MICHELANGELO’S MODELS play by Robert Patrick

“…I think Michelangelo’s Models is probably the best play written about the Rennaisance and certainly the most realistic. Except for the old faithful Kennedy’s Children I think it’s your best work. I had been reading about that period since I was 12 (hadn’t we all) and reading your play was the first time I had the feeling that not only was I THERE — but I understood how such a sweeping movement could have fed itself to improve almost daily…” LANFORD WILSON

“It’s such good theatre. It moves so well, it’s so funny and touching, and had terrific lines. The roles must be an actor’s dream.” MARY RENAULT

MsMsCover

(photo by Tom Nelson, design by Andrew Adam Caldwell)
[A richly-illustrated version of this play is available from rbrtptrck@aol.com]

Play copyright 1981 by Robert Patrick. For all rights, please contact: Robert Patrick, 1837 N. Alexandria Ave., #211, L.A, CA 90027 rbrtptrck@aol.com.

MICHELANGELO’S

MODELS

An historical fantasia in three acts

by

Robert Patrick

with photos from four productions

For Paul and Jon

“…with men just as they are,
Sinful and loving, to secure
A human peace that might endure.”
Sonnets in Tetrameter III
c 1939. 1967 by Edna Saint Vincent Millay and Norma Millay Ellis, used by permission of Elizabeth Barnett, literary executor.
(Cast of Characters (in order of appearance)

TONDO—22, handsome, sulky model/hustler from Florence

MICHELANGELO—33, moody, plain sculptor from Florence

BRAMANTE—64, sly, devious architect of Rome

RAPHAEL—25, bright, kind, pretty painter new to Rome

LEONARDO—56, aging, commanding artist of Florence

TOMMASO—20’s, dazzling, brilliant aristocrat of Rome

SANDRO—63, deranged painter from Florence

IGNUDO—20’s, ignorant, handsome peasant from Florence

SIMONETTA—50, youthful, enchanting model from Florence

JULIUS—63, irascible pope

Time: March and April, 1508.

Place: Rome.

Act 1. Scene 1: Michelangelo’s studio, evening, March 16.

Scene 2: A hall in the Vatican, afternoon, April 14.

Act 2. Scene 1: Michelangelo’s studio, shortly after.

Scene 2. A street, the next morning.

Scene 3. Michelangelo’s studio, the same morning.

Act 3. Scene 1: Leonardo’s forecourt, that night.

Scene 2: Michelangelo’s studio, later that night.

ACT ONE

Scene 1

MMFB1-1

(MICHELANGELO’S STUDIO in Rome, evening, March 6. 1508. A large, nondescript room, holding plain chairs, stools, and a large table. There are four doors—to a workroom, a bedroom, a kitchen, and the street. NOTE: There must be at least one practical rafter onto which Ignudo can safely climb, out of sight of anyone in the street entrance, in Act II, Scene Two. At RISE, the table is set with goblets, wine, and a tray piled with party food. Tondo’s cheap, flashy clothes are strewn about the room, leading to the workroom door.)

TONDO: (Offstage.) No, Michelangelo, no! (SOUND of a SLAP.) I said, “No,” and I mean “No.” (TONDO ENTERS from workroom, nude, and begins dressing. HE is 22, stunningly built.) I didn’t come here tonight to pose.

MICHELANGELO: (ENTERS from workroom with sketchpad, rubbing his cheek. NOTE: There should be chalk attached to the sketchbook with a string. MICHELANGELO is 33, muscled like a sculptor, untidily and unspectacularly dressed, not very handsome.) Well, until the Pope puts me to work, God knows I’m game. What did you come for? (HE puts sketchbook down and heads for TONDO with his hands out in a mockery of a pass.)

TONDO: I come for a party—not to be one. (Easily brushing MICHELANGELO away.) Back off, you’re horny.

MICHELANGELO: (Stalking the room in frustration.) Well, it’s the waiting. Julius made such a fool of himself sending troops to march me back to Rome to finish his tomb, now he’s making me squirm. And he’s not the only one. (Again advances with mock-pass.) May I assist you in negotiating those amazing clothes?

TONDO: (Again easily brushes Michelangelo away.) Jesus, I wish some old man would pay me to do nothin’…for a change.

MICHELANGELO: Well, then, come pose. Posing is doing nothing.

TONDO: Hmph! Posin’ is standin’ in nothin’ for next to nothin’, waitin’ for some artist to try somethin’. (Ponders wine on table.) When’s this party start? Hey! There really gonna be other people here?

MICHELANGELO: To celebrate my birthday? Of course! Leonardo himself has accepted, and Botticelli, the two finest artists of Florence—before me. And Simonetta. You love Simonetta.

TONDO: Uh-huh. So it’s gonna be all just them same old Florentines like before?

MICHELANGELO: What? No, no, Agnolo Bramante is coming, the architect of the Basilica, where the tomb will stand. The darling of Rome, Julius’s current pet.

TONDO: Hmm. The pet o’ the Pope, huh?

MICHELANGELO: Yes. Not that I begrudge him. He’s a first-rate artist. But he’s getting all the funds Julius promised for my project.

TONDO: Funds, huh? An’ they won’t be nobody else here young?

MICHELANGELO: Don’t tell Simonetta I said so, but no. Why?

TONDO: (Pours himself a cup of wine.) Well, then, yeah, sure, yeah. I might stay.

MICHELANGELO: Well, of course you’ll stay. Why wouldn’t you?

TONDO: Why wouldn’t I? Jesus! Why would I? Who brung me to Rome to pose for all them slave statues in there for Julius’s tomb? An’ then fought with ‘im like little kids an’ run off an’ left me to fend for Myself in Rome? For two years? An’ fend any way I could, too!

MICHELANGELO: Well, I’m back. And we’ll be working again. Like old times, Tondo. You should see the David I did of you. They’ve mounted it on the porch of the Old Palace back home in Florence. We’re famous.

TONDO: You’re famous, you mean. You’re the biggest artist there is now.

MICHELANGELO: I always was.

TONDO: Yeah, but now other people think so, too. And you’re back, all right, and still livin’ in this dump.

MICHELANGELO: This is all I need. This room to eat in, and that studio for my work. I also have a first-rate bed upstairs, remember?

TONDO: You still got all them little Davids you done of me in there with them slaves.

MICHELANGELO: The stone studies. I travel with them. I’m sentimental.

TONDO: Yeah?…How sentimental?

MICHELANGELO: About those, very. I made you look a little like Lorenzo in them.

TONDO: Oh, God, please not Lo-ren-zo.

MICHELANGELO: You would have loved him.

TONDO: Lorenzo the Magnificent!

MICHELANGELO: He would have loved you.

TONDO: I thought he loved Si-mo-net-ta.

MICHELANGELO: He loved all beautiful things.

TONDO: Includin’ you?

MICHELANGELO: I made beautiful things for him. I was never one of them.

TONDO: Well, so, then, look, see, you liked him exactly why? You made stuff for him, an’ he give you money. So how come you can’t get along with Julius?

MICHELANGELO: Because Julius is an imitation. Lorenzo was the original. Julius is a general. Lorenzo was an ambassador. Julius buys artists in carload lots. Lorenzo was a connoisseur. Julius is a hypocritical power-monger. Lorenzo was—

TONDO: (Who has heard all this before.) Yeah, Lorenzo was! Was! Was! Lorenzo was dead since I was eight!

MICHELANGELO: He brought greatness to Florence.

TONDO: Michelangelo! It ain’t there anymore! He ain’t there. We ain’t there. We’re in Rome, an’ the Pope is beggin’ to give it to you.

MICHELANGELO: Rome is a ruin trying to borrow the grandeur of Florence.

TONDO: Tryin’ to buy it, Michelangelo, to buy it!

MICHELANGELO: (Firmly.) For Lorenzo I would gladly carve a monument. For Julius I’m eager only to build his tomb.

TONDO: Ooooooo…! But choo won’t! You’ll insult ‘im, an’ him an’ you’ll fight, an’ you’ll run off again.

MICHELANGELO: So? Run off with me.

TONDO: Run where? With Julius runnin’ Italy? You’re livin’ in the past.

MICHELANGELO: So give me a present.

TONDO: Let Julius give you a future an’ you can have anything you want. But choo won’t…(Turning flirtatious.) You oughta gimme one o’ them little Davids in there…for your birthday. (Caresses MICHELANGELO.)

MICHELANGELO: (Susceptible to Tondo’s caress.) Well, technically, they belong to the people of Florence.

TONDO: Aw, come on. Ain’t I the people o’ Florence?

MICHELANGELO: I suppose you are. Which one do you want?

TONDO: The bigger ones’d be worth more money, huh?

MICHELANGELO: I suppose they would.

TONDO: I want a big one. Can I take it tonight?

MICHELANGELO: Have you kept that remarkable body in shape?

TONDO: (Stung.) Can’t choo see?

MICHELANGELO: You slapped me when I tried to see.

TONDO: Why’d joo ask me somethin’ like that?

MICHELANGELO: The statues are heavy, that’s all.

TONDO: Aw, come on. You’ll hire ol’ Tondo a cart to take it home in, won’t cha? Hm? Won’t cha?

MICHELANGELO: I suppose I will.

TONDO: (Breaks away.) Great! Let’s go find one now!

MICHELANGELO: Oh, no, Tondo, wait until after. (Embraces TONDO.)

TONDO: After whaaat?

MICHELANGELO: After the party—or whatever.

TONDO: I might not stay. I give up a good offer to come here tonight.

MICHELANGELO: What fool painter is posing you by torchlight?

TONDO: Jesus, you ain’t never gonna get wise, are you?

MICHELANGELO: I don’t know. What are we talking about?

BRAMANTE: (Offstage.) Michelangelo! Michelangelo Buonarroti!

TONDO: Leggo of me. There’s people. (Breaks away.)

MICHELANGELO: That’s Bramante. He’s building the Basilica! Where the tomb will be!

(BRAMANTE ENTERS from street, followed by RAPHAEL.

BRAMANTE is 64, richly dressed, trying to appear younger.

RAPHAEL is 25, very pretty.)

MICHELANGELO: Bramante!

BRAMANTE: Michelangelo Buonarroti! My God, you got uglier!

MICHELANGELO: Old master! How I’ve longed to see you!

BRAMANTE: Not so old, Michelangelo, I’m only fifty-five.

MICHELANGELO: (Puzzled.) But I’m thirty-three, tonight. Surely you’d be sixty-something.

BRAMANTE: Please, these young men won’t know you’re joking. (Eyeing TONDO.) Introduce me.

MICHELANGELO: Bramante, this is Tondo.

BRAMANTE: Oh, the famous Tondo. Are we–interrupting?

MICHELANGELO: Not at all. I don’t believe I know your friend. (Indicates RAPHAEL.)

BRAMANTE: Michelangelo Buonarroti—my nephew, Raphael Santi.

MICHELANGELO: Raphael! At last we meet. I have seen your tapestry cartoons! You draw like an angel!

RAPHAEL: (Shyly.) Master.

MICHELANGELO: Please, we are all artists here. This is my friend, Tondo.

RAPHAEL: (Politely.) Tondo.

MICHELANGELO: (Cordial and kidding.) Yes, Tondo is another of us Florentines your uncle despises so. He posed for my statue called David!

BRAMANTE: I sensed it was a professional relationship. Raphael, by the way, is my nephew.

MICHELANGELO: So you said. A family rich in talent.

BRAMANTE: But he is my nephew.

MICHELANGELO: Is there an echo in this hole? Raphael, come, let me show you my workroom. I am here, you know, finally to finish my favorite project—Pope Julius’ tomb!

(HE and RAPHAEL EXIT to workroom, laughing.)

BRAMANTE: (Defensively, to TONDO.) He is my nephew.

TONDO: Sure.

BRAMANTE: He is! Do you dare doubt it?

(LEONARDO ENTERS from street. HE is 56, seems older with his long white hair and beard, still has the remains of what was once a famous physique.)

LEONARDO: No one doubts you, Bramante, except yourself.

BRAMANTE: (Coldly.) Leonardo. It is good to see you well.

LEONARDO: (Who obviously is not.) It would be, if I were. Though not to you. (Squinting.) Hello, young man.

TONDO: Hello, Leonardo.

LEONARDO: Oh, hell, Tondo, what are you doing here?

TONDO: I’m invited.

LEONARDO: I didn’t know it was to be your kind of party. Well, see you behave yourself. I’ve brought a young nobleman to meet Michelangelo. Where is Michelangelo? (Shouts with surprising strength.) Buonarroti!

MICHELANGELO: (ENTERING from workroom, followed by RAPHAEL.) Only one chest in Italy can bellow like that! Leonardo! (THEY embrace.)

LEONARDO: Buonarroti! Oh, it is good to hear you again.

MICHELANGELO: And you, Leonardo. I have been to Milan! I have seen your Last Supper!

LEONARDO: Not yet, I hope; I’m famished.

MICHELANGELO: Don’t joke. I want to talk to you about your conception of Christ! Why is his face left unfinished?

LEONARDO: You always want to talk. Isn’t there intellectual talk enough in fermenting Florence?

MICHELANGELO: Not any more, my friend. In Florence they talk only of the past.

BRAMANTE: In Florence, they talk only of Rome!

RAPHAEL: (To MICHELANGELO.) I worked in Florence! I saw your David!

TONDO: You coulda looked me up and saved your money.

LEONARDO: (Of RAPHAEL.) Who is that speaking?

BRAMANTE: Oh, Leonardo, this is my nephew, Raphael Santi, my nephew.

LEONARDO: Yes, Bramante, all the world knows he is your nephew. And all the world knows that he is the next great one. I am honored to take the hand that draws so cleanly, Signor Santi. Welcome into our company. In which your uncle is far from the least.

BRAMANTE: That always means so much coming from you, Leonardo.

LEONARDO: It is the least that I can say, Bramante. Also the most. Now, all of you, go in there and gaze at Michelangelo’s sculptures, and beg God to let you one day approach their greatness—which is so near to his. Go, I said. I have to talk to this innocent child. (Indicates MICHELANGELO.) Tondo, you go with them. See if they can tell you from your image in stone.

BRAMANTE: Come, nephew, come with me.

TONDO: I’ll be back later.

LEONARDO: (Firmly.) When you’re called.

(TONDO, RAPHAEL, and BRAMANTE EXIT to workroom.)

MICHELANGELO: Leonardo, why is everyone behaving so strangely? Oh, here, sit down.

LEONARDO: I will sit down soon. And stay down when I do. Let me tell you what I have for you.

MICHELANGELO: You haven’t brought me a gift! It’s I who should have gifts for you. I want to apologize for the way I behaved to you in Florence. I was jealous and upset and made vicious cracks, as I’m sure young Raphael does to you now, but—

LEONARDO: (Interrupting.) Oh, no, Michelangelo; not Raphael nor any of the young ones now. Things have changed in Rome, in all of Italy.

MICHELANGELO: Yes, what has happened? Bramante was always a bitch, but—

LEONARDO: Age has happened, archangel, age and time. Only let me tell you what my gift is.

MICHELANGELO: Yes, certainly.

LEONARDO: I have brought a young man to you—

MICHELANGELO: You’re always so generous with your boys, but I do have Tondo here—

LEONARDO: —a. young man of noble family and great promise. His name is Tommaso Cavalieri. He is not used to the company of such lowlife as artists and models. I must say it was your name that brought him here, and the fact that the Pope is your patron.

MICHELANGELO: That Pope!

LEONARDO: Yes, he even respects that Pope. Please, engage him in conversation. He is not ignorant of Humanism and the classics.

MICHELANGELO: And—?

LEONARDO: And for the most promising young noble in Italy, he has been kept waiting in your filthy street too long. (Calls at street door.) Tommaso!

(TOMMASO ENTERS from street. HE is tall, beautiful, stately, in military dress.)

TOMMASO: Leonardo, are you sure we are in the proper place? There are people on the streets howling with drink, and the stench is unendurable.

LEONARDO: Tommaso Cavalieri, Michelangelo Buonarroti. (LEONARDO retires somewhat to observe them.)

MICHELANGELO: (Stricken.) Honored, sir.

TOMMASO: (Cautious.) It is interesting to meet you, Signor Buonarroti. I understand that you are the most respected in your profession. It is valid, I think, for the ruling class to be acquainted with those of distinction in any field. That is why I am here.

MICHELANGELO: It is gracious in the mighty to learn the lives of their subjects. May I offer you some refreshment?

TOMMASO: No. Thank you. I do not take wine. I hope you do not think me rude.

MICHELANGELO: Not at all, sir. I don’t take it, either.

TOMMASO: I do not abuse my body. I consider it the temple of the spirit.

MICHELANGELO: May I say your lordship is looking well?

TOMMASO: Thank you. I am in good health. Is this where you do your work?

MICHELANGELO: This is where I rest between periods of work, sir. I would be pleased to show you my workroom.

TOMMASO: That would make this trip worthwhile, I am sure. Which way is it?

LEONARDO: Let me go clear the way, Tommaso. I am sure you and Signor Buonarroti will have many interesting things to say to one another. (LEONARDO EXITS to workroom.)

TOMMASO: Da Vinci is usually quite formal. It is considered an eccentric sign of favor to have him address one by one’s Christian name.

MICHELANGELO: He is a great man.

TOMMASO: That is why I permit it. He is a great designer of siege equipment and weaponry. He has given us much of value.

MICHELANGELO: Us?

TOMMASO: The Cavalieris. Rome. Italy. Christendom. The world. That is who I meant by “we.”

MICHELANGELO: I see.

TOMMASO: We are, all of us, parts of a great organism, do you not think so?

MICHELANGELO: (His awe beginning to be tempered by amusement.) I have had that suspicion, yes.

TOMMASO: I do not tax you by talking of such matters, I hope?

MICHELANGELO: I am a humble student of philosophy, sir.

TOMMASO: Da Vinci said you were. He is highly thought of.

MICHELANGELO: By all the world.

TOMMASO: Despite certain—improprieties.

MICHELANGELO: He is a genius.

TOMMASO: Yet he says you excel him.

MICHELANGELO: That is great courtesy on his part.

TOMMASO: I do not think so. I do not think that he indulges in courtesy on important matters. It is my experience with him that he holds truth above all—when he is in the presence of those prepared to receive it.

MICHELANGELO: Chief among his many virtues.

TOMMASO: I admire that quality in any man, however high or low his birth.

MICHELANGELO: You are most gracious.

TOMMASO: I suppose that you respect that quality as well?

MICHELANGELO: I like to think so, yes—sir.

TOMMASO: I feel that you are suffering a sense of restraint in my

company. I should like you to say what you feel.

MICHELANGELO: I hardly know what I feel.

TOMMASO: I apologize. I should of course have said, “what you think.”

MICHELANGELO: I think I understand.

TOMMASO: Feelings are poor masters for those who must be masters of others.

MICHELANGELO: Well said.

TOMMASO: I should be most interested to know what you think on these matters.

MICHELANGELO: I am not certain which matters we are referring to.

TOMMASO: Your opinions.

MICHELANGELO: I should be pleased to offer my opinions on any subject should they be of interest to you, sir.

TOMMASO: Very well.

MICHELANGELO: Very well. (PAUSE.)

