By Marta Aran
Translated by Elena Igartuburu
Volume 7, Issue 4 (Fall 2019)
In early 2019, Catalan playwright Marta Aran contacted me to translate her play La noia de la làmpada into English as Lamp Lady. I connected with her work in the first reading and, although it was my first professional foray intco Catalan-English translation, I happily committed to the work. One of the most challenging aspects of this particular translations was transposing the everyday language—the expressions and phrases of everyday life but also Alba’s continuous cursing and swearing—and expressions of the play into American English while maintaining or transferring the cultural and contextual specificities that enrich the play. The dialogue between two of the main characters, Gemma and Alba, is somewhat circular, repetitious, and filled with tension that is built through a flow of lines that gets broken by sudden pauses and continuous hesitations. Maurici speaks through to other characters, in a sort of continuous monologue, not really listening or engaging. The lack of understanding or engagement and the constant quest for the right thing to say of the characters calls for an attention to language and form that made the play equally interesting and challenging to translate.
Probably the most enriching aspect in the process of translating La Noia was collaborating with graduate students from the Theater Department at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Together, we performed the first scene of the play at the celebration of Catalan letters in Sant Jordi, April 23rd, Spring 2019. Being able to hear the text helped solve many issues of articulation, rhythm, and cadence.
Marta Aran (Barcelona, Spain) is a Young Catalan playwright with experience and training in theater directing, acting, and writing. She has released two plays: La noia de la làmpada (Barcelona, 2018) and Els dies mentits (Barcelona, 2019). She was a finalist in the “Torneo de Dramaturgia de Temporada Alta” in Girona (Spain) and participated as a guest playwright in the “Torneo de dramaturgia de Buenos Aires en Timbre4 (TABA)” in Buenos Aires (Argentina). She has recently been awarded the Carme Monturiol fellowship by the city council of Barcelona to write her third play Narcisos and was also finalist to “RECVLL” with her second play Els dies mentit.
Elena Igartuburu (Ph.D. 2015, Universidad de Oviedo) is a PhD candidate in Comparative Literature at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Her journey into translation and interpreting began as a conference interpreter at the University of Oviedo in Spain, and she has continued such work at UMass Amherst, Amherst College, and the Institute for Training and Development. She has recently started her foray into theatre translation with her work on the Catalan playwright Marta Aran’s Lamp Lady (2019). She was recently selected as resident translator for the new Spanish-Playwright in Residence program at UMass Amherst sponsored by the University of Massachusetts Amherst and the Embassy of Spain to translate the José Manuel Mora’s Los Nadadores Nocturnos (2014).
Alba, 30 years old
Gemma, 27 years old
Maurici, 34 years old
Lídia, 30 years old
1. Cerulean Blue
An art gallery in a large city. Three paintings hang on a white wall. Two sisters: Alba and Gemma. It’s been a long time since the last time they saw each other. Alba, the older sister, is five months pregnant.
GEMMA: Can I?
She motions to touch Alba’s belly.
GEMMA: It’s weird…
ALBA: Yeah. (Pause) Want something?
GEMMA: No, thanks.
GEMMA: It’s so big…
ALBA: Too big.
ALBA: Yeah, apparently, I have a lot of amniotic fluid, but everything is ok. It’s different for every woman.
GEMMA: Everything is alright, then?
ALBA: Yes, yes, great. Everything’s great… Yeah…
Yesterday I got an ultrasound. I could only see the feet. In the first ultrasound it looked as if the baby was flying…
GEMMA: What do you mean?
ALBA: It looked like an alien.
GEMMA: Have you thought of a name?
GEMMA: And you, how are you?
GEMMA: It’s heavy, isn’t it?
ALBA: Yes, I just get so tired. It’s hard to do things…Everything’s harder.
GEMMA: And does it move?
ALBA: Like the devil. And you, how are you?
ALBA: That’s great. And how’s everything?
GEMMA: Great. And you?
ALBA: Great, great. And you?
ALBA: I’m happy for you. I’m glad you’re doing well. It’s great…
GEMMA: Yes! Yeah…
ALBA: Enjoy it while you can… Because after… Well, you see what happens!
GEMMA: But isn’t it beautiful?
ALBA: I don’t know…
GEMMA: I’d love to be a mother.
ALBA: It’s a myth, all that talk about the happiness of pregnancy…
GEMMA: Yes, you told me on the phone.
ALBA: Yeah, true. It’s the only thing I talk about. Sorry! I’m getting so annoying. I know.
GEMMA: It’s ok.
ALBA: It seems that there’s this hormone that fills you up with this energy, you know?
ALBA: And you become really strong…
GEMMA: And the happiness…
ALBA: So you don’t believe it either! Where the hell is it, this shitty hormone?
ALBA: Want me to bring the papers?
GEMMA: Later, maybe?
ALBA: Yes, later… Sure… Are we? The…
Alba points at her belly.
GEMMA: Oh, of course! Sorry.
ALBA: I’m a cow, you know?
GEMMA: You look pretty.
GEMMA: I’m lying.
They stare at each other. Alba smiles shyly.
ALBA: You’re the one who’s looking gorgeous.
GEMMA: Do you really mean it?
ALBA: Yes. Very pretty. So beautiful. (Pause) The jacket is…
ALBA: And you changed your hair, right?
GEMMA: Yes. You too.
ALBA: No, I did not dye my hair. It’s different.
ALBA: I don’t like hairdressers, you know? They scare me. That smell… I can’t. I suffocate when I’m in there.
GEMMA: I see.
ALBA: Does it look terrible?
GEMMA: No, no…
ALBA: I get dizzy…
GEMMA: I see…
ALBA: You must think I’m exaggerating…
ALBA: Yeah, people think that. It’s ok
GEMMA: I don’t.
ALBA: I would think that too…
GEMMA: Well I don’t!
ALBA: It’s horrible, this whole pregnancy thing.
GEMMA: But I guess that when you’re finally a mother, you’ll forget all of this…
Crazy, right? All this. Becoming a mother…
ALBA: Oh, yes! Like mom! Crazy.
GEMMA: Like mom…
ALBA: But I just don’t know what’s wrong with me, I don’t feel motherly at all, you know? No instinct…
Are you sure you don’t want anything? I bought a ton of stuff…
Maybe when he comes all these hormones will kick in, but I don’t know… It’s so hard!
GEMMA: Well, but nature’s wise. It gives you a few months to get used to the idea…
ALBA: Well, for me, a day would be enough to get used to the idea! I don’t know why I have to have this thing inside me for such a long time…
Well, enough about… And you, how are you?
GEMMA: Ok. Working a lot.
ALBA: Are you still going back to China?
ALBA: Oh, yes, Japan.
GEMMA: Yeah, but this time I’m thinking of settling down here. With everything that went down with mom’s house… And the Japanese want a representative for the company here. It’s a good opportunity.
ALBA: Damn, great! Isn’t it? It sounds important.
GEMMA: I’m happy. And you? Are you happy?
Gemma points at her belly.
ALBA: Very happy! Everybody congratulates me. There’s not end to it. A lot of people think that this is something to be thankful for.
GEMMA: And isn’t it?
ALBA: Not at all…
GEMMA: At least people will let you sit down on the bus, right?
ALBA: Oh, no. As soon as they see me, people turn their faces. You can see how they cling to their seats as if their lives depended on it. And I hate those fucking grannies, don’t you?
ALBA: Want some coffee? Tea, juice, soda?
GEMMA: No, thanks.
ALBA: Are you on a diet?
ALBA: Not that you’re fat. No, no… (Pause) One day, you know what happened to me?
On a bus actually. I get on, right? And this old lady tells another granny to give up her seat, because, clearly, I look like a fucking cow. Oh, I know I am, don’t worry! It’s ok! It’s…! And I thought, ok, at least I get some benefits from this huge fucking belly. And you know what she said, the lady? Yes, she said that she wouldn’t stand up because I might be pregnant but she could have a heart attack at any moment… Bitch…
So, you see, not even on the bus is it worth being pregnant. Fuck…
GEMMA: But you want to have it, right?
