Денисов Виктор Леонович
Six Specters of Lenin on a Piano

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  • Аннотация:
    "Six Spectors of Lenin on a Piano" (1993). A one-act play with prologue and epilogue, dedicated to Russia's tragic fate in the 20th century.
    Genre: somewhat of a hallucination based on Salvador Dalí's painting of the same name
    Parts: female - 1, male - 7

  • In 1993 the play "Six Specters..." was staged at the "Laboratory" Drama Theater (Moscow) by its artistic director Andrey Rossinsky. And five years later, in 1998, "Six Specters of Lenin on a Piano" entered V. Denisov's first collection of original plays of the same name.
    "Six Specters..." is the first of V. Denisov's dramatic trilogy "20th Century Tyrants". The second play of the trilogy - "Scared as of Bin Laden" - touches upon international terrorism - the disease of the 21st century. The third - "Shall We Resurrect Karabas?" - examines the relationship of tyrant and victim.

    You can also find а Russian version of the play "Six Specters of Lenin on a Piano' ("Шесть призраков Ленина на рояле") on lib.ru:

    Victor Denisov "Six Specters of Lenin on a Piano" - YouTube

    Доп. информация о Денисове Викторе Леоновиче:
    Palitra Zhanrov V. Denisova
    Teatralnye eskizy treh pjes V. Denisova

    mobile: +79037158791
    mobile: +9720532734175
    e-mail: info@gretaproject.com

    ATTENTION! All rights are reserved by the author and protected by the laws of Russian Federation and by International Law. The reproduction, publication, performance, translation or modification of the play is strictly prohibited without a written permission of the author.

    Victor Denisov


    Six Specters of Lenin on a Piano

    Somewhat of a hallucination
    based on Salvador Dali's painting of the same name

    Translated by Keren Klimovsky





    PROFESSOR (PAINTER in the Prologue)
    STUDENT (PASSERBY in the Prologue)






    "I'd like to make sure in advance,

    that this would be - from beginning to end -

    a continuous succession of miracles and






    Piano music plays softly. The Painter sits facing the curtain - which depicts Salvador Dali's painting "SIX SPECTERS OF LENIN ON A PIANO" - with his back to the audience; he is painting. A Passerby goes by. She stops to look at the painting.

    PAINTER. So, what do you think?
    PASSERBY. About what?
    PAINTER. About the painting.
    PASSERBY. That's just too much, man!
    PAINTER. You like it?
    PASSERBY. I'm wild about it. Who's that on the whites?
    PAINTER. Don't you recognize? (Passerby shrugs her shoulders.) Don't you really?
    PASSERBY. Nope.
    PAINTER. Make an effort - think a little.
    PASSERBY. What's thinking good for? It makes your head tired.
    PAINTER. All the same, take a good look. Come on, take a good look, please.
    PASSERBY. You don't mean the one who spent seventy years lying inside the grand piano?
    PAINTER. What grand piano?
    PASSERBY. You know, what's its name - the pyramid.
    PAINTER. That's the one, you finally got it.
    PASSERBY. And what the hell for?
    PAINTER. What do you mean?
    PASSERBY. What the hell do you need him for? Why painting him?
    PAINTER. Just... felt like it.
    PASSERBY. You mean, for your own sake?
    PAINTER. I don't know... Maybe someone will come to take a look. You came.
    PASSERBY. А-а-а... So it's to sling it for more cash.
    PAINTER. No, that's not why I paint.
    PASSERBY. Hm! Why then?
    PAINTER. You'll see. You'll see.
    PASSERBY. What will I see?
    PAINTER. You'll see how it turns out.
    PASSERBY. А-а-а... And who's there at the door?
    PAINTER. Can't you recognize - again?
    PASSERBY. Nope, that's not him. Some girlie...
    PAINTER. And who is she?
    PASSERBY. How should I know?
    PAINTER. But that's... you.
    PASSERBY. Aren't you a funny one, Mr. Painter.
    PAINTER. No, seriously, that's you.
    PASSERBY. Do I even look like her? Stop pulling my leg!
    PAINTER. Just try to imagine.
    PASSERBY. Imagine what?
    PAINTER. That it's you who's standing at the door.
    PASSERBY. Why imagining?
    PAINTER. Well, let's... let's play this little game. As if you're her.
    PASSERBY. And then what?
    PAINTER. That's exactly what we're going to find out.
    PASSERBY. You're teasing me, Mr. Painter!
    PAINTER. Only out of artistic considerations.
    PASSERBY. We know the likes of those "artistic considerations"...
    PAINTER. Come on, say "yes", you've got nothing to lose.
    PASSERBY. What do I have to gain?
    PAINTER. There will be a gain, I assure you.
    PASSERBY. Hm... Think I should try it? What should I do then?
    PAINTER. Stand there, by the door.
    PASSERBY. And then what?
    PAINTER. Then the situation itself will guide you...
    PASSERBY. Oh, man! All right, Mr. Painter, you drew me in. But nothing of that sort - got it?
    PAINTER. Don't be afraid, everything will go the right way. And so....

    Lights dim. We hear Chopin's Waltz №7 cis-moll op.64 Nr.2. When the curtain goes up, the stage looks like the space on Dali's painting with the following exceptions: the grand piano has pedals, there are no portraits on the keys, and no cherries on the chair. The Professor is motionless. His gaze is fixed on the grand piano. The music quiets down. The Student stands at the door - she, too, is motionless, covering her face with her hands. Pause.

    STUDENT. I'm ashamed. (Pause.) I'm ashamed!
    PROFESSOR. Go home. You were told to go home.
    STUDENT. I'm so ashamed!
    PROFESSOR. Of course you are: coming to class so underprepared.
    STUDENT. I'm ashamed for you!
    PROFESSOR. Oh, it's me she's ashamed for.
    STUDENT. Yes, it's you I'm ashamed for, Teacher!
    PROFESSOR. Oh, I see, I was supposed to give her a clap for this!
    STUDENT. I didn't expect such a thing of you...
    PROFESSOR. Or to recommend her for a competition. An international one.
    STUDENT. Didn't expect it at all.
    PROFESSOR. A reward for playing off-key.
    STUDENT. This is not how you treat a woman, and you know it!
    PROFESSOR. As far as I'm concerned, you're a student, not a woman. And I have no intention to give you easy time.
    STUDENT. But it's not my fault.
    PROFESSOR. Well, certainly, certainly, it's my fault...
    STUDENT. But it's not my fault, honest!
    PROFESSOR. ...that my student failed learning a most simple piece in two months time.
    STUDENT. Chopin is not a most simple piece.
    PROFESSOR. I guess I'm just a lousy teacher. I guess it's time to retire. It's time.
    STUDENT. Chopin is everything but a most simple piece!
    PROFESSOR. I'm not even talking about shades, about nuances. Forget about ease and poetry, forget about the lace ornament - she doesn't even know the notes. Not even the notes!
    STUDENT. But it's not my fault, I'm telling you!
    PROFESSOR. That I've already heard. Listen, we've got it all cleared out, I have no more doubts. I must let you go.
    STUDENT. Teacher, that's just... unfair!
    PROFESSOR. Perhaps. Perhaps, in a way it is so, but I don't see any other option. I don't know, maybe somebody else should try and teach you - a more demanding man, perhaps, a stricter, harsher man, even a cruel man.
    STUDENT. And aren't you cruel enough? This decision of yours - isn't it cruel, isn't it?
    PROFESSOR. Maybe he'll find some other approach...
    STUDENT. I find it very cruel!
    PROFESSOR. I don't know...
    STUDENT. Teacher, you're the only one I will study with.
    PROFESSOR. I don't know.
    STUDENT (loudly). You hear me? You're the only one I will study with.
    PROFESSOR. What?
    STUDENT. You heard me just fine, and there's no need to ask again.
    PROFESSOR. What do you mean by "I will"?
    STUDENT. "I will" means I will.
    PROFESSOR. This conversation is useless, I've already made my decision.
    STUDENT. But I've also made a decision, it's just that we've decided different things, that's all.
    PROFESSOR. Why should I waste time on fruitless discussions? You don't want to go home - fine, keep on standing here. You can stand here as long as you please.