TOMMASO: Well?

MICHELANGELO: At your service, sir.

TOMMASO: Well, what do you think?

MICHELANGELO: Of?

TOMMASO: Of anything.

MICHELANGELO: Of you, sir?

TOMMASO: If you will.

MICHELANGELO: (Daring.) I think you are hungry for the truth and for importance. I think your mind is on fire with the duties laid on it and the possibilities open to it. I think you are like some brilliant animal eager to be trained, thrilled at the thought of excelling, terrified by the thought of failure, alive with the desire for achievement.

TOMMASO: Really? And what makes you think this?

MICHELANGELO: I am a visual artist, sir. I would draw your face for the young Moses or the young David.

TOMMASO: You have done a David, I believe.

MICHELANGELO: I see now so many ways I might improve on it.

TOMMASO: You speak frankly even when you might be thought to be flattering. I like that.

MICHELANGELO: Perhaps you will do me the honor of sitting.

TOMMASO: For a statue? I could not!

MICHELANGELO: Of sitting down, sir.

TOMMASO: Oh. Do I make you uncomfortable?

MICHELANGELO: I am used to craning to see the top of monuments, sir. I am not uncomfortable.

TOMMASO: I would be pleased to seat myself. But there are others coming and it would not be seemly for me to be seen sitting. It would seem arrogant when they are standing.

MICHELANGELO: My studio is not equipped for many comforts.

TOMMASO: No. You are stern and Spartan, stoic and disciplined. I admire you.

MICHELANGELO: I thank my lord for that.

(BRAMANTE, LEONARDO, and RAPHAEL ENTER from workroom.)

BRAMANTE: (Pretending casualness.) Michelangelo, my nephew is greatly impressed by your talents—Ah! There is someone else here.

RAPHAEL: Leonardo told us who was here. Sir, we are honored.

BRAMANTE: Why, I believe it is Signor Tommaso De Cavalieri. Your humble servant, sir, Donato Agnolo Bramante.

RAPHAEL: And Raphael Santi.

LEONARDO & MICHELANGELO: (Together.) His nephew.

TOMMASO: You are the architect, and you are the painter. I am most interested to meet practitioners of the arts. A society is judged by its poets, and you are the poets of vision.

BRAMANTE: Oh, well said, sir.

TOMMASO: You have just had, I believe, the pleasure of seeing Buonarroti’s work?

RAPHAEL: His statues are the finest that man can aspire to.

BRAMANTE: In the field of sculpture.

RAPHAEL: (To MICHELANGELO.) Yes, my uncle’s basilica will make a brilliant setting for your statues.

BRAMANTE: Setting?

RAPHAEL: Brilliant setting, uncle.

MICHELANGELO: (Musing.) The finest that man can aspire to.

LEONARDO: Please, we are all, we artists, made to feel so important nowadays. Yet of what importance are we? We do not make bread, or grow the grain to make it. We do not heal sickness, or fight wars. The people who do, and the people who lead them, should be our idols, not we theirs.

MICHELANGELO: The people who lead them.

LEONARDO: We are here to imagine all that is best, to inspire men to follow the best—to inspire the best among them to be the best.

(MICHELANGELO and TOMMASO have come to stand before LEONARDO like a couple standing before a priest to be wed.)

MICHELANGELO: To be the best—to follow the best.

LEONARDO: (HE joins MICHELANGELO’s and TOMMASO’s

hands.) Go, Tommaso, and let Buonarroti show you his work. I will entertain your guests, Michelangelo.

TOMMASO: Yes, please, let us go. Thank you.

LEONARDO: (Quickly, calls.) Tondo!

TONDO: (ENTERS from workroom.) What? (Bumps into TOMMASO.) Hey! Oh, excuse me, sir. (TOMMASO looks at him contemptuously, and EXITS to workroom.)

MICHELANGELO: (At door of workroom, to LEONARDO.) Thank you. (EXITS to workroom.)

LEONARDO: Thank you. (To TONDO.) Tondo—

TONDO: (Interrupting.) Hey, who was that guy with the ruby? Hey, izzat why you made me wait in there?

LEONARDO: Tondo, you go now. You have been here long enough, whatever you came for.

TONDO: I’m invited. An’ I ain’t goin’ til I get what I was promised.

LEONARDO: Oh, God! What did he promise you?

BRAMANTE: Raphael, come here with me.

RAPHAEL: I know about these things, uncle; I am not a child.

TONDO: Who was that guy with the jewels? An’ I’ll go.

LEONARDO: You’ll go now, Tondo— (There is a moment of stand-off.) —or you won’t be invited to my birthday party next month.

TONDO: (Obviously interested.) I don’t know if I’d wanna be. I don’t usually work parties.

SANDRO: (Offstage in street.) Michelangelo! Michelangelo!

BRAMANTE: Oh, God, don’t tell me he’s invited Botticelli!

RAPHAEL: Allesandro Botticelli? Uncle, this is a marvelous party!

(SANDRO ENTERS from street, dragging IGNUDO by the hand. SANDRO is 63, a haggard and haunted-looking skeleton, in ill-kept semi-religious garb. IGNUDO is a barefoot, ragged peasant in his twenties. Under the rags and the dirt is a spectacular-looking youth.)

SANDRO: Leonardo. Bramante. Where is Michelangelo? I must warn him. He must not make the mistake we all made. He must use his talent for the greater glory of God! He must find salvation while he is still young!

LEONARDO: Sandro, please meet Michelangelo’s guests. Here is Bramante, whom you know.

SANDRO: Bramante. Bramante, must you use Michelangelo to decorate your basilica? But you must not let him use nudes. You know I am unselfish. I do not ask you to use me. I do not paint now. But you must not let pagan deities dance on the walls of God’s house!

LEONARDO: And this is Bramante’s nephew, Raphael Santi of Urbino.

SANDRO: You! The angel of light! Yes, yes, you know. You have made errors, certainly, you are too sensuous, too free, but I know, I can see in your face that you will find enlightenment. Your uncle can tell you, he knows better than anyone how easy it is to fall into the pit, he was once a good man. Oh, Satan waits everywhere, under the most delicate face, the most haunting eyes, behind even the most tempting commissions from the rich.

TONDO: (Perking up his ears.) Rich? Hey, my name’s Tondo.

SANDRO: Ah, yes, Tondo, you are a fine-looking young man, you must be Leonardo’s nephew. You are both fine young men, your uncles must be very proud of you. (BRAMANTE would object.)

LEONARDO: Be still, Bramante. Tondo is not my nephew, Sandro. Do sit down. (RAPHAEL brings a chair for SANDRO, who SITS and takes wine.)

SANDRO: (Drinking.) Not your nephew, of course, he must be your protégé, that’s it, you have always been kind to young men; you made your errors early in life, I remember, but there is no need to discuss that now, past mistakes are past mistakes, we are all weak, we must find redemption—but we must find it, it is up to us, it is too painful to have it thrust upon one when it might be too late—

LEONARDO: Bramante, help me with him.

SANDRO: For me—I do not mind being an example—I am not ashamed to be ashamed—for me it came in a blinding light when I had already corrupted who knows how many? But Savonarola came and cured my blindness. He showed the terrifying fires of Hell, and then in my wretched anguish he took this hand—this hand which had forced the matter of God’s earth into the forms of ungodliness—he took me as Virgil took Dante and led me through the hell I had created for myself—and others, oh!—he took me through those barbed, lashing fires into the ever-increasing illumination of salvation! Into those fires I threw my heathen paintings! I cleansed these hands in those fires! And then they threw my savior into that flame—they burned Savonarola!

BRAMANTE: Leonardo, is this quite safe? Savonarola was burned for heresy.

SANDRO: They burned him as I burned my filthy pictures! But the oily fumes from my paintings descended into the sod—while the light he cast still lays bare the viciousness of Italy! (Grabs IGNUDO and drags HIM near.) This man—this young man, here? This young man I saw walking the streets, and I could see by the light of Savonarola that he was willing to sell himself for all manner of corruption!

LEONARDO: (To IGNUDO.) Get something to eat, young man, and then you must take Signor Botticelli away.

IGNUDO: Yessir. Thank you, sir. Where ought I to go to, sir?

LEONARDO: Just keep in a corner and do not drink too much wine.

IGNUDO: No sir. I don’t drink no wine sir. (IGNUDO hurries to table, gets food, and hides in a corner to wolf it.)

BRAMANTE: Good, Sandro may have two shares, then.

SANDRO: (Who is getting more wine at the moment.) Our Lord drank wine. Leonardo, you show him with wine in your Last Supper. It is his holy blood!

LEONARDO: Yes, yes. Raphael, lad, perhaps you would like to leave?

RAPHAEL: Oh, no! I want to talk with you about ideal proportions.

TONDO: I got ideal proportions.

RAPHAEL: Your body is fine. I would reduce your head.

TONDO: What’s wrong with my head?

SANDRO: So, the Pope has called the humanist sculptor back to the Holy City!

BRAMANTE: Julius and Michelangelo have been friends before. They will fight again.

RAPHAEL: I hope not. That tomb will be the greatest structure in Rome.

BRAMANTE: It will no doubt be greatly decorated. I am not sure our host is our finest architect.

LEONARDO: No one doubts you that title, Bramante, but yourself. Let us not catfight, but take care of an unfortunate friend. (Indicates SANDRO.)

RAPHAEL: (Goes to SANDRO.) Signor Botticelli? What sort of measurements did you take from the model when painting your Birth of Venus?

SANDRO: Simonetta! Simonetta was so beautiful! The angel of Florence! And I immortalized her as a heathen goddess, and the devil has preserved her beauty to taunt me for my sin!

(SIMONETTA ENTERS from street. She is the most beautiful woman in Europe, 50, but looks nothing like it.)

SIMONETTA: Well, I thought my name would never come up!

LEONARDO: (With a sigh.) Hello, Simonetta. (SIMONETTA’S beauty galvanizes the gathering. She wafts among them like a dancer.)

SIMONETTA: But Sandro always gives me such a significant entrance. Greetings, Bramante. Do you think you could give me some wine, (Looks at TONDO.) beautiful (Looks at IGNUDO.) young (Settles with delight on RAPHAEL.) man?

RAPHAEL: (Stricken.) Gratefully, madam. Red or white?

SIMONETTA: Whatever will match my gown—on which I shall make every effort not to spill it, but one must be pragmatic.

RAPHAEL: White, then—and some pale gold grapes.

SIMONETTA: How thoughtful, and what taste—but I prefer my grapes in liquid form so as not to impede intelligent conversation.

RAPHAEL: Your servant, madam. (Goes for wine)

SIMONETTA: Tondo, you cutpurse, why are you here with sacred Sandro? Who is converting whom?

BRAMANTE: Simonetta!

LEONARDO: Simonetta, don’t be cruel. Sandro is too weighted with wine to fight back.

SIMONETTA: Forgive me, Leonardo. I felt free to talk among old friends. I have posed for you. I have posed with Tondo. I shall, hopefully, pose for (Turns neatly in time to take HER wine from RAPHAEL.) this young man.

RAPHAEL: You know who I am?

SIMONETTA: I briefly owned your self-portrait, Signor. I know who you are, and, I think, what you are. Do you know me?

RAPHAEL: You are Simonetta de Vespucci, the most beautiful woman in Europe!

SIMONETTA: You’ve been reading my poets!

RAPHAEL: I’ve seen Signor Botticelli’s paintings of you—and everybody else’s.

SIMONETTA: Did you read Orlando Furioso? I was in that, too. I was a touch too young to make it into Dante’s Divine Comedy.

BRAMANTE: Had Dante encountered Simonetta instead of the unattainable Beatrice, he would have written a limerick instead of an epic. You look beautiful, Simonetta.

RAPHAEL: Magnificent.

SIMONETTA: Magnificent? We do not use that word in Rome. That word was retired sixteen years ago, before any of these charming lads encountered puberty—when Lorenzo the Magnificent died.

BRAMANTE: That barbarian!

SIMONETTA: Yes, that barbarian, yes, who made Italy almost one, yes that one, whose mind was formed like his person into perfection, who could have welded State and Church together, that barbarian who created the radiance of an enlightenment in which you all—

SANDRO: —in which we all painted you naked like a slattern!

SIMONETTA: —and without whom we are reduced to squabbling factions, selling out Italy while the rest of the world moves on! He was our ideal, and after him, every man looks flawed!

(During the above speech, MICHELANGELO and TOMMASO ENTER from workroom.)

TOMMASO: Do you speak of Lorenzo?

SIMONETTA: (Turns and sees TOMMASO for the first time. Surprised) I do—and his image appears. (Recovering.) I must be the witch Sandro so often accuses me of being.

TOMMASO: You knew him?

SIMONETTA: I knew him. Michelangelo knew him. He would know him if he saw him again.

MICHELANGELO: Welcome, Simonetta. (To TOMMASO.) I knew Lorenzo. I ate at his table for two years. He was my first patron. He made Florence the greatest city of the world.

BRAMANTE: He made Florentine pawnbrokers the rulers of Italy.

SIMONETTA: Well, they will not be again. Buonarroti, you are in Rome. The splendor will return!

MICHELANGELO: That is entirely up to you, Venus.

SIMONETTA: You cannot break my heart again, stonecutter. (To TOMMASO.) These men have every one broken my heart. Will you put them in chains for me, Lord?

TOMMASO: You are joking, of course.

SIMONETTA: They wrote such sonnets to me—and read them to each other. They made such lovely profiles of me—and full figures—and displayed them to one another. I kept waiting for them to fulfill me as they said I fulfilled them, but they worshipped me—and ran away together for profane matters. Do you believe there is a necessary dichotomy between sacred and profane love, dear Lord?

TOMMASO: (Not accustomed to flirting.) I hope that there is not. I hope that the superior man may bring his ideals into action,

SIMONETTA: Please, sir, you awe me; I am accustomed to being worshipped on a pedestal—quite literally.

TOMMASO: Your pardon, madam.

SIMONETTA: Granted. But by your standards, sir, there is no superior man present but Allesandro, for he alone acted out his ideals with me—and then his Savonarola made him burn the evidence! Oh, you should, you all should, be wary of acting out your ideals. (Spies IGNUDO.) Yes, even you. Come here. What is your name?

IGNUDO: Ignudo, ma’am.

SIMONETTA: Ignudo? “Naked”? Why are you called that?

IGNUDO: Well, see, ma’am, when I were a child in my village, they weren’t no clothes for me.

SIMONETTA: What a charming custom. And for whom are you posing, Ignudo? Not Michelangelo, he has the redoubtable Tondo. And not Allesandro, he does not paint young men anymore—though there was a time, wasn’t there, Allesandro? Not Leonardo, I am sure; he has apprentices aplenty. Oh, please, Signor Raphael, tell me it is not you who are using Ignudo?

RAPHAEL: No, madam; though he would be an admirable model for the Fall of Man.

SIMONETTA: Oh, and I, who have so often been the fall of man—I will not have that role in your Vatican murals?

RAPHAEL: Should you make yourself available, I should love to pose you as Astronomy.

SIMONETTA: Ah, not Love? No longer Beauty? Well, we mere models must accept the roles you dreamers find for us. Michelangelo, it is so late and I am certain you professionals have much to discuss concerning your–various professions. I know you are busy, for you have not found time to introduce me to this noble young person. MICHELANGELO: Your pardon. Simonetta de Vespucci—

TOMMASO: So you are she.

MICHELANGELO: —Tommaso de Cavalieri.

SIMONETTA: So you are he. The climax of the finest line remaining in Italy. Yes, yes, I can see it. Had you not sprung from such a line, you would have begun one. Michelangelo, can you spare one of these stalwarts to see me to some home? (TOMMASO steps forward, but SIMONETTA deftly ignores him.) Signor Santi, can your halo light me through these dangerous streets where ungallant persons and religious pamphleteers do so molest a lady?

RAPHAEL: A privilege, madam.

SIMONETTA: Bramante, you can spare me one of your many nephews, can you not? Of course you can. Adieu, Leonardo, Michelangelo, hardy Tondo. Allesandro, I shall be out of earshot before you begin your next sonnet to me. Thank you all. Oh, Signor Cavalieri. I notice that I have not told you goodbye. (EXIT SIMONETTA and RAPHAEL to street.)

LEONARDO and BRAMANTE: (Together.) How did she know I was going to bring him here? (Double-take at one another.)

SANDRO: Oh, iniquitous woman! Lorenzo would not give me her pictures to burn! Bramante, you must stop her, she doesn’t know what she’s doing!

TONDO: (Professionally.) Oh, yes, she does.

BRAMANTE: Well, I’m pleased she has taken my nephew away from–that is, under her wing. (To TOMMASO.) You know, sir, she is from a most noble family, though Florentine. She is received everywhere.

TOMMASO: (Turning from BRAMANTE.) Your work, Signor Buonarroti, outdoes all descriptions. You are truly worthy of the Pope’s patronage.

MICHELANGELO: I appreciate your respect, lord.

SANDRO: Oh, that woman. She has taken that beautiful young man away. (To IGNUDO.) You must not fall under her spell, young man. She will drag you down into the whirlpool. (SANDRO clutches at IGNUDO.)

IGNUDO: She were beautiful.

SANDRO: Oh, but that beauty is the ensign of iniquity, you must believe me, better to stay where you find no appeal whatsoever—

BRAMANTE: Sandro, you will embarrass our distinguished guest. Ignudo, let us remove Signor Botticelli. Here, Florentine saint, come and try to eat something. You can lift him, can’t you, Ignudo? You seem very strong. (Feels IGNUDO’s muscle.)

IGNUDO: (Trying to unpeel SANDRO’s and BRAMANTE’s hands from him.) Oh, yessir, I can lift things. I come here hopin’ to find work as a porter.

BRAMANTE: Yes, yes, here, let us remove him— (IGNUDO and BRAMANTE remove SANDRO to the table, where SANDRO refuses food for wine. TOMMASO, MICHELANGELO, and TONDO are left standing as a group. LEONARDO watches from a remove.)

TOMMASO: (Ignoring TONDO’s presence.) That man is a sorry advertisement for the philosophy of Savonarola.

MICHELANGELO: He was never under suspicion of Savonarola’s heresy, sir.

TOMMASO: I find some of Savonarola’s teachings valid. Does that shock you?

MICHELANGELO: Your breadth of mind is obvious, sir.

TOMMASO: He was quite candid on corruption among the clergy, inequity to the poor. I feel that he was responsible for many reforms, and will say so in any company.

MICHELANGELO: That is admirable.

TOMMASO: And yet he abjured the flesh in which we must live, and, contemptuous of worldly matters which must be dealt with, surrendered practical government to committees and councils, which have brought Florence disaster and civil war.

MICHELANGELO: He meant well always, sir. I knew him, too, and admired him, too.

TOMMASO: And yet you live—

MICHELANGELO: Yes.

TOMMASO: —and sculpt nudes—

MICHELANGELO: Yes.

TOMMASO: —and love?

MICHELANGELO: (After a pause.) I have loved my work, sir.

TOMMASO: You are, I believe, learned also in Neo-Platonism.

BRAMANTE: (From a remove.) Florence was a hotbed of Neo-Platonism!

