From "An Evening of words and theatre" performance at the Ecole Polytechnique on the 17 February 2010.
Play "WILD BACKPACKING"
By Daria Shakourzadeh.
Acted by Michael Buchet, Adrien Chan-Hon-Tong, Etienne Foessel, Pierre Larraufie and Eva Simon (in photos)
Fred, Tony, Jane, William and Charles are hiking in the forest somewhere in the mountains of Corsica. We see them walk while the sun is fading. After a while, only the moon remains to light there path. We can hear the sound of the night, an owl in a tree and crickets.
FRED: Let’s stop here, there’s a good spot to plant our tents. We can’t see where we’re walking anymore.
TONY: Oh Sir, yes Sir! I am dying to eat that jam, it smells so good in my backpack!
They all put down their backpacks where Fred points. Then they talk all together/at once.
JANE: My feet hurt so much, not to mention my back.
WILLIAM: Stop complaining, we’re carrying everything, your bag is empty. But my shoulders!
CHARLES: Oh god, I am going to eat everything up before you have time to even have a look at the food.
TONY: Oh shut up you man, don’t play the rude buddy. I could eat two times as much as you, whenever you want. Wanna bet?
FRED: [everybody else shuts up] Men, I am going to begin to make a fire with those branches while you look for some more wood.
Fred kneels down on the ground and the others resume laughing and giving each other looks of approbation. Charles punches Tony and everybody begins hurrying to put the bags in better order and to begin searching for branches. Some put their flashlights on their foreheads. Charles is the least concentrated, he makes sure he looks as efficient as the others, scanning the ground, but it is clear he is not as focused on the branches. Meanwhile, the fire is finally lit and branches are accumulated. After a while, a plant grabs his attention.
CHARLES: Tony, come here, give me some more light. [Tony obeys] I knew it. You will not believe what I’ve just found!
CHARLES: [he picks a few bays from the bush] This is Blastenogopia Oephalisis.
JANE: [laughs] Oh please, you’re such a bad chemist, why do you act as if you want us to believe any different?
CHARLES: I might be a bad chemist, but I am not as ingenuous as you, darling. Do I have to remind you that I spent my whole military training up in those Corsican mountains? What do you think I learnt? Management? Authority? Cohesion? Self-help? Nope, darling, when I first got to Corsica, I was whiter than a virgin. But once there, I ended up a Machiavellian drunkard and junkie.
CHARLES: [with a big gesture like a clown] This, my friends, is called Blastenogopia Oephalisis. Take one of those bays, and life will seem different all of a sudden. You think it’s dark? You will be illuminated. You feel lonely? You will have the impression this place is crowded. You think it’s too quiet here? You will be deafened by the most terrific music. You are starving? You will forget about your stomach at once! [They all sit around the fire and Charles goes from one to the other] Take one of them, and you will not be disappointed, my friends!!
FRED: I’m not eating that shit.
CHARLES: Oh come on, I’m joking! I know this is the plant they take here when they want to warm up during long, boring, and cold winters. It only happens to have some peculiar virtues, but it’s not more harmful than a simple cigarette or alcohol. I saw people who have tried it. It’s nothing, just a bit of fun.
TONY: Leave him alone, for the moment he is hot because we’ve just stopped hiking and running around, but after a while he will be cold and he will go himself to pick one of your bays from the bush.
TONY: Come on, this will be fun! Let’s all try it, and then we can prepare our dinner feeling good.
They all eat a bay. Fred hesitates, sees everyone else take theirs. Abandoning his cause, he finally shrugs his shoulders and eats his own bay.
WILLIAM: [laughing] ok, done! Let’s begin preparing dinner then.
TONY: I’ll take care of the tents.
They begin doing their stuff to prepare for their night. They are laughing more and more noisily and uncontrollably together. Even Fred seems to be enjoying the moment and to have forgotten his fears. Suddenly, the noise of the night becomes stronger and stronger until we suddenly hear the Nutcracker by Tchaikovsky. Nobody seems to have noticed it except for Tony who is startled and jumps up.
TONY: [takes Charles’s arm] What the hell is this?!
CHARLES: [bursting into laughter again] what are you talking about, it’s my arm!
Tony laughs while the Nutcracker is still playing. Red lights shine on Jane.
TONY: What the hell? Charles, have you ever seen her dance ballet before?
