TEXTBRIDGE | Literary Agency


András Visky

A play about identity
for two actors in 17 scenes

Dedicated to Christopher Markle, 1954-200
Translated by Ailisha O'Sullivan

I Killed My Mother (the version for two actors) was first produced in 2010 by Theatre Y at Greenhouse Theatre Center in Chicago.

Bernadette Melissa Hawkins
Clip Andrew Livingstone
Director Karin Coonrod
Set & Lights Peter Ksander
Costumes Oana Botez-Ban
Assistant Director Christopher McLinden
Stage Manager Michelle Ball
Production Managers Chris McLinden, Scott Deter
Artistic Director Melissa Hawkins
Public Relations Agency Carol Fox & Associates

The original Hungarian version was co-produced in 2010 by the National Theatre in Szeged and the Aranytíz Cultural Centre in Budapest, Hungary, under the title Tirami su.

Bernadett Katalin Gidró
Csipesz [Clip] Illés Horváth
Director Géza Bodolay
Set & Costumes Bence Kalmár
Assistant Director Andrea Márton

The one woman version of the play was opened in 2008 by M Stúdió in Sfantu Gheorghe, Romania.

Bernadett Eszter Nagy
Director Péter Uray

Scene 1/Not me

Hello, I am Irene Griguca, your daughter.
You are Ella Griguca, my mother, aren’t you?
This is Fly, my boyfriend.
My mother doesn’t hear a thing.
I am Irene Griguca, your daughter.
You are Ella Griguca, my mother.
Can’t she see, either?
Wait, Fly. Wait over there. This is my business.
There are big hollows in my mother, I hear them.
My mother is full of big hollows.
Her tongue doesn’t move, she doesn’t speak.
She wants to hug, I don’t.
She doesn’t want to hug, but to lean on me.
It’s impossible.
Not now.
I can't speak gypsy.
Where should I look for László Csendes, my father?
László Csendes?
Beautiful László Csendes.
He's disappeared, he is not, adieu.
He’s taken everything with him, everything, everything, everything.
Beautiful László Csendes is not and has never been.
Can you hear me, Ella Griguca?
Some other time, I’ll come.

Scene 2/The Realm of Never

There is a thin strip of land, a sharp border between life and not life, there is a quite narrow channel, a ford between life and death, there is a thin strip of land, a sharp border between mylife and notmylife, a narrow channel, a shimmering ford, a bright clearing. This thin strip, sharp border, narrow channel, shimmering ford, barely bright clearing is called Never. He who steps into the realm of Never is no more. He cannot be seen, his skin has no smell, his words do not reach those who do not live in the realm of Never. You cannot hear what he says, cannot feel if he touches you, he doesn’t belong to you, he is completely not.

He cannot stir anything in you.

He is like most people, he is here, comes and goes, lives his life just as other people do, without any differences. He thinks he talks to you, that he and you have something in common, he thinks that blood connects you but no, he is not, he stepped into the realm of “Never” and all these things receded. Blood does not connect you.

Scene 3/The town of the Luduşites

startled. Clip...? Clip...?! Is that you? Whose blood is this? Tasting. It's not mine. Tastes again. It is mine. Again, repeatedly. I don't know... I know you're here... I sit under a window and I see the whole red, grey, blue, bright, bluer than blue, darkly furrowed, swirling, empty, hotter than fire, icy, starry, haggard, smoky, vapor-trailed sky...I sit on the top bunk in the hospital and I rock myself...window, sky, everything through the rails of the bed. Even now I see rails. Dogs, cats, birds, trees, everything... nothing to be done...
I rock.
They want me to stop.
I'm covered all over with blood.
Stop, they don't want me to break my ribs...Giggles. I still break them. Crack, definitely, crack, that's it....Nothing hurts me, it hurts if I don’t break my ribs....

I dream, and when I dream, I dream that they beat me up, I'm covered with blood, I need to wake up, and I wake up and I am covered with blood, my own blood.... Did I dream or not? The truth is the dream, I can’t get back...

The maternity hospital, white as snow, a humming beehive...My mother left me here... for a long time it was dark. They took me to the county juvenile home, somewhere... Luduş? They gathered us together from across the country. Educators and child-saviors...! Terminators and liquidators and gone astray dog-catchers, everyone knows this.

I don't like Luduş, Clip hates it, too. I didn’t know that if two people hated together, that this was love. I like to think of Luduş, so that I can hate it together with Clip...
The boys are playing in the mud, they are all naked. The girls are playing in the mud, we are all naked. A boy is punished by the educators. They punish him because he is guilty, must be punished...

Open your mouth. He opens it. Put out your tongue. He puts it out. His tongue is guilty, he must put it out. One of the terminators puts a metal clip on his tongue, a shark toothed clip. Stainless steel!
My mouth…it opens by itself.
Stop, take the clip off him right now, do it right now! Naked boy, you weeping, whining, muddy animal-boy. They grab my runaway tongue with their fingers! A clip on my tongue until evening.

Stainless steel punishment.

Criminals have been punishing since the beginning of the world...

