I believe you know Ernest.
FITZGERALD (crossing, shaking his hand): Yes, we met in a restaurant in New York some time ago.
HEMINGWAY (motioning to Hadley): You never met Hadley, did you?
FITZGERALD (kissing her hand): Enchanting, simply enchanting.
Hadley smiles and blushes. Zelda cocks her head jealously.
STEIN: Ernest has told me much about your success in America.
FITZGERALD: Has he? (turning) Well, I'll have to see if the reports are flattering or otherwise.
Hemingway looks up and registers a loud "Hmmph!" and goes back to writing.
FITZGERALD (crossing back down, with great pride): This is my wife, Zelda.
STEIN: It is a pleasure, madam.
She outstretches her hand to Zelda, who stares blankly back at her, not motioning. Beat. Gertrude clears her throat and withdraws her hand.
STEIN: Would you care for a drink?
FITZGERALD: Love one.
STEIN: Certainly. (to Zelda) And you, Mrs. Fitzgerald?
Zelda does not reply, continuing to stare at her as if in a trance. Scott is a little embarrassed, and clears his throat.
FITZGERALD: She'll have a glass of champagne.
Alice takes their coats and exits off right. She quickly returns with a tray and their drinks.
STEIN: And this is my companion, Miss Alice B. Toklas.
Fitzgerald shakes her hand.
FITZGERALD: Nice to meet you.
Alice smiles at his innate charm. Suddenly, Zelda breaks her silence, taking a step forward as they shake hands.
ZELDA: What does the "B" stand for?
Everyone seems a little surprised at the question. Alice looks at her, embarrassed.
ALICE: Babette, Mrs. Fitzgerald.
Zelda immediately returns to her trance. Beat.
STEIN: So, Ernest tells me you have recently become a father.
FITZGERALD (beaming): Well, not so recently.
STEIN: A daughter?
FITZGERALD: Yes, named Scottie.
Gertrude smiles, and Zelda "reawakens" from her trance once again.
ZELDA (somewhat defiantly): Her real name is Patricia. Patricia Scott Fitzgerald.
FITZGERALD: Well, I like like to call her Scottie.
ZELDA (changing tones): So do I. It's so much easier to remember one name for two people, wouldn't you agree?
Beat. Gertrude doesn't quite know what to say, and neither does anyone else in Zelda's presence. This must be a dominant theme in her character throughout the play. Whatever Zelda says is usually totally, patently nonsensal, and whomever she says it to is most likely astounded and quite often at a complete loss for words.
FITZGERALD: Yes, well, Scottie is a little more than four now, and we've decided to come over to France while we had the opportunity. Get away from this whole patriotic thing going on in the States. Damned increasingly annoying. Europe's the place to be. Times aren't hard enough though, mind you. The Twenties are still a "roaring" decade, but it's all gone a bit too far...
ZELDA: On the contrary, one can never go too far...
FITZGERALD: My guess is that we'll all either drink ourselves to death, or we'll all dry out.
ZELDA (almost proudly): And we'll undoubtedly achieve the former before the latter.
Slight pause, covered up by Gertrude.
STEIN: And you are doing very well?
FITZGERALD (unconvincingly): Yes, well, I've been wanting to continue work on my new novel, and ever since 23 I haven't had the chance, since I've been writing articles and short stories. Selling fairly well.
Beat, then Gertrude turns to the audience.
STEIN: I knew by his tone of voice that they had come to France to escape the financial toils of America. He had written a play and invested his entire life-savings in it, hoping that it would be a success. This would clear him of his outstanding debts, but the play was a complete flop. Five thousand dollars poorer, they had wandered into my salon for sanctuary, even though both of them were too proud to say so. Maybe Zelda would've said it, I have no doubt she was thinking it.
Gertrude turns back to Scott and Zelda.
ZELDA: We will be doing wonderfully. When Scott finishes the novel, it'll be an instant success. He'll be famous, just as he was when he published his first book, and when I first met and married him. He'll be so brilliant. Everyone says so. "The Brilliant F. Scott Fitzgerald, Patron of the Jazz Age, a contemporary genius." College students and flappers alike will look up to him as their idol, a man of the times, their hero, their deity. All for the written word. And we'll be so famous, and so wealthy, and so wonderful.
STEIN: I don't know what else to say but charming, simply charming.
ZELDA: Of course. All the newspapers say so. "The Charming Fitzgeralds." Everyone says so. H. L. Mencken in New York said, "A very amiable pair, innocent and charming." And Carl Van Vechten once called us charming, too. "Charming." It's the most splendid word in the universe, though Scott says "gorgeous" is the most splendid word in the universe. But then, what would Scott know about words?
She laughs gaily, despite herself.
STEIN: A great deal, from what I gather. Two books - one about your college days, another about life in the Roaring twenties. Collections, short stories, major works...
HEMINGWAY (proudly): And another, due out this month.
STEIN (as Fitzgerald blushes): Really? Title?
FITZGERALD (proudly): That was sort of a problem, in the beginning. But Zelda, as she so often does, came through with The Great Gatsby, and since I trust her so much, I wired Scribner with the new title. I'm sure it will suffice.
STEIN: So am I. And what of your prospects?
FITZGERALD: If all goes well, I hope seventy-five thousand copies in the first year.
STEIN: Goodness, that is quite a sizable printing for a first edition. (Scott nods) You have taken up residence in Paris, at least for a while?
FITZGERALD: Yes, 14, the rue de Tillsit. Not very large, but then, beggars can't be choosers.
STEIN: Surely you're having no difficulty, with seventy-five thousand.
FITZGERALD: If it doesn't go through, we'll probably pack up and move out to Hollywood to learn the movie business.
ZELDA: There is a great deal of wealth for charming people in Hollywood. We'll be the toast of the coast. Character and wealth go so well together. And after all, we have both.
Hemingway is visually discomforted by this sudden prophetic statement.
STEIN: Yes, well, character or otherwise, I shall leave the four of you alone to become more acquainted. Please, Mr. Fitzgerald, feel free to look around at the paintings, and if you need anything, just ring the bell, and we shall be at your service.
FITZGERALD: Thank you, Miss Stein.
STEIN: It was a pleasure meeting you, Mrs. Fitzgerald.
Zelda smiles faintly and falsely, regarding Hemingway with a strange stare, almost scorning him.
HEMINGWAY (without taking his eyes off Zelda): Scott, may I speak with you a moment?
FITZGERALD: Of course.
They cross downstage to the apron. Zelda looks after them, and then goes upstage to sit next to Hadley. She watches intently. Hadley turns and smiles at her. Zelda's head slowly pivots to look at Hadley, and Zelda moves a few inches back. Hadley looks out front, to Ernest, Scott, and then Zelda again, then back to her lap in timidity.
HEMINGWAY (quietly): Scott is it just me, or is your wife insane?
FITZGERALD: Insane? Zelda? Come now , Ernest, surely you don't mean that.
HEMINGWAY: I do! I wouldn't say it if I didn't mean it. There is something there, something that I can't quite put my finger on.
FITZGERALD: She may be a bit flighty, or even a little cruel at times, but she's not crazy.
HEMINGWAY: Has she always acted like this?
FITZGERALD: Yes! I heard stories before I married her, but I never actually believed them. When she was a belle in Montgomery, they say she would pull the most mean and silly pranks imaginable. She's a kindred spirit. She adores to flirt.
HEMINGWAY: What I saw just now was not flirting. All that talk about money.
FITZGERALD: That's just her nature, Hem. She can be so child-like when it comes to money. She doesn't want anyone to think that we're having difficulty.
HEMINGWAY: Are you?
FITZGERALD (shaking his head): No. There's really nothing to it, honestly. I'll speak about it to Zelda.
HEMINGWAY: No, there's no need for that. All the same, there's just something generally wrong. I don't know how to say it.
They cross up left center and pour drinks. They sit and converse quietly. The action now shifts to Zelda and Hadley. Zelda remains in the same position, examining Hadley. Beat. It's very uncomfortable. Two people in the same room who don't enjoy each other's company.
HADLEY: Mrs. Fitzgerald, may I say what a joy it is to finally meet you.
Zelda doesn't respond; she simply stares at her.
HADLEY: Mrs. Fitzgerald? (nothing) Well, I'm sure that little Scottie would like to meet our Bumby. (beat) Our son.
Nothing again. Hadley's discomfort is growing.
HADLEY: I bet she'd like to have a little playmate. The fact that she's a little older than Bumby isn't relative, I mean...
Zelda remains still. Hadley is beginning to get nervous, losing her composure over Zelda's fixed stare. She begins stumbling over her words. Her frailty has been a problem she can not deal with all of her life, and Zelda, with her woman's intuition and her tremendous ability to size up a person, knows it.
HADLEY: Yes, well...
Beat. Zelda speaks for the first time, without removing her eyes from Hadley, who is wide-eyed, relieved, and terrified; relieved that Zelda has at last broken her silence, and terrified at what she might say.
ZELDA: Whenever Ernest asks you to do something, I bet you do it almost immediately.
HADLEY (embarrassed): I...beg your pardon?
ZELDA: I imagine you say, "Yes, dear," and carry out his every command.
HADLEY: Well, yes. Isn't that the role a wife should play in a marriage?
ZELDA: A clutching, dependent, frail little nothing? Hah! Haven't you ever wanted to be your own woman?
ZELDA: Haven't you ever stood up to him, after a fight, when you know that he's wrong and that you're right?
HADLEY: Mrs. Fitzgerald!
Hadley rises and exits up left. Zelda secretly smiles after her. She looks out front and defiantly cocks her head. We hear a faint rustling sound, and the lights dim down to nothing, excepts for one solitary light behind Zelda. The rustling sound increases, beginning to sound more like wings flapping about energetically. Zelda puts a hand to her head, and leans down. She shudders and convulses for a second and stops. Suddenly the sound is abruptly cut off, and she looks up around her. Then from out of the darkness, we hear a thin voice, almost whisper-like call to her.
