THE BEAUX ARTS BALL Illustrated Play by Robert Patrick

THE BEAUX ARTS BALL

A long one-act play by Robert Patrick

For Patrick Angus, Painter Extraordinaire

“Oh, wad some power the giftie gee us to see oursils as ithers see us.”–Robert Burns, To a Louse

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C 2004
Robert Patrick
#211
1837 N. Alexandria Ave.
L.A. CA 90027
(323) 360-1469
Rbrtptrck@aol.com
IM: rbrtptrck

THE BEAUX ARTS BALL

(Setting: The lounge of the ladies’ room at the Beaux Arts Ball in Paris, evening. Pink poufs, couches, and banquettes, crystal and greenery. Dressing tables are supplied with make-up, cigarettes, champagne. A stairway with a pedestal nestled in its curve, curves in from a curtained doorway to the ballroom, up left. An exit rear to the toilet facilities.)

(At RISE, a Belle Époque waltz is heard offstage. NORMA, a pretty Manet maid, dusting and straightening the room, notices us and speaks:)

NORMA: Good evening, and welcome to the Beaux Arts Ball. This is the most exciting event of the year, so they tell me, in Paris, the most exciting city in the world, so I am told. We are presently located in the ladies’ lounge. Out there, amidst pier-glasses and organza, all the artists of Paris are dancing. I am guilty of a slight inaccuracy to say that the artists are dancing. In fact, they are posing for newspaper photographs. And trapping art critics in corners. And buying champagne for people who buy paintings. Such is the Bohemian life. So they tell me. I am a good girl, here from the country to earn my dowry so that I may marry a respectable man, and have unfortunate girls to wait on me. Such is life. But ooooooooooo, at times I dream of marrying a romantic artist! Or at least I used to. Then I met them, and their wives, and….that is to say, the others: all the artists’ women. Their lives do not strike a young girl as romantic. They are always on exhibition. They must pose out there, all the night long, in the costume and manner of the men who are their husbands – or are not. And when they retreat in here, still there is no rest. Here they make deals among themselves, little alliances to promote their men’s careers. Here they may loosen their corsets, but never their reins of respectability. Here they may allow themselves to lose a little dignity, but never to lose an inch gained in their struggle for status and position. Here, also, the older women examine and sort out the younger, to decide who is desirable, and who is not. And all the while the older women eye one another for advantage and supremacy. It is so exhausting. Poor rich women. Now I, I can tell the good women from the undesirables at a glance: the undesirable ones are – so much more desirable. That is a little joke which I permit myself. The truth is, the good women do not tip. When I am a respectable married woman, I shall not tip, either. But ooooooooo, I do wish I could have seen this Ball in the old days, when, I am told, modern art had not yet been accepted, and these celebrations were highly spontaneous. It is right that the good women should run the Ball now with iron discipline; that is the way of civilization. Now all is orderly and correct, and we no longer have the mad, wild, giddy, irresponsible Bohemian Beaux Arts Balls of the past –

JOLIE (Offstage): Pablo! Pablo! Noooooooooooooo!

NORMA: So they tell me.

(MRS. N. C. WYETH enters above, carrying a snugly-wrapped baby in each arm. SHE is dressed like her husband’s paintings of romanticized Pilgrim wives or Indian squaws..

SHE speaks, as SHE descends, to MADAME GEORGES SEURAT, who holds the curtain for HER and then follows. MADAME SEURAT is a beldam of great presence, dressed as (1) a figure from her husband’s “La Gran Jatte,” or (2) herself at her toilette.)

MRS. WYETH (In doorway): No, no, no, this is too much. Really, this is the absolute limit. Let me out of here. This is disgraceful, disgraceful. This is a scandal to the jaybirds!

(MADAME SEURAT beckons MRS. WYETH to enter and descend the stairs. MRS. WYETH does, permitting MADAME SEURAT to close the curtains. As MRS. WYETH descends, MADAME SEURAT stands at the top of the stairs, listening half to MRS. WYETH and half to the fading sounds of the PICASSO squabble outside.)

Oh, thank you, Mah-dahm Soo-rah. I just had to get Baby Andrew and Baby Henriette out of that smoke and noise! And that disgraceful exhibition those foreigners were making. I mean, they’re foreigners even to you, aren’t they? I was sure they were! I swear, I have never been to a party you couldn’t take babies to before. I don’t know what my N.C. wanted to come to Paris for, anyway, much less to this noisy ball! Well! I’ll sit –

(NORMA prettily curtseys and indicates a comfortable banquette. MRS. WYETH sits and tends to babies.)

- right here and wait until N. C. is ready to take me back to Delaware.

MADAME SEURAT:  Ah, but, Meezess Wyeth, the Beaux Arts Ball is the grand Parisian tradition. One must attend and be counted among the important artistic personages –

(SHE eyes MRS. WYETH.)

- and come to know the newcomers on the scene. You have nothing of the sort in – Day-la-ware?

MRS WYETH: I should most certainly say that we do not. Oh, well, from time to time we might have a little masquerade party with skits, where my N.C. and the other working illustrators might dress up like their favorite wholesome fictional characters. But, no, we most certainly do not have anything like this!

MADAME SEURAT (Descending to mirror): I must come, for my dear husband’s memory. I must keep his style alive, and in veneration.

MRS. WYETH (Rises and observes HER):
He really painted like that? All them tiny little dots?

MADAME SEURAT:  Yes. It was a great innovation, scientific as well as aesthetic

MRS WYETH: Well, I’m certainly glad my N.C. is a romantic realist. Meanin’ no offense.

MADAME SEURAT:  Could there be an offense? No, you are striking the proper pose. We all must support and nourish our husbands’ work. A woman must live in her husband’s style.

(SHE makes her way, very much “in her husband’s style”, to a dressing-table seat held for her by NORMA, and sits.)

Not that it is necessary for any of us to disparage any other’s style. It is, of course, possible for us to help or hurt one another –

(NORMA is pouring champagne for MADAME SEURAT with notable servility. This is not lost on MRS. WYETH.)

- depending, of course, upon our relative place in the great scheme of things.-

MRS WYETH: Oh, well, of course, I see that. I mean, I understand. And I just can’t wait to get back to Delaware and tell everyone there what wonderful sorts of exciting new paintings you people are doing over here now – and have done in the recent past.

MADAME SEURAT:  How very genteel you are, after all, Meezess Wyeth. I look forward to introducing you to the wives of the European publishers.

(Now, as always, NORMA mirrors MADAME SEURAT’s attitudes of approval or disapproval of each character.)

MRS WYETH: Why thank you, Mah-dahm Soo-rah.

MADAME SEURAT (Claps hands): Norma, champagne for Meezess Wyeth – like a good little girl.

(NORMA skitters to MRS. WYETH with bottle and glass.)

MRS WYETH: No, thank you, Mah-dahm Soo-rah.

(MADAME SEURAT and NORMA raise eyebrows. MRS. WYETH seats herself smugly between babies on banquette.)

In Delaware, nice women don’t.

(MADAME SEURAT eyes MRS. WYETH with new respect, and begins repairing her pointillist make-up with colored pencils.)

(The curtain is flung back to admit can-can music. MARY CASSATT enters. SHE is a lady of a certain age clothed like her own paintings of morning-dressed matrons, her face glowing with Impressionist colors. SHE is proper but not prim.)

MARY CASSATT: Oh, Mrs. Wyeth, there you are. I saw you exiting the festivities.

MADAME SEURAT:  Please, Miss Cassatt. You must close the curtain on the can-can music. Otherwise, we cannot converse –

(MARY has instantly turned and closed curtains, softening the music.)

- civilizedly.

MARY CASSATT (Descends to MRS. WYETH): You are not, I hope, in any distress?

MRS WYETH: Oh, no, not really. I just said that to have an excuse to leave. I just hate these parties. Though it’s an honor to be asked, of course. Ooooooooo, I want to go home! I don’t see how an American lady like you can stand living here. Meaning no offense’, of course.

MADAME SEURAT:  But, my dear, where else would any artist wish to live?

MRS WYETH: Why, yes, Miss Cassatt. I was wondering which one of all those handsome artists out there is your fiancée. I hope as soon as you’re married, you do mean to make him take you back to the good old U.S. of A.

MARY CASSATT: Oh. I won’t be going back there, Mrs. Wyeth. And perhaps I should tell you, here and now at the very start of our acquaintance, that I am, in fact, alone here tonight.

MRS WYETH: Alone? An unmarried lady?

MARY CASSATT: Oh, not entirely unescorted, Mrs. Wyeth, you mustn’t think that. I am at a table with a large party of painter friends. But you see – well – I am an artist myself, and couldn’t think of leaving Paris. This is where reputations are made.

MADAME SEURAT:  And kept.

MRS . WYETH: I’m not certain that I’m hearing correctly. You? Are an artist?

MADAME SEURAT:  Miss Cassatt is an exceptional artist. She is keeping alive the old Impressionist tradition – which my husband moved beyond.

MRS WYETH: Are you really, now? Well, I don’t know that I’ve met a woman artist before.

MARY CASSATT: No. There aren’t many of us. I do think you would appreciate my paintings, though, should you be so kind as to come to tea and see them. I paint, you see, mostly, mothers and children.

MRS WYETH: You do? Oh, well, I suppose that’s – more nearly proper, then. I mean, well, certainly intending no offense, but – well – some of those other women out there, well, you could hardly expect me to expect you to be associating with them.

MARY CASSATT: Uh – of course, Mrs. Wyeth, you do understand that they do have very different standards here in. France, most especially among the artistic circles?

MRS WYETH: I should say they do. Why, the way that Spanish-speaking man was mistreating his wife?

MADAME SEURAT (It is on HER mind.): Senor Picasso.

