EISENSTEIN IN MEXICO
A New Play by the author of Sixteen Words For Water Billy Marshall Stoneking Copyright 1999 William Stoneking PO Box 160 Balmain, NSW 2041 Australia Or e-mail: billy@stoneking.every1.net




E I S E N S T E I N I N M E X I C O


A Background

Following the success of Battleship Potemkin and a lengthy
European lecture tour, the internationally famous Soviet film director, Sergei
Eisenstein, made his way to California where he had been invited by Paramount
Pictures to make a "big Hollywood movie". Unfortunately, the films Eisenstein
wanted to make didn’t interest the studio; and those that did, Eisenstein didn’t
want to make. After six, frustrating months, Hollywood and Eisenstein
parted company.

Despite the fact he had been abroad for more than a year, Eisenstein
felt no urgency to return to Russia. Encouraged by his friend, Charlie Chaplin,
and inspired by a life-long passion for all things Mexican, he sought the
support of the American novelist, Upton Sinclair, and his millionaire
wife, to bankroll the making of an epic film about Mexico. The sixty-year-
old socialist and champion of lost causes was more than willing. Here was a
perfect opportunity for expressing solidarity with his fellow workers,
while publicizing his own commitment to "the cause". Sinclair’s wife, Mary
Craig, also recognized her chance (perhaps her last chance} to make some
kind of mark on the world.

Given a budget of twenty-five thousand dollars - and this at the height of the
Great Depression! - Eisenstein assured the Sinclairs he would finish the
film in three months using no more than twenty-five-thousand feet of stock.
However, artistic, moral and political pressures intervened, and by
the time an "almost-bankrupt" Sinclair forced him to abandon the project in
February, 1932, he had shot more than two-hundred-and-thirty-thousand
feet of film at a cost of more than one-hundred-thousand dollars.

The making and unmaking of Sergei Eisenstein (and his unfinished
epic, Que Viva Mexico!) is the subject of this play.




CAST OF CHARACTERS


Sergei M. Eisenstein:
The Soviet film director. Aged 50.

Eduard Tisse:
Eisenstein's cameraman. Aged 30
(except Act II where he appears as a
50-year-old man).

Grigori ("Grisha") Alexandrov:
Eisenstein's assistant director and
co-writer. Aged 30 (except in Act II
where he appears as a 50-year-old man).

Upton Sinclair:
60-year-old American novelist/
muckraker/socialist.
Mary Craig Sinclair:
Upton Sinclair's wife. Aged 40.

Hunter S. Kimbrough:
Mary Craig's alcoholic brother, ex-
banker, and business manager of
Eisenstein's Mexican film. Mid-30s.

Chabela Villasenor:
Painter/actor/activist. A Mexican
woman in her late 20s. Highly
educated.

Don Venus:
An Indian peasant, hermaphrodite,
retablo painter. Ageless.


The play is in two acts.

The setting is Eisenstein's Moscow bedroom,
transformed by memory and dream.

The time: February 1948.



ACT ONE SETTING:

Eisenstein's bedroom: a tear in the fabric
of reality through which Mexico leaks:
adobe arches, broken railings, a crumbling
staircase - a scene of decay, neglect.


AT RISE:

BLACKOUT. A solo violin, slightly out of
tune, can be heard. Lights up. A masked Indian
figure (DON VENUS) enters. Fiddle in hand,
slowly threads his way in and out of the arches.
HE plays a little, stops, then plays some more,
as if conjuring spirits. Finally, HE moves
downstage to peer at the audience.

SERGEI EISENSTEIN, wearing a red-white-and-blue
dressing gown over his clothes, descends the stairs.
HE cocks his head, listens. DON VENUS turns and moves
off as EISENSTEIN shuffles downstage, catching a
glimpse of the masked figure as it disappears through
one of the arches. A cat-and-mouse game (with himself)
ensues. Distracted by something, or someone, in the
audience, EISENSTEIN goes to investigate.



EISENSTEIN:
Totya? (Louder) Totya!

(EDWARD TISSE and GRIGORI
["Grisha"] ALEXANDROV enter.
TISSE lugs a battered camera case
covered with decals - Paris, Berlin,
London, Zurich. ALEXANDROV
totes a large, wooden tripod)

ALEXANDROV:
So, here you are! Just as I thought. The man himself.

EISENSTEIN:
Is it time?

ALEXANDROV:
Past time!

TISSE:
We have been looking everywhere.

ALEXANDROV:
From now on we keep together. No more wandering.

TISSE:
Already he was composing the headlines -
"EISENSTEIN DEFECTS... MOSCOW IN UPROAR."

EISENSTEIN:
Eduard, please! Not so loud.

TISSE:
Sorry comrade. I keep forgetting.
(Conspiratorially to ALEXANDROV)
The free world.

ALEXANDROV (Finger to lips):
Shhh.

EISENSTEIN:
Did you see him?

TISSE:
Who?

EISENSTEIN:
The one who has been following me.

ALEXANDROV:
Someone from the press, maybe.

TISSE:
Or the secret police.

ALEXANDROV:
No. Too obvious.

TISSE:
That's how they do it!

ALEXANDROV:
Do what?

TISSE:
Hide. They hide by not hiding.

EISENSTEIN:
You know about the Checka, do you, Eduard?

TISSE:
Not really. But it seems logical.

ALEXANDROV:
Six months in Hollywood and your brain has gone soft.

TISSE:
I was not the one who got heat stroke!

ALEXANDROV:
Human beings were not made for this much sun.

EISENSTEIN:
Listen!

(They listen... long
enough for EISENSTEIN
to notice their appearance)

EISENSTEIN (continues):
My god! Look at you! The two of you! You haven't aged a day.

ALEXANDROV:
Looking for you keeps us young.

TISSE:
We should disappear more often, eh?

ALEXANDROV:
Maybe we could work our way back to when we were not yet born.

EISENSTEIN:
What's going on? Tell the truth. How do I look?

ALEXANDROV:
How does he look?

TISSE:
A little pale.

EISENSTEIN:
Pale?

TISSE:
Sleepy. But the eyes are clear.

ALEXANDROV:
Don't flatter him. He was the one who
wanted to stay up all night.

EISENSTEIN:
For a moment I almost thought... (Looks round)
Where are we?

ALEXANDROV:
What does it look like?

TISSE:
We are at the train station, Sergei.

EISENSTEIN:
What!

TISSE:
We are going on the train.

EISENSTEIN:
What train? Where?

ALEXANDROV:
I know where I wish we were going.

TISSE:
Ah, but that train does not stop here!

EISENSTEIN (Squinting):
What does the sign mean... Platform 5?

ALEXANDROV:
Platform 5 goes to Portland.

EISENSTEIN:
Portland?

ALEXANDROV:
If you want to go to Portland, you stand here.

(EISENSTEIN glances left, and right)

TISSE:
A popular destination.

EISENSTEIN:
And if we stand over there?

ALEXANDROV:
There are no tracks over there.

EISENSTEIN:
Very good, Grisha. (Patting him on the cheek) Very good.

(EISENSTEIN moves away, taking in his surroundings)

TISSE (to ALEXANDROV):
Too much excitement. You know what he's like.

ALEXANDROV:
I know what he used to be like.

TISSE: He's tired.

ALEXANDROV:
I don't think so.

TISSE:
Give him a day; he'll be back to his old self.

ALEXANDROV:
I don’t think so. He has changed. He forgets.

TISSE:
He has more to remember.

ALEXANDROV:
Now I see why they called it a "going-away" party.

EISENSTEIN (Turning):
What party?

ALEXANDROV:
You don’t remember.

EISENSTEIN:
I remember everything, Grisha. Especially the women.
Every time I tried talking to one, you came and took
her away.

ALEXANDROV:
I was protecting you. Never have I seen such decadence.

EISENSTEIN:
Yes, I could see. You were having a very good time.

ALEXANDROV:
I was merely being sociable.

EISENSTEIN:
Ah! The sociable socialist. You give new meaning to the word "party".

TISSE (to EISENSTEIN):
All night you talked of nothing but Mexico. To anyone
who would listen!

EISENSTEIN:
Mexico?

ALEXANDROV:
Today, Mexico; tomorrow, Siberia.

TISSE:
You were like a man possessed.

ALEXANDROV:
You called Mr Kimbrough a pig.

TISSE:
A bourgeois pig.

EISENSTEIN:
Next time I'll tell him what I really think.

ALEXANDROV:
Next time they'll put the Blue Shirts on to us; and
I don't mean clothes.

EISENSTEIN:
Have I done something wrong?

ALEXANDROV:
Da! You have seen. You have tasted. You have touched.

EISENSTEIN:
No, Grisha! You have touched. Not me.

ALEXANDROV:
Shaking hands with Rin-Tin-Tin is touching.

TISSE:
At least we are working for socialists.

ALEXANDROV (Disdainfully):
Socialists!