MICHELANGELO: I saw the sculptures of Imperial Rome and Greece dug from our streets, sir. I read the manuscripts of their poets and philosophers. They are our heritage.

TOMMASO: I am not accusing you, Signor. I think that the spirit of inquiry and examination is not necessarily un-Christian.

MICHELANGELO: I understand, and agree.

TOMMASO: The world is changing, growing. A ruler must understand it all, must he not? (Looks to LEONARDO, who nods approval.)

MICHELANGELO: You are familiar with the question-and-answer form of Platonic inquiry.

TOMMASO: I have many questions. I have no answers.

MICHELANGELO: There may be no answers, but we must ask many questions to be sure even of that.

TOMMASO: That is fine for philosophers, but we—people like you and me—we cannot wait forever. We must find answers in concrete form, you in the stone you shape, I in the laws and enforcements that will be my duty.

MICHELANGELO: I am flattered by the comparison, sir.

TOMMASO: I ask myself always, what is this life for? What shall we who have power and skills make of the world we move in? You artists make a decision with each stroke of brush or chisel. I wonder whether there might be some answers for me in the methods by which you express yourselves, the way you make those choices to shape reality to the ideal. I should so much like to come here often and—

SANDRO: (Exploding.) Oh, what’s the use, what’s the point? We cannot fight temptation, it is everywhere, why not surrender?

LEONARDO: Sandro, you must allow us to take you home. Michelangelo, we must take our leave.

MICHELANGELO: Surely. (To TOMMASO.) Your leave, sir.

TOMMASO: Yes, certainly. (MICHELANGELO goes to minister to SANDRO.)

TONDO: (Stepping in, to TOMMASO.) Hi. My name, as you may not recall, is Tondo.

TOMMASO: I do not recall asking. (TOMMASO withdraws to stand with LEONARDO.)

BRAMANTE: (Of IGNUDO.) This young man and I will deposit Sandro safely, and then perhaps I can find a place for the poor lad to stay.

SANDRO: No! No! Don’t go with him, young man, he will corrupt you!

MICHELANGELO: Please, Sandro.

SANDRO: (Fighting off MICHELANGELO and BRAMANTE and clutching IGNUDO.) No, no, come with me. I will show you the way. He will teach you evil. Let me teach you. The mind and the spirit are all that matter. The only values are intelligence and ability.

IGNUDO: (Highly embarrassed.) Well, then, sir, what would you want with a poor dumb bumpkin like me?

SANDRO: Ooooooooh, you are right, you are right, it is all lies. Beauty is everything! The flesh is all. Come with me, stay with, me, let me give you the adoration you deserve.

IGNUDO: But I don’t understand, sir; if beauty is ever’thing, why should I go with you?

BRAMANTE: Yes, come with me, lad, I’ll help you.

SANDRO: From pity, come with me for pity! You want money? I’ll give you money! Leonardo, lend me money! (To IGNUDO.) Oh, come with me, I’ll pay you. I am a mangled monster, but I’ll pay you.

IGNUDO: Sir—

BRAMANTE: So, Florentine Savanarolist, money is everything?

SANDRO: No, no, beauty is everything!

BRAMANTE: Nothing is everything! (LEONARDO is aware of TOMASSO’s shock and discomfort.)

LEONARDO: (Stepping in.) And you certainly have a sufficiency of that between you! Will you both please stop embarrassing that poor boy!

SANDRO: (To IGNUDO) Don’t go! Don’t go! Ignorant angel!

IGNUDO: Sir, please leave go of my britches.

BRAMANTE: Signor Cavalieri, I must apologize for Sandro for bringing this simpleton. I’ll take him away. (BRAMANTE and SANDRO are literally tugging IGNUDO back and forth.)

TONDO: Hey, what are you guys so crazy about? What are you fightin’ over this clod for? I’ll go with both of you for a price.

(TONDO pulls IGNUDO free. IGNUDO FLEES sobbing into the workroom.)

SANDRO: Both of us?

TONDO: (With a “Get it?” look at MICHELANGELO) For a price.

BRAMANTE: Yes, do help me with Sandro, Tondo, and then we’ll talk.

SANDRO: No, let’s all talk!

TOMMASO: I think I have mistaken the occasion, Signor Buonarroti. I feel I must take my leave. (TOMMASO EXITS to street.)

LEONARDO: (Arage) Will you two get Sandro out of here and home?

BRAMANTE: (As HE, TONDO, and SANDRO work toward street exit.) A pity Signor Cavalieri had to see this side of your home life, Michelangelo.

SANDRO: Take me away, hold me. (To BRAMANTE) No, not you, him! Hold me, Tondo, hold me.

TONDO: (At door) I’ll be back for my present, Michelangelo.

BRAMANTE: Until the Pope calls, Buonarroti.

(BRAMANTE, SANDRO, and TONDO EXIT to street.)

MICHELANGELO: Leonardo, what have I done to you?

LEONARDO: You and I have done nothing to each other. Is not Tommaso splendid?

MICHELANGELO: But for him to have seen—

LEONARDO: He must see everything. He will return.

MICHELANGELO: Why are you doing this?

LEONARDO: The age is crying for a vision that can unite the passion of antiquity with the compassion of Christianity, flesh with spirit, instinct with intellect. I have been unable to. That is why the face of my Christ is left unfinished. You are now the master artist of the age.

MICHELANGELO: At my age Christ was crucified and Alexander ruled the world. I fall somewhere in between.

LEONARDO: You would, of course, select such models.

MICHELANGELO: You were always my model.

LEONARDO: Yes, you called me the greatest man in the world. Then you called me the worst. And what am I now?

MICHELANGELO: You are my friend, I hope.

LEONARDO: Oh, I hope I am. Good evening. Rest well. He will return.

MICHELANGELO: Will he?

LEONARDO: Yes, Michelangelo. The next generation needs models, too. (LEONARDO EXITS to street)

MICHELANGELO: Oh, he was so like Lorenzo. Was he? (HE picks up his sketchbook, starts drawing.) His nobility. His determination. It was like a ghost appearing.

IGNUDO: (Shyly, from the door of the workroom) Sir—?

MICHELANGELO: (Starting) Good Lord—who’s that? Oh, you.

IGNUDO: Yessir. Sir, can I stay here a little while, sir? Jus’ sit in a corner til I’m fit to go out?

MICHELANGELO: What? Yes, certainly. There’s corners all over. There’s food and drink over there. (MICHELANGELO begins sketching from memory.)

IGNUDO: I et some, sir, thank you. An’ I don’t drink no wine.

MICHELANGELO: What? Right, yes, don’t bother me.

IGNUDO: I know I yelled and ran in front of your fine friends, sir, but them men was treatin’ me like—I don’t know what they was treatin’ me like.

MICHELANGELO: Yes, I’m sure they were.

IGNUDO: You see, sir, I only come here ‘cause I hadn’t et an’ that man said they’d be food.

MICHELANGELO: I think there’s some over there.

IGNUDO: Yessir, I took some sir. An’ I didn’t know what it was ‘at he really wanted. Nosir, thass a lie sir. I knowed. I knowed full well. But I ‘uz here three days with nothin’ to eat an’ sleepin’ in the streets an’ he said he’d gimme some clothes after’ards—

MICHELANGELO: There’s clothes in there, somewhere.

IGNUDO: Nosir, I ain’t askin’ for nothin’ sir, I ‘uz jus’ explainin’. I jus’ wanna pull myself together an’ then I’ll go an’ leave you be. But I didn’t wanna stay in there—them people in there won’t talk to me none.

MICHELANGELO: What? What people? Who’s in there?

IGNUDO: Them naked people, sir.

MICHELANGELO: What? Oh! You oaf. Those are not people. They are images, sculptures. I make them out of stone. “Them people won’t talk to me none.” No, they never speak.

IGNUDO: They are? (Looks through workroom door.) Why, yessir, they are. Yessir, thass jus’ what they are. Skull-chers!

MICHELANGELO: Those are only studies, sketches, for a “skull-cher” I made. You don’t have to be afraid of them. They are of a great king who protected the meek. The statue is called “David.” It is in Florence.

IGNUDO: In Florence? Is that the one they call “The Giant”, sir?

MICHELANGELO: Yes, I believe they do. Have you seen it?

IGNUDO: Nosir. I wanted to go to Florence after it happened, but they wouldn’t let no beggars in, sir.

MICHELANGELO: (Beginning to be interested) After what happened?

IGNUDO: After they come an’ tooken our village, sir.

MICHELANGELO: They? Who?

IGNUDO: Whichuns? I don’t know sir. They. The priests, and the lords, an’ they soldiers. After the Magnificent he died. They weren’t really nothin’ left o’ the village when they tooken it. They kilt my mother and brothers. I weren’t no beggar til then.

MICHELANGELO: Don’t cry. I’m sure you weren’t.

IGNUDO: I weren’t. See, I can do you a farmer’s work, or I can build you a wall. But they weren’t nowhere’s to do that. An’ they got dogs that chase you. So I come here. But they weren’t no work here, neither. I went to the market an’ I went to the streetbuilders an’ where they’re buildin’ the big church—

MICHELANGELO: Saint Peter’s.

IGNUDO: Thass the one, sir. And they didn’t have no work for no one that don’t know how to do nothin’. An’ then that Sandro man he come up an’ says he’ll gimme some work—

MICHELANGELO: Yes, yes, I know.

IGNUDO: Sir? Would joo need summun to work? I can clean an’ get water an’ cook for you an’ all I’d ask is not to have to go out on that street with them people. I can eat scraps, I ain’t proud.

MICHELANGELO: What? I don’t know, I won’t be here—

IGNUDO: Sir? Please? I ain’t got nowheres to go. It’s awful out there. You sleep in a door an’ they throw stuff on you. You sleep under a bridge an’ they take your clothes. Or they come in a bunch an’ do worse. For Jesus’ love, don’t send me out there where it’s dark.

MICHELANGELO: I think there’s a cot in a corner in there. For God’s sake, go sleep there. (Indicates workroom.)

IGNUDO: Oh, you shouldn’t take the lord’s name in vain sir, my mama would say. But thankee. I’ll go sleep in there. Yessir. An’ I won’t be scared none, ‘cause they’s jus’ skull-chers.

MICHELANGELO: Right.

IGNUDO: An’ I won’t rob you, you’ll see. My mama didn’t bring me up to rob. I didn’t have nothin’ to eat for three whole days ‘cause I wouldn’t rob. I could of. They’s plenty do.

MICHELANGELO: I know, I know.

IGNUDO: They ast me to help ‘em rob folks, an’ I said nosir!…Sir! I could be here if they try to rob you, an’ I could stop ‘em. I could. I’m strong when I’ve et.

MICHELANGELO: (Noticing IGNUDO’s build.) Could you carry off one of those statues?

IGNUDO: Which? Oh, yessir, I could. I wouldn’t.

MICHELANGELO: Tomorrow you can take one of them somewhere for me.

IGNUDO: Yessir, I will. An’ you can tell me twicet where an’ I’ll learn it.

MICHELANGELO: Yes. It will be to the home of the other young man who was here. His name is Tondo.

IGNUDO: That’un? Sir, you shouldn’t give none of them to him.

MICHELANGELO: But Ignudo, he posed for them.

IGNUDO: He which?

MICHELANGELO: He took off his clothes—

IGNUDO: I ain’t surprised at that.

MICHELANGELO: —and he stood naked on a pedestal, and I made the sculpture look like him.

IGNUDO: Sir, him? He ain’t nothin’ but a whore. Them skull-chers is like—

MICHELANGELO: Like gods?

IGNUDO: Nosir. God’s a old man with a beard. Them skull-chers is all like fine young men—like that ‘un that ‘uz here tonight. That other fellow, Tondo, he ain’t nothin’ more nor less than a street whore.

MICHELANGELO: You should have seen him four years ago.

IGNUDO: I can’t credit that you look at him an’ see a fine young man like that. Oh, you need summun to take care of you, sir. You’ll get took advantage of. You see with the eyes of God. Thass what my mama would o’ said: “You see with the eyes of God.” You see good in ever’one.

MICHELANGELO: It doesn’t sound like much of a virtue the way you say it. But sometimes the good is there— (HE looks at the sketch he is making.)

IGNUDO: (Looks at sketch) Why, yessir, thass him, to a T, thass the fine young man. ‘Ceptin’ o’ course, he had his clothes on. (With a sudden embarrassing realization) Oooooh, sir, you oughta go ahead an’ go to bed, sir. I’ll clean up down here. If’n you want me to?

MICHELANGELO: Hm? Yes, yes, you go ahead. I’m going up to my room to draw. (MICHELANGELO EXITS slowly upstairs, staring at his drawing.)

IGNUDO: Yessir. You do that. I’ll clean all this up an’ then go to sleep in that corner if thass all right. (No answer) All this food’ll still be good tomorra. I don’t hold with this wine stuff, but I didn’t see him havin’ none like them others, an’ judge not, want not, as my mama would say. (HE disposes of food and wine into the kitchen during this speech.) They was some of ‘em good. That one old man with the beard and that fine young man. That lady was weird. I don’t know about her. But them other two ones was no good. They was liars and hypocrites. The purdy young man was nice; he tooken the lady home—if’n she were a lady. But that Tondo one. Look at him an’ see a fine young man like them skull-chers! Sees with the eyes of God, he does. Mama, I found summun to take care of me. An’ he needs summun to take care of him, too, so I ain’t takin’ no charity, neither. He’s a honest man. He don’t want what them other men wanted. An’ even if he does, he’s better’n they are. He’s honest. An’ he sees with the eyes of God. To look at that scum-toad Tondo an’ see that! I wonder what it must be like to have summun look at choo an’ see somethin’ like that in you? He’s a wonderful, saintly, holy man, he is, Mama. Sees with the eyes of God. (IGNUDO EXITS to workroom.)

End of ACT ONE, Scene 1

ACT ONE

Scene 2

MMFB1-2

(A HALL IN THE VATICAN, April 14, afternoon. At least three entrances. At RISE, SIMONETTA, dressed in antique costume to match a figure in Raphael’s mural, with a cloak over it and a mask on a stick in her hand, sits waiting impatiently. SHE swings a toe and then begins to sing.)

SIMONETTA: (Sings)

My darling, I’m so weary of

So little time, so little love.

Eternity is not so long

For you and me and love so strong.

So take me now so you may know

So briefly how I love you so.

It’s such a crime of gods above,

So little time, so little love.

(SIMONETTA Pauses a moment, then shouts to someone offstage.) Rafaelli! This is quite the most beautiful hall in all the Vatican. I thought so on the day that it was dedicated. I feel that I’ve been waiting for you in it ever since. If you don’t finish painting that halo on me soon, I shall come in there and put one on you!

RAPHAEL: (Sticks his head on through a door. HE holds a paint bush and palette.) So long as you don’t put horns on me, carissima, so long as you don’t put horns. I won’t be a moment more. Decide where you want to dine. (HE EXITS.)

(SIMONETTA, left alone, still bored, hums the song again and does a little dance.)

(TOMMASO ENTERS in full ceremonial uniform and stands watching SIMONETTA for a moment before he speaks.)

TOMMASO: Venus in the Vatican!

(SIMONETTA, taken by surprise, turns, sees TOMMASO, instinctively pulls her cloak tighter around herself, and masks her face for a moment.)

Forgive me, I spoke out of turn. You may not recall me. I am–

SIMONETTA: —Apollo apologizing. I recall you, sir. I enter the Vatican easily. Several Popes gave me keys. I’m joking. I am here waiting for a friend. And delighted to see you. What brings you here?

TOMMASO: (Uncomfortably.) Official business.

SIMONETTA: Purchasing a church office for a simple-minded relation? (As HE blinks.) Oh, I don’t mean to embarrass you.

TOMMASO: Your astuteness is as celebrated as your beauty, Madam.

SIMONETTA: I don’t mean to make you close up like that. I’ll go find my friend. (Would leave)

TOMMASO: Madam – -

SIMONETTA: (Stops) Signor Cavalieri?

TOMMASO: It would please me greatly to see you again.

SIMONETTA: Then I must go so that it can be “again,” mustn’t I? (Would leave, but stops when TOMMASO speaks.)

TOMMASO: Madam, are you as learned in Neo-Platonism as your friend, Buonarroti?

SIMONETTA: I taught it to him at table. He was wearing a bib.

TOMMASO: I wonder if you would agree with me that the attraction between a man and a woman, whatever their ages, provided they are of the proper class—

SIMONETTA: Tommaso—I’m sorry, Signor Cavalieri—

TOMMASO: No, please, all names are false. “Tommaso,” if you prefer.

SIMONETTA: “Tommaso,” then. Tommaso, if you would care to see me again, by all means let me know if you are free for an evening—or a morning—or both.

TOMMASO: No, Simonetta—Oh, your pardon.

SIMONETTA: Oh, no, “Simonetta,” please. Only, not “Venus.” Not “Cytherea.” Not, oh, please, not “Psyche” or “Lilith” nor “Eve.” Let it be “Simonetta,” however briefly.

TOMMASO: I overstep my time. You have appointments.

SIMONETTA: I didn’t mean briefly today, Tommaso.

TOMMASO: I infer that you infer that my intentions are superficial and dishonorable. You mustn’t think that.

SIMONETTA: Well, then, young philosopher, what must I think?

TOMMASO: Will you do me the honor of accompanying me to suitable social functions? There is a ball this week at which my parents will be present.

SIMONETTA: Tommaso Cavalieri, are you aware of the ordinance of your forms of invitation?

TOMMASO: I am, Madam.

SIMONETTA: Such invitations, so rendered, fall into the forms of eventual proposal of sanctified connubiality.

TOMMASO: I am aware of their trend, Madam.

SIMONETTA: Tommaso, have you ever had an affair?

TOMMASO: I am not ignorant, Madam, nor am I innocent. I felt I had reason to believe you might overlook youthful indiscretions.

SIMONETTA: Tommaso, you are a woman’s dream come true. But you are a dream.

TOMMASO: I am unable to follow you, Madam.

SIMONETTA: You may follow me, Tommaso, wherever you like. I have been followed before. Do you follow me, now?

TOMMASO: That is not the sort of love that you inspire. I want to offer you my best. I could not think of you that way.

SIMONETTA: Then do not think of me. (Would leave)

TOMMASO: Simonetta, there are reasons for everything. There are forces in the human soul that can transcend—

SIMONETTA: (Stops and turns) Tommaso. Before you say anything more, there is something you should remember.

TOMMASO: What?

SIMONETTA: Everybody loves me.

TOMMASO: Not as I could. Not as I do. You are the light behind light, the eternity behind time. You are wisdom and innocence.

SIMONETTA: I was Lorenzo’s mistress. I was Botticelli’s model. Do you think you can hold their greatness by holding me?

TOMMASO: I can. (Embraces SIMONETTA) I do.

SIMONETTA: (Surprised) Then hold me. Have me. See. There’s the light of truth for you. Take me. (Kisses TOMMASO)

TOMMASO: (Looses SIMONETTA) I cannot. Not as you suggest. As my wife—

SIMONETTA: I am not your wife, Tommaso. I do not mean to be. I do not mean to live the fantasy of freedom in the forms of bondage. If you want me, if you think possessing me will elevate you amongst the constellations, by all means test your faith. Whatever your purpose, I will be your stake and your cross, your fire and your fountain. You have only to decide if you truly want them—it—me.