Zelda looks about her confusedly. The light color shifts. She lets out a shriek, and jerks around, looking for the source of the voice, but to no avail.
VOICE (tauntingly): Zelda...Zelda...
ZELDA (inaudibly): What?
The lights change colors again, more rapidly now, as the voices increase in number, calling to her, teasingly, more and more, until finally the echoes reverberate back and forth in pandemonium. Meanwhile, Zelda clutches her head and crouches down as low as she can in escape. Then silence. The lights come back up to normal again. She looks up and around her, then resumes her position. Scott and Ernest cross downstage, talking confidentially.
FITZGERALD: I don't know what to make of it. She's very restless. She is never truly happy with anyone, even me. I guess that was reason enough for the affair.
HEMINGWAY (pause): Affair?
We hear a sudden loud flutter again. Only Zelda hears it, for it is only in Zelda's mind. She perks up, looking in the direction of Hemingway and Scott.
FITZGERALD: Well, it wasn't an affair by typical standards, but she did get extremely comfortable with a young French naval officer, a playboy type. I told her I knew about it one night after we left dinner...
The fluttering becomes sharper with each new line Scott has. We hear Scott and Zelda's voices echoing as Scott tells the story and Zelda imagines it in her head. The effect is confusing and overlapping works well.
FITZGERALD'S VOICE (angry): How could you?!
ZELDA'S VOICE: You never loved me!
We hear shattering glass which echoes and crescendos.
FITZGERALD: ....she locked me out of her room.
We hear the door creak and slam, then Scott pounding on it.
FITZGERALD'S VOICE: Zelda...? Zelda, let me in.
ZELDA'S VOICE: Get away from me! Leave me alone!
We hear shuffling and glass breaking as Fitzgerald continues to knock on the door. Then running water.
FITZGERALD: ...then she swallowed a bottle of sleeping pills, I could hear her ranting and jingling through the medicine cabinets
We hear the fluttering sounds cease and the magnified sound of pills falling to floor, as if they were huge marbles. This echoes out into silence until Fitzgerald speaks again.
FITZGERALD: ... and I ran and got the doctor just in time.
HEMINGWAY: Scott, there is definitely something wrong with your wife's head. How many women so you know who chase after other men, drink like there's no tomorrow, and try to escape their singular problems by overdosing on sleeping pills?
FITZGERALD: You make it sound so glamorous, as if that was the correct thing to do for society women these days.
HEMINGWAY: Dammit, Scott, it's not right and you shouldn't think it is.
FITZGERALD: Well, what am I going to do?
HEMINGWAY: Isn't there some place...for her troubles...
FITZGERALD: Oh, lovely! First you say that she's insane, and then you expect me to believe it, and now you're saying she should be committed?
HEMINGWAY: Then talk to her...
FITZGERALD: I...can't, I've tried...she never listens.
HEMINGWAY: It's not normal!
FITZGERALD: I didn't say it was!
HEMINGWAY: Does she behave like that every time she meets someone?
FITZGERALD: Yes..no, I can't remember. I need a drink.
A servant comes on and refills Scott's glass, which he downs. He pours again, as they continue talking.
FITZGERALD (resolutely): It's just that...every time we meet someone, she seems to be jealous of that person. Eventually, we fall out of contact with each other, and the friendship is over. Sometimes she tells me the most dreadful stories about what she's heard people say about me. But she always seems to find a reason why I shouldn't see this person or know that person.
HEMINGWAY: Well, I can assure you, that won't happen to us, at any cost. (pause, then in a fake politeness) I'm sorry I said that she...
FITZGERALD: No, I...it's all right. She's been nervous and worried ever since we got to Paris. (beat) She wants to have another baby. We've tried and tried for months now, but I can't...
HEMINGWAY: I understand.
FITZGERALD: She laughs and makes jokes about it, but I really think it's beginning to takes it toil on her. She needs an anchor of some sort.
HEMINGWAY: Another baby would be an "anchor?" But you already have Scottie.
FITZGERALD: I don't understand what she wants. She says she wants to get pregnant again, but she almost ignores Scottie. The nurses take care of him more often than she does. She goes off shopping or out to parties and leaves her home without so much as a by or leave. I can't see why she wants another baby.
HEMINGWAY: It will happen, soon enough..."old" friend.
They shake hands roughly. As they do, Ernest's head turns upstage to Zelda, still seated in her chair. She is wide-eyed at this sudden bonding. They clasp hands over each other shoulders and laugh. As they do, another light comes up on Zelda, and we hear a dull, booming sound, followed by the intense fluttering. The voice comes in sharply.
VOICE: Zelda...he's taking Scott away from you...Zelda...he wants him...Zelda, try to save him...Zelda...try, Zelda...Zelda...
Zelda bolts out of her seat and runs off right. Scott turns and watches her go out, then rushes after her. We hear a door slam, and Scott goes off right. The lights go down very slowly and a single light comes up on Hemingway, who crosses downstage right.
HEMINGWAY: She was always very inquisitive and intimidating, even before Scott married her. He told me stories of her and beaus swimming nude in ponds at midnight. And once, when Isadore Duncan was giving a farewell party on the Riviera, and Scott excused himself to go to her table and say goodbye, Zelda vaulted down the stairs and nearly broke her legs in the fall, probably attempting a dance more exotic than Isadore's. She once remarked to me, "Ernest, don't you think Al Jolson is greater than Jesus?" I laughed and told her no, but she didn't care what I thought either way. (beat) I had attempted to tell him that there was something wrong with her, but he would never listen. He would blame it on their daughter, or work, too much to drink last night, anything but the truth. (beat) I think, deep down inside him, he knew it was the truth.
The lights come up on Scott and Zelda, facing the audience. Scott is tying his tie, getting ready to go out. Zelda is watching him intently.
ZELDA: You didn't say you were going out tonight.
FITZGERALD: Didn't I...I thought I mentioned it to you this afternoon.
ZELDA: No. You're not taking me with you?
FITZGERALD: If you like.
ZELDA: Where are we going?
FITZGERALD: Out for a drink with Hem and Hadley. Would you like to come?
ZELDA (suddenly changing tactics): No, I have a headache.
She puts her hand to her head and closes her eyes. She wants him to do or say something to her, but he does not, continuing to get ready. She waits for him, then opens her eyes and looks at him.
ZELDA: Could I get an aspirin?
FITZGERALD: Of course.
ZELDA: Could you get me one. They're right there next to you...
The doorbell rings. Zelda whirls around and shrieks, covering her mouth afterward. Scott bolts around and looks at her, surprised.
FITZGERALD: Zelda, it's only the door...
ZELDA: I'm sorry, I'm...I've been so nervous lately.
FITZGERALD: I'll get it.
He goes off, and we hear Hemingway and Hadley offstage greeting him. Zelda looks offstage with unease. We hear a tiny, almost unnoticeable flutter. Then Scott and Hemingway and Hadley come on stage left.
HADLEY: This is a wonderful flat, Scott, really.
HEMINGWAY: Good work space.
Scott goes and gets his jacket. Zelda is left looking at Hemingway and Hadley.
HEMINGWAY (finally): Mrs. Fitzgerald.
Beat. Zelda smiles at him timidly, and looks at Scott.
FITZGERALD: We should be on our way, then. Goodbye, dear.
He kisses her on the cheek.
HADLEY: It was good to see you again, Zelda.
Fitzgerald strides off left, followed by Hemingway and Hadley. Zelda watches as they go, and the lights dim down except for a single overhead on Zelda. We hear the fluttering sounds again, very faintly, then increasing suddenly before being cut off as the light dims out. A light comes up on Hemingway downstage right. During the following, servants move a table and two chairs on stage left, the entire transformation being very fluid and quick.
HEMINGWAY: I was working in my own apartment the next afternoon when Scott suddenly showed up frantically.
FITZGERALD : She's gone away!
FITZGERALD: Zelda! She's disappeared!
HADLEY: How can you be sure?
FITZGERALD: I left her at breakfast and came back this afternoon and she's gone.
HEMINGWAY (putting his hands on Scott's shoulders): What happened? Did you provoke her?
FITZGERALD: Provoke her?! She provoked me!
HADLEY: But everything seemed fine last night when Ernest and I came to your flat.
FITZGERALD: She was so edgy before you got there.
Scott crosses left and the lights come up on Zelda, seated at the table, preparing to eat breakfast.
FITZGERALD: I got up shortly after you and Hadley brought me home.
Fitzgerald now begins to reenact what has happened. A servant brings on tea things and breakfast. Zelda begins buttering her toast slowly, regarding Scott as he reads the paper. The servant begins pouring their coffee.
ZELDA: Late last night, weren't you?
FITZGERALD: No, not really.
ZELDA: It was after three when I heard you come in.
FITZGERALD (looking up at her): Oh...I hadn't noticed.
Beat. Zelda begins to butter her toast more forcefully.
ZELDA: You had a good time.
FITZGERALD: How do you know?
ZELDA: Oh...I could tell.
ZELDA (pause, listlessly): You talked in your sleep.
FITZGERALD (smiling): Really? What did I say?
ZELDA (playfully): Oh, it's really not important...
FITZGERALD: Tell me.
Zelda stops buttering her toast, places it on her plate, and grips the tablecloth roughly. She throws her head back and orgiastically begins to moan.
ZELDA: Oh! Oh! No more, no more! Please, stop! No, no more!
Fitzgerald stops reading the paper, and the servant looks up and stops pouring their coffee.
FITZGERALD (pause, shockedly): I'm sure I said no such thing.