EISENSTEIN:
There are socialists in America, Grisha.

ALEXANDROV:
Da! With heated swimming pools.

EISENSTEIN:
Where they swim is of no matter, so long
as their hearts are in the right place.

ALEXANDROV:
It’s what swims round inside the General-
Secretary’s head that worries me. I tell you,
Hollywood is nothing compared to the private
tinsel town the Comrade Stalin has constructed
for himself. One is defenseless against
that kind of imagination.

EISENSTEIN:
This time we will do it right.

ALEXANDROV:
We have become like strangers to our own
country. If we do not go home soon, soon it
will be too late to go anywhere at all.

EISENSTEIN:
Faint-heartedness does not become you.

ALEXANDROV:
Neither does death.

EISENSTEIN:
A man must finish what he has started.

ALEXANDROV:
If he knows what he is aiming for.

EISENSTEIN:
For truth, Grisha. For truth.

ALEXANDROV:
We may as well kill ourselves now.

EISENSTEIN:
No! This time it will be different. This
time when they see what we have made...

TISSE:
If we miss the train I will kill the both
myself. Come Sergei, where are your things?

EISENSTEIN:
Wait! Let me look. Let me remember.
(Gazes out at the audience)

ALEXANDROV:
Yesterday, he could think of nothing but
leaving... and now... Already he is homesick!
For Los Angeles, no less!

EISENSTEIN:
Imagine it! Five hundred women marching
through an endless cactus desert... the peasant
soldiers dragging their wounded. Life and death.
Life and death, my friends. And a mural that
dances in the dark.

ALEXANDROV:
I thought we were making a travelogue.

TISSE:
He is preparing himself.

ALEXANDROV:
Terrific.

TISSE:
Sergei, please! The train will not wait
forever. Come, Grisha, we must hurry.

ALEXANDROV:
Ya. Ya, I'm coming.

TISSE:
To Mexico!

(TISSE and ALEXANDROV exit)

EISENSTEIN:
For all those whom life has cheated... open
the electric paradise!


(Sound of steam whistle.
Flashing red lights.
EISENSTEIN exits)

(Lights continue flashing.
UPTON SINCLAIR and MARY CRAIG
enter, followed by HUNTER
KIMBROUGH carrying a suitcase)

MARY CRAIG:
Did we tell him not to drink the water?

SINCLAIR:
Five times.

MARY CRAIG:
I hope he was listening.

SINCLAIR:
I’m sure he heard every word.

MARY CRAIG:
The look on his face! Just like some child going to
a birthday party. I hope we’re doing the right thing.

SINCLAIR:
The man's a genius, mother. And he’s all ours.

MARY CRAIG:
Never trust a genius, Upton.

SINCLAIR:
You trusted me.

MARY CRAIG:
I married you!

SINCLAIR:
Yes.

MARY CRAIG:
Such an idealist.

SINCLAIR:
With both feet firmly on the ground.

MARY CRAIG:
And your precious head in the clouds.

SINCLAIR:
It’s a dream come true.

MARY CRAIG:
Your dream.

SINCLAIR:
Our dream. I couldn’t have done it without you.

MARY CRAIG:
I wouldn’t have let you.

SINCLAIR:
Listen to her, Hunter! She’s already
beginning to sound like a movie mogul.

MARY CRAIG:
Oh, Upton!

SINCLAIR:
It’s true! I can almost see it now.
(Framing the words)
"Mary Craig Sinclair..." in ten foot letters.

MARY CRAIG:
I’ll be famous!

SINCLAIR:
Indeed you will. The woman who sent Sergei
Eisenstein to put his ear to the heartbeat
of Mexico.

MARY CRAIG:
Let’s hope he knows how many throbs I can afford.
(to KIMBROUGH)
Are you ready, Hunter?

KIMBROUGH:
Do I look ready?

MARY CRAIG:
Baby, you’re gonna be just fine. I wouldn’t have
given you the job if I didn't think you could do it.

KIMBROUGH:
I don’t know th' first thing about makin’ movies!

MARY CRAIG:
Honey, I thought we'd settled that. I'm not asking
you to make it.

SINCLAIR:
We only want you to keep an eye on things for us.

MARY CRAIG:
It's only two months. Believe me, if there’d been
anyone else...

KIMBROUGH:
Why didn't you do it?

MARY CRAIG:
Be sensible, baby! Why, with my allergies like mine,
I’d be dead within a week. Besides, I have commitments.

KIMBROUGH:
So do I!

MARY CRAIG:
Really!

KIMBROUGH:
How’m I s'pose to find a job if I'm in Mexico?

MARY CRAIG:
Hunter, you have a job! Anyway, a change’ll do you good.

KIMBROUGH:
That's what you said when you asked me to move in with
you an’ Mr Sinclair.

MARY CRAIG:
Responsibility builds character!

SINCLAIR:
A young man ought get out and see something of the world.

MARY CRAIG:
Such a sensitive child.

KIMBROUGH:
I’m not a child.

MARY CRAIG:
Course you are! You’re my baby brother.

SINCLAIR:
Think of it as an adventure. It might very well be
the opportunity of a lifetime.

KIMBROUGH:
Yeah, Mexico.

MARY CRAIG:
And what’s that s’pose to mean? (Beat) Have you been
behaving yourself?

KIMBROUGH:
What?

MARY CRAIG:
Don't play dumb. Have you been drinking again?

KIMBROUGH:
What’s a drink?

MARY CRAIG:
You know what I'm talking about.

SINCLAIR:
I'm sure we needn’t lecture the boy.

KIMBROUGH:
Do I look like a drunkard?

SINCLAIR:
The Russians are teetotallers.

MARY CRAIG:
It's not the Russians I'm worried about.

KIMBROUGH:
What do you want me to say?

MARY CRAIG:
I want you to promise me.

KIMBROUGH:
Promise what?

MARY CRAIG:
Say, "I'll never touch a drink as long as I'm in Mexico."

KIMBROUGH:
Sister, please.

MARY CRAIG:
Swear it!

KIMBROUGH:
People are watchin'.

MARY CRAIG:
I don’t care. I wanna hear it!

KIMBROUGH:
I’m gonna miss the train.

MARY CRAIG:
We got time. I wanna hear it. C’mon, Hunter. Say it!
Say "I'll never touch a drink as long as I'm in Mexico."

KIMBROUGH:
All right, all right then... I'll-never-touch-a-drink-
as-long-as-I'm-in-Mexico. Happy?

MARY CRAIG:
C'mon. Come to mama.
(Puts her arms round him)
You’re gonna be just fine.

SINCLAIR:
I haven't met a young man yet who didn’t like Mexico.

KIMBROUGH:
Lemme go, sister. The train’s gonna leave.

MARY CRAIG:
You keep in touch. And make sure you keep those boys
on the straight-and-narrow. You’re the boss. Okay?

KIMBROUGH:
Yeah, yeah, I know.

MARY CRAIG:
We’re depending on you.

SINCLAIR:
Let him go now, mother.

(MARY CRAIG kisses him on
the cheek. SINCLAIR shakes his
hand)

SINCLAIR:
Take care of yourself.

KIMBROUGH:
I better go.

(KIMBROUGH hurries off)

MARY CRAIG:
(calling out)
And telegram me when you arrive!

The red lights fade...
the train steams off.
MARY CRAIG and SINCLAIR wave

MARY CRAIG:
I'd say this calls for a celebration.

SINCLAIR:
Good idea. I’ll give Doug and Mary a ring...
and Chaplin.

MARY CRAIG:
Don’t you dare! I’ve had enough of that dreadful
little man to last me a lifetime. Let's just keep it
to the two of us.

SINCLAIR:
Your wish is my command.

MARY CRAIG:
I feel like cheese soufflé. Let’s try Henry's.

SINCLAIR:
I’ll phone for reservations.

MARY CRAIG:
We’ll make a night of it.
(Taking SINCLAIR'S arm)

(SINCLAIR and MARY CRAIG
exit)

(EISENSTEIN, still in his dressing
gown, enters carrying a folder. HE
saunters over to his desk and begins
examining the contents)

(The sound of the violin is heard,
off-stage. EISENSTEIN turns)

(KIMBROUGH enters, dressed in linen
trousers and a cotton shirt. HE
carries several reels of film
stock which he deposits on the bed.
HE looks beside the bed, then
under the bed)

(The music stops)

EISENSTEIN
The rushes have already gone to Los Angeles, Mr
Kimbrough. You sent them this morning, remember?

KIMBROUGH (straigtening):
Did I, now?

EISENSTEIN
Another three thousand feet we don't get
to see.

KIMBROUGH
It pleases me that you've started filmin'
again.
(Beat)
Helluva day to be on th’ job, though, idnit?
Must be a hunnerd degrees in th’ shade. Still,
I guess it’s as good a place as any to set
out a depression. Reminds me o’ Natchez after
th’ war. Lovely town, Natchez. Quite stately.
My mother was from Natchez.
(Daubs forehead with damp
handkerchief)
A most artistic woman. Runs in th' family.
Her side.