TOMMASO: Simonetta, any man who could capture you—

SIMONETTA: Tommaso. Most poems have been written. Most gifts have been given. Most lives have been lived. Do not attempt to repeat the verses, to better the tributes, to live the lives to a different end. Live now. Live as you will. I want you. I love you, if you must. I was lost when I didn’t leave this hall. But I cannot live your life for you, and I am not sure I want to see those lives lived again. It may be that the age of greatness is dead.

TOMMASO: Not in you. Not in me. Other men have perhaps betrayed you, been unfaithful to you—

SIMONETTA: Never! To a man they meant it! To a man I believed them and beloved them. I have not chosen idly and I have not been deceived. They were great. They did what great men do. They rose and fell, and civilizations rose and fell with them. I am not able to endure that myth again—

TOMMASO: My love is no myth.

SIMONETTA: Then do not bind it in a ceremony. Yes, let us play, I am besieged, I am besotted by you. I am a woman, all women, if you will, take me, ride me to your destiny, make it great!

TOMMASO: You are—rebirth.

SIMONETTA: I am Simonetta. Whatever that means to you, whatever you mean to me, take me if you can.

TOMMASO: Simonetta, no, you must believe in me! (HE embraces SIMONETTA.)

SIMONETTA: Tommaso, at this moment I almost could.

RAPHAEL: (ENTERS with brush and palette) Simonetta. Ah! Signor Cavalieri.

SIMONETTA: (Spins out of TOMASSO’s arms.) Signor Santi! You have kept me waiting and I was reduced to teasing this young gallant. You owe him an apology—and I think he has run short of them. Will you duel him for me?

RAPHAEL: I am sure Signor Cavalieri would not sully his sword with my sort. (Clownishly holds his palette like a shield and his brush like a sword)

SIMONETTA: You are such a coward, Rafaelli, but you paint such pretty pictures, even in the dark, that I find myself to be quite besotted with you.

TOMMASO: Madam, I take my leave of you.

SIMONETTA: Rafaelli, cover your pretty ears while I and Signor Cavalieri make our farewells.

TOMMASO: You have nothing to say, Madam, that cannot be heard by all men—and has not been.

SIMONETTA: (Stung) You are cruel.

TOMMASO: I said that to see if it would ring true. I meant everything I said to you—but that. Until we meet, Madam.

SIMONETTA: We have met, Tommaso.

TOMMASO: We have not. You have played with masks. I shall wait until they fall. Good day. (TOMMASO exits.)

SIMONETTA: If my mask should fall, he would guess my age.

RAPHAEL: Oh, not nearly.

SIMONETTA: (Hits RAPHAEL with her mask) You beautiful boor. Do you mind being used?

RAPHAEL: Not by you.

SIMONETTA: I just don’t want to hurt—anyone.

RAPHAEL: Oh, try!

SIMONETTA: You’re late.

RAPHAEL: Duty before beauty. And, alas, I must return to my murals soon.

SIMONETTA: You fraud. You’re not in love with me at all.

RAPHAEL: Utterly, but nothing to do with you. I’m getting very good at falling in love. I can do it almost at will.

SIMONETTA: I’m rather good at that myself. Have you done any important work on falling out?

RAPHAEL: Simplicity. I fall in love with someone else.

SIMONETTA: Someday you’ll get caught.

RAPHAEL: Oh, I hope so. I think my work is far too bland.

SIMONETTA: You’re a nice boy.

RAPHAEL: Simonetta, I am not a boy.

SIMONETTA: Well, I have every reason to know you’re not a girl. What are you, Raphael?

RAPHAEL: I am a man. A very young man, but a man. Lord, I’m tired of this pretty face. No one expects Michelangelo to be like his David, or Leonardo like his Mona Lisa. But one look at this physog and they coddle me like one of my own Madonnas!

SIMONETTA: Well, I never shall. Come soon, and be a very young man with me again.

RAPHAEL: (Puts down his tools and bows) When may I worship you, deity?

SIMONETTA: (Bows in return) Oh, make it soon, Angel of Urbino.

RAPHAEL: (Still in a deep bow) We’re treating each other the way we hate for them to treat us.

SIMONETTA: (Still in her bow) So? At least that proves we’re only human. (SHE spins gracefully and EXITS.)

RAPHAEL: (Runs to exit and calls after SIMONETTA) Until tomorrow night, then, at Leonardo’s!

(BRAMANTE and POPE JULIUS II ENTER immediately from the opposite side. JULIUS is a tough customer.)

BRAMANTE: Your holiness, may I have a word with you?

JULIUS: Wait. Let me guess the word: “Money.” Am I being infallible? Welcome, Signor Santi.

BRAMANTE: Sir, I wish to discuss the greatest project in Christendom.

JULIUS: Flushing Rome free of Florentines?

BRAMANTE: Saint Peter’s, sire.

JULIUS: Money. I was infallible the first time.

BRAMANTE: Lord, I am here on spiritual matters. You do me an injustice.

JULIUS: Forgive me my sins. What is it, Bramante?

BRAMANTE: Lord, you are having Michelangelo build your tomb in my basilica.

JULIUS: And what would you prefer, Bramante? That I be trussed in a sack and flung out with the slops?

BRAMANTE: Sire, no one is more anxious to see you suitably buried than I.

JULIUS: Would you like a chance to reword that remark?

BRAMANTE: But you know how people talk.

JULIUS: Yes. Endlessly.

BRAMANTE: The Florentine experiment in popular demagoguery has poisoned the mind of Italy.

JULIUS: They burned Savonarola and tossed him into a river. Is that what you suggest for me?

BRAMANTE: (Firmly) I suggest, sire, that there is no need to rush into building what might seem a mere memorial to yourself at a time when feeling against egotists like Lorenzo the Self-Magnifying is at a fever pitch.

JULIUS: (His interest caught) Sometimes, Bramante, your remarks are like the smell of a dead rat, rotting in a wall—disgusting, but they do lead to the problem. Go on.

BRAMANTE: Michelangelo is in Rome, at your beck and call.

JULIUS: I becked him. I called him. He’s waiting in the ante-room. Libel him quickly.

BRAMANTE: Libel him? The greatest artist of our time?

JULIUS: You usually add, “in his field.”

BRAMANTE: In all fields, sire.

JULIUS: Including architecture?

BRAMANTE: He has not yet been tested in that.

JULIUS: And you don’t want him to be and that’s what this is all about! Good day! Tomb time! (Would exit)

BRAMANTE: Sire, Buonarroti is young and will outlive us all. You have been Pope for only five years. I ask only that you wait, for the sake of your own reputation in posterity.

JULIUS: I made him wait once to divert funds for your basilica. You want me to stall him a second time? He knows what he’s worth, he’s the only one of you with the spine to insult me directly. He’d never come back.

BRAMANTE: He needn’t leave.

JULIUS: Michelangelo is passionate about his work. He won’t be content to idle for a decade til I die, designing garden galas and festival floats like Leonardo!

BRAMANTE: Sire, there is another project, for your glory, for the people, for the greater glory of God!

JULIUS: You want him to do a fourteen-foot statue of you like the one he just did of me in Bologna?

BRAMANTE: Sire, no!

JULIUS: Fifteen feet then. Name your price to demolest me.

BRAMANTE: Sire, the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel is bare. The walls are beautiful with the early work of Botticelli. The Chapel is open to all, a shrine for millions. Let Michelangelo display his skill as a painter, in which he outranks all. Forgive me, nephew.

RAPHAEL: For what? It’s true.

BRAMANTE: Let him make a dazzling display of God’s grandeur and your munificence. Who could complain? And paint costs a lot less than marble.

JULIUS: Possible, possible…But I’ve already bought him the marble.

BRAMANTE: Marble will last. Death will wait. Michelangelo will endure. Mankind’s memory of you will live.

JULIUS: He won’t wait.

BRAMANTE: For you? He would have waited for Lorenzo.

JULIUS: (Caught) Oh, everloving, everliving, everlasting Lorenzo! (Recovering himself) And it would save millions.

RAPHAEL: Of souls?

JULIUS: You are an angel. All right, Bramante. Let me talk to my accountant. Bring Michelangelo in. (JULIUS EXITS.)

BRAMANTE: (Triumphant) Yes, sire.

RAPHAEL: Uncle, what are you doing? Michelangelo is your friend, and a great artist.

BRAMANTE: I am offering him an opportunity to prove it.

RAPHAEL: You’re jealous, that’s all. I can’t believe it. You have no one to be jealous of. Who has been chosen to build the great basilica?

BRAMANTE: Raphael, you are young. You don’t know how pressures build. St. Peter’s is a task to last my lifetime and beyond. You don’t know what reputation means as time grows short.

RAPHAEL: And what about your reputation with yourself? Uncle,

it’s no crime to want to be great. It’s no crime to want to be great and fail, like Leonardo. It’s no crime to be great and fall, like Botticelli. But you—you don’t want to be great. You only want to be thought great. And not even that! You only want to be thought greater than someone else! It’s like your scheming to get boys you don’t want from friends, just to prove you can. Or buying boys you can’t win, just to lie to yourself.

BRAMANTE: You will buy your boys in time, Raphael, when you no longer have a pretty face to charm Florentine whores!

RAPHAEL: You hate Florence because of its greatness. That’s shocking!.

BRAMANTE: Well, let me shock you again. All of this is not for me, as you think. It is for someone else.

RAPHAEL: For who?

BRAMANTE: For you!

RAPHAEL: (Startled) Explain yourself.

BRAMANTE: Michelangelo hates painting more than anything in the world but me.

RAPHAEL: He doesn’t hate you.

BRAMANTE: He will. He will refuse the commission. Julius will be forced to banish him, and the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel will belong to you! Now say that I am vain!

RAPHAEL: Uncle!

BRAMANTE: (Calls) Michelangelo! Come in!

MICHELANGELO: (ENTERING) Bramante, Raphael, hello. Is this a day of general dispensations?

BRAMANTE: I beg your pardon. My conscience is clear.

MICHELANGELO: I mean, is Julius dispensing funds for all projects today? Calm your feathers. Raphael, it’s good to see you. So you’re working in Rome as well?

RAPHAEL: Michelangelo, I don’t know what to say.

MICHELANGELO: It seems our art world is moving from Florence to Rome. Perhaps I’ve misjudged Julius. That should please you, Bramante. Perhaps we can be friends now.

BRAMANTE: I hope you mean that, Buonarroti

JULIUS: (RE-ENTERING) Michelangelo, at last you have deigned to visit me. How long it’s been, and how I’ve longed to see you. I’ve just been consulting with my treasurer, and he tells me one of my fondest dreams can now begin to come true.

MICHELANGELO: Julius, my apologies for our past trials. I am ready to forgive you.

JULIUS: Michelangelo, only from an archangel would I accept your insolence. Please be pleased to know that you are hereby before these witnesses commissioned to inaugurate the greatest work in all Europe, the crown of Rome, Florence’s supreme gift to Christian culture—

MICHELANGELO: I have inaugurated it, say that I may complete it.

JULIUS: Ah, hasn’t Bramante told you yet? I am freeing you from the mere drudgery of flattering my fame—

MICHELANGELO: Julius, what is up?

JULIUS: —and empowering you to depict the twelve apostles of our blessed Savior across the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel!

MICHELANGELO: Julius, the Sistine ceiling won’t support

monumental sculpture!

JULIUS: No, you are to do the greatest mural paintings ever attempted. And all of men, Michelangelo, all men!

MICHELANGELO: You backstabbing, betraying, sick-minded, welching, treacherous, hypocritical bum! What are you saying?

JULIUS: Michelangelo, I am no Lorenzo to demand self-perpetuation. I offer you the chance to depict the Lord’s disciples—and be one!

MICHELANGELO: No Lorenzo? Eschew the obvious! Is there no end to your tergiversations? What possesses you to this flummery? If you don’t want me, why do you call me back? If you can’t appreciate me, why do you have to own me? If you don’t understand me, why don’t you let me go? Good God, there must be a million painters in Italy capable of this kind of hackwork! Who’s doing your tomb? Bramante? He can’t sculpt a child’s toy! He’s going to be in trouble enough just keeping that dome of his up! You’re lucky his scaffolding didn’t fall when he dangled you down in that bucket to lay his cornerstone! Him build you a tomb? You’re lucky he already hasn’t!

JULIUS: Peace, Buonarroti No one will build my sepulcher but you. But you needn’t express so vulgarly your haste to have me in it. You will return to your squalid study and begin provisions for the decoration of the Sistine ceiling!

MICHELANGELO: Or?

JULIUS: There is no alternative. You owe me money and should be glad to work it out—and with a handsome stipend besides, and the best assistance and equipment procurable!

MICHELANGELO: I am not procurable for this illumination! Painting is the work of an apprentice. For humanity’s sake, give some splattering idiot the chance to smear your vault. Give it to Raphael here! Your pardon, Raphael!

RAPHAEL: None needed!

JULIUS: Michelangelo, I order you. Do you dare refuse again?

MICHELANGELO: I do not deign to refuse again, Giuliano della

Rovere, you—you art collector! I am deserting this pompous, pestilent, papal pimpery and heading away in every direction but back! And you may dispatch armies, entreaties, encyclicals, edicts, and bulls, or, as far as I’m concerned, codicil commandments, and I will run through them like a pike! Why I trusted you I do not know. Why you tested me I cannot comprehend. Are we immortal, old man, that you feel you have so much of my time to waste? (MICHELANGELO EXITS.)

JULIUS: (In a rage) Raphael Santi, you are the next painter of Italy! I hereby revoke Michelangelo’s commission and bestow it on you to paint the twelve apostles across the Sistine ceiling. So be it!

RAPHAEL: Your Holiness, I cannot accept the commission.

BRAMANTE: What?

JULIUS: He’s infectious!

RAPHAEL: I cannot permit an artist of Michelangelo’s caliber to be so treated. He is far and away the best man for the job. He’s earned it. It is a great honor to him. I cannot rob him of it. And I don’t want it, either. (Starts to leave, turns) Oh, and if in your rage at this rejection you wish to vent your spleen on my relations, please do begin with those most readily at hand. (EXITS)

JULIUS: What is this? I’m only trying to give them work!

RAPHAEL: (RE-ENTERING, grabs his brush) Besides, you’ve already got me painting the Stanza della Segnatura! (EXITS)

JULIUS: I forgot!

RAPHAEL: (RE-ENTERING, grabs his palette) They’ll take years! (RAPHAEL EXITS.)

BRAMANTE: Your Holiness—

JULIUS: My holiness is nowhere apparent today. I’m going to go squabble with French blackmailers and relax.

BRAMANTE: Julius, please, I beg of you, don’t be angry—

JULIUS: Ooooh, I will, I will, I will! I will make Rome the center of Christendom again! I will make the Vatican her cultural capitol! I will have it ornamented by her greatest artists! (To BRAMANTE) You, you— insignificant coincidence! Go build a basilica! (EXITS)

BRAMANTE: Julius! Michelangelo! Raphael! This cannot be the end! (EXITS following JULIUS.)

End of ACT ONE, Scene 2

END OF ACT ONE

ACT TWO

Scene 1

MMFB2-1

(MICHELANGELO’S STUDIO. LATER THAT DAY. A pen, ink, writing paper, and a sketchpad are about. NOTE: Throughout scene, the room grows dimmer.)

(IGNUDO, barefoot, in old clothes of Michelangelo’s, ENTERS from workroom, a mallet under his arm, polishing a chisel with a rag.)

TOMMASO: (BURSTS IN from street, distraught) Hello? Signor Buonarroti?

IGNUDO: (Drops tools in surprise) Oh. Sir. It’s you. The master ain’t here. (Picks up tools and places them on table)

TOMMASO: Have you any idea when he will be in?

IGNUDO: (Excited) No, sir. He’s in the Vatican, sir. Seem’ the Holy

Father. (Jealous of TOMMASO) You don’t wanna wait, do you?

TOMMASO: No. Yes. Why not?

IGNUDO: (Dusting chair with rag) I’ll clean somethin’ off for you to sit down on if’n you make up your mind.

TOMMASO: Don’t bother. Yes, do. I’ll—By god, I’ll take some wine.

IGNUDO: (Disapproving) In the daytime? Oh. Well. Yessir. (Starts for kitchen)

TOMMASO: I assume Signor Buonarroti will have a good year.

IGNUDO: (Turns to stay, excited) Oh, yessir. He’s gonna make naked people for the Pope’s tomb!

TOMMASO: Just—get me some wine.

IGNUDO: Yessir. (Starts off, turns) Which color?

TOMMASO: Red.

IGNUDO: Yessir. (EXITS to kitchen)

TOMMASO: Red, red like her lips, red like the rubies of the Cavalieri crest. (EXITS into workroom)

MICHELANGELO: (ENTERS from street, distraught) Ignudo! Pack everything! No, leave everything! No, destroy everything! Shatter every image! (Grabs mallet and heads for workroom with mallet raised)

TOMMASO: (RE-ENTERS from workroom) Buonarroti!

MICHELANGELO: (Freezes, mallet raised as if to strike TOMMASO). Tommaso! (Drops mallet)

IGNUDO: (RE-ENTERS from kitchen with wine goblet) Master, you got company. (IGNUDO automatically picks up mallet and lays it by chisel on table.)

TOMMASO: I am intruding.

MICHELANGELO: No, not at all. I am at liberty. At leisure. I am delighted to see you. (Takes wine from IGNUDO, drinks)

TOMMASO: “Delighted to see you.” That is a mere polite form of words.

MICHELANGELO: In no way. Forgive my obvious agitation. Perhaps you will take some wine.

IGNUDO: He can’t. You tooken it.

MICHELANGELO: Ignudo, some wine for the Signor.

TOMMASO: None, thank you.

MICHELANGELO: Please.

IGNUDO: It’s okay. We got more. (Starts off)

TOMMASO: Very well.

IGNUDO: (Stops, turns) Same color?

MICHELANGELO: (Picks up mallet, mock-threatening) Out with you!

IGNUDO: Yes sir. (EXITS to kitchen)

TOMMASO: You must think me very rude. You are working.

MICHELANGELO: (Indicating mallet) With this? (Puts it down) Not at all. Perhaps never again.

TOMMASO: I am sorry to hear that. But that is only your artistic temperament speaking. Surely you will finish those writhing figures in there.

MICHELANGELO: The slaves of the Pope? Perhaps. Perhaps not. You admire them? They are yours.

TOMMASO: There are no words in Italian for the degree of admiration I have for you. Those figures express so much.

MICHELANGELO: They are unfinished.

TOMMASO: Perhaps they should stay that way. Forgive me, I spoke without thinking. I often do that. I speak without thinking. And I think without speaking. It is the restraint my class is trained to. You express yourself so easily.

MICHELANGELO: Those figures are only a commission. There is something of oneself in every work, of course.

IGNUDO: (RE-ENTERS with three wine goblets) Some more wine, master. I din’ know if’n you meant for me to bring jus’ one more for the young gentleman, or more for both of you, so I brung three. (Sets them down) Them two’s his’n an’ thisun’s yours.