ZELDA: Oh, yes, you did. And there's plenty more that I wouldn't dare repeat.
FITZGERALD (rising as the servant hurries out): I don't wish to discuss this.
ZELDA: Oh, well, when will we discuss this? Hmm?
FITZGERALD: I'm going.
ZELDA (overlapping): Where? To him?
FITZGERALD (overlapping): Who?
ZELDA (overlapping, finally): That husband-stealing bastard!
Beat. Scott mouths the word, "What?"
FITZGERALD: How on earth could you...?
ZELDA: Is it true that you're in love with him?
FITZGERALD (pause): This is disgusting, and this conversation is at an end.
ZELDA: Why? Because you say so? You? You're not man enough to settle it, right here, right now!
Beat. Scott looks at her red-faced.
FITZGERALD: Just what are you saying?
ZELDA: Is it true you're his lover?
FITZGERALD: How can you even think of such a thing? To suggest that he and I...
ZELDA (overlapping): It isn't hard to think of such a thing when you're gone constantly, and in his company, morning, noon...night.
FITZGERALD (overlapping): ...to suggest that he and I are...
ZELDA (overlapping): Why can't you forget your lusting for him and confess it like a man?
Scott begins to say something, but instead turns and begins to cross upstage.
ZELDA: Yes, that's it, fly to him, fly into his arms! You're pathetic!
Scott stops and turns toward her, livid.
FITZGERALD: You're jealous of him.
ZELDA (defiant): Never!
FITZGERALD (overlapping): You're jealous of my friendship with him, that's it!
ZELDA: Never! You have no real friendship. You're fags, the both of you!
Scott rounds and crosses left. Zelda, abandoned, turns toward the table. We hear the pronounced fluttering wings again, which grow in volume until she ragefully brushes the tablecloth and breakfast things from the table, making a strange, almost animal-like noise as she does. Plates shatter, glasses tinkle, and she flees off left as the lights go down on that side of the stage.
FITZGERALD: When I came back this afternoon, she was gone.
HEMINGWAY: Did she take anything with her? Clothes, luggage?
FITZGERALD: No, nothing's missing. I didn't know what to do at first, I thought, maybe she would come back...
He stops as there is a knock on the door off right.
FITZGERALD: Oh, God...that may be...
HEMINGWAY: Calm down. (quietly) Hadley....
Hadley exits off right, and returns a moment later.
HADLEY (quietly): It's Zelda, Scott.
All eyes fall on Fitzgerald, who calms himself, swallows, and straightens himself. He nods. Hadley smiles faintly and goes out. Hemingway turns and reassures him. Zelda enters right, followed by Hadley. Long beat.
ZELDA (slowly): I thought I might find you here.
FITZGERALD: Oh, Zelda...
Scott goes to her and embraces her tenderly. Zelda hardly notices, keeping her watchful eye on Hemingway.
FITZGERALD: Let's go home. (turning) Thank you, Ernest.
Scott ushers Zelda out. Hadley and Hemingway watch doubtfully, then look at each other.
HADLEY (crossing to him): I don't know how that will work out. I honestly don't.
HEMINGWAY (holding her): I don't think I know, either.
HADLEY (as Hemingway strokes her hair): For the first time in my life, I'm beginning to wonder if there isn't something seriously wrong with her.
HEMINGWAY: I know what you mean. I've thought that for a long time myself.
HADLEY: It's her eyes. They're so dark and piercing...as if they can see right through you, into your head and heart, where they shouldn't. I'm afraid of her, Tatie.
HEMINGWAY: I must go. I'm meeting Pauline Pfeiffer this evening for drinks and to talk about the article she wants to do on Parisian writers.
HADLEY: You've been seeing an awful lot of her lately.
HEMINGWAY: This may be my chance to be discovered.
HADLEY: Poor Scott...to be responsible for all that Zelda does...
The lights dim down on them. Hemingway steps forward and a light comes up on him.
HEMINGWAY: He always denied the fact that there was something wrong, terribly wrong, and when he finally did admit it, much later, there was nothing he could do. He and I would often discuss her during our free afternoons, in the cafes near Gertrude's studio, though the arguments usually strayed to how much or how little they would drink.
The lights come up on a tiny table set downstage left. A waiter brings on a tray and two glasses. Hemingway crosses to the table, where Fitzgerald is seated drinking champagne.
HEMINGWAY (laughing): Champagne? In the middle of the afternoon?
FITZGERALD: Try it. You might be pleasantly surprised.
HEMINGWAY (sitting): I highly doubt it. (to the waiter) Tea.
The waiter nods and exits. Fitzgerald nearly chokes on his drink.
FITZGERALD: Tea? In the middle of the afternoon?
HEMINGWAY: Don't joke. Europeans drink tea. It makes them civilized.
FITZGERALD: No, it makes them sour. Look at the English. They're perfectly horrid. They always have been. Tea makes their faces pucker up, and they get that sore expression. No. Champagne is for all hours of the day. That's why man invented it.
HEMINGWAY: I'm sure the monks who invented it in the first place had no idea what they had created. (pause) How many have you had so far this afternoon?
FITZGERALD (looking at his watch): Oh...I don't remember. I've been here since two.
Scott pours another drink and downs it quickly.
HEMINGWAY: You don't remember, and it's only been an hour? How much did you have last night?
FITZGERALD (leaning over the table): Ahh, now I'm rather luckier there. Last I counted it was twelve in an hour. Then I went out onto the terrace at the Murphys and fell asleep until morning.
HEMINGWAY: And you didn't have any ill effects?
FITZGERALD: No. Well, I had a headache, but that went away some time ago.
HEMINGWAY: What about Zelda?
FITZGERALD: Stuff never affects her. (pouring yet another drink) Mind you, it's good for the senses. I've never understood why so many men can drink so little and be drunk so much.
HEMINGWAY: Don't you think you've had enough?
FITZGERALD: Nonsense. I'll be fine for hours.
The waiter returns with Hemingway's tea and places it on the table. Scott lifts the champagne bottle out of the bucket and downs the rest of its contents. He then thrusts the bottle into the astonished waiter's hands.
FITZGERALD: Another, please.
WAITER: But, monsieur, it is your third bottle this afternoon...
HEMINGWAY: Third bottle?
WAITER: Mais, oui...
FITZGERALD: I thought it was only two.
HEMINGWAY: Three bottles, Scott?
Fitzgerald shrugs and rises.
FITZGERALD: I'm fine...
He totters and sits down hard.
HEMINGWAY: You're drunk, aren't you?
FITZGERALD: No, really...
HEMINGWAY: You've gone through three bottles of champagne in an hour! (pause) On an empty stomach, too, I'll bet! What did you have this afternoon? Or this morning?
FITZGERALD: I had breakfast.
FITZGERALD: It's none of your business, Hem...
HEMINGWAY: You had breakfast, what was it?
FITZGERALD (overlapping): Leave me the hell alone!
Beat. The waiter takes a step back and Hemingway motions him offstage. Hemingway rises and leans over the table.
HEMINGWAY (quiet but forceful): Just what did you have for breakfast this morning? (pause) Do I have to beat it out of you to see?
FITZGERALD (pause): Two martinis.
HEMINGWAY: My God...
He sits, defeated and disgusted, and Scott notices.
FITZGERALD: I swear to you, the alcohol never goes to my head. If I truly wanted to, I could put it down. I could stop, if I truly wanted to.
HEMINGWAY: Yes, but you don't want to, do you?
FITZGERALD: That's bull.
HEMINGWAY (shaking his head): No, it's not bull. You're always out every night, and doing nothing but drinking. It isn't exactly the most healthy thing to do.
FITZGERALD: Well, then, that will be my problem, won't it? (pause) Why are you so anxious to scrutinize private lives, anyway? First you tell me my wife is a lunatic, then you turn around and tell me that I'm a drunkard.
HEMINGWAY (instantly): I never said you were...
FITZGERALD: You didn't have to! You think I can't refuse the demon drink?
HEMINGWAY: Well, can you?
Beat. Scott stares resolutely at him and pours the remaining champagne onto the floor.
FITZGERALD: Does that satisfy you? Are you truly happy now that I did that?
HEMINGWAY (pause): I don't know. I honestly can't say. (pause) I must go. Hadley will be waiting.
He rises and goes off. Fitzgerald looks after him, then back down at the empty glass in his hand. He turns it over and over again, then calls over his shoulder.
FITZGERALD: Garcon...bring me another bottle.
The lights fade out and come up on Hemingway. Hadley enters as he delivers his next line, and they link arms.
HEMINGWAY: Later that spring, armed with a second letter of introduction from Sherwood Anderson, Hadley and I visited the studio of Ezra Pound, in the rue Notre Dame des Champs.
The lights come up on the stage again, and the paintings have disappeared. Ezra Pound sits in the center chair, regally drinking a cup of tea. Hemingway and Hadley turn and enter the scene.
POUND (rising, setting down his tea): It is a pleasure to finally meet you, after all Sherwood has written about you.
They shake hands. Ernest turns toward Hadley.
HEMINGWAY: May I introduce my wife, Hadley.
Ezra bows and kisses her hand.
HADLEY (blushing): May I say what an honor it is to finally meet you, Mr. Pound.
POUND: No, Mrs. Hemingway, please, call me Ezra, as all my friends do.
HADLEY: Well...thank you, Ezra. You must return the compliment by calling me Hadley, then.
They sit. Ezra pours them all tea as he delivers his next line.
POUND: Sherwood wrote glowingly of you, Ernest. I must say that he is a true genius when it comes to flattery.
HEMINGWAY (laughing): Yes, he is. I shouldn't really admit it, but I must say that he is. Gertrude agrees with your opinion.
POUND: Really? (pause) Gertrude and I had a falling out. She used to be very fond of my poetry, and I enjoyed reading her earlier stuff.
