I decided to put up a brief excerpt from the stage play that I wrote during the start of the year for the One-act festival. Unfortunately, It runs about two hours, which is obviously much longer than a One-act can run, so I felt alright with showing a bit of it here. This is the first act, so enjoy. (I know, by the way, that the formatting is a little off. I just don’t feel like going through the whole thing and justifying the lines so that the directions are centered and the dialogue is to the left. Everything is to the middle here.)
The Players’ Tragedy
Tony Del Degan
Copyright © 2019 Tony Del Degan, All Rights Reserved
An arrogant actor; the biggest fop of the company. He is abusive to his lover — Leticia, and abrasive towards his fellows.
ANGELOS (Lord Lopez)
A tragic character, hopelessly in love with Leticia. He often gets into arguments with Pere. Inside, he is not all sane, and gets overly emotional quite often.
STANE (Lord Martin)
Stane is a brute, who only acts because he’s found some small success in it. He does not want the Recognition, and is disgusted by the actions of his fellows.
She is nervous and shy, often staying out of scenes entirely, or hiding in the background. The actions of her fellow actors seem horrid to her, and she tries to stay uninvolved.
LETICIA (Valentina / Queen Isabella)
Leticia begins as sly, then becomes conniving. She wants the Recognition, and will do whatever she must to get it, regardless of who she has to murder in its pursuit.
NAZARIO (Garcia / King Ferdinand)
He is called The Man of A Thousand Faces, for he can play any character, learn any line, and manipulate any weak mind. It is almost as if he has come from another time, as he talks differently than the others, drifts around the stage, and seems as if he knows everything about the Tragedy.
Las Sombras (The Shadows)
These are the extras who move furniture around and fill up the stage when necessary (King and Queen’s court). Dressed in full black versions of 15th century spanish dress.
This play takes place in a theatre, where many gather each night to watch the Tragedy. The stage will shift, changing from the Stage to the Dressing sets, depending on the scene. Actors will move between these as needed. The Tragedy is a play set in 15th century Spain during the Inquisition, specifically in the city of Cordoba, which lies within the kingdom of Castile.
During the play, the actors are moving from performing on stage to interacting and plotting in the dressing rooms. It begins during the opening night of the Tragedy, and gradually progresses towards the final night, the play falling apart all the while as the actors begin to lose interest in acting, and focus instead of killing each other.
Scene 1 (TRAG.) – Stage (Street)
Note: Try giving Spanish accents to the Tragedy characters to distinguish between reality and play.
[Enter Pere (Salazar)]
(Pere appears, garbed in a doublet of black trimmed with gold. The large feather on his hat flutters back and forth as he strides out from off stage, and his scabbard swings back and forth with every step. He raises his hand, and his half-cape flourishes as he reaches for a wall sconce, lighting it. The orange glow of the flame fills the stage, and Pere moves to center, shaking his flint.)
PERE (SALAZAR): A god-awful woman, she is.
[Enter Nazario (Garcia)]
(Pere stands, pondering, then spins around to look up at the buildings and their windows. Nazario enters through the door to the building and approaches. He wears a long coat that sweeps the ground, so that it looks as if he is floating. It is purple, ornamented with silver. As he reaches Pere, a frown touches his face. Pere tilts his head.)
PERE (SALAZAR): Garcia, my friend, how wonderful it is to see you.
(Nazario (Garcia) bows slightly, reaching into his coat to search for something as Pere continues to speak, watching as he does so.)
PERE (SALAZAR): This night is cold, but my wife is colder. I would sooner keep the company of the passing vagrants than that woman. Dios mio!
(Nazario takes a scroll from his pocket, unraveling it as Pere looks on in confusion.)
NAZARIO (GARCIA): What a life, you live, Salazar. Perhaps I may sweeten it.
(He looks around, ensuring there are none listening. His gaze passes over the audience, and he takes Pere’s shoulder, moving him farther down the stage before reading.)
NAZARIO (GARCIA): (Reading) The lords Lopez and Martin have conspired with the Jewish heretics, harboring families in their homes. By order of King Ferdinand of Spain, they must be destroyed, but by someone close to them, for any attempts by the Inquisitors will result in their flight.
(Pere fingers his chin as he listens. At the mention of the names and the charges, his eyes widen. Nazario continues.)
NAZARIO (GARCIA): Lord Salazar of Castile, a friend of the crown, should be asked first before any, for his trustworthiness has been proved… Let us not read further. I have faith in your ability, and so does His Majesty.
(Nazario looks up from his paper, rolling it in his hands. He turns, striding out a ways before turning back to face Pere, who is waiting, his fingers still playing with his chin.)
NAZARIO (GARCIA): So, Salazar, do you accept His Majesty’s proposal?
(He approaches, standing close to Pere as he speaks his next line.)