Charles laughs, so much that he is moving and twisting. He finally disappears from Tony’s view while Tony remains looking at Jane.
JANE: [is turning round and round while holding a cricket in her hands] Lizzy, I am to be engaged. [She stops, annoyed, as if somebody had said something that hurt her feelings] Yes, to be married, what other kind of ‘engaged’ is there? Oh no, don’t judge me Lizzy. [She looks at her frog] There is no earthly reason why I shouldn’t be as happy with him as any other. Not all of us can afford to be romantic. I will marry him. What else can I do? I have no money and no prospects. I am already a burden to my parents.
Tony shakes his head, trying to breathe deeper. Jane is spinning again. She stops, looks at the moon, then she kneels down on the floor and goes on acting bizarre. Tony’s breath becomes quieter again, but when he resumes looking at Jane, she has pink hair.
JANE: [smiling] Tony, have you met Marco?
TONY: Marco? Jane, your hair! Who is Marco? Jane, there is something I have to tell you. Who is Marco? I know it is time for me to tell you what I feel. I know I will express my feelings the right way now. Better than ever. I see things, it is clear now.
JANE: Welcome here, dear Tony! Look, this parlor is for my own particular use. Oh Tony, this marriage! It’s such a pleasure to run my own home. [she shakes her head, and laughs, and laughs, with Charles whom she takes in her arms, forgetting the cricket].
Music again. An owl with sharp teeth appears but Tony doesn’t notice it. He is too concentrated on what he is about to say. His three friends come and surround Jane and his friend. They have frightening masks but we still recognize their clothes. Jane looks mad with despair, afraid, looking for Marco with her eyes but staying still in front of Tony.
TONY: When I first saw you, you were so ordinary. Your hair was ordinary, your eyes were too dull, your cheeks too hollow. But then it became different. One day it struck me. You reminded me of this girl who danced in the Nutcracker. I realized you were the incarnation of that girl and that music. The Nutcracker. It is you, don’t you know. Every single detail of your face, every single one of your manners, your grace, every gesture, every position, the color of your skin, the movements of your hands, something in your air and your manner of walking. So I would listen to it, in my bedroom, alone. And I would think of you, and imagine things that could happen between us. You should listen to the Nutcracker. The Nutcracker should listen to the Nutcracker.
Tony is now holding Jane in his arms, smelling her hair. They dance a waltz to the sound of the Nutcrakcer. Jane seems to do this without paying attention to Tony, but she eventually seems to notice him again, and when she does, she says:
JANE: Oh, come on Tony, you cannot be sitting here, next to your wife! Move! Over there, next to Mr. Sobolev, my guest of honor!
Jane goes to one of the masked characters. She kisses him on his head. Then they all take each other’s hands and they begin to turn, except for Tony, who is in the middle of the round.
TONY: No! Go away, you devil! No ! I will not let you ! Oh my goodness, my old demons… No, I had gotten rid of them. You will not win. I know better. Jane, Jane ! Don’t let them ! It’s not dark ! Charles, you told me it would not be dark. The dark knight. No, I am not dark. Oh shit, yes, you are. You are my old demons. My dear, horrible, old demons. I don’t care. I am alone again.
He lies down on the ground. Little by little, everybody stops turning, dancing, laughing. Everybody seems tired. They sit—or they lie down as there is less and less light.
The morning. A pale white light. The scene looks like a battlefield, dirty and devastated. The five friends wake up and realize nobody is sleeping in their tents. They look around them, but they don’t see Tony anywhere.
FRED: [staring at Charles] Where is Tony?
Charles is still sleepy and acts like he has a hangover. Will gets to his feet and begins looking around.
WILL: Oh god, this is not good. This is not good, my friends.
They hear a grunt. It comes from quite far away but they realize it is Tony. We can’t see him.
WILL: Toto, you scared me, idiot! Where were you last night? One moment you were here, the next you had disappeared.
CHARLES: You sound surprised. Why? Everybody knows Tony likes doing a disappearance act during parties.
WILL: What party, Charles? Who’s talking about a party here!
JANE: Oh, shut up! My head’s aching with your stupidities. Come on, guys, we are not in good shape to walk today. Let’s spend the day here.
Silence. They all burst into laughter at the same time.
CHARLES: Oh, Jane, you were incredible last night!