CLIP Deh gud tthing ith dath yew dont get hongwee duwing dthis taime.
BERNADETTE stressing every syllable Whatt ah yew tsaying? Oi dont understhand.
CLIP Mimes, acts out his words.
BERNADETTE Oi get id... yew dont get hongwee.. Thas gud.
CLIP Gud, vewee gud.
BERNADETTE Ontilll heevening?
CLIP Weeh dont heet ond tho, weeh dont get hongree.
BERNADETTE Phawts yewre naome?
CLIP Kolip. Izzint dat gud?
CLIP Yew muth lenn to speek klipith. Ids impawtant. Ids nawt pawsibble ehnee odder way.
BERNADETTE Teath mme, teath mme haow, Kolip.
CLIP Draws various objects in the air, Bernadette holds her tongue by three fingers of her right hand and has to say the names of what Clip is drawing in Clipish. They play happily together with much laughing.
BERNADETTE I can speak Clipish, I can speak Clipish!
CLIP Yes, you can, you smart ass. Pay attention to the throat-work, that's the secret of the Clip language.
BERNADETTE A throat virtuoso, that's what you are, Clip.
CLIP Without Clipish, nothing is possible. In Heaven, for example, they speak Clipish. The naked, orphan god...
CLIP Of course! He has no father, no mother. The naked god speaks Clipish, and the naked angels speak to us in Clipish.
CLIP Naked.
BERNADETTE You know this.
CLIP I know.
BERNADETTE Is there a hell, Clip?
CLIP Of course there is.
BERNADETTE What language do they speak in hell?
CLIP In hell, everyone speaks his own language... there are no two souls speaking the same language... No one understands anyone else...
BERNADETTE You know everything, you throat virtuoso! How old are you?
CLIP Old... I don't know... Seven... Or more than seven, how should I know... No one knows...
BERNADETTE childlike, realizing a secret We have no mother-tongue, Clip?!
CLIP Neither does God.
BERNADETTE And the angels don't have one.
CLIP Clipish. Say after me! Bernadette in silence repeats solemnly Ow fawher, who ar in hehven, hollowth be dye naome. Dye kingdom kum, dye whill be dun, on earth as it hiss in hehven. Gif fuss dis day ower dayey breawth and forgiff fuss ower thresspesses as we forgiff dhose thwo thresspess against tuss. And leadth us naught into themptation, buth deliffer uss from evul. Ffoh dthine iss the kingdom anth the powah anth the ghlory, fohevah. Ahmen.
BERNADETTE happily. Good, that’s good.
CLIP during the prayer, unobserved, hides.
BERNADETTE Clip... Clip? Where are you? Clip! Increasingly alarmed as if believing that she has been dreaming, searching everywhere for Clip Dear Clip, where are you Puts the clip back on her tongue Ow fawher, who ar in hehven, hollowth be dye naome. Dye kingdom kum, dye whill be dun... Stops, afraid to move, cries. Clip! Where are you? Where are you? Where are you? Cries.
CLIP steps out from behind her back. I'm right here, don't be scared. I'm here...
BERNADETTE Clip! Don't disappear like that, as if you were not! Promise me that you'll be! Promise me that you won't ever leave, never, never, never...
CLIP I won't leave you, I promise...
BERNADETTE Someday, you'll escape from here, leave here, like an alien.
CLIP What are you talking about! If I escape from here, I'll take you with me...
BERNADETTE And you won't disappear without me?
CLIP Never.
BENADETTE Me neither. Never.

In a happy celebration, they thread the clips on some string and each place one around the other's neck as if performing a secret engagement ceremony.

CLIP As long as I live, and afterwards too.
BERNADETTE Afterwards too?
CLIP Afterwards too. BERNADETTE As long as I live, and afterwards too, afterwards too, afterwards too. It's good, how I said it?
CLIP It's good.
BERNADETTE What else do you know, Clip? Do you know how to kill?
CLIP I know.

Scene 4/The light measurer

I don’t know my name.
Bernadette is not my name.
I have official papers and the papers know differently.
Irene Griguca.
The name of my mother.
Not Csendes but Griguca.
Let it be Griguca.
Irene, I swear to god.
To come up with such a name.
For me.
I have seen one or two real Irenes.
There are some.
But me?
Bernadette is not that good either, but it is not Irene.
My mother.
She said Irene and she exploded through the window of the maternity hospital.
Irene, her talent was only for this.
She was an explosive talent.
On paper I remain Irene, another self.
If somebody calls me Irene, I push them up against the wall and shake them until the word falls out of their head.
It usually falls out very quickly.
Judith would have been the best. It’s too late now.
Ada, calls me Judith, she is in love with me, poor girl.
Ada is allowed to call me Judith, nobody else.
Bernadette was chosen for me by my foster mother, Clara Tatrosi.
She came and took me out of the Luduş orphanage, she wanted to save me.
If someone wants to save you, that person belongs to the secret society of cheerful liquidators and terminators. Clip, who else?
Clara took me home, I lived at her place for two months.
She told me she was going to adopt me, I would be her daughter, she wanted me.
Adoption, what a word.
To adopt someone.

CLIP Someone might try to adopt you.
CLIP Let them take you with them, let them give you their name, let them leave everything they have to you, but do not let them adopt you because then everything is over.