EISENSTEIN
She must be missing you.

KIMBROUGH
Well, I don’t think so, actually. She’s dead.

EISENSTEIN
I’m sorry.

KIMBROUGH
What th' hell. Happens to th' best of us.
I didn’t find out 'til nearly a month after
the funeral. No-one tells me a damn thing.

EISENSTEIN
How upsetting.

KIMBROUGH
I was her favorite. Said I was wastin’ my
talents, workin' in a bank. She always thought
I'd end up a painter. Guess I’ll just have to
settle for bein’ a film producer now.

EISENSTEIN
Such freedom.

KIMBROUGH
Land o’ opportunity.

EISENSTEIN
So I’ve been told.

KIMBROUGH
You look a mite pale. Upset stomach? I had mine
yesterday. Damn inquest. Fancy pickin’ up a loaded
gun like that.

EISENSTEIN
It was an accident.

KIMBROUGH
Then again, it might just be th’ food.
(Pulls out his flask)

EISENSTEIN
It was a terrible mistake.
KIMBROUGH
I’m more of a steak an’ eggs man, myself.
Maybe you oughta be takin’ somethin’ for it.
(Takes a swig)

EISENSTEIN
Like you.

(Pause)

KIMBROUGH
Some people drink to forget. Me... I drink to
remember. Which reminds me... I believe you promised
my sister a script.

EISENSTEIN
I gave you my outline.

KIMBROUGH
You gave me an envelope with a halfa dozen sentences
scratched on it.

EISENSTEIN
A script is of no use to me, Mr Kimbrough. It is
the images that tell me what to do.

KIMBROUGH
Yeah, well, my sister keeps lookin’ at th’ pictures,
only th’ pictures never add up to anything. Th’ more
she looks, th' less she sees.

EISENSTEIN
That is because she is looking at rushes!

KIMBROUGH
Well then, they must be goin’ too fast for her.

EISENSTEIN
Nothing has changed, Mr Kimbrough. The film is still
in six parts: prologue, epilogue and four novellas.

KIMBROUGH
Sex, bullfights an’ revolution. Everything a man could
want. Everything except a story. When do we get a story,
Mr Eisenstein?

EISENSTEIN
Not yet.

KIMBROUGH
The story of Not Yet... that oughta keep ‘em in their seats.

EISENSTEIN
It will all become clear in good time.

KIMBROUGH
You said that last month, and the month before that.
(Beat)
I wouldn’t take my sister’s generosity for granted. She is
a much more complicated woman than you could ever
imagine. Oh, I've seen her genuinely outraged at th’ plight
of th’ poor, an’ more than a little indignant on behalf of
th’ hungry, but don’t think that means she wants ‘em livin’
next door. No suh. Lost causes an’ dirty hands do not sit
down together at my sister’s table.

EISENSTEIN
The story will come when it is ready.

KIMBROUGH
All I’m lookin’ for is something’ uncomplicated. You know...
boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl again. I don’t
much care, long as it keeps Mary off my back. I don’t need that
kind of aggravation, an’ neither do you.

EISENSTEIN
Boy meets girl?

KIMBROUGH
Why not! Why not somethin’ simple? A poor Mexican boy in
search of his fortune. Only findin’ it nearly damn well kills
him. Fires, floods, earthquakes. Just when it looks like
everything’s gonna turn out all right - hot damn! - robbed by
a pack o’ revolutionaries! Loses everything. Everything but th’
girl, which is all he really wanted to begin with. I reckon we
can do what we like, long as we give ‘em a happy endin’.

EISENSTEIN (Unimpressed):
Breathtaking.

KIMBROUGH
You like it?

EISENSTEIN
You ought to be more careful about mixing your drinks.

KIMBROUGH
Okay, forget th’ revolutionaries. What about th’ rest of it?

EISENSTEIN
When I need your help I will ask for it.

(Pause)

KIMBROUGH
I can be a very good friend, but I make an even better enemy.

EISENSTEIN
I’m sure comrade Alexandrov and I manage quite well on
our own.

KIMBROUGH
So I’ve noticed. All that breathless whisperin’ behind closed
doors. I almost wish I understood Russian.

EISENSTEIN
I didn’t realize we were keeping you up.

KIMBROUGH
Must be kinda hard, bein’ so far from home, lackin’ any
semblance of association with th’ gentler sex.

EISENSTEIN
You seem to manage.

KIMBROUGH
I am reclusive by nature.

EISENSTEIN
One whore at a time, you mean.

KIMBROUGH
I like women.

EISENSTEIN
So you keep reminding yourself.

KIMBROUGH
Least I never killed anybody. Hell, you lost more
people filmin’ th’ fall of the Winter Palace than
what was killed when th’ damn thing actually happened.
Though I guess one would expect that sort o’ thing from
someone who has so dedicated himself to th’ idea of
social realism. I s’pose we ought to count ourselves lucky.

EISENSTEIN
You enjoy this don’t you?

KIMBROUGH
I have a greater fondness for cribbage, but yes, under
th’ circumstances, this’ll do.

EISENSTEIN
Stick to your job, Mr Kimbrough.

KIMBROUGH
I intend to.

EISENSTEIN
Mr Sinclair promised there would be no interference.

KIMBROUGH
Mr Sinclair! Mr Sinclair isn't here! We're in Mexico,
remember? I give th’ orders an’ you follow ‘em. An’ spare
me th’ crap about how th’ damn thing writes itself. I’m not
interested in spontaneity. Hell, where I come from a man
could get himself arrested for spontaneity.

EISENSTEIN
To be so bold and to know so little.

KIMBROUGH
What you an’ your boyfriends do in th’ wee hours of th’
Mexican night is of no concern to me; but from Monday to
Friday between sunrise an’ sunset, your red ass belongs to th’
company, an’ th’ company wants a goddamned script. Now
either you write one, or I’ll do it myself.

EISENSTEIN
Those aren’t alternatives.

KIMBROUGH
The alternative is I tell my sister to take her money
elsewhere.

EISENSTEIN
What do you take me for?

KIMBROUGH
You! Why, you’re one o’ them filthy, misguided, communist,
Jew queers I’ve heard so much about.

EISENSTEIN
Don’t push it, Mr Kimbrough.

KIMBROUGH
You think you got nothin’ to lose.

EISENSTEIN
I have everything to lose.

KIMBROUGH
Yeah. I know. That’s what makes it so interestin’. I look
forward to readin’ th’ script.
(HE exits)

(Stage lights fade)

(Several bars of solo violin can
be heard. DON VENUS - masked –
enters. HE moves downstage, stops
playing and peers at the audience;
lifting his hand as if protecting his
eyes from the sun)

(EISENSTEIN approaches)

EISENSTEIN
You!

(DON VENUS is unsure that
HE is the one being addressed)

EISENSTEIN (Continued)
What’re you doing here?

DON VENUS (Lifts mask)
Senor?

EISENSTEIN
Why are you here?

DON VENUS
Someone was calling.

EISENSTEIN
You are following me. Why?
DON VENUS
You think I am following you, but maybe it is you who
have been following me.

EISENSTEIN
And who is "me"?

DON VENUS
A peasant.

EISENSTEIN
A thief, more likely.

DON VENUS
Si, senor. We are all thieves in Mexico. Today, to
have me inside your box is four pesos, in a nice way.
(Holds out his hand)

EISENSTEIN
But you are not in my picture.

DON VENUS
Si, senor. In every scene. Sometimes like this, sometimes
like that - I laugh. I pray. I lie in hammocks. What side do
you like best? This side?
(Turning his head)
Or this?
(Turns the other way)
I think this side.

EISENSTEIN
No.

DON VENUS
No! What! This side?
(Turning the other way)

EISENSTEIN
No, you’re not in my picture. I would’ve noticed.

DON VENUS
Ah! To act without being noticed! It is not so easy, senor.
EISENSTEIN
Who are you?

DON VENUS
You like me?

EISENSTEIN (Looking more closely)
What are you?

DON VENUS
Doña Venustiana Luisa Obregon de San Antonio... to my
mother. But only when she is angry. To my friends, I am Don
Venus. Don Venus, for love.

EISENSTEIN
A woman’s and a man’s name?

DON VENUS (Crosses himself)
For that we would need more heaven than one telling
could stand.
(Beat)
You are American, yes?

EISENSTEIN
Russian.

DON VENUS
Ah! Communista.

EISENSTEIN
Well...

DON VENUS
Que bueno!

EISENSTEIN
And you?

DON VENUS
(Shrugs)
If the fiesta of bullets was to come again... but
why talk of death? If a man is lost, a piece of string
serves better than a rifle.

EISENSTEIN
You speak very good English for a peasant.

