Casanova in the Butterfly Kingdom
Allegorical farce in one-act
Translated by Keren Klimovsky
Giacomo Casanova, a seducer, 67 years old
Hum, an entomologist, 39 years old
Hawk Moth ("Dead's Head"): a lepidopterous, black-and-yellow colored creature with a fat belly
Kallima (Leaf Butterfly) - purple and orange coloring with a black fringe
Geometrid Moth - greenish-grey wings in dark diametric stripes
Semele - brownish-black
Rite Swallowtail - a black and light yellow "tiger" pattern
Apollo - black wings with short, scarce fibers
Danae - copper-yellow with streaks, the edges of the wings are dark brown
Erinocrania golden-yellow in a blue-colored pane with a metallic gleam
Lycaena - beige-turqouise coloring
Morpho - light blue wings: the intensity of color depends on the light angle
Nymphalidae - reddish-brown with black at the edges - blue edging
"I describe my life to entertain
myself, and I succeed at it." 1
The action takes place in the end of the 18th century in a tower-room in Bohemia. Night-time, a candle is lit. Giacomo Casanova sits in an arm-chair, pondering. His hooked nose and his grey, sticking out eyebrows make him resemble a withered bird. He wears old slippers on his bare feet and a shabby overcoat. Casanova takes a silver snuff-box out of his pocket, fills his pipe with tobacco and starts smoking it. Then he goes to the mirror and looks at himself.
CASANOVA. Old age, boy, is no joy. Who am I now? An old foozle, a destitute wreck? A grumbling old fart? I'm an impotent, am I not? I can't, and I don't want to - the flame got lame. (Pause.) After all, one hundred and twenty four women - that's quite a record! Of course, Bastide had more - one hundred and forty four. Oh, Bastide, Bastide, don't you know that a record means quality, not quantity! I'd give up all of my women only to have Henrietta by my side, but, alas, she's dead. (Pause.) No family, no fortune, not even a home, what kind of a home is that - a dog-hole! I could have had a family, I could have. But I've always loved freedom, I did - and now I'm paying the price. In short, quoting Horatio: "carpe diem", in the evening The Reaper will knock on your door... (Pause.) And my plays? I remember translating Cahusac's tragedy "Zoroaster" to Italian in February. What a performance was presented in Dresden! But the play itself is good for nothing: Cahusac is helpless at spinning intrigues, and without intrigues, there's no plot. Then I wrote "Harlequin at the Sabbath" - the best play of the year. But it performed only four times - it wasn't well received. Stupid Germans - they don't get intellectual drama, it's hopeless! Then I composed the tragicomic farce "Brothers-Rivals" - a parody on Racine. The king laughed heartily - the king himself! And I've met all of the town beauties: I thought that when it comes to curves, they are superior to Italian and French women. Alas, not a bit of it: The German women are cold as the Bavarian beer! (Pause.) And after that masterpiece - nothing: no play had been staged. "Youth will fleet away, taking beauty along - and it will suddenly become clear that the time of victories is behind you..." Who said it? Don't remember. (Pause.) I've always been afraid to be a fool for pains. And here I am - a fool. (Laughs. Pause.) "Kiss all the beauties of all lands, but still try not to lose your brains". Who said it? Villon, of course: no one understood better what love is: sheer curiosity and nothing more - cur-ious-ity! (Yawns.) That bastard of a servant: he oversalted the soup. And the sausages are burnt to ashes. It's time to give the shake to such a servant. But then who will cook bouillabaissefor me, who? That's what we have. And who tore a page off "Icosameron", the same servant? I mean, this is the erotic "Illiad"! And someone put it up in the lavatory, was it the house manager? Did he think it was pornography, the beast?! (He undresses and lies down. Then he closes his eyes and falls asleep. Pause. A squeak is heard - Casanova wakes up. Now he's young, in a white wig, a velvet vest with golden buttons, a laced shirt, red stockings with a flower pattern, and light blue shoes with diamond buckles.) What is it: mice or rats? (He takes a candle and goes to the window.) My, it's a butterfly, a huge butterfly - a true pangolin! It's got a skull on its back - I've never seen such a thing in my life! Where's my butterfly net? Or should I use a stick to kill it...
HAWK MOTH. Don't kill me, signor Casanova, there's no need: I got lost... I've been flying around, and suddenly... I've landed on the windowsill - no way to go back. The wind blew, and the window slammed shut.
CASANOVA. What is your name, pangolin?
HAWK MOTH. Wine Hawk Moth. But it doesn't mean I'm a drunkard or a reveller - no. I work as a guard for Hum.
CASANOVA. And who's Hum?
HAWK MOTH. A famous entomologist, a professor. He's in charge of the laboratory at the reservation.
CASANOVA. What reservation?
HAWK MOTH. The "Flower Meadow". It's full of charming butterflies, it really is. Won't you join us? The weather is excellent today - let's go!
CASANOVA. And what would I do there? Sleep or...
HAWK MOTH. What sleep - you'd be chasing butterflies.
CASANOVA. Me - chasing butterflies? Funny.
HAWK MOTH. Butterflies can do everything: dance, sing, recite poetry, even play on stage. And love - oh, how do they love! You could have a love affair with a butterfly - why not, I think it's a lovely idea, isn't it? At least you'd be entertained. Let's go, signor Casanova, you've got nothing to lose.
CASANOVA. Hunting butterflies? I've never had that happen to me - ever. Hm, we'll see. But first - first I need to get my swerve on.
HAWK MOTH. I've got an invigorating drug - alkaloid.
CASANOVA. You mean alcohol?
HAWK MOTH (laughs). Alkaloid! Take this pill and you'll feel zest for life again... (Gives him a pill.)
CASANOVA. A night without adventures is not a night...
HAWK MOTH. ...without butterflies. I only have a small request, since you're a seducer...
CASANOVA. Said who?
HAWK MOTH. Who doesn't know Casanova? And so, you're a seducer...
CASANOVA. The journalists - those swine!
HAWK MOTH. Calm down, buzzing about and dangling the butterflies is allowed at the meadow.
CASANOVA. And loving is forbidden?
HAWK MOTH. Loving is a must. But no butterfly pinning: that's the rule of the "Flower Meadow".
CASANOVA. "Pinning" means deceiving?
HAWK MOTH. Not at all. Hum thinks that preserving butterflies as colorful and unfading for three hundred years is a heroic deed. On the other hand, people catch butterflies, because they have nothing else to do, and then they pin them for their collection. And the fragile butterflies die. Then again, you won't do it - go ahead and love away!
CASANOVA. All right then, let's go to the meadow. Semper novarum rerum cupides.
HAWK MOTH. I don't know beans in Latin.
CASANOVA. "Forever craving a new prey". What's the way?
HAWK MOTH. Straight through the forest for about half an hour, and you'll end up on the "Flower Meadow".
CASANOVA. I'm revived, I'm truly revived. Well, let's go then!
HAWK MOTH. I'll go first to warn the butterflies: Casanova himself honors them with his visit! Set me free. (Casanova opens the window - Hawk Moth flies away.)
The scene features a true summer holiday: merry greens vine in an endless emerald carpet; everything drowns in the aroma of flowers - wood lilies, violets, fortget-me-nots, jasmine. The sun is high, but the air is marvellous. Festive butterflies are twisting hoola hoops round their hips, they're dancing away. Hawk Moth flies in.
HAWK MOTH. Hush, you lepidopterous, hush! (The music quiets down.)
DANAE. Nonsense, mumbo jumbo! Where were you, were you looking for a glucose shop?
HAWK MOTH. Quiet, Danae! (Addressing the butterflies.) Listen and bite on that with your little antennas: you're about to meet a person who had conquered all of the world's women. One hundred and twenty two pistons - here's a record! (To Lycaena.) Take the hoop away, or else the seducer comes...
DANAE. The dangler, the tempter, the devil!
ERINOCRANIA. Is he old or young?
HAWK MOTH. He used to be old, but now he's so badass: the alkaloid worked. He wears a white wig.
ERINOCRANIA. So he is old.
HAWK MOTH. The contrary: a solid body, wide shoulders, muscles, what else do you need? And talking about his twig - well, he's a seducer: it's always ready at the "back wing".