Clara was a doctor, I thought she could adopt me.
She examined me, she listened to my heart, she counted my teeth, she tapped my knees, I couldn’t bear it.
A beautiful doctor, I had never seen such a beauty.
She couldn’t get married, no one wanted her, only for short periods.
When no one wanted her, she wanted me
When someone wanted her, she didn’t want me.
I waited for her, hoped that no one wanted her.
When no one wanted her and she wanted me, I had to call her mother, when someone wanted her and she didn’t want me, I had to call her Aunt Clara.
The educators had transferred me and Clip from Luduş to Sighişoara.
She won’t come anymore, she won’t!
She shouldn’t come, if she's not coming, she shouldn't come.
Again no one wanted her and she found me in Sighişoara.
She brought an Australian guy, Australian-Hungarian or Australian-Romanian. He wanted to take photos of us.
Run up to Clara, said the Australian guy, and Clara, wait for her with open arms.
Clara has to smile, I’m not supposed to.
Okay, that’s not difficult.
Sometimes he tells me that he will stand astride and I should crawl through his legs.
Should I laugh or not?
Laugh, he says, you can laugh now, this is a game, we’re not working now.
If it’s a game, I laugh.
The running is not a game, says the Australian, the running is an order, it’s work.
Okay, an order is a serious thing, I don’t laugh. Work.
I run, no smile, it works, Clara picks me up, it’s done.
It’s not, it is not enough true to life.
I am not true to life.
Clara is pretty good, almost perfect, says the Australian, but somehow I am not.
He scratches his head, looks at the sun, measures the light, and thinks.

BERNADETTE Clip, this Australian guy measures the light.
CLIP scared to death He cannot be so evil. He comes here and measures the light?
BERNADETTE Yes, he measures it, I swear to God.
CLIP Did you tell Clara?
BERNADETTE She saw it with her own eyes, there was nothing to tell.
CLIP And?<
BERNADETTE Nothing, Clara doesn’t care because the Australian guy wants her, it doesn’t matter to her.
CLIP The most dangerous saviors are the ones who measure the light.
BERNADETTE And not only does he measure the light, but he also says, that I am not true to life.
CLIP Not true to life?
BERNADETTE That’s what he says, honest to God.
CLIP They will surely save you, there's no escape.
BERNADETTE Don’t cry, Clip, don’t cry, I will take you with me wherever I go.
CLIP I'm not crying.
BERNADETTE What do I do?
CLIP Kick him in the ball if he dares to say that again. Do you promise you will kick him in the balls?
CLIP Swear to God?
BERNADETTE Swear to God.

The Australian guy left and Clara brought me back. He wants her, she’s leaving for Australia.
She will take me with her, there is nothing to be afraid of, but for now it's better if I go back to the orphanage.
It's good if she takes me, it's good, take me, I'll go.
Don’t be afraid, Clip. I’ll take you with me.
Clara comes, she’s happy, the Australian guy wants her, and she wants me.
Such a thing has never happened before: Clara is wanted and I am also wanted.
He wants us.
The light measurer wants us.
Mother, mother!
Not mother, but Aunt Clara, the Australian is here, now it’s Aunt Clara, okay?
Okay, sorry, but there is something about the Australian guy that I don’t like.
What is it?
He measures the light.
He measures the light?
He is not going to save us, he measures the light.
Are you crying or laughing, Aunt Clara?
I’m laughing, Bernadette, I’m laughing so hard I'm crying.
Okay, then laugh and keep on crying.
We go together with the light measurer to the Şomoş hills.
I run.
Aunt Clara laughs and picks me up, she spins around and we fly, fly, there is the Danube's Iron gate and Belgrade, freedom's gate, we're crossing over, we're flying, both of us can see the ocean, Australia appears, it’s wonderful.
How was that?
Pretty good, maybe the best of all, it’s almost front-page quality, but the girl is not enough true to life.
What does front-page quality mean?
The cover of illustrated magazines, says the light-measurer, that’s what they want.
The magazines are full of Romanian orphanages.
Let’s take a break, and then we will try it again.
Let’s take a break.
Stand astride because I want to crawl between your legs.
The light-measurer stands astride, perfect.
I stand before him and kick him in the balls, with all my heart, with all my soul, and with all my strength.

BERBADETTE I punched him in the balls, Clip, like you told me.
CLIP Did you kick him or punch him?
BERNADETTE I kicked him, Clip, what do you take me for?
CLIP You can punch someone in the balls, too, but that’s not the same. Now you were suppose to kick, not punch. Punching someone in the balls might be good for other situations. This guy is a light-measurer, so you can’t mess up, kicking is best here.
BERNADETTE Okay, you're right, I admit it, but really I kicked him, I didn’t punch him.
CLIP With all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength?
BERNADETTE The light-measurer yelled, Clara yelled even though I didn’t kick her in the balls. She threw herself on the light-measurer, I’ll check it. I have to check it now. They started to wrestle. Clara started to pull at the trousers of the Australian guy who was yelling in a high voice. I want to see it now, she screamed, I want to check it now, the buttons of his fly flew off, and then everything, trousers, jacket, Clara’s clothes, everything, everything.
I didn’t understand anything at all. They got tangled up in each other with nothing on, screaming. Clip, they were naked! They were beautiful. I started to like the light-measurer. It was all thanks to me.
CLIP Not to you, but to me.
BERNADETTE To you, Clip, to you. We never saw the light-measurer again. He left, he never came back. He didn’t want us, Clip even after this.
CLIP A light-measurer, I told you.