DON VENUS
Si. A blessing... and a curse.

EISENSTEIN
Are you from this village?
DON VENUS
Whichever village has need of me, senor. I paint retablos.

EISENSTEIN
Retablos?

DON VENUS
Miracles. Paintings of miracles. I made one for the Garcia
only this morning. It is easy if one paints without trying.
I can show you if you like.

EISENSTEIN
Show me what?

DON VENUS
What is in front of the eyes and cannot be seen. There is no
end to miracles, senor. You have need of a painting?

EISENSTEIN
No. A painting, no. But a miracle…very much.

DON VENUS
So you have come to the right man. Or woman, if you prefer.
So much to see! So much to hear! But first... the fiesta! And
then... Memories of the Future! Come! Let us drink some
pulque and forget our troubles. You have pesos? Good!
Follow me. If the Future is closed, there is always the Reform
of Paradise. Come. I will show you everything.
(HE moves off. EISENSTEIN
follows; they exit)
(KIMBROUGH enters - script in one hand, bottle of whisky in the other. HE sits down, peruses the script) (CHABELA VILLASENOR enters. KIMBROUGH looks up as SHE moves towards the bed, reaches out and gently caresses the sheets) KIMBROUGH "His Highness" isn’t here, if that’s who you’re lookin’ for. CHABELA When will he be back? KIMBROUGH That’s th’ sixty-four dollar question. Who’s askin'? CHABELA I am Chabela. Chabela Villasenor. KIMBROUGH (Tosses the script aside) I don’t believe we’ve met. CHABELA Si, senor. You came and watched when the horses trampled the heads of the peasants. KIMBROUGH A heart-warmin’ spectacle. Shame we don’t have a few more scenes like that; my sister might make some of her money back. CHABELA Where can I find Senor Eisenstein? KIMBROUGH He expectin’ you, is he? CHABELA No. KIMBROUGH Your chances are vastly improved, then. Only time I ever see him is when he's not expectin' me. CHABELA You know where he has gone? KIMBROUGH Lemme see now. I believe he said somethin’ about goin’ to a fiesta. Or was it a funeral? I was kinda toyin’ with th’ idea of goin’ to th’ funeral myself. Maybe you’d like to join me? CHABELA The funeral was last week. KIMBROUGH Last week! Huh! ’Nuther social opportunity missed. I imagine he filmed it, yeah? Th’ boy’s resourceful, I'll give ‘im that. Last time somethin’ like this happened, he talked Mr Sinclair into three more months an’ an extra ten thousand dollars. An’ th’ goddamned victim lived! (Beat) Good turn-out? CHABELA Everyone but you, senor. KIMBROUGH I’m sure I wasn’t missed. So whadda you wanna see him for? CHABELA It is about Senor Balderas. KIMBROUGH Who? CHABELA The charro in your picture. KIMBROUGH Oh! Th’ one who likes to play with guns. CHABELA He did not mean to hurt anyone. KIMBROUGH No, he just picked up one of th’ Russians revolvers an’ put a hole th’ size of a fifty-cent piece through the forehead of our leadin’ lady. Shame we didn’t get that on film. CHABELA She was his sister! KIMBROUGH (Beat, impressed) Killed his sister, did he! CHABELA It was an accident. If not for the picture, it would never have happened. KIMBROUGH I didn’t tell him to pull th’ trigger. Hell, it wasn't even his scene! CHABELA He makes jokes. He shows off. It was like the gun he had been using in the movie. KIMBROUGH I wonder. CHABELA I am worried for him, senor. KIMBROUGH I’m sure th’ police’ll sort it out. CHABELA The police do not care. KIMBROUGH An’ neither do I. An’ if it’s money he’s lookin’ for he can forget about it. Everybody signed th’ paper relievin’ us of all responsibility. I'm sure his name's there. Shall I check? CHABELA It is not about a piece of paper. KIMBROUGH You find me offensive. I can see it in your eyes. CHABELA Each of us has his way of killing fleas. KIMBROUGH You don't look like you been scratchin'. CHABELA There is no end to my fleas. It is Mexico, remember. So close to the United States and so far away from God. KIMBROUGH An’ here I was thinkin’ Mississippi was bad. CHABELA Why do you come, senor? KIMBROUGH Lemme see, now… for my health? CHABELA What do you think you will find? Fame? Money? What brings men like you to my country? Why do you come? KIMBROUGH Why? Why for art, my dear, for th’ undeniable value of art, "knowin’ that th’ obscurity of th’ night only serves to reveal th’ brilliance of th’ stars". For a price, that is, for a price. CHABELA Knowing nothing of the cost. KIMBROUGH Kinda strange, ain’t it, how th’ public loves ya one day and hangs ya th’ next. Oh, I know how fashionable it is to be all lyric an’ mystic an’ avidly hymnal about the th’ Indian. Thirty years ago, th’ same people were killin’ ‘em for sport. (Beat) You think I disrespect th’ dead, but you’re wrong. I love th’ dead. Some o’ my best friends are dead. It’s th’ live ones who give me th’ trouble. What’re you starin’ at? You want me to say I'm sorry? CHABELA No, senor. Being sorry changes nothing. KIMBROUGH Stop playin’ stupid. I went to th’ inquest! I heard what they said. When th’ judge found out we were makin’ pictures with people shootin’ each other, he said he had a whole jailful o’ men jus’ waitin’ to be shot; all we had to do was come an’ get ‘em. You think one less peon’s gonna make any difference? C’mon, we’re doin’ you people a favor puttin’ money in th’ damn place. CHABELA And if we are very lucky we can become just like you. KIMBROUGH Bein’ poor don't make people better. CHABELA No. It makes them worse. KIMBROUGH Clean up your own backyard before you start jumpin’ on mine. CHABELA We are your backyard, senor. (SHE exits) KIMBROUGH Goddamn Mexicans! (Picks up script and exits) (Stage lights fade. Convolutions of light play upon the walls. Shadows change shape. Time passes. An hour. A week) (TISSE enters, carrying his camera. ALEXANDROV follows, lugging the tripod. Stage lights up) TISSE Da, I know. I know, Grisha. But what can we do? When it rains, the roads are too muddy. And when it is dry, it is too hot to move. ALEXANDROV At least in Russia, we knew what we had to do and why. Here, we do nothing but waste our time. Gods, funerals, bare-breasted women! Does that sound like the party line? TISSE There was also a revolution in Mexico. ALEXANDROV It is not revolution Sergei is interested in. The death of the girl was an omen. Make no mistake. Nothing good can come of it. TISSE You should’ve known better than to leave your pistol lying around like that. ALEXANDROV How was I to know! TISSE You can't do things like that in Mexico. ALEXANDROV It was chaffing me. TISSE And now it chaffs all of us. ALEXANDROV We should've gone back to Russia months ago. He has become a victim of his own dreams. One could almost believe he was planning to stay here forever. TISSE Bite your tongue! ALEXANDROV He would not be the first. TISSE He is not a deserter. ALEXANDROV Nor is he homesick. TISSE What you see is dedication, not disloyalty. ALEXANDROV His dedication is to making masterpieces. Only this time, when he is done, there will be no masterpiece at all, and we will all be done! TISSE We should be helping him. ALEXANDROV I'm trying to. TISSE Not by making accusations. ALEXANDROV The man I knew does not sit all night on top of the Pyramid of the Moon, talking to the Great Bear. Nor does he visit art galleries at midnight with the lights out. Mexico has bewitched him. We should've gone back to Moscow when we had the chance. TISSE And we will. When we have finished. ALEXANDROV If Sergei Mikhailovich realised how suspicious it looks… TISSE Shhh! He is coming. (EISENSTEIN enters, a viewing lens round his neck. HE pushes a full-scale human skeleton on a stand) EISENSTEIN What do you think? He lives at the medical school. They said I could borrow him for the epilogue. Or perhaps he is a she. Somehow the distinction seems unimportant. ALEXANDROV So this is what our future looks like. EISENSTEIN One day we shall be as peaceful, eh? . ALEXANDROV Sooner rather than later. EISENSTEIN Peasants understand these things. ALEXANDROV Peasants will not help us finish the movie. TISSE Grisha! EISENSTEIN Peasants are what this movie is about. ALEXANDROV No. Something has happened. Something is different. EISENSTEIN Everything is different. It is Mexico. ALEXANDROV So now we have to be what we are not. EISENSTEIN When I was a child, my nurse taught me to be at home with simple people. Close to the earth, where things grow and die. Not walled up and lost in polite society, like the world my parents lived in. Mama used to worry her eyes were too small; and me, I hated myself because my forehead was too big. It is only now, in Mexico, I realize it doesn't matter. Peasants have no fear. Even when they laugh at me I can tell they wish me no