MRS WYETH: Yes. Insulting her that way in public! Why, in Delaware, I don’t believe any gentleman would behave to a woman that way, why not unless she was a –

(MADAME SEURAT, MARY, and NORMA make meaningful faces.)

Oooooooooo!

MARY CASSATT: Yes, dear. Jolie is not, properly speaking, his wife.

MADAME SEURAT (with real concern):  Nor will she be, one fears.

MRS WYETH: Oh! Oh! Oh! Well, I’m all confused now. Does that make it all right, then, the way he’s treating her? Or not? Or what? Oh, I don’t want to know. I just want out of here –

MADAME SEURAT:  Alas, the lovely Jolie is not, I fear, to be among us long. (To MARY CASSATT) Did you observe the way Gertrude and Alice smiled when Pablo abused her?

MARY CASSATT: Oh, yes. Yes, sadly I did.

MRS WYETH: Gertrude and Alice are those other two American ladies, aren’t they?

MARY CASSATT (Uncomfortable): They are American, yes.

MRS WYETH: Are they living here to be artists too, like you?

MARY CASSATT: They have made Paris their home, yes.

MRS WYETH: They’re here alone, too, like you?

MARY CASSATT: Not — exactly like me.

MRS WYETH: Oh, are they married?

(At this, MADAME SEURAT and NORMA cannot help giggling.)

MARY CASSATT: Mrs. Wyeth, shall I tell your husband that you’re ready to go home now?

MRS WYETH: Oh, would you?

MARY CASSATT (Rushes to curtain): Gratefully.

MADAME SEURAT:  Please, if I may interfere between two countrywomen, I believe Mr. Wyeth to be conversing with a publisher. He may not wish to be interrupted. I only offer this information.

MRS WYETH: Oh. Well. Thank you, Mah-dahm Soo-rah. Miss Cassatt, I’ll just bide an’ hide a while, then. If N.C. is talking business, I mean

MARY CASSATT (Closes curtain): As you wish, Mrs. Wyeth.

(MARY stands at doorway, observing MRS. WYETH and HER children. The music changes to the “Tales from the Vienna ‘ Woods.”)

How very beautiful American babies are.

MRS WYETH: Why, thank you. I’m proud of them..’

MARY CASSATT: I see so few, living here as I must. As I have chosen. Do you think I might – hold one of them?

MRS WYETH: Oh, well, certainly. I suppose. If you – Oh, please pardon me “for asking, but – do you know how to hold a baby? Meaning, I assure you, no offense.

MARY CASSATT: Oh, yes, Mrs. Wyeth. Yes, yes, yes, I know.

{Takes baby gently and expertly)

MRS WYETH: Why, you do. I see you do. How sweet. How very sweet. Miss Cassatt?

MARY CASSATT: Yes, Mrs. Wyeth?

MRS WYETH: Would you give me permission to call you – ?

MARY CASSATT: “Mary.” Please do.

MRS WYETH: Mary, then. And you must call me “Caroline.”

MARY CASSATT: Caroline.

MADAME SEURAT:  What tenderness.

(Curtain is flung open admitting the strains of “The Merry Widow Waltz” and GIGI, a luscious hoyden dressed and painted as a Gibson Girl pen-drawing, with far too much of everything: bosom, hair, hat, feathers, jewelry, boa, skirt. SHE admonishes someone outside:}

GIGI: Now you just close those curtains, you naughty boys. This is the one place you fellows can’t follow a girl!

(SHE drops the curtains and descends. NORMA is galvanized: GIGI tips big. NORMA takes GIGI’s wrap and hat, pours champagne, arranges dressing-table, receiving many franc notes, drawn from GIGI’s bosom.)

Well, hello! What are y’all sittin’ in here for? My goodness, ain’t this a somethin’ scrumptious party? I vow, not even at Delmonico’s in New York do they know how to throw a party so swell. I’m just all flustered from dancin’ with all those handsome men of many nations. I need to freshen up a little.

MRS WYETH: Why, you’re American, too.

GIGI: That I am. But it ain’t incurable, honey. Jay swee learnin’ to parlay-voo plenty toot sweet, moan shares.

MADAME SEURAT:  Mademoiselle: has the disturbance at Miss Gertrude Stein’s table completed itself?

GIGI: Hey, not halfway. I vow, I wouldn’t go near that Spic painter for all the far fees in France. Where’s he get off, treatin’ his model thataway?

MADAME SEURAT:  That is so often the life of a – model.

GIGI: Well, I vow Mister Gibson never did treat me thataway. He was always a parfay gentleman, and tray generous, if you compree what I mean. (GIGI displays jewelry.)

MADAME SEURAT:  Intuitively, I compris.

GIGI (Digging in HER bag): Best thing that ever happened to me, meetin’ up with Mister Gibson. He took me right out of that there sweatshop an’ made me famous with his dazzlin’ pen drawin’s of me in all the major publications.

(Displays clippings from HER bag, shocking ALL)

Introduced me to all the right people an’ took me ever’where! An’ now to Paree! Whoopee!

MARY CASSATT: Mrs. Wyeth, have you been introduced to – ?

GIGI: Oh, no, honey, see voo play, I ain’t usin’ my ol’ name anymore. Wasn’t my real name, anyhow. I’m callin’ myself “Gigi” now. Ma’am Sewer-Rat, I’m callin’ myself “Gigi” now. Do you think that’ll help convince new people meetin’ me that I’m French?

MADAME SEURAT:  As much as anything could.

GIGI: Oh, thank you. I mean, mayer-see. I’m tryin’ to improve myself. Do you think I can?

MADAME SEURAT:  I think you can scarcely do anything else.

GIGI: Oh, thank you. I don’t know why they say the French are a standoffish race. (SHE hands NORMA yet another tip.) Everybody here has been tray interested in me.

MADAME SEURAT: Especially, I believe, Mademoiselle Laurencin and her circle of exceptional women.

(NORMA offers GIGI pots of pink, green, yellow paint.)

GIGI (Somewhat on guard): Why, yes, she’s been particularly sensitive to my education.

MADAME SEURAT: One assumed as much from your choice among cosmetics.

GIGI: Well, I reckon at a masquerade ball a person can have a little libertay about their appearance.

MADAME SEURAT: Liberte, equalite, and sororite?

(Even GIGI gets this one. SHE retires to a dressing-table. SHE takes out a pillbox and downs a pill with champagne. SHE will be busy for some time totally re-paintin, wiqqinq, and costuming herself into the likeness of a MARIE LAURENCIN girl, assisted by NORMA. MARY is flustered.)

MARY CASSATT: Mrs. Wyeth, maybe I really should go out and talk to your –

(Before MARY can take the stairs, the curtain is flung open and MADAME MATISSE enters to “The Flight of the Bumblebee.” SHE is easily in HER fifties, but painted and costumed like one of HER husband’s harem girls. SHE is immensely agitated. NORMA fans HER with a feather-duster.)

MADAME MATISSE: But it is not decent. It is not to be borne. That man is creating a loathsome public spectacle. It is cubist behavior. It is Spanish manners.

MADAME SEURAT: Good evening, Madame Matisse. I take it the row continues?

MADAME MATISSE: It leaves one breathless. It is a scandal. It definitely de-dignifies art. It is a throwback to the worst Bohemian excesses. It embarrasses the respectable avant-garde. I told my Henri, I said, “I shall go where ladies go, and await an intimation that the Beaux Arts Ball has been restored to an order that ladies may attend.”

MADAME SEURAT: Be assured that you nave done the correct thing, Madame Matisse.

MADAME MATISSE: Oh, thank you. One worries so about etiquette. Madame Dufy is so critical of one.

MADAME SEURAT (Claps hands): Let us order tea in here and abide as befits us.

(NORMA starts up stairs for tea.)

MADAME MATISSE: No, no, no, no tea.

(NORMA stops.)

I need only sit here and recover the use of myself.

GIGI (Offering pillbox): Here, honey, have one of these. They take away them flutters.

MADAME MATISSE (Eager): Oooooo, pinkies! (Realizes others are watching, disdains pills) Oh, Madame Seurat – what manner of pastilles are these that the little American is proffering?

MADAME SEURAT: We need not know, Madame Matisse. We need not say.

MRS WYETH: Oooooooooo, dear. Mary – ah – Miss Cassatt, would you mind going to find N.C. for me after all? I think we might better be thinking of leaving.

MARY CASSATT: Certainly Caroline – ah – Mrs. Wyeth. Yes, I think that might be for the best.

(Again, MARY is forestalled from taking the stairs as CONSTANCE flings wide the curtain on Edith Pilaf’s “M’lord,” almost drowned out by JOLIE’s offstage wails of “Pablo! Pablo!” NORMA panics and runs to hide behind MADAME SEURAT. CONSTANCE, a tall, lissome young American adventuress in shiny gray tights, gloved and masked as Brancusi’s “Mile. Pogany,” is delighted at the oncoming scandal, postures and shouts dramatically:)

CONSTANCE: You might clear a couch. At least a dressing table. Tragedy is imminent.

(Indeed it is. SUZANNE VALADON, a beat-up but proud woman dressed like her own paintings of prostitutes, enters. Suzanne assists the raging JOLIE, a passionate beauty costumed as Picasso’s most extreme cubist nightmare. JOLIE can barely be restrained as SHE and SUZANNE descend to a sofa.)

JOLIE: Ah, God,- what must I endure? Pablo, Pablo! It is not possible. It is fantastic how I am abused. Sweet, sweet God, what manner of man is this?

SUZANNE (Simultaneously): Jolie, little Jolie, console yourself. Come be at rest. It is woman’s lot.

MADAME MATISSE: What horror!

JOLIE: Was ever a woman so wronged? What have I committed? What have I lavished on him other than love? Other than passion? Other than belief? By what manner of logic can a man so misunderstand a woman’s love?

MRS. WYETH (Rising with babies): Out of here. Out of here right now.

