Alisa Alice

Alisa Alice

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781841501048
Publisher: Intellect, Limited
Publication date: 01/28/2003
Series: Intellect Books - Playtext Series
Pages: 82
Product dimensions: 6.75(w) x 9.50(h) x 0.30(d)

About the Author

Dragica Potocnjak, began working in the theatre as an actor. She performed the leading roles in about ten films for cinema and TV. In 1992 she started to write for theatre and radio. Her plays have been performed at Slovenia's major theatres, including Slovenia's National theatre. she has recently won an award in Austria in a competition for the best Slovene play (her most recent one, Empty Shoes), and that her plays are performed abroad, at the moment in Germany and Austria. This translation into English is the first of the work of a female Slovene playwright.

Lesley Wade is a Senior Lecturer at the University of Exeter and Co-editor of Studies in Theatre and Performance. Previously she has translated and published three plays by Slovenia's leading contemporary playwright, who is also a director at the National theatre. She brings to this project a 34-year acquaintance with this small country and its concerns, and an acquired knowledge of its language.

Read an Excerpt

Alisa, Alice


By Dragica Potocnjak, Lesley Anne Wade

Intellect Ltd

Copyright © 2003 Intellect Ltd.
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-84150-104-8


CHAPTER 1

Alisa, Alice

Although the immediate context is the exile of a Bosnian refugee in Slovenia, the play is about broader European attitudes towards refugees. Directors may choose to change the specific context.

The action takes place in Magda's living-dining room, from the evening until the following morning.

The furniture is of various styles, predominantly baroque reproductions. The room, though large, gives the impression of being crowded because of the large number of poorly arranged ornaments. Vases are choked with every possible variety of flower, particularly dried ones; goblin tapestries, pictures and photographs in old, heavy frames cover the walls. There is an over-abundance of gilt, crystal and porcelain. The covers and cushions on the sofa are colour co-ordinated with the red velvet carpet and curtains. At least the red velvet is of a shade that, next to the gold, somehow saves the room from complete incongruity, providing a gentle breath of elegance that helps to create a feeling of harmony.

When Alisa is trying to annoy Magda, or to get revenge, she speaks with deliberately poor grammar and a strong accent, and adds some Bosnian words.


The Characters

Alisa (a seventeen year-old refugee from somewhere else)
Magda (a fifty year-old office worker)
Irena (a forty-five-year-old, Magda's friend)
Leo (a fifty-five-year-old, Irena's husband)
Vladimir (a fifty year-old, Magda's husband)


Act One

A festively decorated table for two has been laid in the large living-dining room. ALISA is singing barely audibly what to our ears is a foreign sounding melody, full of feeling, tense, deep (we will hear the same melody again at the end). She makes the final adjustments to the table, then sits there and pulls a notebook out of one pocket and a packet of tablets from the other. She searches through her notebook for the words she needs.


ALISA

(Reading from her notebook, quoting.) 'I invite you to Alice's dinner party this afternoon.' Afternoon? No, evening. Evening dinner party. Yes! (Reading again, quoting.) 'I didn't know I was to have a party at all', said Alice, 'but if there is to be one, I think I ought to invite the guests.' O.K. No problem about that! Last supper if you want.

(The phone rings once, twice, three times ... ALISA pays no attention to it.)

(Reading again, quoting.) 'Look up, speak nicely, and don't twiddle your fingers all the time.'

(The telephone continues to ring.)

(Shouts.) Leave me alone, just leave me alone! I'll cut it off! (The telephone stops ringing.)

Prasac! Shithead!

(She takes out a large number of pills of various colours, placing them one by one onto the plates and into the glasses, sharing them out slowly and carefully. She then proceeds to act out dining. Her behaviour is exaggeratedly 'fancy' and affected, her voice fairly coarse, producing sounds of munching, belching and laughter. She enjoys herself hugely when speaking in an artificial voice, overdoing it a lot, and obviously imitating someone. MAGDA has told her this story several times. She speaks throughout with a strong foreign accent.)