NAZARIO (GARCIA): (Cont.) The prize, I have not mentioned… two thousand reals for their heads.
(Pere turns away from Nazario and paces a bit before gazing up at the wall sconce. He ponders, then turns round as he hears a clamour from inside the building beside them.)
PERE (SALAZAR): Lopez and Martin are my closest friends, you must understand.
(Nazario nods his head.)
PERE (SALAZAR): (Cont.) But… two thousand reals? My wife would certainly shut her lips if I came home a rich man instead of a poor one.
NAZARIO (GARCIA): (Frowning) But you are not poor.
(Pere smiles and strides back to his friend.)
PERE (SALAZAR): I am a poor magnate among magnates, my friend. Though my pockets twinkle, they could twinkle brighter.
(He pauses, thinking.)
PERE (SALAZAR): (Cont.) Yes, I think I may take your offer… Tell King Ferdinand that Lopez and Martin will be dead before the month is out.
(Pere smiles a haughty smile, then pats Nazario on the shoulder. With a last glance up at the window of his house, he saunters to the door, opening it.)
PERE (SALAZAR): Un hombre rico seré. A rich man I will be…
(He passes through it, then shuts it behind him. The stage lights darken as Nazario looks to the door, staring, alone in the street.)
Scene 2 (REAL) – Dressing
[Enter Leticia, Sarafina, Stane, Angelos, Nazario]
(The actors move about the dressing room, some to their vanities, where they begin to take off their makeup and costume pieces. As they do this, Leticia moves to stand in the corner, fingering her chin. She takes a breath and fixes her hair, then waits until the chatter dies down.)
LETICIA: A competent performance… Angelos, Stane, Nazario, Sarafina (Beat) Pere — where is he?
(The actors pause to look up at her, then they continue, confused looks on their faces. Angelos keeps his gaze locked onto her, his hands fumbling with a bottle.)
ANGELOS: Yes, I agree. You especially, Leticia, what wonderful dialogue you deliver. Pere is out on the stage…
(Stane harrumphs, and Angelos glares at him.)
STANE: Stop flirting, Angelos. Our lives are miserable enough without your damn voice ringing in our ears all day long.
(Leticia turns around to face Angelos, and he glances at her before returning his gaze to Stane. The other actors are listening now, no longer paying attention to their bottles and wipes. Stane takes out a cigar, lighting it with emphasis — the melodrama is fully broken here.)
ANGELOS: I’m not flirting, I assure you. I’m just complimenting my co-stars — is that so wrong?
STANE: Depends what you plan to get from them in return for your compliments… especially from one in particular.
(Stane finishes at his table, then rises from his seat, taking his cigar out from between his lips and pinching it between two fingers. He reaches for a towel and pulls it angrily from its rack, wiping his face with it before throwing it aside onto a table. Meanwhile, Pere is gesticulating on stage, practicing his movements. He turns, striding through the door to the dressing room.) [Enter Pere]
PERE: Did you see how they cheered? My god, how wonderful it is to hear such a sound every night.
(He moves into the room, glancing about at the actors, absorbing the obvious tension, then he continues, ignoring it. When he sees Leticia standing, he removes his hat, setting it down, moving over to her. She smiles as he approaches; he bows his head.)
PERE: Wonderful, girl, just wonderful. You are a star, just like me; now give me a kiss.
(She blushes, looking down at the ground, then she kisses his cheek. Angelos is watching, jealousy painted clear across his face. He turns around and continues to fumble with his bottles, reaching up to wipe makeup from his face.)
LETICIA: (Flirty) Thank you, sweet. You’re not too bad yourself.
(Pere bows to her as he floats over to his table, gazing at himself in the mirror. He begins to gesticulate once more. Stane harrumphs again, then crosses the room, leaving the dressing room, cigar still in hand.) [Exit Stane]
(Leticia moves back to her table, delicately taking her bottles and wipes and cleaning her face as Sarafina watches from her vanity. When Leticia notices, Sarafina rises, approaching.)
SARAFINA: Your acting… could you teach me?
(Leticia is confused. She sets her bottle down.)
SARAFINA: I want to know how you do it, how you speak such dialogue… with such realism.
(Leticia chuckles, slightly irritated. Nazario rises from his table, smiling at his fellows before crossing the room. Before he leaves, however, he stops, turning.)
NAZARIO: Let us not forget, friends — the Recognition… will be awarded soon. Goodnight.
(Pere is still gazing into the mirror.)
PERE: As if we need reminding. He’s just bragging about how wonderful his chances are… Man of a Thousand Faces, My God. Thinks he’s the next Victor Vinicus.
(The other actors say nothing, but Sarafina seems intrigued. Leticia is clearly annoyed, yet the woman heeds not.)
SARAFINA: What is the Recognition?