    Student walks decisively into the room. Professor looks at her with amazement.

    STUDENT. Teacher, I'm truly not at fault. (Pause.) Don't you believe me? Oh, I swear, I've been practicing for three hours daily, honest. (Pause.) The music sheet - this is where the problem lies.
    PROFESSOR. It reminds me of this proverb about the bad dancer.
    STUDENT. Because using such a music sheet...
    PROFESSOR. Today you complain about one thing...
    STUDENT. Such a music sheet...
    PROFESSOR. Tomorrow you'll find something else to complain about...
    STUDENT. It makes playing anything impossible!
    PROFESSOR. And the day after tomorrow you'll come up with yet another issue...
    STUDENT. You don't believe me?
    PROFESSOR. You always find some kind of excuse.
    STUDENT. As for me - I believe you, Teacher, I truly do.
    PROFESSOR. This conversation is pointless.
    STUDENT. I believe you, and I'll be very upset if...
    PROFESSOR. We have a completely different outlook on things, and so our collaboration promises nothing good. Besides...
    STUDENT. ...something suddenly changes. But...
    PROFESSOR. I've no intention of arguing with you and...
    STUDENT. ...cutting it all off - that's insane!
    PROFESSOR. I'm ready to pass this pleasure on to others...
    STUDENT. Oh, yes! It's been a pleasure! For you too! And now you're trying to deny it by saying that...
    PROFESSOR. I have neither time nor desire...
    STUDENT. Renouncing is too easy!
    PROFESSOR. And thus - this is it, that's the end.


    PROFESSOR. Right. Well-well, what else will you come up with? What else will your wild imagination suggest to you?
    STUDENT. Get up and take a look. (She goes to the grand piano.) Come on, get up and go to the grand piano. Most real ants. Ginger ones. They don't even consider crawling away. Oh, here they are. Take a look, take a look at the music stand!
    PROFESSOR. What for? I've been looking at it for half a century...
    STUDENT. No-no, take a proper look!
    PROFESSOR. There were no ants there as long as I lived.
    STUDENT. But no, you can't see it from there, they're too tiny! Get up, walk to the piano and take a look.
    PROFESSOR. Here's my advice: go home, take a sleeping pill and cover yourself up. With a warm blanket. Up to your head - that will do.
    STUDENT. But here they are, I would touch them, but I'm afraid they might bite! They're tiny, but the acid might leave burns, if it comes in contact with the skin.
    PROFESSOR. I said: go home.
    STUDENT. Teacher, you really don't see them?
    PROFESSOR. I don't.
    STUDENT. You just don't want to. You don't want to see. You don't want to - that's it.
    PROFESSOR. I don't owe you any explanations. Go.
    STUDENT. You know - I can even count them. One, two, three... sixteen ants on the left page.
    PROFESSOR. The only thing on the left page is the finale of Waltz №7 cis-moll op. 64 Nr.2.
    STUDENT. And there's only one ant on the right page. I guess it crawled over.
    PROFESSOR. Crawled over where?
    STUDENT. From the left page to the right one.
    PROFESSOR. From the left page to the right one - what?
    STUDENT. One of the ants crawled over: from the left page to the right one. I guess there's not enough room for it in the anthill.
    PROFESSOR. There's absolutely nothing on the right page, absolutely nothing other than my marks. That's the page before last, and there's nothing on it.
    STUDENT. Teacher, stop taunting me, will you?
    PROFESSOR. That's it. Go home.
    STUDENT. Oh, but I forgot the most important thing! I happen to have a remedy against them. I have it here with me, I can show it. I passed by the pharmacy at half past noon, and they recommended to try it. It's something new, that's what the seller said: "a wonderfully effective remedy, put it in the right spot, and they'd be gone in no time!" Of course, have I only known about your situation, I would have bought another one for you. Even though you know what? I can leave this one here, and I'll buy a new one for myself tomorrow - the pharmacy's next door. Or - maybe - there's enough for both of us her?.. I've got tons of them. Especially in the cupboard, where I keep the the sugar and the cookies - they must really love sweets. Actually, they're not so scary at first sight - so small and harmless. But when there are thousands of them, can you imagine - thousands...
    PROFESSOR. Thousands of what?
    STUDENT. What does "of what" mean? Have I been talking to the wall? Thousands of ants, of a.n.t.s. Get it?
    PROFESSOR. Why are you telling me those tales, What do I need this for? De minimus non curat Praetor.
    STUDENT. Huh?
    PROFESSOR. A Latin proverb. It means "Praetor does not waste his time on nonsense."
    STUDENT. So you think I'm a nonsense? I'm a nonsense? A nonsense?!
    PROFESSOR. Оoooh... But listen, you must be truly, seriously sick. I think something's wrong with your psyche. Apparitions, hallucinations. And thus - go home and call a doctor.
    STUDENT. Teacher, whatever you say, I'll keep on insisting: those are ginger house ants on your grand piano, on your music stand, and not the finale of Chopin's Waltz №7 cis-moll op. 64 Nr.2! ANTS. And since I didn't finish learning it, and I don't know it by heart, I was obviously unable to play it. What's so surprising about that? You wouldn't manage either, if you had ants flickering in front of your eyes. I'm not afraid of them, but how am I supposed to play? Teacher, I would like to see you in such a situation, and there's nothing you would...
    PROFESSOR. There's a name for it in Latin: "delirium tremens".
    STUDENT. There's nothing you'd be able to do, absolutely nothing.
    PROFESSOR. Ravings of a madwoman. Delirium tremens. Alcoholic delirium.
    STUDENT. Or you think you're so special?
    PROFESSOR. An acute psychic illness.
    STUDENT. No, Teacher, you would have the same kind of experience, I'm certain.
    PROFESSOR. Your condition requires urgent medical interference.
    STUDENT. You know what, Teacher? You're a coward. Oh, yes, a coward - that's the word. You don't want to face the truth - you pretend to see nothing. Either that or you're just faking it. You're faking it, aren't you, Teacher?
    PROFESSOR (losing his patience). What truth, damn it? What should I face?
    STUDENT (raising her voice). That! All of that! You're afraid to admit you have unsanitary conditions here! Absolutely inappropriate for class! That's the price of living on your own - you can get anything, not just ants! Ants are nothing, but all kinds of bedbugs, fleas, lice...
    PROFESSOR. But everything's clean and tidy here - you didn't even dream of such neatness. Twice a week...
    STUDENT. Some pretty neatness that is, if...
    PROFESSOR. A woman comes to clean...
    STUDENT. If...
    PROFESSOR. Everything's washed...
    STUDENT. Ants have crawled over everything, even the grand piano! And the owner...
    PROFESSOR. It sparkles!
    STUDENT. Couldn't care less!