ERINOCRANIA. But is the seducer interested in butterflies or in women?
HAWK MOTH. Casanova doesn't care about chicks: he's had so many he's sick of them - he's after something new. I think that butterflies are it.
LYCAENA. We're better than women - we're prettier and more graceful.
HAWK MOTH. That's given, Lycaena-pie!
RITE SWALLOWTAIL. He's a foreigner, and he's not aware of the rules, which the butterflies...
HAWK MOTH. Do you fashion, Rite Swallowtail, that foreigners do not know how to copulate? You bet they do! (Pause.) And where's the ballerina, where's Semele?
APOLLO. Preparing for the show.
HAWK MOTH (to Geometrid Moth). Your tunic's dirty, it must be changed.
GEOMETRID MOTH. Tell Hum to buy a new one, or else...
HAWK MOTH. Right away! (To Morpho.) Where's your blue handkerchief?
MORPHO. Why the hell do I need a handkerchief?
HAWK MOTH. Once you see Casanova, wave at him with the blue handkerchief, and the Venetian will swoop down. And where's Kallima? (Pause.) Where's Kallima?
DANAE. Taking a nap.
HAWK MOTH. Did that Epimenis come again?
DANAE. He's an old penisist. Who else would want Kallima?!
HAWK MOTH. Casanova's about to arrive, and Kallima's asleep. Wake up the sleepyhead, quickly! (Pause.) All right, here comes the Patron, meet the guests!
Hum and Casanova enter. Hum is almost bald, he wears a white shirt, a maroon-colored, speckled tie and grey pants, which reveal the tips of his black shoes.
HUM. Hello, papillons! I congratulate you with a new day!
CASANOVA. Why, this is simply an art gallery! Whatever butterfly you point at is a creation of a genius. And what divine air: I can't have enough of it!
HUM. The local air is perfect - oxygen, nitrogen.
HAWK MOTH (loudly). Smoke break! (The butterflies fly away.)
CASANOVA. So those beauties smoke?!
HUM. Of course, not. This is Hawk Moth's lame joke: he's a night guard, a diligent worker, but, alas, sometimes he makes booboos.
HAWK MOTH. Would you like some lactescent juice?
HUM. That would be good - it's going to be hot. (To Casanova.) Do you have a cap?
CASANOVA. I have a wig instead.
HAWK MOTH (hands glasses to Hum and to the guest). Yep, pretty good weather, I'm afraid the juice got hard.
HUM (to Hawk Moth). Do you remember, "Dead's Head", about the glucose?..
CASANOVA (to Hum). What did you say - "dead's head"? A vivid observation. He does look like one.
HAWK MOTH (to Hum). I know everything. There's only one little problem: this morning one scoundrel of a bumble-bee pierced the flower's floral disc and stole some nectar.
HUM. And where were you this morning?
HAWK MOTH. At work, why?
HUM. You don't even blush when you lie.
HAWK MOTH. Let me tell you: at 3 AM I was having a conversation with signor Casanova. I guess it was then, when the bumble-bee committed the offense. What can I say - I'm a fuckhead!
HUM. All right, we'll discuss it later. Leave us, Hawk Moth.
Hawk Moth flies away.
CASANOVA. You have it strict around here.
HUM. The cultivation of butterflies is a serious business: we work round the clock, no days off. (Pause.) But you didn't drink yet: to butterflies!
Hum and Casanova drink.
CASANOVA. How is this drink of yours called - kumiss?
HUM. Milk sap - it's the juice of latex plants. You like the taste?
CASANOVA. I sure do.
HUM. And how do you find "Flower Meadow"?
CASANOVA. It's an emerald carpet - you don't even need to have your shoes on.
HUM. Would you like to hear a short lecture? It's titled "Why Do We Adore Butterflies".
CASANOVA. And why do we, indeed?
HUM. The butterfly is the human's soul, the human's romantic passion. (Pause.) Breathe deeper. (Pause.) You were right on in your observation: butterflies resemble the admirable creations of a painter's brush - it's hard to believe that it is nature, which made them so fair. Do you remember the parable? The Creator was flying over the world in search of a place suitable for life. The Creator thus spoke: "And the land produced vegetation - and it was so. And God made the butterflies according to their kind. And God saw that it was good." (Pause.) Having observed the caterpillars in his garden turning to chrysalides and then to butterflies, the Hindu God Brahma thought up the idea of reincarnation. He claimed that perfection can be reached only through a series of regenerations.
CASANOVA. I'm sorry, I don't believe in Brahma.
HUM. And me - I'm a devout creationist. The organic world is the result of Divine Providence. It's no accident that the Greeks used to have the same word for both butterfly and soul - "psyche". It means liberation from earthly bounds and that lump of clay of a body. This is why ancient Egyptian tombs and sarcophagi depicted the deceased surrounded by butterflies. But for me personally, butterflies are a remedy against pain.
CASANOVA. In our days people seek consolation in wine.
HUM. But the majority of butterfly admirers adore them for a different reason: the human inherently draws on the beautiful. Can you imagine, signor Casanova, that butterflies and flowers suddenly disappear? How lame should life become on planet Earth then!
CASANOVA. I bet the sun would go out, and life would stop.
HUM. I'm quite sure of it.
Pause. Casanova looks into the distance.
CASANOVA (breathing in deeply). This place is delightful: aromas, peace, beauty.
HUM. The butterflies dance from April to September, from dusk to dawn.
CASANOVA. They just dance - and that's it?
HUM. You think they just throw their legs out? They're serious about their work. And besides, they're clever girls.
CASANOVA (laughs). I bet they're true intellectuals!
HUM. The least I can say is that they're very sharp. What are you laughing at - you better listen attentively to their names! Those sonorous Greek sounds: Erinocrania, Danae, Kallima, Morpho! The Creator did right to invent butterflies: they're the embodiment of freedom and divine beauty.
CASANOVA. And what do they feed on?
HUM. They're happy with one dew drop - that satiates them.
HUM. But the important thing is: butterflies do think of procreation. As the Creator had taught: "be fruitful and increase in number", and they have no other law, no other goal in life than...
CASANOVA. ...love, of course. (Pause.) May I smoke?
HUM. Sorry, signor Casanova, smoking's not allowed here. Would you like some more latex?
CASANOVA. Just a bit. ( Hum pours some more latex into Casanova's glass.)
HUM. Alas, it's time for me to go to work.
CASANOVA. Do you have another job?
HUM. Yes. I work at the museum of comparative entomology. And I'm just about to make a decision on the types of fodder plants and nectariferous plants that should be bred. So I'll leave you for a short while - Hawk Moth will replace me. And later we've got a ballet to see.
CASANOVA. What, really - you give performances?
HUM. You'll see. (Hawk Moth appears.) Quoting one writer: "If there's sun, there will be butterflies." 2 See you soon.
HAWK MOTH. So, shall we talk about butterflies? Do you like this one - the dark brown one, adorned by a thin, white zigzag from the inside or that one - the ginger, emerald-pearl colored, as if speckled by chalk?
HAWK MOTH. I know every little path around here, every little bush, every little stump. And here's Kallima. Please welcome signor Casanova: the native of Venice, a big lover...
CASANOVA. Whose lover?..
HAWK MOTH (laughs). A lover of butterflies! By the way, Kallima doesn't like flowers.
CASANOVA. How odd... But where is she?
HAWK MOTH. She pretends to be a green leaf. I mean, she's a boogerboo, she likes disguises: try to find her now, when she's wearing her invisibility cloak.
CASANOVA. But where is she, is she here?!
HAWK MOTH. She sure is. Kallima, say: "Hello, signor Casanova!". Listen, Kallima, signor Casanova is a seductive dandy. Look: he's got a flower pattern on his stockings - even I would fall for him. What do you say, Kallima?
KALLIMA (quietly). I want to sleep.
HAWK MOTH. Did this patched up male flew by again? The old Epimenis?
KALLIMA. Nonsense, Hawk Moth. I have a migraine, I'm seeing spots - like tiny flies are flashing in front of my eyes.
CASANOVA. Do butterflies really have migraines?