(The other actors all turn around in sync, as if she has just spoken blasphemy. Pere takes it upon himself to explain, his tone brusque and judgemental.)
PERE: (Arrogant) Why are you even here, then? You have no idea? Earth to Sarafina, everyone from America to the Orient knows about it. (Pause) It’s an award, and it’s given to the best actors in the world… (Beat) Like myself.
LETICIA: And our theatre is the chosen playhouse for this year. Pere and I are… bickering about which of us is most likely to get it.
(Pere stops his fumbling and grows slightly vexed.)
PERE: (Irritated) Yes, and we settled this.
(Awkward silence for a moment. Sarafina breaks it.)
SARAFINA: So… your acting — could you teach me?
LETICIA: (Collecting herself) What is there to teach?
(Sarafina frowns, now realizing her fellow’s irritation.)
SARAFINA: Sorry… I’m… just forget it, then. I know you probably want the Recognition.
(Sarafina moves away, exiting the stage, Leticia uncaring as she does so.) [Exit Sarafina]
(Now there is only Leticia, Pere, and Angelos. They are silent, gazing up occasionally to glance at each other, then returning their gazes to their tables. After a time, Angelos rises, sliding his chair under his vanity and glancing at both his fellows before nodding briskly. He leaves the room.) [Exit Angelos]
(Pere gets up, placing his hands on his table and peering over the mirror at Leticia. She looks up.)
PERE: They want the Recognition… maybe not that Sarafina girl — she doesn’t even know what it is — but the others…
LETICIA: Of course they do. Why would they not? What other prize is there in an actor’s life; even Sarafina, sweet, will want it, just as soon as she begins to understand it.
(Leticia goes back to her bottles, but Pere persists. His voice is quiet, but laden with irritation and haste. He is trying to plot, but Leticia seems uninterested.)
PERE: Nazario is the most likely to get it… Out of most of us, he is the best, or in any case, the most shrewd.
LETICIA: And? What are you implying?
PERE: We kill him.
(Leticia stops, holding onto her bottle as if frozen there, gaping up at her fellow. He is smiling, but that smile soon fades as he realizes her manner is not one of agreement and excitement.)
PERE: Well… perhaps…
(He sits, his thought unfinished. When he does, Leticia rises instead, peering over at him now. He looks up, frowning.)
LETICIA: Kill him? But how? How would we hide his death? He is part of The Tragedy… all of us are. We can’t act if there’s no play.
PERE: His character is insignificant. If he dies of sickness — an illness of some kind — he will be replaced. The play will go on.
(Leticia turns to see if there is anyone listening. After, she rises and moves around the tables, leaning to kiss Pere on the cheek. She crosses the room and leaves.) [Exit Leticia]
(Pere continues to gesticulate in the mirror. When he is done, he rises, finding his bottle of sangria and taking a long draft of it before setting it down again and leaving the stage.)
Scene 3 (TRAG.) – Stage (Courtyard)
[Enter Angelos and Stane]
(Angelos moves to center, his long crimson cloak sweeping the stage behind him like a drooped pair of great wings. He dons a feathered hat, the brim wider, however, than Pere’s from before. He opens the shutters on the building behind, then peers in, searching as if for people who might hear the conversation.)
(Stane follows, garbed more simply in green velvet, his long hair tied back. There is a gilded scepter in his grasp, a bulb of crimson marble at the tip. He swings this about lazily.)
ANGELOS (LOPEZ): Señor Martin, your note was terribly written. A dullard would find no trouble in reading it.
STANE (MARTIN): (Glaring) I possess not the penmanship, nor the wit, Lord Lopez. Why, then, did you pass this task to me if you knew undoubtedly I would fail it?
(He swings his scepter in a circle as he waits for his answer.)
ANGELOS (LOPEZ): I imagined a dullard might find most value in the words of a fellow than in those of an academic. Perhaps I misthought.
[Enter Pere, (skulking around the building in the background)]
(He peers out at the two lords, listening, but remaining hidden where he is.)
STANE (MARTIN): You misthink often, My Lord Lopez. Now our guise grows thin, and Ferdinand of Aragon catches scent of our plotting on the wind.
(Angelos and Stane freeze, as if turned to stone. Focus attention now on Pere and Leticia in the background. Maybe do a spotlight on Leticia and Pere.)
[Enter Leticia, (back with Pere)]
(She peers around to see what Pere is gazing at, then grabs him by the collar, pulling him back around the wall. They can be seen through the now open shutters of the building. The two lords are still frozen.)
LETICIA (VALENTINA): Salazar, what in heaven are you doing?
PERE (SALAZAR): (Flustered) My love, I was… about to greet my friends, yet I knew not if I would be welcome in their parle.
LETICIA (VALENTINA): Parle?
(She glances out the window, then back to her husband.)
LETICIA (VALENTINA): (Continued) If you will speak with them, then speak. Skulk not in the shadows, Salazar.