harm. ALEXANDROV I wish you no harm. EISENSTEIN Sometimes one must trust in darkness. ALEXANDROV And what of the light? The Revolution gave us light. EISENSTEIN So now we have a chance to see if we can create outside the Revolution, to see if it is possible to even exist outside of it. ALEXANDROV A picture about Mexico is not worth dying for. What have we done for the workers today? What did we do yesterday? We stay in comfortable hotels. We eat the best food. We live like kings. Ten months in Mexico. This was not what we planned. EISENSTEIN Plans change. ALEXANDROV Why can you never be satisfied? EISENSTEIN One has no choice. One creates or one dies. ALEXANDROV Always you want more. More and more and more… EISENSTEIN Yes! More. Much more! Because it is too easy to give up too soon. So many do. So many who are praised. The world is full of them. They make a parade of weakness because it answers this one's prejudice and that one's pride. As if a dash of red paint might save the day. But if one looks, there is nothing for the heart. Only sound and effects and counterfeit anguish which the galleries enshrine and the critics applaud, as if ambition were worth the death we all must find. The task of mediocrity is never short of hands, nor is there bravery in carelessness. Do you really think we have left Russia behind? No. Russia is our mother. It is because of her that I can see where I am. And maybe, if I have the skill, I can show Russia something of what I have seen, and Russia herself will be richer for it. One reaches down into the abyss and takes hold of an idea. If you are strong enough, then you must do what you can to reveal it. A revolution must build courage, so that people will dare to become. TISSE And if it breaks your heart? EISENSTEIN It is the broken hearts that make all the difference. ALEXANDROV A heart that beats for the fulfilment of a Bolshevik aim can never be broken. (EISENSTEIN moves closer) EISENSTEIN Do you think I cannot see what is in front of my eyes? Do you think I have lost my mind? The film knows what it needs, and it will tell me so long as I do not lose my nerve. ALEXANDROV I hope you are right, Sergei. Or it will be our skeletons dangling from a string. TISSE So what is it today? Markets or bullfights? EISENSTEIN Markets. ALEXANDROV (Resigned) Markets. Always markets. (HE exits, lugging tripod) TISSE You shouldn't be so hard on him. EISENSTEIN If I were in his shoes I would feel the same way. Maybe that's why I scold him. TISSE He likes to follow the rules. EISENSTEIN He worries too much about his reputation. TISSE Because he does not have one. EISENSTEIN Maybe Comrade Stalin will give him a medal. TISSE Comrade Stalin is capable of anything. EISENSTEIN Good thing he likes me. TISSE Da, yesterday… but tomorrow? EISENSTEIN Then we will impose upon Mr Sinclair to use his influence. TISSE If Comrade Stalin decides to think the worst, Mr Sinclair will be of little use to us, no matter how many Russians have read his novels. EISENSTEIN There is no victory in cowardice, Eduard. TISSE What we do is dangerous. EISENSTEIN Because we tell the truth? TISSE Because we believe it can be told. EISENSTEIN Truth easily told is seldom true. TISSE What do we know about the truth? Even when it stares us in the face we hardly believe it. Dreams. It is dreams we believe in. EISENSTEIN We are the heirs of a difficult age. Shall we refuse our inheritance? An artist does not live in his times but by his times. Perhaps the oppressors will sleep a little less comfortably in their beds because of what we dream. TISSE In Moscow we were treated with respect. Here, we scratch for every cent and go away like criminals. EISENSTEIN Stop torturing yourself. TISSE Who are these people, Sergei? Who are we working for? What kind of alliance is this that we are not even allowed to see our own rushes? EISENSTEIN The rushes belong to the insurance company, and the insurance company worries about the heat. Even the Mexicans have to wait. Three have gone to Los Angeles to make sure we haven't been filming starving children or secret revolutionary groups. Next thing you know, they'll be looking over my shoulder in the editing room! TISSE Not in Los Angeles, I hope! EISENSTEIN Don't worry. Sinclair has promised to send everything to Moscow just as soon as we have returned. We shall not grow old in America. TISSE Maybe we should tell Comrade Stalin. He will be pleased. He always enjoyed his visits to your cutting room. EISENSTEIN I know. Last time he came with his own pair of scissors, and we lost thirty-five feet of Trotsky. TISSE We lost all of Trotsky! EISENSTEIN Except for his back! TISSE If only we could lose Mr Kimbrough. EISENSTEIN We should take the scissors to him, eh? TISSE To which part? EISENSTEIN To the part which is costing the most money. He believes Grisha and I have eyes for each other. TISSE He is not what he seems. EISENSTEIN He would destroy me if I gave him the chance. TISSE I think we have come too far for him to stop us now. EISENSTEIN His sister can stop us. TISSE Why would she? Why now? EISENSTEIN The time. The money. TISSE No. They need you. If they stop you now they will lose everything. EISENSTEIN And if they run out of money before we are done? (They move off) TISSE You don’t understand the capitalist mind, Sergei. So long as they believe they can make money they will spend money. And to protect the money they have already spent, they will spend more. Frightening… but logical. EISENSTEIN No wonder they are having a Depression! (EISENSTEIN and TISSE exit) (DON VENUS enters. Drawn to the skeleton - empty eye sockets, spindly fingers. HE presses his ear against its chest, listening. HE takes hold of its hand and “walks” with it to the other end of the stage, listens again to its chest, takes its pulse, then, hearing someone coming, hurries behind it to hide) (ALEXANDROV enters with tripod. HE stops, looks out at the audience, then looks over his shoulder. TISSE enters, glances round, and indicates a location for the tripod. DON VENUS watches from behind the skeleton. TISSE places the camera on the tripod and gazes into the viewfinder. HE pans slowly from left to right) (EISENSTEIN enters. HE moves past TISSE, coming downstage to gaze out over the audience) TISSE What do you see? EISENSTEIN Heroes. Nothing but heroes. TISSE (To ALEXANDROV) His love affair with the masses! EISENSTEIN One would kill for light like this in Russia. ALEXANDROV And still it would be grey. TISSE Except in Odessa. EISENSTEIN What was the boy's name? The one we used on the steps? (DON VENUS comes out from behind the skeleton) TISSE You mean the little goal-keeper. EISENSTEIN We must have made two hundred takes. TISSE And he never missed the cigarette packet once! ALEXANDROV Da! A born-faller. TISSE Always in center frame. ALEXANDROV I wonder if he knows how famous he's become. EISENSTEIN Or if he'll ever be able to forgive us. (Noticing DON VENUS) Good god! ALEXANDROV What. EISENSTEIN Don Venus! DON VENUS Con su permiso, senor. ("With your permission, sir.") EISENSTEIN The old man. The one I have been telling you about! (TISSE and ALEXANDROV look toward the skeleton, then exchange glances) (EISENSTEIN goes to DON VENUS who reaches out his own hand and the skeleton’s. They shake) ALEXANDROV (To TISSE) You see! The longer we stay, the worse he gets. I tell you, there is something going on here. Some kind of brainwashing. I can smell it. (DON VENUS drops the skeleton’s hand and taking EISENSTEIN’s and by the fingertips, turns it over and studies the back) TISSE Last night, I caught a whiff of pulque on his breath. ALEXANDROV Maybe he's drunk. Or mad. TISSE He never drinks. ALEXANDROV Right. I vote for mad. (DON VENUS releases EISENSTEIN's hand, and presses his ear to EISENSTEIN’s chest, listening to his heart) TISSE It doesn't make sense. ALEXANDROV Nothing makes sense. But don't tell him that. He'll think we're crazy! TISSE He's been talking to an hermaphrodite. ALEXANDROV He's falling to pieces. TISSE It’s his eccentricity… always drawn to the exotic. (DON VENUS straightens and beams at EISENSTEIN) ALEXANDROV To freaks, you mean. Hermaphrodites, indeed! And invisible to boot! EISENSTEIN I've been telling them about you. They thought I was making you up. DON VENUS How not! EISENSTEIN Comrades, the one who has been helping me. Don Venus. (They stare back) DON VENUS But they cannot see me, senor. EISENSTEIN What! DON VENUS Blind. TISSE Who are you talking to, Sergei? EISENSTEIN (To DON VENUS) You mean… ALEXANDROV Something invisible, no doubt. EISENSTEIN But he is here! DON VENUS Only for