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The play has been created as a paraphrase of Goethe’s Faust – its psychological and philosophical mirror image. When the curtain goes up, we see Gretel, who after many years in prison, is working out on an exercise bike. Thus immediately the rules of the game are made clear – the historical period is irrelevant to the essence of this story. The key question is the role and degree of responsibility of Faust and Gretel in (her) seduction and the subsequent murder of her brother, mother and child.

Margaret is a chamber play in two parts after the leit-motifs of Goethe’s “Faust”. English version of this play is in manuscript. Translated by Margita Gailitis.

Annotation:

1 female and 2 male roles (1 lead)

If “Faust” is about the dissatisfaction of man and his eternal striving for more and more, irrespective of what victims this quest claims, then “Margaret” is about being reconciled with what is and about the tragedy that Faust’s victims have to live with. Margaret is a person in extreme imprisonment. The walls of the prison, a few books and her own thoughts – are all she has. Was it any different when she was young Also then she was imprisoned by her narrow life. In her youth she fell victim to Faust’s passion and his gifts of jewels. Now the same thing happens to her again. At the moment when she has accepted her fate, like the wind, the Advocate/Faust/Mephistopheles/modern careerist sweeps in – a complex personality – loving, understanding, exploitive, self-serving. He tempts her with freedom and a son’s love. And again she falls captive.

Cast of Characters:

MARGARET – about 40 years old

ADVOCATE – about 25 years old

PRISON OFFICIAL – indeterminate age

Performances:

Margaret is staged in the Riga New Theatre in 2000. It was acknowledged as the best performance in 2000/01.
Play is also staged in Limbazi Theatre in 2002.
Besides English, Margaret is also translated in Russian, German, Swedish and Lithuanian.

Translated by Zeltīte Zīverte

 

Fragment:

Green Thursday

The action takes place in the same place as in the first act, specifically in the prison cell, where Margaret has already spent twenty- five years in captivity. The Advocate enters.

ADVOCATE

Good morning. I come bringing new,fresh information! Even though I’m half-mad, it seems,because I didn’t sleep all night and read the total Faust file.
To read it and not become mad is an art.
What seemed to me nightmares befor compared to this are just sweet dreams.
In particular the second volume.
There the devil himself could break
his cloven hoof!
No doubt, in litigation, procedures and a precise style
are worth their weight in gold.
What I suspected, is true! This file, this case,
which is more like the history of the century,
clears up much for me
regarding your case.
What has happened? Are you feeling ill?

MARGARET

No. No. Everything – is fine. Everything is absolutely dreadful.

ADVOCATE

No, Margaret, everything is not so dreadful.
We have a great opportunity to win this case!
If only … if only the court will agree
to take into account indirect evidence.
And there is no lack of it here.
If only the old grumblers would not be too lazy!
And not too all-knowing,
as well as unshakeable in their assumptions.
The same old lobsters are tensing the same old claws.
Oh God, why am I prattling so. I had to begin
And there is some news – for you, Margaret.
This news will demand much from you.
I beg you, be strong.

MARGARET

What could grind me down more?
Nothing. No matter what it is you have to say.

ADVOCATE

I don’t know how you will react to this, but I…
I think – it should be cause for joy..

MARGARET

Joy? What is that? Some animal perhaps
which has become extinct before our era?
I fear you mock me, sir.
You seem in such good spirits.
I beg of you, go away!
I don’t need a defender.
At least not someone like you.
Do you not sense that I despise you?
Your youth, your sinlessness,
your fiancée, your eyes!
Even in moments of true compassion
they don’t hide your zest for life!
I do not despise anyone more than you!

ADVOCATE

I understand.

MARGARET

You understand! Oh, words, words, words!
I myself don’t understand. That’s all! And go away!
I crave solitude
to bear the burden of my despair
and dwell in the dark abyss
of my loneliness.

ADVOCATE

I will, nonetheless, say what I have to say.
Look, only a few small pages attached to the file.
This letter addressed to Faust.
I must tell you – your son is alive!
Do you hear, Margaret, he is alive.
He was saved! Incredibly!
The basket had not sunk. No, no,
Only drifted further into the reeds.
And a woman, by the name of Martha …

MARGARET

Martha?

ADVOCATE

Yes. Mrs. Martha Schverdtlein, as it is written there.
She found the little one crying among the reeds.
The child had not drowned!
Do you hear Margaret! Do you hear Gretchen!

