Dramatic Texts >> Barbara Bejoian >> Dance Mama, Dance

DANCE MAMA, DANCE by Barbara Bejoian


 
PROLOGUE

A voice over of VIOLET AREVIAN is heard. THE GREAT COUNCIL OF ANCESTRAL MOTHERS are listening.



VIOLET AREVIAN
The final years of another age have come and gone. The old ways have fallen and lie in ruins of confusion. Only the pain of recollection is left. Men, women and children must sort through the ruins of tradition to gather whatever can be saved and used to move onward.
I, Violet Arevian, a Mother blessed with only one child, have recently departed from the living. I have asked The Great Council of Ancestral Mothers, immortal keepers of fortune and fate, to call forth from the ruins of confusion, the life memories of my daughter, Lucene, and help her to see the good of life . . . Help her move beyond the grip of old fears. And so, the Ancestral Mothers have come to a place called Watertown to review my daughter's fate and the lot of humanity about her.


ANCESTRAL MOTHERS (1) (In low voices)
Lucene Arevian Kinsor. (This is repeated over and over again)


ANCESTRAL MOTHERS (2) (In high voices and joining the low voices)
Lucene Arevian Kinsor.


ANCESTRAL MOTHERS (3)
(In medium voices, joining "all" voices) Lucene ... Lucene . . . Lucene


VIOLET AREVIAN
As was the case many times before and many times after the great flood when Noah and Moses and "the woman at the well" were challenged to make a choice that marked the fortune of what was to come, Lucene's moment of judgement is here.
Lucene, The Woman . . . Lucene, The Girl . . . Lucene, The Bride . . . will stand life's test for a troubled woman -divided in thought... A troubled people - divided in custom. The sifting and sorting of Lucene's life memories tell us if, a person and a people, so divided against itself can reclaim a sense of wholeness and walk onward, away from the ruins of the past to an illumined future.

End of prologue.
 
Act I

Scene I

The stage is dark. A spot comes up on LUCENE. Haunting Armenian music from a single instrument is heard.

LUCENE
There is a concentration camp of the mind
In which women have been forced to dwell
And my Father was the first man to lead me there.
It is an ancient camp
Where women have been taught
To wear veil upon veil
That hides their loveliness.
It is an ancient camp
Of silent voices
Where duty still demands
That all women surrender
Their personhood to wifery.
And even here on the modern streets
Of this new and different land,
The habits fashioned in those
Ancient days, from those too-too
Ancient ways still hold fast,
Denying my beauty, denying my strength,
Denying my power to flee.
I remain in the concentration camp of the mind
That my Father showed me
As the only good and rightful place
A good woman, a good wife, a good mother
Can be or ever want to be.
My Father was always known to be
A very truthful man. Perhaps-
My father lied to me.
 
Lights come up on the Armenian Church. Armenian Church music is playing. LUCENE enters the church. She is wearing a shawl that was once worn by her Mother VIOLET, who has died recently.
 
[All Armenian translations or explanations will be put in these brackets. They are not part of the spoken script.]

ARMENIAN DEACONS (Chanting in brash and rough toned voices)
Sourp Asdvadz, sourp yev huzor, Soorp yev anmah, vor hariaree merelots, voghormia mez! [Holy God, holy and strong, holy and immortal, who rose from the dead, have mercy on us.]
 

LUCENE is jolted by the chant. She begins to hear other sounds as she continues on into the church.

 

ARMENIAN PRIEST (Chanting in a calm, but forceful voice)
Put the Holy Oils on the child!! Anon Hor, Yev vort toe, Yev hokoone, Surpo, Amen . . . [In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, Amen.]
 

TWO YOUNG ARMENIAN GIRLS
Ipe, Pen, Kim, Ta, Yech, Zah ... [Beginning of the Armenian alphabet]


LUCENE's MOTHER VIOLET
(With a slight Armenian accent) I'm your Mother, that's who!! . . . Of course you're pretty. . . of course you're smart. . . you're an Armenian girl!!
 

ARMENIAN DEACONS (Speaking with brash and rough toned voices)
Havadamk ee mee Asdvatz, ee ariun amenagal, haroutuin yergni yev yergri. . .!! [We believe in one God the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth.]
 