    PROFESSOR. Mind you, the music sheet is not mine but yours. Yours.
    STUDENT. No, it's yours!
    PROFESSOR. And I say it's yours.
    STUDENT. How could you forget, Teacher, I don't even have Chopin, you're the one who gave it to me. In September.
    PROFESSOR. But today you brought the music sheet from your own house. From your house, not from mine. And you just happened to admit that you've got tons of them. You breed hell knows what at your place, and then you come with complaints. Now that's what I call a woman.
    STUDENT. All right, let's suppose...
    PROFESSOR. No "let's suppose", but most certainly - they come from your place.
    STUDENT. Let's suppose the ants do come from my place.
    PROFESSOR. In addition to the rest of your virtues.
    STUDENT. You know what, Teacher, let's not talk about virtues, all right? We better not. (Pause.) All right, I'm willing to admit that - apparently - some of my cupboard ants have crawled over Chopin - my piano does stand nearby. I admit it. See? I'm not so stubborn as you think! And now it's your turn to admit that the lesson was disrupted not because of me not studying and coming underprepared - as you've claimed - but because the notes were completely hidden by the ants!! In addition to that, you must also apologize to me for your highly inappropriate behavior, for your rudeness and lack of tact. You must apologize and go on with the lesson. It's not only Chopin that we've got to cover...
    PROFESSOR. Never.
    STUDENT. Teacher, this is... I don't even know how to name it... You have such a brilliant reputation, such a fame. And I could have never...
    PROFESSOR. Precisely - never.
    STUDENT (loudly). ...could have never imagined that you're capable of such a behavior. It's simply astonishing!
    PROFESSOR. I've said it all.
    STUDENT. In that case, I simply won't leave. You don't want to apologize - all right, let it stay on your conscience, fine by me. But you must, you simply must promise that we are going to continue with our lessons. Fine, maybe not today, we've already lost a lot of time, but next week...
    PROFESSOR. Do me a little favor: walk out the door - you may remain out there as much as you please.
    STUDENT. Out the door - how rude! I'll take a seat here, and nothing will budge me! (Seats herself on a chair.)
    PROFESSOR. Get up this very second. I'm telling you to get up!
    STUDENT. Take your words back, and I'll get up.
    PROFESSOR. No way.
    STUDENT. In that case I'll remain seated.
    PROFESSOR. Be my guest.
    STUDENT. So I will be.
    PROFESSOR. Be my guest.
    STUDENT. So I will be.
    PROFESSOR. You'll get tired of this eventually.
    STUDENT (imitating his voice). Never.
    PROFESSOR. We'll see about that.
    STUDENT. You'll see the sea first. (Pause.) But really, Teacher, why don't we try it? (Takes a piece of paper out of her pocket and reads it.) "Instruction for the usage of the "Lafareks-K" drug - a bait with yuvenoid and its stabilizer intended to battle the ginger house ant "monomorium pharaonis". Huh, pharaohs! They only seem harmless, but they're really a bunch of little pharaohs! (She reads on.) "The drug's composed of the active element - yuvenoid methoprene (isopropyl-11, trimethyl-2, dodekadienoat)". That's a smart word. Teacher, you know Latin, don't you? What is do-de-ka-di-e-no-at? Do-de-ka...
    PROFESSOR. I'm not going to listen to your mumbo-jumbo.
    STUDENT. It's not mine, what do I have to do with it? I'm not the one who wrote the instructions!
    PROFESSOR. I have no desire to listen to you.
    STUDENT. It's all about "Lahema" "La-he-ma".
    PROFESSOR. What goddamn "Lahema"?
    STUDENT. The manufacturer of the "Lafareks-K" drug - a yuvenoid bait with a stabilizer made to battle the ginger house ant "monomorium pharaonis".
    PROFESSOR. Оooh!
    STUDENT. Which means to fight the pharaohs. Strange, isn't it, Teacher?
    PROFESSOR. Indeed.
    STUDENT. Pharaohs - those little creatures?.. I always thought that pharaohs are giants: when they die, they're buried in huge pyramids, so the pharaohs themselves must also be huge.
    PROFESSOR. How strange: that for those two months that I've been babying you, I didn't even suspect anything of the sort.
    STUDENT. What didn't you suspect? That pharaohs can be tiny little pharaohs?
    PROFESSOR. Didn't suspect of your oddities, so to speak.
    STUDENT. You know what, Teacher, let's not discuss oddities, let's not, please. To the best of my knowledge I have way less of them than you do, really. So let's leave it alone. (A small pause.) You know what, Teacher, it's such a shame that our hopes don't usually live up to our expectations, that they're replaced by disappointments. You've probably experienced this as well, even you... When I first came to class, it was like a miracle, I thought: oh, finally! Maybe because there's something - just don't get offended - because there's something fatherly about you. Strict, but just, serene and wise. This - I thought - is a man who can not only teach me how to play, but...
    PROFESSOR. How very interesting.
    STUDENT. ...can teach me much more than playing scales and exercises - because one always believes in something good, one wants to believe in it, no one can live without it. I'm sure you must believe in something, don't you, Teacher?
    PROFESSOR. Very interesting.
    STUDENT. Oh no, you're not at all interested, you simply don't want to talk to me. It's a shame, Teacher, it's truly a shame. And you will regret it as well, just wait and see, you'll regret treating me like this. And still - tell me: what am I blamed for? For infesting your place with ants? All right, maybe it was me who brought ants into your house, but I've admitted it. And I'm willing not just to apologize, but to do anything to get rid of them, to do anything this very moment, but you... You're accusing me of God-knows-what, you're trying to make a loony out of me, even though I'm sane, I'm perfectly sane, Teacher, and you know it as well as I do. And I've got no oddities.
    PROFESSOR. You exhibit a remarkable kind of ver... endless stream of words today.
    STUDENT. Nothing surprising, given the circumstances.
    PROFESSOR. Would you like me to say it for you?
    STUDENT. To say what?
    PROFESSOR. Everything that you've said and that you're going to say. You want to hear what it sounds like? All of those ravings...
    STUDENT Those are not at all...
    PROFESSOR. "Teacher, there are ants on your music sheet." "Oh my, how horrible, where would they come from? Wait - but it's you who brought them here." "I confess, teacher, let's suppose it was I who brought the ants into your house. This is why I propose a wonderful remedy against them - juvenal."
    STUDENT. Yuvenoid.
    PROFESSOR. "Gee, thanks, if not for you they'd crawl all over the piano and untune it. Besides, other students will also come in here, and ant acid leaves burns when it comes in touch with skin, and - even though there's nothing frightening about ants at first sight - if you've got tons of them... Give me your remedy. Thank you very much." "You're welcome." "I'll put it to use immediately, I'll put it on the instrument, and then - buckle up, ants, you're done with. Thank you so much again."
    STUDENT. Wonderful, simply wonderful. You're a true artist, Teacher.
    PROFESSOR. And so on. Well, we've said it all, there's nothing more to talk about. And so - get up, take your juvenal and get out of here. Or - how the ancients would say - vale.
    STUDENT. But you missed the most important part of your monologue...
    PROFESSOR. I said...
    STUDENT. ...That you'll go on with our lessons...
    PROFESSOR. Absolutely everything...
    STUDENT. Because otherwise...
    PROFESSOR. These are my last words and then...
    STUDENT. ...I simply won't leave. I'll simply...
    PROFESSOR.  I will resort to actions. Do you hear - to actions!
    STUDENT (imitating his voice). This argument is pointless!
    PROFESSOR (loudly and rudely). Get lost!
    STUDENT. Your rudeness doesn't surprise me in the least, I've heard way more offensive things from you.
    PROFESSOR (same intonation). Get the hell out of here!
    STUDENT I became immune against rudeness. Im-mu-ne.
    PROFESSOR (same intonation). Out!
    STUDENT. How repetitive of you, Teacher! After all, you're an educated man, can't you come up with something original, something intricate? Or at least say it in Latin...
    PROFESSOR (trying to push her off the chair). Oooo-uuu...
    STUDENT. Don't bother, you won't make anything happen. You're a weakling. I would know. (Whistling Chopin's waltz.)