ALBA: What do you mean?
GEMMA: Do you want to have a baby?
ALBA: Yes, yes, of course. It’s his dream… It was all so fast… It’s like at that moment, when you get pregnant, right? What keeps you from having a kid?
GEMMA: I don’t know… You sound like you don’t want a baby.
ALBA: It’s never a good time to have a baby, don’t you think?
GEMMA: It depends.
ALBA: Don’t fool yourself.
GEMMA: And, besides that, is everything alright?
ALBA: Yes, great. A lot has changed though… We wanted to get married quickly, before mom… but we didn’t make it on time.
GEMMA: Yeah. It’s on the nineteenth, right?
ALBA: Exactly. The nineteenth. Well, anyways she would’ve cried… It’s for the best. It would’ve been a waste of money.
GEMMA: Always so practical.
ALBA: It would’ve been so sad.
Is that the engagement ring?
ALBA: Gemma, I would’ve sent you an invitation. I just thought you wouldn’t… With you going back to China…
ALBA: Yes, yes. Japan. I didn’t know if you’d be able to…
GEMMA: Oh, don’t worry about that. It would’ve been really weird! It’s been so long since…
ALBA: Yeah, right? Believe me, that’s just what I was thinking. I’m glad we agree. I didn’t mean to bring up the subject. I talk too much.
GEMMA: It’s ok.
ALBA: I don’t want to spoil things, you know?
GEMMA: You didn’t, really.
ALBA: You seem different. So different.
GEMMA: Getting married while you’re pregnant is such a beautiful thing.
ALBA: Marrying with a belly? It’s kind of trailer trash.
GEMMA: What do you mean?
ALBA: That’s what people did in the 50s… When there wasn’t decent birth control…
Look at this…
Alba points at her belly.
GEMMA: I still think it’s beautiful.
ALBA: I would never waste fifteen thousand dollars on a party just to look like a whale and, on top of it all, have a ton of photos to prove it. No, no.
GEMMA: Ok, let’s drop the subject.
ALBA: Yes, there’s no point in talking about it. None at all.
They look at each other, looking for something to talk about.
GEMMA: And you got that grant, right?
ALBA: Yes, but… no.
GEMMA: I’m so sorry.
ALBA: It’s ok… Really.
GEMMA: Yeah, but I know it was important to you.
ALBA: At the beginning I was in shock, but not anymore. That’s the way life is, isn’t it? After years pursuing that grant… I get it right when I can’t accept it.
GEMMA: Can’t you apply for it again?
ALBA: No, it was only for people up to thirty. It was now or never. It seems that once you’re thirty, the whole entrepreneur thing is over.
ALBA: Sometimes I think about what would happen if I were to travel around with that money…
GEMMA: Where would you go?
ALBA: My thing is coordinating contemporary art fairs, so Switzerland, Hong Kong, Miami, New York. Two years traveling the world…
ALBA: Yeah. But, at the end of the day, I’m creating a new life! What’s more important than that, right? (Pause) It’s fine, I’m doing great, don’t think I’m not… Maybe I do have some of those hormones after all…
ALBA: No. But it’s true that… No, it’s ok.
GEMMA: Tell me.
ALBA: It’s nonsense.
ALBA: No, really, Gemma, it’s nothing.
GEMMA: Tell me!
ALBA: We’re seen each other again.
ALBA: And we hadn’t for so long…
GEMMA: No, we hadn’t.
ALBA: Exactly. I’m glad we…
ALBA: Want some coffee?
GEMMA: No, thanks.
ALBA: You’re so skinny, drink something.
GEMMA: How are you guys doing, with the gallery?
ALBA: Great. Really great. My boss, Carles… He’s retiring.
GEMMA: Is he?
ALBA: Yeah, and he’s doing really weird things. He asks me questions, he watches me… And, just this year, he’s asked me to curate two weeks for the art fair.
GEMMA: That’s great, isn’t it?
ALBA: Yes! He would never do such a thing if he didn’t have something in mind…
GEMMA: And what do you think that is?
ALBA: I think he wants me to succeed him as art director. But he’s testing me first. When he told me I would be in charge of the program for the art fair, I was so happy! But then all of this happened, and I kept my mouth shout, you know? Since nobody could see it yet…
GEMMA: Why would you do that?
ALBA: Who would give that kind of responsibility to a pregnant woman? I had to give up my dream, I’d like to, at least, keep this opportunity. It’s the last chance I have to be someone.
GEMMA: You’re someone.
ALBA: Not yet.
GEMMA: It’s not that bad.
ALBA: I have to be perfect, you know? Oh…
GEMMA: Are you ok?
ALBA: Sorry, I’m going to…
Alba runs offstage.
GEMMA: Go, go.
Sounds of someone vomiting.
GEMMA: Oh God…
ALBA: Oh no, the artichokes… I knew it! I knew it wasn’t a good idea…
GEMMA: Thanks for the info.
ALBA: Can you bring some baby wipes? Please.
GEMMA: Where are they?
ALBA: In my bag.
GEMMA: You still don’t have the baby and you’re already carrying baby wipes?
ALBA: One should always carry baby wipes. Above all if you puke everywhere you go. I’m developing a taste for throwing up anything I eat.
Gemma goes to the bag and a bunch of baby magazines fall from it as she looks for the wipes.s
GEMMA: And how’s the fair thing going?
ALBA: Basically, I’m behind in everything. But I guess that soon enough I’ll stop feeling like shit and I’ll be able to catch up.
GEMMA: And how do you manage when customers come, and you need to…?
ALBA: I’ve developed a code with Maurici. If I say “it seems someone’s knocking,” he distracts the customer while I escape.
GEMMA: And does it work?
ALBA: Oh, it sure does!
Wow! It’s so late! People coming to the opening will be here any minute now and here I am…
GEMMA: Do you need any help?
ALBA: No. I can do it on my own. Thanks.
GEMMA: Do want me to go?
ALBA: No! But I can’t be with you all the time… I’m sorry. Don’t worry about me. Maurici will be here in a minute and he’ll help me out.
GEMMA: Oh, no problem, I’ll wait. I’ll finally meet the famous Maurici. Mom loved him.
ALBA: Sure! He’ll be here in no time. He’s helping me deal with all this work during the pregnancy. He’s unemployed…
GEMMA: And what exactly is it that Maurici does?
ALBA: Everything I can’t do. He’s gotten into it with such energy… But I’m still the one in charge, you know?
GEMMA: I would expect nothing less.
ALBA: I have to put up these signs with the names of the painters. That’s all.
GEMMA: Ok. Go do it.
Alba tries to lift a painting that’s on the floor. Gemma helps her.
ALBA: I can do it. Thanks.
GEMMA: It’s ok, I’ll help.
ALBA: I’ll do it. Thanks.
MAURICI (offstage): Hello? I’m here!
ALBA: Look, Maurici!
MAURICI (offstage): I already have the design for the catalogues! I’ve been talking to the Arts Council’s Executive Director and I’ve set up a meeting with him to talk about the fair.
ALBA: Oh, good.
MAURICI (offstage): I told him you wouldn’t attend. In your condition and since yesterday you wouldn’t stop… You don’t disagree, do you?
ALBA: No, no…
MAURICI (offstage): Can you imagine that you started puking at the meeting? It would be too much!
ALBA: Can you come here please?
MAURICI: Oh, sorry, I didn’t know you had company. I meant…
ALBA: Maurici, this is Gemma.
MAURICI: Hi, Gemma. (He starts off to shake her hand.) Nice to meet you.
ALBA: My sister…
MAURICI: Ooh! (He kisses her on both cheeks.) The one that’s in China, right?
GEMMA: Nothing. Nice to meet you too. I was looking forward to it. Alba talks a lot about you.
MAURICI: And about you too.
GEMMA: She already told me that you’re helping her with the gallery.