(NORMA hides behind MRS. WYETH as they stare at grotesque JOLIE.)

CONSTANCE: I wouldn’t re-enter the festivities lust yet, Mrs. Wyeth. It continues chaotic out there.

MRS. WYETH (Sitting): Oh, dear.

JOLIE: Madame Seurat, can you not intercede? Can you not exculpate me?

MADAME MATISSE: Disgrace! Disgrace!

MADAME SEURAT(With power): Silence and calm, all of you! Suzanne, what has occurred?

SUZANNE: He has struck her.

MRS WYETH: Oh, gracious goodness.

MARY CASSATT: Not for the first time.

MADAME MATISSE: Oh, mercy, my heart.

GIGI (Offering pills): Sure, sugar?

(MADAME MATISSE, despite obvious nervousness at the surveillance of MADAME SEURAT, cannot resist, grabs pill, flees, exits rear.}

MADAME SEURAT: Suzanne, take Jolie in there and cool her face.

JOLIE (Running off rear): No, nothing can assist. Nothing can avail.

GIGI (Hands SUZANNE pill): Here, honey, slip her this; it avails a lot.

SUZANNE (Accepting it) Gratefully, Gigi. (To MADAME SEURAT) I will do what I can.

(SUZANNE exits, rear.)

MADAME SEURAT: Constance, make clear what has eventuated.

CONSTANCE: Rivalry rose. Jealousy reared. Sensation ensued.

MADAME SEURAT: Constance. In short?

CONSTANCE: That was short. Wait for my memoirs for the realistic version.

MADAME SEURAT: Have you learned nothing from your abstractionists but the art of the enigma?

MRS WYETH: Miss Cassatt, can these be your friends?

MARY CASSATT: My colleagues, Mrs. Wyeth. Try to understand.

MADAME SEURAT: Will no one appear to explicate this embarrassment?

GIGI (Indicating MADAME SEURAT’s make-up): Point by point, honey?

{Music: Berlioz. JEANNE enters above. SHE is a hugely pregnant girl, entirely hidden in a costume representing her in Modigliani’s style. SHE is drugged, dazed, needs help finding HER way about.)

JEANNE: Jolie?

MRS. WYETH (Screams): Oh, what’s that now?

MADAME SEURAT (Helps JEANNE descend): Jeanne, Jeanne, what has happened?

JEANNE: Jolie has – broken Picasso’s concentration. She has – lost his interest.

MRS. WYETH (meaning JOLIE, off): Well, who’d want it, to look like her? (Indicates JEANNE,) Or like her, huh?
.
MARY CASSATT: Caroline, please.

(As JEANNE tells HER story, MARY, MRS. WYETH, and NORMA become utterly absorbed, as if at a play. GIGI, making up, scarcely attends.)

MADAME SEURAT: But how, Jeanne? Try to concentrate and tell us how.

JEANNE: Pablo was speaking of his art with the brilliant and influential Stein woman. Jolie was – foolishly jealous. Picasso quieted her affectionately and returned to his conversation. Jolie unwisely intruded herself a second time, with implorations that she wished to dance. Pablo answered her gruffly, kissed her, gave her some wine and a cigarette. She seemed consoled. Again he and Miss Stein dove into their interminable elaborations. Miss Toklas, Miss Stein’s companion, wise in these ways, attempted to distract Jolie with talk of household matters, cooking and such. Jolie was baffled, her attention torn two ways.

GIGI: Was Madda-mwah-zell Laurencin there with them still?

JEANNE: Mademoiselle Laurencin, certainly in some ways a member of Miss Stein’s circle, was no longer present. She was engaged in an ostensibly idle, but actually intense, search of the entire ball room. She seemed to be seeking someone apparently not present.

GIGI: Good.

MADAME SEURAT: But, Jeanne: Jolie? Picasso? Alice? Gertrude?

JEANNE: The tensions and disturbances increased. At last, despite Miss Toklas’ muttered warnings, Jolie stood, and accused Miss Stein of intending to steal Pablo away. This announcement was met with general merriment. Jolie, roused by this apparent ridicule, began to rage illogically, simultaneously shaming Miss Stein as a courtesan bent on seduction, and as a sterile monster guilty of the most unspeakable aberrations. At this, Picasso tore into shreds the drawings he was making on the paper tablecloth, and flung them in the air like dreadful confetti. Bull’s heads, nymphs, and satyrs, guitars and harlequins rained down on us. Then he splashed a carafe of red wine over Jolie and began to slap her viciously back and forth, back and forth, across the bosom, heaping upon her insults in a language not unlike Italian, but not Italian –

MADAME SEURAT: Spanish, Jeanne, Spanish; do not stylize at such length.

JEANNE: Spanish, yes, but terrible Spanish, Catalonian, a language coarse and growling. Suzanne Valadon rose and wrested Jolie away, peeling her hands from Picasso. Tables were overturned, vessels shattered, decorations rent.

MADAME SEURAT: And you came to see how she was. Enough. Quite enough.

JEANNE: No! I came to you, Madame Seurat, because – because – because -Amadeo sat there while this – terrible rupture was being made –

MRS. WYETH (Whispers to MARY): Amad-eo?

MARY CASSATT (Whispers): Jeanne’s lover. Amadeo Modiqliani. Italian. Paints.

MRS. WYETH (Whispers): Ah.

MADAME SEURAT: And you feared his anger?

JEANNE: No! No! No! His indifference! He sat there while this – image of lovers’ separation! – formed before us, and – and nothing. It is – that nothingness, do you see? Do you see? Any of you? No? No. Do only I see it, then? He does not see it.

(ALL are silent as JEANNE wanders toward GIGI. GIGI offers a pill.)

GIGI: Help yourself, sugar.

JEANNE (Self-mocking): Help myself?

(SHE accepts the pill. NORMA skitters over with champagne. ALL watch as JEANNE swallows the pill, then wanders away, HER back to THEM.)

GIGI: Before I’d let a man treat me thataway…

MADAME SEURAT: I must go and –

(SHE looks up at the curtained doorway, at JEANNE, and makes HER decision.)

- look after Jolie.

(SHE starts off to rear exit. GIGI teases:)

GIGI: You better check on Madame Matisse, too. She may be feelin’ a little weird.

(MADAME SEURAT gives GIGI a death look and exits, rear.)

JEANNE (Turns to GIGI): It is sometimes better –

GIGI (Startled): Huh? Oh!

JEANNE: – to be treated that way, than to….

(JEANNE loses HER thought and wanders to a pouf where SHE sits sadly.)

MRS WYETH: I can’t believe any woman would put up with being treated that way.

CONSTANCE: You must be an American!

MRS WYETH: I certainly am. (Includes MARY) We certainly are.

CONSTANCE: Then don’t you know the art world?

MRS WYETH: No. That’s in New York.

CONSTANCE: You might visit there, and learn the universality of this -lifestyle.

MRS WYETH: No, thank you. We don’t go there.

GIGI: Well, you should. It’s wonderful. I’m goin’ back there as soon as I make a name for myself in Par-ee.

CONSTANCE (Teasing): Gigi: they have a name for you in Paree.

GIGI: Oh, you!

(GIGI and CONSTANCE laugh. SUZANNE enters, rear. ALL turn to HER, questioningly. Music: “M’Lord.” SHE takes a dramatic pause, then says:)

SUZANNE: Madame Seurat is attending to Jolie. Norma, champagne.

(NORMA busily gets champagne for SUZANNE, GIGI, and CONSTANCE, and sneaks a few slugs for HERSELF.)

GIGI: How’s Ma’am Matisse?

SUZANNE: Watching in horror and complaining of palpitations, you naughty girl. Oh, how does Henri keep her so innocent?

CONSTANCE: Is she as innocent as she is painted?

SUZANNE: Ah, God! Men are so…

GIGI: Yes, ain’t they?

CONSTANCE: I wrote the book.

(THEY laugh, toast, and drink. SUZANNE notices JEANNE.)

SUZANNE: Jeanne! You here? Are you all right?

JEANNE: Suzanne Valadon. You are kind. I remember that you are kind. Suzanne, I am to bear Amadeo’s child.

MRS WYETH: Oh, no!

GIGI: Oh, I love babies.

MRS WYETH: Do you – have babies?

GIGI: Not me. They ruin your figure. Oh, I didn’t mean you, honey. I’m sure it’s still good.

SUZANNE: Jeanne, you can’t.

JEANNE: I must. It is too late.

SUZANNE: Jeanne, you know what the child will be.

JEANNE: What it will be?

GIGI: Oh, can you tell if it’s gonna be a boy or a girl?

SUZANNE: It will be – you know what it must be, after the things you nave done to yourself.

JEANNE: I only know that it will be his.

MARY CASSATT: Jeanne, you can’t! You mustn’t!

MRS WYETH: Miss Cassatt! What are you suggesting?

JEANNE: I must. It has gone too far. It has all gone too far. There is no …

SUZANNE: No what, Jeanne? Try to get hold of yourself. There is no what?

JEANNE: I forget what there is not.

(There certainly is no peace, for, to the thunder of “Also Sprach Zarathustra,” MADAME DUFY enters above. SHE is fiftyish, but dressed like a young flapper from HER husband’s Epsom paintings, veiled and painted in his sunshiny palette. Many jewels.)

MADAME DUFY: Where is the woman? Suzanne, what have you done with the woman? Where is that harlot, Jolie?

(SHE can see only SUZANNE, GIGI, CONSTANCE, and JEANNE from the stairs, and NORMA, who is nipping on the champagne.)

Oooooooo. Where is Madame Matisse? And Madame Seurat? Am I surrounded by whores? Where are the decent women of the arts? Order must be restored. There are newspapers here.

CONSTANCE (Hopping onto the pedestal): And I.