you, senor. TISSE Are you all right, comrade? ALEXANDROV Too much superstition. This is why we had Marx! EISENSTEIN (To DON VENUS) Why me? DON VENUS You had need of a guide. TISSE What you see is not superstition… it’s imagination! ALEXANDROV Stop encouraging him. EISENSTEIN What am I becoming? DON VENUS Invisible. Like me! ALEXANDROV Sergei, we have work to do! TISSE We will lose the light. ALEXANDROV C’mon, pull yourself together. EISENSTEIN But… DON VENUS They wait for you. You must go. EISENSTEIN When will I see you again? DON VENUS A man with desire has only to ask. EISENSTEIN But I need you. DON VENUS Yes, I know, but do not try to convince them. I come, senor. (DON VENUS exits) (A pause) ALEXANDROV Is he gone? EISENSTEIN Who? ALEXANDROV Your friend. EISENSTEIN Do not look so suspicious, Grisha. Do you doubt me? ALEXANDROV Only the method. EISENSTEIN There is no method. ALEXANDROV So it would seem. TISSE So then, what’re we filming? EISENSTEIN What is in front of the eyes… what is in front of the eyes and cannot be seen. ALEXANDROV That should speed things up. (Beat) And this was part of it, yes - what you have been looking for. EISENSTEIN Listening for, Grisha. Listening for! (HE turns) Come. There is a marriage. ALEXANDROV Terrific. (They exit) (KIMBROUGH enters, carrying a portable adding machine. HE sets the adding machine on a table, next to a pile of pen & ink drawings, then turns, and saunters over to the skeleton. HE peers into the hollow eye sockets) (EISENSTEIN enters, moves to the table. HE pours through the stack of drawings; puts one aside, picks up another, studies it for a moment and tosses it into a waste basket. KIMBROUGH turns and watches as EISENSTEIN continues to discard and save individual drawings) KIMBROUGH Plannin' our next disappointment? EISENSTEIN Mr Kimbrough! I thought you were working in bed today! KIMBROUGH I've been thinkin’. EISENSTEIN So much for the soporific qualities of alcohol! KIMBROUGH (Picks up a drawing) What’re these? EISENSTEIN Drawings. KIMBROUGH Of what? (Holds the drawing at arm's length, closer, then farther away; turns it upside-down, then back again) EISENSTEIN What does it look like? KIMBROUGH Christ! Is that what I think it is? EISENSTEIN Inspiration, Mr Kimbrough. KIMBROUGH Looks more like fix-ation. EISENSTEIN You find it offensive? KIMBROUGH I’m sure it has its uses. (EISENSTEIN snatches it away) KIMBROUGH (Continued) I read th’ script. Helluva travelogue. Rape… murder. . . sedition. EISENSTEIN It’s not a travelogue, Mr Kimbrough. KIMBROUGH No. More of a Biblical epic, ‘cept a Biblical epic woulda been cheaper. (Beat) I brought you a present. It's an addin’ machine. I figgered you might be needin’ it. It also divides and subtracts. EISENSTEIN You mean, detracts. (Beat) And will it tell me how to compose my next shot, or whether there is enough light? KIMBROUGH My sister and Mr Sinclair were under th’ impression you weren’t gonna spend more than twenty-five thousand dollars. EISENSTEIN That was my estimate. KIMBROUGH Well, we seem to have whizzed right past your estimate some time ago. EISENSTEIN I have no control over the weather, Mr Kimbrough. KIMBROUGH Or th’ accidents, I gather. What I’m tryin’ to say is, my sister wants a budget. An’ don't tell me you don’t know what I’m talkin’ about. EISENSTEIN Budgets are none of my business, not where I come from. KIMBROUGH Well, you best make it your business, otherwise there isn't gonna be any more picture. EISENSTEIN You do the budget, Mr Kimbrough. You are the one who spends the money. KIMBROUGH Oh no! I’m not takin’ th’ blame for that one. EISENSTEIN Then your sister will have to wait. KIMBROUGH No, no… you don’t understand. There’s a Depression goin' on out there. People are jumpin’ out o’ buildin’s. Hard times are knockin’ at th' door. Hell, we got two or three investors who can’t even afford to pay their taxes. EISENSTEIN If America had listened to Karl instead of Harpo, it would not be in this mess. KIMBROUGH That’s your answer? EISENSTEIN I make movies, not budgets. What do you expect! That I should make the sun shine twenty-four hours a day? That I should know magically, without rushes, what every shot looks like? What kind of genius is this! It is not enough I seize every opportunity that comes? What more do you want! This picture has its own life. I cannot take it where it does not want to go. KIMBROUGH You said twenty-five thousand. EISENSTEIN I was passing on what someone told me. KIMBROUGH What someone told you! Who told you? EISENSTEIN A man. A barber on Sunset Boulevard. An Italian. KIMBROUGH My god. EISENSTEIN He used to be in cowboy movies in Mexico. The director always made him play the part of an Indian because he was Italian. He knew things. So I asked him how much to make a reasonable picture without sound or stars, and he said for twenty-thousand dollars he could do it himself with his eyes closed. So I thought, well, for twenty-five thousand I ought to be able to make one with my eyes open. KIMBROUGH You believed him. EISENSTEIN Twenty-five thousand dollars is a lot of money. KIMBROUGH Yes, if you’re a barber! Jesus Christ! When I think of all th’ competent film directors they could’ve had… an’ they wind up with you! EISENSTEIN If competency was all they wanted, they should’ve asked someone else. KIMBROUGH You were th’ one doin’ th’ askin’. EISENSTEIN Is there nothing you believe in? KIMBROUGH Yeah, I believe in myself. EISENSTEIN A blind man. KIMBROUGH I see what I see. EISENSTEIN With 20/20 ambition. KIMBROUGH You're th' one tryin' to make a name for himself in Hollywood. EISENSTEIN I almost feel sorry for you. KIMBROUGH You think you live on truth. But you’re wrong. There ain’t nothin’ there, nothin' but lies; illusion dressed up as ideology; treachery primped an’ promenaded in th’ name o’ social justice. You know what I’m talkin’ about. An’ you know I know. That's why you avoid me. (Beat) Y’know, at first, I just thought you were bein’ thorough, dottin’ th’ “i’s”, crossin’ th’ “t’s” - then I got to thinkin’, no, no, it’s th’ climate - all this hellish heat an’ vile humidity slows a man down. Then it occurred to me… maybe you didn’t really think this was such a bad place after all. Hell, maybe you liked it too much. But really, it’s a whole lot more simple than that, now isn’t it? I mean, correct me if I’m wrong, but I think you’ve stepped into a situation that’s caught you a bit out o’ your depth… EISENSTEIN What is this? A little something to brighten up your day? KIMBROUGH You’re playin’ for time. EISENSTEIN You don’t know what you’re talking about. KIMBROUGH Why’re we still here, then? You don’t know how to finish this damn picture. Or maybe you don’t wanna finish it EISENSTEIN Go back to your adding machine. KIMBROUGH Must be awful, losin' your confidence like that. EISENSTEIN A film isn’t a piece of sausage. You cannot buy it by the pound and chop it up any way you like. (EISENSTEIN and KIMBROUGH freeze. Looming up against the back wall, we see the shadows of UPTON SINCLAIR and MARY CRAIG) MARY CRAIG (Off-stage) I knew I shoulda put my foot down. A real gentleman would never behave like this. SINCLAIR (Off-stage) Real gentlemen do not indulge in movies, mother. MARY CRAIG (Off-stage) Oh please, anything but that. I am surrounded by clichés. (Unexpectedly, DON VENUS appears under the arch. HE pauses, takes in the scene, then snaps his fingers. SINCLAIR and MARY CRAIG step out of their shadows into the room. They pause… ) SINCLAIR Hunter! (EISENSTEIN and KIMBROUGH resume normal motion) SINCLAIR (Continued) What’s all this noise? Nothing insurmountable I hope. KIMBROUGH He doesn’t listen to a word I say. EISENSTEIN Comrade, you must do something. KIMBROUGH Whenever I ask him for a budget he laughs in my face. EISENSTEIN That’s not true! KIMBROUGH How many times has it been now? I stopped countin’. EISENSTEIN He’s lying! SINCLAIR Gentlemen, please! KIMBROUGH I'm jus’ some poor, uneducated niggah as far as he’s concerned. EISENSTEIN Comrade, with all respect… MARY CRAIG I don’t think we need that kind of language, Hunter. EISENSTEIN All the time, he is making trouble. SINCLAIR Yes, well, we've had a few problems of our own. MARY CRAIG Ask him about the schedule, father. EISENSTEIN No, no, you don't understand. The man is a complete dunce. He cannot be trusted. He knows absolutely nothing about film-making, and even less about proletarian art! SINCLAIR Hunter may be a young society fellow without revolutionary tendencies, Mr Eisenstein, but I’ve never known him to be untrustworthy. EISENSTEIN The man is a racist. You heard what he said. KIMBROUGH