(She grabs him and brings him out into the yard, where the lords are now live, moving about. They both glance at the two unexpected visitors, frowns of worry on their faces.)
(Leticia bows to them, her great dress flourishing. It is red, like blood. Pere bows also, then feigns an air of fellowship, embracing Lopez, then Martin, who slightly recoils at the man’s touch.)
PERE (SALAZAR): My Lords, my dearest friends, do the gods treat you just?
ANGELOS (LOPEZ): (Hesitant) Certainly. We were borne by fate, you might say, and arrived here most unexpectedly, Martin and I.
(Stane spins his scepter.)
ANGELOS (LOPEZ): (Turning to Leticia.) And most beautiful Valentina, your husband knows not his fortune.
(Pere frowns out of character at Angelos, who glances up to see the expression, ignoring it. Pere swiftly returns a smile to his face before the audience (fake audience) can realize.)
LETICIA (VALENTINA): I thank you, My Lord Martin. My husband bears a message, I imagine, else he would not have come.
PERE (SALAZAR): (Frowning) God, no, my love. This is a chance meeting, I assure you. I was passing through only.
(The scepter spins once more.)
STANE (MARTIN): Were you not walking with your wife, My Lord? She speaks as if she found you here, and your words are affirming.
(Pere grows flustered, his haughty attitude dispersed like birds from a shaken tree. Leticia frowns at him.)
PERE (SALAZAR): I told her to meet me here, for I had to speak with you, My Lords. She was in the markets, you understand, and joined me only recently, before I saw you, in fact.
ANGELOS (LOPEZ): Take me not for an insolent, My Lord. She has no baggage.
(Pere looks down at his wife’s hands and sees them empty. He feigns a smile, chuckling nervously.)
PERE (SALAZAR): Ah, she must have deposited them. Surely she would attest.
(He looks to Leticia.)
LETICIA (VALENTINA): Of course. I placed them at our home, my love, before I came here. But let us not dwell on it, my husband bears a message.
ANGELOS (LOPEZ): (Smiling haughtily) Certainly, I am eager to listen; based upon how many times you have mentioned it, I must assume it is of great import.
(Pere smiles, trying to formulate something to say. Leticia stares up at him, waiting.)
PERE (SALAZAR): A dinner at my home, yes, is what it is. In three days time, at seven o’clock precisely, you must be there.
(Angelos and Stane glance at each other, confused. Pere waits, hoping his farce has succeeded.)
ANGELOS (LOPEZ): Of course. I thank you, my friend, and await graciously your dinner. Your wife does prepare the best rice in España.
(He smiles at Leticia and she bows her head slightly to him in thanks. With that, her and her husband depart behind the building in the background.) [Exeunt Pere and Leticia]
(Angelos looks at Stane doubtfully.)
ANGELOS (LOPEZ): He knows, perhaps. He heard our whisperings.
STANE (MARTIN): (Thoughtful) We must be wary of him. At this dinner, have sealed in your coat a vial of powdered hemlock. Should he reveal himself, sprinkle it into his wine.
ANGELOS (LOPEZ): Yes. A wondrous plot, and perhaps our salvation.
Scene 4 (REAL) – Dressing
[Enter Pere, Leticia, Nazario, Angelos, Stane, Sarafina]
(The actors enter through the stage door, moving to their tables. Sarafina, however, sits upon a tall box, staring at the others, her makeup and costume still untouched.)
PERE: (Irritated) Your performance, Angelos… how should I put it? Stop with the flirting.
(Angelos looks up from his glass.)
ANGELOS: (Frowning) How do you mean?
PERE: You know how I mean, very well, in fact.
(He strikes the table with his glass, then rises from his chair, moving over to Angelos. He grasps his collar and heaves him out of his seat.)
PERE: (Furious) Touching my love, kissing her hand… that wasn’t in the script, you bastard! Next time I catch you screwing around, I’ll break character and your nose right then!
(Leticia turns in her chair, Sarafina watches, frightened, and Stane is amused as he removes his ruff collar, throwing it aside. He lights another cigar, putting his feet up on the table.)
ANGELOS: Let go of me! It was improv, you idiot; I thought the scene would be more believable.
(Pere lifts Angelos and slams his body against the tabletop, rattling the bottles and throwing them from their places.)
PERE: Shut up you damn fop; I saw your eyes when you kissed her hand! You want her, don’t you? You want to-
LETICIA: Pere! Enough!
PERE: (To Leticia) Don’t talk to me. (To Angelos) If I were a lesser man, I might strangle you now. I would strangle you now!
(Leticia approaches hastily, grabbing Pere’s shoulder. He whirls, slapping her face. The other actors go silent, all staring. Pere looks down at his palm, then turns to Angelos, glaring furiously at him.)