Scene 5/Alphabet song

I have vitamin
A deficiency.
B deficiency.
C deficiency.
D deficiency.
E deficiency.
F deficiency.
G deficiency.
H deficiency.
I deficiency.
J deficiency.
K deficiency.
L deficiency.
M deficiency.
N deficiency.
O deficiency.
P deficiency.
Q deficiency.
R deficiency.
S deficiency.
T deficiency.
U deficiency.
V deficiency.
W deficiency.
X deficiency.
Y deficiency.
Z deficiency.

Scene 6/Never

CLIP Come on. Try it again.
BERNADETTE I can't, I can't do it.
CLIP With all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength...
BERNADETTE ...then with as much power as a walnut tree. I know.
CLIP Everything in you must say it. Your fingers, hair, teeth, bones, blood vessels, cells, bowels. Everything.
BERNADETTE I'll try. “Never!”
CLIP Turn around. Always turn around first. And in Clipish. It won't work otherwise.
BERNADETTE “Nmebverh!”
CLIP That's almost right.
BERNADETTE Never, never, never.
CLIP Yes, yes.
BERNADETTE All of these stones here were once people?
CLIP No, not all. The most beautiful ones were the evilest people. They are the easiest to turn into stones. They make such beautiful ones... As if they dropped from the palms of angels, look...
BERNADETTE The most evil...?!
CLIP This one here was surely an educator when he was a man. Of course... That bald one, you know. Like a cue ball. This was Balls. Look how beautiful it is! And this one? Can you guess who it is?
BERNADETTE Who... Wait a second... I have it!
CLIP Well?
BERNADETTE Hold on... I don't know.. Yes! Yes. Slutty! Everyone's little slut. Here is her tiny moustache...
CLIP Let me see. Slutty, that's right.
BERNADETTE And these pebbles, they were people too?
CLIP Yes. But they weren’t so evil. It's better for them there, in the realm of Never.
BERNADETTE These are the most beautiful, look... They must have been very evil...
CLIP Leave it, don't worry about them.
BERNADETTE And do you know how to turn them back?
CLIP I don't want to. This should be enough for them. It's good for them to be in the realm of Never, their place is there, they could have had it much worse. They will end up in a creek or on a bookshelf somewhere. They will become cleaner, shinier and lighter. It will be like this for many thousands of years until the wind blows them away and they vanish forever
BERNADETTE Turn your back on me and say it, with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength, with as much power as a walnut tree, say it.
CLIP It's not possible. Not with you.
CLIP No, it's not possible. I can't turn you into a stone.
BERNADETTE You can't do it to me?
BERNADETTE Do you know how to kill?
CLIP Yes, I told you.
BERNADETTE Good, it's good if you know.

Scene 7/The sky over Timişoara

BERNADETTE Who's there?
CLIP appears
BERNADETTE Who are you?
CLIP It's me, Bernadette.
BERNADETTE Why are you here?
CLIP hands her some boy's clothes. Put this on now!
CLIP You're coming with me...
BERNADETT starts getting dressed. Where?
CLIP I don't know, we're leaving...
CLIP Tamango came into the dorm and got everyone up.
CLIP He has a weapon, a real machine gun. He said that he can’t bear it any longer, and anyone else who wants to get out of here...
BERNADETTE What can't Tamango bear?
CLIP Finish dressing... All of this... I don't know... We're escaping across the border into Yugoslavia...
BERNADETTE Yugoslavia...? Why?
CLIP Everyone runs there... Belgrade... The gate to freedom is there...
BERNADETTE And you didn't kick him in the balls?
CLIP Why would I do that, Bernadette?!
BERNADETTE I'd rather not go... And you shouldn't go either, come on, hide, hide here with me...
CLIP I have to go, Bernadette, I can't not go... I can't go on this journey without you...
BERNADETTE I'm scared...
CLIP Me too...
BERNADETTE Let’s go...

Bernadette seizes Clip's hand, they leave, after a few steps, Clip releases himself from Bernadette's grasp. They look at each other.

CLIP We can't hold hands in front of the boys, Bern.
CLIP Bern. okay?
BERNADETTE Ok... We should say goodbye to each other, Clip, who knows what will happen to us...
CLIP What will happen... I won't leave you, I promised, Bernadette...
BERNADETTE Bern... Let's go.