MADAME DUFY: You, you ruthless diarist. You must not write. You must not write these things. These are not typical events. These are Bohemian aberrants. My Raoul must not be associated in the minds of the art-buying public with this – riff-raffery!

MARY CASSATT: Ahem. Madame Dufy, have you been introduced to Mrs. Wyeth – from America?

MADAME DUFY (Descends to curtsey): Aaaaaaaah. No. My regrets, Mrs. Wyeth. A pleasure to meet an acquaintance of Miss Cassatt’s, a true lady. I hope you will not think that all of us in France are of the nature of – some of us.

MRS . WYETH: Well, I was beginning to wonder. It’s a pleasure.

(MADAME SEURAT enters, rear, supporting JOLIE, and followed, at a distance, by MADAME MATISSE, who is giddily drugged.)

MADAME SEURAT: Madame Dufy! At last you report! Mary, consider Jolie.

(MADAME SEURAT more-or-less hands JOLIE over to MARY CASSATT, and turns to face MADAME DUFY.)

Now. What has happened out there?

MADAME DUFY: Happened? Disgrace in the eyes of the world has happened. You know how they love to make Paris seem a bordello, its artists perverts and degenerates. This will set back decades of good work. (Sees JOLIE) You must get her out of here.

SUZANNE: Madame Dufy, please!

MADAME DUFY: And don’t you talk to me, you slut.

MRS WYETH: Oh!

MADAME DUFY: You see how I am reduced? This has gone too far. (To SUZANNE) You, a common woman of the streets, admitted to this Ball!

SUZANNE: I am an artist! Among artists!

MADAME DUFY: You are a streetwalker! A freak aberration of degenerate aristocrats like that contemptible Toulouse-Lautrec, who encouraged you – you, a monkey smearing paint!

SUZANNE: He was a master!

MADAME DUFY: He was a drunken, disreputable dwarf!

SUZANNE: He stood higher than all your sober salesmen!

MADAME DUFY: You would know!

SUZANNE: And you certainly wouldn’t!

MADAME DUFY: Madame Matisse, help me against these harlots. Madame Seurat, think of our reputation. Think of the solidarity of the professional middle-class! Madame Matisse, do you want your Henri bandied about in the journals with these gutter Bohemians?

MADAME MATISSE: Oh, dear. I don’t know. Henri says that buyers see a sort of glamour in all these carryings-on. I don’t quite know what to think.

SUZANNE: Oh, what hypocrites you are. You know your own husbands, now so established and respectable, were once known as “Les Fauves, The Wild Beasts.”

MADAME DUFY: They have forgotten those days.

SUZANNE: I remember them. They spent them with me.

JOLIE: Brava, Suzanne.

MADAME DUFY: They did not. You were a plaything for those monsters Van Gogh and Lautrec and Gauguin, insane, diseased monsters.

MADAME SEURAT: Dufy, you do injustice. Many of these people were great innovators in the arts.

MADAME DUFY: Innovators. As if that were an excuse for abominations. What do good people want or need besides pretty pictures, well-painted and well paid-for?

MRS WYETH: Yes, that’s what I think.

MADAME MATISSE: I, also.

GIGI: Yeah? Then, if you’re so respectable tell me – I have been wonderin’ – what are you doin’ in that rig?

MADAME MATISSE: My husband likes me this way.

JOLIE: Hah!

GIGI: Uh-huh. I’ll bet. Gettin’ a little flabby in the upper arms there, ain’t cha?

MADAME SEURAT: Gigi!

MADAME MATISSE: I shall not be expected to endure this. I shall leave.

GIGI: I wouldn’t go out there amongst all them colored lights until your heart stops racin’, jazzbaby!

MADAME MATISSE: Ooooooooooooooo, it is true, it is true, it is true. I do not pose for my Henri so often anymore. It is too true. He prefers the young, the firmer bodies of paid models. But I remain the wife. I was there to endure the hard times, the bad days. And I remain. I, not the harem girls, the pretty naked models. No. They come and they go, and whatever happens, very well, then, it happens. But it is I who am the wife, and I abide. And so I wear his colors. It behooves me, does it not, to advertise his style, however I am ridiculed? Does it not, Madame Dufy? Madame Seurat?

MADAME SEURAT: Yes, but not to denigrate any others. We may not immediately apprehend their innovations, but –

MADAME DUFY: What is to apprehend? Mere exhibitionists, sports and monsters, seeking attention and contributing nothing but nonsense and notoriety to society.

MADAME SEURAT: Madame Dufy, that is what they said of your husband! Of mine!

MADAME DUFY: And so they were, until we shamed and married them! And this Picasso is another!

JOLIE (Tears away from MARY): Brute! -Bitch! How dare you? My Pablo is a great artist, a man of fire, raging with invention. A sorcerer, a sorcerer. You! (Includes MADAME MATISSE) And you! Your men take only a tiny fragment of his mind and work it to death, spitting out poor pale little imitations, and imitations of imitations. Not one of them can startle, can create, can blast open the mind. There is no progress, no evolution, only stale fish, stale weeds, stale shit!

MRS WYETH: Oh, no!

MADAME SEURAT: Jolie, do not be cruel. They do not understand. They never understand.

MADAME DUFY: Miss Cassatt, how can you sit neutral? Surely you must vote for the expulsion of these aberrants.

MARY CASSATT: Madame Dufy, the very styles you now defend were scorned by the very class you belong to now. And the great men who taught me were vilified in the same manner. Manet, Monet, Degas, Renoir – (With a heartfelt glance at MADAME SEURAT) – Seurat – were vilified.

(MADAME SEURAT, moved, retires and sits.)

JOLIE: They were all geniuses! Geniuses!

MADAME DUFY: And they did all the innovating anyone needed to do. They have been accepted. The business must be closed to all these interlopers and charlatans, so that the artist may maintain his respected position.

MRS WYETH: Oh, yes, yes. This is terrible.

MARY CASSATT: If! I myself do not understand all that is going on, I hope I have enough – American! – spirit to allow freedom and tolerance for all.

GIGI: Hooray! I’m for that! (GIGI moves to comfort JOLIE.) But not for beatin’ up on women!

JOLIE (Shoves GIGI away): How could you understand? Pretty little putain!

GIGI: Hey, I’m on your side.

JOLIE: Are you after my Pablo, too? Are you another seeking to – (Observing GIGI’s new face-paint job) Oh, no, I see. Aha! You are paintin yourself for that simple-minded Lesbian Marie Laurencin, are you not? Oh, so the little American tart will try another dish for her jaded palate, will she? Here, let me smear you some more!

(JOLIE crabs paint and would smear GIGI, who breaks away screaming and vanishes, rear, followed by NORMA.)

SUZANNE (Subduing JOLIE): Jolie, stop this, stop it!

MADAME DUFY: That I should live to see this: a battle of whores at the Beaux Arts Ball!

SUZANNE: Then let a whore handle it, respectable sow!

MADAME DUFY: I cannot allow –

SUZANNE: Madame Seurat?

MADAME SEURAT: Do what you can, Suzanne.

MADAME DUFY: Oh!

SUZANNE: Thank you, Madame Seurat. Jolie, you do your cause no good this way. Neither your public cause nor your private one, do you hear me? Do you hear me?

JOLIE (Spits at SUZANNE): Streetwalker!

MRS WYETH: Oh!

SUZANNE: You cannot insult me. No one can insult me. I have borne it all, so do not waste your insults. Jolie, there is no life for a woman but a man. It is wrong, but that is how it is. And don’t you answer me, Mary Cassatt. You and I both know that it is a world for a man. You didn’t have to do what I did to learn the art of painting, but you learned it as I did, from men….Okay?

MARY CASSATT: Okay.

SUZANNE: Jolie, you must understand Pablo if you truly love him. He is a great man.

MADAME DUFY: Ha!!

MADAME MATISSE: Oh, yes, I also “ha!”

SUZANNE: Silence, great cows – or I shall tell lies about you to the newspapers.

(CONSTANCE on HER pedestal laughs. SUZANNE addresses HER. )

You, too, pretentious prostitute. You are only another member of the sisterhood, sleeping among the great so you may someday be remembered through your own memoirs. Jolie – – a woman without talent must cater to a man, or she will be forced to cater to many men. Do you want to be in the streets, or do you want to learn to do what these women here, this Matisse and Dufy, have done? Answer me!

MADAME DUFY: I will not be compared.

MADAME MATISSE: I cannot be compared.

SUZANNE: Hah! You- do not even have the bodies to sell. You sell yourselves as kitchen slaves and bookkeepers. Let us who are more expert in the trade have at least the compliment of honesty.

JOLIE: Oh, what can I do? What am I to do? Tell me. I will listen. I will learn.

SUZANNE: Okay. Go back in there, looking as he likes you to look. Make it all seem like a joke. Flatter his friends. Make them your friends. Make yourself inseparable from him. Soothe and stimulate him. Then, when you can no longer do that, settle into the background. Be comfortable for him. Make it unthinkable that he should do without you.

JOLIE: But if he does not love me, I cannot live.

JEANNE: Amadeo!

SUZANNE: Love dies because love lives, Jolie. All living things die. Understand that.

JEANNE: Amadeo.

SUZANNE: Become a social value like these two good women – three. Pardon me, Madame Seurat – you are truly good.

MADAME SEURAT: I am an old woman, Suzanne. I have learned to listen.

SUZANNE: Become a bookkeeper, housecleaner, even a blackmailer. But marry him to you. Believe me, if you can do that, these women will change their tunes in a minute, welcome you into their club, and even deny that this scene ever happened.

MADAME MATISSE: That is not true, is it, Madame Dufy? We would never accept –

MADAME DUFY: Hush, Madame Matisse. Let us not add to the unpleasantness.