HEMINGWAY: She never told me that she knew you.
POUND: I shouldn't think so, she's very sensitive about the matter. I was at one of her Saturday night parties and I accidentally sat on an expensive chair that consequently broke. She never forgave me for it, and after that severed herself from me without any fathomable excuse.
HADLEY: What a shame.
POUND: Anyway...Sherwood said that you were interested in T. S. Eliot. I happen to know him. I first met him in London. He's having a terrible time with his job, and I think that we should give him a holiday. That way he can get back into his writing, which I think is more important.
HADLEY (sipping her tea): What do you propose to do?
POUND (taking a paper from his jacket): Well, a friend of mine owns a small villa near the coast. I was thinking that we could all pay for his expenses and let him go and live there for a while. It would be very enriching to his career, and I'm sure that he'll agree. I call it Bel Esprit.
HADLEY: That is very romantic of you, Ezra, but it seems a bit excessive.
POUND: Well, it does seem worth it. I mean, poor Eliot is trapped in a bank from dawn till dusk, and is so exhausted that he can't find the time to do anything else but sleep.
HEMINGWAY: He should come and live in Paris.
POUND: If he could afford the move, I'm sure he would come, but money is tight right now. However it turns out, it'll be for the best.
HEMINGWAY: That is not always the case.
POUND: That's what Anderson said. He also said that you were a very free-thinking man, and an excellent boxer.
HEMINGWAY: When I first started out, it was only a pastime, but when I came back from Italy, I began signing for a few fights here and there, and the money helped.
POUND: Do you think, in all honesty, that you could teach me? I would very much like to learn. It seems a very elegant sport.
HEMINGWAY: No, leave elegance to the bullfighters.
POUND (laughing): Oh, so you are a devoted man of the cape?
HEMINGWAY: In my own small way. I met Nino de la Palma when we were honeymooning in Spain.
POUND: Really? (pause) Still, I wish to become a boxer. Do you think that with your expertise you could give me a few lessons?
HEMINGWAY: Certainly. We could begin now, if you like.
HADLEY: Oh, Tatie, not now, not in his lovely studio!
POUND (laughing, overlapping): An excellent idea!
HADLEY: No, not today, Tatie, we must go. (rising) My husband and I were planning a picnic next Wednesday in the Bois de Boulogne. We would like to invite you to come along. Perhaps you can commence your lessons there.
POUND (rising): Next Wednesday, then.
HADLEY: Again, we are very glad that you could have us, Ezra.
POUND: It is I who should be very glad in receiving you.
Ezra and Hadley go out, and Hemingway again crosses downstage to the audience. During the following speech, the paintings from Gertrude's studio fly down again, and several servants appear with the table and wine; also, another table with an old-fashioned phonograph is placed center right., next to two chairs. Gertrude enters during the following, and sits next to the phonograph, scrupulously reading more of Hemingway's copies.
HEMINGWAY: I began to visit Ezra's studio, to help him with his lessons more often. I would have a difficult time explaining going to see him if Gertrude ever found out. Still, I decided not to worry about it; after all, she admitted knowing him before is unfortunate accident with her furniture, and Eliot's plight seemed a serious one despite Ezra's unnecessary over dramatization. If she asked about the incident, I would say nothing of Bel Esprit, only that Ezra and I had a glass of sherry and talked, and boxed a bit for Wyndham Lewis, a visiting friend. My wife persuaded me to put it off, and not speak of anything to do with Ezra Pound, much less the outing we were planning and had invited him to. The next afternoon I went to visit Gertrude.
There is a flourish of music, and Hemingway turns upstage, crosses to her, and sits. We hear the thrilling and grandiose chords of a Pucinni aria from the phonograph.
HEMINGWAY (after a time): How are they now?
STEIN (pause): Somewhat better. Nothing inaccrochable, except the margins.
HEMINGWAY: Margins have nothing to do with how it is written.
Beat. He sips his wine again, and looks about impatiently.
STEIN (suddenly changing tones): Don't you adore this lovely little phonograph?
HEMINGWAY (leaning forward to look at it) Hmm, yes.
STEIN: A present from Wyndham Lewis.
HEMINGWAY (not straightforward): Oh?
STEIN (marking something on the manuscript, absentmindedly): Yes. You've met Wyndham Lewis, haven't you, Hemingway?
HEMINGWAY (turning to the audience): It was her custom to address me whenever she already knew the answer to the question. (turning back to her) I'm sure I would remember had I met him.
STEIN: Oh, but it was just the other day, in Ezra Pound's studio. He said that you were giving Ezra a boxing lesson.
HEMINGWAY (beat): Well...yes.
STEIN: Tell me something. Does Ezra's work appeal to you at all? Or has he gone on another one of his silly crusades to free the common people of their eccentricities, or see if the birds have true feelings. Last I heard he was collecting money to get T. S. Eliot to live in some hovel and write more of his inaccrochable poetry.
HEMINGWAY (rising, walking about): Yes, well, the poetry is all good and well, but the short stories are impenetrable.
STEIN (beat, nodding): Mmmm.
HEMINGWAY (smiling, cheerfully): I suppose you are not going to condone my friendship with him, now that you know.
STEIN: No, not particularly. Still, I would sooner condone your friendship with Ezra than with Lewis.
HEMINGWAY: Why, don't you care for him?
STEIN: He's a measurer.
HEMINGWAY: A what?
STEIN: That's my nickname for him: the Measurer. He sits all day in front of a painting like Picasso or Rousseau or Matisse or Cezanne, and he measures with his thumb nail and the end of a brush every single line on the canvas, and then he goes back to England and paints the exact same thing, only he's measured it all wrong and therefore he paints it all wrong, and the end is usually something more dreadful than the means.
Hemingway looks down and sums all this up.
STEIN: I think I'll make a present of this phonograph to you. I don't use it often, only when company is here.
STEIN: Still, please take it home. I'm sure your wife would enjoy it. She, being a pianist.
HEMINGWAY: Yes, she would.
STEIN (closing the manuscript): That is enough for today. I have a headache.
HEMINGWAY (crossing and taking the manuscript): Very well.
STEIN: Will you be coming tomorrow afternoon?
HEMINGWAY: No, Hadley, Bumby, and I are going to picnic in the Bois de Boulogne. (turning to the audience) Hadley was right; it was better not to mention Ezra was going. However, I had broken my promise to her that I wouldn't say anything about the outing itself. I don't think it mattered, one way or the other.
STEIN: Oh, very well. I shall see you...whenever then.
He nods and exits. Alice brushes past him as he goes.
ALICE: I hate that man. He can't pronounce my name correctly. He's always saying, "Thank you, Miss Tocraz."
STEIN (staring off into the stalls): Alice, what have we planned for tomorrow afternoon?
ALICE: Nothing that I know of. Why?
STEIN: We are going on a little...outing.
Alice looks at her inquisitively, and follows Gertrude out, as a sudden winding burst of Pucinni comes in again. The portraits fly out, and a realistic drop of trees flies down. A slightly tilted platform suggesting a graceful incline is brought out and placed a little right of center. Golden light through numerous tree branches, unseen from above, falls on and about the platform to imply a lovely afternoon. We are now in the Bois de Boulogne. Hemingway, Hadley, Ezra, and young Bumby enter right with assorted picnic articles, umbrellas, baskets, blankets. Hadley and Bumby spread a blanket over the platform, and they begin to unpack their lunch. They finish quickly
HADLEY (tearfully): Oh, Tatie...
She turns and flies girlishly offstage. He instantly rises, forgetting his work.
He flees after her. Zelda leans out and crosses quickly downstage. She gets to the chair, and reaches down and picks up the manuscript. She opens it, pages through, and tears nearly all of the leafs out, flipping through them violently in search of her portrait. She finds more than she bargained for, and smiling triumphantly, throws the book to the floor, crosses toward left, and hurls the pages onto her husband's chair, causing a veritable cascade of paper that settles into a horrible mess on the stage at the climax of the music. She glides slowly off right as the lights dim down, and a single light center on the chair turns the butchered manuscript pages into a golden sea of paper before dimming out for good.
End of Act One
As the lights go down in the house, the paneled lights and tiles appear again on the left side of the stage. Gertrude is seated on a stool, completely frozen,staring wide-eyed at the pile of papers center stage, still lit by a vibrant golden light. She pauses and speaks almost hypnotically.
STEIN: Most writers and artists say that telling the truth is the most difficult thing to do in their lives. I have found that to be correct, but not impossible. By doing so, you find yourself wounding a very dear one, or healing a wound of your own. None of our clique could authentically agree on what was truth and what was not. I'm afraid that the only problem with the entire race of man is exactly that - one man's truth is another man's lies. In this case, being honest seemed to hurt. And lying seemed to help more than harm.
The lights go down on Gertrude and the center chair and come up on the extreme right proscenium, where Hadley and Hemingway are quietly conversing, she with her back to him to hide her tears.
HADLEY: I don't know where it's all gone.
HEMINGWAY: Gone? What do you mean?
HADLEY: Since the birth of the baby, it has all disappeared. I can't understand it. It's as if you weren't content with living the way we do, as if you weren't content with being a husband and father to me and Bumby. I think you're lying to yourself if you don't see it the way I do. I think you want to be released from us.
HADLEY: I think you want to leave us.
HEMINGWAY: It would never come to that. I could never abandon you. I love you too much to risk losing you to anyone or anything.
HADLEY: I can't believe that. (pause) Not now.
HEMINGWAY: What are you saying?
HADLEY: I know about her.
HADLEY: Pauline Pfeiffer. I don't want to think about it, but I can't put it out of my mind. You don't love me anymore, and now you want Pauline.
HEMINGWAY: That's not true!