It happened many times that he came home very late in the evening, you know. And me poor thing I was waiting for him, was waiting and was ... And I did not eat. Uopšte, I did not. I was not starving, not at all, razumiješ ti to? Can you imagine? But when the hunger started, I knew he is on the way home. And I was not wrong, jer on was already coming up the stairs. The next moment he rang the bell and me full of joy runned into his arms. Kiss! Kiss! Strašno! Disgusting! He put down his bag, took off his coat and his shoes ... And the fresh towel was already there in the bathroom waiting for him. Every day the same, kao neki ritual ... like a ritual ... Yes? There is something majestic in that! And then a wonderful smell came from the kitchen. Mmmmmmmmm ... The most pleasant titillation followed by the most stupefactioned (Like a dialogue)– stupefactioned? – no, vaporising – vaporising? – no, šta me briga! I don't care. Vapour! No! (Very depressed.) I hate it! I'll never learn it. Necu, necu da ucim. Mrzim vas, sve vas mrzim! I hate you, I hate this ... this ... everything! No more learning, no more living. No more languages! No more Alisa! Nothing! Ništa! Ništa! (Gestures as though she were going to knock things over on the table, then suddenly stops and slowly calms down.) Alisa – Alice, you naughty Alice! – Alice? – Yes. – No, no. – Here we go again!

(Continues speaking as she was before her outburst.) All the time in the rythm of pleasant and unobtrusive music. Muzika! La, la, la, la, la, la ... la! The king's smile spread over his slightly swollen and saliva sprinkled lips. Oh, yes! His grateful eyes melted over my fingers, which were serving him this ready-made artificial food with completely unartificial elegance.

(The telephone rings again.)

And Vladimir the king, with a small 'k', he was – ooh and aah, and oh – he was sighing and clicking and smacking and licking his lips and he was exerting himself with satisfaction and delight. (Speaks into the telephone.) He was delightfuly satisfied, oh, no, satisfactionally delightful! His stomach swelled up like risen bread, so all the buttons of his snow-white shirt bursted and jumped merrily around the kitchen – pok, pok, pok! There. (Gestures with her hand. Now speaking to the person on the telephone, she changes her voice.)

Don't you understand? How come you ... It's me, I do not understand you. Who? You. Molim te ... ne volim, I don't want ... molim. Please ... No, not pleased. Please! Just leave me please, not love me, leave me, I've said leave me! Ostavi me, necu više! No, no, ne, rekla sam ne! I said no! Sad? You are sad? Sad? Who is supposed to be sad here?! Sad?! (Hangs up.) Fooey, fooey, fooey ... Disgusting!

(Puts the pills back into their packet during the following.) And then my little hands lifted him up, pleasant dozy, like this and most carefully leaded him over to couch, where the poor devil fall to sleep. But I happily (and whistlingly) skip off to wash the dishes. I press his leftovers into my mouth. Baaah, baaah ...

(The telephone rings again.)

(Very loudly.) Prasac! Svinja!

(Into the receiver.) You old pig! Old disgusting pig! I hate you, leave me alone. I can not do it any more. Necu! No more! Fooey! (Places the receiver on the table.)

Now all we've got is flowers, only flowers, flowers, stinking wreaths of flowers! (Deliberately knocking over one of the vases.)

(MAGDA enters, carrying a fresh bunch of flowers. ALISA immediately attempts to tidy the vase.)

MAGDA
(Shouting.) Don't touch them!

(ALISA flinches, stops, does not dare to turn around. She slowly adjusts her clothes and hair.)

How many times have I told you already, they're not to be touched?!

ALISA
(Still turned away.) I did not touch them.

MAGDA
What are you looking for there then?

(ALISA does not reply.)
What are you nosing around for?!
ALISA
(Loudly.) I, nothing?

MAGDA
No, not nothing. Nosing! You nose around!

ALISA
Nose ... my nose ... how?

MAGDA
No, not nose, nosing, you're nosing around!

ALISA
(Turning around and acting in amazement.) I am not understanding.

MAGDA
What are you saying?!

ALISA
Oh, I am sorry, I do not understand. Nose around – I do not understand this expression. I truly not ...

MAGDA
Nose around means you're looking for something where you shouldn't be, amongst foreign, amongst my things.

ALISA
Oh, really?

MAGDA
(Forcefully.) Yes! Write it down, so you won't be asking me again.

ALISA
I will write it down. (She clutches at her pocket.) I do not know where is my notebook. I will remember it – Nose-a-round. Have you pencil? I will write it on the tablecloth.

