Detta manus är Alan Goodsons översättning till engelska av Bengt Ahlfors pjäs En teaterkomedi från 1983.
En teaterkomedi utspelar sig på en liten landsortsteater och kretsar kring produktionen av en ny pjäs av en debuterande dramatiker. De fyra akterna går från första läsningen till stämningarna på premiärkvällen. Konstnärliga, politiska och erotiska konflikter stökar till arbetet för den kvinnliga teaterchefen och hennes ensemble, där samspelet inte alltid är så harmoniskt. Sufflösen vill inte sufflera och den gästande före detta operettprimadonnan har minnesproblem, medan den cyniska gamla inspicienten försöker hålla igång cirkusen. Alkohol, avundsjuka och hysteriska utbrott gör inte livet lättare, men alla tycks ändå förenas av en stor kärlek till teatern.
The scene is a stage. It is the morning following the premiere of “The War Dance.” The sets are still on stage, but evidence of the opening night party can also be seen. OSCAR, the stage manager, is cleaning up and preparing for the first read-through of the next play. MATILDA enters carrying a newspaper.
MATILDA. Running a theatre in this town is hell! I quit. I'm going back to teaching—in Lapland.
OSCAR. Is it Hogberg's review that's upsetting you?
MATILDA. Review? You call this a review? This puke? “As long as we have an artistic director who insists on promoting vulgar propaganda instead of art, there is no hope that our theatre will ever rise above its present state of degradation.” And do you know why he writes things like this?First and foremost because I'm a woman!
OSCAR. Well …
MATILDA. Yes! You think I don't know what's going on here? He's been hounding me since day one.
OSCAR. Don't worry about Hogberg. “Critics are merely flies, buzzing a round the workhorse plowing the field.” As Chekhov said.
MATILDA. Chekhov said that? Well said.
OSCAR. Don't let it worry you.
MATILDA. No, I'm not worried at all. Personally. I could care less what someone like that writes about me.
OSC AR. Well, then.
MATILDA. But this is an insult to the theatre! To all the dedicated people whose work lies behind a play like The War Dance. The playwright, the actors, the technicians, your own work, Oscar—yes, a stage manager is a very important cog in the wheel. For two months we give our all to put on a play with a clear, humanistic message of peace; and along comes a fascist woman-hater, plops himself down in our playhouse for two hours, goes home, pukes all over us, and then gets paid for it! It figures that this hole-in-the-wall only has one newspaper of any value! I'm tired of being everyone's whipping boy. I'm going back to teaching! (She lights a cigarette.)
OSCAR. No you're not.
MATILDA. You don't think I could?
OSCAR. Yes, possibly. But you couldn't give up the theatre. Just like you couldn’t give up smoking. So—“Forget about it and move on.” As Strindberg said.
MATILDA. That's easy for you to say.
OSCAR. Strindberg said it.
MATILDA. No one blames the stage manager if they don't like the repertoire. It's the director who gets all the flack. You have no idea how much harm a review like this can do. The actors coming in today to start rehearsing Mother and Daughter, who should be bubbling over with enthusiasm, how do you think they'll feel?
OSCAR. The audience seemed pleased last night, that's what's most important.
OSCAR. We had four curtain calls, that's not bad.
MATILDA. That was exactly three too many. Every time they wanted to stop applauding you pulled up the curtain, so they had to start all over again.
OSCAR. Sometimes they need a little help. I learned that back when I was with the Touring Theatre during the war. Directing an audience is an art—not many stage managers understand that.
MATILDA. It's degrading to have to beg the audience for approval.
OSC AR. Ah! We're all whores in one way or another. A theatre is a public bordello, and our mission is to satisfy the audience. Tickle them and give them whatever sensations they're willing to pay for—both at the box office and through their taxes. Clapping is part of the pleasure.
MATILDA, Director, and Artistic Director of the Theatre, 35 years old.
OSCAR, Stage Manager, in his 70 ’s.
PER, Actor, in his 30’s.
HARRY, Actor, 35.
LOTTA, Actress, 25.
LINDA, Actress , 70.
BENGT, Playwright, 29.
MRS. JANSSON, Housewife, 50.
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