HADLEY: It is true. As true as my love for you, but you've seemed to all but appreciate it. You yearn to own what you don't have, you always will. And when you possess it, you find something else that you want but cannot have, that thing becomes the single-most thing you want in your life.
HEMINGWAY: I couldn't live without you and John.
HADLEY: You can live without me, you can't live without him. He's a part of you.
HEMINGWAY: And you are just as much a part of me as he is.
HADLEY (covering her face with her hands): Oh,Tatie, I'm tired of all this. I don't want to let go of you, but if I don't, I'll live the rest of my life feeling that I've betrayed you, by keeping you locked in a room where you didn't want to be. You say you love me. Perhaps, at one time, you did, but that time is gone, and all that love was passed from me to Bumby the day he was born. He is merely an extension of that love you shared with me. I don't think there will ever be a time when you love me again.
HEMINGWAY: How can you say that?
HADLEY: With the same amount of humiliation and sorrow that you can say that you love another woman. And that she loves you. I only wish that Pauline knew...the truth. Because if she doesn't, she will learn. I only wish she never has to walk where I have walked and live where I have lived. The beginning was a fairy tale. But as you know, all fairy tales have happy endings, and somewhere our fairy tale stopped existing.
Hemingway turns away from her, totally taken in by what she has told him.
HEMINGWAY: What are you going to do, then?
HADLEY: I want you to stop seeing her...for a little while.
HEMINGWAY (turning): What do you mean?
HADLEY: As futile as it may seem, I desperately want to keep this marriage from falling apart, but it is doing just that/
Hemingway shakes his head sadly. Hadley looks down, draws in a deep breath and lets it out, then looks him straight in the face.
HADLEY: I want the two of you to stop seeing each other, for one hundred days. If you love her after that time, and she loves you, then I'll give the two of you what you want. You can set up divorce proceedings with my permission, and I will go away and leave the two of you together and in peace.
HEMINGWAY: And, if at the end of these one hundred days, I don't love her...what then?
HADLEY: I don't know what then. I only know it will probably not come to that. At least, I don't think it will...but I pray that it does.
HEMINGWAY (pause): One hundred days? And Pauline will agree to this?
HADLEY: She will. If she thinks you love her, she will do anything for you, to have you.
Long beat. Both of them already know what the outcome is going to be, and they don't want to admit it.
HEMINGWAY (finally): You regret having married me, then?
HADLEY: Never. I only regret that you were never mine.
Hadley looks down and quickly crosses the stage and exits off right. As she does, the light comes up on Gertrude, seated, with her umbrella supporting her hand. She watches benevolently as Hadley goes off and then turns to regard Hemingway.
STEIN: I'm sorry, Hemingway.
HEMINGWAY (quietly): What for?
STEIN: That it had to come to this.
He bows his head and frowns. Gertrude now speaks to herself,and the audience; Hemingway cannot hear her.
STEIN: And that it had to come to that.
She gestures toward center, where a third light comes up on the chair. Seated is Fitzgerald, intently reading the pages, while Zelda, with her arms folded, stands imperiously over him. Hemingway moves "into the scene," which is denoted by a drastic light change. Beat. Zelda raises her head to glare at him.
HEMINGWAY: What are you doing?
No reply. Zelda grins triumphantly.
HEMINGWAY: What are...? Oh, God, no...?
He rushes forward to take the manuscript from Scott. Zelda immediately flies around in time to stop him.
ZELDA: NO! Let him read! Let him see!
He tries to go around, but she follows him.
HEMINGWAY (to Zelda): How could you do this? How could you let him read this?
ZELDA: With no greater difficulty than you had in writing it.
HEMINGWAY: You told him to -
ZELDA: He was one of who found it!
HEMINGWAY: And you believe her, Scott?
ZELDA: He will believe what he wants to believe, whether you approve of it or not.
HEMINGWAY: If that is so, let him tell me himself. I want to hear it from him, and no one else.
ZELDA: What's the use? You hate him, and he knows it now. Why should he want to speak to you?
HEMINGWAY: Because he is my friend, despite all that you say.
ZELDA: You're not his friend. You never were. You never really liked him. And now you're using this...(motioning to the manuscript)...to ruin him.
HEMINGWAY: That's not true!
ZELDA: Isn't it! (turning to Scott) Tell him!
Scott looks up at the two of them, visibly disturbed by what he has read. Long beat.
FITZGERALD: Is it true? What you've written about me?
HEMINGWAY: Of course it isn't true.
She sits by him and caresses his hair. We hear the slight fluttering of birds wings again during her line.
ZELDA: Yes, it is. It is, darling. Oh, darling,can't you see? I've tried to save you from him, but now it is too late. He has torn you apart, he envies you, he hates you, he wants to destroy you...
HEMINGWAY: How can you it there and believe what she is saying, Scott?
ZELDA (rising, turning against him): Because what I am saying, you bastard, is the truth! You've always been jealous of my husband's talents, and now you know that he is so much more proficient than you. And the only way that you can fight back is with this!
She angrily thrusts some pages in his face.
ZELDA: Ever since he has known you, you have tried to dominate him! You have tried to twist him away from me, you have tried to tear him to shreds! You have turned him against his own wife, and now you are calling me a liar? You're pathetic. You don't care about what my husband thinks or says or does or writes. The only thing you could think of was how glorious and well-received you would be if you were to become the greatest writer in the nation, and the only way to do that was to destroy him.
HEMINGWAY (breathless): How can you it there and take all this in? She's making excuses for herself!
FITZGERALD: I can't believe that...
HEMINGWAY: I swear to God, Scott, I never intended to publish it...
FITZGERALD: Then why did you write it in the first place?
HEMINGWAY(searching for an answer): I..don't know...why...
FITZGERALD (covering his face with his hands): This isn't happening.
ZELDA: Yes, it is happening, my love. Better now, before it's too late!
HEMINGWAY: You're insane! You actually think that I could...
ZELDA: I know it's all true!
HEMINGWAY: You've created a farce! You've created lies and stories to ensure that I never see him again.
ZELDA: That's preposterous! You're the one spinning the tales now, my dear. You...you're nothing but a liar and a fraud! Now why don't you get the hell out of here before you do something you will regret for a very long time.
HEMINGWAY: What are you talking about?
ZELDA: Can't you see he wants to be alone with me?
HEMINGWAY: Why? So you can sort things out for him? So that you can manipulate him even more than you already have?
ZELDA (pause): I don't know what you're talking about.
HEMINGWAY: Don't you, though? Ever since the day I met him, you've tried to interfere with our friendship. From the moment I walked into his life, you realized what we had was real, and you couldn't stand the fact that he had a true friend who was actually concerned for him. And that frightened you, didn't it?
HEMINGWAY (without stopping): Yes, it scared you! The fact that he and I were close drove you to disdain. So you began to discredit me, in order to "save" him. You made up stories and lies about me, and now that they've backfired in your face, you can't stand it. (to Scott) You think her disappearance that afternoon was intentional? It was a fiasco, a charade designed to shift your attention from me to her.
ZELDA: That's a lie!
HEMINGWAY: Is it? I don't believe that he was the one who found this here. Do you know what I think?
ZELDA: This should rank with the Gospel.
HEMINGWAY: Because after I left, I saw you go into the study...
ZELDA: I did no such thing!
HEMINGWAY: ...and I saw you leave the manuscript there on his chair.
ZELDA: You dare try to confuse him with your petty lies?!
HEMINGWAY: Oh, come off it. You don't really love him. You want to protect him from the world, or at least anyone who you deem corruptible. But it won't work,and it never will, because you are the one who should be kept away from him, not me.
Zelda has come dangerously close to him, and before Hemingway can realize it, she furiously slaps him across the upstage cheek. Hemingway turns back toward her, pauses, and then returns the slap with nearly twice the force. The blow sends Zelda spinning, causing her to trip and fall against one of the downstage chairs. She gives a great cry, and gets on her knees, lurching around to stare at Hemingway, who is breathless and stunned at what he has just done.
ZELDA (almost inaudible): How could you? (rising) You impudent ass! (turning to Scott) And you? How can you sit there and do nothing?!
Fitzgerald is paralyzed, still hunched over and buried in his hands. Zelda looks to Hemingway, then her husband, and violently turns and retreats offstage. We hear a tinkle of glass, a slight shriek, and a door slam. Then silence.
HEMINGWAY (finally): I'm...sorry, Scott.
FITZGERALD (without moving): For what?
HEMINGWAY: I'm sorry that you had to see that. But I can't hide the way I feel about her.
Beat. Scott loos at him, for the first time since the beginning of the scene.
FITZGERALD: Or me?
HEMINGWAY (pause, then sadly): Apparently not.
FITZGERALD: Is this really true?
HEMINGWAY: Like I said... I don't know anymore.
Beat. Fitzgerald regards the manuscript for a moment.
FITZGERALD: What are you going to do with it now?
HEMINGWAY: I don't know...burn it, probably. Right now I don't care.
Long beat. Hemingway takes the manuscript from Scott and tears it in half, depositing the pages on the floor.
HEMINGWAY: I am sorry..."old" friend...
The lights go down slowly. Hemingway steps out of the darkness.
HEMINGWAY: Scott was right. We didn't know where our friendship was leading from there. One thing was certain - it was never the same after that.
The lights come up slowly.
FITZGERALD: I've finished reading your new manuscript. I don't think Anderson should see it until after it's published. I wonder if he will be as shocked as I was when I read it.
He rises and resolutely exits. Hemingway watches as he goes, remaining almost frozen.
HEMINGWAY: I had written a parody of Anderson's latest novel, Dark Laughter. The reaction was the same with him. He visited Gertrude on his return to Paris.
The lights come up upstage, where Gertrude and Anderson are seated. Anderson watches over her shoulder as she reads the manuscript.
ANDERSON: You see.