    PROFESSOR. I'm such an old ass! A real brainless old ass! Why didn't I listen to anyone? I've been warned not to take her, oh, have I been warned! They said that not only does she lack any talent, but that also has a very nasty personality. And I didn't listen. An ass - simply an ass! I thought I'd be able to mold something out of her, that she'd be capable of something and will make good progress. And here you go - that's the result!
    STUDENT. And yet, you took me in - despite the gossip!
    PROFESSOR. I had a choice, such a huge selection...
    STUDENT. And I know why, Teacher. I know that...
    PROFESSOR. There were others, way more...
    STUDENT. You fancied me, oh yes...
    PROFESSOR. Gifted in all respects...
    STUDENT. You just happened to fancy me...
    PROFESSOR. Grateful students, with whom I could really have...
    STUDENT. And now, Teacher, it looks like you want to...
    PROFESSOR. Could have score big successes without...
    STUDENT. Get rid of me, only I doubt it...
    PROFESSOR. Spending so much energy...
    STUDENT. Nothing will come out of it.
    PROFESSOR. My students were always the very best, they participated in every concert, every competition. I was willing to sacrifice everything for their sake - my time, my family, my children... Yes, work used to bring satisfaction, I used to reap the fruits of my labor, especially when I heard them being greeted - those rounds of applause... But such a... such a student... I didn't even suspect this kind exists!

    Professor tries to chase her off the chair again, but she resists; all of a sudden his face turns red, his breathing becomes interrupted, the veins on his head bulge, and his eyes are about to pop out of the sockets - he falls on the sofa, face down.

    STUDENT (turning around and noticing a curtain on the Professor's back). Ha-ha, your little darling curtain! There was no need to put it on, Teacher, no strangers in this room. Or did you decide to curtain yourself from me, huh? (Professor does not move.) So that's what you need - to lie down. Take a rest, do take a rest. That's incredible: to waste so much energy - and on what? To chase a woman off a chair - so that's how professors are brought up! Others surrender their seats for your sake, and this one chases you away. Oh, Teacher, Teacher. (Pause.) Just don't think that I'm going to leave just because you've tumbled into bed. No way in hell! I won't leave until... (Whistles Chopin's waltz.) Here's a lullaby for you, Teacher. (Whistles again.) I might as well play it - I remember this bit by heart... (Gets up, walks to the grand piano and tries to play the waltz, getting mixed up.) No, it won't do with those creatures around. Oooh, damn pharaohs! What if I try the "Lafareks" against them? Teacher will arise, and they're all gone. And what if he goes into a screaming fit? He'll say: "How will I welcome other students in here? You've wrecked all of my lessons!" All right, let him do the poisoning himself... (Pause.) And what if I try it? Maybe he won't notice. (Takes the instruction sheet out of her pocket and unfolds it.) The treatment process, the treatment process... Oh, here. "Before using, cut off the little packet's corner and make an opening, so that the bait is accessible to the ants. Put the little packets in places frequently visited by ants; you may attach them by tape. Every 3,5 meters of floor surface should contain one "Lafareks-K" packet." - OK. Nothing to cut with, but I guess you can tear it off. Not so easy... Moving on. "Make an opening" - nothing to make a hole with either. "Attach it with a tape" - no tape. It's a pity - I'd put it right on the notes, all of them will run away.. "...floor surface" - why floor? What about grand piano surface? One little packet for 3-5 meters of piano surface. I think that's plenty for the first time, and then we'll see. Teacher, are you asleep? (A small pause.) Looks like he is. Well, "Lafareks"...

    Student tries to tear the packet's corner off - the lights suddenly go out. Beethoven's "Appassionata" is played. When the lights go on again, the music stops, the grand piano's top rises, and six men come out - there's a comically-infernal aspect to their appearance. They may be dressed differently, but they still resemble each other quite a bit. The 'grand piano scene' should be played with a large amount of improvisation from both director and actors.

    THE LEADER. Stop it! Stop it right away...
    THE ORIGINAL. Idiotic tricks!
    STUDENT. Do you have scissors? What about tape?
    THE LEADER. Stop the genocide - who gave you permission to hunt down the ants?!
    STUDENT. It's hard to believe: so many big healthy men, and no one has neither scissors nor tape. Outrageous!
    THE PROPHET. Enough! Ants are endangered species - they should be mentioned in the Red Book.
    STUDENT. So you won't give it to me? Neither one?
    THE PROPHET. They also happen to be very helpful insects: they assist the ground formation process, destroy a number of forest pests and accelerate the demolition of rotten lumber.
    STUDENT. What lumber? The grand piano's not rotten.
    THE LEADER. Instead of hunting them down, one should cultivate them. Cul-ti-vate.
    STUDENT. Oooh, so you brought them in here? Confess: was it done by you?
    THE LEADER. You're probably unaware of the existence of certain rules. Ant settlement rules.
    STUDENT. And he blamed it on me. Hey, Teacher, looks like it's their fault. Their, not mine!
    THE PROPHET. Very strict rules, I must say.
    STUDENT. They've decided to create an anthill over here. A goddamn anthill!
    THE LEADER. Very very strict.
    STUDENT (to the Leader). And who are you? The main anteater? The exorcist-trainer? I've never heard of trained ants before. Cockroaches - maybe, but ants...
    THE LEADER. I'm the Leader. Leader is the one who leads. Most often he leads the blind.
    THE PROPHET. Ants are known to be heat-loving insects, and they prefer settling in dark places, so the climate here is quite appropriate for them. Very appropriate.
    THE LEADER. Especially considering the lack of windows in the room.
    STUDENT. So this is who's at fault for my failed Chopin. It's you I should thank for being kicked out of class!
    THE ORIGINAL. Cheap explanations devoid of essential analysis.
    THE LEADER. Thank you, kind Original.
    THE PROPHET. Besides, these insects possess a highly developed instinct of social life. And since tons of all kinds of people happen to go through here...
    STUDENT. So let's let them multiply. That's right: they shall breed and multiply. Great! Bravo!
    THE ORIGINAL. Sehr gut!