(Leticia approaches Pere, turning him. She slaps him back, then fixes her hair. He stares at her, then stumbles away, looking to each of the seated actors in turn before vanishing.) [Exit Pere]
(Angelos gapes at Leticia until she drifts back to her table, examining her face in the mirror of her vanity to ensure it is not bruised.)
(One by one, the other actors depart, slowly, fading like shadows into the darkness off stage.) [Exeunt Sarafina, Nazario, Stane]
LETICIA: I apologize, Angelos… Pere is… violent at times.
(Angelos remains lying against the wooden chest where he fell. Leticia is across the room, seated, still fixated on her mirror.)
ANGELOS: Does he hurt you often?
LETICIA: (Hesitant) No…
(Angelos rises, moving to his vanity to remove his makeup.)
[Enter Nazario, (hidden behind a curtain, peering out)]
ANGELOS: He shouldn’t.
(Leticia is silent.)
ANGELOS: (Cont.) If he hurts you, why do you stay with him?
LETICIA: (Irritated) I don’t want to talk about it now. Pere doesn’t mean anything when he does what he does, I know it. It is always accidental… and I am just as much to blame as he is. He’s been temperamental ever since the theatre was chosen for the Recognition.
ANGELOS: (Frowning) Leticia… surely nothing you do warrants violence. He shouldn’t hurt you like that… ever. And the Recognition is not an excuse; it’s just an award.
LETICIA: Enough, Angelos, please. I’m tired.
(She rises, leaving Angelos where he is. When she spots Nazario hiding, she stops, but continues swiftly so as not to draw his attention.)
(Angelos is alone now. Nazario soon drifts back into the darkness, a smirk on his face [Exit Nazario] while Angelos finishes with his makeup.)
(Angelos turns, pondering, towards Pere’s vanity. He reaches up to feel his pocket, then rises, moving over to his fellow’s table. He picks up a bottle, then puts it down after examining it.)
Scene 5 (TRAG.) – Stage (Foyer)
[Enter Pere and Leticia]
(Pere enters, crossing the room to sit down in his chair. Leticia closes the door, then follows, moving over to her exasperated husband, who wears a look of perplexion on his face.)
PERE (SALAZAR): My god, Valentina, why have I been stricken with this plight? How shall I do what needs to be done?
LETICIA (VALENTINA): (Confused) What needs to be done, my love?
(Pere realizes his error and grows flustered.)
PERE (SALAZAR): Nothing… nothing.
(Leticia leans on the chair and looks at Pere.)
LETICIA (VALENTINA): You are keeping something from me, for certain. Have I done something to lose your trust?
PERE (SALAZAR): I keep no secret, and fear not for my love. Never have I loved you more, my dear, than I do now. Should I have something to speak, you will hear it before any other.
[Enter Nazario, (Behind the door)]
LETICIA (VALENTINA): Your words are sweet.
(There is a knock on the door. Leticia straightens and crosses to it, glancing at Pere before turning the handle and opening it.)
NAZARIO (GARCIA): Valentina, a pleasure it is to see you.
(Pere rises from his chair and stands, staring across the stage at Nazario, his eyes wide.)
LETICIA (VALENTINA): A wonderful morn, made finer by your visit, My Lord Garcia. For why have you come?
PERE (SALAZAR): (Smiling falsely) My Lord, I was not expecting a visit. This time is ill, I must confess, for troubles plague my mind, spoken by incessant whisperings.
(Nazario raises his eyebrow in confusion as Pere crosses the room to greet him.)
NAZARIO (GARCIA): Ill indeed.
PERE (SALAZAR): Do you bring word of something? A message best spoken privately?
NAZARIO (GARCIA): I only come with tidings from His Majesty, King Ferdinand. On this passing Sunday, his royal court will cross Castile. He and Her Majesty, Queen Isabella, on their road to Aragon, request audience with you alone, Salazar.
(Leticia’s eyes widen as she stares up at her husband. Pere seems taken aback.)
PERE (SALAZAR): Of course… where do they wish to convene?
NAZARIO (GARCIA): A taverna by your home. El Mentiroso is its name. As I have spoken to you previously, your lone presence is pertinent. His Majesty will be guarded, of course, for his safety is of great import.
PERE (SALAZAR): (Unsettled.) A taverna? At what time?
NAZARIO (GARCIA): At twilight, you should make yourself known at the doors to the taverna. An attendant will let you in, arrayed in the dress of a noble, eyes shut as if in slumber.
(Pere shifts, keeping his gaze away from that of his wife for fear of what he might find in it. He taps his feet, his cape swaying.)
PERE (SALAZAR): I will keep this meeting foremost in my thoughts so that I miss it not. Many thanks, My Lord Garcia, and I wish you good fortune.
NAZARIO (GARCIA): (Bows) And you, Salazar. May your pockets be gilded and your dealings just.
