First printed in "Reedy's Mirror," St. Louis. Application to produce this play should be made to Edna St. Vincent Millay, in care of the Provincetown Players, 133 Macdougal Street, New York.
ARIA DA CAPO
By Edna St. Vincent Millay
[Scene: A Stage. The curtain rises on a stage set for a Harlequinade, a merry black and white interior. Directly behind the footlights, and running parallel with them, is a long table, covered with a gay black and white cloth, on which is spread a banquet. At the opposite ends of this table, seated on delicate thin-legged chairs with high backs, are Pierrot and Columbine, dressed according to the tradition, excepting that Pierrot is in lilac, and Columbine in pink. They are dining.]
Colu. Pierrot, a macaroon! I cannot live
Pier. My only love,
Colu. It is Wednesday,
Pier. Ah, Columbine,—as if it mattered!
Colu. To-morrow will be—Pierrot,
Pier. I thought it rather nice.
Colu. Pierrot, don't you love
Pier. La, what a woman!—How should I know?
Colu. Pierrot, do you know, I think you drink too much.
Pier. Yes, I dare say I do.... Or else too little.
Colu. La, indeed,
Pier. Why?—I am a student, Columbine;
Colu. La, indeed?—
Pier. No. Or, rather, nay.
Colu. Well, I like that! So that is all I've meant
Pier. Hush! All at once I am become
Colu. Pierrot, you work too hard.
Pier. Don't stand so near me!
Colu. My hands are not cold.
Pier. Oh, I am sure they are.
Colu. Why, I'll do no such thing!
Pier. My only love, you are
Colu. Why, Pierrot, I can't act.
Pier. Can't act! Can't act! La, listen to the woman!
Colu. Yes, I suppose I do.
Pier. As for the rest,
Colu. Let you?—well, that's a good one! Ha! Ha! Ha!
Pier. But why?—well, as to that, my dear,
Colu. Pierrot, I'm getting tired of caviar
Pier. Well, there are mushrooms.
Pier. Not much. I'm tired of gowns that have the waist-line
Colu. Here's a persimmon, love. You always liked them.
Pier. I am become a critic; there is nothing I can enjoy.... However, set it aside;
Colu. Pierrot, do you know,
Pier. My love, by yon black moon, you wrong us both.
Colu. There isn't a sign of a moon, Pierrot.
Pier. Of course not.
Colu. Well, eat it, then,
Pier. It's ticking all the same. If you were a fly,
Pier. Hello, what's this, for God's sake?—What's the matter?
Coth. I never sleep.
Pier. Well, anyhow, clear out.
Coth. Sir, I am tired of waiting. I will wait
Pier. Well, but what are you going to do?
Coth. True, sir; yet I
Pier. Your scene is down for later!
Coth. That, too, is true, sir; but I play it now.
Pier. Oh, very well!—Anyway, I am tired
Yes, I am sure I am. I know what I'll do!—
Coth. You, Thyrsis! Corydon!
Thyr. Sir, we are in our dressing-room!
Coth. Come out and do the scene.
Cory. You are mocking us!—
Coth. That is true;
[Seats himself on high place in back of stage. Enter Corydon and Thyrsis.]
Cory. Sir, we were counting on this little hour.
Thyr. Sir, we are not in the fancy
Cory. Besides, this is the setting for a farce.
Thyr. We cannot act
Coth. Try it and see. I think you'll find you can.
Cory.-Thyr. [sorrowfully]. Sir, we are always ready.
Coth. Play the play!
[Corydon and Thyrsis move the table and chairs to one side out of the way, and seat themselves in a half-reclining position on the floor, left of the center of the stage, propped up by crepe paper pillows and bolsters, in place of rocks.]
Thyr. How gently in the silence, Corydon,
Cory. As if they thought of other things.
Thyr. One cannot say.... The black lamb wears its burdocks
Cory. I've noticed that.