MAURICI: Well, we both coordinate events, etc. And Lídia helps us… With the art fair and the program we’re completely overwhelmed.
GEMMA: Oh, so you’re also making the program?
MAURICI: We’re a team, aren’t we?
Maurici kisses Alba.
MAURICI: How’re you feeling? Any better?
MAURICI: How did lunch sit with you today?
MAURICI: It’s just…
She finds my artistic perspective very useful. We complement each other.
GEMMA: I didn’t know you were an artist! Alba, why didn’t you tell me? I thought you were a programmer.
MAURICI: Well, that’s just a job, a way to make ends meet, but the truth is that I’m an artist. Although programming is also a kind of art, figuratively and literally.
GEMMA: Of course.
ALBA: I thought I told you…
GEMMA: And what’s your style?
MAURICI: I haven’t quite defined it yet.
MAURICI: Everything in due time.
GEMMA: It’s ok.
MAURICI: Sure. It’s a matter of time, development. But I like to be provocative.
MAURICI: Yeah, I like to go beyond what’s considered politically correct. And now there’s a lot of censorship in that respect. You can’t say anything that might offend other people. Our skins are way too thin. I want to go against all that.
ALBA: Maurici, we should start preparing the opening, don’t you think?
MAURICI: Alba, I think I’ve finally decided what I’ll do for the fair.
ALBA: Is it what we talked about yesterday?
MAURICI (confident): Yes.
GEMMA: Oh, so you’re showcasing a piece too?
GEMMA: That’s great, isn’t it Alba?
Alba gets nervous.
GEMMA: And when’s your show?
MAURICI: At the opening.
GEMMA: Wow, that’s amazing.
ALBA: Well, we still have to talk about that, we don’t know…
MAURICI: Of course we know!
GEMMA: It’s a very important art fair: congratulations, Maurici. It’s a great opportunity.
MAURICI: Thank you.
GEMMA: It’ll have a great audience. And what is it?
ALBA: You know what, Gemma? It’s way too long to explain it right now. Why don’t you come by for dinner some time and we’ll tell you all about it?
MAURICI (to Gemma): It’s not that long. I’ll make it short.
ALBA: Maurici, I really need you to start organizing all this.
MAURICI: Where’s Lídia? She should be here already, shouldn’t she?
GEMMA: I’m curious.
ALBA: Well she’s not here. Can you help me?
MAURICI (to Alba): It’ll be just a moment! Go get ready in the meantime, and don’t worry I can tell her all about it while I finish this up. What’s left to be done?
LÍDIA (offstage): Here I am!
ALBA: You need to finish hanging the paintings in the other room.
MAURICI: Those? Sure thing. And these too, right?
ALBA: These are ok here.
LÍDIA: I’m so sorry, so much traffic…
MAURICI: It’s ok, Lídia.
ALBA: Where were you? I had to do everything on my own.
LÍDIA: There was an accident.
ALBA: Ok, it’s ok…
MAURICI, to Alba: I have to move that painting, it looks too constrained there. Don’t you think?
ALBA: I like it.
MAURICI: I don’t know…
ALBA: I think it goes well with the other two.
MAURICI: It’s constrained in there. What do you think, Lídia?
LÍDIA: We’ve always arranged it this way.
Maurici takes the painting off the wall.
ALBA: Can you please leave it where it was?
MAURICI: I don’t like it. No. I don’t know… No.
LÍDIA: What if we hang it in the other room?
MAURICI: What do you think?
ALBA: I don’t see it.
MAURICI: Don’t worry. Trust me. Trust my taste. Come on, let’s go to the other room.
LÍDIA: People will be coming in soon…
LÍDIA: So, should this go on the other room, or…?
Alba puts the painting back where it was. Lídia exits.
MAURICI: If someone comes, I’ll take care of them. Don’t worry and go get ready for the opening. What’s more, I think I could use an outsider’s opinion. (To Gemma) By the way, do you want some coffee?
GEMMA: Yes, please.
GEMMA: Ristretto. No sugar.
MAURICI: Great. Italian coffee is my specialty. (He makes coffee.) As I was saying, I like being provocative. Everything that is considered politically incorrect. I’m sick of seeing lame art and politically correct humor everywhere… So you have to understand my work from that perspective, ok?
MAURICI: What do you do?
MAURICI: What kind?
GEMMA: Art, of course. Antiques.
MAURICI: Very interesting. Ok then, listen. I don’t have a title for it yet, but I’ll probably call it “Lamp Lady.”
MAURICI: Because that’s exactly what it’ll be. A woman posing as a lamp.
GEMMA: A sculpture?
MAURICI: No, no. An actual woman with a lampshade on her head. It’ll be an electric installation.
MAURICI: Most probably we’ll have her stand at the entrance of the event. But it seems pretty normal so far, right? Well, here’s the provocative part. The woman will be naked… Wait, no. Here comes the provocative part: on top of that, she’ll wear a tampon with a string attached to it. People will pull it to turn the light on and off as many times as they want.
MAURICI: What do you think?
GEMMA: A naked woman posing as a lamp with a tampon… And people would turn on the light by pulling the string, right?
GEMMA: So provocative.
MAURICI: Isn’t it? It’s amazing. A startling image! A great concept!
GEMMA: And how long would it last, all of this?
MAURICI: Well, a few hours at least. Several days.
GEMMA: And do you have the woman?
MAURICI: Well, I spoke to a girl on Facebook. She’s a dancer. I told her that it is a performance in which she’d have to be naked. But honestly… I’m not sure about her.
GEMMA: Why not?
MAURICI: I think she might have tattoos.
GEMMA: And is that a problem?
MAURICI: Of course.
MAURICI: Well, because that’s not the idea. I want to provide a more critical vision, you know? Tattoos… I don’t know. It may read as if she were a woman with a hard life or a more modern woman. I want something aesthetic, something classical.
GEMMA: I see.
MAURICI: Otherwise it loses its appeal. It’s not the same seeing a normal woman than a woman with very visible a scar or a tattoo…
GEMMA: Because then the woman has a defined personality…
MAURICI: Exactly, right? We understand each other, Gemma, we connect! I want an image without signs of identity.
GEMMA: And that means you need a normal woman then?
MAURICI: A neutral woman.
GEMMA: I’m glad I’m not an art critic. I wouldn’t know what to make of your lamp.
MAURICI: And what did you feel?
MAURICI: Yes. What do you feel when you think about this performance?
MAURICI: What more?
GEMMA: Loathing for the artist.
MAURICI: Fantastic. That’s perfect. It’ll be something people will talk about. A lot!
GEMMA: And what do you want to achieve with all that? A critique of sexism?
MAURICI: No, no! There’re too many of those already. No… I just want to go against everything that’s considered politically correct. I told you. Think about it: what if, instead of a woman, it were a man posing as a lamp? Nothing, right? That doesn’t interest me. I want to challenge those who feel uncomfortable with any little thing. And I want to challenge everything that is considered taboo. I want to talk about those we can’t talk about: people who have gone through rough times, those who are terminally ill, pederasts, refugees, jihadists, etc. To hell with everything! We live obsessed with morality. Morality is the worst form of censorship. And it’s clear that feminists won’t understand my piece, but my art’s not for them.
GEMMA: And for whom do you make art?
MAURICI: For whom? I don’t know. (He stares at her) For whom do I make art? I don’t know… But people will talk about it. Alba can’t see it, but her art fair needs to be more transgressive, different. Provocative! Everything’s too orderly, too structured. I’ll provide what’s missing.
GEMMA: She’s so lucky you’re with her.
MAURICI: Thanks. Before, these works were just critical. Now they’re transgressive.
GEMMA: And why do you want to be so provocative?
MAURICI: Because it’s a lot of fun.
GEMMA: But shouldn’t you be taking into account that every work of art, provocative or not, carries a message? And you could be conveying a message that’s not the one you anticipate.
MAURICI: Believe me, that doesn’t concern me.