    STUDENT. And now - get off the piano.
    THE LEADER. I beg your pardon, is this your instrument?
    STUDENT. Get off, you, don't you hear me?! Get the hell out of here!
    THE LEADER. But the piano's not yours.
    STUDENT. Well, stay then. When he wakes up, he'll make it hot for you...
    THE LEADER. He won't make anything hot. Because everything's in balance...
    STUDENT. He'll give it hot, he'll make you his trunky ant monkies...
    THE LEADER. In full balance. Full and complete.
    STUDENT. Lying on his grand piano, stamping it with your feet. Oh, he'll make it hot for you!
    THE LEADER. Full and complete.
    STUDENT. The grand piano is a most tender creature, like a woman. And the six of you are leaning all of your weight against it. It doesn't take a piano to crack under you...
    THE ORIGINAL. Incorrect. You feel the facts are against you, so you resort to jugglery.
    THE LEADER. I beg your pardon, who, in fact, are you? His personal secretary or...
    STUDENT. Just so you know: I'm his beloved...
    THE LEADER. Beloved?!
    STUDENT. Student.
    THE LEADER. Oh, a student!
    STUDENT. And I think that's more than enough. Did you swallow it?
    THE LEADER. Even if so, your behavior is still - how shall I put it - somewhat inappropriate. I mean to say, this classroom, i.e. the facility, does not belong to you, the grand piano does not belong to you either, and, therefore, I would accept no imperatives, especially stated in such a categorical way. Suppose the Professor has a weakness for some persons of a certain sex, and yet... he is not so weak to forget everything because of them. Trust me, I know him.
    STUDENT. What? Are you doubting me? ME?
    THE LEADER. I'm not talking of you, but of the Professor. Solely of the Professor.
    STUDENT. No, it seems you're doubting my abilities, are you not? All-righty... (She pushes the Monument off the pedestal and steps there herself.) Just look at me! Watch me carefully. Take a look, all of you, raise your heads for God's sake! Am I not something?
    THE LEADER. Well...
    STUDENT. No "wells" - I'm quite something, and that's it!
    THE ORIGINAL. Only grand impertinence can leave a true impression!
    THE LEADER. And, still, in this case only those who are useful to him matter. It's for his sake, get it?
    STUDENT. And who could that be? Me or you, perhaps? Go take a look at yourselves - nasty, frumpy, unshaved... What kind of gutter were you pulled out of?
    THE ORIGINAL. Vulgar, vile, sickening!
    THE PROPHET. Come now, this is not the way... We also know all kinds of words...
    THE LEADER. And what are you implying by "gutter"? Does the grand piano mean anything to you?.. You allow yourself too much going overboard like that - swearing, insults... What is this - "get the hell out of here" - what are we, dogs? We're not going to tolerate this, keep it in mind!
    THE ORIGINAL. Makes a big shot out of herself, not even asking...
    STUDENT. I want just one thing: all of you, get off the grand piano. All six of you.
    THE LEADER. All right. Suppose, we get off the grand piano.
    STUDENT. Lets leave "suppose" out of this. Just get off - that's it.
    THE LEADER. And where should we go then? Where should we go? Did that cross your mind? No consideration towards fellow human beings...
    STUDENT. You can stand up - it won't break you.
    THE LEADER. There's only one chair in the room - all of us won't fit on it. We clearly won't fit.
    STUDENT. Yeah right, as if I was going to surrender the chair for your sake!
    THE LEADER. We happen to have no claims on it. Our goal is the piano...
    THE ORIGINAL. Ding-dong.
    THE LEADER. That's where we're going to stay. And I assure you: no evil will come to this piano. We have a deep interest in it ourselves. A much deeper interest than yours.
    STUDENT. Isn't that nice?! But I play Chopin on it, CHOPIN! Do you even know who is Chopin?
    THE PRACTICIAN (suddenly advancing on her). Chopin who?!
    STUDENT (confused). I just... I just wanted to say... that Chopin is a lace ornament, ease and poetry...
    THE PRACTICIAN. Аhа. (Retreats. The Specters roar with laughter.)
    STUDENT (cheering up again). And who knows what your little ensemble-band plays. Probably some kind of "ding-dong".
    THE ORIGINAL. Ignorance!
    THE LEADER. No, really - we're here on a serious business. Very serious.
    STUDENT. As if mine isn't serious.
    THE LEADER. I beg your pardon, but those are, after all, incomparable things - your affairs and ours.
    STUDENT. Precisely - incomparable: who can be possibly comparable with Chopin?
    THE LEADER. But you wouldn't even listen to us, and you don't know why...
    STUDENT. I only know you have bad manners...
    THE LEADER. And you know nothing about the reasons...
    STUDENT. A lady asks you to get off the piano and to stop screaming...
    THE ORIGINAL. Too general and obscure.
    STUDENT. Because...
    THE LEADER. Of our being here and about the extent of...
    STUDENT. You just obviously...
    THE LEADER. Importance.
    STUDENT. Don't care... whether you wake up the Professor or not!
    THE SPECTERS. Bummer!
    STUDENT (quietly). Won't you stop screaming?!


    THE LEADER. Is it time?
    THE SPECTERS. It's time, it's time, it's time.
    THE LEADER. Maestro, places! (The Practician jumps to the floor and runs up to the keyboard.) Get to the low register. The low register's first.
    STUDENT. One clever man - finally, and my advice to the rest is to follow his example. Get off - how many times can I repeat this?..

    The Practician bangs on random keys - he clearly cannot play.

    STUDENT. Ha-ha-ha-ha! Well, isn't he... isn't he... a true virtuoso!
    THE ORIGINAL. He's larger than life! A seasoned man...
    THE LEADER. Indeed. And now a bit to the right. A bit more. More. Go on. Go on.

    The Practician does the same.

    STUDENT. Genius! Where gutter did you pull him out of? Oh, I've already mentioned that... I bet he didn't even go to school.
    THE LEADER. Mind you, he's a most wonderful practician. This is so.
    STUDENT. That's what I say: a virtuoso. Simply a virtuoso!
    THE LEADER. He knows his business well, and that's what counts. That's what counts most.
    STUDENT. Аha, I bet all of you are at his level, all of you - confess it, won't you? The only thing you're good for is - "ding-dong". How can the Professor tolerate you in class?
    THE LEADER. Easily. We finish each other's sentences.
    STUDENT. A nice lot of students he's got - that's for sure!
    THE ORIGINAL. Either you stop interrupting me with your shouts and insults and shift to a cultured way of arguing...
    STUDENT. A competition - that's what you need! An international one!
    THE LEADER. We've never experienced any problems. Or else...
    STUDENT. Oh, I'm Landovska herself compared to you!
    THE LEADER and THE ORIGINAL. We wouldn't be here!
    I'm Landovska herself!
    THE SPECTERS. Bummer!

    A small pause.

    THE LEADER. Yes. Yes-yes. Yes.
    THE ORIGINAL. And so, the pattern's obvious. The motto of the moment is organization.
    THE LEADER. Yes. The instrument is out of tune. Quite thou-rough-ly so. It means a replacement is required. Required. And...
    THE ORIGINAL. We more or less know what exactly should be taken away...
    THE LEADER. In order to fix things. To fix things violently. That's right. Everything's confirmed. Absolutely everything. That's exactly what we thought, we just knew it. And...
    THE ORIGINAL. We must do everything to take advantage of every chance. To strain ourselves the best we can...
    THE LEADER. To make it sound. For real. It will sound with a new force. And for that...
    THE ORIGINAL. Take up rags with gasoline, and - strike forward, blow up headquarters!
    THE LEADER. Precisely! Precisely. Get down, Maestro!
    THE ORIGINAL. 'On s'engage et puis... on voit'.

    The Practician begins breaking the pedals off.

    STUDENT. Hey! What is he doing there? He's destroying it!
    THE LEADER. No. Actually...
    STUDENT. He's destroying it!
    THE LEADER. Actually...
    STUDENT. He's breaking off the pedals!
    THE LEADER. But actually....
    STUDENT. Hey, stop destroying!
    THE LEADER. He's not at all destroying.
    STUDENT. Hey, anteater, make this virtuoso stop, make him stop this very instant, you hear me?
    THE LEADER. He's not destroying, he's unscrewing. I hope the difference is clear?
    STUDENT. What am I blind - I can see that he's destroying it!
    THE ORIGINAL. Dark are the waters...
    THE PROPHET. Our visions are absolutely incomparable, for you see the present, while we simultaneously see both present and future. He's not destroying, he's unscrewing.
    STUDENT. What is this bull...
    THE PROPHET. And, mind you, there is a huge difference between "destroying" and "unscrewing". Because if you destroy something, it won't work anymore.
    THE LEADER. And that one - not only will it work, it will work much better than before - it'll be hell of a difference.
    STUDENT. Listen, what are you - psychos? Confess, are you psychos?
    THE ORIGINAL. Spit into the mugs of the reproachful!
    THE LEADER. Everything depends on your attitude towards the process itself, since...
    STUDENT. Why is this urge to....
    THE LEADER. You may have one opinion, or you may have another opinion.
    STUDENT. Break a piano that doesn't belong to you?
    THE LEADER. Doesn't belong to us? In that regard you're deeply mistaken.
    STUDENT. The piano belongs to the Professor, not to you.
    THE ORIGINAL. What mumbo-jumbo!
    STUDENT. But this is a "Petroff"!
    THE ORIGINAL. There's no need to use foreign words!
    THE LEADER. What does Petrov have to do with it? We're the ones who play the piano, which means...
    STUDENT. That means nothing!
    THE LEADER. That means it belongs to us. Makes perfect sense.
    STUDENT. And there's nothing wrong with the pedals. I've just recently...
    THE LEADER. We did so long ago.
    STUDENT. ...played Chopin.
    THE LEADER. We play all kinds of things, mind you. So we know better.
    STUDENT. I don't see that.
    THE ORIGINAL. The soul is made of wax.