STEIN: It's very brutal. All the same...have you spoken with Ernest about it?
ANDERSON: Not since my departure last autumn.
STEIN: I don't think he really meant what he says.
ANDERSON (taking the pages from her): He certainly does! They say he wrote it in ten days, after reading my novel!
STEIN (pacifyingly): A burst of creative genius, that's all...
ANDERSON: A burst of creative fwat! (beat) Did you care for it at all?
STEIN (hesitantly): It was...very well written. (Anderson turns, upset) I didn't care for the subject matter, but I thought the prose was some of the best I've ever read.
ANDERSON: Of course it was! It's a copy of my own novel!
STEIN: Sherwood, please...
ANDERSON (reading mockingly): The Torrents of Spring? The only torrents this is creating are waves of unease. The man doesn't know how to write flatteringly.
STEIN: I think you're overreacting.
Hemingway moves upstage and "enters" the scene.
STEIN : Ahh, Ernest...
Anderson rounds on him furiously.
STEIN: Sherwood and I were just having a conversation about your new book. He has some silly notion that it is a satire of his own novel.
ANDERSON: Indeed, and well it is not! How could you take a novel of such beauty and poetry and twist it into your own confounded configuration of art?
HEMINGWAY: It was easy.
ANDERSON: I beg your pardon?!
HEMINGWAY: I meant no offense by it.
ANDERSON: Then what are you saying about it? It is a parody, you do not deny it.
HEMINGWAY: NO, I don't deny it. It was meant as a portrait, not of your story, Sherwood, but of your style.
ANDERSON (motioning to the pages): You call this a portrait of my style? It may be in my style, but I assure you my ways are not as vulgar as this.
HEMINGWAY: There I must disagree....
ANDERSON: Consider our friendship at an end.
He thrusts the bundle into Hemingway's hands and exits cockily. The lights go down. The paintings fly out and Scott comes on and downstage. The servants bring on a tiny table with a variety of wine bottles and glasses. He pours himself a drink and downs it almost instantaneously. Zelda marches downstage, stops next to him, and looks sullenly at him. He looks calmly back at her, then pours another drink and downs it. She turns peevishly and begins to exit. As she does, a female servant enters carrying an assortment of ballet leotards and slippers.
FITZGERALD (without looking): Where are you going?
ZELDA (taking the bundle from the servant): To my ballet lessons.
FITZGERALD: At nearly half past eight?
ZELDA (rounding on him): What does that matter?
She begins to exits and change from her clothes frantically.
FITZGERALD: Come back here.
ZELDA: No, I will not. You don't own me, I am my own woman!
FITZGERALD: You are not your own woman, you are my wife, and you'll do as you're told!
ZELDA (smiling, realizing): Oh, like Hem and Hadley?
FITZGERALD: Yes, exactly.
ZELDA: Damn you, why can't you be your own man?
FITZGERALD: I am my own man, and you'll not treat me like this!
ZELDA: Then why did you compare yourself with him?
FITZGERALD (covering his face): Oh, Zelda, please...
ZELDA: You haven't been your own man since the day I met you.
Beat. Scott looks up at her, passions seething. We don't know what's going to happen, and we never will, for we hear a loud knocking offstage, and a servant enters.
SERVANT: Mr. Hemingway, sir.
FITZGERALD: Show him up, please.
Zelda begins to exit off left, but is stopped by Ernest as he enters the room. They look at each other defiantly before Zelda take a step back and goes around him. Hemingway looks after her, then at Scott.
FITZGERALD (quietly): I'm sorry, Hem.
HEMINGWAY: For what? Marrying a woman you can't control?
FITZGERALD (shaking his head): Yes. No. I don't know anymore. I'm sorry about everything.
HEMINGWAY: So am I..."old" friend?
They shake hands and hug, affectionately but not passionately. The fervor that was once there is gone.
FITZGERALD (to audience): That evening reconciled our differences for the moment, but did nothing to help our long term problems, not to mention his with Hadley and mine with Zelda. I consider him fairly luckier when it came to the end. (beat) It was a cold March morning when Hadley arrived unexpectedly with Bumby. Hemingway was visiting when she called.
Hadley and Bumby enter left, dressed in traveling clothes. Hadley carries two suitcases which she sets down somewhere near center left.
FITZGERALD (turning upstage): It is good to see you again.
HADLEY: Thank you, Scott.
Hemingway turns slightly away from the audience. She regards him coolly.
HADLEY: Might I have a few moments alone with him? I've brought little Bumby to say goodbye.
FITZGERALD: Of course.
Fitzgerald looks at Hemingway, who turns and nods his approval without looking at either Hadley or Scott. Fitzgerald looks back to Hadley, and then exits off left. Hadley looks about uncomfortably, first removing her hat pin and then her hat. Bumby fidgets at her side as she removes her gloves and slowly pans up to finally look at him. Beat.
HEMINGWAY: Well...your three months have come and gone.
HADLEY: One hundred days...to be precise. Actually one hundred and seven.
HEMINGWAY (regarding Bumby): He certainly has grown since last I saw him.
HADLEY (eager for conversation): Yes, he...(then realizing her situation) Almost half an inch.
HEMINGWAY: He seems bigger.
Hemingway kneels and beckons the boy to him. Bumby buried his face against his mother's knees. Hadley gently separates him from her, and bending down, gives him a slight push toward Hemingway. Bumby slowly crosses to him, and Hemingway embraces him gently, almost remorsefully as Hadley rises.
HEMINGWAY (to Bumby): Three years old, and already so tall.
HADLEY: Four next October. The ninth.
HEMINGWAY (still concentrating on the boy): Yes.
HADLEY (finally): John...run along to Nanna Rohrbach now.
Hemingway looks at her, then back at Bumby and tenderly kisses his cheek. Bumby turns and toddles off left.
HEMINGWAY (getting up): You never used to call him John, before.
HADLEY: And he never used to be so uncomfortable when he was with you.
HADLEY (nodding): So many things have changed. Nothing stays the same anymore. I sometimes blame myself...
HEMINGWAY: Oh, Hadley...
HADLEY: How do you expect me to feel? Thankful? Content? Overjoyed that you and Pauline will be happy, but only at my expense? I never wanted to be hurt. I never asked for it.
HEMINGWAY: You never expected it, someday?
HADLEY: No, I expected something painful, some terrible loss or devastating event. I expected something that would come and go quickly, that would pass like the sun over our heads and disappear behind the mountains. But not something like this.
HEMINGWAY: You had your chance...
HADLEY (pause): When...before I married you?
HEMINGWAY: That's not fair, Hadley...
HADLEY: No, it's not! Neither is what you're putting me through!
Long beat. Hemingway didn't expect this much fire from his wife. Neither did Hadley, who covers her mouth with both her hands and bows her head a little. He thinks for a moment, and then takes a small red book out of his jacket pocket.
HEMINGWAY: Well...I'd imagine this is fair enough.
He hands it to her, and begins to go off right.
HEMINGWAY: The new book, just published.
He is stopped by her voice as she reads the inscription on the dedication page.
HADLEY: "This is for Hadley, and for John Hadley Nicanor."
HEMINGWAY (without turning): I wired Perkins in New York before the first edition came out. It was the least I could do.
She looks at him, then back at the book.
HADLEY (reading again): "You are all a lost generation - Gertrude Stein, in Paris." I suppose you couldn't resist dedicating the book to her as well?
Hemingway looks guiltily away.
HADLEY: And this was the least you could do for me? And for...?
Long pause, and Hemingway nods. She regards the book again, closing the cover. Total silence, suddenly disturbed as the book falls from her hands onto the floor, registering a loud thud. Hemingway turns slowly around.
HADLEY (with great difficulty): That was not what I expected.
HEMINGWAY: What did you expect...apart from some tragic end. What did you want from me?
HADLEY: I wanted a life with you. Richer, poorer, sickness, health...honor...cherish...obey...for as long as we both shall live. But I was wrong, wasn't I?
HEMINGWAY: Where will you go?
HADLEY: Back to oak Parks. With my family. With my son.
HEMINGWAY: "Our" son.
HADLEY (shaking her head, "no"): No, you are not his father now. Not anymore.
HEMINGWAY: So I am considered out of the picture.
HADLEY: No, just...away...absent.
HEMINGWAY: Will I ever see him again?
HADLEY: Perhaps. You will have more. Pauline is a very giving person.
HADLEY: I must go.
She puts on her hat and gloves again. Hemingway wanders up right, looking offstage. Hadley begins to exit, but stops. She turns slowly around as Ernest bows his head and folds his hands behind his back. She goes back to center, kneels down, and picks up the book tenderly, first reading the inscription again, and then closing it and reading the title. She stands.
HADLEY (tearfully, but with great control and dignity): The Sun Also Rises.
She begins to go offstage again, but turns back to look at him.
HADLEY: But it seems that eventually the sun also sets.
She wipes the tears from her face, and clutching the book to her breast, picks up the suitcases and exits left hurriedly. Beat, then a terrible, stifled sob, followed by more loud ones as Hemingway buries his head in his hands and the lights slowly dim. A single soft light remains on Hemingway from overhead. Then, from the darkness, we hear Scott's voice again. Almost instantly, a similar light illuminates him stage left, as he speaks gently.
FITZGERALD: It was the first and only time that Hem had cried in my company, and as far as I know, the only time he ever did. I think that everyone deserves a happy life, but so few are blessed with one that wishing for one seems almost futile. I never wished for one. Perhaps I should have.
The lights come up to reveal the paintings again. A small table with a bound manuscript stands upstage left. It is flanked by two chairs. Gertrude and Alice sit, both sipping tea. Hemingway comes downstage and addresses the audience.
HEMINGWAY: The next spring, I called on Miss Stein and her companion in the first time in what seemed like ages.