Last week he threw a fit `cos I told him he ate too much. EISENSTEIN At least I do not stay out all night, drinking and gambling and spending money that should be used on the film. MARY CRAIG What’s he talkin’ about, father? SINCLAIR I’m not sure. KIMBROUGH Never mind the kind words an’ consideration. No suh. No sense wastin’ your breath. (To EISENSTEIN) You’re just a monkey with a monkey’s attitude to life. EISENSTEIN Tell them about the card games… and the women! KIMBROUGH Money disappears through his fingers like steam. EISENSTEIN Tell them where it goes! KIMBROUGH Th’ man has no sense of th’ value of anything. Me, I’m just an endless river o’ green. MARY CRAIG Did somebody say something about drinking? EISENSTEIN Talk to him! He knows what he does. MARY CRAIG Hunter, have you been disgracing yourself? KIMBROUGH He’d say almost anything t’save his neck. MARY CRAIG Answer me! Have you been drinkin’? KIMBROUGH What? MARY CRAIG You heard what I said. KIMBROUGH Mary, I swear… MARY CRAIG Tell me th’ truth, Hunter! KIMBROUGH You know I wouldn't do anything to embarrass you an’ Mr Sinclair. MARY CRAIG Don’t lie to me! KIMBROUGH I’m not lyin’ ! Yes, all right, I have th’ occasional drink, I surely do. But only for altitude sickness. EISENSTEIN Altitude sickness! Listen to him! KIMBROUGH My heart skips a beat every time I take a breath. Sometimes it’s so bad I can't sleep at night. It soothes me. EISENSTEIN To the point of unconsciousness. MARY CRAIG Hush up, Mr Eisenstein! KIMBROUGH It’s th’ air, sister. A man can’t hardly think straight. I have a prescription for it. (DON VENUS turns and exits) MARY CRAIG There, there… you poor baby. SINCLAIR I’m sorry, Hunter. We didn’t realize. EISENSTEIN You don’t believe him, do you? KIMBROUGH You watch y’self, boy! SINCLAIR Mr Eisenstein, please! EISENSTEIN But you can smell it on him! MARY CRAIG I think we’ve had enough unpleasantness. EISENSTEIN The man is crazy! KIMBROUGH I’d rather work with animals an’ small children. EISENSTEIN He is not what he seems, believe me. The last time we never saw him for five days! SINCLAIR All right, Mr Eisenstein, I think you’ve made your point. MARY CRAIG Don’t pay him any mind, child. EISENSTEIN Modesty prevents me from telling you where we finally found him. KIMBROUGH You keep your goddamn mouth shut! MARY CRAIG Hunter! SINCLAIR That’s enough! Now I don't want to hear another word. EISENSTEIN But comrade… SINCLAIR Please! MARY CRAIG Perhaps Mr Eisenstein's suffering from a bit of altitude sickness, himself. KIMBROUGH Attitude sickness. SINCLAIR You do look rather pale. Are you feeling all right? MARY CRAIG Maybe he ought to be in bed. KIMBROUGH Oh, he’d love that. EISENSTEIN Comrade, your brother-in-law may have small faith in what I do, but you have always believed in me. Believe me now. The possibilities grow larger every day. KIMBROUGH Expensive possibilities. SINCLAIR You assured me it wouldn’t cost a nickel over twenty-five thousand dollars. You've already shot nearly six miles of film. EISENSTEIN There are no rushes! Everything has to be shot ten, twenty, thirty times, to make sure it is not too light or too dark. We cannot re-shoot once we are back in Moscow. SINCLAIR I'm sure you have more than enough, Mr Eisenstein. MARY CRAIG We’ve spent nearly ninety thousand dollars. EISENSTEIN A miscalculation. The rain… the floods. . . KIMBROUGH Th’ killin’. SINCLAIR I understand the difficulties, but at the rate we’re going there isn’t going to be any money left to edit the damn thing! MARY CRAIG Upton! SINCLAIR I’m sorry, mother. I don’t know how else to say it. (To EISENSTEIN) Let me put it to you this way: patience and honor and human kindness are no longer affordable luxuries. Bankruptcy’s become a way of life. Do you have any idea how this makes me feel? I have been a committed socialist most of my adult life. I’ve done what I could to redress the wrongs and expose the injustices. Sacco and Vanzetti never had a truer friend or a more dedicated defender. I believe in the underdog. But I live in a capitalist society, and when the banks take it upon themselves to extend credit for money they don’t actually possess there’s only one possible outcome. Everything falls to pieces. We lose sight of our humanity. The chains of SINCLAIR (Continued) oppression re-fasten themselves. Oh, I won’t say the stock market crash horrified me. I expected it. I welcomed it. I only wish it had come at a more opportune time. Sir, there’s nothing I’d rather do than help you make this picture, but we can’t go on spending money like this. It’s not mine to spend. EISENSTEIN Yes, I know. Papa also married a woman of independent means. SINCLAIR What can I say? It seems to be my fate to live in the presence of wealth that belongs to others. EISENSTEIN It must be very difficult for you. KIMBROUGH Guess who his majesty went to for advice about th’ budget? SINCLAIR Hunter, please … KIMBROUGH Some dago down on La Cienega. EISENSTEIN A man of the people! KIMBROUGH A goddamned hairdresser! MARY CRAIG Hunter, you know better than to use that sort o’ language. KIMBROUGH I'm tellin’ you, he got his budget from a barber. SINCLAIR What! KIMBROUGH Over a shave an’ a haircut, our legendary genius here asked Luigi how much he thought it’d cost to make a picture down in Mexico. An’ what was it Luigi said? EISENSTEIN His name wasn't Luigi; and he was more than a barber. He was a philosopher! KIMBROUGH Well, I guess that makes it all right. MARY CRAIG What’s he talkin’ about, father? SINCLAIR Maybe you better sit down. MARY CRAIG No, I think I'll stand. KIMBROUGH Now he doesn't know how to finish th’ damn thing. SINCLAIR Is this true? EISENSTEIN Comrade, let me explain. . . SINCLAIR Is that what happened? MARY CRAIG P’raps I will sit down. EISENSTEIN You don’t understand. In Russia, everything was done for us. KIMBROUGH Some genius. EISENSTEIN We make pictures, not account books. SINCLAIR You never told me that. KIMBROUGH ‘Nuther miscalculation. MARY CRAIG I knew it. (DON VENUS re-appears under one of the arches. HE leans against the arch. Using a small knife, HE slices off pieces of an apple which he slowly eats as HE watches and listens) SINCLAIR Mr Eisenstein, do you have any idea what you’ve done? I trusted you. MARY CRAIG A glorious dreamer, drawn to lost causes like a moth to a flame. SINCLAIR (Aside to MARY) It was the meat-packing bosses who were burned. MARY CRAIG Poor, forthright, psychologically obtuse Upton. You always see the best in people. SINCLAIR I’m going to have to give this some thought. EISENSTEIN Four more weeks, comrade. KIMBROUGH You gotta be jokin’. EISENSTEIN If we stop now we will lose everything. SINCLAIR And if we keep going? KIMBROUGH I’d pull th’ plug on th’ whole thing. MARY CRAIG How’m I s’pose to be a film producer without a film? SINCLAIR You leave it to me. You’ll have your film. Now come along, mother. It’s going to be all right. (Takes her hand) EISENSTEIN You’ll make your money back. I promise. KIMBROUGH You hope. EISENSTEIN Please, believe me! Mrs Sinclair! The last thing I want is to go back to Russia with an unfinished film. (SINCLAIR and MARY CRAIG move off and exit) KIMBROUGH Th’ last thing you wanna do is go back, period. (Pause) EISENSTEIN And people wonder why we do not trust capitalism. KIMBROUGH Capitalism! Why, without capitalism, you wouldn't even be here, boy! EISENSTEIN You must be a Libran. KIMBROUGH Don’t forget th’ budget. An’ a schedule. I’ll sleep much better with a schedule. (KIMBROUGH exits) (DON VENUS spits out a mouthful of apple, and comes forward) EISENSTEIN Sometimes I think the only reason you came was to lead me astray. DON VENUS You were already a stray when I met you. EISENSTEIN When you met me I was making a film. DON VENUS And now? EISENSTEIN Now I am unable to finish. DON VENUS Why should you! EISENSTEIN They will not let me go on forever. DON VENUS Forget about them. EISENSTEIN I need them. Without them, I am lost. DON VENUS What do you know! The future cries for you. EISENSTEIN I think I must finish. DON VENUS You think too much. You think finishing is everything. Like the ones watching in the dark. They only trust what is dead, and even then they are not so sure. They want to believe that what is finished is safe. But to be finished is nothing. What is important is to escape. EISENSTEIN Escape from what? DON VENUS The past, senor. EISENSTEIN You mean defect? DON VENUS Defect is when you choose to be a slave instead of what you are. The film is only to help you catch the fish. EISENSTEIN You talk in riddles, old man. DON VENUS It is more than a film you are