ALBA (off-stage): Maurici, I think someone’s knocking.
MAURICI: Duty calls. Wanna come?
GEMMA: I’d love to. I wouldn’t miss it for the world.
ALBA: Sorry, I’ve come for…
GEMMA: The baby wipes?
MAURICI: Excuse me.
Maurici grabs the painting and exists with it.
MAURICI: That’s better.
2. Terra Siena.
Alba and Maurici’s apartment. Alba is reading a book.
MAURICI (offstage): Hello! Alba?
Maurici enters, leaving his jacket and keys around. He kisses Alba, but Alba does not respond. He sits down. Alba still says nothing. Maurici looks at her.
MAURICI: Did you eat?
MAURICI: What did you eat?
MAURICI: Is there any left?
MAURICI: I don’t know what I want for dinner, to be honest.
ALBA: If you want there are croissants left, from the opening.
MAURICI: No but thank you. I’m exhausted.
ALBA: Doesn’t surprise me.
MAURICI: It’s crazy how many paintings we have to arrange every day…
Alba keeps reading. Maurici tries to make conversation.
MAURICI: And what did you have for lunch?
Alba stares at him.
MAURICI: Sounds great. (Pause) I ate chicken.
ALBA: Fantastic. And Lidia, what did she…?
MAURICI: Yeah, she loves them.
Alba keeps reading.
MAURICI: I’m gonna go see what’s left in the fridge.
ALBA: There’s nothing really…
MAURICI: No yogurt left?
ALBA: No. None.
MAURICI: Well, I’ll look anyways…
ALBA: There’s nothing, I told you.
MAURICI: Nothing at all?
MAURICI: Not even ketchup? Water? Not even…
ALBA: Well, yes, ketchup, water, yes.
MAURICI: Oh, so there’s something.
ALBA: I don’t think we can consider that something, do you? At least not something edible…
MAURICI: Can I look in the fridge and decide for myself if there’s something to eat or not?
ALBA: Oh, of course. Suit yourself.
MAURICI: Thank you.
Maurici exits. Noise of the fridge door opening. He returns and grabs his jacket.
ALBA: There’s nothing, right?
MAURICI: Only ketchup. And mayonnaise. And a rotten lemon.
Alba keeps reading.
ALBA: Aham. And is any of that edible?
MAURICI: No. What’s the matter with you today?
ALBA: With me? Nothing.
MAURICI: Oh, sure!
ALBA: Should anything be the matter with me?
MAURICI: Ok. I won’t go shopping. I’m going to bed.
ALBA: Make some coffee. You love making coffee…
MAURICI: We don’t have a coffee maker…
ALBA: Oh, no, wait, even better. Why don’t you change all the paintings in the house? Don’t you think they’re all constrained? I don’t know… I’m just not sure.
MAURICI: Are you upset?
Alba looks at him and then turns to her book. Maurici sits next to her.
Alba keeps reading.
MAURICI: Alba, it just looked better that way. If the paintings looked better the way I arranged them, what’s wrong with that?
ALBA: She was my guest.
MAURICI: I wanted to tell her about my performance.
ALBA: You should’ve been helping me, not making coffee.
MAURICI: Are you angry just because I made coffee? And the paintings, they just didn’t look right there, between the other two. Don’t you understand?
ALBA: It’s not that.
MAURICI: No? I don’t see the problem. We changed them. That’s all.
ALBA: Then that’s it.
MAURICI: I don’t understand where all this is coming from.
ALBA: Sure, because on top of it all, you didn’t let me help you at all… You just sent me home.
MAURICI: Alba, you can’t carry weight around, what was the point of…
ALBA: But you should’ve asked me! Do you think that’s normal? Come on, changing the paintings around! I didn’t tell you to fuck off, I don’t know why. My sister didn’t know what to do with herself.
MAURICI: I thought you wanted to be with her, and to be honest, I was right… And what was I to do? Not change them so I wouldn’t hurt your feelings?
MAURICI: You have to admit I have a certain sensibility when it comes to arranging these exhibitions.
MAURICI: I pay attention to detail,
ALBA: Are you serious?
MAURICI: Yes. Don’t you think so?
ALBA: Certainly not more than I do.
MAURICI: Very well.
MAURICI: I don’t know.
ALBA: Are you really telling me that you pay more attention to detail that I do? Please tell me!
MAURICI: Well… I don’t know. Don’t take it the wrong way. It’s constructive criticism, ok Alba? Don’t make a fuss. Understand? Constructive criticism. Sometimes I get the feeling that you approach exhibitions mechanically… You aren’t so passionate about it anymore.
ALBA: Excuse me?
MAURICI: Lídia can arrange any exhibition with her eyes closed. Always the same distance between paintings, the same signs for the names… That’s not how it should be. Everything is just… right. You don’t ever challenge the norm. Look, that’s what she said, wasn’t it? That’s the way we always do it.
ALBA: What you’re saying is not true.
MAURICI: Lídia told me that the way I arranged the paintings was better.
ALBA: Not while I was there.
MAURICI: When you left…
ALBA: I see that Lídia and you get along wonderfully now.
MAURICI: Are you upset?
MAURICI: I didn’t think you were jealous.
ALBA: What bothers me is that you two don’t seem to be aware that there’s a hierarchy.
MAURICI: Calm down. We are perfectly aware.
ALBA: I hope so. Do you know what you’re doing, being such good friends with her? You’ll make her stop respecting me.
MAURICI: You’re too proud, Alba.
ALBA: I’m her boss! You should be on my side, not hers!
MAURICI: I’m on your side! Alba, please, don’t be so paranoid! You’re too sensitive lately. All those hormones are working you up!
ALBA: I’m fucking sick of talking about the fucking hormones!
MAURICI: I’m telling you this because I love you. Because I think… that you’re wrong.
ALBA (dry): Thank you.
MAURICI: I’m not hungry anymore.
ALBA: Didn’t you want to go on a diet?
MAURICI: I’m here to help you.
ALBA: Maurici, you have to help me with logistics, not with my artistic criteria. I thought we had agreed on that…
MAURICI: But your program…
ALBA: What’s wrong with it?
ALBA: What’s wrong with my program?
MAURICI: I don’t know…
ALBA: Say it!
MAURICI: It lacks… strength. It’s too polite. Too feminine, you know? If you want to start strong, you should develop a style, a signature that is more you, Alba. Somehow it seems that what you’re doing is a continuation of what Carles did.
ALBA: And is it so bad to follow his style? It could give me some advantage.
MAURICI: But if you continue to do what Carles has been doing all these years, no one will remember your name, only his. You should leave your own imprint. What’s more… Lídia…
ALBA: What about her?
MAURICI: Didn’t Carles tell you?
MAURICI: He’s having her design part of the program.
ALBA: Why? Where is this coming from?
MAURICI: I don’t know. She told me after you left. It seems that Carles is having trouble with some artists that have fallen through and she had already presented him a proposal some time ago… And now he accepted it.
ALBA: That bitch! What proposal?
MAURICI: She didn’t want to tell me because it’s not a sure thing yet.
ALBA: And what do you think the program’s lacking? According to you.
MAURICI: Yes, risk!
ALBA: Please, enlighten me.
MAURICI: I don’t have to show you anything.
ALBA: Sorry, I thought that the whole thing was that I didn’t pay attention to detail, and now I’m suddenly confused.
MAURICI: Your pride, bossing everyone around, you’re not using your common sense. If you think I’m not good enough for you…
ALBA: I did not say that…
MAURICI: No, you didn’t say, but you think so. Do you think I can’t see it? You think that my work is shit, that my decisions are always questionable…
MAURICI: You have nothing to say?
ALBA: It’s not that…
ALBA: I just don’t know what to say any more.
MAURICI: Do you really think my art is shit?
ALBA: Your installation…
MAURICI: What about it?
ALBA: It is just so sexist!