    The Practician proceeds breaking the pedals off.

    STUDENT. But he's... he's... (She jumps off the chair and tries to shake the Professor up from his slumber.) Teacher!
    THE LEADER. This instrument is made to produce magical sounds that win hearts or supposed to win hearts.
    STUDENT. Teacher, get up!
    THE LEADER. But the condition in which we have found it leaves us deeply unsatisfied, so we should...
    STUDENT. Listen, you must get up and...
    THE LEADER. ...do everything for its perfection and...
    STUDENT. ... kick them out.
    THE LEADER. ...for the betterment of its sound quality.
    STUDENT. For good!
    THE LEADER. And this may be reached by rearranging...
    STUDENT. If not, they will destroy it, and you'll lose...
    THE LEADER. ...the pedals. The pe-dals. Pe-dals.
    STUDENT. ...not just the pedals, but the grand piano itself!
    THE ORIGINAL. That should be brought to the knowledge of on-the-road agitators!

    Professor keeps lying motionless.

    THE LEADER. Why so roughly? No need of that. Moving the piano around - what for? First of all, it's too heavy to lift, even for us. And second - if you think that at a new place it will have a better sound, you're mistaken. Those are unrelated things.
    STUDENT. If he's incapable of protecting the piano, then I will!
    THE LEADER. I beg your pardon, but it's rather us who should be protecting it from you. To be completely honest...
    THE ORIGINAL. Embellishing the truth is immoral.
    STUDENT. I will fight, I'll fight like a lioness!
    THE LEADER. Well, I don't know about that... I hope you realize there's six of us, and we're men...
    STUDENT. So what? Would you attack me just like you attacked the piano, is that it? To crack me open?..
    THE LEADER. Oh, but why that, not right away, not so...
    THE ORIGINAL. A fleeting love affair, a passion - perhaps a dirty one, but...
    THE LEADER. I do hope that...
    THE ORIGINAL. Perhaps a pure one...
    THE LEADER. There would be no need to employ such means. However, that requires your understanding that the common sense is on our side.
    STUDENT. What? Are you trying to say there's even one drop of common sense in all of this bedlam?
    THE LEADER. Not a drop, but an entire sea. Even an ocean. That's precisely what I'm trying to make you realize for half an hour.
    STUDENT. Oh no, here he goes again...

    Student jumps up and tries hindering the Practician, but he places her on the chair and carries her towards the door.

    THE ORIGINAL. It will come to some serious blows here!
    STUDENT. Mediocrity - glaring, crying mediocrity!
    THE LEADER. Fie, this is not nice of you!
    STUDENT (on the verge of tears). I knew that you were... I felt it!
    THE LEADER. You'll feel more at ease by the door - after all, there's more fresh air there. We're just trying to be considerate, mind you.
    STUDENT. I knew it!
    THE LEADER. And don't dismiss our gallantry: we've seated you at such a close proximity to the instrument to make you a witness of the process, so to speak. But mind you - no disrupting!
    STUDENT. But you're nothing but vandals, crazy vandals! Only vandals can attempt to destroy such an instrument!
    THE ORIGINAL. Nonsense! Rot! Rubbish!
    THE LEADER. I assume you've never been lucky enough to see how a grand piano is really destroyed.
    STUDENT. I don't want to see such a thing!
    THE LEADER. Sometimes they're thrown out of windows. From the thirty-third floor, for instance.
    STUDENT. You'd do it - if only there were windows here...
    THE LEADER. Or - a grand piano in flames, can you imagine?! The blaze it gives, oh, the blaze! What a glow - such a lovely sight!
    STUDENT. What - you want to set it on fire?
    THE LEADER. We're just bringing examples to let you see the difference, so to speak...
    THE ORIGINAL. You dumb, double-dyed, pretentious blockhead!
    STUDENT. I swear: this is holly terror! Simply holly terror!
    THE LEADER. Listen, are you dumb by any chance? I mean, don't take offense, but... Explaining, not explaining - all the same, it's like talking to a brick wall... How does he teach you, he must be repeating the same things over and over again... Poor Professor!
    STUDENT. Oh, now I finally get it: you're not an ensemble-band, you're a classroom band - a classy band!
    THE ORIGINAL. Rubbish, lies, slander!
    THE LEADER. A lot do you know! If we were a real band, we wouldn't carry you to the door on a chair, we'd - you know... right here, on the grand piano, all six of us...
    THE ORIGINAL. Hand on throat, knee on chest!
    THE LEADER. Or - better yet - right on the keyboard: with some music, so to speak. (He sings.) Na-ra-ra-ram, ta-ra-ra-ram, na-ra-ra-ram, ta-ra-ra-ram, etc. Two quarters.
    THE ORIGINAL. Ding-dong.
    STUDENT. The poor thing - he's lying there, not even suspecting...
    THE LEADER (pointing at the Student). She seems calmer. The wonders fresh air can do.
    STUDENT. He took them in! Oh, he knows and understands nothing.
    THE ORIGINAL. I know of three entities: Lenin, Uljanov and myself. As for the rest - they are mega-bullshit!
    THE LEADER. He's the Professor, he chose us himself, and he's quite happy with us. Our working styles match.
    STUDENT. No, no way, no!
    THE LEADER. You'll see.
    STUDENT. No, no, no - never! His style is soft, delicate, even tender. While yours...
    THE LEADER. When you see it, you'll understand the meaning.
    STUDENT. You find meaning in destroying. It's nothing but destroying!
    THE ORIGINAL. And yet again - pearls of wisdom!
    THE LEADER (loudly). What a muddle-head! She doesn't see any further than her own nose - no perspective!
    STUDENT. No one, absolutely no one in the entire world - in the entire world - you hear me? - will never ever understand, will be simply unable to understand, will refuse to understand this nonsense, this absurd, this outrageous idiocy - the reason for breaking the pedals off a wonderful "Petroff" grand piano!
    THE LEADER (loudly). In order to...
    STUDENT. Break them off - just for the hell of it!
    THE LEADER (loudly). ...so that it...
    STUDENT. That's a unique case...
    THE LEADER. ...sounds better!
    THE ORIGINAL. And we have the means to do it...
     STUDENT. ...a unique case...
    THE LEADER. But we'll screw them back on, we'll screw the pedals back on!
    STUDENT. ...of group idiocy!
    THE LEADER. We'll screw them onto the keyboard!

    A small pause.

    STUDENT. Wheeereee?!
    THE LEADER. Well, to that... to the keyboard.
    STUDENT. Well, that's, that's beyond...

    A small pause.