We left for the bus station. The boys had taken from the kitchen all the useful knives, forks, carving knives, and cleavers and so we slipped out into the Sighişoara night.
Finally, finally something, the boys like it, the terminator is one of us at last, hurray for Tamango.
Blue buses side by side, in line, big, dark, sleeping, empty animals. Go and hide among the buses, Tamango commands in a low voice, before the first bus driver starts the engine. The buzz of the engine is the sign, we run to the first bus, we take possession of it, without resistance.
We are going to flee to the West, you’ll see how life is there, we'll break through the border, says Tamango. The bus driver, a young, strong man, is happy, he rejoices together with the boys over his luck that he was the first at the bus station that day because it was his turn, he got the first run.
Just don’t stop, boys, just don’t stop, go on, go on, go on.
The terminator shouted that if they weren’t allowed through the border, he would kill everybody on the bus, he would shoot down the boys with his machine gun, and he would kill himself, too.
Right, right, this is the best method, said the bus driver exultantly, our leader is a natural pro, hurray for Tamango.
We got to Timişoara safe and sound.
Murmuring, amphibious tanks followed us before and behind, it was a great party, something like this had never happened before.
The students in Timişoara found out what the brave Sighişoara boy team was planning, and they went out to the main road to meet us, they waved, they encouraged us loudly and the girls threw flowers at the bus. The police, the army, the Securitate, didn’t interfere, they just went along behind and before the bus helplessly.
We've won, yelled Tamango.
We've won, echoed the boys.

CLIP whispering. You shout too, Bern...
BERNADETTE We've won...! We've won...! We've won...!

It was growing dark when we left Timişoara. It started to rain. We saw lights on the horizon, the feebly shining pearls of the border, Yugoslavia loomed beyond the lights of the border. An irresistible, unknown ecstasy called freedom sent alluring signs to us, Yugoslavia would receive us, Yugoslavia would not hand us back to Romania, Yugoslavia would open the iron gates of the free West before us.

BERNADETTE Let me hold your hand.
CLIP You’re crazy, Bern... Shout at the top of your voice...
BERNADETTE We’re free! We’re free!

The bus stops, why is it stopping?
Tanks block the road.
On the left are properly built gun posts and behind them, soldiers with steel helmets.
They are helpless, boys, don't be afraid, yelled Tamango.
We are not afraid, we are not afraid, we are not afraid.
He arms his machine gun, shows it to the soldiers, it is armed, look, I will shoot the boys if we can’t go on.
To emphasize his words, he fires a short burst at the top of the bus.
It rains into the bus, lightly but plentifully.
The answer to the short burst is a short and somewhat deeper burst.

BERNADETTE through a hand held loudspeaker. Criss-crossing search spotlights shine on the scene. An officer says, Boys! If you get off the bus one by one with your hands up, no one will be harmed. I give you the word of an officer.

The boys laugh at him, they lark around in front of the windows, some even happily showing off their naked bottoms, I prefer not to.

ARMY OFFICER'S VOICE Attention, attention. This is my final warning. I'll ask you one more time, boys, won’t you get off?

Absolutely not!
The helpless officer goes behind the gun post, stands at attention and gives some orders to the soldiers.
The soldiers take cover behind their guns.
Suddenly Tamango collapses, without a sound.
Blood flows thinly from his forehead like in the movies.
The bus driver picks up the gun.
When he lifts it, a strange and horrible barking fills the air.
It lasts for a few moments.
The bus burns with tiny, wavering flames, all of us are in a heap like logs.
The rain drizzles steadily, blood trickles from everywhere.
As if I were alive.
I am alive.
Clip is lying somewhere above me, blood drips from his fingers onto my face, tiny rivulets running into my mouth.
Clip's blood is my blood.

BERNADETTE Where are you, Clip?
[CLIP] I'm here with you, don't be afraid, I told you I wouldn't leave you.
BERNADETTE Here? Where? Terrifiedly. Ow fawher, who ar in hehven, hollowth be dye naome. Dye kingdom kum, dye whill be dun...
[CLIP] Here, here smart ass... Happily, playfully. So close that you can't even see me.
BERNADETTE mourning. Clip, dear Clip, my only Clip, my Clip.

Scene 8/Streams

BERNADETTE an (imaginary) mirror in front of her
Streams of blood run, two streams of different blood flow into each other.
There is a third one also, invisible, but there, truly.
From these three, I am.
From time, wind, clouds, grass, the far-away unknown, two bloodstreams are visible, who knows how, no one.
That’s why my hair looks like this.
My blood is a mixture of Ella Griguca`s brick-red blood and László Csendes` steel blue blood.
It’s dark, from somewhere the light shines only on me.
Light falls on me. Light, light, light, light follows me up, it's me, look, I look at myself too.
Where does the light come from when it is dark?
Who is behind the light?
Someone, an almighty blind someone; no one, an almighty blind no one.
The darkest dark is behind the light.
My eyes, my teeth, my way of walking, the half-moons of my nails, my long neck, and my ears are from László Csendes` stream.
The shape of my body from Ella Griguca`s stream.
My skin is the color of those two streams disappeared into each other.
All at once, Ella Griguca and László Csendes are separated for ever, and all at once they are united for ever, who understands this, no one.
My look is from the Luduş and Sighişoara orphanages, an impeccable institutional look.
The Happy National Institution for the Annihilation of Children.
In every classroom in front of the pitch black board, there is a gun post, from where they shoot at the children.
I am grateful to them.
I know everything that can be known about the world.
Do you know how to kill?
I do.
Thank you.
I thank the third blood stream.

Scene 9/ What do you see?

Clara comes, she’s looking for me.
I have good news, Bernadette.