MICHELANGELO: Thank you, Ignudo. You may go.

IGNUDO: Where?

MICHELANGELO: To the depths of horrid hell.

IGNUDO: Yessir. (Starts out)

MICHELANGELO: (Hands TOMMASO wine) Now, where were we?

IGNUDO: (Stops, turns) Is they all the right color?

MICHELANGELO: Out!

IGNUDO: Yes sir. (EXITS to kitchen)

MICHELANGELO: He didn’t mix it with water. It’s too strong.

TOMMASO: No, it’s fine. It’s appropriate when one is considering breaking commandments. Strong drink. Isn’t that what the Nazarite injunction is against?

MICHELANGELO: One of them, yes.

TOMMASO: Then. (Toasts) Brothers in sin.

MICHELANGELO: (Toasts) In disobedience.

(THEY drink.)

TOMMASO: Yes. I hope you don’t think my behavior indicates any disrespect for you.

MICHELANGELO: No, not at all, in what way?

TOMMASO: I am not accustomed to breaking into a household uninvited, swilling wine in the afternoon. I hope you do not think your station in any way invites laxness nor compromise.

MICHELANGELO: I am—flattered by your familiarity.

TOMMASO: I must apologize for the way I left your party. No, I must, it was rude—and worse than that, it was pretentious. I thought I was fleeing from moral inrectitude—but I see now I was merely running from something that I feared within myself.

MICHELANGELO: (After a PAUSE) You—were speaking of my statues?

TOMMASO: Yes, yes. Those powerful naked men half-carved from the stone. They are for the tomb?

MICHELANGELO: The figures of the slaves? Yes. They are the papal states recaptured by General Julius.

TOMMASO: No! They are—the soul held captive by the blunt mass of the flesh.

MICHELANGELO: Perhaps.

TOMMASO: Or could it be the body struggling against the inchoate confusions of the soul?

MICHELANGELO: Perhaps.

TOMMASO: Or could it be that they represent the whole, perfect unified man pulling himself together out of an apparent moral chaos that is not real, that never was real? A false dichotomy between feeling and morality, instinct and intellect, a stupidity like stone that has endured forever, and that we are only beginning to find our true selves in—out of—among—I don’t know what I’m saying.

MICHELANGELO: Perhaps.

TOMMASO: Yes. You are so wise. You know everything. One can see everything in your work. I have so much to learn from you. I know now why Leonardo brought me here to you. I am glad that he did. I am glad fate brought you here to Rome to stay. I want to come here often, to spend days and nights here, watching you work, learning from everything that you do.

IGNUDO: (RE-ENTERS with wine bottle) You-all will be needin’ some more o’ this, sir.

MICHELANGELO: (Grabs paper and pen and starts writing) Ignudo, you will take this and go to the Vatican. (To TOMMASO) Forgive me. Some necessary business.

TOMMASO: I should go.

MICHELANGELO: NO! No, this—frees me from all interference.

TOMMASO: You are too kind.

MICHELANGELO: Not at all. (Hands note to IGNUDO) Ignudo, take this to the Great Gate. They will tell you where to go from there.

IGNUDO: Yessir. What is it?

MICHELANGELO: It is—a letter of agreement. It is for the Pope. You will wait for an answer.

IGNUDO: From the Pope? I oughta put on my shoes! (Hands bottle to MICHELANGELO and starts off to workroom)

MICHELANGELO: Get yourself out of here and don’t come back without an answer!

IGNUDO: (Stops but doesn’t leave. Looks back and forth between MICHELANGELO and TOMMASO.) Oh, well, yessir. (Repeats looks.) You sure you won’t be needin’ me, sir?

MICHELANGELO: No, Ignudo.

IGNUDO: What if they makes me wait, sir?

MICHELANGELO: Then wait.

IGNUDO: Yessir…I better go get choo another bottle of that wine, sir. (Starts to kitchen)

MICHELANGELO: Leave!

IGNUDO: (Spins on his heel) Yessir. (EXITS to street)

MICHELANGELO: (Watches IGNUDO, off, through the door, then slowly turns and says) I will be staying in Rome for some time now.

TOMMASO: I may be leaving.

MICHELANGELO: What? No! You can’t! Why? When?

TOMMASO: No, I won’t be. I should be. Michelangelo, I am struggling with myself. I came here to make you help me win—or lose—the battle with my virtue!

MICHELANGELO: If there is anything I can do—

TOMMASO: Can everything that we have been taught be wrong?

MICHELANGELO: Certainly it can. We must test every precept.

TOMMASO: Every sense of decency tells me what I want from you is wrong, and yet there is a voice within me, cheering me on like an ancient general in a triumph. “Yes, yes,” it says, “Go forward; the prize awaits you.” You know how, when a Roman general would enter the city in triumph after a victory, a servant would ride behind him, muttering in his ear, “Remember, thou art but a man?”

MICHELANGELO: I know, yes.

TOMMASO: It was meant to be a denigration, to belittle him. “But a man.” Well, I know I have triumphed, I have seen myself adored in two Florentine eyes that I adore, eyes that have seen the greatest and see greatness in me, (Moves toward MICHELANGELO) and when I am moving toward those eyes, then within me a voice says, “Thou art a man,” and it is no belittlement, but the most glorious trumpet of triumph I have ever heard. (Spins and moves away from MICHELANGELO) Oh, this is mere vanity, mere self-adulation.

MICHELANGELO: Tommaso, it is not. What you say is true, what you have seen is real.

TOMMASO: That worship is not for an impossible god, is it? It is for me, a real man? It is a sincere belief that I can attain the greatness of that image I see reflected?

MICHELANGELO: Completely sincere. Completely for you as a man. It can be real.

TOMMASO: Then to be a man is all the godhood I desire. But godhood is not all that I desire. That greatness is like a feeble fantasy compared to the gross reality of what I do desire.

MICHELANGELO: Tommaso, are you—quite—sure you want to

say this?

TOMMASO: I must say it. I have contained it since the night we met. Michelangelo, the world frowns on the flesh, but the flesh has many languages, has it not? Its vulgate and its most exalted tongues? You see, even to speak of such matters one falls into shameful wordplay.

MICHELANGELO: Not shameful, Tommaso; perhaps shameless.

TOMMASO: Tongues. Bodies. The flesh. Michelangelo, isn’t it possible that a completely unconventional relationship might be as sacred and as spiritual as any honored by mere ceremonies? Mightn’t the iron laws of morality be only an admission that the passions are strong enough that if unleashed they might destroy society?

MICHELANGELO: Indeed they might. Or rebuild it, reshape it.

TOMMASO: But is society perfect? Isn’t it riddled with hypocrisies? Aren’t honors bought? Don’t Popes have bastards? Perhaps the world needs to be reformed so that the passions can be uncorrupted and at full

strength. Perhaps my passion is a force for good!

MICHELANGELO: Tommaso, those passions can be so strong, so coarse and violent—

TOMMASO: Or perhaps I am merely using philosophical casuistry to justify something so appalling that you want to turn me out of your house.

MICHELANGELO: Tommaso, how may I show you how welcome you are?

TOMMASO: Please, let’s talk of something else. You cannot be interested in my passions. Tell me about your work. Your work in which you unite matter and spirit effortlessly.

MICHELANGELO: Not effortlessly. There is a struggle with vanity and coarseness in every work. And with hypocrisy. I am to start on a supposedly great work—

TOMMASO: Your tomb?

MICHELANGELO: No. (Laughs) It might be. I am to paint the ceiling of a famous church.

TOMMASO: What? This is new?

MICHELANGELO: Yes, just now. I have agreed to paint a theme I do not believe in for the dubious good of those I do not care about.

TOMMASO: I don’t believe that.

MICHELANGELO: Well, it’s true. I know what should be there in that simulacrum of Heaven, I know what we should look up to see. Not humble dedication to the dictates of others, but—

TOMMASO: Yes! What? What?

MICHELANGELO: What you speak of. The image of man made perfect, the promise which that image holds. Not everyone can attain it, and one could show that, too, show the fall that comes when—

TOMMASO: When man disobeys God’s law?

MICHELANGELO: No, when he disobeys that spirit within him that tells him he is good, and comes to believe that he is evil. Yes, what the Fall was meant to mean before it became perverted by its own product. The whole creature, mind and flesh a singing sensorium alive with intelligence, before it invents angels and devils—

TOMMASO: Invents them? Then you disbelieve them?

MICHELANGELO: Disbelieve them? They are in this room right now, struggling. But I do not think that they struggle against each other. I think they struggle to reunite, yes, as Italy struggles to reunite, as all the kingdoms of the world struggle to reunite, however darkly, as the soul and body try to re-entwine into one perfect being who could lead us out of the darkness merely by being, as bodies and souls smash against one another in love—

TOMMASO: This is—Platonic.

MICHELANGELO: Plato loved Dion.

TOMMASO: Yes, and isn’t that struggle, every phase of it, worth the struggle? Aren’t we meant to be together? Oh, why is it such a struggle? Struggle. The word sounds foolish, when you repeat it. “Strugglestrugglestruggle.” Doesn’t that sound silly?

MICHELANGELO: You’ve had too much wine. (Pause) Do you want more?

TOMMASO: Oh, yes, please, I feel so free. Is that why men drink wine? To free themselves?

MICHELANGELO: (Pouring wine) That is—pretty much why.

TOMMASO: I am not used to it. (Drinks deeply)

MICHELANGELO: (Laughs) Neither am I. (Drinks.)

TOMMASO: No, you don’t need it. You know exactly what’s going on. You show us how to be: Perfect, tall, strong, sensuous, ruthless,

imperious, passionate— (Removes coat)

MICHELANGELO: Perhaps you have had too much.

TOMMASO: No, not enough. Never enough. Michelangelo, look at me, let me see myself in those eyes. What am I? How do I fail? What’s wrong with me? Why can’t I just reach out and take what I want? How can I be—how would I be—purified? Perfected by love, perfected by worship, purified in the crucible of that fantastic Florentine imagination? Show me, tell me, teach me!

MICHELANGELO: Darkness is setting in—

TOMMASO: Can I believe that love, and deliver myself to it against all contradictions? Look at me, I am your slave, struggling to pull himself whole out of that stone I call “myself.” Tommaso Cavalieri. Lord Cavalieri. Signor Tommaso. Wine is under the pagan god Dionysius, is it not?

MICHELANGELO: Pagan, so they tell us.

TOMMASO: It is a god, it is a gift of God. There are more gods than Apollo, are there not?

MICHELANGELO: I can see only one—

TOMMASO: What? Apollo the reasonable, the balanced, the

moderate Apollo, one with Dionysius who is all excess and abandon? All right, come, philosopher, come, Socrates, justify these extremes.

MICHELANGELO: Well, if Apollo is the god of balance in all things, then, by that rule, must there not come a time when there been an excess of balance, and must it not therefore follow from that same principle that a time must come when there must be a balance of excess? Is it not proved?

TOMMASO: Then—Dionysius is merely a mask of Apollo?

MICHELANGELO: Or Apollo may be a mask of Dionysius. The research is not yet done.

TOMMASO: Oh, subtle old Socrates, seducer of youth.

MICHELANGELO: I am not so old, Apollo.

TOMMASO: Be careful. By your ratiocination, subtle sophist, I may not be reasonable Apollo, but difficult Dionysius, toying with you.

MICHELANGELO: I am humbled.

TOMMASO: You? You have never been humbled. Have you ever loved?

MICHELANGELO: (Pause.) No. No, I have not.

(IGNUDO RE-ENTERS from street quietly, with a letter

tucked in his belt, and stands in the shadows of the doorway,

watching, unnoticed.)

TOMMASO: Then you have not been humbled. Who am I, do you think?

MICHELANGELO: I don’t know.

TOMMASO: You are hiding from your knowledge. Who am I? Who

am I to be? Here— (Hands MICHELANGELO sketchpad) Draw me. Reveal myself to me. Show me who I am that thinks these thoughts. No don’t. (Removes clothes) I am not Tommaso Cavalieri. Don’t draw this uniform, these ridiculous rags, this muddled masquerade of sham identity. Here, into the darkness with them. ( HE stands naked, dancing.)

MICHELANGELO: Tommaso—

TOMMASO: I am not Tommaso. I am no one. I am someone strange. I am Apollo-Dionysius. Aponysius. Dipollo. Draw me, see me.

MICHELANGELO: How will you be seen? How will you be captured?

TOMMASO: I have been captured by my own beauty in the face of Florence, by the beguiling words of Florentine philosophy.

MICHELANGELO: (Wipes mallet and chisel off of table with a clatter) Lie down.

TOMMASO: (Reclines on the table) Like this?

MICHELANGELO: No. Like this. (Poses TOMMASO as the Adam of the Creation)

TOMMASO: I am—what?—languid and lascivious?

MICHELANGELO: No, you are newborn—awaiting the touch that will fill you with innocent new life.

TOMMASO: I am—who? Whom?

MICHELANGELO: Earth. Fire. Wind. Water. Adam.

TOMMASO: Ad—am?

MICHELANGELO: Red Earth, formed like a god, clawed out of chaos, waiting, wanting, willing that touch into being—

TOMMASO: You say that you have never loved—but you loved Lorenzo.

MICHELANGELO: Yes, yes, I did. Perhaps that was love, perhaps I did.

TOMMASO: I want to be loved as he was loved.

MICHELANGELO: Tommaso, flesh and spirit, I adore you— (HE

caresses TOMMASO.)

TOMMASO: Buonarroti! What are you doing?

MICHELANGELO: Adam—

TOMMASO: (Springs up, staggering) What am I doing? Where am I? Back away. Where are my clothes? My God, what am I permitting? Stay away.

(Once the amorous mood is broken, IGNUDO gathers up mallet and chisel and EXITS to the workroom with them, RE-ENTERS.)

MICHELANGELO: Tommaso—

TOMMASO: (Trying to dress) I am drunk, no, that is no excuse for it. I am a fool. What have I let myself be seduced into? Stay away. Oh, God. (To IGNUDO) Here, man, dress me. (IGNUDO does.)

MICHELANGELO: Tommaso, don’t leave this way.

TOMMASO: I should have known that that sodomite Leonardo—traveling like a whore from king to king with his pack of beautiful boys—I should have known what he was luring me to. So this is the extent of Florentine philosophy. They were right to burn you, Socrates. No, they poisoned him. They crucified him. Tied him to a stake, Where is my cloak? (IGNUDO hands it to HIM.) Back away from me you filthy, infested, Gadarene swine! (EXITS to street)

MICHELANGELO: Leonardo! What have I committed?

IGNUDO: (Holding out bottle of wine) You gonna want some more o’ this wine, sir?

MICHELANGELO: Ignudo, get away. Ah, God! I’m packing. I’m

leaving.

IGNUDO: (Hands MICHELANGELO letter) Oh, nosir. You cain’t

leave! The Pope says you have to start tomorrow. He says he’ll (With difficulty) “marshal all the im-ple-ments and ass-is-tance for your ti-tan-ic undertaking.”

MICHELANGELO: I thought you couldn’t read?

IGNUDO: (Starts neatening up, putting away the paper, pen, and ink) I ast the guard to read it for me. I weren’t gonna bring it to you if ‘n it weren’t somethin’ nice.

MICHELANGELO: God, trapped! Oh, God, what have I done?

IGNUDO: You got the young gentleman drunk and tried to fuck ‘im and he wuddn’t, thass all.

MICHELANGELO: Yes, yes, thass all. God, how will I face tomorrow?

IGNUDO: Sir, do you want to take yourself to bed now so you can get up early an’ see the Pope? I’ll clean up all this wine stuff. (Picks up bottle)

MICHELANGELO: No, leave it. No, I’ll take it to bed with me. (Grabs bottle and unsteadily starts for the stairs)

IGNUDO: (Cleaning up other “wine stuff”) Sir, are you sufferin’?

MICHELANGELO: I am not suffering anything unusual, Ignudo.

IGNUDO: Nosir, I know that. It’s jus’ what ever’body suffers. You ain’t had no boys in here the whole time I been with you, thass all. (EXITS to kitchen with “wine stuff”)

MICHELANGELO: Thass all. I haven’t been working. (Looks at letter) Oh, God, I will be now.

IGNUDO: (RE-ENTERS from kitchen) Sir, you gonna have that awful Tondo in here now with all his clothes off?

MICHELANGELO: Yes, Ignudo, Tondo and his ilk, if I can afford them, and if I can stand their company.

IGNUDO: Sir? What choo gonna paint on that there ceilin’?

MICHELANGELO: The holy most revered and blessed saintly company of the apostles.

IGNUDO: How you can take those ilks like Tondo an’ make ‘em like that. It’s no more nor less than a miracle.

MICHELANGELO: No, Ignudo, it is not a miracle. Shall I tell you what it is? It is a lie! A terrible lie which I will help our rotten religion foist off forever. Because my paintings don’t peel like some people’s, Tondo.

IGNUDO: I ain’t Tondo, sir. I’m Ignudo.

MICHELANGELO: Oh, yes, well, of course, to be sure, forgive me, Signor Ignudo.

IGNUDO: Thass all right, sir, it’s gettin’ dark.

MICHELANGELO: No, no, I insist, forgive me: Ignudo. Ignudo, I shall unfurl the same old celestial lies of honor and obedience for all to ogle, and make it with my models meanwhile in the muck.

IGNUDO: You oughtn’t to have to do that, sir. That’ll be beautiful, what choo do.

MICHELANGELO: With Tondo? I suppose he’s all right.

IGNUDO: Nosir, the pitchers’ll be beautiful, I mean. I mean you shouldn’t have to be with no Tondo.

MICHELANGELO: Well, what shall I do, Ignudo? Wait for the Archangel Gabriel to descend and lift his skirts?

IGNUDO: Nosir, you don’t have to do that, sir. You come on now an’ you can go to bed with me an’ it’ll make you feel better.

MICHELANGELO: With you? You peasant mud?

IGNUDO: Yessir, thass all right. It’ll be fine. You come rest yourself.

MICHELANGELO: Well, why not? Yes. Yes, that’ll be just

appropriate. And I’ll raise your wages tomorrow, how will that be?

IGNUDO: You don’t pay me no wages, sir. You already guv me some shoes.

MICHELANGELO: Well, we’ll buy you a pretty new pony then, is that the usual thing?

IGNUDO: I don’t know, sir, hush up and come on up to bed with me.

MICHELANGELO: Yes, why not? David has become a whore. I am whoring myself to the Holy Father. Adam is a teasing drunken slut! What is more fitting than that I should take a hulking wholesome houseboy and make him a whore?

IGNUDO: It ain’t whorin’, sir. I wants to. I ain’t had nobody, neither.

MICHELANGELO: Well, let us have at one another, then. If that is how you choose to think of it. Yes, let us practice lying together and think of it as love. (MICHELANGELO stumbles upstairs.)

IGNUDO: Thass how it is, sir. But choo do whatever you need to do to set choor mind at ease. Think of it anyway you want to. Thinkin’ don’t make no differ’nce any-no-how. When you gets right down to it, it’s all the same………Less’n o’course, you happen to like the bugger. (IGNUDO EXITS up stairs to bedroom.)