He turns upstage and a female servant comes out. He hands her his calling card.
HEMINGWAY: Mr. Hemingway.
SERVANT: One moment, please.
The servant curtsies and crosses to Gertrude, handing her the card.
STEIN: Send him up, please.
ALICE (turning): Send who up, lovey?
SERVANT: Mr. Hemingway.
ALICE: Ahh...excuse me.
She begins to leave. Gertrude retains her.
STEIN: Come, now, pussy, please stay. He won't be long. He's come to talk about his new manuscript.
She motions to the table.
ALICE: I don't wish to talk to him. He is vulgar and revolting and he always has been. When he married that newspaper tart, I swore I would never speak to him again and I never will.
She places her tea on her chair and rushes offstage.
STEIN (following her): Now, pussy, wait, please...
ALICE (off): NO!
The servant crosses to Hemingway.
SERVANT: One moment, please. Miss Stein will be down in a minute.
HEMINGWAY (looking at his watch): I can't stay long, I have an important appointment...
STEIN (offstage, overlapping): No, please, pussy, you're over-reacting...
HEMINGWAY (looking at his watch again): I'm afraid I have to go. Give her my regards, as well as to her friend. Tell her to keep the manuscript, I'll send her a copy as soon as the first edition comes out.
Hemingway walks briskly downstage, pantomimes closing a door, and walks the full length of the apron, turning toward the audience.
HEMINGWAY: That was the way it ended with Miss Stein, simply enough. After that, she turned quarrelsome, lashing out at everyone she knew. Then suddenly she took on the appearance of the emperor Tiberius after one of his epic debaucheries. Shortly after this episode, I left with my new wife Pauline for America, and never came back. The Depression had struck hard there, but Pauline and I managed to stay on top, as her uncle was a very rich man, and indeed so was she, so money never really mattered like it had before.
A light comes up on the opposite side of the stage. Hadley stands there, holding a letter. As she reads, Hemingway pulls a letter out of his jacket and reads to himself.
HADLEY: "My dearest Hadley - Left today for Key West, where Pauline has a summer home. Am coming to Oak Parks to visit my parents. Hope to see you and Bumby there when I come. He must be very big, and curious as to where I am. -Ernest."
She regards the note and then crumples it up. As she does, the light on her goes out quickly, and she exits. Hemingway begins reading.
HEMINGWAY: "Ernest - I write to say that I will be unable to bring Bumby to Oak Parks in time for your visit. It has been several years since I last spoke to your parents, and I would feel terribly awkward now at the chance to see them again. Bumby sends his love. - Hadley." (long pause, as he folds the note and puts it in his pocket) At first, I resented her for refusing to let me see him. In the end, I couldn't help but feel compassion for her, though. She always loved the boy so much. So did I, but I guess that didn't matter. She felt I didn't because I had chosen to leave her. The boy suddenly became her only way of both fighting back at me, and clinging to the past. I guess she thought that seeing each other would stir up all those old memories, which served as a vivid reminder of a time not-so-long ago, when we were once both very happy. (long reflective beat) It would be a long time before I think of Paris again.
The light fades slowly on Hemingway, and comes up on Gertrude and Alice, sitting and drinking. During the scene, the lights dim down to two solitary glows on them.
STEIN (sighing): I've been thinking very much about my autobiography, lately.
ALICE (without looking up): Oh?
STEIN: You don't suppose anyone would read it, do you?
ALICE: Why not? You've had multitude of guests since you and your brother first came here. I think it would be very well read. If it has true feeling in it.
STEIN: But there's no nuance in writing an autobiography from my point of view. (pause) I'll write from yours.
ALICE (pause, looking up) : What?
STEIN: I'll write your autobiography.
ALICE: What on earth are you talking about?
STEIN: I'll write my autobiography, my dear, through your point of view. All I need is background, and sentiment. It should really create a fury when it comes out.
The lights come up suddenly as Gertrude and Alice freeze, and Hemingway and Fitzgerald stride downstage on either side of them and meet near the edge of the apron. Hemingway carries a book with a pink jacket, which he waves about angrily in the following scene.
HEMINGWAY: Drainage...absolute drainage...
HEMINGWAY: Complete and utter filth.
FITZGERALD: Oh, come now, Ernest...
HEMINGWAY: The childish ravings of an out-of-touch poet, trying and failing to write prose.
FITZGERALD (overlapping): Don't you think you're being a tad bit judgmental?
HEMINGWAY: NO! Have you read it? Did you like it at all?
FITZGERALD (pause): Well...
HEMINGWAY: You see?
He paces back and forth angrily, Scott following him and trying to calm him down.
FITZGERALD: I thought it was very well written. It captured what we felt those days, but she was quite brutal in her portrayal of everyone, especially you, Ernest.
HEMINGWAY: Utter balderdash! What would she know about it! (to audience, as lights go down and Scott goes off) She referred to me as "yellow" in her autobiography, something she herself knew nothing about. I struck back, after she was dead, when I published my own autobiography...with the only truth in it.
The lights go out, and the theater is suddenly overcome with the tremulous opening chords of the aria "Der Holle Rache kochtin meinem Herzen" from Mozart's The Magic Flute. Suddenly upstage a plumed figure appears posing grandly as if she were an elegant bird. As the music continues we see that it is Zelda, giving a performance. She flies about the stage gracefully, leaping and pirouetting with great skill and even greater ease. She is surprisingly talented, and it is a wonder why Scott does not encourage her more. As the dance continues, Scott comes on, loosens his tie and takes off his shirt. At the same time, a small dressing table, adorned with perfume bottles and a gold embellished mirror, is brought downstage. A washing bureau with a bowl and a similar mirror is placed upstage. As the music ends, Zelda poses even grander than before, if that is possible. The lights come up on the scene as we hear imaginary applauding and cries of "Encore!" Zelda bows gracefully and flees girlishly to her vanity table and sits. Scott goes upstage and begins to shave with an old fashioned razor. As the scene continues, they will be dressed for the evening. Zelda sits down at her vanity and begins making up her face. They talk as they work.
ZELDA: Why is it that every time the Murphys decide to leave Paris, we have to give them a going-away party?
FITZGERALD: Because, they're our friends...and they're not sure they'll come back to visit us again next spring.
ZELDA (pause): That's what they said the last spring and the spring before that.
FITZGERALD (dismissing it): That's all good and well.
ZELDA: How is it "good and well?"
FITZGERALD: Well, Gerald said that they were having some financial troubles with this depression thing. Going on, said it might not be too wise to throw money about so frivolously, traveling around Europe and seeing old sites. Besides, they're our friends, and I think it is a proper gesture on our part.
ZELDA: Then why can't it be a proper gesture on their part as well?
ZELDA: I mean, why don't they through us a going-away party whenever we leave Paris?
FITZGERALD: Because virtually every time we leave Paris, we are either going with them or they've already gone.
ZELDA (defeated): Oh.
Beat. Scott finishes and comes downstage behind her.
FITZGERALD: Anyway, next time we'll go to the Riviera without them. we can be alone, finally.
He puts his hands on her shoulders, and leans down to kiss her neck, but as he does, she wriggles away uncomfortably. She quickly rises and begins putting on her evening gown. Scott watches her, and begins to dress also.
FITZGERALD: Why is it that you have begun to take such an interest in your classes?
ZELDA (stopping): My classes?
FITZGERALD: Your ballet classes. Why have you begun them again?
ZELDA: Begun again? I never finished them.
FITZGERALD: Well, why do feel the need to finish them?
ZELDA (picking up an atomizer and spraying herself with it): Because it is what I want to do? It's my own work, my own talent, my own way of expressing myself creatively. Is it such a problem for you to understand that?
FITZGERALD: No, I suppose not. I only thought that you were happy when you weren't so busy. And I felt that maybe we should take a rest together, just you and me and Scottie. We could go to Switzerland, or North Africa, or somewhere.
ZELDA: What for?
FITZGERALD: Haven't you been listening to what I've been saying at all tonight?
ZELDA: Yes, I have! You want to go to North Africa.
FITZGERALD: Yes, but did you hear the reason?
ZELDA: No, so kindly repeat it so we can end this discussion here and now!
She throws the atomizer to the floor, where it shatters. She looks down and begins to frantically pick up the peaces of broken glass.
FITZGERALD (leaning down): Here, let me do that, you'll hurt yourself...
Zelda eyes him, then stubbornly throws the shards onto the floor and rises, crossing back to her vanity and looking contemptuously at Scott.
FITZGERALD: What is going on? (no answer) What is wrong, Zelda? (no reply) Was it what happened with Hemingway and everyone? Has that upset you?
ZELDA (extremely defensive): NO!
FITZGERALD: Then what?
Zelda stops, slamming her fists down on the table. Scott quickly goes to her, but she violently pushes him away.
ZELDA: Get away from me, you coward! You yellow coward!
FITZGERALD: Zelda, what's the matter?
ZELDA: Stay away from me!
She rises and triumphantly raises her chin to him.
ZELDA: You couldn't stand up to him, could you?
FITZGERALD: What are you talking about?
ZELDA: You just couldn't bear to let him go?
FITZGERALD: Let who go?
ZELDA: Instead, he ridiculed you, and you crawled back on your hands and knees for forgiveness?
FITZGERALD: It's about Hemingway, isn't it?
ZELDA: And he forgave you, and you begged his pardon and kissed his feet.
FITZGERALD: Zelda, stop it.
ZELDA: After all he did to me, you licked his ass and he forgave you!
FITZGERALD: Stop it, right now!
ZELDA: No! We are finally going to address this problem with him!
FITZGERALD: What problem? He is my closest friend in the whole world.
ZELDA: You liar!
FITZGERALD: And he was right! There is something going on.
ZELDA: What do you mean? Has he been feeding more lies about me into you?