[CLIP] as if the words come from Bernadette, in Bernadette's voice, Bernadette holds the clip around her neck Be careful, Bernadette, be careful, don’t lose your head.
BERNADETTE Don’t be afraid, Clip. I'll take you with me, you will hang here around my neck.
[CLIP] Good, good, I like to hang around your neck, Bernadette.
BERNADETTE And I like it, too, when you hang around my neck, between my breasts.
[CLIP] I like it also, I like your breasts Bernadette.
BERNADETTE I like your touching me, Clip.
[CLIP] Me, too.

Whom are you talking to?
To Clip.
I see, she says. Listen, I’ve got the passport and have settled everything. I’m going to Hungary and I’m never coming back again.
Just go, AuntClaramymother.
I see. You’re angry with me.
I’ll take you with me as soon as I fix things a little, I’ll take you, don’t be afraid.
I’m not afraid.

[CLIP] You’ve won, Bernadette, you won.
[CLIP] You’ll never see her again.
[CLIP] Now, why are you crying? This is what we wanted, never, right?
BERNADETTE Is there such a thing as never, Clip?
[CLIP] Yes. Trust me.
BERNADETTE I trust you, Clip.

Are you talking to Clip?
To Clip.
Don’t cry Bernadette, I’ll come back for you.

[CLIP] Stop crying or I'll hit you so hard.
BERNADETTE I’m not, all right, all right, I won’t.

I have to go, Bernadette.
Just go, AuntClaramymother.
I’m going.

[CLIP] excitedly. Turn your back, now, now... Do it now, don't miss it, like that... Don’t look around....
BERNADETTE turning her back. Fine. Has she gone?
[CLIP] No, not yet. Now. Say it now.
BERNADETTE “Nmebverh!”
[CLIP] Perfect.
BERNADETTE Has she gone?
[CLIP] No.
BERNADETTE No? Why hasn’t she?
[CLIP] Turn around.
BERNADETTE I don’t dare
[CLIP] Turn around, Bernadette, turn around, you can turn around now.
BERNADETTE Okay, fine.
[CLIP] What do you see?
BERNADETTE Nothing. She's gone, finally.
[CLIP] Look, look again!
[CLIP] Nothing else? That one there in front of your foot, look at it. Bend down and touch it.
BERNADETTE picks it up, looks at it, strokes it Clara Tatrosi. But this is Clara Tatrosi.
[CLIP] There is the Never. Stop whining, I don't like it when you whine.
BERNADETTE Don't be angry, Clip. I won't cry, I promise.
[CLIP] I’m proud of you, Bernadette.
BERNADETTE Thank you, Clip.
[CLIP] You're free.
BERNADETTE frightened Free?
[CLIP] Free.

Darkness/Time passes

Scene 10/Tiramisu

BERNADETTE How come if I'm free, I'm not happy, Clip?
[CLIP] You're free, that should be enough.
BERNADETTE So, now what?
[CLIP] Go, leave, just go. Live.

I adore Tiramisu!
Tiramisu Café is my home!
I was coming down Retyezát Street when Clip said, go in, Bernadette, you must go in here.
I love it!
I was kicked out of the orphanage!
I’m eighteen!
It is said of Tiramisu that everybody is with everybody, it’s that kind of crowd, there are the bucks, the Tirmaisu bucks, and there are the Tiramisu women.
We belong here, everybody can see that we are from Tiramisu.
They see that we are not afraid of anything and anybody.
Of whom should I be afraid?
No one.
Everybody with everybody, that’s the fashion with us.
Ha, there's not a word of truth in it!
Half of the town is gay and half is bisexual, just because that’s the fashion. Of us, only Gayboy is gay, and only I am...
I am I.
Sometimes Gayboy sleeps at my place or I at his, but we're just friends, he doesn’t want me, but we're really close.
He likes my clothes and my perfume.
My little sister, that's what he called me once, until I knocked the idea out of his head.
What, are you crazy, Gayboy?
I’m nobody’s little sister or big sister or cousin or daughter or who knows what, relatives are forbidden, Gayboy.
Ok, ok, fine, Bernadette.
In Tiramisu only the broad-chested Break interested him, no one else, just Break, not me, not Ada, not Punk, not Jockey, no one.
Everybody in Tiramisu is happy on the same day only, never on the morning after. Except for Break, who is happy even the morning after, even if that day's beer, joints, and tiramisu are all gone.
If you are so happy on the morning after, Fly, my sometimes boyfriend said, one morning after, then run naked from Tiramisu down to the main square. I’ll wait for you at the floral-clock.
Naked, asked Gayboy?
Stark naked, continued Fly.
Break shouldn’t do it, not naked, not like that, he shouldn’t, said Gayboy in an alarmed voice.
Naked, to the floral-clock, and I’ll pay today’s bill and take care of the joints too, all the beer, the tiramisu.
Break got up on the middle table and slowly took off his clothes, accompanied by Albinoni`s sad Adagio, then he ran to the floral clock and right into the open arms of the cops.
Gayboy cried.
When I came to Tiramisu, Ada was there too, she's also gay, a girl.
A bird of paradise.
After Fly, and even during, I was with her.
Ada`s mobile rings all the time.
Her mother calls her from Alba Iulia, and she asks her to listen to her.
Ada listens to her.
Why do you have to listen to your mother, Ada?
Because she's worried about me.
That’s why you have to listen to her?
That’s why.
I killed my foster mother, since then my phone doesn’t ring.
I didn’t manage to kill my mother.
Clip helped me.
I'm all bloody from your clip, why don't you take it off when you undress?
That's impossible, I can't remove Clip.
In the morning, my phone rings, it's Fly.
Where are you?
At Ada's.
You can't keep changing like this, Bernadette.
You are not enough, Fly.
In the morning,
Ada`s phone rings in her mother’s entreating voice: answerpleaseansweratonce answerpleaseansweratonce answerpleaseansweratonce.
Answer it, please, it's driving me crazy.
I pick up the phone thinking that just once I could listen to Ada`s mother, maybe this would help.
She asks me who I am.
I told her.
Why am I at Ada`s place?
I told her.
She hung up at once.
I say to Ada, let’s count up to three and smash our phones to the ground all at once.
One, two, three.
Well, that’s nice.
In the morning a car came from Alba Iulia and they took Ada away. Tiramisu mourned amidst a haze of pot.
Break gets the weed, he knows where to get it, there's no need to interfere, it's his business.
And the cops, they know where to get it too, there's no need to interfere.
What people say about Tiramisu simply isn't true.
I adore Tiramisu...