LUCENE is haunted by all of the sounds she is hearing. She pulls out a five dollar bill and puts it in a gold plate lined with maroon velvet by a stack of white candles. While looking all around, petrified, she takes a candle, places it in the candle stand and lights it with a match in memory of her deceased Mother.

 

ARMENIAN PRIEST (Chanting loudly)
Burn the candle for the Mother who is dead!!!
 

ARMENIAN MEN AND WOMEN (A loud whisper)
Gerangnorayah tebrotz, Hie-gagon tebrotz, Americawn tebrotz. [Sunday School, Armenian School, American School.]


TWO ARMENIAN GIRLS (Sounds of them marching in place can be heard)
Im Heravor hiererreneek vor hierereneek... im paravorr Mirerreneek . . . [My Fatherland . . . My Motherland . . . The beginning of an old Armenian marching song to let the Turkish people know that they cannot break the Armenian spirit.]
 

TAWKOOHEE
She married a Tashnag . . . [Pro-active political party]
 

ARMENIAN WOMAN
She married a Tashnag . . .
 

ARMENIAN MAN
She married a Tashnag ...
 

TAWKOOHEE
You make for "amot" ["shame"] . . . You are Armenian voman vith Armenian duties!!
 

ARMENIAN MEN AND WOMEN
(A loud whisper) Amot. . . Amot . . . Amot . [Shame . . . shame . . . shame . . . ]


LUCENE'S MOTHER
Don't listen to the them!! They don't mean what they say!!
 

LUCENE is incredibly frightened. She runs to a pew, kneels and begins to pray.

 

LUCENE (Angry and lashing out)
They do mean what they say!! (Making the sign of the cross) Oh God, help me . . . keep the voices away!! Oh God!! Anon noi yev vort toe, yev ho koone, surpo Amen . . . Hiyr mer vor hergins yes, soorp yeghitze anoon koh, yeghitze . . . [In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, Amen. Our Father who art in Heaven, hallowed be thy name, Thy...]


LUCENE continues to say the Lord's Prayer trying to ignore her tormentors, but she cannot.

 

FIRST YOUNG GIRL
Krisdos ee metch mez haidnetzav . .. [First line of the Armenian "Kiss Of Peace" it means, Christ was made manifest amidst us.]
 

SECOND YOUNG GIRL
Orhnial eh haidnootiunn Kristosi! [Second line and final line of the "Kiss Of Peace" it means: Blessed is the manifestation of Christ.]
 

ARMENIAN DEACONS
An Armenian girl is her Father's daughter until she is her Husband's wife!!
 

ARMENIAN WOMEN
Eat the pomegranate, it will bring you children.
 

ARMENIAN PRIEST
(Chanting) Mgurdootuin yev artaranal, surpel ee meghatz [To be baptised and justified, to be cleansed from sins . . .]
 

ARMENIAN WOMEN
Ani... Ani . . . Ani. . .
 

ARMENIAN PRIEST
(Chanting): Put the Holy Oil on the child!
 

TAWKOOHEE
Mekh eh ... mekh eh ... [It's a sin . . . it's a sin]
 

ARMENIAN WOMAN
Mekh eh ...
 

ARMENIAN MAN
Mekh eh . .
 

LUCENE (Calling out to all in the Church)
Leave me alone!! Let me bury my Mother in peace!! God . . . please?!
 

ARMENIAN MEN AND WOMEN
(A loud whisper) Mireega merav . .. Hireega merav . . . [The Mother is dead. . . The Father is dead.]
 

ARMENIAN MEN AND WOMEN
Oor eh Krikora? Oor eh Krikora? Mekh eh . . .mekh eh . . . [ Where is Krikor? Where is Krikor? It's a sin.]
 

TAWKOOHEE
You got duty!!
 

ARMENIAN WOMAN
You got responsibility!!
 

ARMENIAN PRIEST
Take the maws . . . Take the maws . . . Take the maws . . .
[Maws is the blessed Thin Bread given to Armenians to eat after Sunday Church services.]


LUCENE's MOTHER
Eat the maws . . . (Almost crying) Lucene, eat the maws. . .
 

LUCENE
(Crying from the pressure of the voices) NO MAMA!! NO!
 

FATHER NISHAN enters, but LUCENE does not see him. She bows her head and folds her hands trying to pray the voices away.