SUZANNE: You see? Merely suggest complying with their hypocrisies and they become attentive. Join their club, assist their impostures, tame Picasso, trade off commissions, help blackball people like me, and they will be your friends. And he will be your man as much as any man can be.

JOLIE: But if he ceases loving me –

JEANNE: Amadeo!

SUZANNE: – then he will love another. Accept that. Do as they do. Pretend you do not see the pretty models. Have dinner ready. Have dinner quests. Have children.

JOLIE: Yes, and have you children? You who tell me I must do all these things? I will go my own way!

(JOLIE starts up the stairs. SUZANNE speaks:)

SUZANNE: Yes.

JOLIE (Stops): What?

SUZANNE: Yes, I have a child!

MADAME DUFY: Have you really now?

SUZANNE: I have a son, Maurice, whom a kind man let me name Utrillo. Because of the life I lived, the heedless, thoughtless way I followed, he is an alcoholic. But I am teaching him painting. I have been lucky. I have something to give him. But I would trade it all, all for what you can have. Yes, I admit it, even for what these – good women – have.

MADAME DUFY: So, you do admit it?

SUZANNE: Yes, yes, yes, anything to make peace! And in exchange, Jolie, they – and you – will perhaps see that I am remembered – even as a freak – in the books about your husbands – so that my little Maurice might have – something….

JOLIE: Suzanne….

MADAME MATISSE: Madame Dufy…?

MADAME DUFY (After a pause): Ah, there is some good in everyone, is there not? Despite her twisted view of life, even a lost sister such as this Suzanne may be of some benefit to society by serving as an illustration of wrong and deluded values – and now of how, through true repentance, those who stray might – perhaps – hope to be redeemed and readmitted.

SUZANNE: Then, the fine ladies will – perhaps – forgive me some of my harsher words, flung out in anger and bitterly repented?

MADAME MATISSE: Dufy?

MADAME DUFY: It is a sign of superior breeding to be Christian. My dear.

(SHE opens HER arms to SUZANNE. ALL watch in sympathy. SUZANNE is about to give up HER pride and walk into DUFY’s arms when SEURAT stands and opens HERS.)

MADAME SEURAT: Suzanne.

(SUZANNE gratefully walks past DUFY into SEURAT’s arms.)

SUZANNE: Good Madame Seurat.

MADAME DUFY: So. Then. All is well, I believe? Jolie, you have had a trying night. I am sure you wish to make some repairs before rejoining your – fiancée?

JOLIE (Would attack DUFY): Why, you –

MADAME SEURAT and SUZANNE and MARY CASSATT: Jolie!

JOLIE (Stops. Curtseys): Madame Dufy. Forgive me. You are most gracious. May I call you by your Christian name?

MADAME DUFY: Oh, “Madame Dufy” will do for now, Jolie – until we may call you by a last name.

JOLIE: Auqh!

(With a bitter look at SUZANNE, JOLIE flops down on a dressing-table, HER back to THEM ALL.)

MADAME SEURAT: Dufy, I cannot permit this to continue.

MADAME DUFY: Oh, yes, Madame Seurat?

MADAME SEURAT: Old and tired, I was glad when a new force emerged to help me maintain propriety in the art world. At first I assumed it was the natural nervousness of the newly-arrived that made you seem cruel at times. Old and tired, I permitted too much to escape my discernment. But I cannot now conceal from myself my perception that your cruelties are constant. A good woman attempting to enforce the respectability of her circle may, on occasion, apply fear and menace as devices. But you relish them! Even once a sinner is penitent, you persist in your inflictions. This is not to be allowed. Old and tired as I may be, I shall see you apologize to these women you have needlessly mistreated – these women whose worst mistake is attachment to men as raw and vital as once your husband was. Yes, I shall see your apology! And then I shall consider whether it is desirable that you be so positioned as to continue to wield influence in this world at all.

MRS WYETH: Oh, my!

MADAME DUFY: Are you quite sure of everything you have just said, Madame Seurat?

MADAME SEURAT: Yes. I cannot have these newcomers believe your caricature of goodness is goodness itself. They must see that beneath the strength of good, there is –

MADAME DUFY: Yes, beneath the strength of good there is…?

MADAME SEURAT: The true power that makes the rule of goodness inevitable: its integrity.

MADAME DUFY (With a cold and meaningful look at Mme. Seurat.): Your integrity, Madame Seurat?

MADAME SEURAT: Do you suggest that you have known me to uphold my position as doyenne of this domain with less than integrity?

MADAME DUFY: Oh, no, Madame Seurat; there is nothing you have done that can be faulted.

MADAME SEURAT: My position then is unassailable, as any good woman’s must be. I will thank you, then, to apologize to Jolie.

JOLIE: Yes, yes. And to Suzanne, too.

MADAME SEURAT: Yes. Why not? And to Suzanne Valadon.

MADAME DUFY: You go too far, Seurat. It is true that in the time that I have known you, and been subordinated to you as the senior authority, you have never endangered your position by betrayal of integrity through action. But I did not know you–before.

MADAME MATISSE: Madame Dufy! No! You promised!

(The assembled women watch breathlessly this confrontation of social giants.)

MADAME DUFY: Ah, promises, promises. We all make promises, do we not? Promises of friendship, promises of support, promises of mutual assistance, even promises – at the altar?

MADAME SEURAT: Oh.

MADAME MATISSE: Oh!

MADAME DUFY: Most of us do make promises at the altar. They are the pattern of our future promises, the model of trustworthiness upon which others base their trust of us?

MADAME SEURAT: Madame Matisse.

MADAME MATISSE: Madame Seurat, she swore she would not tell.

MADAME SEURAT: Madame Matisse, you swore you would not tell.

MADAME DUFY: And I swear I would not tell had you not forced me to this deadlock. I would not have to tell that you, who pose as the very form of upright convention, divinely willing to soften and include the downfallen under your protecting wing, you yourself –

MARY CASSATT: Matisse! How could you?

MADAME MATISSE: Forgive me!

MRS WYETH: What? What?

MADAME DUFY: …You yourself understand these tramps and sluts because you yourself are not the legal but only the common-law wife of the man whose name you have held by a loophole these many years!

MRS WYETH: Oh, my God! Oh, dear, what did I say?

JOLIE: But, surely, no!

MADAME DUFY: But yes!

SUZANNE: Seurat –

MADAME DUFY: Yes, “Seurat,” if we may continue to call you so, was there some request you were about to make of me a moment ago? Some request based upon your assumption of superior virtue?

MADAME SEURAT: No. No, there was not, Madame Dufy.

MADAME DUFY: Ah, I am so pleased. For it is so good to have your reputation to embellish my place as leader of the Parisian art world. Madame Matisse, shall we rejoin our husbands?

MADAME MATISSE: Madame Dufy. You have made me afraid of you.

MADAME DUFY: Ah, that is so unfortunate. I had hoped to introduce you to the wife of a rich American patron. She has a little commission that my Raoul cannot take on at this time. I fear now I shall have to introduce her to – Madame Chagall?

MADAME MATISSE: What?? That Jew?? Madame Dufy, let us return to the Ball.

MADAME DUFY: Yes, let us. Let us all return to the Ball.

SUZANNE: Yes. Yes, I will come, too. There is no more that I can do here. I will come. But a little behind you “good ladies” if I may?

(GIGI, utterly Laurencinian now except for wig and hat, re-enters followed by NORMA. THEY observe the puzzling scene.)

MADAME DUFY: Whatever you wish, Suzanne. Whatever you wish.

MADAME SEURAT: That’s very wise, Suzanne. Yes, do that. And I will come along with you.

GIGI: I cain’t come. I ain’t fully made up yet.

(ALL turn to GIGI in surprise, not having noticed HER.)

MADAME SEURAT: Jolie? It is time.

(ALL turn to JOLIE.)

JOLIE: I will compose myself, and then reappear alone.

MADAME SEURAT: Whatever choice you make, Jolie.

MADAME DUFY: Whatever choice you make, Jolie.

SUZANNE: Oh, Jolie.

MESDAMES SEURAT and DUFY: Shall we return to the Ball?

(THEY are set to exit, in pairs, MADAME DUFY and MADAME MATISSE, MADAME SEURAT with SUZANNE, MARY CASSATT with MRS. WYETH and the children. NORMA skitters ahead to open the curtain, admitting, to EVERYONE’S surprise, a blare of Stravinsky music and ROSE, a young man dressed as the Mona Lisa with an outrageous mustache. NORMA screams and runs down the stairs into MADAME MATISSE’s arms.)

ROSE: They are playing the stirring music of Stravinsky, music based on a new order –

MADAME DUFY: My God!

(NORMA runs to MADAME SEURAT’s arms.)

MADAME SEURAT: Rose Selavy! What are you doing in here?

ROSE: – and it gave me the courage to take the next step. This step. One great step for mankind.

(HE descends to confront them, blocking the stairway. NORMA runs into MRS. WYETH’s arms. They are full, so SHE hides behind a chaise.)

MRS WYETH: That’s a man. A man in the ladies’ room.

JOLIE (Laughs): That is no man and these are no ladies. Hallo, Rose!

MRS WYETH: Well, I never! Never!

MARY CASSATT: Rose, this is no time for this sort of thing.

ROSE: If not now, when?

MADAME MATISSE: Call the police!

MADAME DUFY: Heavens, no. the scandal!

JOLIE: That’s what he wants: the scandal.

ROSE: And are you women to have all the scandal?

MADAME SEURAT: We were leaving, I believe. I believe now is the time.

MRS WYETH: Miss Cassatt – Mary – help me with my children, please?

MARY CASSATT: Certainly – Caroline.

MRS WYETH: Take Baby Henriette. I’ll take Baby Andrew.

ROSE (Blocking stairs): You are American! I thought there was freedom in America!

MRS WYETH: There is, but not for a thing like you.

ROSE: And for your children? Will there be freedom for them?

