The Creators (Act I)

N. Lygeros

Translated from the Greek by Athena Kehagias




In the darkness we hear an agonizing music, as if a human soul is torn away from time. It's solo violoncello. The curtain rises slowly and we discover in the twilight, a small simply furnished living room. A samovar, still quite hot, placed on a little table, diffuses across the scene a tea aroma. Philippov, a student, is playing a suite, as if he is possessed by a demon. Just besides him, Varvara is sitting on a chaise longue, a girl dressed throughout in violet, with her head on N.Spechniov's chest. He has returned from Switzerland on Bakounine's instructions. He decided to put to use, all of his means in order to spread socialism, atheism and terrorism.
Next to them is Palm, a novelist who seems lost in his thoughts, on the floor with a hand on the right shoulder. Is that of Irina's. The only shadow standing upright within this strange assemblage. Finally, on her right, sitting casually in an armchair, F. Dostoïevski, sketching with a pencil, a pipe in his mouth, completely absorbed by a new idea.

Nikolaï, with a cry which is only just held back.

That's enough! The violoncello is stopped abruptly. Silence.. .  You have not realized that it's three years that you live in a literary utopia? Time. Here the music is only a pretext. Our scope is much larger.

Philippov

What could be greater than music?

Nikolaï

The pain! Time. The only cause of consciousness!

Fiodor

Consciousness is one of the greatest evils of Humanity. But I know that a human adores it, and will not exchange it with another satisfaction, whichever that was.

Irina

Which human being could live in constant pain?

Palm

Our poor Russia, Irina, our poor Russia...

Nikolaï, in a sharp tone.

Holy Russia is not a country of wood, poor ... and dangerous!

Palm

A very insightful conscience is an illness, a real illness ...

Varvara, standing up suddenly.

In this case, all people who are worthy to be assumed as such, are sick!

Palm
The situation is much worse ... Silence. An intelligent man fails to become something, only a fool succeeds at it. The man of the nineteenth century has a duty in actual fact to lack in character, he is forced morally.

Nikolaï

Are you implying that morality exists!

Palm

It is true, I must agree with you. It's what was imposed upon us by society.

Nikolaï

You are talking about this manufactured consent! The society does not impose anything upon us. It is us who create it!

Palm

In this century, the man who has a character, the man of action, it's essentially a moderate being .

Nikolaï

So we ought to be modest! Silence. Our conscience imposes it upon us.

Philippov

A philosopher had said that we can do whatever we want, but we can not want what we want.

Nikolaï

Philosophy is meaningless excepting the period of peace. Silence. We do not have time. The Russian people are suffering and philosophy can't heal their wounds.

Irina

And how do you plan to awaken the muzhiks? With fire?

Nikolaï

No, Irina! The overpopulation, the starvation and the physical punishments imposed with an unprecedented refinement of cruelty have already taken up this task! The people are not afraid of the fire, it is their only weapon!

Fiodor, in a calm tone.

Each individual holds within them a component of Humanity, which is the challenge of this assembly.

Philippov

Fiodor is right. Time. A partiture is nothing but a continuation of notes, while the composition is a project.

Varvara, angry.

You don't speak but only about philosophy and music, while, all we need is bombs! The "vampires" are calculated in tens.

Fiodor, continuing without listening.

Initially, man has only a flowing intelligence,  with the intelligence crystallized, he realizes the existence of Humanity.

Nikolaï

Fiodor, my friend, I know the magnitude of your consciousness, but we are talking about slaves, serfs, peasants ...

Fiodor

As long as the brain is not fully developed, it is impossible for someone to think. Silence. Humanity is not cognitive yet .

Nikolaï

Here is the justification of our existence! We must think for others!

Irina

And to impose on them a happiness which they can not comprehend?

Nikolaï

Yes! We have no choice! Silence. As they are unable to seek help, we must help them ourselves regardless.

Varvara

I want to be useful!