End of ACT TWO, Scene 1

ACT TWO

Scene 2

MMFBstreet

(A STREET IN ROME. MORNING– NEXT DAY. A “Tavern” sign.)

(SANDRO ROLLS ON, thrown out of the tavern.)

SANDRO: Oh, you are all doomed, all of you doomed, all you uncharitable Roman swine, staggering in your streets staring and laughing! Why are you laughing? What can you find to laugh at when God’s messenger is flung out of the lowest tavern like some drunk old man? You, boy, give me some money, please. You have money, I can see coins in your pockets, you should not wear your pants so tight, it is an occasion for lust, you will suffer for it! You, Miss, give me a few florins, I beg you, I must return to that tavern to complete my day’s work. (To LEONARDO as LEONARDO ENTERS) You, fine sir, can you spare a few—Leonardo!

LEONARDO: Oh, hello, Sandro. I wasn’t looking for you.

SANDRO: Please, Leonardo, you’ve always been so kind, kindness is a blessing, you are so great and I am nothing. You are a god. You are a swine! One day you will be as I am and you will know what worm-wood it is to beg your inferiors! No, please, I lose my head, I am old and infirm, forgive me. Don’t you see what a sorry state I’m in, how can you refuse me, what devil possesses you? No, that is madness, that is insane. You see, I am insane. Don’t listen to me. Listen to me! All I ask is a little loan, I’ll pay it back. No, I won’t, I can’t, you know I can’t, why do you demand to be paid back? You have everything, I have nothing, how can you be so callus to one who was the finest artist of his generation? No, I was a monster, a maculate defiler of God’s handiwork. I was nothing, but I am better now because I do not claim to be good, I do not claim to be anything, that is best, for everything, everything leads to evil. Oh, help me, please, help me.

LEONARDO: Sandro, your speeches are as your work once was—wonderfully convoluted. You know I can’t help you, you know what you would spend it on, and you know it wouldn’t be good for you. Try to remember that. You know it, now try to hold the thought in your head.

SANDRO: You are right, of course. I only had a weak moment. I have nothing but weak moments. Oh, Leonardo, when I think of what I once was, my heart goes out of me like a screaming madwoman. How can it happen? How can I have been what I was, and be what I am now?

LEONARDO: Try not to think of things that make you sad. Think of your work.

SANDRO: I do not want to work anymore. My work was evil, evil!

LEONARDO: I meant your charitable work.

SANDRO: But it never happens. I stand on the streets and preach and they jeer at me. I ask for alms for the poor, and when I get them you know what I do with them. You—you do know, don’t you?

LEONARDO: Yes, Sandro, yes, yes, I know.

SANDRO: Yes, you know. Wait! How do you know? Do you have spies? Have they been watching me? Why? You must be out to discredit me, aren’t you? They’re after all Savonarolans. You are part of the conspiracy, that is why you are rich and I am poor, you are still mighty and I am dust, dust, dust.

LEONARDO: How low have you fallen that you feel I am so high? Sandro, I know the Medici are not so generous to you now. Perhaps we can arrange something. Perhaps I could pay your room and board somewhere quiet in the country.

SANDRO: Yes, yes. No! I could not live away from here. Do you know what goes on here? What deviltry? Do you know what would go on here if I were not here to stop it?

LEONARDO: Sandro, you know what you are doing.

SANDRO: No. I am doing nothing. I enter dens of iniquity and iniquity ceases. Laughter ceases, people stop buying people drinks, they lose interest in fornication. They lose all their sinful urges when I am by.

LEONARDO: It happens to all of us, Sandro, when we get old. We must adjust to it as we can.

SANDRO: No, I am good for Rome. Think what it would be without me!

LEONARDO: I do think of it, often. Please go away, Sandro. I am seeking some new guests to freshen my festivities this evening. Ah, is that the silhouette of the fair young Tondo?

(TONDO ENTERS, roughed-up and ragged.)

SANDRO: Yes, it’s he! Oh, hide me, Leonardo, he is the devil!

LEONARDO: You know that he is not, Sandro. Run along if he disturbs you.

SANDRO: I can’t leave you with him. He is disgusting; you should have seen the things he let me do to him!

LEONARDO: Tondo, you are the fairest youth in Rome! But at close range you seem somewhat the worse for wear.

TONDO: Oh, Da Vinci. Yeah, I look worse for wear. I been beat up and thrown out on the street is what.

SANDRO: Devil, devil!

TONDO: Oh, Christ, it’s the looney one. Why ain’t he out pickin’ lilies?

SANDRO: Blasphem

y! Blasphemy!
LEONARDO: Don’t be unkind, Tondo. What exactly happened?
TONDO: Aw, my landlady said I owed ‘er money.
LEONARDO: And did you?
TONDO: Aw, I would of paid ‘er. But she didn’t believe me, an’ I’d stopped slippin’ ‘er any lumber. Ya know what I mean?
LEONARDO: I assume so.
TONDO: Yeah, I’d been knockin’ ‘er off ev’ry coupla days just to keep ‘er quiet, see?
SANDRO: Unwholesomeness!
LEONARDO: Quiet, Sandro.
TONDO: So she gets mean, and then she finds out I been humpin’ her daughter when she’s not there.
SANDRO: Humping a woman who’s not there? An incubus! Communion with spirits!
LEONARDO: Be still, Sandro. And what happened then, Tondo?
TONDO: Aw, it ain’t worth goin’ into. Hey, how’s chances o’ you buyin’ a fella some breakfast?
LEONARDO: Soon enough. Breakfast in return for your tale.
SANDRO: For his tail? What! Public whoremongering!
TONDO: Oh, you want it all, huh? Okay, so she tells a bunch o’ people that was lookin’ for me how they can find me, see? An’ so I come home one night, an’ I’m crawlin’ in the back window so I don’t run into her, and she’s got ten guys there say I owe ‘em money, see? Only it’s dark an’ I don’t know that, an’ they jump me and I yell “thieves!” and in come the cops in the dark, see?
SANDRO: See? In the dark? Witchcraft!
TONDO: So they say, “Where’s the thief?” an’ these guys say it’s me, an’ the pigs lay into me—
SANDRO: Laying with pigs! Bestiality!
TONDO: And I say, “Hey, stop, I live here,” an’ the landlady yells, “No, he don’t,” an’ they lay into me again for criminal misrepresentation, an’ I cry out to the good lord for help, an’ they brain me for profanity! Now ya can’t win, can ya?
SANDRO: He-whore! He-whore! He-whore!
TONDO: Shut up, you old jackass!
LEONARDO: Your clothes are in rags. Have you others?
TONDO: Naw, they took ‘em all. This is all I’ve got between me and the ground. I been sleepin’ by the riverbed, I’m lucky I got my shoes. You think I can have breakfast now?
LEONARDO: Certainly, certainly. But, Tondo, have you no friends to go to?
TONDO: Naw.
LEONARDO: There is—pardon me if I am indelicate—there is Michelangelo, is there not? Or is there not?
TONDO: Aw, I can’t go there. He wouldn’t like me this way.
LEONARDO: I don’t think that’s true.
TONDO: Yeah, you’re right, he’s a soft touch. But—I wouldn’t like him seein’ me this way. An’ besides, them men took somethin’ I had of his that I shouldn’t of.
SANDRO: You should not consort with such low creatures.
TONDO: I can’t go there.
LEONARDO: (After some consideration) No, it is probably best for all concerned that you do not go to Michelangelo right now. So—you are quite homeless and friendless and helpless?
TONDO: Don’t I look it?
LEONARDO: I only wanted to be sure. I always try to help a lad find the best possible way for himself.
TONDO: Yeah, I’ll bet. I mean, sure you do.
LEONARDO: I do, Tondo. But it seems that this is the best way available for you. Come, you can bathe at my house. And over breakfast we’ll talk about new clothes.
TONDO: Uh-huh. An’ what in between?
LEONARDO: Nothin’ between Tondo. There is nothing less erotic than a growling stomach. Come.
SANDRO: I, too? I can see that nothing improper takes place at breakfast. I can taste your bathwater to see that it isn’t poisoned.
TONDO: Ah, Jeez.
SANDRO: Ah, you are handsome. I believe what you said. I know what awful things can happen to a beautiful boy. I was once beautiful myself, was I not, Leonardo? Yes, I had fine legs and arms all my own, and my lips and hair were red and curly. Yes, I was as fine and handsome a young man as yourself!
TONDO: Oh, don’t tell me that! Jesus!
SANDRO: You are religious!
LEONARDO: Come, let’s go.
(THEY EXIT.)

End of ACT TWO, Scene 2

ACT TWO

Scene 3

MMFBHome

(MICHELANGELO’S STUDIO, THE SAME MORNING.).
(ENTER MICHELANGELO down stairs from bedroom, barely dressed, stretching and yawning contentedly. IGNUDO ENTERS behind him in underdrawers, carrying his clothes, sheepish.)
IGNUDO: Sir? I ain’t never done nothin’ like that before.
MICHELANGELO: My darling, ain’t nobody never done nothin’ like that before.
IGNUDO: (Starting to get dressed) All my life I been wantin’ to meet somebody like you.
MICHELANGELO: And all this month I’ve been wanting to meet somebody like you. Now let’s eat. Shall we eat?
IGNUDO: No, please, sir, listen to me. You’re really somebody.
MICHELANGELO: I like yours, too, Ignudo. Do we keep any food in this zoo?
IGNUDO: I guess thass all I am to you, idden it, sir? A body?
MICHELANGELO: Oh, isn’t that enough, Ignudo? Why do we have to struggle so? Strugglestrugglestruggle. Why can’t we accept what we are? What God made us, if you insist. Why can’t the accommodations of the flesh be handled with some humor, and some dignity? Why must we pretend?
IGNUDO: Sir, I ain’t pretendin’ nothin’, nor to be no better than my station. I ain’t never understood none of the talk what goes on aroun’ here. But—some people is better’n other uns. I don’t know why, nor can’t tell you. But choor better’n that Signor Botticelli, even if you’re talkin’ like him.
MICHELANGELO: Savonarola’s followers tried to have spirit without flesh; they descended to flesh without spirit. How am I better?
IGNUDO: Well, If nothin’ else, maybe jus’ cause you feel so bad about it.
MICHELANGELO: They feel bad about it.
IGNUDO: Yes, but choor differ’nt.
MICHELANGELO: No, I’m not, Ignudo. You may be. You may very well be, for which I’m sincerely sorry. But if I am anything other than a brawling body, then that other, mind or spirit, whatever, serves only as a pornographer to the brute, who, as you well know now, shoves all else aside in its urgency to get any convenient provender into the cornhusks. So let’s not go on. Let’s feed our animals.
IGNUDO: Sir, what choor sayin’ is true, but choo don’t see it entire. Sure ‘nuff, ever’body does the same things. They ain’t that many differ’nt things for people to do. But people is differ’nt, an’ thass what it boils down to. What you an’ me done is the same things ever’body done ever since God he hauled us up outen the mud, but—
MICHELANGELO: I have nothing against mud, Ignudo. I work with mud, and I can finger from it any fantasy that a patron is willing to pay for. But they are fantasies. I make them. I know. Now! I’ll put you on salary, or buy you some nice things, or both, but let us not paint pretty pictures. Paint! My God! That damned, domed cavern! (HE starts searching for paper.)
IGNUDO: (Going for paper) I ain’t paintin’ no pitchers, sir. I mean what I say!
MICHELANGELO: Good God, if you exist, give me some paper!
IGNUDO: Here’s paper, sir. (Hands MICHELANGELO paper)
MICHELANGELO: (To God) You do exist! (Hunts for a pen)
IGNUDO: I don’t want no salary, sir, nor no—
MICHELANGELO: (To God) Pen! If you forgive me my sins, a
pen!
IGNUDO: (Getting pen) ‘Course, you make money an’ I don’t, an’ people gotta have money to live—Here, sir, here’s a pen. (Hands MICHELANGELO pen)
MICHELANGELO: I am forgiven! (Starts hunting for ink)
IGNUDO: But thass jus’ what I’m sayin’. If’n I tumbles you an’ you takes care o’ me, just like what you done with that Tondo squat, that still don’t mean that you an’ me has to be— (Finds ink.)
MICHELANGELO: (To God) Ink! Place me among the company of the blessed saints and show me the ink!
IGNUDO: I put it here, sir. (Shows MICHELANGELO the ink)
MICHELANGELO: Canonization! (Starts scribbling note)
IGNUDO: Sir, you ain’t listenin’ to me.
MICHELANGELO: Good start. (Writes) “Sir, you have never fully attended to my protestations.” Ah!
IGNUDO: All them things you was sayin’ to that nice Tommaso gent—
MICHELANGELO: Oh, Ignudo, don’t be sharp. (Writes)
IGNUDO: Now, see, sir, I ain’t, but’ choo ain’t listenin’. I heared you sayin’ to him about how the body and the spirit belong to be together, an’ how it’s wrong for them to be apart—
MICHELANGELO: Yes, yes, that’s good. (Writes) “I cannot so separate my spirit and the substance of its expression—” Good! (Writes)
IGNUDO: An’, sir, I know I ain’t a lot on brains, but on th’ other hand, you ain’t drawn such hot cards for looks, neither.
MICHELANGELO: “Drawn such hot cards.” Do I dare be vulgar? I dare! “Giuliano, you ain’t drawn such hot cards for brains—” Yes, splendid! (Writes)
IGNUDO: An’ if’n you meant what choo was sayin’ about how bodies an’ brains gettin’ together would be such a all-fired good thing—
MICHELANGELO: (Scanning note with pleasure) I’m going to have to sneak out of Rome in disguise. I love it!
IGNUDO: —then how about choo an’ me, us teamin’ up?
MICHELANGELO: Yes! Perfect! (Seals letter)
IGNUDO: Really, sir? You mean it?
MICHELANGELO: Every insult. Take this to the Great Gate! No, take it into the Papal Presence! Here, I’ll insist on it. In writing! (Scribbles a note on the letter)
IGNUDO: Sir, you ain’t heared a word I said to you!
MICHELANGELO: Heared them? I incorporated them into an historical epistle! Now, get dressed and deliver this! (Hands IGNUDO letter) And just wait for the answer. No, wait! (Takes letter back) I’d better add an admonition not to flog you! This might put that thug in a rage for torture. Hah! (Writes more)
IGNUDO: Sir, I am dressed. You don’t even see me!
MICHELANGELO: Is something wrong, Ignudo? Oh, here. (Offers IGNUDO bag of coins)
IGNUDO: (Refuses coins) I don’t want no florins.
MICHELANGELO: Hm. Yes, I could go to Florence. Milan. Genoa. Hell, I could sell myself to the King of France. He’s getting all the other Italian treasures! Why not? I could decorate a pretty palace. Here’s my release! (Makes IGNUDO take letter) Hurry back and pack!
IGNUDO: Are we goin’ somewhere?
MICHELANGELO: We? Ah. Ignudo. Yes. You’re here, aren’t you? You’re a sweet boy, a ravishing boy. I’ll introduce you to all my best enemies and you’ll have a grand time in Rome. Now go. God, I’d kill to take all those blocks of Carrara marble.
IGNUDO: But, master, we got this grand place here!
MICHELANGELO: Grand? This? You lack ambition, Ignudo!
IGNUDO: Sir, I’m tellin’ you, you’re passin’ up a big chance!
MICHELANGELO: There’ll always be another for Michelangelo
Buonarroti!
IGNUDO: Sir, not like me, I’m tellin’ you!.
MICHELANGELO: Ignudo, what are you shouting about?
IGNUDO: Sir, I can make you happy, I know I can. I can cook an’ clean an’ keep people away from you an’ sleep with you nice so’s you don’t get caught by them bloodsuckin’ whores like Tondo—
MICHELANGELO: Ignudo. Let me understand you. This is—touching. I hardly know how to put it. Are you saying that you are a nice boy and you’re holding out for marriage?
IGNUDO: Sir, I know it’s puttin’ myself in a high place even to talk about it, but—
MICHELANGELO: (Falls to his knees) Ignudo, I shall forever
treasure in my heart’s deep reticule this moment when you honored me above all men, but, alas, while I feel for you the sincerest regard and devotion, I cannot in honesty—
IGNUDO: Sir, get up! Sir, don’t do that! You’re makin’ mock of me!
MICHELANGELO: (Rising) Well, forgive me, Ignudo, but you see I’ve never had to turn down a proposal before.
IGNUDO: (Boiling) You ain’t worth half o’ what evaluation you put on yourself! No, that ain’t true, you are. An’ I ain’t much, but I’ll say this to you, an’ then I’ll go a-runnin’ with your note. You may be real bright, an’ I may not be no high-talking inty-lexual like unto your fancypants philly-sophical prince, but I’ll say this for me: I’m gonna get smart a long time afore you get purty! (EXITS to street grandly)
MICHELANGELO: A miracle! I have made stone talk. Speaking of which (Heads for workroom), slaves and Davids, truss yourselves up! Us country boys is a-travelin’ to Paree! (EXITS to workroom)