making, senor. And you are the fish. EISENSTEIN Why do you do this? You fill my head. You give me no rest. Where does it end? DON VENUS There is no end! (Pause) EISENSTEIN So now we come to torment. DON VENUS Easy to find, but I do not think it will take you where you want to go. EISENSTEIN (Absently) Platform five. DON VENUS As your guide, I do not suggest it. EISENSTEIN And what do you suggest? (DON VENUS throws his arms around EISENSTEIN, whose arms remain uncomfortably at his side. HE releases his hold, and looks up into EISENSTEIN's eyes) EISENSTEIN (Continued) Is that it? DON VENUS (Wagging his finger) The rest you will not believe. Not yet. (DON VENUS turns, distracted. HE stares at the audience) Can you see them? EISENSTEIN Yes. DON VENUS It is better not to look. (Beat) I come. (HE moves off) EISENSTEIN Don Venus! (DON VENUS turns) EISENSTEIN What is to become of you… when I am done? DON VENUS Someone will have need of me. EISENSTEIN What will you do? DON VENUS Rest. And then… another painting. (CHABELA enters) CHABELA Maestro? (EISENSTEIN and DON VENUS turn) CHABELA (Continued) They have arrested Senor Balderas. You must do something. They are saying that he murdered Rosa. EISENSTEIN Who says? CHABELA The police. EISENSTEIN This is ridiculous! He is innocent! DON VENUS Not in Mexico. CHABELA No, senor. A poor man is never innocent. EISENSTEIN But there has been no trial. CHABELA They do not need a trial to lock him up, senor. DON VENUS Nor for the firing squad! CHABELA You must go to the judge. He is the only one who can help. Talk to him. He will listen. He believes you are important. DON VENUS He does not listen to peasants. EISENSTEIN He will listen to me. And he will hear the truth. CHABELA The truth is not what he wants, senor. DON VENUS He wants to be like you. CHABELA He wants to have what you have. EISENSTEIN What I have? (DON VENUS rubs his fingers together - hand-sign for money) CHABELA It is a poor country, senor. My people watch the way Senor Kimbrough throws his money away in the cantina. They would like to throw money, too. EISENSTEIN You mean… bribe. CHABELA It will help him see true. EISENSTEIN Is the truth so difficult to see? CHABELA It is Mexico, senor. Truth is whatever fills the belly. The rest is tomorrow’s hunger. (Pause) EISENSTEIN How much? DON VENUS Enough to show respect. (CHABELA shrugs) EISENSTEIN I will speak to Mr Kimbrough. CHABELA No, maestro. He has no feeling. Only you. You are the only hope Senor Balderas has. If the judge likes you, or if he fears you, you may not have to pay. But you must go to him, senor. In the morning. EISENSTEIN Yes. All right. Tomorrow! (Beat) Only tomorrow we have the Revolution. DON VENUS So, the revolution will have to wait. EISENSTEIN So the Revolution will have to wait. (Beat) Do not fear, Chabela. I will help him. Everything will be all right. I will go in the morning. CHABELA You are a good man, senor. EISENSTEIN Not all of us are like Mr Kimbrough. KIMBROUGH (Off-stage) Mr Eisenstein! Mr Eisenstein, are you there? CHABELA He is coming, I must go. EISENSTEIN No! KIMBROUGH (Off-stage) I know you're there. Why don't you answer me? EISENSTEIN Drunk again. Always drunk. KIMBROUGH Damn! Can’t you hear me? (HE enters) You deaf or what? I coulda done myself an injury. (Beat) Well, well, well… what’s she doin’ here? No, let me guess. EISENSTEIN She has come to tell me about the trouble with Senor Balderas. KIMBROUGH What about him? EISENSTEIN He has been imprisoned. KIMBROUGH I’ll pray for him. EISENSTEIN And pay for him. He is our responsibility. KIMBROUGH Ours? EISENSTEIN Yes. He is one of my actors. KIMBROUGH Not anymore he isn’t. EISENSTEIN I hired him. KIMBROUGH An’ now he’s un-hired, ‘long with everybody else, her included. DON VENUS (To EISENSTEIN) He has the moon in his head, senor. EISENSTEIN He has no head at all! KIMBROUGH What! CHABELA I should go. KIMBROUGH Good idea. Get yerself a real job. EISENSTEIN (Grabbing her arm) Wait! (To KIMBROUGH) Why do you do this? KIMBROUGH Everything comes to an end sooner or later. EISENSTEIN Not until we have filmed the Revolution, it doesn’t! KIMBROUGH Well, I guess we’re just gonna have to dispense with th’ Revolution. EISENSTEIN Without the Revolution we have no ending. KIMBROUGH Wake up, boy! The Revolution’s come and gone. EISENSTEIN Why can’t you people let me finish in peace? KIMBROUGH (To CHABELA) He thinks I'm drunk. EISENSTEIN You know what we have to do. KIMBROUGH I know what I have to do. EISENSTEIN Go back where you belong. KIMBROUGH Wild horses won’t stop me. EISENSTEIN Your sister will have her budget by the end of the month. KIMBROUGH P’raps I haven’t made myself clear. You’re fired. DON VENUS (To EISENSTEIN) I think you have need of another miracle, senor. EISENSTEIN I don’t think so. KIMBROUGH Thinkin’s got nothin’ to do with it. From now on, th’ only thing my sister's puttin’ her money into is a safety deposit box. EISENSTEIN We will see about that. KIMBROUGH Yeah, well, in the meantime I suggest you start packin’. DON VENUS (To EISENSTEIN) He must have stomach ache. KIMBROUGH I ‘spect you'll be takin’ th’ Chevy. I’ve arranged transit visas for you an’ your friends… You got two weeks to get to New York. I s’pose you can manage that, long as you drive faster than you make movies. EISENSTEIN Thank you, Mr Kimbrough. Only I am not going anywhere. Now, if you will excuse me…? KIMBROUGH Stubborn to th’ end. I imagine you could even get yourself arrested if you tried. EISENSTEIN Another one of your projects, I suppose. KIMBROUGH My only project is getting’ the hell outta here… Don’t linger, Mr Eisenstein… it won’t do you any good. (To CHABELA) G’day, Miss. (Exits) CHABELA What does he mean, senor? EISENSTEIN It is nothing. Less than nothing. He blows up, we have Two weeks of peace. Tomorrow he will be drunk again. DON VENUS He is not well. CHABELA (To EISENSTEIN) Maybe Mexico is not such a good place for you, senor. EISENSTEIN You doubt me? CHABELA I watch you. The way you hide. EISENSTEIN What do you know about hiding? DON VENUS I think I must go… there is a picture… (Exits) CHABELA The Spanish missionaries made their churches on top of our ancient temples. They hoped it would make it easier for us to pray to their god. But we had our own gods, and we hid our sacred objects where they would never look, inside their Catholic altars. So when they saw us there, they believed we were praying to the Cross… but it was not so. (Beat) When one is frightened, one hides. (EISENSTEIN takes hold of CHABELA's hand. A moment, interrupted by the arrival of ALEXANDROV and TISSE) TISSE Comrade! Comrade, we have trouble! EISENSTEIN Yes, yes, I know. TISSE You know? EISENSTEIN Do not worry about it, Eduard. ALEXANDROV We have no choice now. EISENSTEIN Pay him no mind. We have been through this a hundred times. He is only trying to frighten us. TISSE He has done a very good job of it. EISENSTEIN He has done nothing but interfere. A one hundred percent, American idiot! I am finished taking orders from him. TISSE Who? EISENSTEIN Who!? Who are you talking about? ALEXANDROV I think you’d better read this, comrade. (Holding out an envelope) EISENSTEIN What is it? TISSE A cablegram. EISENSTEIN From Sinclair? ALEXANDROV Not from… to! Read it. (Pause) EISENSTEIN No. You. You read it, Eduard. (TISSE takes the envelope, extracts the cablegram) TISSE (Reading slowly) “EISENSTEIN LOOSE HIS COMRADES CONFIDENCE IN SOVIET UNION STOP HE IS THOUGHT TO BE A DESERTER WHO BROKE WITH HIS COUNTRY STOP AM AFRAID THE PEOPLE HERE WILL HAVE NO INTEREST IN HIM STOP AM VERY SORRY BUT ALL ASSERT IT IS A FACT STOP WISH YOU TO BE WELL STOP MY REGARDS STOP… STALIN” ALEXANDROV One can almost feel the noose around the neck. EISENSTEIN I believe they are using firing squads these days. ALEXANDROV You should not make jokes. EISENSTEIN I did not intend it to be funny. TISSE Boys, please! It will do no good to argue. EISENSTEIN You seem almost happy, Grisha. ALEXANDROV We should have gone back months ago. TISSE Sergei… EISENSTEIN No! (Pause) ALEXANDROV I am going to pack. (HE exits) (Solo violin music fades up. TISSE presses the cablegram into EISENSTEIN's hand, lingers, then exits) CHABELA What does it mean… “loose confidence”? EISENSTEIN I feel like dancing. Will you dance with me? (They dance: a waltz, round and round. EISENSTEIN stumbles, reaches up, grabs hold of his chest. HE pushes CHABELA away) CHABELA Senor! Senor, what is wrong! (HE staggers forward, turning to the audience, hand outstretched) CHABELA (Continued) Senor! Please! Someone, help! EISENSTEIN Totya. (Louder) Totya! (BLACKOUT) END ACT 1