    THE PROPHET. Mind you, a pedal is not merely a detail. When you press on the pedal, you give beginning to music itself, to the entire process, so to speak. The pedal is a starter, it's the key with which you start the barrel organ, and then there's no way to stop it.
    THE LEADER (to the Student). Try to answer the following question: which body part do you normally use to press on the pedals?
    STUDENT. I don't know which one you use...
    THE LEADER. Come on, give an answer...
    STUDENT. Maybe your buttocks and maybe some other part...
    THE LEADER. ...answer, answer it!
    STUDENT. For three centuries, since the grand piano's invention, the entire sane humanity had always pressed the pedal with a foot.
    THE LEADER. Precisely, with a foot.
    STUDENT. And it never occurred to no one, no one - and there were some really bright people out there - well, simply to no one, and it couldn't have occurred to them, since they're normal people, normal ones, not psychos who bring ants to class and then begin breaking off pedals - well, as I was saying, it never occurred to either one of the famed pianists and laureates, and to either one of the amateurs, the simple fans of strumming, it never occurred to anyone - and it couldn't have, you hear me? It couldn't have occurred to attach the pedals to the keyboard - it's not simply absurd, it's the biggest absurdity in the world, you hear me? THE BIGGEST ABSURDITY IN THE WORLD!
    THE ORIGINAL. Ideological necrophilia!
    THE LEADER. Are you done?
    THE PROPHET. Now it's my turn. The expression "couldn't have occurred" was repeated several times in your monologue. Well, that's precisely the point. For three centuries the homo sapiens - the reasonable human being, who undoubtedly considers himself to be so - played the piano, and yet there were no attempts, practically none, to better this wonderful (I agree with you on that), this unique instrument. I'm not taking into account the harpsichord or the clavichord - this is quite another story. But as for the grand piano, no actual changes were ever installed. It's been long noted that the homo sapiens is a creature conservative by nature, mind you - not simply conservative, but extremely conservative, so there's no wonder! He had made the instrument three centuries ago, he plays it, he strums on it, and he's quite, quite pleased with the way things are. But, meanwhile, the time does not stand in place: new and newer inventions keep on emerging. Take the car vehicle, for instance: so many items were invented, so many were screwed on! And what speed, what comfort level! Naturally, art doesn't stand in place either - so many new movements, so many trends! And yet, for some reason, it's stubbornly supposed - even though it's unclear by what authority - that some things must remain frozen at the stone age level - literally - never to be touched or rearranged, and this is abnormal and extremely wrong!
    THE ORIGINAL. This is the way of speaking to the people!
    THE LEADER. Bravo, Prophet!

    The Specters applaud. A small pause.

    STUDENT. The grand piano is well made.
    THE LEADER. No one argues with that!
    STUDENT. The grand piano is very well made.
    THE LEADER. Mind you, the better is the enemy not only of the good, but even of the very good.
    STUDENT. The grand piano is made in the best way possible. The best instruments are the old ones. For example, "Steinway" or "Bechstein"... Not just pianos, but violins...
    THE LEADER. You don't allow me say a word! Answer this: what do you have on your feet? Why don't you answer? All right, I can see you're wearing open toe shoes. Old open toe shoes, but even if new ones... They have thick soles, but even if thin ones... Thick soles, but even if not so thick... All the same: a dirty, vile sole touches the pedal and creates... maybe not a sound, just a sound inflection - but this is what real music consists of! Therefore, if this is done softer, more tenderly, can you imagine what sound might the piano give then?
    STUDENT. I can't... If you're the one playing it, it will never give any sound!
    THE LEADER. I'm not the one...
    STUDENT. Same goes for your virtuoso here. Even if you turn it upside down, even if you pull the strings over your head - all the same. You will never make it sound right!
    THE LEADER. Fine, we'll see about that.
    STUDENT. Never!
    THE LEADER. We'll see - we'll see.
    STUDENT. Never.
    THE ORIGINAL. "Ich salutiere den gelehrten Неrrn. lhr habt mich weidlich Schwitzen machen'!

    Small pause.

    THE LEADER. And so, on we go. Here comes the moment of truth, so to speak, the decisive moment of our lessons. And thus, Maestro - places! Or actually... I believe it'll be even better in four hands. And she - let her admire it! Get her over here.

    The Prophet carries the student to the piano. The Practician approaches the keyboard and begins banging on it wildly - with his fists, elbows and feet.

    STUDENT (loudly and seriously). Teacher, this is your last chance. You can still save it, you just need to get up and do something. I can't protect it anymore, I can do nothing to help you. You'll end up without a piano, which means without any life. 
    THE LEADER. But she's simply blind, how come I didn't suspect it earlier!
    THE ORIGINAL. A model of perverse slander .
    STUDENT. Do you hear me, Teacher? (Loudly.) Teacher, Teacher, Teacher!
    THE LEADER. She sees nothing!
    STUDENT. Teacher!
    THE ORIGINAL (points at the Professor's direction). This abscess should be removed. Must be put in the grave. Steal the stolen!
    THE LEADER. All right, you, come with me. (Takes the Student by the hand, leads her out of the room and closes the door behind her.)

    The music ends. A small pause.

    PROFESSOR (still lying with his face down). No! No! No! (A small pause. The Professor gets up and examines the Specters.) I just had a dream, a very scary dream, a real nightmare: I was sailing in the sea on this big ship - the size of this grand piano. The sea was blue and placid, but all of a sudden great wind started blowing, and a storm started. Probably force 8, maybe more, I don't know. And suddenly it struck me: we won't make it, we won't reach our destination. Then I ran up the captain's bridge, and there - by the stirring wheel - I saw a huge ginger ant with very fine moustache. I asked him - I don't know why, I guess anything can happen in a dream: "Captain, where are we sailing to? Where are we heading to?" He took a smoke of his pipe, looked at me with his playful little ant eyes and said: "The main thing is to keep on sailing, and where to - we'll sort it out as it comes." "What do you mean by "sorting it out"? I asked. And he replied: "You know, we'll see." "We'll see what?" - I insisted. And he said: "I happen to have a lifeboat." And at this very instant I heard a horrible crack - the mast crashed down. I realized this was the end and woke up immediately. A real nightmare, isn't it?
    THE LEADER. But what is it you were so scared of?
    PROFESSOR. Oh, if I'd throw you in there, I'd like to see how you keep your cool! Trust me - it was very scary. Very.
    THE LEADER. I'd like to know: what were you afraid of - of not making it to the shore or of the ship drowning?
    PROFESSOR. If the ship drowns, I also drown... How would I make it?
    THE LEADER. You could get into a lifeboat, like the captain. There are many lifeboats on a ship.
    PROFESSOR. You know, one should be able to row in a lifeboat. And I don't row.
    THE LEADER. But, luckily, it was only a dream.
    PROFESSOR. Yes, that's for sure - luckily. Because after such a nightmare everything else...
    THE LEADER. But you woke up, and you're reunited with your favorite ensemble-band, with your loyal students .
    PROFESSOR. Yes, I see, I see.
    THE LEADER And, mind you, we didn't waste any time, indeed we didn't.
    PROFESSOR. Yes-yes, I already got that...
    THE LEADER. We practiced, we practiced good and proper.
    PROFESSOR. Yes, I heard. I heard it through my sleep. Just remind me - what did you play?
    THE LEADER. We played Chopin.
    PROFESSOR. What Chopin?
    THE LEADER. Chopin, Professor. Waltz №7 cis-moll op. 64 Nr.2.
    PROFESSOR. Yes-yes. Yes. Of course, number 2. So play it for me, show me how well you know it.
    THE ORIGINAL. No choice but to wriggle.
    THE LEADER. This is exactly what we would like to demonstrate to you. Maestro!

    The Practician bangs on the piano. Professor listens attentively. The Specters clap their hands and make dancing movements. The clatter stops.