HAWK MOTH. She should take in some "Spanish Fly" - that will return the spark to her eye.
CASANOVA. So will she come down or..? I'd like to look at her from up close. (Kallima descends softly.) Look at you - what huge eyes you've got! And what a hat!
HAWK MOTH. She's a smart butterfly, I recommend her.
CASANOVA (to Kallima.) I'd like to give you a wood lily. You like lilies?
KALLIMA. I don't.
CASANOVA. And which flowers do you like?
KALLIMA. I don't like flowers.
CASANOVA. Someone said that butterflies originated from flowers, which broke free from their plants. Is it so, Hawk Moth?
HAWK MOTH. Of course. Nectar is what we need more than anything: without it - there's no life.
CASANOVA. And Kallima here doesn't like flowers.
KALLIMA (to Hawk Moth). I want to sleep.
CASANOVA (to Kallima). Let's dance - it's much better.
KALLIMA. I don't like dancing.
CASANOVA. What does it mean? Are you a butterfly or...
HAWK MOTH. Kallima, wait: signor Casanova wants to talk to you.
KALLIMA. What about?
HAWK MOTH. About anything - like weather or something.
KALLIMA. The weather's good.
CASANOVA. Say something interesting.
KALLIMA. There's nothing to say.
CASANOVA. Absolutely nothing?
KALLIMA (to Hawk Moth). I want to sleep.
CASANOVA. With me?
KALLIMA. Nonsense. I intend to sleep alone on the branch.
CASANOVA. I will join you.
KALLIMA. You won't find me.
CASANOVA (to Hawk Moth). She doesn't even want to talk!
HAWK MOTH. Butterflies can be obstinate sometimes. (Pause.) Signor Casanova, how do you say "the right of the first night" in Latin?
CASANOVA. Jus primae noctis.
HAWK MOTH. And now signor Casanova will tell us all about it, and you, Kallima, listen and ask questions. (Kallima yawns.) Don't you misbehave, or I will tell on you to the Patron.
CASANOVA. All right, if you insist. I was twenty-four years old, a graduate of the University of Padua. My friends used to tease me: "aren't you the famous virgin man!" So, we were at this party, drinking wine, vermouth, even cognac. One of the girls seemed to me - or maybe I just had one too much - to be a bird of uncommon beauty. She said: "I love you." And added: "And I want you." What was there to do? We found a fiacre and went to my place. Her name was Anchilla, a gondolier's daughter. She was quite the interesting type: passionate, merry, unprejudiced. In short, we've spent three hours in bed, and after that I knew everything there is to know about what should be done with women. But alas: Anchilla infected me with pubic lice. Then I paid a visit to the doctor, he prescribed me some kind of grey-colored wondrous ointment, and it cured me. That's about it.
HAWK MOTH (laughs). Was it the fluenorrhea or the coldifilis?
CASANOVA. What does syphilis have to do with it? I said I got cured, is that clear?
KALLIMA. Gross! (Casanova touches Kallima's antennas.) Don't touch!
CASANOVA. Don't be a prude. (He attempts to touch her antennas again.)
KALLIMA. Rape!! (She jumps on the branch and pretends to be a green leaf again.)
CASANOVA. She flew away. Can you imagine: she doesn't dance, doesn't like flowers, what a bimbo!
HAWK MOTH. What can you do - I guess she didn't like you.
CASANOVA. What is she, frigid?
HAWK MOTH. More like fastidious.
CASANOVA. Kallima is a cock teaser, and that's it.
HAWK MOTH. Maybe. Or maybe she just wasn't in the mood for copulation, pretended to be a snag or a hoe...
CASANOVA. I know all about those hoes! (Hawk Moth laughs.) Give me another one, "Dead's Head".
HAWK MOTH. First we'll have breakfast, and then...
CASANOVA. What fucking breakfast - get me a butterfly!
HAWK MOTH. Today's menu is good: we will feed you turnip tops and dew.
CASANOVA. Stop feeding me bullshit, you skiver!
HAWK MOTH. I'll eat, and I'll find you one.
Hawk Moth eats his breakfast. Pause.
CASANOVA. The sun is too hot indeed, should I take my vest off or what?
HAWK MOTH. You can do whatever - the butterflies won't mind. We endure heat quite well, but there are exceptions. Here's a story for you. I used to have a young nephew - the Bird's-Wing of Queen Alexandra.
CASANOVA (surprised). Queen Alexandra?
HAWK MOTH. He had greenish-blue wings - you couldn't take your eyes off of him. So, this Bird's-Wing had a fixation: he dreamed of touching the sun. I told him: "You ass, you'll burn down." And the neffy said: "Whatever. Reaching the sun is worth dying for!"
CASANOVA. Well, so that Icarus - he had burned down, had he??
HAWK MOTH. This is precisely what happened.
CASANOVA. And what's the moral?
HAWK MOTH. Don't fly low and don't fly high, keep to the middle, and you'll do fine.
CASANOVA. That kind of moral bores me - it's totally uninteresting. (Pause.) Listen, Hawk Moth, can you get me wings?
HAWK MOTH. What for?
CASANOVA. I'd like to look at the world from high up - to check if it's as good as they say.
HAWK MOTH. I can get you wings, but you better think it through: you're about to get plenty of butterflies - snowy white ones, silvery-blue ones with a glimmering gleam, red ones, chestnut-colored ones - anything you want. And you - you suddenly want to reach the sun! You'll crash - that would be a shame. (He takes his hoop net and immediately catches Geometrid Moth.) Got her! Of course, she's not quite snowy white, but you might as well go for it...
GEOMETRID MOTH (dusts down, to Hawk Moth). Solve the riddle: how do you call a butterfly with ears on its wings, huh?
HAWK MOTH. A butthead with ears.
GEOMETRID MOTH. Wrong answer. And what strengthens pubic hair?
HAWK MOTH. That's a question for Casanova, he's the expert in this field. (Pause. To Geomtrid Moth.) Stop chewing the leafgrass.
GEOMETRID MOTH. Wrong again: the right answer is wing paint.
HAWK MOTH (to Casanova). I'm flying away. Do whatever you want with her, you might as well spit-roast her. I'm off. I'll be back soon. (He disappears.)
GEOMETRID MOTH. What does it mean "he's got butterflies in his stomach"?
CASANOVA. I've got no butterflies there - the only thing I've got is a ribbon on my neck.
GEOMETRID MOTH. It means he's in love. (To Casanova.) I saw you, but I was too shy to fly up to you. I'm Geometrid Moth.
CASANOVA. And I'm Robinson Crusoe. Here we are. (Looks at Geometrid Moth.) You're kind of frumpy - quite past your best. Faded green.
GEOMETRID MOTH. I'm a factory butterfly. I work at parks, I fly above the alleys, taking in the road dust. Or I sit on fences - that's why I'm disheveled. But I'll be clean and white again after a virgin rain - a pleasure to look at. (She paints her lips.)
CASANOVA. Yes, some of us need rain: take Kallima - hope it rains before she pines away on the branch.
Geometrid Moth flies up to Casanova and takes a seat on his hand.
GEOMETRID MOTH. I'm dying to love.
CASANOVA. Love away, what do I have to do with it?
GEOMETRID MOTH. Marry me, Casanova! I'll be a passionate lover: my thing is well lubricated.
CASANOVA. Are you fucking mad or what?
GEOMETRID MOTH. We'll be knocking boots till we drop.
CASANOVA. I'm a homo sapiens, and you - you are a lepidopterous creature.
GEOMETRID MOTH. If you need to copulate every day - I'm ready. The most important thing is love and procreation. And you, Casanova, you also love copulating - we're a perfect match. I'll do everything to make you happy.
CASANOVA. You're not even eatable!
GEOMETRID MOTH. And how would you know if I'm eatable or not?
CASANOVA. Hawk Moth said: "You might as well spit-roast her".
GEOMETRID MOTH. Well, he's a "dead's head": try for yourself, and you'll see if I'm not eatable or...
CASANOVA. You're a little pimply scarecrow...
GEOMETRID MOTH. Go ahead and try, Casanova! What if you end up liking me?... (Pause. Geometrid Moth spruces herself up.) One more riddle: what is a loner?