MAURICI: Sexist? It’s always the same shit! Seriously… I’m so sick of it. Everything’s sexist. Can we talk about something else? Something that’s not patriarchy, fucking parity? Everyone, everyone’s against women, it’s true, all men, we’re all such sons of bitches, right?
ALBA: Turning a woman into an object? With a tampon? Are you out of your mind?
MAURICI: You have to look beyond…
MAURICI: You’re only seeing a part of everything I want to create.
ALBA: I can’t have that in the program.
MAURICI: What? With everything I’m doing for you? That’s how you pay me back? I’m making no money for all this work, you know?
ALBA: Come on, man. You’re just loving it… You went from being the IT guy to being an artist.
MAURICI: I’ve always been an artist, don’t get me wrong.
ALBA: Oh, sorry. I’ve been in this for a really long time, much longer than you and still, you treat me like I’m a newbie.
MAURICI: It’s not that but, honestly, I think you need me to come up with a more transgressive program…
MAURICI: What you’ve put together is too fluid! I’m sorry.
ALBA: Should we talk about your work? Because without me you wouldn’t be working at the gallery or participating in the fair. You have no experience in this world! And you dare talk to me about my program?
MAURICI: If you don’t add my installation to the program, Lídia will.
ALBA: Who do you think you are?
MAURICI: And you?
ALBA: Look, I’m the acting art director at the gallery. And you’re just my assistant. Get it? My assistant!
Pause. Maurici grabs his jacket and prepares to leave.
ALBA: Maurici, please, I didn’t mean… Sorry.
MAURICI (turning around): But you said it, Alba. That’s exactly what you said. Your fucking assistant. That’s all I am, right? Your fucking assistant! May I get you a decaf, miss? May I clean up your vomit, miss?
ALBA: Excuse me?
MAURICI: I can’t believe that you’re actually the one who makes decisions at the gallery. What kind of art have you ever made? Eh? Tell me. Because, as far as I know, you’ve always wanted to make art, but you’ve made none. Always finding excuses, and you know it. Always hiding behind someone else, working, polishing someone else’s work so that they may shine. The only art you’ve ever made is writing emails about paintings.
ALBA: It’s not…
MAURICI: And even if to you it’s shit and it’s sexist, at least I’ve made some art. I’ve put myself out there and I’ve been brave enough to show what I’ve got. I’ve risked making mistakes, searching… I’ve painted till I got dizzy with the smell of turpentine. I’ve had never-ending conversations and I’ve created non-stop. It is easy to sit around and say that everything’s fucked up. What have you ever done? Other than being a secretary? An assistant?
ALBA: Is that what you really think about me?
MAURICI: You wouldn’t understand…
ALBA: Try me! Make me understand! Maybe I’ll understand, you know?
MAURICI: Alba, please…
ALBA: No, tell me! I think I might be able to understand!
MAURICI: Stop shouting, it’s late! The neighbors…
ALBA: I’ll shout as much as I fucking want. This is my house, get it?
MAURICI: You’re hysterical.
ALBA: Yes, I’m a fucking hysterical whore. Hormones are taking over my brain and I don’t know what the fuck I’m saying, and the baby will also be completely hysterical! Are you happy now?
MAURICI: Shut up!
Alba exits. Long silence.
ALBA (offstage, quietly): Maurici.
ALBA (offstage): We have to go to the hospital.
3. Zinc White
Alba and Mauricio’s apartment. Gemma is there. Alba is in the bathroom and we can hear her moaning. Gemma opens a box of chocolates.
ALBA (offstage): Oh… no…
GEMMA: What? Artichokes again?
ALBA (offstage): No. Hemorrhoids.
GEMMA: Come here.
We can hear Alba offstage moaning. Gemma takes a bite from a chocolate, then puts it back in its wrapper and puts it away. We can hear the toilet being flushed. Alba enters.
Alba is about to sit, but she stops. She thinks. She starts walking in circles.
GEMMA: What are you doing?
She walks faster and faster.
GEMMA: You can’t walk more than twenty steps a day…
ALBA: I need to walk.
ALBA: I need to walk…
Gemma tries to stop her but Alba walks faster and faster.
GEMMA: Whatever you want.
ALBA: I need… I need to.
Alba stops suddenly. She feels her underwear.
ALBA: No! Napkins, napkins!
Gemma runs around looking for towels or napkins. Alba gets some and checks whether she’s bleeding.
ALBA: False alarm.
GEMMA: You shouldn’t…
ALBA: Yes, yes.
Alba sits down, beaten. She shows Gemma the napkin.
ALBA: Oh, sorry… Could you?
GEMMA: Yes, sure.
GEMMA: And now. Are you ok?
Gemma throws the napkin away and gives Alba a chocolate.
ALBA: You didn’t need to bring me chocolates.
GEMMA: Of course I had to.
ALBA: Everyone brings me chocolates. Tons of chocolates. I hate them! Don’t they fucking know what else to bring a pregnant woman?
GEMMA: Is there anything I can do?
ALBA: Eat chocolates.
GEMMA: No, thank you.
GEMMA: How long do you have to be like this?
ALBA: Four months. Till the pregnancy is over.
GEMMA: My God!
ALBA: The baby’s held back by one stitch only, I have hemorrhages… Issues with the placenta.
GEMMA: But are you ok?
ALBA (ironically): Great!
GEMMA: Well, at least you’ll have some me time… You’ll have time to read all those books… I brought you some magazines.
Gemma shows her a bunch of baby and parenting magazines.
ALBA: Thank you.
Alba, not even looking at the magazines, throws them on the coffee table.
GEMMA: Now you’ll have time to do everything you’ve always wanted to do… Take it as four-month-long sabbatical. Do whatever you want to do.
ALBA: I want to be at the gallery. I want to go to the art fair.
GEMMA: When is it?
ALBA: In three months.
GEMMA: Don’t worry about that. Maurici will be there, won’t he? You’re so lucky. Not everyone has a partner who’s so helpful; and there’s also that girl.
ALBA: So lucky.
GEMMA: And the baby, how is he?
ALBA: In my belly.
GEMMA: I’m dying to meet him. I love kids.
ALBA: Please, rub my belly for luck and then go buy a lottery ticket.
GEMMA: Are you serious?
GEMMA: Want to see what’s on TV?
GEMMA: I also got you this.
Gemma shows Alba a breast pump. Alba stares at it.
GEMMA: I thought it might be useful and probably you don’t have one yet. It pumps out breast milk…
ALBA: I’m not gonna breastfeed the baby.
GEMMA: Oh, no?
ALBA: I’m sorry. I’m such a bad mother.
GEMMA: I think I still have the receipt; I’ll get something else. Don’t worry.
ALBA: Yes, if you don’t mind.
GEMMA: I’ll buy some formula.
GEMMA: Which one do you prefer? Well, I’ll take a look in the store. You might still change your mind.
Alba doesn’t say anything.
GEMMA: And how’s Maurici’s installation going?
ALBA: I’d rather not talk about it.
ALBA: It’s terrible.
GEMMA: I already signed the papers. It all seems correct. It’ll go right through. We should sell the house, don’t you think?
ALBA: It makes me sad but yes.
GEMMA: Same, of course.
GEMMA: I found a space for the office. It’s cute. I think the Japanese will like it.
ALBA: That’s great.
ALBA: How is it, living over there?
GEMMA: Very different and also very interesting.
ALBA: You’re so lucky.
ALBA: You’ve really won at life.
GEMMA: No, Alba. That’s not true.
ALBA: Oh, isn’t it?
GEMMA: This isn’t the job I really wanted.
ALBA: What’s wrong with your job?
GEMMA: You already know.
ALBA: It’s been a long time since I’ve heard anything about you.
GEMMA: Because you haven’t wanted to.
ALBA: Are you still mad at me?
GEMMA: I brought you chocolates.
ALBA: And magazines.
GEMMA: I think it’s not the time or the place.
ALBA: And when would it be the time or the place? I’d like to know why you stopped talking to me. But, if you prefer, we can talk about the weather till we get bored.