Palm

As we are unhappy, we feel the misery of others even stronger, the feeling is not dissolved, it's concentrated ...

Varvara

I'm not unhappy. Silence. I believe in Nikolaï's ideas .

Philippov

How can you believe in fire during this snow white winter ?

Nikolaï

You don't have to believe in it, You must set it alight!

Varvara

Because the fire of liberty thrashes tyranny!

Fiodor

Nikolaï, I see Mephistopheles  in you...

Nikolaï

If God wouldn't help us, one must be sacrificed in order to bring light!

Philippov

In France, the century of Light managed to bring the Revolution and the Terror.

Nikolaï

This will be our example, since from those centers of light Democracy was born.

Philippov

But man is a variable existence and can, as does a chess player, love only the action itself and not the search for a target.

Nikolaï, with an abrupt tone.

The same is not applicable to music?

Philippov, annoyed.

I ...

Irina, interrupting him.

It is true, Nikolaï is correct.

Nikolaï

We are alone, unlike those, they are all!

Palm, taking his tea.

Always exaggerating! This is a disease!

Varvara

Dignum est !

Irina, approaching Fiodor, looking at his sketch.

What do you think of all that Fiodor?

Fiodor

I am practising thinking. In other words, any cause, immediately draws another right afterwards in me, an even deeper one, more fundamental and so forth, into infinity. This is the essence of every thought, of every consciousness.

Varvara

You don't answer, though!

Fiodor

Varvara, you ask of me to rationalize the Slavic soul?

Palm

Time is short for the one who thinks and endless for the one who desires.

Fiodor

Well, what can someone say about me, who does not desire, but is thinking?

Nikolaï

Under the reign of the tsar, to think is a crime! Silence. While there is no crime, there is only a society whose poor organization causes the crime ...

Philippov

Only you are talking about crimes, while Fiodor talks of nothing but thoughts ...

Nikolaï, angry.

Even the killer, do you hear, and not only, the thief, like Proudhon said, it's a right, if his destiny is to serve Humanity! And the Russian people have this right!

Philippov

Who gives you the right to speak in the name of the Russian people?

Nikolaï, showing the marks of the chains on his hands.

This here! Silence.

Varvara, kissing his bruised wrist.

My beloved!

Philippov

But if everything is permitted, who can decide on the form of action? Time. What can normal people do, Nikolaï;

Nikolaï

Normal people, as you say, deal only with their wellbeing. And I decide it, as an immodest one. And little I care about their life. Time. The only thing that counts is the others, the real people, those who are able to suffer for others. Silence. What is the worth of a life without commitment?

Irina

And yet, a life, even without commitment, is a life!

Varvara

Humanity is in no need of such lives.

Fiodor

Life is life everywhere, life is within us and not in the world surrounding us. In front of me they will be people and to be a man amongs men and to remain this always, whatever the circumstances, this is the true meaning of life.

Nikolaï

Only that people of the Russian nation no longer have the right to live. This right is forbidden by their situation. That is why I say that we must not leave stone on stone! Silence. In this abominable world where cruelty reigns, we are the value of the poor.

Philippov

So you are sensitive to the tears of the wretched?

Irina, approaching Philippov.

Who would be unconscious faced with pain?

Palm

That is not the problem! It mainly regards knowing how to act facing pain.

Fiodor

I think that man is actually free. Also, he can choose the good, as well as the evil.

Palm

And if any man held within him its double?

Fiodor

Then, he has to experience it as a richness of soul. Because life is a gift, life is a bliss.

Varvara

Yes! The love for justice can cause bliss. And there is nothing utopian about it.

Palm

I wonder, sometimes, if the enthusiasm does not contain the gift of transforming a dream into reality.

Varvara

And what would be the harm in that?

Palm

At first none. Only that, that is what exactly makes it difficult to distinguish utopia from reality.

Nikolaï

The reality is nothing but the utopia which we are realizing. All therefore is dependent on the human ...