CASANOVA. This is me - Casanova. Alas, I'm lonely.
GEOMETRID MOTH. That's well: let's live together.
CASANOVA. I said: "No"!
GEOMETRID MOTH. And what about "marry first, and love will follow"?
CASANOVA. No way in hell! You brush your teeth first, you...
GEOMETRID MOTH. "Dead's Head" gave you too little latex.
CASANOVA (enraged). You're a plebeian, you've got goggles instead of eyes! I'm sick of you - get away, shoo, you apple bark moth!
Geometrid Moth flies away. Casanova is down. Hum appears.
HUM (to Casanova). My fingers smell of flowers - vanilla, lemon, musk.
CASANOVA (outraged). Thank you, Mr. Hum, thank you very much: I've become a virgin, this is my new alter ego.
HUM. Have you been fasting?
CASANOVA. My fingers even smell of - pardon me - of semen: one butterfly is a cock teaser - she's sleeping on a branch, the other - is right out of the dump... where do you get those?
HUM. Forgive me, signor Casanova, we'll get things straight. When Hawk Moth is back, I'll chew his butt. (Pause.) Signor Casanova, I've read your book. The one about the lover who became a myth. It is wonderful: you have a true gift for writing.
CASANOVA. Are you putting me on?
HUM. It's a brilliant tome, even Voltaire admired it.
CASANOVA. But he had never read my book!
HUM. Just one little comment: the cover features a nude Henrietta. This is, of course, a good thing, but...
CASANOVA. What Henrietta - this is Mimi!
HUM. Yes, life's different nowadays - you may portray whoever. (Hawk Moth appears.) "Dead's Head", what was the deal with Kallima?
HAWK MOTH (to Hum). Nothing special: Kallima was sleepy - she'd had a visit from her friend Epimenis.
CASANOVA. What does penis have to do with it?
HAWK MOTH. Nothing. It was the first time in her life she saw a man - and not anyone, but Casanova!
CASANOVA. I've had tons of chicks...
HUM (to Casanova). I'm sorry, signor Casanova...
CASANOVA. ...and some shabby little butterflies...
HUM. They're not shabby, on the contrary: quite good-looking.
CASANOVA. ...and all of a sudden - holy mother of shit!
HUM. We'll make it up to you. Listen, Hawk Moth, shall we find butterflies in Casanova's taste?
HAWK MOTH. No problem.
HUM. And meanwhile, signor Casanova, we'll show you a ballet.
CASANOVA. What ballet?..
HUM. The butterflies invite you to see a dress-rehearsal for the show "Love Story". Would you like some latex? It's a good stress relief.
CASANOVA. I'll do without latex. (To Hawk Moth.) Did you say you'll get me those wings?
HAWK MOTH. I will - I will. Soon.
CASANOVA. Faster-faster, I'm tired of waiting. You skiver!
HUM. While waiting for the the wings, you'll see how true artists dance, and you'd come to love butterflies. Art is a remarkable thing! (The butterflies appear.) Let's start, let's start! Dramatic personae: Semele, Rite Swallowtail and Apollo. Greet the artists! Curtain!
Semele gracefully dances in the middle of the meadow: she lands upon her favorite flowers - jasmine, lilies, violets: she knows them from childhood, she grew up on them as a caterpillar. She is pining away, craving for love.
Rite Swallowtail appears - he looks around carefully: maybe a familiar wing will flicker nearby? And it does - Semele appears. He does not trifle: instead of a long courtship, he "grabs" her quickly - he gangs up on her, forcing her to land. Semele surrenders.
Suddenly Apollo appears, flopping his wings, making a plangent sound and challenging Rite Swallowtail to a combat. Rite Swallowtail is somewhat tipsy since the morning: he tries to defend himself, but the forces are unequal. Rite Swallowtail folds his wings and shrivels. The battle is over.
Apollo lifts Semele up, making an elegant bow. They both drink lavender-water. The "love potion" is intoxicating. Apollo twitches his antennas, unfurls his wings; Semele lifts her wings up as well and relaxes. Apollo touches Semele with his belly and then glues sphragis on to it. The music stops. Semele, Apollo and Rite Swallowtail bow to the audience. Hum, Casanova and the rest of the butterflies applaud.
HUM (to Casanova). Well, did you like it? This is what "romantic passion" looks like.
CASANOVA. A weak show - it isn't funny.
HUM. Love drama is a serious story, jokes would be out of place.
CASANOVA. Excuse me, what is "sphragis"?
HUM. A chastity belt, which Apollo puts on Semele.
CASANOVA. What on earth?.. So they just copulate, and that's it?.. What kind of love is that?
HUM. Signor Casanova, you're an expert in the field of earthly love. But conjuring and staging a show - that's no trifle, you've got to have completely other skills.
CASANOVA. I didn't like anything about it, especially the "sphragis" - what a domestic tyranny! Besides: I don't like baby faces. And the actors aren't on top of it.
HUM. What can I say... you know nothing about art!
CASANOVA. It ain't easy: you're the author of the libretto, the director and the choreographer...
HUM. Why not? (Pause.) I give master classes: of choreography, vocals, poetry and, of course, theater. Together with the butterflies we fantasize, think up shows, polish the artistic craft, in short, we create. Everyone gives himself to art without the rest. Difficulties - yes, we have our difficulties, but we overcome them. I thank the butterflies for their diligence. We're happy. And the audience is pleased with everything - they've greeted the premiere with standing ovations. And some... some debauched playboys...
CASANOVA. Is it me - a playboy?
HUM. ...were sitting on the meadow, sipping lavender-water and thinking of only one thing: undressing the butterflies.
CASANOVA. I've never said that!
HUM. The success is doubtless - it's a great success, and the reviewer - I beg your pardon - shits all over it.
CASANOVA. Now, this is rude, Mr. Director!
HUM. You're a king in bed, and I'm a king in art.
CASANOVA (flies into rage). But you understand nothing about love, and you dare staging a show about it!
HUM. Naturally, since you're a voluptuary.
CASANOVA It's a very bad show, a very bad one. The director should be sent to dress-making courses!
HUM. Thanks, Casanova, give my regards to the dame flippers!
HAWK MOTH. Gentlemen, don't fight, no need to fight! We have a carnival party this evening, there will be another interesting show. Signor Casanova, I hope that you'll take part in it? Do you have a carnival costume?
CASANOVA. I have nothing...
The "artists" fly up.
HUM (to Hawk Moth). All right, let's go and have some "postfly" analysis. Make out the table, "Dead's Head".
HAWK MOTH. No problems, Patron.
Hum and the "artists" leave the meadow.
It's time to go - I've stayed too long.
Signor Casanova, wait: very sophisticated butterflies are about to fly up, one is even a poet. You like poetry?
I'm a poet myself.
Here they are! (Three butterflies are gliding above the meadow
-Erinocrania, Danae and Lycaena.)
Hello, birdies, let me introduce you to signor Casanova: a Venetian, a delightful poet. And now he will recite some of his poetry. (To Danae.)
You hear this, poetaster?
That's very interesting, very!
My poetry? It's only parodies.
At least two lines, please.
|CASANOVA. ||All right, if you insist:|
I want to fly, to fly awing,
so recklessly - for old time's sake,
to flip my pants... (To himself.) Enough, that's bad.
That's grand! (The butterflies applaud.)
HAWK MOTH (to Casanova).
How do you like the butterflies?
Well, that's quite a different story! Especially the lanky one - her eyes are like colorful snow flakes.
I've pleased you, finally!
And what does this "69" on the wings mean? Is that a brand or?..
It's a game, I'll teach you later. And now let's drink.
HAWK MOTH (to Danae).
We've been around the block. (To Casanova.)
Аnd at the carnival you'll hear how this little Lycaena sings.
|DANAE (recites). ||"Here a pasture for horses blossoms|
With the flowers of spring, and breezes
Are flowing here like honey:
Come to me here." 3
is poetry! And my poems are shit. (To Erinocrania.)
And what's your
name, little gold fish?
I'm Erinocrania, you can call me Erina. My mate is Rite Swallowtail, the dancer - remember "Love Story"?