MARGARET

Martha … the child …alive … my little son…

ADVOCATE

You haven’t murdered him, no, no.
He is alive.

MARGARET

Where is he then? I don’t believe it.

ADVOCATE

We don’t have information about this at the moment.
But in the letter it’s clearly stated –
the child was pulled from the pond!
It was done by Mrs. Marta Schverdtlein.

MARGARET

At Martha’s?

ADVOCATE

No, no, not that. She didn’t keep him but had put him, as they did in those days,
at the door of some family without children. But precisely where, at what door
and what family – Martha does not reveal.

MARGARET

Where is Martha?

ADVOCATE

Unfortunately she has died.
She saw her husband come back from the war
but their happiness did not last for long.
Martha has died.

MARGARET

And her husband?

ADVOCATE

The husband, having become a drunkard,
has wandered off somewhere.
There has been no news of him now for ten years.

MARGARET

But Martha’s husband could know!
And the police should be able to find him,
if only they were to look! He could tell us where my child is!

ADVOCATE

Of course! Of course! All of that can happen – theoretically.

MARGARET

Why theoretically?

ADVOCATE

Here Martha writes: Mr. Faust
I’m revealing this secret
only to you…

MARGARET

Give me the letter!
Oh, God, I beg you, at once!
Yes, it’s Martha’s handwriting… Mr. Faust, you’re the only one I reveal
this secret to…
The basket did not sink…
Only drifted further away…
On the doorstep… All I was able to do…
Respectfully yours – Martha Schverdtlein.
The day’s date…
Is that all?

ADVOCATE

That is the most important part, isn’t it!

MARGARET

Yes. Yes. My child is alive!
Faust must have taken him and raised him!
Yes, Heinrich – his own dear son!

ADVOCATE

Very unlikely. No, no definitely not.
Don’t get attached to this illusion.
Faust has never received this letter.
It was never opened.
I did that.

MARGARET.

You! You … a strange letter!

ADVOCATE

But, Margaret…

MARGARET

My child, who fed you,
who kept you in shoes, dressed you, carried you, hugged you?
Who bathed you, spoiled you, scolded you?
Who heard your first “mamma”!?
Praise the woman
who you called your mother!
May Your blessing rain on her, dear God!

ADVOCATE

Please excuse me, that I intrude…
with my trivial feelings –
I’m happy! I’m very happy.
Tomorrow we can continue.
Good-bye.

MARGARET

Wait a minute!

(embraces the Advocate)

Thanks.

ADVOCATE

No, madam, no. I haven’t earned any gratitude.
It’s only a matter of chance, a happy coincidence
that I took the two volumes. There are many
more surprises ahead. But not today. Let’s postpone
everything until tomorrow.
It wouldn’t be appropriate at a moment like this.
I’m really happy. I’m very happy
for you!

Exits.

MARGARET

Oh happiness … happiness … happiness…
And I was able to feel it!
I could feel happiness?
Where is my son? How I wish
I could hold him No, no, oh God,
not even that!
Just to look at him secretly.
As a beggar from the crowd.
As a little bird from a bush.
As a curious squirrel from a thicket.
What is he like, I wonder? Just
so I don’t reveal who I am,
As if there were not enough sins
that I must add another?
Yes, that would indeed be a joy for the boy
to find that his real mother
is a murderess and a whore!
And look where she is to hang!
Beyond everything I wish his happiness.
I already have more than my share of happiness
only because my son is alive! Your son also – Heinrich!
My beloved! Your soul and blood.
Bones of your bones.
Flesh of you flesh.
Now you are no longer dead.
Now you live on in our son.
He will have grown up in a good family!
Pale and rosy-cheeked, an affectionate child.
Oh, no! He must be already grown up!
He must be already big! Perhaps even a student?
What has he inherited from me, what from his father?
Oh, if only nothing evil would ever touch him!
Those students, they’re daredevils!
They jump from cliffs, deep-sea dive,
fight in pubs, come home late…
These naughty children! And a mother’s heart
can only tremble.
And what if he’s like Heinrich,
so hot-headed and impulsive, and irresistible?
Perhaps already some girl,
the same as I …But these are different times,
Thank God …but watch out,
my boy, control yourself! You scamp! You little devil!
A strict hand is needed with these young colts…
Truly, I am starting to lose my mind from happiness.
Praise the woman, whom you, my little son,
call your mother!
Never, I swear, never
will I reveal who I am to you.

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