End of ACT TWO, Scene 3

END OF ACT TWO

ACT THREE

Scene 1

MMFB3-1

(THE FORECOURT OF LEONARDO’S HOUSE—THAT EVENING.)
(Gate at one side, stairs up into house other side, benches about, revelry and music from within.)
IGNUDO: (ENTERS through gate, calls) Signor Santi? Signor Raphael Santi? (RAPHAEL in his cloak, and LEONARDO without his, ENTER from house.)
RAPHAEL: I think someone’s calling me. Yes, it’s Buonarroti’s boy.
LEONARDO: Please feel free to come back anytime, Raphael. Perhaps in the daytime we could converse more easily.
RAPHAEL: I understand, sir. Thank you. Please enjoy your party.
LEONARDO: Thank you, Raphael. I shall do my utmost. (EXITS into house)
IGNUDO: I’m sorry, sir, to call you from Signor Da Vinci’s party. (HE goes to take a peek inside.) Oh, let me make sure he’s gone, sir.
RAPHAEL: I was leaving anyway, Ignudo. Leonardo’s at his best in the early evening. It’s turning into a pigsty in there. (RAPHAEL descends into the court.)
IGNUDO: Yessir, all them people without they clothes. Looks like my master’s workroom. (IGNUDO joins RAPHAEL.) All them boys in there. Is they…?
RAPHAEL: Leonardo calls them his “apprentices.” He teaches them his trade in exchange for theirs. My uncle was just calling them Leonardo’s “Mono Lisos.” Signor Botticelli says they’re fallen angels. I believe he’s about to show them all the things they mustn’t let men do to them. Do you want to join the party, Ignudo? It’s a democratic revel. Class falls off with cloaks.
IGNUDO: Nosir, I don’t want no parties like unto that. You’re right to be leavin’, sir. You’re too good for the likes o’ them.
RAPHAEL: Don’t deceive yourself, Ignudo. I’m leaving only because there are no interesting women here.
SIMONETTA: (ENTERS through gate) If one waits for cues, one must take whatever comes. I am here, Raphael. Sorry I’m late. I was pursued.
RAPHAEL: And probably caught. I’m ready to leave, sweet, let’s go.
SIMONETTA: Oh, at least let me have a look. (Goes to look in house) Hm. They’re only at stage two. (Descends) Ignudo! Don’t tell me your Master is here?
IGNUDO: No, Ma’am.
SIMONETTA: Oh, dear, he isn’t renting you out, is he?
IGNUDO: No, Ma’am.
RAPHAEL: Simonetta, don’t be mean to Ignudo. Save it for me. Why are you here, Ignudo?
IGNUDO: Sir, I jus’ needed somethin’ to be read for me, an’ I trusts you.
RAPHAEL: Surely, let’s see it.
IGNUDO: Well, sir, I ain’t sure now. See, I don’t mind readin’ what the Holy Father he writes to the master, ‘cause it’s my job to know an’ take care of ‘im. But this’un is from the master to the Father, an’ I don’t know if I should. I been wrestlin’ with angels all day about it, as my dear, departed, mama would say—
SIMONETTA: Ignudo, everyone in Rome saves letters for
pub1ication. Julius will have scribes awake all night scribbling duplicates for the archives. (To RAPHAEL) Go ahead, angel, throw Ignudo’s conscience.
RAPHAEL: Sandro is right about you, you witch. Let’s see it, Ignudo. This could be delicious.
IGNUDO: (Hands RAPHAEL letter) Yessir. Ma’am.
RAPHAEL: (Reads letter) Oh, dear. Look, Simonetta.
SIMONETTA: (Reading letter) Oh, dear. Oh, I do like— “Break open your ceiling and let them look for your God!” That rings.
RAPHAEL: But there is simple truth here, too: “Painting is not my trade.” He’s doing the right thing.
IGNUDO: Sir, does it say there he’s gonna leave Rome alone? Thass all I ask you to tell me an’ nothin’ else.
RAPHAEL: I should think so. He’ll be lucky to leave with his skin.
IGNUDO: Oh, sir:
SIMONETTA: (To RAPHAEL) You’ve frightened him. (To IGNUDO) The Pope won’t hurt him, Ignudo. What would history say?
IGNUDO: I don’t mind if’n he hurts me, ma’am, jus’ not the master.
SIMONETTA: Well, he won’t. He’s too busy. Raphael, you silly seraph!
RAPHAEL: I see more than you do, Serapist.
SIMONETTA: (Impressed) Serapist? My!…
RAPHAEL: Ignudo, do you think he means to leave without you?
IGNUDO: Yessir, he was hollerin’ about France. But I’uz jus’
worried about him, sir, I don’t care about bein’ left if he likes.
RAPHAEL: That’s truly noble, Ignudo. Is it nobly true?
IGNUDO: Well, nosir, no. I wanna go with ‘im. No, that ain’t true, neither. I don’t see why we even has to go. I’m scared o’ goin’ where they ain’t even nobody speaks no good Italian. We got a good place here. I never seen such a grand place. An’ he’s got great work to do thass good for ever’body, not jus’ kings. An’—an’—an’ I’m plain tired o’ wanderin’ an’ travelin’ an’ never havin’ a home!
SIMONETTA: But you’d go with him if he wanted you to, Ignudo?
IGNUDO: Yes’m, he needs me. But I’d try ‘n’ talk ‘im out of it.
RAPHAEL: Ignudo—
SIMONETTA: Raphael, I hope you’re thinking what I’m afraid you’re thinking.
RAPHAEL: Simonetta, you had a look in there. (Indicates party)
SIMONETTA: Yes. Looks like a Signorelli Damnation.
RAPHAEL: Well, that damnation waits everywhere for men like Michelangelo. I think we have a chance to save a friend from it. Ignudo, I am going to keep this letter.
IGNUDO: Sir!
RAPHAEL: No, now listen. I am not going to destroy it, only hold it. To allow you time to talk with Buonarroti. You may tell him you gave it to the guardian of the Great Gate.
IGNUDO: That’d be lyin’ to him, sir.
RAPHAEL: Not at all. Am I not named Raphael?
IGNUDO: Yessir.
RAPHAEL: And did not your blessed Mama tell you that Raphael is the guardian of the Great Gate of Heaven?
IGNUDO: (With a sly smile) Well, it might be as she did, sir.
RAPHAEL: So you have not been asked to lie at all, have you? (RAPHAEL hands IGNUDO a florin, and puts the letter in HIS own pocket.)
IGNUDO: I’ll tell ‘im that, sir. Thank you, sir. An’ it ain’t no guilt on you, sir, ‘cause I know what I’m doin’. It uz your idea. But I know. Thank you, sir.
TONDO: (ENTERS from party, arranging his clothes, drunk) No! Not on your life! Not for that money. Oh, hey, you’re in luck. Here’s Buonarroti‘s boob!
IGNUDO: I’ll go now, sir. You should too, sir. An’ ma’am. This ain’t fit company for decent people. (Looks at letter in RAPHAEL’s pocket, coin in his own.) Well, for whatever we are, anyways. (EXITS through gate)
SIMONETTA: (To RAPHAEL) I was always under the impression that the angel Michael guarded Heaven’s gate.
RAPHAEL: Well, the angel Michael, Michelangelo, holds the keys to heaven for that boy.
SIMONETTA: Serapis, archangels, folk-religion, question-and-answer quibbling—my bashful boy, you’ve been studying:
RAPHAEL: Everything, my brilliant beauty. I’m going to paint the school of Athens and show us all—
SIMONETTA: —as we really are: Noble reformer.
RAPHAEL: No, serpent; as we could be.
SIMONETTA: Re-forming indeed. And noble. Bless you.
RAPHAEL: Yes, I’m using Leonardo for my Plato!
LEONARDO: (RE-ENTERING from party with his clothes in some disarray) Tondo, don’t go, we can renegotiate—Ah Raphael. Simonetta.
SIMONETTA: Ah, Leonardo: Platonizing our youth?
TONDO: I’m leavin’. I didn’t sign on for no whole party.
LEONARDO: Well, now, don’t be hasty. Un-hm, I thought we had taken our leave, Raphael.
RAPHAEL: (Respectfully) We had, sir. Let’s go, Simonetta.
SIMONETTA: No, I’m meeting someone here.
RAPHAEL: Here?
BRAMANTE: (ENTERS from party, disorderly) Haul him back in here, Da Vinci! Oh, nephew.
RAPHAEL: Don’t invent anything, uncle, we’re not really here. Simonetta?
SANDRO: (ENTERS from party, a mess) Don’t go, don’t leave me alone in there with those boys.
TONDO: (Indicating SANDRO) An’ you tell that one to leave go of me. Filthy old drunk.
RAPHAEL: (At gate) Simonetta?
SIMONETTA: Adio, Raphael.
(RAPHAEL does not leave.)
SANDRO: Leonardo, Bramante, you will lend an old artist some money, won’t you? Of course you will, a little something for this poor boy. They’ll give me money, Tondo. Please, only a little—
TONDO: A little? A lot, you old lecher, for what you’re askin’
RAPHAEL: I’ll wait here, Simonetta. (Turns his back)
LEONARDO: Tondo. Come back in. There are important people here.
TONDO: I met enough important people. You’re all the same. Gimme my money.
BRAMANTE: Leonardo, give him the money.
SIMONETTA: Give it to him yourself, Bramante, don’t let me inhibit you; I’m a member of the party, too.
LEONARDO: The money, of course, Tondo, but I don’t want you going away. Come and play. I have things to talk to you about.
BRAMANTE: I, too, Tondo; my chief builder in there is quite taken with you.
SANDRO: You don’t want to go out on these streets, child; they are
filled with temptation. Stay and learn.
TONDO: I learned all I ever want to. You guys been promisin’ me all kinds of things, but all you ever really want is a party.
LEONARDO: Not so, Tondo. I have your best interests at heart.
BRAMANTE: Don’t listen to him, Tondo; I have a position for you.
SIMONETTA: Bad choice of words, Bramante.
TONDO: Yeah, I seen them positions. No, thanks.
SANDRO: Tondo, come back, I won’t let anyone else get to you.
TONDO: Get off of me, you old has-been. Gimme my money.
LEONARDO: I am leaving Rome for Florence and Milan. I have large commissions. You can go with me.
TONDO: An’ what? Pose? I know how you want me to pose. Like this! (Strikes vulgar posture)
LEONARDO: No, no, I need many apprentices. I can teach you to paint, all the mysteries of the art: geometry, anatomy—
SANDRO: Anatomy! No! You know what he means, Tondo. Stay here with me and we will study the Bible, Savonarola, we will become monks
TONDO: Boy, I’ll bet what goes on in them monasteries is somethin’.
BRAMANTE: True, boy. Don’t listen to Leonardo, he has apprentices in every stable in Italy; the only anatomy they study is their own legs in the air. I have real work to offer you on the greatest cathedral in—
TONDO: What? Totin’ stones on my back? You guys give me a pain! I come to Rome to be a big model, an’ the only one o’ you ever give me a chance was Michelangelo.
SANDRO: Him! That corrupter! He turned you into what you are! He stood you naked on the porches of the palaces and left true believers in such poverty that they cannot afford you!
TONDO: Ah, shit, is this what it comes down to? S’posed to be the greatest city goin’, an’ what is it but a lousy whorehouse?
LEONARDO: True. Come with me. It is not true what they tell you. I will be good to you. You may ask any young man who has been under me whether he has been left hungry or homeless. Ask any of them in there.
BRAMANTE: Tondo, why would you want to leave Rome?
TONDO: Why wouldn’t I?
SANDRO: Stay, save me!
LEONARDO: Come back into the party, Tondo. What is there out there for you? Only the same, only worse. Accept yourself. Take the best that is offered you. Can you see yourself as a carter, a fishmonger, a mercenary soldier dying in some senseless civil war? Come in, come in. Here’s gold for you and more of it to come. And I will teach you whatever you are willing to learn.
SANDRO: And some for me, please? Some for me?
BRAMANTE: You’re a fool, Tondo, but we’ll talk tomorrow.
LEONARDO: Come in. Play with us. Play with Bramante, he is not utterly dishonest.
TONDO: Well—.
SIMONETTA: Go ahead, Tondo; I’m the last one to throw stones. Here, for Sandro’s share, catch! (Tosses TONDO a bag of coins)
TONDO: (Catches it) Hey!
SANDRO: Oh, thank you! Oh, it is you, wicked woman! It is you who are flinging me into the pits! But heed me. On your deathbed you will call for my ministrations, as your foul Lorenzo, dying on the bed where he taught you the vices that destroyed me, called for my Savonarola to shrive him! God will punish you! God will punish you all for tempting me!
LEONARDO: Come, Sandro. Help him, Tondo. We will go in. Bramante?
BRAMANTE: Certainly. There is business to discuss. Simonetta. Nephew. (EXITS into house)
TONDO: Okay. Okay. See you, Simonetta.
SIMONETTA: Doubtless. Oh, and Tondo, you may always call on me for Sandro’s needs.
TONDO: Hey! Okay! Sure. Come on in, old man.
SANDRO: I am not so very old, am I? Yes, yes, I am. I am old, I am weak, I need your strength to protect me from sin.
TONDO: Whatever you say, as long as the price is right. (TONDO and SANDRO EXIT to party.)
LEONARDO: Raphael—
RAPHAEL: (At gate, not turning) I am not here, Leonardo. I was here earlier and you were kind enough to share with me beautiful and valuable things. No young man has been the worse for knowing you, Leonardo. Not one.
LEONARDO: Raphael. (RAPHAEL turns.) May I teach you one thing more? Finish things. I have spent all my life searching for some absolute, and I have left unfinished books, unfinished pictures, aborted sculptures, ideas and loves left open and vulnerable. Finish what you start, as well as you can. Find your truth. Finish what I started. I must rejoin my guests. (EXITS to party)
RAPHAEL: (To SIMONETTA) Are you ready to go?
SIMONETTA: You can’t desert your post. There comes another seeking entrance to this Paradise.
RAPHAEL: (Looks through gate) Cavalieri You didn’t ask him here?
SIMONETTA: He sent to find me. This is where I am.
RAPHAEL: What are you up to?
SIMONETTA: I hope I’m up to this.
(TOMMASO ENTERS at gate, distraught.)
Tommaso, how persistent of you!
TOMMASO: I followed your trail of notes, Simonetta. Come away with me. I have to talk to you.
SIMONETTA: Oh, yes, let’s talk.
TOMMASO: Not here. I have so much to say to you. When you hear what I have to say—
SIMONETTA: It’s hard with all that music. Must we talk?
TOMMASO: Yes, Simonetta, yes.
SIMONETTA: And isn’t that all that you wanted to say? “Yes, Simonetta, yes?” Well, then you’ve said it. Come and dance.
TOMMASO: Yes, that is what I wanted to say: “Yes.” But I must tell you why.
SIMONETTA: Must I know?
TOMMASO: Yes, you must. Simonetta, you were right. You have showed me. Fate has showed me, that you are the only one for me.
SIMONETTA: I truly believe that.
TOMMASO: You do? Goddess!
SIMONETTA: Of course I believe it. I have been told it so many times.
RAPHAEL: Simonetta de Vespucci!
SIMONETTA: So explain if you will, but in the most abstract and intellectual terms. We are in the School of Athens.
TOMMASO: Very well. I—I have seen since yesterday how much worse the world is than I thought it could be. I feel that what you want from me is the best that I am, the best that I can offer, the best that I can be.
SIMONETTA: Oh, I am sure you are the best—and can prove it.
TOMMASO: With you I can.
SIMONETTA: With anyone, you can.
TOMMASO: Do you truly believe that of me? Do you truly see that in me?
SIMONETTA: I do. Deeply I do.
TOMMASO: You have saved me.
SIMONETTA: But not only for myself, Tommaso: for all humankind.
TOMMASO: Every minute you restore my belief in my value.
SIMONETTA: So come in, Tommaso. Let us see how you prove yourself here. This is Leonardo’s house, the great man. Here are the great artists, teachers, scientists, philosophers. Here are gathered the best of men. Come in and prove yourself the best among them.
TOMMASO: If you say so. Anywhere with you. On any conditions.
SIMONETTA: This will be such fun, Oh, let us see. (Goes to party entrance and peers in) What are they testing themselves at now? Why, come and look, Tommaso. Ssshhhhh.
(TOMMASO comes and peers into party.)
RAPHAEL: Simonetta—
SIMONETTA: (To RAPHAEL) Sssshhhhhh!
TOMMASO: (Recoiling) My God, what are you doing?
SIMONETTA: Oh, stand up now! I’m sure that you can prove yourself best at that! That should be child’s play for the perfect prince.
TOMMASO: You rotting monster. How can I drag you out of this?
SIMONETTA: Reach deep, Tommaso, deep into the muck!
BRAMANTE: (RE-ENTERING, quickly dressing) Signor de Cavalieri, it is you! Have you wandered into this plague pit by accident, too? Come let’s leave together. (HE has two different colored stockings on.)
SIMONETTA: Bramante, you fashion-plate.
BRAMANTE: Don’t tell me this Florentine degenerate has invited you to this debauchery! They’re all alike. Let’s away.
SANDRO: (RE-ENTERS from party, hysterical) Bramante, don’t leave. I can’t do that anymore without someone to hold up my—oh, sire!
SIMONETTA: Sandro, you zealot, is there a church open this late? Signor Cavalieri has done me the honor of asking for my hand.
SANDRO: You, marry that man? No, no, you mustn’t. Yes, it will keep others from your snares. Yes, it is holy, you must!
BRAMANTE: Cavalieri! You will not marry this decadent!
TOMMASO: To draw her from this, I would marry her in Hell’s pit!
SIMONETTA: Tommaso, how will you be broken?
BRAMANTE: You cannot unite a great ruling house of Rome with this purulent Medician blight!
SIMONETTA: You’d rather see Italy fall, wouldn’t you, Bramante?
BRAMANTE: Yes! No! It would be the fall!
TOMMASO: Simonetta, what you say you want, this— (Indicates within) —is not the necessary declension of it.
SIMONETTA: Isn’t it? Well, if not necessary, perhaps pleasurable?
TOMMASO: Is this what time does to love?
SIMONETTA: Not time alone, Tommaso. There are young men and women in there, younger than you. Do you like them young?
LEONARDO: (RE-ENTERING, wrapped in a sheet, wearing a great festive garland-crown of golden leaves, holding a great golden goblet) Tommaso, what are you doing here?
BRAMANTE: You cannot marry her!
SIMONETTA: The fact is, Bramante, he can if he wants to! I am finished, I am broken, do you want to save me, Tommaso? You may!
TOMMASO: I would. I will.
SIMONETTA: Fine. The Pope will marry us. Or if he won’t, the
next one will. He’s here, I think, Giovanni, Lorenzo’s boy. Isn’t he in there?
TOMMASO: Everything you show me makes me stronger. You are pleading for help in the only way your pride will let you, pleading with me to save you from your past.
BRAMANTE: Past? What makes you think it is past? Isn’t she here?
TONDO: (RE-ENTERS from party without trousers, drunker) Hey, whass happenin’? Party over? You know, I think somebody picked my pockets.
LEONARDO: Neatly.
TONDO: Hey, hi, Cavalieri, you here? Hell, I shoulda figgered. Hey, come on in, you I’ll take on for free. Good connections. Hey, Simonetta, good? Good connections?
BRAMANTE: You see what she is? Everyone here has had her!
SANDRO: He wants her, Tondo wants her, not me!
BRAMANTE: Wants her? He’s had her. Haven’t you, Tondo?
TONDO: Her who? Christ, I don’t know. Bring ‘em on. Wheeeee!
BRAMANTE: Sandro, hasn’t he? Didn’t you see them in there, coupling like animals?
SANDRO: Who? Did they? Oh, God, I want to die!
BRAMANTE: Sandro, sober up, listen, don’t be afraid. Tell Cavalieri what you saw. He’s over there. Tell him Tondo had Simonetta this night.
SANDRO: I don’t know. I can’t swear.
BRAMANTE: You know he wants her. You know Tondo wants Simonetta.
SANDRO: Yes, yes, all men do. She is a sorceress!
BRAMANTE: And does not the Bible say that to look on a woman with lust is the same as having her?
SANDRO: The Bible, yes! Yes, it is the same, he had her, not me! He has had her! I was there! I saw it! He had her! He had her! He had her! She paid him! I saw!
BRAMANTE: Tondo, take this Florentine saint away!
TONDO: Come on, Gran’pa. Wow, you still got some kicks in you, hey? Come on, give ol’ Tondo another ride Wheeee!
SANDRO: I have sinned. I don’t know how, but I have sinned. Beat me, punish me!
TONDO: Whatever you say. Away!
(TONDO and SANDRO EXIT into party.)
BRAMANTE: You see, Cavalieri? You see what she is?
TOMMASO: (Insensible to all save SIMONETTA) I don’t believe it. Not since you met me. Tell me it is a lie.
SIMONETTA: You should not give me such an easy out, Tommaso. Yes, it is a lie. But if I may foreshorten time, I shall go back quickly and make it true. This is not a lie, Tommaso. I am willing to make you suffer anything to save you—myself—Italy—from even greater suffering. Leonardo! How uncouth of you not to invite me to your party! When everyone I feel comfortable with is here! (At door to party) Hallo! Giovanni! Sandro! Oh, Tondo! Hey, Tondo! Save some for Simonetta! (SHE EXITS into party.)
(TOMMASO goes to the door where LEONARDO stands.)
RAPHAEL: Tommaso, don’t go in there!
TOMMASO: I’m not. Leonardo—
LEONARDO: You were not invited to see this, Tommaso.
TOMMASO: You said I must see everything.
LEONARDO: But everything. This is not everything.
BRAMANTE: What you have seen is what happened to Florence. Florence the dreamer. Florence the uniter.
TOMMASO: How you hate that dream. What a hateful dream you have.
BRAMANTE: Dreams, bosh! I have no dreams, I work with reality. My work stands. You have seen the best of Florence’s dream.
TOMMASO: Yes, yes I have. But not here. Leonardo—
LEONARDO: No, Tommaso. No. I know what you want to ask. No, the best of Florence is not to be found here.
TOMMASO: But he might be, mightn’t he? Couldn’t he be? Isn’t it only an accident that he’s not?
LEONARDO: If anything is accident, everything is. If everything is willed, anything can be willed. If you have found the best that does exist, it is within your will to keep it where it should be.
TOMMASO: I thought you were the best.
LEONARDO: I am not. You know what it costs me to say that.
TOMMASO: I think I do. And I think I know where I ought to go.
LEONARDO: I think you do.
TOMMASO: But tell me.
LEONARDO: Can you still trust me?
TOMMASO: I trust myself. But I want you to tell me, so I will know that I still can trust you, too.
LEONARDO: You can. You must. Yes, you should go to him.
TOMMASO: Thank you.
LEONARDO: And do not think for a moment I do not wish it could be me. I do. Believe me.
TOMMASO: I do. (HE EXITS through the gate, past RAPHAEL.)
BRAMANTE: (To LEONARDO) Well, there you see, you incapable meddler, how I have unmade your match! You see what I can do?
LEONARDO: Given the right material, Bramante, man can do anything.
BRAMANTE: What are you so wet-eyed about, you hypocrite?
LEONARDO: Bramante, you great fool. You have just defeated, without knowing it, your greatest ambition, which you probably don’t know either.
BRAMANTE: What are you laughing at? You are not laughing at me!
LEONARDO: You idiot, with no good intentions whatsoever, you have driven Tommaso—
RAPHAEL: Leonardo, don’t!
LEONARDO: Why, Raphael? Haven’t you just seen how impotent evil really is?
RAPHAEL: Vengeance is evil, too, Leonardo.
BRAMANTE: What vengeance? What is everyone talking about?
LEONARDO: They’ll be talking about you, donkey-dung, when they learn you have just driven Tommaso Cavalieri into the arms of Michelangelo Buonarroti
BRAMANTE: Buonarroti? Never!
LEONARDO: Forever! At last I have done something good for the human race. Ah, come, Bramante, don’t stew. Let us go back in and at least finish this party! (EXITS to party)
BRAMANTE: That old fool. Who does he think I am? I can finish that in a minute. All I have to do is send Tondo over there and swear he’s been with Michelangelo, or—
RAPHAEL: Uncle, it isn’t necessary!
BRAMANTE: You! What would you know? You know nothing of how one has to fight for every crumb!
RAPHAEL: I do know, Uncle. I wasn’t going to tell you, but—
BRAMANTE: Tell me what? What all is going on now?
RAPHAEL: Uncle, have you ever known me to lie? Look at me.
BRAMANTE: What, you? No, you can’t stand lies, you get all purple when people lie. You’re a complete ass, and I have to take care of you all the time.
RAPHAEL: Then listen. I will speak only the truth. Michelangelo has sent a letter to Pope Julius, refusing to paint the ceiling absolutely, insulting Julius eternally, and vowing to leave Rome immediately!
BRAMANTE: I can’t believe it! He has accepted! I have spies!
RAPHAEL: Uncle—I have seen the letter.
BRAMANTE: (Peers at RAPHAEL, then—) You’re not changing color! It must be true! And he wouldn’t say he was leaving if he didn’t mean it; he’s honest, too.
RAPHAEL: That’s true. That’s very true, uncle. You’re right. He will leave. That’s very perceptive of you. Now, hurry back in, uncle. Think of all those boys in there. Think of all the important people. Do you want Leonardo to send all those boys to all those people and get all those big commissions? Do you want to miss the sight of Simonetta publicly disgracing herself over a boy she’s already lost?
BRAMANTE: You’re right. I’ll celebrate. You’ve got good. stuff in you, boy. Come on in. I’d. like to see you enjoying yourself. There’s a girl in there, a Persian acrobat who can reach her own—
RAPHAEL: No, uncle. You go ahead. I have an important
appointment with a great person— (Before BRAMANTE can ask whom.) —whom I dare not name to you.
BRAMANTE: Oh-ho! Sleeping at the top, eh, nephew? Yes, that’s the way. Go along. I’ll take an old man’s pleasure, if I may. (Peeks in at door) Ooooooo, look! That Persian girl is teaching Tondo and Simonetta how to— (EXITS to party)
RAPHAEL: He’s right! Michelangelo does mean what he says. He will leave! (Takes letter from pocket) Only some heavenly intervention can stop him. (Brandishes letter) I’ll give the Pope this note—and Mike this present: the chance to choose between the prince and peasant! (With a wink at the audience, HE EXITS through gate.)