(Leticia looks to her husband, a question in her gaze — one that Pere reads immediately. He grows perturbed, pacing the room.)
LETICIA (VALENTINA): What does he mean?
PERE (SALAZAR): I have formed a pact with the royals, my love, one that will make us very rich — so very rich.
(He takes Leticia’s hands and looks into her eyes, but finds doubt instead of elation.)
PERE (SALAZAR): (Cont.) Are you not pleased?
(She lets go of his hands.)
LETICIA (VALENTINA): What is this pact? You are placing much trust in this nobleman, perhaps more than you should.
PERE (SALAZAR): (Frowning) I have known Garcia since he was a boy. He was a babe when I took him from the street and into my own home, urging my father and mother to raise him as if he were a second son.
LETICIA (VALENTINA): Yet, still, I urge you, my love, to be wary. Boys possessed of the hearts of saints may not share their minds.
(Salazar takes Leticia’s hands again and embraces her.)
PERE (SALAZAR): Think not on it, my love. Should I be cloven in two, my heart lanced, I would walk again if only to see your face. God himself would not drag me to heaven, for I would fight him off, snubbing the angels and the saints above to stay on this earth with you. Fire would not burn me, nor water drown me, for I will live, as long as you follow, for eternity.
Scene 6 (REAL) – Dressing
(Angelos enters through the stage door, crossing the room to kick his vanity table. He is distraught, and throws his ruff collar down onto the tabletop. His gaze passes over Pere’s vanity and the bottle that sits there — the same that he had examined before.)
[Enter Nazario, (Skulking by the curtains)]
(Nazario peers out from behind the curtains and watches Angelos, a smirk on his lips. He approaches, feigning ignorance, as if he had only just strode in. Angelos looks up.)
NAZARIO: You look troubled, my friend Angelos. Tell me what plagues your mind. Perhaps I may be of help.
ANGELOS: (Frustrated) No, you wouldn’t.
NAZARIO: I think I may.
ANGELOS: No, you wouldn’t.
NAZARIO: I think I may.
(Angelos stares, then he sighs, pondering whether or not he should speak his troubles. After a moment, he resolves to.)
ANGELOS: I… well-
NAZARIO: It is Leticia, is it not?
ANGELOS: (Frowning) How do you know? Have you been watching me?
NAZARIO: I do not need to eavesdrop to tell, my friend. You are clearly enraptured by her very presence. Truly, I pity you, for Pere seems quite adamant that you remain aloof when she is around.
(He moves to his vanity and sits, though he fumbles not with his bottles. His gaze is fixed upon Angelos, who is now holding his head in his hands.)
ANGELOS: God, I’m just an idiot. What am I doing?
NAZARIO: And yet, Leticia despises her own love. He hurts her, I see, yet even as she longs to be rid of him, she can not, for he loves her sweetly between the pain. A loathsome pairing…
ANGELOS: I want to help her, Nazario… I want to love her, to show her that there are better men than Pere in the world. I think she’s trapped by him somehow, and I want to free her.
NAZARIO: Yet, alas, those who mean best are often cast aside, no?
ANGELOS: I know.
NAZARIO: You know, indeed. Think on it, dear Angelos, and do what needs to be done in your mind. God shall guide your path, move your deft hand, for that is his wont. We have the Recognition to think on also, or am I wrong in suspecting that you want it at all?
(Angelos does not answer that; he only stares. Seemingly satisfied, Nazario rises, stopping at Pere’s desk to tilt up the same bottle Angelos had examined.)
NAZARIO: Sangria? The man’s drunk, for certain.
(Angelos is fixated on the bottle of Sangria. He rises, following Nazario off the stage.) [Exit]
Scene 7 (TRAG.) – Stage (Dining Room)
[Enter Pere and Leticia]
(Pere and Leticia enter slowly, examining the room. Around them, Las Sombras are assembling a dining table. They gracefully drag in the table, setting it in center, then the chairs are brought as well, Las Sombras spinning with them as if dancing. Candles, glasses, etc., are set atop the table, then Las Sombras move off in different directions, vanishing behind the stage.)
PERE (SALAZAR): Where will the lords be seated, Valentina?
LETICIA (VALENTINA): (Confused) Does it matter, my love?
PERE (SALAZAR): Of course not. It is only that I wish to be near them, for I wish to speak with them.
(He turns to the audience as his wife looks away at the table, then he reaches up to fix his collar, sliding a small vial out and into his sleeve as he does so. His face is painted with worry, and as he turns towards the door, he coughs.)
PERE (SALAZAR): Are the lords unattended?
LETICIA (VALENTINA): Lord Lopez brings his wife — the Lady Maria, but Martin brings himself only. Is your mind unsettled by something?
PERE (SALAZAR): Not so, certainly. It is only that I grow anxious when guests enter my home. I do not well with dinners, you should know.