GEMMA: If you want, once you give birth, we’ll talk…
ALBA: Let’s talk now, I have all the time in the world.
GEMMA: I don’t think it is the right time for you, in your condition?
ALBA: I’m tired of how all of you talk about my condition.
GEMMA: I’m not judging you.
ALBA: I don’t know what the hell annoyed you so much. Could you tell me, please? Talk to me.
ALBA: Please. I don’t know if I’ll see you ever again after all this.
GEMMA: You already know.
ALBA: I swear I don’t.
GEMMA: My idea.
ALBA: I don’t understand, Gemma.
GEMMA: Oh, don’t you?
GEMMA: My idea… Yes, come on… that montage that you made your own… You still don’t know what I’m talking about?
GEMMA: The one you used to get this job you have now at the gallery.
ALBA: We already talked about all this, I thought that everything…
GEMMA: You talked.
GEMMA: No one had done it before, in a national art fair, and I wanted to be the first but, of course, you couldn’t allow that, right?
ALBA: It was very different…
GEMMA: No! No, it wasn’t! The original idea was the same. But it’s all gone now, because I’ll never be able to prove it. What does anyone care anyway? Who will people think copied who? Me, who’s never done anything, or you, who’s been working in the field for years?
ALBA: It was just a series of coincidences… And it ended up looking a lot like your idea, unintentionally. But it wasn’t yours, it didn’t come from you. I swear it was completely different.
GEMMA: Thanks to that you made a name for yourself.
ALBA: I have no name anymore…
GEMMA: That’s why, when I got this job in Japan, I went away, wanting to be as far as possible, to get away from ever having to see you again. You had everything I’d ever wanted. And my stomach churns every time you tell me about your fucking gallery. I thought you had changed. The other day… you looked so vulnerable.
ALBA: And is that a good thing?
GEMMA: It’s a human thing.
ALBA: To be vulnerable, Gemma, is useless.
GEMMA: You’re so wrong…
ALBA: I’d love to be wrong, I’d really love to be wrong! But that’s the way I see it. I had to work really hard to be where I am, you know? Very hard! I had to prove so many things… So many… No one’s ever given me anything for free. Get it?
GEMMA: I gave you my idea.
ALBA: You’ve achieved so much more than I ever did.
ALBA: And now everything I ever achieved is going away because I’m sick.
GEMMA: You’re not sick. You’re pregnant.
ALBA: I’m sick!
GEMMA: You’re so lucky for everything that’s happening to you and yet you…
ALBA: I’m sick! Look at me! I can’t move from this stupid bed! I can’t! And I still have a month and a half stuck in here! You must be happy, aren’t you? You should be! I have no fucking idea of what they’re doing at the gallery!
GEMMA: What do you mean?
ALBA: I didn’t want to have a baby! I didn’t! But he was so happy when I told him! Killing his baby… What was keeping me from having a child, just living life a little? Fulfilling my dreams? It would’ve been so selfish, wouldn’t it? But now? Really? Did this have to happen to me now? Right when I was about to live the most intense year of my life? Right when my professional future was at stake? And now everything is ruined. Why? Why are they keeping me here in bed when I should be taking over the world? Why?
ALBA, defeated: I’m just a piece of meat… I’m turning into mum.
GEMMA: That’s not true.
ALBA: What would you know?
GEMMA: It’s just different.
ALBA: You haven’t been here. You don’t know how it’s been. You know nothing.
GEMMA: I think it’s gross that you talk about that just now.
ALBA: Why didn’t you come back when it all started? Why did you leave me alone?
GEMMA: I couldn’t.
ALBA: I needed you and you weren’t here.
GEMMA: I couldn’t…
ALBA: And I could. I don’t regret a single thing but it was because of all that, that I couldn’t make that name for myself, as you say, because I had to take care of her all alone.
GEMMA: I didn’t have the kind of money you had…
ALBA: You could’ve done other things.
Gemma is about to start crying.
GEMMA: I helped from where I was.
ALBA: You didn’t have to help from there, you should’ve been here. You should’ve come. But you were in Japan living the good life!
GEMMA: I was working…
ALBA: Me too.
GEMMA: It’s the truth, it was hard coming here at that…
ALBA: She always asked about you… I didn’t know what to tell her!
GEMMA: Believe me, it’s the truth!
ALBA: Would you like to stay for the burial? I put a lot of effort into organizing it.
GEMMA: I’m really sorry. So sorry. You don’t know…
A tear runs down Gemma’s cheek. Long silence.
ALBA: I know.
Gemma gives her the papers.
GEMMA: I’ll pay the remaining balance… Do whatever needs to be done. I trust whatever decisions you make.
ALBA: Are you leaving again?
Gemma returns and sits besides her.
ALBA: Thank you.
GEMMA: I came back to see you because I thought that’s what she would’ve wanted.
ALBA: Yes, but if you want, we can leave it here. I give you your freedom.
GEMMA: It’s not that.
ALBA: I don’t want you to be here just because of mum, or out of pity.
GEMMA: I don’t pity you.
ALBA: I thought that, after everything, I would be the one traveling around the world.
GEMMA: You’ll do it.
ALBA: In ten years maybe.
GEMMA: Not necessarily.
ALBA: I wish I had lost him.
GEMMA: It’s your child…
ALBA: I wish he was dead. I don’t know why I didn’t take that fucking pill when I still had time… So little time until I become a mother and here I am, wishing I had lost him. And I wish it with all my heart. I don’t want anything else. And I feel so guilty but, in fact, he’s the one to blame. For everything that will never happen to me. Everything I’ll never be.
GEMMA: What do you mean?
ALBA: What I’ve been thinking for the last five months.
GEMMA: Don’t you feel any love at all?
ALBA: Everything’s different. Everything. I’m so sad… This is all I am now… A mother… A mother that has to take care of her child. Nothing else.
GEMMA: It’s not true.
ALBA: It’s done.
GEMMA: You still have the gallery. And Maurici. Carles…
ALBA: Maurici won’t have his installation. Carles has removed it from my program… It’s done.
ALBA: Play some music. I want to dance.
Gemma plays music and they begin to dance with all the energy they’ve got left. Every time Alba seems more and more worn out. It is harder and harder for her to dance. Time goes by. Lídia and Maurici work nonstop at the gallery, packing paintings ceaselessly. Alba falls to the ground, exhausted. Lídia brings a bottle of whisky and leaves it on the table. The music stops.
LÍDIA: We’ve worked enough for the day.
MAURICI: There’s still a lot to do. The programs…
LÍDIA: We’ll send them tomorrow, what do you say?
MAURICI: Yeah, maybe.
Lidia pulls out a cigarette and gives another to Maurici.
MAURICI: I thought smoking wasn’t allowed in here.
Lidia lights the cigarette.
LÍDIA: It’s true.
They look at each other and smile. He also lights the cigarette.
MAURICI: Yes, please.
Maurici’s phone rings.
LÍDIA: Aren’t you gonna get that?
MAURICI: No, it’s not work-related.
LÍDIA: Sorry, I didn’t want to…
MAURICI: It’s ok. I’m… weird.
LÍDIA: Whisky doesn’t fill the soul but it fools an empty stomach and, sometimes, that’s enough.
Lídia pours whisky. She does not get any ice in hers.
MAURICI: Good whisky.
LÍDIA: Always. Are you nervous, about the fair? There’s only a couple of days left.
LÍDIA: To the fair.
MAURICI: To the fair.
LÍDIA: How’s Alba doing? When is she due?
MAURICI: A month and one week.
LÍDIA: Time flies…
LÍDIA: Is she doing better?
MAURICI: Yeah. No, she’s not well. She’s obsessed.
LÍDIA: With the baby?
MAURICI: With that.
MAURICI: She calls me ten times a day to ask me how everything’s going. She wants to do everything herself but she can’t… She doesn’t realize… Since she’s doing complete rest… It’s getting worse. Sorry Lídia, I don’t want to…
LÍDIA: No, it’s ok. And now what?