Bad, bad show, especially the "sphragis" - horrific!
HAWK MOTH (to Danae).
What's the fan for?
What a silly question!
HAWK MOTH (to Casanova).
Danae is rather "special". You see that tattoo - 'fuck yo butterfly mama', like it? (Danae fans Casanova.)
Where's your glass, Sappho? (He takes out the flower nectar.)
Hurray, nectar - I want to drink myself silly!
Just one glass, no more. You can get properly wasted at the carnival.
The Patron loves us, and if we mess up, he always forgives us.
You've got a good Patron, a true romantic. And he writes plays, too.
You bet he does! (To Lycaena.)
And why are you silent, songstress?
I'm saving my voice for the concert.
HAWK MOTH (to Casanova).
|DANAE (recites). ||"Eros, again now, the loosener of limbs troubles me -|
Bitter-sweet, sly, uncontrollable creature." 4
All right, "loosener of limbs" - let's hit it. Here you go, signor! (Casanova and the butterflies drink.)
The nectar's awesome!
We only provide the good stuff. (Pause. To the butterflies.)
I've already told you: signor Casanova is from Venice. He's a live legend: on one hand, he's a poet, а writer, a liberal thinker, a traveller, a duellist, what else?
On the other hand - a seducer, a heart eater.
ERINOCRANIA (to Casanova).
Did you really have one hundred twenty two... you know
Those babbling journalists and paparazzi...
And you loved them...
...or fell out of love with them?
Fell out of love?
I bet you grew sick of them. (Makes eyes at Casanova.)
Falling out of love is easy, but falling in
love is much harder.
I've never been to Venice - is it hot there?
No, in the midst of summer heat you always have a breeze.
Venice would be good, but we'll fly further.
Such a migration - what for?
Life makes you. (Pours the nectar.)
To Venice and to the Venetian! (They drink. Pause.)
DANAE (sits down, spreads her wings).
A Don Juan list is a must for every fop. Do you have a pad or an acountant's book?
What book, what do you mean?
Did you have to memorize your list of victories or do you just remember them?
Why would you need that?
To brag to your friends.
I've forgotten almost all of my beloved ones.
It means you didn't really love them. (Makes eyes at Casanova.)
He's probably going senile.
CASANOVA (to Erinocrania).
And do you
remember all of your adventures, do
I don't care for that - I have Rite Swallowtail waiting at home.
HAWK MOTH (to Casanova).
His brother Machaon is a doctor, he treats butterflies.
Some doctor: Peacock Butterfly was dying, and Machaon didn't even fly to his place to help him.
It was a hopeless case. Peacock Butterfly was constantly off the wagon - he was hitting the glucose night and day. He drank until he hit the rock bottom. And me - I'm drinking nectar, and only on holidays.
CASANOVA (to Erinocrania).
Erina, I like you - go get a divorce.
Divorce isn't acceptable here - that's the law.
And who established it - the Patron? What is he - a tyrant?
He's a literary giant.
LYCAENA (to Hawk Moth).
My friend Acetone said that nectar is a poison.
What does he know about toxins!
He said that alkanoid is a poison too.
Not alkanoid, but alkaloid - don't you feel the difference? That's what you can tell Acetone.
What Acetone? Isn't that a solvent?!
HAWK MOTH (to Casanova).
You see, Lycaena here is guilty of myrmecophily - the love of ants.
You've got so many insects around here: bugs, spiders, worms... When I go back to Venice, I'll get myself a bed bug to sleep in my bed and warm me up in cold weather. (Pause.)
Hawk Moth, fill it up!
To insects - they're my buddies!
Everyone drinks except Lycaena. Pause.
DANAE (to Casanova). Signor Casanova looks kind of sweaty to me.
CASANOVA. Love to mimicry, love to myrmecophily - that's an overflow of love, no?
ERINOCRANIA. Isn't that a good thing?!
DANAE (to Casanova). Won't you take your vest off - it's summertime on the meadow. The smell of sweat is disgusting! (Casanova takes his vest off.)
DANAE. What about the wig?
CASANOVA. I won't take off the wig, I'm all set. (Danae flies up to him and tears off the wig.) Give the wig back, Sappho!
DANAE. He's bald, see?!
LYCAENA (sings). "How come you're a baldie, why you've got no hair? Because you thought that all the chicks around you were too fair!.."
Casanova jumps at Danae, but she throws the wig to Lycaena; Casanova runs after Lycaena, but she throws the wig to Erinocrania who gives it back to Casanova.
HAWK MOTH (to Casanova).
Don't your legs sweat when you wear this thing?
You vulgar creature! (Pause.)
Thanks, Erina! (Kisses Erinocrania.)
He's a good kisser. (To Erinocrania.)
Shall we show the Venetian guest what "69" means?
And what about Rite Swallowtail?
We won't tell him.
Let's give a top performance - signor Casanova here believes he's at a nursery.
I'm not playing, I'm not playing!
Will Hawk Moth take part in it?
I've got a lot on my plate: I need to set the table.
Butterflies, when it's devoid of love, the idea of sex becomes a vile deceit, a de-ceit!
Aceton holds on to the love idea too.
|DANAE (recites). ||"But she, coming from well-endowed Lesbos,|
Gaping open-mouthed at another girl." 5 (She kisses Erinocrania.)
Oh, but this is the Venetian school of love! (Erinocrania kisses Danae.)
Life is a sex-cursion: ripping down the night-clothes!
DANAE (to Casanova).
Bro, this is what "69" means! (They kiss.)
They're kissing, and what about me?.. Let's have a threesome!
Get a room, girls!
RITE SWALLOWTAIL (shouts, sitting on a tree top).
Erina, I'm your spouse!
Look, here he is - your hubby!
Erina, where's the sphragis, where's the sphragis?
HAWK MOTH (mocking Rite Swallowtail).
Why are you screaming - everything's in place!
RITE SWALLOWTAIL (to Erina).
Why are you without the sphragis?
HAWK MOTH (to Rite Swallowtail).
Quiet, we're working here...
More, Erina, more!
Aroused, Erinocrania shows her back wings - Casanova jumps at her. Danae shoots burning juice right in his eyes. Casanova falls on the grass, rubbing his eyes. Erinocrania, Danae and Lycaena fly away. Pause.
HAWK MOTH (to the audience). When I was young, I dreamed of becoming a bee - a little bee. Mamma said: "Work hard, and you'll learn to make honey." Well, I didn't like slaving away: in your dreams! - I thought and quit the job. But one day this hummingbird hawk moth advised me to go see Mrs. Atropos, the president of night butterflies. She listened, felt my biceps and said: "I'll job you into a post, you'll be flying around at nights looking for those who kicked the bucket." I jumped up: "Helping Charon?" Atropos answered: "You'll be an apprentice - your job is to report, and then I will come and take it from there." I thought about it, and I took the job. Atropos opened her closet and handed me a new uniform: on my back - see? - I have this skull pattern. And she gave me a nickname: "Dead's Head". That I disagree with, of course - I've got a good head! In short, I got pulled in. It was bearable for a year or two, and then I became sick of it: I've seen such dreadful things! I started drinking like a fish. I drank and drank, gained weight, and finally turned into a fluffy creature. My friend the Cell Keeper said: "Go and work as the night guard at the "Flower Meadow". I flew up to Hum, and he hired me. He even gave me a gun - just in case. In short, I became part of the meadow. I'm a kind, good fellow, I am. But I do fool around with nectar - can't deprive myself of that.
СASANOVA. There's no happiness on earth, Hawk Moth, there's nothing but boredom.
HAWK MOTH. But butterflies are made for happiness.
CASANOVA. What butterflies, what meadow? Nothing but despair and hopelessness. (Pause.) I'll probably end up in a looney bin.
HAWK MOTH. Why are you down? I found the most sophisticated butterflies for you. They've almost consented. What else could you want?
CASANOVA. Meekness and kindness.... Meekness and kindness.
HAWK MOTH. Not at all: those butterflies are meek and kind.
CASANOVA. And Danae is the meekest - a lioness in the wild! She almost crippled me.
HAWK MOTH. She was just scaring you off. I'm sorry, signor Casanova: there's no such thing as bad butterflies, it's only a matter of not enough nectar.