    THE LEADER. Well, what do you think, Professor? What are your impressions?
    PROFESSOR. Well, I think it's... not bad. Not bad! Not bad!! (Kisses each one of the Specters). Only I would add more piano in the finale - to bring it to full-blown pianissimo. But, in general, this is quite ready. Quite.
    THE LEADER. Well, not quite, Professor, not quite. Don't overpraise us - we might put on airs and stop practicing.
    PROFESSOR. You know, when students play well, professors grow younger. Oh, yes, this is common knowledge.
    THE LEADER. We're glad, Professor.
    PROFESSOR. And how am I glad. After such a nightmare, listening to you brings me back to life!
    THE LEADER. We're very glad, Professor.
    PROFESSOR. It brings me back to life, and I desire a certain... a certain... I feel like flying!
    THE LEADER. Flying? No problem, Professor! (The Specters lift the Professor up; they're about to toss him in the air.) We can arrange some flying for you, no problem at all.
    PROFESSOR (scared, loudly). Nooo! I'm not good at flying. Well, if not flying, then at least... singing.
    THE LEADER. Splendid. The Professor will sing now, and we'll accompany him.
    THE SPECTERS. Please, please. (They applaud.)
    PROFESSOR. But the truth is... I can't sing... I'm not good at singing either.
    THE LEADER. Well, you know, this is already...
    PROFESSOR. Never had any voice.
    THE ORIGINAL. The intelligentsia is not the brain of the nation, it is shit.
    THE LEADER. In that case, we'll sing for you.
    PROFESSOR. Really? Sing something lyrical then. A soul-warming piece. So that the soul sings - that's something I'm good at.
    THE PRACTICIAN (to the Original). Come on, bel canto, give out something for the soul.
    THE ORIGINAL (sings).
    The spring tide, the spring tide comes,
    The spring draws nigh!
    The verdant comes,
    The spring draws nigh!

    The spring tide laughs for joy!
    And freshly o'er the meadow blows,
    The playful frisky wind.
    And now he shakes the alder bush
    And whirls aloft the pollen dust
    As in a cloud.
    And all is green -
    The water and the air!
    The spring tide comes,
    The spring draws nigh,
    The verdant spring tide
    Laughs for joy 1

    PROFESSOR (applauding). Bravo! Bravo! Wonderfully performed! Superb, simply superb!
    THE LEADER. And now - the hit.

    The Practician plays the piano and sings. The Specters dance dashingly; the Professor also breaks into a dance to the fast contemporary music.

    One, two, three, four
    Fuck the West against the door.
    Three, four, five, six
    Up the arse with Bolsheviks.
    Five, six, seven, eight
    Lenin is a heavyweight.
    Seven, eight, nine, ten
    Make a way for Brave New Men!

    EVERYONE (applauding). Encore! Bravo! Encore! Bravooo!
    THE LEADER. And so, the Professor is thrilled with how our perfected piano sounds.
    THE PROPHET. As for me, I didn't doubt it for a second, since all of our improvements are based on precise scientific calculations and on a genius combination of the theoretical and practical aspects of acoustic sound science.
    THE ORIGINAL. This teaching is all-powerful, because it is correct. Study, study, and once again - study!
    PROFESSOR. But why did you stop? Please - play more, sing more, my soul begs for it.
    THE LEADER. No-no, Professor, not now.
    PROFESSOR. But yes, yes now. I implore you, no, I don't implore you - I insist!
    THE LEADER. Just a sec, Professor.
    PROFESSOR. Then I'll play myself.
    THE LEADER. You see, the process is not finished yet...
    PROFESSOR. What process?
    THE LEADER. The process of perfecting the piano.
    PROFESSOR. No-no, wait - it sounds wonderfully - wonderfully.
    THE LEADER. Not at all, Professor, not at all.
    THE ORIGINAL. Onwards, onwards, onwards!
    THE PROPHET. Latest research has proved that when our distant ancestors - who were not in possession of the developed theory of piano acoustic sounding - have employed the longitudinal position of the strings within the body of the above instrument, they were making a tragic mistake, they've chosen the wrong way.
    THE ORIGINAL. We will go a different way!
    THE PROPHET. Across, across, the strings must be stretched across, and then, only then will the piano give its true sound, despite what certain people of little faith, sceptics, scholastics and dogmatics may claim. The hell with all of you!
    THE ORIGINAL. To work, comrades! Thus shall we win!

    The Specters and the Professor begin reworking the piano while humming a melody.

    STUDENT (PASSERBY, running in). Listen, Painter, cut those games out, I had enough! In any case nothing is... Teacher, did you lose it? Those idiots are making you destroy the piano!
    PROFESSOR. Halt. Who is it screaming?
    THE LEADER. Don't pay attention, Professor, it's probably a passerby, hell knows, all kinds of sluts bum around here.
    THE ORIGINAL. Nadenka, do you know where is my grey cap?
    STUDENT. Let me say it loud and clear: they've dragged you into this.
    PROFESSOR. But... but I think I recognize her voice.
    THE LEADER. Of course you do: that's your dumbest Student.
    PROFESSOR. Probably the one I kicked out of the classroom for her abominable... singing.
    THE ORIGINAL. We can only count on the conscientious ones.
    STUDENT. Teacher, hold it! Try to recall... well, at least recall Chopin!
    THE ORIGINAL. Idealistic scumbag!
    PROFESSOR. What should I recall?
    THE LEADER. She means Chopin's cis-moll waltz - remember how much you've enjoyed our performance?
    STUDENT. It was nothing even close to Chopin- can't you see they're messing with your head?..
    THE LEADER. I don't get it, all that is rubbish! Now, Professor, we'll perfect the piano, we'll stretch the strings in a new way, and we'll play for you: Chopin, Beethoven - what you will, we'll play our way - it will be a new way, the real way.
    STUDENT. Chopin is...

    Beethoven's Apassionata starts playing again. The Specters freeze and then dissolve in the air. Student approaches the Professor, they look at each other: she is hopeful, he is confused. Lights go off, and when they go on again, there is only one Specter left on the piano - the Portrait. Professor turns into Painter again.



    PAINTER. What the hell are you sitting here for?
    THE PORTRAIT. For the hell of it.
    PAINTER. What hell?
    THE PORTRAIT. I'm inside of you, that' why. I'm right inside of you.
    PAINTER. You're lying. You're not inside of me anymore. I painted you, and you came out. Came out. You're on the painting. You're a portrait.
    THE PORTRAIT. And now what - where?
    PAINTER. Where?..
    THE PORTRAIT. Where will they put it, this painting of yours? What do you think - where?
    PAINTER. I don't know. In a museum, I guess.
    THE PORTRAIT. A museum? Which one? Louvre or Prado?
    PAINTER. Some kind of museum. In a storage room.
    THE PORTRAIT. In a storage room? Why the storage room? I don't want to go to the storage room. Oh no, my good man, I've got no intention to go there.
    PAINTER. It's not time for you now, it's just not time for you.
    THE PORTRAIT. Says who? You?
    PAINTER. I don't know.
    THE PORTRAIT. You might think it's "not time for me". (Pointing at the audience.) But they don't think so, they don't. So we'll see about that - whether I go to the storage room or... And what shall we do with you?
    PAINTER. With me?
    THE PORTRAIT. You're the one who should go to the storage room!
    PAINTER. Me - to the storage room? In what capacity?
    THE PORTRAIT. As a watchguard. Watchguard. You'll be watching over the paintings.
    PAINTER. Riiiight. So I'm not good for anything else, is that what you think?
    THE PORTRAIT. What else are you good for?
    PAINTER. Yeees... The storage room watchguard. Funny... (A long pause.) Well, maybe you're right.
    THE PORTRAIT. Let's go then.
    PAINTER. Go where?
    THE PORTRAIT (stretching his hand out). There.
    PAINTER. Oooooh... (Shakes his head vaguely.)

    The lights dim. Piano music plays.




    Date of writing: 1993
    Date of translating: 2012

    ATTENTION! All rights are reserved by the author and protected by the laws of Russian Federation and by International Law. The reproduction, publication, performance, translation or modification of the play is strictly prohibited without a written permission of the author.



    1. Translation by Henry G. Chapman - especially for the Rachmaninoff piece with this poem.

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