End of ACT THREE, Scene 1

ACT THREE

Scene 2

MMFBtrio

(MICHELANGELO’S STUDIO. IMMEDIATELY AFTERWARDS. Boxes and bags are stacked by the door—NOTE: facilitating Ignudo’s access to the rafter later.)
(MICHELANGELO ENTERS from one room with a box which he adds to the stack, then EXITS to another room.)
(IGNUDO ENTERS from street, still clutching RAPHAEL’s coin.)
IGNUDO: (Calls) Master! Master! Are you here? Oh, Master! Where have you gone?
MICHELANGELO: (RE-ENTERS with box) Ignudo! Did they jail you? Did they beat you? Where’s my reply?
IGNUDO: The Guardian of the Gate took the letter, sir. They ain’t no reply.
MICHELANGELO: Ha! Julius left speechless! Divine! Although I half-expected he’d send militia after me! Oh, well. (Adds box to stack) Come, help me with this baggage! (Starts off to bedroom)
IGNUDO: Sir! (MICHELANGELO stops.) Are you leavin’ anyways?
MICHELANGELO: Certainly I’m leaving. Didn’t you see that cart waiting downstairs? Come help me. (EXITS to bedroom)
IGNUDO: (Runs to window, calls out) You! Cart! You go away. You go on away now, we don’t need joo. (Tosses Raphael’s coin) Here! Here’s a florin for you. Go!
MICHELANGELO: (RE-ENTERS with bundle) Come help me. Who are you shouting at?
IGNUDO: (Takes bundle) That carter, sir. He said he had another job an’ went away. (EXITS to bedroom with bundle)
MICHELANGELO: What? (Runs to window) Damn! You can’t trust anybody!
IGNUDO: (RE-ENTERS from bedroom) Nosir, I guess you can’t.
MICHELANGELO: Well, don’t just stand there. Go get another carter.
IGNUDO: It’s too late tonight, sir.
MICHELANGELO: You’re probably right. Well, at least everything’s packed. (Sits) I could wait, anyway, for Julius’ reply. It should be a doozy!
IGNUDO: Oh, yessir, why don’t choo do that? That’d be fine.
MICHELANGELO: No. It could take days. It’s Easter season. No,
I’ll leave. He’ll pursue me with it, of course. (Rises and would go pack more) Probably send a battalion!
IGNUDO: But choo can’t leave til you get choo another cart, sir.
MICHELANGELO: (Stops) I suppose you’re right. Very well, I’ll rest.
IGNUDO: Yessir, let’s do that. Come on up, an’ I’ll take you to bed right now! (Grabs MICHELANGELO’s hand, would drag HIM to bedroom)
MICHELANGELO: You’re—very sweet, Ignudo—
IGNUDO: Thank you, sir.
MICHELANGELO: —but (Disengages hand) I’m not drunk tonight…I could go ahead, and have you send my things.
IGNUDO: Where?
MICHELANGELO: Where? Where not? Wherever. Wherever the next ship may be bound that sets sail from Civitavecchia. Hell, the English need cathedrals. The Scandinavians, fortresses. The Great Sultan has been begging me to build a bridge across the Bosporus! There’s nowhere Michelangelo can’t go! And you…Well, you could stay here and wait for a message from me.
IGNUDO: But I couldn’t read it, sir.
MICHELANGELO: You could get someone to read it for you. And you’ll—I suppose—be needing a place to stay, won’t you?
IGNUDO: Oh, you wouldn’t want to leave me here alone, sir. I might steal ever’thing.
MICHELANGELO: You? No, I trust you, Ignudo, you’re honest. Too honest.
IGNUDO: I ain’t all that honest, sir.
MICHELANGELO: You? You’re the honest working earth that gives all these prelates and potentates something to fight over. Yes, you stay here and treat the place as your own. And I’ll send for my goods.
IGNUDO: Sir, won’t it cost you a lot to send them heavy things?
MICHELANGELO: Oh, I see what you’re after. You want me to leave you a statue? It would be simpler just to give you money—
IGNUDO: Nosir. I wouldn’t want one of them. I mean, I would for the memory of you. But they’re all o’ that Tondo person. An’ besides, how would I tote it around, wanderin’ cold and homeless like I’ll be?
MICHELANGELO: But I said you could stay here. I thought you liked this grand place.
IGNUDO: Nosir, I wouldn’t wanna be here without choo.
MICHELANGELO: But, Ignudo, I’d like to give you something before I go. I owe it to you as a gentleman, after the way I used you last night.
IGNUDO: (After a PAUSE) So you’re set to go, anyways?
MICHELANGELO: What is it that you mean by ”anyways?”
IGNUDO: Oh, jes’ a country way o’ talkin’.
MICHELANGELO: Ah. Well, then, yes, I’m set to go anyways.
IGNUDO: …..Sir? You know what I would like, sir? If’n you’re dead set to go? A skull-cher. A little skull-cher o’ me that I could carry. A skull-cher o’ me the way you see me.
MICHELANGELO: Oh, no, sculptures take forever.
IGNUDO: I don’t mind.
MICHELANGELO: But if it would please you, I’ll make a sketch of you. A quick sketch. (Finds pad and crayon)
IGNUDO: Yessir. Jus’ a minute, sir. (Begins undressing)
MICHELANGELO: What are you doing?
IGNUDO: Takin’ off my clothes, sir.
MICHELANGELO: That’s not necessary.
IGNUDO: But thass how you drawed him.
MICHELANGELO: Oh…Yes…I see.
IGNUDO: (Down to his drawers) I’d even take off ever’thing if you was to want me to. Don’t make no sense my playin’ to be modest after what we done. As my blessed Mama used to say—
MICHELANGELO: (Quickly) However you want it, Ignudo.
IGNUDO: You know what I’d really like, sir?
MICHELANGELO: Now what?
IGNUDO: (Hops spryly up to the highest rafter) Like this, sir. Like I’d o’ looked if you was to of put me up on that ceilin’, see?
MICHELANGELO: Ignudo, you’ll fall.
IGNUDO: Oh, nosir, I won’t. I’m strong. You tooken good care o’ me an’ I’m strong again. I can stay up here for as long as you’d want me to. It’s hard, but I can do it for you. I can do anything you’d want me to. Here, here’s how you posed the young gentleman. (Poses as the Adam of the Creation)
MICHELANGELO: Ignudo, come down, stop this.
IGNUDO: Sir, it’s all I’d want. It’s all I’d ever want. An’ I wouldn’t never complain nor make no trouble. You know I’d do anything for you. I’d do things for you I couldn’t do on my own nor for nobody else. And I wouldn’t never mind—because it’s for you.
MICHELANGELO: (Puts down sketchpad) Ignudo—
IGNUDO: You’re so good. You see with the eyes of a angel.
MICHELANGELO: No, it’s you who sees that way.
IGNUDO: Yessir, thass what my mama used to say.
MICHELANGELO: And that’s a terribly dangerous thing to do.
IGNUDO: Yessir, my mama used to say that, too.
MICHELANGELO: You see things as they are—and you can still love them.
IGNUDO: What else is they to do, sir? Sir, you ain’t drawin’.
MICHELANGELO: Ignudo, come down. There’s something I want to say to you.
IGNUDO: Oh, nosir. I can stay. An’—an’ you can make me look like him if’n you want to. I wouldn’t never mind. An’ look here, I’ll even take this off if’n you want me to. (Tosses down his drawers which MICHELANGELO catches and holds) There, see, sir? I’m here for you. I don’t care none if it takes forever. An’ you can make me whatever you want me to be.
TOMMASO: (ENTERS from street; cannot see IGNUDO) Michelangelo.
MICHELANGELO: Tommaso.
TOMMASO: Don’t say anything, Michelangelo. Please, I’ve something to say to you. You wanted me, and I took it as abuse, but now I see that it was an honor I can only hope to deserve. You are not like everyone else in the world, a ranting, dishonorable animal. You saw something good in me and you reached out to touch it and I fled. But I see now that you had waited and suffered until you felt you had found the best. To be desired by you is an accolade. You can teach me to believe in myself. You can teach me to love you. Take me in your arms— (HE advances toward MICHELANGELO, arms out.)
IGNUDO: (Falling) Master, I can’t hold on! (IGNUDO falls and lands between TOMMASO and MICHELANGELO.)
MICHELANGELO: (IGNUDO’s drawers in HIS hand) Tommaso—
TOMMASO: It is almost impossible to believe that Leonardo did not put you up to this—but I suppose I can believe it. Obviously I can believe anything. (Turns to leave)
MICHELANGELO: Tommaso—
TOMMASO: And see how I am punished. I can never believe in anything again! (EXITS to street)
MICHELANGELO: …And I can never stop believing in you.
IGNUDO: (On his knees) Oh, master, master, please believe me, I didn’t mean to fall. I couldn’t help it. I didn’t mean to ruin it. You wanted him, he was all you wanted. An’ you could of had ‘im, an’ I run ‘im off. I didn’t mean to, I didn’t mean to, please believe me!
MICHELANGELO: (Kneels facing IGNUDO, dries IGNUDO’s
tears with drawers) Ignudo, I will believe that you didn’t mean to drive him away, if you will believe something for me—
IGNUDO: Anything!
MICHELANGELO: —that I was about to send him away for you.
IGNUDO: For me? After all them mean things I said about choo?
MICHELANGELO: I am not as he sees me, Ignudo. I am as you see me!
IGNUDO: You want me to stay with you?
MICHELANGELO: If you will.
IGNUDO: Oh, master, I’ll stay with you forever.
MICHELANGELO: Oh, no, Ignudo, no. I only meant for tonight—(Before IGNUDO can react, JULIUS ENTERS from street, waving letter)
JULIUS: Michelangelo, what is the meaning of this anthology of insults?
IGNUDO: Raphael! Blessed angel Raphael!
JULIUS: Michelangelo Buonarroti, understand once and for all that you will today set to your commission to decorate my chapel’s vault with the twelve apostles!
MICHELANGELO: (Stands) And. understand, apostolic successor, I will do no such thing! And if I did, it would not be with your preachy predecessors, but with the brute truth of reality! Not the tame game you make of it, but— (Envisioning ceiling panels with growing intensity, pointing them out along his own ceiling) —the hermaphroditic majesty of the creative soul! The image of the perfect man! His terror when he listens to frauds like you! The chaos that inundates him when he accepts your confusion as truth! And you, the holy father, stripped of your royal robes, shamed and naked!
JULIUS: (Ecstatic, pointing out the same panels) Magnificent! Creation! The Garden! The Fall! The Flood! Noah’s nakedness! Nothing pagan or perverse! (Embraces MICHELANGELO) You’ve come through!
IGNUDO: Oh, master, I knowed you was a Christian!
MICHELANGELO: (Shaking JULIUS off) I flatly refuse!
JULIUS: Very well, then. I roundly accept!
MICHELANGELO: (Startled) You what?
JULIUS: If you don’t want to do it, you won’t do it well. I’ll have to have someone second-rate execute your magnificent conception! And I
had so hoped to have it done by the perfect painter.
MICHELANGELO: So you can be the perfect patron?
JULIUS: And why not? I have to do something with my intelligence and energy, and. we wouldn’t want me to—for instance—besiege
Florence, would we now?
MICHELANGELO: Julius!
JULIUS: But let’s not talk about me. Michelangelo, have you sunk so low in your own estimation that you can’t respect anyone who wants you?
(IGNUDO, whom JULIUS has barely noticed, kneels between
JULIUS and MICHELANGELO and nods enthusiastic agreement with Julius’ statements.)
Michelangelo, you had better learn to stop mooning after your perfect prince and accept the one you have!
(IGNUDO nods agreement.)
You think I don’t know how far short I fall of the great men who have been in your life before me?
(IGNUDO agrees humbly.)
But I still try, and. with no help from addlepated idealists who never take a stand to make any place or person better, and. then complain that nothing’s good!
IGNUDO: Now you see, sir, listen to him. That’s just what I been tryin’ to tell ya, an’ you wouldn’t listen, but he’s the Pope, so he
knows! You just gotta work with what choo got!
JULIUS: Listen to the boy, Michelangelo. He has a good head on his shoulders. And good shoulders, too, I might add.
IGNUDO: It ain’t me, sir. It’s just somethin’ my dear departed Mama—
MICHELANGELO: All right, all right, all right, all right. Julius, you’ve got me. (To IGNUDO) You’ve got me. (To GOD) You’ve got me. I’ll do it!
IGNUDO: Oh, master, hooray! An’ I’ll clean your brushes an’ bring you lunch, an’ at night when you’re through, we can come home an’ go right to bed an’—
MICHELANGELO: But, Julius, do you know what I’m going to spew across your sacred ceiling? (Again indicating ceiling) Ignudo! Ignudo’s buns, Ignudo’s breasts, Ignudo’s balls, cock, cock, cock, Julius, I’m going to festoon and loop your roof with ignoble genitalia!
IGNUDO: I get to pose!
JULIUS: And scholars will be employed for centuries analyzing your generative symbolism. Who am I to question God’s genius? I leave you in his hands. (At door, suddenly) And when you’re dead, I’ll hire an inferior painter to put britches on all your boys! (EXITS to street)
IGNUDO: (Stands, embraces MICHELANGELO) Oh, master we get to be together forever! I’ll be with someone I need that needs me!
MICHELANGELO: (Desperately trying to regain control) Ignudo, that will be quite enough!
IGNUDO: Yessir! That’s what I been tryin’ to tell you! (IGNUDO
picks up MICHELANGELO and EXITS upstairs to bedroom with him.)

End of ACT THREE, Scene 2

END OF ACT THREE

END OF MICHELANGELO’ S MODELS

 

2 Responses to “MICHELANGELO’S MODELS play by Robert Patrick”

  1. RESUME/Links to Online Works « Robert Patrick's Personal Blog Says:

    […] which has gone into a second printing and been optioned for film. In 1996, he published “MICHELANGELO’S MODELS,” “BREAD ALONE,” and “THE TRIAL OF SOCRATES.” In 1997, he received […]

  2. ROBERT PATRICK BIO by Wendell Stone « Quit Says:

    […] […]

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