CASANOVA. There was quite enough...
HAWK MOTH. I said: one glass - the carnival is still ahead of us.
CASANOVA. ... and instead of copulating...
HAWK MOTH. If the Patron would see it, he would give some heat...
CASANOVA. ... I nearly parted with my eyes.
HAWK MOTH. Look: here she is - Morpho! Awesome!
CASANOVA. I'm sick and tired - of everything!
HAWK MOTH (calls). Morphie, Morphie, come down here! Morpho!
CASANOVA. Is she a druggie?
HAWK MOTH (laughs). Oh no, it's just her last name. She's blue. And gay.
CASANOVA. Gay?! That's the last thing I need: a gay druggie, no, that's too much!
HAWK MOTH (laughs again). Come on, look how beautiful she is - simply devastating! She was born in Holland - red lights here and there! Morphie, Morphie, get down here!
Morpho glides above the meadow.
MORPHO (to Hawk Moth). Groet! (Sits down.) Give me a cig.
HAWK MOTH. I won't - Hum forbids smoking on the meadow. Do you have your blue handkerchief on you?
MORPHO. Then give me glucose.
HAWK MOTH. The carnival is in half an hour - you can get your glucose there. (Pause.) Let me introduce you to Giacomo Casanova: a Venetian, a live legend and a thief of women's hearts.
CASANOVA (to Morpho). I've been to Holland - it's a pretty country. The canals - just like in Venice.
HAWK MOTH. She's been to Amsterdam, and Amsterdam...
MORPHO. I studied in Emmen.
CASANOVA. In school?
MORPHO. At the "Butterfly Ranch" reserve - it's a lot like the "Flower Meadow".
CASANOVA. Why did you leave?
MORPHO. It's cold there, it even snows.
CASANOVA. I forgot - what's your name: Margo or Martha?
CASANOVA. Strange name. And the last name is?...
MORPHO. What is that, an interrogation? What else do you want - my bra size?
CASANOVA. You have alabaster breasts.
MORPHO. All data on me belongs to the Patron.
CASANOVA (to Hawk Moth). By the way, Hum assured me that butterflies are an outgoing crowd...
HAWK MOTH. But no, Morpho is a delightful butterfly! I know what I'm saying.
CASANOVA. Hawk Moth, could you leave us? Let me talk to Margo.
HAWK MOTH. Got it. (Flies away.)
CASANOVA (to Morpho). Take your glasses off. (She does.) You are pretty.
MORPHO. I know.
CASANOVA. Very pretty. At the meadow you're awesome...
MORPHO. ... said Hawk Moth (Pause.) Wanna see a somersault?
CASANOVA. Come again?
MORPHO. You'll see in a sec. (Performs a somersault.)
MORPHO. I can also spin. I mean, there's no pole, but... (She flies up to a blooming tree and spins around it.) What d'you think?
CASANOVA. You're like a circus woman! What else can you do?
MORPHO. I can twist...
CASANOVA. ... me around your little finger? I've already been there.
MORPHO. ...my hips, my hips!
CASANOVA. Ah, don't twist the knife! Let's play around. (Kisses Morpho's breasts.) Pure alabaster!
MORPHO. Twenty two.
CASANOVA. What do you mean by "twenty two". Catch 22?..
MORPHO. That's life.
CASANOVA. Come again?
MORPHO. The dough.
CASANOVA. A dog?
MORPHO. What dog - I'm a butterfly.
CASANOVA (getting angry). Cut it out, Margo - get closer: I love you, and I want you.
MORPHO. You, "living legend", everyone in the world knows that, you're an exception...
CASANOVA. Knows what?
CASANOVA. I need to pay?
MORPHO. Morpho doesn't work just for fun.
MORPHO. I don't copulate for free, get it?
CASANOVA. A butterfly who wants money - that's astonishing!
MORPHO. That's life, "living legend" man.
CASANOVA. What the hell?! For my entire life women have been standing in line to copulate with me - free of charge, of course - because I am Ca-sa-no-va! And all of a sudden some bitchy little butterflies...
MORPHO. "Living-legend", free sex is only in the mousetrap - only!
Casanova jumps at Morpho, but she breaks free and flies away - like an air balloon.
CASANOVA. Margo works at a sluthouse! Ah, those greenish creatures: greens - that's all they need! Very funny!
Hum appears in the costume of Don Juan.
HUM. "And so, I will soon be the happiest of men, and I wouldn't exchange my happiness for anything in the world. Oh, the pleasures that will await me, once you become my wife and when..." 6 (Notices Casanova.) So, did you find yourself a butterfly?
CASANOVA. Mr. Patron, how do you call a butterfly who gives herself away for money - a prostitute or, I don't know -a 'butterflipper'?
HUM. I get it - Morpho's been here.
CASANOVA. Or maybe she's a "fallen butterfly", huh?
HUM. You've got quite an imagination: winged words float in the air just like butterflies.
CASANOVA. Your butterflies do a good job - for money.
HUM. Relax, I've got nothing to do with that. Morpho is from Holland, and over there nothing is free of charge. By the way, Morpho is a great dancer, an acrobat. And her colors are an excellent match to the slate-blue-frame-glass case, which comes in the same set.
CASANOVA. What frame, what glass case - what kind of bullshit is that?!
HUM. People were always buying butterflies readily, they still do, and they will! This is exactly why our butterflies have become an object of purchase and sale.
CASANOVA. But you've been talking of "romantic passion", and this is business. I thought you were an entomologist, a scientist, and you're just a moneymaker.
HUM. One doesn't exclude the other - that's life.
CASANOVA. "That's life" - quoting Margo. I'm shocked: butterflies are tenderest creatures, and all of a sudden... that's not a meadow, it's a looney bin! (Hawk Moth appears - he wears a "chef" costume.) Where are my wings, Hawk Moth?
HAWK MOTH. I don't use words lightly. (Hands the wings to Casanova.)
CASANOVA. What is that? I wanted iridescent blue wings, framed by white. And you bring me grey and fluffy ones.
HAWK MOTH. Try them on - they sit on perfectly.
HUM (to Hawk Moth). What's up, chef, is the table set?
HAWK MOTH. All is gas and gaiters. (The meadow flashes with myriads of fireflies.)
HUM (to Casanova). Almost Venice.
CASANOVA. Aha, almost. I'll just try on my wings and...
HUM. First join us at the carnival and then you can fly away: people usually find our carnivals interesting, very interesting. (Loud.) Are the butterflies ready?
Butterflies in festive costumes and masks gather at a podium at the center of the meadow.
HUM (applauds). How beautiful - it is truly a gallery - signor Casanova had been right.
CASANOVA (to Hawk Moth). You've got one enterprising Patron. He's a true Don Juan: a cold mind, a calculating eye.
HAWK MOTH (to Casanova). You're about to see such a sight, such a...
HUM (loudly). Аnd now - vocals. Welcome Lycaena!
LYCAENA (in a low voice, singing.)
"Never fly in the heat of the sun,
Close your wings when the long day is done,
Stay home and wait for me till I get back, and then
Counting the minutes one by one.
Butterfly, my Butterfly...
I'll come home to you one day.
Butterfly, my Butterfly
Wait for me, don't fly away." 7
Hum, Casanova and the butterflies applaud.
HUM. I give the floor to the poetess - she will recite her newest poetry. Danae, please!
|DANAE. ||"But I don't need last year's Vanessas,|
Those bleached hibernators,
Or those utterly battered Brimstones,
Through transparent woods flying.
I shall not fair, though, to detect
The four lovely gauze wings
Of the softest Nymphalidae moth in the world
Spread flat on a mottled pale birchtrunk." 8
Everyone applauds again.
HUM (loudly). Butterflies, I call for your attention! I'm going to introduce the queen of the carnival. Please welcome... Nymphalidae. Bring in the queen!
Masked Rite Swallowtail and Apollo lead out Nymphalidae - a crown shines on her head. Hawk Moth throws confetti around.
MORPHO. What a crown - to die for!
HUM. All together now: "Long live the queen of the carnival!"
BUTTERFLIES. Long live the queen of the carnival!