 

TAWKOOHEE
Shame ...
 

ARMENIAN WOMAN
She changed her name ...
 

ARMENIAN MAN
She changed her name ...
 

TAWKOOHEE
You changed your Armenian last name . . . inch-choo . . . inch-choo? [Why. .. why?]
 

ARMENIAN DEACONS (Chanting in brash and rough voices)
Soorp Asdvatz, soorp vev huzor, soorp yev anmah . . . !! [Holy God, holy and strong, holy and immortal]
 

LUCENE (Calling out)
Stop it!!
 

TWO ARMENIAN GIRLS (Singing and Marching)
Im Hairavorr hirerreneek . . . im paravorr Mirerreneek . .. [As before . . . My fatherland, my beautiful motherland]
 

LUCENE (Calling out)
Go away!!
 

ARMENIAN DEACONS
Soorp Asdvatz, soorp yev huzor, soorp yev anmah, vorhariar merelots, vogh ormia dmez . . . Soorp Asdvatz - [Holy god, holy and strong, holy and immortal, who rose from the dead, have mercy on us.]
 

LUCENE (Frantic)
Stop!! Leave me alone!! (Running out of the church haunted and dropping her shawl) Oh God!!
 

LUCENE exits, NISHAN looks on. Armenian Church music is playing. A red ball rolls by The GIRLS run off the stage, NISHAN'S eyes follow them. He picks up the shawl and looks towards where LUCENE exited.

Blackout.

 
LUCENE runs to her house, afraid of what has just happened at the church.
 
LUCENE is looking frantically for her MOTHER'S old fashion music box. She finds it, winds it and opens it to listen to the music. Inside the box are items that her MOTHER wore or used: A gold mesh evening bag, a necklace with gold beads from Armenia, a handkerchief, spare buttons, tiny bottles of perfume, pins, earrings, the glasses that she used when she read or sewed, old photographs, an Armenian cross and a small leather prayer book.

LUCENE (Catching her breath)
Oh God, I can't stay here! Mama, I'm sorry. I can't stay here in this house. I can't go back to that church. I can't breathe here ... I can't think here. Mama, I've got to go home.
 
Blackout.
 
Lights come up. Sounds of the past are heard, the ARMENIAN WOMEN enter.
 

ARMENIAN WOMAN #1
Poor Lucene . . . got big trouble.
 

ARMENIAN WOMAN #2
She married that man!!
 

ARMENIAN WOMAN #3
That man name Krikor!!
 

ARMENIAN WOMAN #1
Did you hear?
 

ARMENIAN WOMAN #2
He's a Tashnag!!
 

ARMENIAN WOMAN #3 (Gasping)
OH!! Amot!! [Shame]
 

ARMENIAN WOMAN #2 (Gasping)
Amot!! [Shame]
 

ARMENIAN WOMAN #1
He left her for the C.I.A.!
 

ARMENIAN WOMAN #2
No!! He left her for the F.B.I.!
 

ARMENIAN WOMAN #3
I heard that he vas vanted by the KGB . ..
 

ARMENIAN WOMAN #1
Voch!! Voch!! [No!! No!!]
 

ARMENIAN WOMAN #3
I heard that he vas "big shot" in the A.S.A.L.A.[the Armenian Secret Liberation Army]
 

ARMENIAN WOMAN #1
No one knows where he is ...
 

ARMENIAN WOMAN #3
No von knows vhere he's gone . . .
 

ARMENIAN WOMAN #1
And Lucene is pregnant.
 

ARMENIAN WOMAN #3
She's pregnant with a Tashnag baby ...
 

ARMENIAN WOMAN #2
And where is Krikor?
 

ARMENIAN WOMAN #1
Der Hayr Nishan marry them.
 

ARMENIAN WOMAN #3
I bet he sorry now!
 

ARMENIAN WOMAN #2
Krikor's a Tashnag ... they're all crazy!!
 

ARMENIAN WOMAN #3
She should have married a Ramgarvar. She should have stayed with her own kind. [Moderate Party.]
 

ARMENIAN WOMAN #1
Oh, but Krikor is so good looking!! That kind of man gonna be "anybody's kind!"
 
The ARMENIAN WOMEN laugh thinking of Krikor's physical attraction.

 
Blackout.
 
End of scene.


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