LETICIA (VALENTINA): I knew not.
PERE (SALAZAR): (Irritated) Well, you should have.
(Leticia turns, a perturbed look on her face. She strikes the table with a metal cup and Pere turns abruptly to face her.)
LETICIA (VALENTINA): (Angry) What is wrong with you? And say not that it is nothing, for I can see different.
(There is a knock on the door.)
LETICIA (VALENTINA): I begin to wonder if you love me well at all, Salazar. If you can tell me not what you plan, yet you can tell your fellows without pause, perhaps you would have done well to have wed them in place of me.
(She moves past him, glaring, to the door. As she opens it, her scowl fades, replaced by a kind smile to greet the guests.)
[Enter Stane, Angelos, and Sarafina (At the door)]
ANGELOS (LOPEZ): My sweet Lady Valentina, does God favour you well on this night?
LETICIA (VALENTINA): Well enough, My Lord Lopez.
(She glares back at Pere and he moves swiftly to the door to dispel her expression. Martin and Lopez greet him as he approaches, embracing him. Sarafina stands by her husband, quiet.)
PERE (SALAZAR): My Lords, how wonderful it is to see you here. Come and sit down, for our dinner is ready and the birds may take it if we do not begin.
(He leads Martin and Lopez to the table, Sarafina following meekly. (Make their seating look like The Last Supper.) He pulls out their chairs and sits them down, moving his hand near the cup of Martin. From his sleeve, he produces the vial, deftly tilting it into the cup before any can see. Once done, the vial is gone, back into his sleeve.)
STANE (MARTIN): What food do you have in this house, Salazar? Hopefully some edible.
PERE (SALAZAR): A paella with prawns and mussels.
STANE (MARTIN): (Amused) Live or dead?
(Stane slams the table, laughing. Angelos laughs also, while Sarafina sits beside him, smiling nervously. Leticia moves behind the wall of the set, returning with a large pan as the uproar quiets. She sets it down on the table, then moves to sit at the head of the table. Pere sits at the other head.)
ANGELOS (LOPEZ): I heard talk that The Catholic Monarchs are passing through Castile. How now does God plan to keep our state in tact if he sends his missionaries through our lands? Dios mio! Fortune favours us not.
STANE (MARTIN): Ferdinand and Isabella will not stop for long, I am certain. Their court passes through only, it does not remain.
ANGELOS (LOPEZ): We can hope.
STANE (MARTIN): Their inquisition has torn Spain apart, and now it is as if they plot to bring their dogma with them through Castile once more. God willing, our people will hold their judgements and keep matters as they always have. There is no need for Jewish punishment here.
(Pere shifts uncomfortably in his seat.)
PERE (SALAZAR): True, my dear friend.
ANGELOS (LOPEZ): True. We need no auto-da-fé in our kingdom. The streets reek well enough without the stench of burning flesh.
PERE (SALAZAR): You both tolerate the Jews, then?
(Angelos and Stane look up, their eyes wide. A silence blankets the room, then the clicking of cutlery resumes.)
ANGELOS (LOPEZ): Is there wrong in that?
PERE (SALAZAR): (Falsely) Not at all, My Lords, I meant nothing by it. I find it admirable that you share such godly virtues. There are enough in Europe who would seek to rend themselves in two over such matters as religion and politics. Think of the French!
(Leticia is watching her husband, suspicion painted clear across her face.)
LETICIA (VALENTINA): Now, Maria, let us speak of other topics that warrant no ardent discussion.
(The men quiet down. Sarafina looks up nervously, fixing her dress as she prepares to respond.)
SARAFINA (MARIA): Certainly, My Lady.
LETICIA (VALENTINA): Valentina, truly, no more.
SARAFINA: (Flustered) Of course.
LETICIA (VALENTINA): I do love your dress; velvet, is it not?
LETICIA (VALENTINA): (Cont.) I have many dresses of velvet. I find it course (fingers dress with a frown), the material, would you not agree? I find the best place to purchase clothing to be the market by the bridge here in Cordoba.
(Stane takes a sip from his cup. There’s poison in it.)
SARAFINA (MARIA): I traveled to Madrid, quite a while ago now, and found there this dress. Two-hundred reals was its price.
(Stane starts to rub his throat.)
LETICIA (VALENTINA): Two-hundred? Was it made by God himself?
(Sarafina snickers shyly as Stane begins to shift in his chair.)
SARAFINA (MARIA): Perhaps. In the m-
ANGELOS (LOPEZ): (Concerned) Martin?
(Stane turns and Angelos stands from his chair. He rushes over to take Stane’s hands away from his neck, yet they keep reaching back up to grasp tightly around the throat. Pere sits, staring, his eyes wide, and Leticia stands. Sarafina is moving away, ready to scream.)