CASANOVA (to Hawk Moth). But how old is she? She's probably the same age as Juliet.
HAWK MOTH. Only the Patron knows that.
HUM. Signor Casanova, please be so kind to take five steps away from Nymphalidae.
CASANOVA. I thought that was a carnival, and at a carnival you can do whatever.
HUM. I'm sorry, but we have our own rules at the meadow...
CASANOVA. And who established them - Buddha or Moses? That's all bullshit! (To Hawk Moth.) She's an angel, simply an angel! And what eyelashes - sooo looong!
HAWK MOTH. You like her?
CASANOVA. Voltaire said that "true bliss cannot be the lot of man on earth." And right now I'm inclined to agree with Voltaire: true bliss is Nymphalidae! We'll fly to the sun together!
HAWK MOTH. Be careful, signor Casanova, you might get in trouble.
CASANOVA. I don't give a damn about trouble, I don't give a damn!
HAWK MOTH. Watch out, or you might burn yourself - like Bird's-Wing.
CASANOVA. Do you know what love is, Hawk Moth, do you? Love is a "wondrous moment" - the genius had it right. It moves mountains, it breathes life into everything around us that seemed dead. Life is held together and perpetuated by love alone. I always believed that I would find my ideal - I'm an incorrigible idealist. You don't believe me, Hawk Moth? But it's true. I kept thinking: no worries - the fifth, the tenth, the twentieth - I will still find it, I'll find my beautiful ideal. But, alas, every new one was not the one. And suddenly...
HUM. And so, I give the floor to the queen of the carnival!
Everyone applauds. Pause.
NYMPHALIDAE. What's there to say?
SEMELE (to Nymphalidae). Thank you for the evening, butterflies.
NYMPHALIDAE. Thanks for the evening, butterflies.
SEMELE (to Nymphalidae, quietly). And thank you, Patron.
NYMPHALIDAE. And thank you, Patron.
MORPHO. Tell everyone how you went from caterpillar to chrysalis.
NYMPHALIDAE. What d'you mean "how?" I stuffed my face with food, shed a skin or two, stuffed my face again, shed again, stuffed myself again...
DANAE. Were you obsessed with food?
NYMPHALIDAE. Ask! I couldn't even get into my swimming suit.
HUM. When Nymphalidae was a caterpillar, she used to eat for two, then she lost some weight and became a real doll.
ERINOCRANIA. Is it hard to live as a caterpillar?
NYMPHALIDAE. Fucking A - you die for nothing.
HUM. When the world is full of dangers, you must defend yourself.
NYMPHALIDAE. Disgusting flies, garbage beetles, the horny hornet...
LYCAENA. What about the ants - are they nice?
NYMPHALIDAE. They're awesome! We used to have a clique of wandering ants: we chilled out, we played Scrabble, we got totally wild.
KALLIMA. How did you defend yourself?
NYMPHALIDAE. I used to hide in a tree. And then - I had an amigo.
DANAE. And who was your amigo? The Two-Tailed Pasha?
NYMPHALIDAE. What Pasha? The Patron. He used to come every day to keep an eye on me.
CASANOVA. Ooh, that explains what Hum used to do at the meadow.
HAWK MOTH (to Hum). The table is set, Patron.
HUM (loudly). Join the feast - let us eat with relish!
The chef serves fresh fruit: bananas, mangoes, plums, dates. The butterflies treat themselves to the food.
HAWK MOTH (to Casanova). Try this oak flower - I highly recommend it: it is served exclusively at our place.
MORPHO (to Hawk Moth). And where's the glucose?
HAWK MOTH. It's coming. (Takes out the glucose. To Casanova.) The culinary art is my hobby. Try some water-cress salad in flower sauce - very savory!
HUM. Attention, butterflies! Let's put off silly prejudices and take delight in lovely chrysalides fried in butter and seasoned with egg yolks and spices. In Chinese this dish is called "Chrysalids a'la Chinoise". The chef is a professional - let's welcome the chef. (Applauds and begins eating.)
HAWK MOTH. Treat yourself, signor Casanova.
CASANOVA (to Hawk Moth). Now I get it: this Hum of yours is a slaughterer and not a humanist, as he claims. "The pinning of butterflies is forbidden!" - fucking lies!
HAWK MOTH. Professor thinks that primness should be battled.
CASANOVA. What does primness have to do with it? Your professor is a psychopath, he should be treated, and not to food!
HAWK MOTH. Treated for what? One can and should eat chrysalides. (He goes to the table to refresh himself.)
Music plays. The butterflies dance.
CASANOVA (walks up to Nymphalidae). Let's fly away, quickly - Hum wants to eat you.
NYMPHALIDAE. What's wrong with you? Hum loves me.
CASANOVA. He doesn't love anyone but himself. Get ready!
NYMPHALIDAE. For what, damn it?
CASANOVA. For the sky, for the stars, or we might fly straight to the sun - that's even better! You have such a pretty crown - it has a unique spark, a shimmer!
NYMPHALIDAE. Aaaa, that was Hum's present, you like it?
CАSANOVA. Ugh, Hum again!
NYMPHALIDAE. The sun is very far away. And mamma Semele's on the watch.
CASANOVA. All right, then you will live with me in Venice.
NYMPHALIDAE. Yeah? How awesome!
CASANOVA. I'm a Venetian, I get to see the sun every day. Put your wings on.
NYMPHALIDAE (laughs). Are you out of it - I'm a butterfly, I already have wings! (Laughs again.)
CASANOVA. Then show me how you fly. (Kisses Nymphalidae.)
NYMPHALIDAE. I don't like being licked.
HUM (to Casanova). Hey, seducer, watch your step! This is my butterfly!
CASANOVA (to Hum). How much money do you want for Nymphalidae?
HUM (to himself). What a scumbag: Nymphalidae is not for sale!
CASANOVA. All right, as you wish. Let's go, Nymphalidae!
HUM. Nymph, go back! The light of my life, the fire of my loins!
NYMPHALIDAE. Woo-hoo! (Jumps up.)
CASANOVA (wears his wings). I feel so free: oh, this weightlessness, like earth doesn't pull me in anymore. This is probably what ecstasy is! Screw women - it's just a mirage. We're flying, flying!
NYMPHALIDAE. Let's fly, let's fly away!
Casanova and Nymphalidae take off.
HUM (to Hawk Moth). Get them, Hawk Moth, get them! Where's the butterfly net?
HAWK MOTH. Too late, Patron, the butterfly net won't get them.
HUM. But they're flying away, they're getting away!
CASANOVA. Do you love me, Nymphalidae?
CASANOVA. That sort of thing never happened to me before, never happ-e-ned be-fore!
HAWK MOTH (to Hum). You heard it: she said "I love". And there's nothing one can do about it.
HUM. Whaaat? But he's a seducer, a se-du-cer! Something must be done. Oh, the gun, you hear me - the gun!
HAWK MOTH. But, Patron, you don't even know how to shoot, what do you need a gun for?
HUM. I said get the gun, quickly!
HAWK MOTH. What can I do, I obey - you're the Patron. (Flies up to a blooming tree. Hum drinks glucose.)
CASANOVA. Tell me again, Nymphalidae: do you really love me?
NYMPHALIDAE. Yep. You got somethin' to snack on? I didn't eat anything: couldn't touch that puke. Give me somethin' to swallow.
CASANOVA. That's it, goodbye, meadow!
HUM. Faster, Hawk Moth, faster!
NYMPHALIDAE (to Casanova). I want some munchies.
HAWK MOTH (returns carrying a gun, to Hum). Patron, it is not good to kill anything living. Even Atropos did not kill.
HUM. Casanova is a seducer, and he should be killed. Just don't hurt Nymphie.
HAWK MOTH. The Patron orders - Hawk Moth executes.
HUM. Well, go on, shoot! Fire! Fire! (Pause.)
NYMPHALIDAE. I want some munchies.
CASANOVA (to Hum and to Hawk Moth). Listen, stick it up your ass! I fell head over heels for the first time in my life...
Hawk Moth shoots - the stage is submerged into darkness. When the candles are lit again, we see the same stage set as in the beginning of the play: old Casanova sits in an arm-chair, lost in his thoughts. He takes a silver snuff-box out of his pocket, fills his pipe with tobacco and starts smoking it.
