Saturday, February 5


[Will-o'-the wisps appear.]

ARKADINA [in a low voice]: There's something decadent about this.

TREPLEV [reproachfully imploring her]: Mother!

NINA: I am all alone. Once in a hundred years I open my mouth to speak, my voice echoes dolefully in this void, and no one hears it .... And you, pale lights, you do not hear me .... The stagnant marsh begets you before dawn, you drift till daybreak without thought, without will, without the throb of life. Fearing lest life should spring up in you, the devil, father of eternal matter, at every instant produces in you a continual interchange of atoms, as in stones and in water, and you are ceaselessly being changed. Within the universe, spirit alone remains constant and unaltered, [Pause] Like a prisoner cast into a deep and empty well, I know not where I am or what awaits me. One thing only is not hidden from me: in the cruel, persistent struggle with the devil, the principle of the forces of matter, I am destined to be victorious, then matter and spirit shall merge in glorious harmony, and the kingdom of universal will shall be at hand. But this will come only little by little, after a long, long succession of millennia, when the moon, bright Sirius, and the earth have turned to dust .... Until then .... horror, horror .... [Pause; in the background two red spots appear over the lake.] Behold, my powerful enemy, the devil, approaches. I see his awful, blood-red eyes ....

ARKADINA: There's a smell of sulfur. Is that necessary?


ARKADINA [laughs]: Oh, it's a stage effect!

TREPLEV: Mother!

NINA: He yearns for man ....

POLINA ANDREYEVNA [to DORN]: You've taken off your hat. Put it on or you'll catch cold.

ARKADINA: The doctor has taken off his hat to the devil, the father of eternal matter.

TREPLEV [flaring up, loudly]: The play is over! That's enough! Curtain!

ARKADINA: Why are you angry?

TREPLEV: Enough! Curtain! Bring down the curtain! [Stamping his foot] Curtain! [The curtain falls.] You must forgive me. I overlooked the fact that only the chosen few can write plays and act in them. I have infringed on a monopoly! To me .... I .... [Tries to continue, then, with a gesture of resignation, goes out left.]

ARKADINA: What's the matter with him?

SORIN: Irina, my dear, you shouldn't wound a young man's pride like that.

ARKADINA: But what have I said to him?

SORIN: You've hurt his feelings.

ARKADINA: He told us himself it was going to be a joke, so I treated it as a joke.

SORIN: All the same ....

-- Anton Chekhov The Sea Gull
Translated by Ann Dunnigan