ANGELOS (LOPEZ): (Panicked) He chokes! He coughs! Lay him down!
PERE (SALAZAR): On the table! Put him there!
(The plates and dinnerware are thrown from the table as Pere and Angelos hoist Stane onto the tabletop. His mouth is frothing and his eyes grow red, tears streaming down his cheeks. Sarafina screams and runs to hide by the door.)
ANGELOS (LOPEZ): My God, he is poisoned! See the froth on his lips!
(Angelos takes Stane’s collar and looks into his eyes. There is no light there. After a moment, the thrashing stops, and Stane lies still.) [(Lord Martin) Dies]
(All stand from the table, shock on their faces. Angelos looks distraught, his breathing growing heavy. He draws his rapier and turns to Pere.)
ANGELOS (LOPEZ): Hemlock in the wine; his death was your doing.
PERE (SALAZAR): No, ‘twas not. I dare not fight you, Lopez, make me not.
(Pere draws his rapier.)
ANGELOS (LOPEZ): The King’s order, you did follow. It was Lord Garcia, was it not, who conveyed it? All he did for you, Salazar, could it match what our friendship was? Better it?
PERE (SALAZAR): Blame me not, Lord Martin. I on-
ANGELOS (LOPEZ): (Bellowing) Blame you not? Should God be watching this now, would he blame you not?
(Angelos slashes and Pere parries the blade with a clash of metal. Angelos begins to approach, his weapon ready.)
PERE (SALAZAR): You fight me in my house?
ANGELOS (LOPEZ): Where else?
(Another slash. It is parried.)
PERE (SALAZAR): You would dare attack me in the sight of my wife?
ANGELOS (LOPEZ): The harlot can stand it, I imagine. She aided you in this plot, or I am blind and dumb, and she will watch the result of it.
PERE (SALAZAR): She had no part.
(Pere slashes this time, and Angelos parries. Leticia is watching from one end of the room while Sarafina cowers in the other.)
ANGELOS (LOPEZ): Then fight me and repent with bloody hands.
(Pere leaps onto the table, followed closely by Angelos. They begin to duel, slashing and cutting at each other, shuffling over Stane’s corpse as they cross the tabletop. Leticia and Sarafina watch in horror, both wide-eyed and unable to speak. At the end of the table, Pere leaps down toward his wife, fixing her with his apologetic gaze. From behind, Angelos stabs, and Pere ducks. Leticia ducks also, and the blade sticks into the wall above her head.)
(Pere snaps his wrist and flicks his opponent’s blade away, fleeing to the other end of the room.)
ANGELOS (LOPEZ): Come back, you dog!
(Angelos pursues, stopping as he sees Pere holding his blade to Sarafina’s neck. She is sobbing, her hands pressed against her sides in fear.)
ANGELOS (LOPEZ): (Cautious) Let her go.
PERE (SALAZAR): Put down your blade.
(Angelos is hesitant, but eventually throws down his sword with a clatter.)
PERE (SALAZAR): Leave my house and do not return. Should I see you near, I will ensure you return to your wife with no eyes.
(He throws Sarafina to Angelos and he catches her, holding her as she sobs into the folds of his doublet. The two cross the room, past Pere and to the door, opening it, then leaving, slamming it behind them) [Exeunt, Angelos and Sarafina]
(Pere turns to look at his wife, who is glaring back, then they both survey the corpse and the damaged table.)
Scene 8 (REAL) – Dressing
(Pere enters the room and moves to his table. He is alone, and begins gesticulating and practicing as he realizes that no one can hear.)
PERE: Oh how my life is sweet, how my life is grand… Angelos is such a fool to believe what he does… Leticia would never fall for him, never in a thousand years.
(He looks through his bottles and things, creating a clamour of glass and metal.)
PERE: (Thoughtful) I’d bet the fool doesn’t even want the Recognition — he wants my lover instead… (Beat) Next time I see him, I’ll show him what I think of that. (Strike table) I’ll cut out his eyes, break his bones, make him a eunuch if he even touches her.
(He starts fumbling with his things, finding the bottle of sangria.)
PERE: (Calming himself) If God would only help the poor girl and get rid of her problems for her… Stamp out the bastard who wearies her precious little mind.
(He unstoppers it, lifting it to his lips. He takes a long draft, then shuts the cap and sets it down again. There is a prolonged silence that goes on uninterrupted as Pere straightens his collar and his hair.)
(After a time, Pere reaches up to wipe his lips with his hand. He continues, but frowns as he spots blood on his fingers in the mirror. His eyes widen and he starts to choke, clutching at his throat and tearing his collar apart to reach his skin. His breathing is laboured, as if coming through a straw, and his face is flushed crimson. He knocks the bottles from the table, then goes still, his head falling to the now-cleared tabletop with a great crash. [Dies] The stage lights darken.)