MAGDA
My God, what next!? Take these flowers then!

ALISA
Joj, I am sorry, I was afraid to forget the words. (Quoting.) 'I can read words of one letter' – only.

MAGDA
Where did you get that from?

ALISA
Oh, I read it somewhere. Before ...

(She takes the flowers out of MAGDA's hands, smells them, pulls a face. She turns to MAGDA.)

Ooh, what a scent, so beautiful. Are you tired?

MAGDA
They stink. Spray them with perfume! Your pencil's on the writing desk, dumbo.


ALISA
Dumbo. (She laughs.) I love that – dumbo.

MAGDA
You don't say you love it, you say you like it. There's a difference.

ALISA
How is that? If I am loving it then I am liking it. Yo y! (She covers her lips when she realises she has made a linguistic mistake.)

MAGDA
You're going to have trouble grasping it. It's too much for your brain. Well, go on, correct it now. You must correct your mistakes every time.

ALISA
(Putting the flowers into a vase on the table.) No matter what I do I am never going to grasp it ... It is too much for my

... (Changes what she was going to say, and indicates her heart.)


MAGDA
Before that. You don't remember, do you?

ALISA
(With a smile.) I do! I said: If I love it then I like it, instead of: If something seems lovely to me, then I also like it.

(MAGDA does not comment. She throws herself onto the sofa.)

MAGDA
(After a while.) Have you got everything ready?

(ALISA nods assent. She sits on a chair at the table. She now calmly takes out her notebook from her pocket. She tries to remember words so that she can write them down.)

The same as yesterday?

(ALISA nods assent, and goes over to the writing desk for a pencil and dictionary.)

It was really good yesterday. Especially the meat.

ALISA
But why must I cook the same thing every day?

MAGDA
Because that's his favourite.


ALISA
But when I have to eat it for lunch the next day, it is not good any more. I cannot go on eating the same thing every day. (She rummages in the dictionary.) 'Nose, noun ... A knack for discovery or understanding (a keen nose for absurdity)'.


MAGDA
The next meaning. Read on.

ALISA
'His wife is always nosing around after him – she tries to find out where he is, what he is doing ...'

MAGDA
You obviously understand, that's enough! Tea!

(ALISA goes off to the kitchen. MAGDA opens her handbag and swigs vigorously from a small bottle.)

(Loudly to ALISA.) It looks like you've forgotten already how hungry you were ...

ALISA
(Returning with a tray, which is laid.) And naked and barefoot and ... I have not, I will be grateful to you to the end of my days. Your tea, madam. (She serves it skilfully.)

MAGDA
I hope you really will.


ALISA
I repeat it to myself morning and night, as you told me to. And then I really believe that I have arrived in paradise. Directly – from hell to sky.


MAGDA
We say heaven.

ALISA
We say hea-ven.


MAGDA
If you're lying, that's a sin.

ALISA
Izmoliš– you say one Lord's prayer, and he forgives you, that God of yours is so good.


MAGDA
Stop winding me up, or this is not going to end very nicely.


ALISA
Oh, did you think that it would?

(A long pause. MAGDA drinks some tea, ALISA rummages through the dictionary.)


MAGDA
Don't I look good, then?


ALISA
Yes. As always.


MAGDA
You said I looked tired!

ALISA
How could I?


MAGDA
You did! You said it earlier on ...

ALISA
Nisam. I would never say something like that.


MAGDA
You did! (She spills tea over herself.) This is your fault! It's all your fault!


ALISA
Yes, sorry.


MAGDA
How come you're so nervy?


ALISA
I not, I just repeat words ...

MAGDA
You're doing quite well for only seven months here, after all ...

ALISA
Sedam months I am here?!

MAGDA
(Ignores this.) What's the time?

ALISA Sedam and ... Pardon, fifteen minutes past seven.

MAGDA
All right, still time for a shower. Don't worry, everything will be all right. Pull yourself together.

ALISA
Who says that tea really helps you slim, then?!

MAGDA
Have you ironed my dress?

ALISA
(Ignoring the question.) What time will we wait to today? I am so sleepy.

MAGDA
My God, you've still got to do my nails!