Palm

From exceptional people, who exist in Christian literature, the most accomplished one is Don Quixote, because he is capable of having one ideal · the possessor , to be trusted and, possessing, to trust, to devote blindly all of his existence.

Fiodor

Nikolaï is Russia's Don Quixote !

Philippov

Then it will be the same!

Varvara

What do you mean?

Philippov

Other giants, who will be mills, will come to grind his soul!

Fiodor

No! It's not the same. Because his soul does not belong to him anymore, as it was offered as a gift to Humanity

Irina

In this case wouldn't there be even more suffering?

Nikolaï

Don't fear for me! The Giants don't exist by themselves. It is the smallness of our mind that produces them.

Philippov

How dare you?

Nikolaï

Don't see anything personal in it. Time. The weakness of man always created obstacles, on purpose, to every mision of a certain grandeur ...

Philippov

And I say, that it is the madness of greatness that causes evil.

Varvara, with a critical tone.

And what you think about the lack of grandeur?

Nikolaï, intervening in front of Philippov in order to speak.

It is the denial of man!

Fiodor

Man always knew how to invent values, to which he obeyed latter on. Time. There is nothing moral in it. It is an option!

Irina

However, Fiodor, where could that lead to?

Nikolaï

At best, to the sacrifice of man!

Irina

Don't say that, Nikolaï! I beg of you...

Varvara, who saw the surprise of the assembly.

Don't look like that! Leave her alone!

Palm

But, Varvara, I don't understand you...

Varvara

There is nothing to understand ... Time. Only that some amongs us could lose everything on action and others have already lost the sense of their lives.

Nikolaï stands up and heads towards Irina, he hugs her and kisses her on the forehead. She hides her face into her hands.

Nikolaï

Here we are! Latter, without anything to say, he seats her on the vacant chair next to Philippov. And he is standing behind her. During this time, Fiodor had also stood up.

Fiodor, offered her a cup of tea.

Take it, it will do you good!

Irina

My head is heavy ......

Fiodor

It is the weight of consciousness ...

Palm

We are human, too human! Silence. We talk about revolution and rebellion, while we are vulnerable to emotion.

Nikolaï

We are human, not executors !

Philippov

Without a doubt, but who would believe us?

Varvara

We would not at all alter our nature on the pretext that it could be misunderstood.

Irina, correcting herself.

Varvara is right. Every human being is unique, irreplaceable. We have a purpose in this world and we must accomplish it at any price.

Palm

Except if the price is exactly  the loss of life ...

Fiodor

Past, present, and future mingle and engage within the human illusion. In order for that illusion to become a reality, we must leave our mark on its time!

Irina

Life then becomes a battle against oblivion.

Varvara

A need against fate ...

Nikolaï

We are completed within that fight of pain and martyrdoms. The pain of others gives birth to our martyrdoms. And they transform us to the extend that we feel the need to change the world and make it finally tolerable, so it could be humane.

Irina

Listening to you Nikolaï, I have the impression that you are talking about Christ ...

Fiodor

This is not wrong, Irina. Nikolaï, like us, shows the greatest admiration for this man.

Palm

It is designed to cause us confusion or motivate us to think?

Nikolaï, quoting Bakounine.

Silence. "Man is logic, justice, liberty, therefore God does not exist."

Philippov

I feel I hear Bakounine himself !

Nikolaï

Christ was a great revolutionary, while god, at best, is a coward who abandoned us to our fate.

Philippov

All this is excessive and dangerous!!

Nikolaï

Everything that is big, seems at best dangerous and excessive!

Palm

You said at best. So do you really think that god does not exist?

Nikolaï

No! Silence. God is the human! Long silence.

Philippov

Faced with such a chart, how could you not lose faith?

Varvara

Certainly, the essential always escapes, my poor Philippov ...

Irina

The essential is elsewhere ... Silence. God died!

Varvara

Irina, don't say anything anymore! They will not understand.

Irina

However, it's a must!

Varvara

No, no one forces you to anything!