CLIP in the style of a cooking show
Tiramisu is an Italian dessert usually made of the following ingredients: sponge-fingers, black coffee, mascarpone cheese, whipped cream, marsala wine and cocoa powder.
The figurative meaning of the Italian expression tiramisu is, “Pick me up” which refers to the two ingredients that contain caffeine: the coffee and the cocoa.
You soak the sponge-fingers in a liqueur made from the coffee, wine and sugar for a short time.
After that you put them into a zabaglione mixture made from the mascarpone cheese, eggs, sugar and cream.
You sprinkle the top with cocoa powder.
The recipe exists in various forms.
To the Hungarian tiramisu, you have to add “palinka,” home-brewed liquor.
“Palinka,” “moonshine,” is a colorless, tasteless alcohol of about ninety proof that comes out first from the distiller.
If there is no “palinka,” you can use some no name vodka, but then the desired effect is obtained more slowly and with the help of larger quantities.
Before consumption you add to each portion of tiramisu prepared in the Italian fashion one hundred and fifty milliliters (one and a half deciliters) of chilled “palinka,” taking care not to destroy the appetizing dessert.

“Pick me up!”
“Pick me up!”
“Pick me up!”

Scene 11/ Beautiful Csendes

A man comes into Tiramisu, an army officer, and asks for a coffee; you can tell that he doesn’t know what kind of place it is.
He’ll find out.
Because he wants to impress us, he says he has in his car a piece of canvas with a diamond-shaped hole in it.
And do you know why?
Do you know what that diamond-shaped hole is used for?
We don’t know and we don’t want to know.
It's essential that you know.
Some day you may find it useful, I’m sure of it.
He really wants to impress us, as if his life depended on it.
I need the piece of canvas with the diamond-shaped hole in it for when I go to the Gypsies.
When they spread their legs, I cover the girls with it and in that way, well, you get it, don’t you?
The diamond-shaped hole is necessary for that.
Fine, I’ll show it to you, I’ll bring it in from the car and show it to you, you will see the marks on it as well, that’s how many times I’ve used it, I give my word of honor.
Gayboy stares at me, his delicate hands tremble, he calls Break, where the hell are you now, Break?
I’m right here at the door, Gayboy.
At last, Break. You need to be here when you need to be here.
I’ll bring it in, you must see it (laughing).
Should we let him bring it in, Break? Gayboy asks.
Let him bring it in, Break says.
So, see for yourself, earth colored, an excellent piece, the diamond has to be cut here, and the wife can even hem it if necessary.
It fits me perfectly, look, and holds the piece of canvas in front of himself.
Break goes up to the man.
And not just Break but his fist, too, it goes and goes, it flies like a blessing.
Break waited till the man covered himself with the piece of canvas and all you could see was his stupid head sticking out.
Thanks, Break.
It’s not good to fly out of Tiramisu.
He flew out.


Was I conceived under a piece of canvas, beautiful László Csendes?

Scene 12/Clip’s Song1

Scene 13/It won’t fall down

I go to my mother’s house.
In my mother’s house there are many people.
I tell them who I am, Irene Griguca, Ella Griguca`s daughter, I’m looking for her, for my mother.
She’s not home.
A lot of small children stand around me, little dirty children.
I give them some money, awkwardly.
You have an older sister, they say, she lives next door
A sister?
She’s pregnant.
She doesn’t say a word, as if she were frozen.
A beautiful Gypsy girl, a gorgeous pregnant woman!
Her father is not László Csendes.
I look into her eyes, and I realize that Esther is standing before me.
I can see in Esther's eyes that she knows who I am.
Are you my sister, Esther?
Ella Griguca gave birth to me, Bernadette. (Touching the scar on her face.)
I got to know Esther in Sighişoara.
There were some forty of us in a dormitory, forty wild girls.
Choose a bed for yourself, the educators tell me.
I went into the dormitory alone.
I stand in the doorway, the girls stare at me.
They grab me and put me on a table in the middle of the room.
They stand around me in groups
They want to decide which gang I belong to.
They agree on a night fight.
That’s how I got a place in the dormitory.
The victorious gang cut my face. This was their mark.
When I touched the scar on my chin, Esther automatically did the same.
In Sighişoara, I became Esther’s girl.
I had a bed next to hers.
Every evening, before bedtime I helped Esther to wash herself.
I love you, Bernadette.
Esther loved me.
She let me know this, like a royal decree.
One night, she says she’s worried about me and she calls me over to her bed, it will be better for me there.
I go over to Esther’s bed.
Don’t be afraid, Bernadette.
I’m not, Esther.
Esther, my love, my sister.
Let the sky fall down.