CASANOVA. "Nymph, in thy orisons be all my sins remembered".9 This is Nymphalidae, Nymphie... Danae is a lioness, but... Erinocrania, Erina, a goddess... (The door opens, and Hum enters. He aged: he has thin, grey hair, a wrinkled face, a double chin, and he wears a pince-nez.) You killed Nymphalidae, you bastard!
HUM. This is not a fair statement. Let's say that her soul flew up to the sun. But she will stay with me forever.
CASANOVA That's a very bad novel "Lolita", it's just nasty. And Nymphie is a retard: she understands nothing about love - no-thing!
HUM. You, on the other hand, understand everything, you fornicator!
CASANOVA. Well, I can tell you a thing or two about this - one hundred twenty two...
HUM. Two-two, I don't give two hoots about it! My novel on the nymph is a
best-seller, and as for the readers of your nerdy memoirs - it's an open question.
CASANOVA. The "Story of My Life" will be published in France, in Russia...
HUM. You're an adventurer and a charlatan, and your beloved are all fallen women.
CASANOVA. You mean Henrietta? That's a duel out right, a duel! I've been a seducer, because I didn't love any of the women around me, and only Henrietta...
HUM. Your father was a small-time little actor, and your mother...
CASANOVA. Mother? My mother played in the best theaters of the world - in London, Petersburg...
HUM. I wonder then how come the dramatic theater of Dresden canceled your best shows: rumor has it that you used to be their in-house informer!
CASANOVA. I'm a Venetian, and you're a soul molester. Where's my sword?
HUM. You don't even have a sword, you wop!
CASANOVA (drawing his sword). I'll pin Hum with my sword...
HUM. Hey you, worn-out impotent! (He draws out his sword as well.)
CASANOVA. ... like a butterfly!
Casanova and Hum fence. And then Hawk Moth appears: he flies right to the duellists and quickly separates them.
HAWK MOTH. That's it, the conflict is resolved - put the blades back in the sheaths!
HUM (to Casanova). You dried up mummy!
CASANOVA. Give me the sword, give me the sword, I'll rip...
HUM. Chitty chitty bang bang...
HAWK MOTH. That's it, peace - the winner is literature! (To Hum and Casanova.) If people like your writings, you're going to be published forever. And we, the butterflies (the butterflies appear) ...we're migrating to the Equator, to Taprobana. It's nice and warm there - thirty degrees, and the water is pure milk!
CASANOVA. Thanks, Hawk Moth: living in this world without you would be boring.
HAWK MOTH (to Hum and Casanova). Sure. For it's thanks to butterflies that you two met on the "Flower Meadow" and even finished your literary masterpieces. Isn't it so?
HUM. You're not so thick, "Dead's Head".
HAWK MOTH. We, butterflies, think big, and we suddenly dawn upon you, people. (A solemn code plays: Hawk Moth walks up to Casanova and Hum, takes them by their hands and leads them to the Wax-Figure Museum. "Dead's Head" pushes Casanova and Hum through the museum's door and locks it behind them. The music is silenced.) Death will come, but it will be followed by eternal life - eternal!
Nymphalidae lands on the meadow, slicing through the air.
SEMELE. What did you do, you flew up to the sun?
NYMPHALIDAE. Mom, who do you think I am - Wing's-Eye? I mean it's, like, hot, so I came back.
KALLIMA. And Casanova was powdered by insect powder and sent off to the museum.
MORPHO. The Patron's also in the museum: he stuffed his face with chrysalidеs, the scumbag, and he did't turn a hair!
GEOMETRID MOTH. I'll look after them, I mean, since I'm not going to the south.
APOLLO. How are we going to live now? What will we eat? Hum is gone.
RITE SWALLOWTAIL. And what will we drink?
LYCAENA. Wait a minute - aren't we butter flies?! We can feed on dairy products.
ERINOCRANIA. That's right, Lycaena: you can always find milk, butter and cream.
SEMELE. There's always a way out. Even my daughter found a way out - she came back.
HAWK MOTH. All right, butterflies, let's fly away. Danae, read something special for the farewell occasion - after all, we're poetic creatures!
DANAE. You're right. (Recites.)
"As born with Spring, with roses born away,
Breasting breeze's wing to swing on high,
Upon bright buds' breasts balanced, trembling play,
To drink and drown in perfume, light and sky.
To dust wings' powder while still young and spry;
Earth flee, fly like a sigh the Milky Way, -
Rare fate, enchanted, of the Butterfly!
Flirt, restless, like Desire, by night and day,
Loving all things, who none may satisfy,
Yearn ecstasy? Then seek in Heaven ... good-bye!" 10
The butterflies applaud with their wings.
Date of writing: 2007
Date of translating: 2013
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.
Quotes from other texts:
1. The "Story of My Life" by Giacomo Casanova. Translated by Keren Klimovsky. Page 3.
2. The "Other Shores" by Vladimir Nabokov. Page 10.
3. A poem by Sappho. Translated by A.S. Kline. Page 19.
4. A poem by Sappho. Translated by A.S. Kline. Page 20.
5. A poem by Anacreon. Translated by Keren Klimovsky. Page 22.
6. Moliere's play "Don Juan". Translated by Keren Klimovsky. Page 27.
7. A pop song "Butterfly" by Danyel Gerard, Ralph Bernet, Howard Barnes. Page 28.
8. A poem by Vladimir Nabokov in his novel "The Gift". The author has replaced "Geometrid" for "Nymphalidae". Page 28.
9. William Shakespeare's "Hamlet". Page 33.
10. A poem by Alphonse de Lamartine. (Translated by Jonathan Robin). Page 35.
Keren Klimovsky - short bio
Keren Klimovsky is a playwright, a script writer, a writer of short fiction and a translator. She was born in Moscow in 1985. When she was five, her family immigrated to Israel. In 2004 Klimovsky was admitted to Brown University on a national scholarship. She double majored in theater arts and comparative literature (English, Russian, French) while simultaneously earning an MA in Slavic studies (which was made possible by Brown's 4-year combined BA/MA program.) She also studied playwriting with such masters of American drama as Bonnie Metzgar, Aishah Rahman and Paula Vogel. In 2014 Klimovsky earned a Ph.D. degree in Slavic studies (Brown Univeristy) (Dissertation Title: "Performing The Communist Myths: The Afterlife Of An Orphaned Myth")
In 2012, Klimovsky has co-founded the KEF Theater company together with the musician, composer and performer Elias Faingersh (Malmo, Sweden). Up to date the company has produced three shows, which have received both national and international acclaim.
Keren has published her literary work since the age of 15 - in Russian, Israeli and American periodicals, such as "Novaya Yunnost'", "Dialogue", "Neva", "Interpoeziya", "October", "Druzhba Narodov" and many others. Together with V. Klimovsky she translated Hanoh Levine's play "Bachelors and Bachelorettes" (Published in "Contemporary Drama", 2004). Her translations of Israeli poetry (Yakov Besser, Dalia Ravikovich, Yona Wollach, Roni Somek and others) are published in "Dialogue", "Interpoeziya", and the online-literary journal "Prologue".
Keren became finalist and laureate of many prestigious drama festivals and contests in Russia, such as the Free Belarus Theater Contest, the Textura Festival, the Badenweiler Festival, the Premiera Festival. Five of her plays and experimental dramatic prose texts have received staged readings in Moscow, Perm, Ryazan' and other cities in Russia. Her play "Lullaby for a Grown Man" was staged by two small theater groups in St. Petersburg and Krasnoyarsk (2013) and published in the book "Eight" - a collection of contemporary Russian drama (SEIP Fund, 2013).
Klimovsky's short fiction had won first and second prices at the Voloshin Festival (2011, 2013) and entered the short-list of the "Debut" Award - 2013 (a prestigious Russian award for young writers).
The film "Rehearsals" (2013, 2D Celluloid Company) that Klimovsky co-wrote with the director Oksana Karas won the "best debut" prize at the Moscow Premiere Festival (2013) as well as the ORT National Channel prize at the "Take 2" Online Festival (2015).