Irina

Apart from the red memory!

Varvara, Quite upset.

Nikolaï, dearest, tell her to keep quite!

Nikolaï

It is impossible, Varinka is free ...

Varvara

But he has suffered as no being could! Silence. If we had to torture you my love, I will commit suicide in protest! Begins to cry over him.

Nikolaï

I am here, Varinka, do not fear anything!

Irina

All this talk seems so theoretical for some, so that I am forced to express my soul ... We are not talking about literary utopia, but only about a fact that I have experienced...

Palm, in shock from this confession.

What are you saying, Irina; Silence. All these is nothing but a mental distraction, a rupture of daily boredom ... An impromptu theatrical play ...

Irina

No, it is a libel against the evils! Because for me, the essential does not exist anymore!

Fiodor

Irina,  life remains the essence!

Irina, thoughtful.

That's what he always told me .

Philippov

But who then?

Irina

One of the first people.

Philippov

I do not understand anything from all these ...

Palm

As for me, I realize that now I am only beginning to understand!

Philippov

But what then?

Palm

Just the essence! Silence. And everything gets a new meaning ...

Fiodor

Very often the understanding derives not from a new idea, but from a new perspective of known things. All people look at the same thing, but some manage to see it. And Nikolaï sees  it...

Nikolaï

I see the awareness in pain and freedom in the revolution.

Palm

And now I see the truth within beauty. Silence. The culture, the music, the books, within all of that I always searced for beauty. My approach has always been essentially aesthetic. This was for me the sole sense to offer to life.

Fiodor

Many people are not as sensitive to this ...

Palm

But here, I discover that beauty is not, but the appearance of the human. An epidermic element, which can not express the depth of the human nature.

Fiodor

It's living close to the poor, through the slums of society and into undergrounds of the soul that we discover its magnitude. Silence. The vastness of the steppe is nothing compared to the soul of the Russian people, who, like the sun, never sleeps on our earth. Silence. You see, Varinka, the Slavic soul is a white night.

Philippov

I am shocked! How can you speak in this way, when our arts light up the world.

Palm

The musical people are scholastic, but nothing else. Look at the truth face to face. The people don't pay attention to us and the revolutionaries do not listen to us anymore. We were a youthful love for them, nothing more. Because without commitment on our part, we are not but scholastic amateurs.

Varvara

Is that all? You have nothing more to tell us?

Irina

Leave them alone, Varinka, it's already quite harsh for them.

Varvara

And why, then? They considered themselves eternal due to their art, while they are ephemeral, as is the world. Now that they discover that they are beings superfluous to society, I ...

Nikolaï

No, it is not useless! We do not have much time! The critisism will be another weight when we in need of existence.

Palm

Yes, Nikolaï, let's take off immediately!

Philippov

The fall is possibly hard.

Fiodor

It is not concerning a new composition which will enter the classical repertoire, but it's regarding a creation which will disturb in an inherent way our cosmic outlook throughout . It's no longer a fashion, but a way of life! In short: life!

Palm

How couldn't I see in the power of words, the existence of humanity?

Nikolaï

Because your world was that of writing and not of thinking!

Palm

This evening had to exist, so that I could conceive, that a word without an idea, is nothing but a line of letters!

Philippov

All this is quite comical.

Palm

Within life, the comic and the tragic are not separate species!

Nikolaï

Like some notes that remain inaccessible to some musical instruments, some ideas remain incomprehensible to the majority of the world.

Fiodor

Because the depth is not accessible except by awakening!

Palm

We believed all this time, that we had thought of everything and we had simply forgotten to live!

Irina

For my part, I realized that his death was my awakening in life.

Varvara

Irina, forget all that. No one is responsible for his past.

Fiodor

We are responsible for all against all!

Nikolaï, changing pace.

If Russia is in this situation, it's partly because of us! Time. Our cowardice, our timidity and our inaction are guilty. The consciousness we have regarding the situation is our guilt. Time. Don't you see that our nation is a child who is abused? How we can let it happen?