MAURICI: I… I don’t know.
LÍDIA: We don’t have to talk about it if you don’t want to but I’m sorry that you won’t get to have your installation. I know how important it was for you. I just wanted you to know.
LÍDIA: Yeah, because I didn’t have the chance before, but… you know you’re great, really. And the installation was very risky, it had a lot of charisma.
MAURICI: Yeah, although now I just write emails about paintings… It’s not… I have resigned myself and I’ve gone on as if nothing happened, working so hard for… What for?
LÍDIA: No, I don’t think that’s true.
MAURICI: I’m just here because she’s on leave. It makes no sense to keep doing this work.
LÍDIA: No one’s essential in this world, Maurici. If you want to go, then go, we’ll manage. There’s not so much left to do now anyway. Do what you want to do when the fair’s over.
MAURICI: You’re right.
LÍDIA: But if I were you I wouldn’t let this opportunity go away.
MAURICI: Do you think that being a secretary is an opportunity?
LÍDIA: Am I not one?
MAURICI: That’s different.
LÍDIA: You’ll go to the national art fair. Do you know how many people want to be there?
MAURICI: I don’t. If my art’s not there, I don’t see…
LÍDIA: Maurici, make the most of this fair: get to know how this world works. It’s your moment. Now, believe me. Now. Seize it… Meet the ones who run and rule the art world now… Go have dinner with them, laugh, chat…
MAURICI: I don’t want to kiss anybody’s ass.
LÍDIA: It’s not about that… Just go to the places where the artists go. Be the incredible company you know how to be, the kind of person they need at those boring places. Meet the journalists, auctioneers, art directors… Everyone does that, and those who say they don’t, well they’re just lying. It’s impossible to make art when you’re no one.
MAURICI: I’m someone.
LÍDIA: But you have to be someone for them. If you do it right, you can get a lot from this. And you wouldn’t only have your art featured there, but wherever else you wanted.
Maurici’s phone rings again. He checks the caller and silences it.
MAURICI: Do you do that?
LÍDIA: Don’t see it as a failure, but as a bridge to get where you want to be.
MAURICI: I want to be a creator.
LÍDIA: If you go there and make space for yourself, you will be. Sitting at home you’ll get nothing. And, what’s more, I need my future partner by my side at the fair.
She shows him the programs.
LÍDIA: The programs have gone through many changes, it’s true. But not all of them have been negative. That’s more than being a secretary, right?
Maurici’s phone rings again.
LÍDIA: Is it…?
LÍDIA: Do you want to…?
MAURICI: It sounds as if you’re asking me out.
LÍDIA: Don’t be so arrogant! I don’t like to mix things up. That’s why I never drink whisky with ice. Partners, equals. (She motions to shake his hand.)
LÍDIA: Perfect. What can you lose, right?
MAURICI: It sounds good.
LÍDIA: We’ll be a team.
Maurici takes out another cigarette.
LÍDIA: Let’s smoke somewhere else.
MAURICI: Let’s go out.
LÍDIA: It sounds as if you’re asking me out.
MAURICI: Don’t be so arrogant!
LÍDIA: I can’t help it.
Maurici’s phone rings again. He leans on the table as he reaches for the phone, thinks twice, looks at Lídia. He leaves the phone on the table.
LÍDIA: The first one’s on me.
Lídia and Maurici exit. There’s no one left at the office. The phone rings again and again. It goes dark, slowly, while the phone continues to ring again and again…
5. Veronese Green
We can hear a baby crying. Alba is lying on a bed with Gemma by her side.
GEMMA: Everything went great. The baby’s beautiful.
ALBA: Is he?
ALBA: Where is he?
GEMMA: They’re running some tests.
ALBA: That’s bad, isn’t it?
GEMMA: It’s normal. They always run tests when a baby’s born. I had him in my arms while he was sleeping. He’s so small…
ALBA: How does he look?
GEMMA: It’s definitely not an alien.
ALBA: Then he doesn’t take after me.
GEMMA: It’s just preventive, but everything looks fine. Weight is stable, his lungs are mature… He’s fine.
ALBA: Are you sure? I was so scared… There was so much…
ALBA: Can I see him?
ALBA: I didn’t imagine it would be like this. I thought… I don’t know… I’m…
GEMMA: It’s ok.
ALBA: And Maurici? Where is he?
GEMMA: He’s downstairs with the baby… He arrived a while ago.
ALBA: I want to see him…
GEMMA: Get some rest.
GEMMA: Alba… Don’t worry about anything. I’m here. For real this time.
MAURICI: Alba! Finally! Finally… How are you?
ALBA: Everything’s fine.
MAURICI: Forgive me, forgive me… I forgot my phone…
GEMMA: I’ll be outside.
MAURICI: I’m so sorry. Forgive me…
MAURICI: Are you ok?
MAURICI: Do you need anything?
ALBA: Everything’s under control.
MAURICI: I’ll never forgive myself.
ALBA: You’re here now, everything’s ok.
They look at each other.
ALBA: Everything’s ok.
MAURICI: Thank you.
MAURICI: Alba… You look so beautiful.
ALBA: What do you mean?
MAURICI: Very beautiful. Glowing!
Maurici kisses Alba’s lips.
MAURICI: Want to go meet our child?
ALBA: I’d love to.
6. Pearl Grey
Gemma enters with a basket. She puts some clothes inside and starts tidying up. The table is full of chocolate boxes. Gemma looks at them but does not take any. She goes on tidying up more rapidly. Alba enters.
ALBA: We leave tomorrow! Tomorrow! Tomorrow!
GEMMA: Alba, please, you have walked too much already…
ALBA: Too many hours left until tomorrow. Did you get it?
Gemma takes out a box of cigarettes. Alba is about to light one up.
GEMMA: What are you doing?
ALBA: I’ll go in the bathroom.
ALBA: Why are you so boring? I’ll go downstairs.
Gemma takes the cigarette from her.
ALBA: Then why did you bring them?
Alba lies on the bed.
ALBA: Tomorrow. Always tomorrow… And… what is it that I can do now?
GEMMA: You can eat chocolates.
ALBA: I’m fat enough. And you know it.
GEMMA: It’s been only two days since you gave birth!
ALBA: Then, all the more reason. And when the hell will this shit go away? I’m gonna buy a girdle. How much do you weigh?
GEMMA: I’m gonna go get some diapers, there’s none in the baby care package they gave you.
GEMMA: Look who’s here.
Maurici comes in with a bag. Gemma exits.
ALBA: Tomorrow I’ll be free!
ALBA: I’m feeling great.
MAURICI: I can see that.
ALBA: I’m so happy! So happy!
MAURICI: Me too.
ALBA: I’m so happy…
MAURICI: Thank you, Alba, for everything.
ALBA: No, thank you Maurici. Without you… Thank you.
MAURICI: I love you.
ALBA: Me too. Tomorrow. Finally… finally…
ALBA: I’ll finally be able to go to the fair.
ALBA: I’ll finally be able to go to the fair! Thanks for everything. Since all this happened sooner than expected, I’m ready to go! You don’t need to carry all the responsibility! I can do it on my own. Thank you, without you…
MAURICI: What do you mean?
ALBA: Now that the baby’s born, I can go back to work at the gallery, and fix…
MAURICI: This is just unbelievable. You just went through all this, and yet… The baby’s very premature.
ALBA: But he’s fine.
MAURICI: Alba, we can’t go on doing everything the way we did before.
ALBA: What do you mean?
MAURICI: We have a newborn now.
ALBA: Yes, two days ago.
MAURICI: It’s not right.
ALBA: But you plan to go, don’t you?
MAURICI: It’s different.
MAURICI: You’re on leave, don’t you get it?
ALBA: I’m fine.
MAURICI: No, you’re not.
ALBA: So you mean that I shouldn’t…
MAURICI: Think about the fair?
ALBA: The fair is in ten days. The fair needs me now!