MRS WYETH: There certainly will be. And my husband’s art will defend it,

MARY CASSATT: Caroline – let’s leave.

ROSE: Will your son be free to be like me?

MRS WYETH: God in his infinite power forbid.

ROSE: Will her daughter be free to be an artist, Mary?

MRS WYETH: I – well, yes. Yes, certainly, if she wants to be.

ROSE: Will she be free to marry a Negro?

MRS WYETH: Oh! I’m leaving here this minute. Will you come with me, dear Mary?

MARY CASSATT: Of course, Caroline. Rose, behave.

ROSE (Steps aside): You’ll see. Your children will admire me. And if not your children, their children. I shall be worshipped.

MRS. WYETH (Storming up stairs): Not in Delaware. Not in the state I’m in!

MARY CASSATT (Following her): Oh, Rose!

(MRS. WYETH and MARY CASSATT exit.)

MADAME DUFY: Enough. The monster has stepped aside. Let us all exit.

(SHE is stopped by the entrance of MARIE LAURENCIN, an older woman, but dressed exactly as GIGI is at this moment finishing dressing. GIGI hides and dons wig, hat.)

MARIE: Madame Dufy, what have you said to so embarrass the very pretty American ladies?

MADAME DUFY: Oh, God, let us leave this sewer to the whores and drug addicts and sodomites and sapphists.

CONSTANCE: And I? Define me, too?

MADAME DUFY Come, ladies.

MADAME MATISSE: This behavior is too stylized, too stylized by far.

GIGI: Don’t mix liquor with all that dope you took, Madame Matisse.

(MADAME DUFY and MADAME MATISSE exit.)

MADAME SEURAT: Gigi!

SUZANNE: Rose –

MADAME SEURAT: Constance!

SUZANNE: Jolie –

MADAME SEURAT: Jeanne –

SUZANNE: Marie –

MARIE: What has been happening here? Gigi! What have they been subjecting you to?

(GIGI, who has been revealed by the exiting ladies, turns and poses. SHE is dressed and painted exactly like MARIE,)

GIGI: Surprise!

MARIE: My swan! How you are transformed! For me?

MADAME SEURAT: Come Suzanne. Come. They have passed beyond our understanding.

(MARIE and GIGI pause as MADAME SEURAT and SUZANNE exit, followed by the terrified NORMA, who makes the sign of the cross at the top of the stairway, and exits, pulling the curtain behind HER.)

GIGI: Do you like me, Marie?

MARIE: Like you? Oh, my dear, I – (Would embrace GIGI, but realizes THEY are not alone.) Oh. Constance. How lovely to see you. Jeanne. Jolie. Rose?

ROSE: Yes, I have dared to appear. I dare anything.

MARIE: Rose, you will shock little Gigi.

ROSE: I will shock everyone.

JOLIE (Starts up stairs): Oh, this is no longer amusing. I will rejoin my Pablo.

ROSE: Say “Hello” for me.

JOLIE: Not in a million years.

ROSE: He painted me as “Boy with a Horse” and then abandoned me for women. But I have survived. Can you survive your abandonment?

JOLIE: I abandon you, bizarre friend.

ROSE: You misconstrue my grammar. Words are so clumsy. It is you who have been abandoned.

JOLIE: No. I am wiser now. I shall last forever.

ROSE: You are wise too late, Jolie. Hear the new music? It is in honor of my friends.

JOLIE: So Marcel is here? So what? He likes me. He will be on my side.

ROSE: But Marcel and I brought guests to Miss Stein’s table, blockhead. We brought Gaspaqyin Stravinsky. And he brought Gaspagyin Serge Diaghilev of the Ballet Russe. And he has brought – oh, what do you think?

JOLIE: Unnatural monster, say what you have to say.

ROSE: Gaspaqyin Diaqhilev has brought a most attractive dancer.

JOLIE: One of his boys? I am not afraid of boys.

ROSE: You should be, Mademoiselle Jolie, for they bring girls: beautiful ballerinas.

JOLIE: But no.

ROSE: But yes. Already Pablo is entranced by a new and dignified sort of woman his success has brought to him.

JOLIE: That cannot be.

ROSE: But is that not most natural?

JOLIE: Ah. No. Not too late. No. I cannot believe. No. I have learned. I will marry him. He will love me. Or I will die.

CONSTANCE: Everything living dies

JEANNE: Amadeo…

{JOLIE stares into CONSTANCE’S beautiful blank mask, then exits through the curtain to the party.)

GIGI: Heavens to Betsy, don’t they carry on?

MARIE: This is too astonishing. Oh, but let me look at you, my angel. What have you become for me? Oh, Gigi, what a vision you are.

GIGI: Like me? Would you like to paint me this way?

MARIE: Oh, oh, can you ask? Come, let’s go away together from this noise and crowd.

GIGI: Oh, sure, Marie, I’d really like that. But I don’t want to go just yet. Not with all them excitin’ new people comin’ in. This is the real high life at last.

MARIE: Oh, but my dear, there is so much I want to say to you.

GIGI: Ma-sewer Rose: all them people with the funny names; are they important?
-
ROSE: They are epoch-making. They are revolutionary.

MARIE: They are decadent, delight. They are unimportant.

ROSE: They are innovators, experimenters.

MARIE: They are perverts flaunting their perversions.

ROSE: Everything we do is new, because no one has dared –

MARIE: – or cared –
-
ROSE: – to do it before.
-
GIGI: But Marie’s a modern artist, too, ain’t she? (To MARIE) Ain’t you?

MARIE: Certainly. My paintings of you will be seen everywhere. These fads fade quickly.

ROSE: Innovation is no fad. Revolution will be permanent now.

MARIE: To what purpose?

ROSE: For itself. It will replace all values. This is the age of the new. Every offense, every abuse, is a work of art. My entering here, my going anywhere.

GIGI: That really sounds excitin’. Couldn’t we stay just a while?

MARIE: There is no place for you in their movement, child. Come away with me.

GIGI: Oh, it’s so hard to know who to follow.

ROSE: Follow the revolution. It is the future.

MARIE: Revolution? I am revolutionary. I am demanding the rights of men.

ROSE: And I am demanding the rights of women and children. Beside that, your little revolution looks like nothing, a mere blending-in.

MARIE: Oh, how tired people will grow of your novelty. Already Marcel is tired of you, and all of Paris knows it.

ROSE: Even that will make history.

MARIE: You will be nothing more than gossip, for Constance’s memoirs.

ROSE: I shall write my own memoirs then. Oh, I have a plan. You are right, of course. Marcel is tiring of me. Do you think I don’t know that? I am a-man. Do you think I don’t know how soon men tire of their toys? I am taking Marcel to America. We have friends there. Charles Henri Ford is starting a magazine to publicize his lover, Tchelitchew. I shall go there and become -a critic. I shall not be cast off like other models. I shall become more powerful than any artist. I shall promote the inexplicable, and then promise to explain it. Marcel shall not be free of me. His fame and name will all depend on me. He shall be mine forever. I shall have power of life and death over him, even over them all. I shall possess his genius long after he has lost it. Constance, you may write about me in your memoirs, yes, you may even write about this episode. I shall make something more beautiful and rebellious than any of them. There is nothing you can say about me that will not feed my fame. Audacious! Outrageous! I shall be eternally –

MARIE: What? What will you be? Nothing! It is macabre!

ROSE: I shall have revenge over everything.

CONSTANCE: Revenge, Rose, yes, but for what?

ROSE: For what men have done to me, and not done. For everything and for nothing.

CONSTANCE: But, Rose, say this scheme of yours succeeds. What will be its end? Power and fame?

ROSE: I – I – I- don’t know its end.

MARIE: See, he is weakening. It is a silly scheme. Come, Gigi.

ROSE: Wait! Voila! Constance, empty thinker, sweetheart. You have given me the last thing I needed. It will be for nothing. You have freed me. I do not even need to have a goal. Oh, what energies you have unleashed. Modernity for modernity. Novelty for novelty. Innovation for the sake of innovation. And all of it for nothing in particular. What a way to eternally dazzle the ordinary. What an easy identity to sustain. I shall feed the hungry mind with empty bulk and it will eat forever, forever wanting more.

GIGI: Then you don’t think I should go off with Marie?

ROSE: You? Who are you? What do I care about you? I have not been talking of you – but of me. Of me. (HE runs to the top of the stairway, turns and grandly cries) Of moi! (HE exits.)

MARIE: You see? Men. They are all power-mad, fickle, and self-serving.

GIGI: That’s for sure. You got to hand it to them, though, for ingenuity.

MARIE: You are not thinking you can have power over them by seducing them?

GIGI: Well, that’s one way. But he’s too strange for me. And besides – – I don’t think he’d ever be interested in little ol’ me, do you?

MARIE: Oh, how wise is this small one. No, my dear, of course not.

GIGI: But a lot of ‘em are, though.

MARIE: My dear, how could they fail to be? How could anyone fail to be? You are so very beautiful.

GIGI: Aw, I ain’t really. But I surely have been learnin’ a lot lately about how to look like I am. Don’t cha think?

(Music: the piano piece by Debussy entitled, “La Plus que Lente (As Slowly as Possible)”.

MARIE: My child, I am very impressed. Why, you are almost an artist yourself.

GIGI: There certainly are a lot of women artists, ain’t they? You an’ Miss Cassatt, an’ Suzanne, an Constance, I don’t understand you. Are you a artist, too?

CONSTANCE: Yes, of course. I am an artist of art, a definer, a diarist.

GIGI: Is there any money in that? You dress real nice.

CONSTANCE: There could be, someday.

MARIE: Not until we whose lives you exploit all are dead.

GIGI: Oof! That don’t sound like much fun right now.

MARIE: No. So let us go. A small circle of my friends will be leaving. They are exceptional women. You will like them very much.