Fiodor

Indeed, in the world, such that it is, so to speak, it is impossible to preserve its value from any tampering. The only people who can manage to do so, are those who, in a desperate effort, took upon them the dignity of Humanity.

Philippov

Putting myself in the service of music, I was thinking of working for the good of the people. Silence. I know now that I was satisfying my own well being. I give the impression that all of my life I played in a galley.

Fiodor

You are not your fault for anything ... Silence. Being a human is not a birthright, but a value that we ought to obtain. And Nikolaï shows us the path of justice.

Varvara

We are all selfish in essence, that's a fact. However, we are capable to love each other passionately. She gets into her hand, Nikolaï's hand. Let's then share, our ideas, about the best way to act and work for the good of all.

Nikolaï

The only means to achieve this scope, it's the revolution! Time. We must annihilate this empire that oppresses our people. The others do not seek help, only the right to live free. And we are the only ones able to provide it to them. Their lives depend on us.

Fiodor

Like Irina, we should turn misery into rebellion, it's the only way to live.

Irina

If I spoke do you from my soul, it was so I could scream out that we must act. But if I talk to you about my life, is to express the pain of the action.

Fiodor

But you are not alone, Irina. Time. We are a unique being , that fights by choice against despair, against confusion and misery.

Irina, looks at him full of sadness.

Yes, a unique being who is fighting as a slave ...

Nikolaï

Irina, a slave can become the conscience of a nation through the uprising! Time. Spartacus, the slave from Thrace, defied the empire of Rome.

Philippov

It's true, but he died!

Nikolaï

When the project creates the being, death can't anything!

Irina

But life, Nikolaï, can shrink in to it? In to creating a project?

Nikolaï

Life, as you say, is nothing but that!

Irina

Then you forget the desire for someone to love, which is deeply rooted in every human being.

Nikolaï, looking at Varvara.

No, I am one of them.

Irina

In this case, how do you accept a world vacant of sensuality and human warmth.

Nikolaï

I do not accept it! I fight it. The Tsar and his minions left us no choice, they made us be born into this world.

Palm

We therefore must have created that famous island of slaves ...

Nikolaï

It is no longer time for marivologies. Time. Our island will be Russia or will not be at all! Silence. Our aim is not to enslave the former masters, but to give liberty to the people. Till our birth, we live in injustice!

Fiodor

The example of Russia will then serve as a model for the whole world!

Philippov

Each one of our conversations is a indictment ... a sentence ...

Nikolaï, fiery.

No! An act of resistance! Silence. And even if our action fail, it wouldn't be less necessary. Time. Because, our hands that pop up from the ground, unable to suffer any longer the burden of life, will bring more revolutionaries. Once the fire is lit, our death itself will not be sufficient to extinguish it!

Varvara

So our destiny will be that of slaves.

Irina

We will become the memory of the future! lasting silence .

Fiodor

Sometimes I wonder if the future is not potentially recorded and each of our current actions does not transform it irreversible. As if we were not confining ourselves to write our past and we want to create the story of our future.

Nikolaï

It's for this reason that we are actual revolutionaries! Time. We do not want to obey the history written by the society. Our aim is to create a new society, based on our history. And if we do not succeed, others will write it.

Palm

Petersburg will no longer be a simple perspective, but the place of creation of  a new horizon, large, clean and more brilliant than ever, because it would have been born of the earth ...

Fiodor, continuing.

and from the depths of the human soul!

Nikolaï

Here is the lava of a volcano which burns everything in its path, our ideas will ignite the spirits in love of freedom .

Anastasia, rushingly entering the room.

We have been betrayed! We are lost! Silence. Everyone remains still. They hear noises near by. Then Nikolaï rises slowly while others come towards him, united. And in an instance, he raises his fist.

Nikolaï, with a cry.

Freedom or death!

Darkness. Then, the  Revolutionary of Chopin.







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