Scene 14/Vein

Doctors lean over me, they stare, faces, many faces their breath smells sweet.
Vein tap turned off, no hope.
The mouths on the faces say, it's alright, she has come to, mouths sigh, relieved.
I opened up my vein.
The blood flows thickly, it has a nice rhythm. Can’t move. Close my eyes. Not happy, not desperate, nothing hurts me, nothing is wanting, start, go, no anger, no peace, there is just some nothing, some nothing.
They want to know who turned off the tap on my vein.
I don’t know. Didn’t they turn it off in the hospital?
No, no, in the hospital they only made me come to myself, somebody turned it off before that.
Don’t I know who, they ask.
You smart ass.

Scene 15/The Rákóczi stairs

The morning shift is still working, counting the money, when I arrive.
I sit on the terrace with Gayboy, coffee, cigarettes,
We talk, with eyes closed, in the afternoon sunshine.
A woman makes a scene, she can’t decide which table to choose
She’s told that if she has nothing better to do, there is plenty of room outside. She has, she’s looking for me.
Even with my eyes closed,
I know that this was my mother.
She says my name to Gayboy, she doesn’t say my official name but my name.
She knows my name.
Good afternoon, she says to Gayboy, I’m looking for Bernadette Tatrosi.
Nothing stirs in me, nothing, nothing.
Why are you staring, Gayboy?
You will see greater things than this.
I’m Bernadette.
She’s my mother, she says proudly to Gayboy.
My mother.
She asks for money, she asks Bernadette Tatrosi for money, not Irene Griguca.
She shows me the pain in her skinny leg she lifts her skirt up to her waist.
She shows it to everybody.
My mother doesn’t know that pain can’t be seen?
A bottomless corpse.
What can be underneath her skin?
Nothing but bones, nothing else.
My mother will not rot, just like holy people.
They say that holy people don’t rot, they give off a nice smell for a long time, for a very long time, until the end of the world and afterwards too.
My mother doesn’t smell nice.
She’s drunk.
Put down your skirt, put it down now, Mother.
She asks me for money.
To have mercy on her.
Okay, come with me to the Rákóczi stairs, I want to talk to you.
In private.

Scene 16/By Yourself

BERNADETTE How do you kill, Clip?
[CLIP] Well, see, killing a mother is the easiest.
BERNADETTE I can’t do it.
[CLIP] It’s easy.
[CLIP] Face to face. A mother needs very little, that’s how they are designed.
BERNADETTE Have you ever killed anyone, Clip?
[CLIP] Of course I have. I annihilated my whole family.
BERNADETTE Is there such a thing as never, Clip?
[CLIP] You know there is.

Whom are you talking to, Bernadette Tatrosi?
To Clip, Ella Griguca.
Don’t kill me.
I will.
Don’t! I’ll scream.
Go ahead! Scream, I don’t care, I'll kill you.

BERNADETTE Tell me, Clip, tell me quickly how. Tell me.
[CLIP] You have to do it by yourself.
[CLIP] It’s not possible, Bernadette. It’s your business.
BERNADETTE Is there such a place as Never?
[CLIP] There is, you know that there is.

Turn your back, Bernadette, and don’t look around. That’s it. Don’t ruin it, don’t look around. Let her scream. She’s screaming! She screams that she’s my mother. I’m your mother, Bernadette, I’m your mother. Let her, let her scream. Don’t look back. Say it now. With your fingers, your hair, your teeth, your bones, your blood vessels, your cells, bowels, with everything, everything, with all your being, say it with as much power as a walnut tree.
(Gearing up.) I say it, I say it now.
(Realizing.) I said it, I said it!
Leaves rustling.
(Spots her.) I can see it, it’s there.
The Never is there.
That stone. There is my mother.
It isn’t the most beautiful.
It smells nice.
She's not the most beautiful stone.

Scene 17/The Law

[CLIP] Bernadette... Bernadette...
[CLIP] Say after me.
[CLIP] The law..
BERNADETTE What law, Clip?
[CLIP] Your law.
BERNADETTE I have a law?
[CLIP] Yes. Say after me.
When you reap the harvest in your land and you have forgotten a sheaf, do not go back for it, but leave it for the stranger, the wanderer, and the orphan...
CLIP-BERNADETTE ...When you pick your olive tree, do not search the branches again. Let it be for the stranger, the wanderer and the orphan....
BERNADETTE (With cathartic euphoria)...Remember that you are also a stranger, a wanderer, and an orphan, and you will always be, to the end.


1 The song for the world premier in Chicago was composed by Andrew Livingstone, who performed Clip.

© 2008 András Visky