GIGI: Will they like me?

MARIE: Enchantment, must I reiterate? The world will love you. But you will not forget poor Marie, will you?

GIGI: That Rose said he was a old thrown-out model, too. Like Jolie an’ – (GIGI indicates JEANNE.): – an’ that poor creature there.

MARIE: Men are so cruel that way. It is well-known.

GIGI: Marie. . . ?

MARIE: Yes, my own?

GIGI: All them pretty pictures you painted before? Where are them girls now?

MARIE: Hanging in some very exclusive collections, my dear.

GIGI: No, but I mean the girls, the models, what happened to them?

MARIE: Ah, they come and they go, little star. They have their own lives.

GIGI: Listen, I think maybe I’ll just stay here for a while. It’s my first trip to Paris, and –

MARIE: But my dear, you must be selective of your acquaintance. You must cultivate those who can assist you.

GIGI: Well, yes, that’s what I thought I might do. There’s so many choices.

MARIE: You will require another to advise you.

GIGI: Yes, I know. It looks like it’s a very difficult sort of set of decisions a person has got to make.

MARIE: Certainly. And an experienced personage –

GIGI (Indicates JEANNE): – like her?

MARIE: Nonparallel, do not compare yourself to a grotesque.

GIGI: But, I mean, she’s somebody’s model, ain’t she? I mean, I seen pictures of her, an’ she’s famous, an’ all of that that you were talkin’ about, ain’t she? An’ look where she is, sittin’ here alone an’ doped up an’ knocked up –

MARIE: But, confection, she chose unwisely. You should see her swaggering Amadeo.

JEANNE: Amadeo!

MARIE: You could not wish to end in such a situation.

GIGI: Well, no, I’d certainly hate to wind up any number of ways I can think of. I mean, for instance, I don’t know if I’d wanna wind up hangin’ around ladies’ rooms, propositionin’ young girls.

MARIE: Gigi! Please!

(Unnoticed by GIGI and MARIE, JEANNE rises, crosses to GIGI’s dressing-table, steals GIGI’s pillbox, and slowly exits up to the party, noticed only by the quietly-observing CONSTANCE on HER pedestal.)

GIGI: Meanin’ no offense, but – you do know what I mean?

MARIE: My little faux-naif, please. You are not so young as to be so awfully coy.

GIGI: An’ I ain’t gettin’ no younger. Is that what you’re tryin’ to say?

MARIE: My dear. I am offering you an opportunity to be seen, to be known.

GIGI: Didn’t sound from what the ladies said that bein’ seen an’ known with you was gonna do a person all that much good outside of certain circles, if you catch my drift.

MARIE: Gigi, my dearest. Do not force me to be unflattering. The way that you arrived here, as the model for a series of scandalous naughty calendar drawings, is not in itself an entree into the very highest sort of circles.

GIGI: Just only into your circles, don’t you mean? Well, maybe I just ought to wait until I see a little more before I decide to entree into any one particular circle, do you see?

MARIE: You should not wait too long, parfait. It is always possible that the interest lessens.

GIGI: Well, just look at it from my point of view, you know? I wouldn’t want to do anything, however much fun it was, that would ruin my chances of maybe eventually becomin’ the bride of a millionaire.

MARIE: My dear, remain possible. The very ways that you have constructed to encounter a millionaire have made it impossible that one should consider marrying you. Now, don’t answer. Smile. Be sweet to Marie.

GIGI: For how long and for how much?

MARIE: Gigi!

GIGI: Well, I’m sorry, but it seems like that’s what it’s comin’ down to, don’t it? Please, I don’t mean to insult you. I’m just thinkin’ aloud. An’ this whole thing that seemed so attractive when I got into it – considerin’ what I was gettin’ out of – all of a sudden looks sort of a little bit like a lot of circles leadin’ to one dead end.

MARIE: My dear, let us forget all this. Let me persuade you –

GIGI: No. Thanks. An’ I mean that. I mean the “thanks,” and I mean the “no.” Please don’t be mad.

MARIE: My dear, it seems you set too high a price on yourself.

GIGI: I’d like to be friends.

MARIE: Friends? Friends, Gigi? Such vacillation and insensitivity would scarcely seem, my dear, to serve as a very firm foundation for –

GIGI: Look, I don’t know how to say this, but you’re carryin’ on just the very same way that men do.

MARIE: Well! Perhaps you should look to yourself for the reasons.

GIGI: Listen, I’m just tryin’ to do myself some good without hurtin’ anybody else, but there’s some things that are just now comin’ clear.

MARIE: Well, when you put yourself on the block this way –

GIGI: Pardon me, but I ain’t puttin’ myself on any block. An’ I don’t mean that you put me there, either. It’s just – Oh, ’scuse me. I gotta get somethin’ from over here – (GIGI heads for HER dressing-table.)

MARIE Yes, whore, go for your pills.

GIGI: Hm. I knew you were goin’ to say that, sure as I was born. they always say that.

MARIE: I refuse to be classified that way, called “they” as if I did not even exist as an –

GIGI: You know somethin’? An’ I don’t mean this mean, neither. You’re not a bit different from any man that ever came after me. All right, that I ever went after, either. Maybe they ain’t so many differences.

MARIE: I cannot continue this conversation. I cannot see any value to going over and over the same insulting –

GIGI: Yeah, they always say that, too. An’ then they hit me.

MARIE: Oh, God, Gigi, what are we doing? Please, let us forget all this. I never meant to – frighten you or abuse you. I thought -I believed – there was a mutual interest.

GIGI: It looks like maybe the best way out would be to become an artist myself. If I really could.

MARIE: Gigi. Gigi, be possible.

GIGI: Well, you said I was one, almost, you said. You meant the way I make myself look, didn’t you?

MARIE: My dear, a casual compliment.

GIGI: Well, maybe. Maybe not. Maybe I could be – I don’t know. Oh, I don’t know how to know. (Rummages frantically at dressing-tables.) Where are my pills?- Somebody took all my pills. Constance, did you – ?

MARIE: Pills, whoredom, wild fantastic dreams. My dear, I believe that I can still help you.

GIGI: Help? Help who? Help me? Who am I? I don’t even know that. (Tears off wig and hat, throws them .down.) Please, Marie. I got no quarrel with you. I didn’t mean to hurt ‘you none. I lust got – I lust got to be alone. (GIGI flees, rear.)

MARIE: Gigi! Little whore! Little tease! (SHE realizes CONSTANCE’S presence.) Oh. Constance. Oh, yes, Constance, you – ruthless keeper of records. Ah – Constance, you would not be so unkind as to…

CONSTANCE: As to…?

MARIE: You would not – You would not be unkind to my memory?

CONSTANCE: No, Marie. I will not be unkind.

MARIE: I will – I will pay you not to be. I – I would not want the future to think of me like that.

CONSTANCE: No, Marie, you need not pay me. I would not want the future to think of me like that.

MARIE: So – You will not be unkind?

CONSTANCE: No.

MARIE (Starts to leave, pauses, turns): You will not be, will you – even – truthful?

CONSTANCE: Marie, do not ask that of me. Accuracy is all I have to keep me certain among events I have never understood. But, attend me, Marie, and I will make a bargain with you befitting both our natures: do not excel, Marie. Do not make history. Remain too unimportant for me to profit from – and there will be nothing in it for me.

MARIE: That is – a great deal – to ask. But I do not want – (SHE picks up GIGI’s hat and wig, holds them tenderly.) I do not know what it is that I do not want. I do not want to seem cruel. No! I do not want to be cruel. But perhaps I am. Perhaps that is what is true. Only – perhaps – as frightening as it is for any artist to have to face it – perhaps I do not even want to be true?

(SHE lays the hat and wig like a wreath on a chaise, then turns and slowly ascends the stairs. At the top, SHE turns and faces CONSTANCE, and then, with a grand gesture, arranges HER veils and exits, MARIE LAURENCIN again.)

(The music alters again to atonal modern music, almost Oriental.)

CONSTANCE: Having given myself utterly to complexity, what shall I do if everything is more complex than I can see with mere style? What if, after all, after all that I can do, what if it should turn out that I myself am less of a historian than merely another complex piece of history?

(The curtain opens, the music becomes swirling nightmare music. MARY CASSATT, MADAME SEURAT, SUZANNE enter bearing the body of JEANNE. ROSE runs ahead of them, frantic. JOLIE stops in the doorway.)

MADAME SEURAT: Here, get her in here, get her through.

MARY CASSATT: How could she? Oh, sweet God, how could she?

SUZANNE: The poor fool, the poor fool.

JOLIE: Jeanne, Jeanne. Say it isn’t true.

MADAME SEURAT: This way, this way.

MARY CASSATT: Pray we are not too late.

SUZANNE: Open the door.

ROSE: Here, let me, let me.

(ROSE holds the door and SEURAT, SUZANNE, and CASSATT exit with JEANNE’S body, rear.)

JOLIE: He has left me. He has left me. What shall I do? My God, my God, she has killed herself. What will become of me?

ROSE: Oh, who cares? What will become of me?

(ROSE runs up the stairs and closes the curtain over JOLIE. HE runs down the stairs and exits rear.)

(There is a pause. The music changes to Ravel’s “Pavanne for a Dead Princess.” GIGI emerges, rear, transformed into Marilyn Monroe, nude under gauze veils, as in Bert Stern’s book “The Last Sitting.”)

GIGI: There. I knew that I could do it. I have created something entirely new.

(GEORGIA enters, above. SHE is an ancient woman, wiry and strong, cloaked all in black, with white hair in a tight bun. SHE pauses at the top of the stairs and asks of CONSTANCE:)

GEORGIA: Is she in there? Is what I heard the people shouting true?

CONSTANCE (Transfixed by GIGI): She has assistance enough. They will do whatever can be done.