Thyr. Why, yes!—that is, why,—no. (I have forgotten
Cory. [prompting]. "I know a game worth two of that."
Thyr. Oh, yes.... I know a game worth two of that:
Cory. Why,—very well.
Thyr. Nor you on mine!
[They weave a wall of colored paper ribbons from the center front to the center back of the stage, fastening the ends to Columbine's chair in front and to Pierrot's chair in the back.]
Cory. Now there's a wall a man may see across,
Thyr. An excellent wall.
Cory. Come, let us separate, and sit alone
[They seat themselves on opposite sides of the wall.]
Pier. [off stage]. Ehé Pierrette!
Colu. [off stage]. My name is Columbine! Leave me alone!
Thyr. [coming up to the wall].
Cory. [at wall]. (I have forgotten
Coth. [prompting]. "How do I know this isn't a trick"
Cory. Oh, yes.... How do I know this isn't a trick
Thyr. Oh, Corydon,
Cory. It is a clever trick
[Seats himself as before.]
Thyr. Oh, very well! [Seats himself as before] [To himself.] I think I never knew a sillier game.
Cory. [coming to wall].
Thyr. Oh, hadn't you?
Cory. Why, what do you mean?
Thyr. What do I mean?—I mean
Cory. You mean you'd let the sheep
Thyr. Well, they're not my sheep. My sheep
Cory. Your sheep! You are mad, to call them.
Thyr. Oh, can't I?—wait and see!—and if you try
Cory. I wonder how it happens all the water
Colu. [off stage].
Thyr. You know as well as I do, Corydon,
Cory. I do not.
Thyr. Don't you?
Cory. Oh, I suppose so.
Thyr. I know it, Corydon.
[They reach out their arms to each other across the wall.]
Coth. [prompting]. "But how do I know?"
Thyr. Oh, yes.... But how do I know this isn't a trick
Cory. You can't know, that's the difficult thing about it,
Thyr. No, don't say that! Oh, Corydon, I'm willing
Cory. I do not know.... I do not know.... I think
Colu. [to Cothurnus]. Glummy, I want my hat.
Thyr. Take it, and go.
Colu. Take it and go, indeed! Is it my hat,
Thyr. Corydon, my friend,
[Goes back to where he has been sitting, lies down and sleeps.]
[Corydon, in going back to where he has been sitting, stumbles over bowl, of colored confetti and colored paper .]
Cory. Why, what is this?—Red stones—and purple stones—
[He goes to wall and digs up and down the length of it, to see if there are jewels on the other side.]
Thyr. [awakening]. How curious! I thought the little black lamb
[Goes to wall and looks over. Corydon is seated on the ground, tossing the confetti up into the air and catching it.]
Hello, what's that you've got there, Corydon?
Thyr. Jewels?—And where did you ever get them?
Cory. Oh, over here.
Thyr. You mean to say you found them,
Cory. [unpleasantly]. No, Thyrsis.
Thyr. Corydon, come to the wall a minute, will you?
Cory. I haven't time.
Thyr. I'll give you all the water that you want,
Cory. Water?—what for?—what do I want of water?
Thyr. Why, for your sheep.
Cory. My sheep?—I'm not a shepherd!
Thyr. Your sheep are dying of thirst.
Cory. Man, haven't I told you
Thyr. Corydon, come to the wall,
Thyr. Corydon, listen: If you don't want your sheep,
Cory. Be off. Go finish your nap.
Thyr. But they will die!
Cory. And a green one—and a couple
Thyr. Maybe I have
Cory. And another green one—
Thyr. [with hatred]. I see.
Colu. [off stage]. Look, Pierrot, there's the moon!
Pier. [off stage]. Nonsense!
Thyr. I see.
Colu. [off stage]. Sing me an old song, Pierrot,—
Pier. [off stage]. Columbine,
Thyr. I find no jewels ... but I wonder what
Cory. [Coming to wall]. Hello, what are you doing, Thyrsis?
Thyr. Digging for gold.