FITZGERALD: No. He was right. He told me when I met him that there was something wrong, and now I can see he was right. (almost inaudible) I wish to God I hadn't married you!
Beat. Zelda is astonished.
ZELDA: You lie! (beat) You lie!
Beat, then Scott realizes what he has said.
FITZGERALD: Oh, no, Zelda, no I didn't mean it that way! Please, Zelda, I didn't mean.
She begins to back away from him, and he counters by stepping toward her. We hear yet again the fluttering bird wings.
ZELDA: You've been talking to him, haven't you? I know you have. You've talked to everyone about me. They tell you lies, they feed you poisons and you believe them.
FITZGERALD: Zelda, what are you talking about?
ZELDA: Get away from me, you make me sick! I know what they're saying behind my back. I can hear every word they say...
We hear harsh whispers and calls begin to filter into the wings sound.
FITZGERALD: "Who" say?
ZELDA: Don't pretend you don't know!
FITZGERALD: Who are they supposed to be?
ZELDA: I can hear their voices in my head, and I know that what they're telling you are lies. They don't understand me, they hate me, they want to destroy me. They all hate me. But I know that they hate me because I can hear them, and I bet they don't know that I can hear them.
FITZGERALD: Zelda, you're not making any sense!
ZELDA: Oh, they're cunning! But I can be moreso. I know that they hate me, but they have no idea what I can do to them.
FITZGERALD: Please, Zelda! You're frightening me!
ZELDA: They all think I'm sick, but it's you...and them...who are sick...I can tell. I'm the only one in the world who understands that.
FITZGERALD: Zelda, please stop. Control yourself.
ZELDA: No, I will not! I am my own person!
FITZGERALD: Zelda, stop it! You're demented! You've got to stop thinking these things up.
They have gone in a half-circle upstage. Zelda is trapped against the bureau, and feeling her way around it as she keeps a close eye on Scott. Her hand comes upon the razor. She picks it up, and opens it, showing it to Scott.
ZELDA: Now who is demented, Scott?
FITZGERALD: Zelda, give that to me...
ZELDA: You wish you hadn't married me, now, do you?
FITZGERALD: Zelda, please, put it down...
ZELDA: Now, Scott, control yourself...
FITZGERALD: Zelda, please...
ZELDA (backing downstage): No! No, I don't think, "Please" will help any. No, definitely not! Do you love me? Do you?
FITZGERALD: Zelda, give it to me before you hurt yourself, or do something you'll regret doing!
ZELDA: I could cut their throats for whispering such lies about me. And I could cut yours! Answer me, yes or no! Do you love me?!
FITZGERALD: Yes, I do!
ZELDA (not listening): Do you love me, yes or no!
FITZGERALD: Yes, I LOVE YOU!
ZELDA: Answer me, dammit!
FITZGERALD: Zelda, please, give me the razor...
ZELDA (as if she hadn't heard the answer): No, I didn't think you did.
She turns upstage, presses the razor to her left wrist, and slowly cuts. We see a thin line of blood appear on her arm and the blade before Scott realizes what she has done.
FITZGERALD: Zelda, God, NO!
He lunges to her, hurling her around. The razor goes up in an arc, and Zelda begins to pommel him. She is screaming incoherently, which mixes and overlaps with the fluttering sounds of the wings, as Scott and she wrestle toward center and collapses on top of each other, rolling back and forth. Finally, he frees the razor from her hand and flings it upstage into the darkness.
ZELDA: Get away from me, you liar! Stop it!
FITZGERALD: Zelda, please, you don't know what you're doing.
ZELDA (screaming to someone other than Scott, overlapping bird sounds): Help me! Please help me, help me, help me, help me, help me! HELP ME!
The scene blacks out quickly. A solitary light comes on above Hemingway, and one light illuminates the two Fitzgeralds.
HEMINGWAY (peacefully): I always told him she was crazy. I knew as soon as I saw her, she would come to a very unhappy end. Scott never wrote anything of merit after her breakdown; taking care of her must have exhausted him. For the rest of her life she was moved from one hospital to another, from this institute to that. She forgot her ballet, and found a new passion in painting. But the results were never outstanding. She perished in a fire one night, long after Scott had drank himself to death.
The light fades on Scott and Zelda. Hemingway crosses left proscenium, where his chair has been placed. During the following, the ten chairs are replaced in their original positions.
HEMINGWAY: It was in the late twenties that everyone seemed to leave Gertrude's salon. New faces began appear there, faces which showed no particular promise or which were just - faces. We all were bitter about the portraits, but after reading them, we couldn't find it in our hearts to make up to each other.
His voice is almost instantly taken over by Gertrude's, from the darkness. As she speaks, a light illuminates her at her chair.
STEIN: We knew what we had done was wrong, and we had done many wrong things in the past, but this times seemed different. I finally convinced my companion to write her autobiography. She had difficulty at first, and then gave up altogether, but I took it up for her, and finished it before I had begun. In my autobiography, I found the truth.
Scott's voice comes from out of the darkness. A light illuminates him also.
FITZGERALD: Hemingway's autobiography was a monument to his writing. It was his raw courage, and an amazingly tender view of Paris when we were all together. We lost contact for many years, but kept each other's careers in check, no matter what. We was always a little brother to me, despite the fact that he was much bigger, and more possessed a character than any man I knew.
Zelda's voice comes from the darkness. A light illuminates her as well.
ZELDA: I lost my dancing and my life, but then found my painting and my life. I even wrote the truth in my little autobiography, but Scott kept telling me my truth was only lies. I can't understand why he was so jealous of my talents. I think mine eclipsed his own, and that's why he was scared. He even made me stop writing, at least writing from what I knew. I still can't see why what I knew was different from what he knew.
Anderson's voice comes from the darkness. A light comes up on him also.
ANDERSON: I could never forgive Ernest for writing that book about me. I could never forgive him for what he said and wrote about Gertrude. In the end, I think he and I both knew that he was right, but at the time I couldn't forgive him. Eventually, everyone had problems.
Hadley's voice comes from the darkness. A light illuminates her as well.
HADLEY: After I went back to America, he married her. After he was done with Pauline, he married another, and then another. I don't think he was ever very happy with anything, until he possessed it. That is why he kept changing, always changing books and wives. I still believe that what he felt for me was certainly unique, but in time it faded, and then he would find someone else he wanted. I also think that when he lost it, he wanted it back as well.
Alice's voice comes from out of the darkness. A light comes up on her.
ALICE: After everyone denounced everyone else, we all went our separate ways. If you met one on the streets sometime after that, you would merely say hello, goodbye, nice to see you. But of course you never felt anything. At least, not anything significant. What we had was golden, but became tarnished with our ten different egos clashing together.
Leo's voice comes from out of the darkness. A light comes up on him.
LEO: My departure seemed like a catalyst to Gertrude's writing. It was after our scrape that she began to receive people who were definitively talented. And when she published her memoirs, or shall I say Alice's memoirs, everyone believed her side of the story. Except of course those who definitely knew what her side of the story was. Her legendary salon loomed own my own craft, and long after I am forgotten, she is remembered for telling her truth.
Ezra's voice comes from out of the darkness. A light comes up on him.
POUND: My tiny villa for Eliot never came about. Fortunately, he got out of the banking and into a more agreeable position, and wrote very well after that. Hemingway stopped coming by after that day in the park, and I never became a world class fighter. Great shame, too.
Picasso's voice comes from out of the darkness. A light comes up on him, completing the picture of all ten of them.
PICASSO: Later, Mademoiselles Gertrude and Alice would have me come back to their studio, and I gave a banquet for Rousseau which they attended, but after so long a time, we found it hard to be friendly to each other. Now she looks like her portrait, my portrait of her, which hags in her tiny salon in Montparnasse.
Gertrude steps forward. Two solitary lights come up on her and Alice.
STEIN: Which used to hang in my tiny salon in Montparnasse. For nearly thirty years my apartments in 27 rue de Fleurus were host to the most gifted men and women of my time. But even that is gone now. Alice and I left shortly before the German occupation, and returned after the end of the war. It was then that we took our paintings to the rue Christine, where they would remain for another decade. And then...
The light on Gertrude blinks out suddenly, leaving Alice alone.
ALICE (resolutely): On the afternoon of July 27, 1946, I began my life alone. Gertrude and I were traveling in the country; when she became too ill to go any further, we took her to hospital. There, the surgeons found inoperable cancer, and I began my singular existence. (pause) I returned by myself to the apartment in the rue Christine. There I found the paintings, which became my companions until the executors came and carried them away. When I returned to find them gone, I wept, perhaps as much as when I lost Gertrude.
The lights come up to reveal the paintings gone; all that remains are the outlines on the walls.
ALICE: It was when the paintings where gone that myopia set in. I bless myself that it did not come sooner, for I would have had to look even harder to remember where each one was placed. I had arthritis, and rheumatism, and it would be a long time before I could cross a room without feeling out of breath or without the use of a cane. Though I am proud of my accomplishments, and I am certain that Gertrude would be proud of my cookbooks, which I finally had time to write. Well, time enough, at least. (pause) I learned a long time ago that no matter how hard one tries, one will always find oneself in a group, a very close group. And that group will be so close that when one breathes, the others shrink, and when one squeezes, the others hurt. We are all in that group; it is the plight of the every man. And I can still see all the paintings, and all of the people. And I can still see them toasting life and art.
The lights come up on the Expatriates, standing proudly, raising glasses of champagne toward the front.
ALICE: That is the other plight of the every man - his gift of memory, and the fact that one day he will forget, and then no one will know. Posterity will be foiled, and no one will know. But I hope and pray that that will not happen to us.
She smiles, almost wryly, and returns to her place. She raises her glass with the others, and the lights dim out completely.