GIGI (Runs to GEORGIA): Look, look at me. I have done it. I’m an artist.

GEORGIA: Well, you’re certainly very beautiful. Is that poor woman being cared for?

GIGI: Yes, yes, God! She’ll be all right. She’s out of it now. Look, you’re the first person to see it. Am I really beautiful?

GEORGIA: Beautiful as the morning. Beautiful as a rose.

GIGI: Oh, thank you. But I’m not, you know. It’s all my own work.

GEORGIA: That’s all there is, finally, is the work.

GIGI: Do you think they’ll like me out there?

GEORGIA: Out there? I don’t know. They like strange things out there. You have to be careful or they’ll take you in and make you over, or try to.

GIGI: They’ll like me. I know they will.

GEORGIA: Eventually it comes down to whether you like yourself.

GIGI: Like myself? I love myself. Look at me. I’m the greatest artist that ever lived. They play in their colored mud and paint all sorts of creatures that couldn’t even stand up if they stepped out of the frame. But I’ve created a real living perfect human being. I’ve made myself beautiful. They just use their models and throw them away. But I’m no man’s model. I am Michelangelo and the marble. I am a work of art!

GEORGIA: You have to watch out for the men.

GIGI: Oh, no. The men better watch out for me.

CONSTANCE: Then you have to watch out for the women.

GIGI: If you’ve got the men, you don’t need the women.

GEORGIA: The men are funny. They don’t like for a woman to do good work. But sooner or later, grudging you every minute, they’ll come to you.

GIGI: They’ll come to me right away.

GEORGIA: Oh, they’ll come to you. And they’ll try to make you what they want you to be.

GIGI: But lam what they want me to be. That’s all I am.

CONSTANCE: Then be careful.

GIGI: Why?

CONSTANCE: You must always remain what they want you to be.

(During the next speech, ROSE re-enters, rear, dressed as Andy Warhol – white suit, sunglasses, camera around neck – contemplating a can of Cream of Tomato soup – and observes GIGI in awe.)

GIGI: Oh, I will. Here’s my secret. Look, my hair isn’t really this color, but I know how to keep it this way. And my chin and nose. You think I was born with a perfect chin and nose? No way! I took this out, and put this in. And these. Aren’t they beautiful? They will never fall! Men are going to love me.

CONSTANCE: You don’t see the catch.

GIGI: What catch? I’ve got it made.

(ROSE runs forward in ecstasy and begins snapping flash photos of GIGI, blinding HER, hounding HER.)

ROSE: Oooooooooooooooooooo, you’re gorgeous. They’re going to adore you. Here, let me photograph you. Oh, you’re ravishing. I’m going to use all the latest technology. Polaroids. Silk screens. Psychedelic silk-screens, fluorescent, purple orange green yellow uglyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

GIGI (Simultaneously): No. No. You don’t understand. No, stop that. No, I’m not a model. I’m not. Stop it. Please. You’re blinding me. Stop it. I’m a work of art. (SHE overrides HIM.) Look, peroxide and plastic, I’m the greatest artist in the medium that ever lived.

ROSE: Oh, you mean it’s all a fraud? That’s even better. You’re no better than I am. Oh, what a tickle. What a camp.

(HE grabs a large canvas, presses HER against the wall behind it, throws HIMSELF on it, and groans as if in sexual climax while SHE screams behind the canvas.)

Here! Here! Here! Aaaaaaaaah!

(HE pulls the canvas away and reveals a huge Warholesque acid-colored silk-screen of GIGI. GIGI falls to the floor, wailing. ROSE runs up stairs past CONSTANCE and GEORGIA with the canvas.)

Look, I’m an artist. I’m an artist at last! I’m an artist, everybody. I’m an artist, an artist. I’m real, real, reeeeeeal!

(HE exits, waving HIS art.)

GIGI: No, no. noooooooooooooooooooo.

CONSTANCE: You see? The men will be intimidated. You mustn’t let them know you’re an artist, or they’ll be jealous. They want to think you’re real.

GIGI: Then – I won’t ever have any recognition?

GEORGIA (Descending to comfort HER): It takes a long time. I did what you did. I went into a room all alone and I spread out my work and I said, “Whatever isn’t me, I’ll throw away.” And it was hard, but I was determined to do it. Bit by bit I got rid of everything that didn’t come from deep in me. Out on the Texas plain, I looked at the sun and I said, “How does the sun look to me?” And I reached for paper and I made a single stroke. And then another. And, “Not how it ever looked to anyone else, man or woman, but how does it look to me?” And I made more strokes and I laid on more colors, and every stroke and every color changed the one before – and that juxtaposition and that alteration was all the mystery of the mysterious universe to me. And there came a time when I could see on the paper what I saw in the sky. I had connected. And I held onto that connection all my life.

GIGI: And they let you?

GEORGIA: They didn’t care about me. They didn’t know about me. And. so they didn’t stop me. And when it came to pass that they saw me and knew me, I was-too strong to be turned back.

GIGI: But do they like you?

GEORGIA: It’s come to pass with time that they cannot deny me.

CONSTANCE (To GEORGIA): But you were, after all, somebody’s model, somebody’s wife.

GEORGIA: Yes. I was his wife, and he was my husband. I was his model, yes, and he was mine. We were one another’s objects of contemplation. And I learned about myself through him, and he, I think, through me.

CONSTANCE You never painted him.

GEORGIA: That wasn’t my way. That was his way.

GIGI: You did what you wanted to do? And they let you?

GEORGIA: They didn’t stop me.

GIGI: And you had – love and everything?

GEORGIA: Yup.

GIGI: You were doing all of this while I was growing up. How come I didn’t know?

GEORGIA: I didn’t know myself. I was inventing it.

GIGI: Well, it’s sure too bad nobody ever let me know. Things might have turned out different You should have been my mother.

(SHE falls into GEORGIA’S arms. There is a moment of “Pieta”. Then GIGI pulls away from the embrace.)

But it’s too late now. Now I’ve learned to please them.

(GIGI begins to dance about, ever lighter and more airy. Music: Marilyn Monroe singing “Anyone Can See I Love You,” from “Ladies of the Chorus.” GEORGIA sits. THEY begin by speaking to EACH OTHER, but drift off into private contemplation.)

GEORGIA: The men always wanted me to use dull colors.

GIGI: They love me to be light and beautiful.

GEORGIA: They all praised each other for being strong and dark.

GIGI: They like me to dance and sing.

GEORGIA: They showed one another their work like blows in a boxing match.

GIGI: Flutter and flirt.

GEORGIA: Like cards on a table.

GIGI: Pucker and pose.

GEORGIA: They all came together to look at my work together.

GIGI: Slink and simmer.

GEORGIA: It was easy to think of them as little boys, boys in a club, silly boys. But the club was very strong. But there were some, stronger and solitary, that did like women, that liked my work. And they-were like a challenge to the others. So bit by bit with time they came around.

GIGI: I’ll keep my secret and I’ll marry very well.

CONSTANCE: The very things that helped you learn to charm them will make it impossible for them to marry you.

GIGI: That’s true. I didn’t become a fantasy by not being a realist first.

GEORGIA: But I had a secret that they never learned.

GIGI: But I know an awful lot of things about them. There’s kings and presidents I know a lot on.

GEORGIA: And that preserved me.

GIGI: I’ll make them marry me.

CONSTANCE: They never will.

GIGI: I’m brilliant and beautiful and wise and powerful.

CONSTANCE: That will only make them afraid of you.

GIGI: Ah. No. Not too late. No. I cannot believe. No. I have learned. I will marry him. He will love me. Or I will…

(CONSTANCE nods. GIGI turns and flees to the party.)

(Aaron Copeland’s “Appalachian Spring” plays softly. GEORGIA speaks with simple telling gestures. The gestures are echoed by CONSTANCE on HER pedestal.)

GEORGIA: What happened was that I was not involved with them, not like they’d have liked for me to be, not the way they were involved with each other. It wasn’t them, you see, that I was for or against. It was the Texas sun, the Texas moon, the form and color containing one another. It wasn’t men or women, but whatever in me could take the world and give it back, could know and hold the world. Somehow that showed, eventually, and no one could deny it.
When you hold in your hand a perfect polished stone, or the heart of a flower, you can’t say “no.” And that was the power I got. I was alone, and then I was not alone. And it came to pass that I could show them the city, too, and the stars, and the heart of a woman. And I could come among them and I could go.
Men united against women, women standing together against men, what did I have to do with any of those? I think I touched something in the heart of everyone that’s alone, and that’s all I know to do, all so far as I know that there is for us to do: to hold onto that thing in each of us that’s alone, and know it in each other, among all the chaos and colors and form and noise.
What women do to women, men to men, women to men, and what men do to women, comes out of that chaos around that solitude. And that’s all I know, and all there is to know, as far as I know of what there is to know.
As you peel back the petals of any living flower, as you wear down- the surface of any polished stone, as the sun burns away the ligament and flesh from old bones, as the seasons cover and uncover solid earth, as clouds and sun and stars seem to change the great, echoing, all-encircling void, and we’re all alone, you try to find that center beyond male and female, beyond form and color, beyond peace and chaos, where you always are, where you came from and where you go – and yet somehow to notice and love the illusions that seem to sense and love us as we go – as we think we are going – on.

(Echoed in movement by CONSTANCE, GEORGIA opens HER cloak. Across HER chest and arms is appliquéd the design of the skull of a cow, HER extended arms being the horns.)

CURTAIN

2 Responses to “THE BEAUX ARTS BALL Illustrated Play by Robert Patrick”

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

    [...] a few female artists, too, and one male–in a power-struggle in the ladies’ room) http://robertpatrickpersonal.wordpress.com/2009/07/03/the-beaux-arts-ball-play-by-robert-patrick/ Over 40 production photos [...]

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

    [...] [...]

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