Cory. I'll give you all the gold
Thyr. Ho, so you've changed your mind?—It's different,
Cory. Of course it is.
Thyr. Well, let me see ... a bowl
Cory. Oh, Thyrsis, give me a bowl
Thyr. Be off, I'm busy now.
[He catches sight of the weed, picks it up and looks at it, unseen by Corydon.]
Wait!—Pick me out the finest stones you have....
Cory. [goes back and sits down, with the jewels before him].
A bowl of jewels is a lot of jewels.
Thyr. [chopping up the weed]. I wonder if it has a bitter taste?
Cory. There's sure to be a stone or two among them
Thyr. I hope it doesn't taste
Cory. A bowl of jewels
Thyr. I don't believe
Cory. There ought to be some way
[He puts two or three of the colored tapes together and tries their strength by pulling them, after which he puts them around his neck and pulls them, gently, nodding to himself. He gets up and goes to the wall, with the colored tapes in his hands.
Thyrsis in the meantime has poured the powdered root—black confetti—into the pot which contains the flower and filled it up with wine from the punch-bowl on the floor. He comes to the wall at the same time, holding the bowl of poison.]
Thyr. Come and get your bowl of water, Corydon.
Cory. Ah, very good!—and for such a gift as that
Thyr. [putting bowl to Corydon's
mouth]. I'll hold the bowl
Cory. Then hold it steady.
Thyr. I shall not spill a drop.
[Corydon drinks, meanwhile beginning to strangle Thyrsis.]
Thyr. Don't pull the string so tight.
Cory. You're spilling the water.
Thyr. You've had enough—you've had enough—stop pulling
Cory. Why, that's not tight at all....
Thyr. [drops bowl]. You're strangling me! Oh, Corydon!
Cory. It's only a game, is it?—Yet I believe
[Writhes and pulls the strings tighter, winding them about Thyrsis' neck.]
Thyr. Corydon! [Dies.]
Cory. You've poisoned me in earnest.... I feel so cold....
[Groping his way, with arms wide before him, he strides through the frail papers of the wall without knowing it, and continues seeking for the wall straight across the stage.]
Where is the wall?
[Gropes his way back, and stands very near Thyrsis without knowing it; he speaks slowly.]
There isn't any wall,
[Takes a step forward, his foot touches Thyrsis' body, and he falls down beside him.]
Thyrsis, where is your cloak?—just give me
[Draws corner of Thyrsis' cloak over his shoulders, falls across Thyrsis' body, and dies.
Cothurnus closes the prompt-book with a bang, arises matter-of-factly, comes down stage, and places the table over the two bodies, drawing down the cover so that they are hidden from any actors on the stage, but visible to the audience, pushing in their feet and hands with his boot. He then turns his back to the audience, and claps his hands twice.]
Coth. Strike the scene!
[Exit Cothurnus. Enter Pierrot and Columbine.]
Pier. Don't puff so, Columbine!
Colu. Lord, what a mess
[She picks up punch bowl. They arrange chairs as before at ends of table.]
Pier. Well, I don't know. I think it rather diverting
[Yawns, picks up confetti bowl.]
Shall we begin?
Colu. [screams]. My God!
Pier. It is the bodies
Colu. [slowly]. How curious to strangle him like that,
Pier. Yes, and yet
[Pause. Calls Cothurnus.]
Come drag these bodies out of here! We can't
Coth. [off stage]. What makes you think so?—Pull down the tablecloth
Pier. That's so. Give me a hand there, Columbine.
[Pierrot and Columbine pull down the table cover in such a way that the two bodies are hidden from the house, then merrily set their bowls back on the table, draw up their chairs, and begin the play exactly as before, speaking even more rapidly and artificially.]
Colu. Pierrot, a macaroon,—I cannot live
Pier. My only love,
[Curtains begin to close slowly.]
Colu. It is Wednesday,
Pier. Ah, Columbine, as if it mattered!