ALISA
And perfume flowers and write word down and iron dress and serve up dinner and ... And when I allowed to go out? I already learned everything, I do everything you ask. You promise me I would go out ... when I know everything ... when your husband comes ... if not before. But your husband does not come!

MAGDA
Stop it!

ALISA
I don't even know what day it is today; I look out, more people have left their coats off, they will be walk around in short sleeves soon, but you ...

MAGDA
(Apparently calm.) They're still weeping for you at the station ...

ALISA
(As though leafing through the dictionary.) What is that word again ... nervous ... nose ... nose a ...?

MAGDA
Yes, nose around! A lot you remember! Nose around is the phrase. Nose around foreign arses. Or in other words – go whoring. That's what you miss. That's why you're so nervy.

ALISA
I did never go whoring! Deset dana sem trazila Emira, I look ten days for Emir. Bez hrane, without food, without money, without papers ... goodbye to everything, posle svega.

MAGDA
Speak my language, please!

ALISA
Yes, madam. Speak my language. Be like me.

MAGDA
Did anyone call? I asked if anyone called?!

(ALISA mumbles something.)

I can't hear! Did they? (Expectantly.) Did they?

ALISA

No.

MAGDA
They didn't? How do you know they didn't?

ALISA
Well I am here all the time. Night and day I am here.

MAGDA
Here?! (After a moment, too pleasantly.) What is this here?

ALISA
This is ...

MAGDA
Your home!

ALISA
I could throw myself through the window.

MAGDA
Please do, but what will you achieve by that?

ALISA
And you? What for God's sake do you want from me?

(Quoting.) 'I'm not a visitor, and I'm not a servant.'

Who am I anyway? (Quoting.) 'I can't stand this any longer.'

MAGDA
Have you been ransacking the house again? Have you been nosing around after the photograph?

(Here ALISA actually gets confused for the first time.)

ALISA
(Panicking.) Ne, I was not, ne, how could you think I would, when ...

MAGDA
Admit it, you were nosing around for the photograph! When you promised you'd give me some peace until ...

(MAGDA approaches her threateningly; at the last moment ALISA recalls.)

ALISA (Practically screaming out.) I was nosing around, I nosed around ... for – after – a spider!

MAGDA
What?

ALISA
I nosed around after a spider. When you came in, I was nosing around after a spider! Da! That is how it was. A spider ...

MAGDA
And where is that spider now?

ALISA
(Lightly.) I don't know, it escaped.

MAGDA
What, where was it, among the flowers?

ALISA
Yes. Here among the flowers. That big! Hairy and fat and black!

MAGDA
Stop that! Find it!

ALISA
(Acting as though she is looking for it.) You devil, where are you hiding, then? I'm going to find you for sure! Yes, isn't that right? Oh, but it is!

MAGDA
(Quietly.) Have you got it then?

ALISA
Yes. No! Oops, escaped again! Aaaah. Now I will! Hop! Here it is.

MAGDA
Kill it, what are you waiting for? Spray it!

ALISA
(To the spider in her palm.) Stop biting me, or I will!

MAGDA
Yes, do it now! Kill it!

ALISA
(Imitating MAGDA.) 'Suppress him! Pinch him!'

MAGDA
Christ, don't you know I'm allergic to spiders?

ALISA
(Acts surprised.) Oh! Really?

MAGDA
Yes, really. (She climbs onto a chair.)

ALISA
(Walking around with the spider in her hand.) I didn't know.

MAGDA
Well I told you!

ALISA
No! Oh dear!

MAGDA
What is it?!

ALISA
(Opens her fist.) I can't, I can't kill it, because there isn't a spider. I made a mistake. Error! Look ...

MAGDA
Don't come near me!

ALISA
It is a little leaf from the flowers.

MAGDA
Get away, get away!

ALISA
I squeeze it, crumble it, pinch it into dust. Bloodless. Dead. Dust. Don't worry, we haven't got a spider, that's why we have ants, small ones, quite tiny. (Picks one up.) There, see? Shall I rip its leg off? Shall I squash it?

MAGDA
Yes! How do all these pests get into the house?


(Continues...)

Excerpted from Alisa, Alice by Dragica Potocnjak, Lesley Anne Wade. Copyright © 2003 Intellect Ltd.. Excerpted by permission of Intellect Ltd.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Author’s Preface
Alisa, Alice
Translator’s Afterword

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