MAURICI: You need the fair.
ALBA: Maybe, yes.
MAURICI: And doesn’t your baby need you?
ALBA: Doesn’t he have a father, my baby?
MAURICI: And he’ll always have one.
ALBA: These days are vital for the fair.
MAURICI: And for our baby too.
ALBA: I want to be someone!
MAURICI: He’s a newborn…
ALBA: If I were pregnant and in danger I wouldn’t have gone! Isn’t that what I’ve been doing until now? I’ve been in complete rest for so long, now I need…
MAURICI: Yes, but… I don’t think it’s right.
ALBA: Did I ask your permission?
MAURICI: You’re not totally recovered.
ALBA: Don’t worry, I can assure you that…
MAURICI: I should be the one to go.
MAURICI: That’s it, isn’t it? We’ve helped Alba so far and now Maurici can go to hell, right?
MAURICI: That’s how I feel.
ALBA: This has nothing to do with you…
MAURICI: Thank you. Thank you very much.
ALBA: I want to show Carles that I’m ready to be an art director. That’s all… Then I’ll come back. It’s only a few days…
MAURICI: What do you mean, art director?
ALBA: What do you mean?
MAURICI: I’m gonna go see the baby.
Alba gets up to go with him.
MAURICI: I want to be alone.
Alba stays, alone. She sits on the bed. She sees Maurici’s bag and opens it taking the programs that are inside. She reads them.
ALBA: That bitch…
LÍDIA, (offstage): Hello! May I come in?
Alba puts the programs away.
LÍDIA: Hello honey! How are you?
Lídia kisses her on the cheeks. She gives Alba a box of chocolates and some flowers.
LÍDIA: Do you like them?
ALBA: I love them.
LÍDIA: You’re not lactose intolerant, are you?
LÍDIA: Gestational diabetes?
ALBA: No. And I’m not pregnant anymore.
LÍDIA: Great. Where is Maurici?
ALBA: With the baby.
LÍDIA: He’s so cute… Flowers always bring some joy, don’t they? They’re lively.
ALBA: Here, anything brings joy.
LÍDIA: And is everything ok?
LÍDIA: And you, how are you?
LÍDIA: It was awful, wasn’t it?
LÍDIA: Does it hurt?
Lídia points at her belly.
ALBA: Well, they just got the baby out.
LÍDIA: But you look wonderful.
ALBA: Yes, I do look great, yes.
LÍDIA: Then look, speaking about that. The other day I thought about you.
LÍDIA: Yes. I went to pilates and I saw that there’s a course of post-partum yoga, pelvic exercises and all that…
ALBA: Yes, I know what it is.
LÍDIA: I wanted to give you a gift, but something that’s for you, not for the baby. For you. The course is in the mornings.
ALBA: Don’t worry, Lídia.
LÍDIA: Oh, it’s nothing, really. I wanted to ask you because I’ve heard that the body recovers quicker with that kind of exercise. You know… Although I don’t think that’s you case, but some help is always welcome.
ALBA: It’s not necessary.
LÍDIA: Do you have Chinese balls?
LÍDIA: They’re great, vaginal exercise.
ALBA: I just had a C-section.
LÍDIA: Ah, of course. Then, crunches. (Small pause.) Do you mind if I use the bathroom? I’m on my period.
ALBA: That door.
LÍDIA: Thank you.
Lídia goes to the bathroom. When she comes back, Alba shows her the programs. She’s taken aback.
LÍDIA: Did Maurici show you?
ALBA: I found them on my own.
LÍDIA: Do you like them?
ALBA: They look a lot like last year’s, don’t you think?
LÍDIA: Sort of, yes. Well, I’ll let you rest. You must be exhausted…
ALBA: Not at all.
LÍDIA: Oh, no?
ALBA: I’m great. And you, are you tired?
LÍDIA: Why would I?
LÍDIA: Say goodbye to Maurici for me. It suits you, being a mother.
ALBA: Changes are always good, don’t you think?
LÍDIA: It depends.
ALBA: And how does it suit you being art director for the fair?
LÍDIA: Co-director. It’s different. Don’t you think?
ALBA: Very different.
LÍDIA: Maurici is a man with a lot of initiative, a risk-taker.
ALBA: He certainly is.
LÍDIA: You’re so lucky to have him by your side.
ALBA: And you too.
LÍDIA: Associates help each other out, wouldn’t you agree?
ALBA: And those who aren’t, what do they do?
LÍDIA: They don’t help each other.
ALBA: Whose idea was it? Yours or his?
LÍDIA: What do you mean?
ALBA: Who wrote me as Assistant Art Director? Was it you or him?
ALBA: I don’t believe you. He wouldn’t…
LÍDIA: Alba, this year you’ve been on leave for a long time, don’t you agree?
ALBA: I was on leave, yes, but…
LÍDIA: But? I don’t know why it is so hard for you to understand…
ALBA: It’s not what you think.
LÍDIA: If we’re being fair, I think that what’s undeniable is that Maurici and I have been the ones really taking care of the show. And, honestly, during this time… no…
LÍDIA: You have not been professional. I’m sorry to have to say it.
ALBA: What do you mean?
LÍDIA: You mixed the personal with work-related things and, eventually, Carles and I decided to include Maurici’s installation.
ALBA: Since when do you get to make decisions in the gallery?
LÍDIA: Someone has to do it.
ALBA: Maybe I was wrong. But I don’t get why you would want to make him your associate.
LÍDIA: He’s not a great artist…but he’s knowledgeable and committed. He was a great substitute and, really, Alba, I’m really sorry, don’t take it the wrong way…
ALBA: And how do you want me to take it?
LÍDIA: This year Maurici and I deserve acknowledgement for all our hard work. Next year, we’ll see. Carles has decided to leave the gallery when all of this is over. We’ll be three associates. You’ve always been great with logistics.
ALBA: No one asked me if I wanted to be your associate.
LÍDIA: Maurici and I want to be associates. If you want to work with us, you’ll have to be one too.
ALBA: You’ve never done half of what I do at the gallery.
LÍDIA: And what does that matter?
ALBA: You’ve done great, Lídia, congratulations.
LÍDIA: I think we could be great colleagues.
ALBA: I’ll talk to Carles. The job you’ve taken over was supposed to be mine.
LÍDIA: Talk to him. He thought it was a wonderful idea, the three of us working together.
ALBA: Since when…?
LÍDIA: What’s wrong with Maurici being co-director? He’s your partner; won’t your family benefit from it? I thought you’d be happy.
ALBA: That was my job, mine! He was just supposed to help while…
LÍDIA: Why should we all have jeopardized our positions when we could all win?It’s ridiculous! I kept you in mind, didn’t I?
ALBA: Logistically speaking, right?
LÍDIA: Making Maurici part of the gallery is a guarantee measure for our future. The way things are going, if they had to choose between you and me, I would be the best option: I present more positive traits… I have more availability, more freedom and more time. But Carles couldn’t just leave you out, you two go back a ways… But leaving the gallery to the three of us… That’s different. We need each other. Think about it, now you’ll be very busy with the baby, won’t you? Everything will be different. You’ll be on leave for a few months, you will lose the rhythm of the work, too many changes… Alba… You have to look after yourself. These months are key for the gallery. If the baby gets sick, what will you do? Who will take him to the doctor? If you work with us, you can take a day off whenever you want, or you can go part-time. Balancing work and family life won’t be a problem.
ALBA: You have everything planned out, don’t you?
LÍDIA: Not every woman gets such perks. You’re lucky. Do you know how many women would want to be in your position?
ALBA: Would you want to?
LÍDIA: I won’t have that problem.
MAURICI: Lídia! You came…
MAURICI: Want to go see the baby?
LÍDIA: Another day, I have to go now.
MAURICI: It’ll just take a minute.
LÍDIA: No, thanks.
MAURICI: Oh, come on! I want you to see my baby.
LÍDIA: Tomorrow, ok?
MAURICI: But why? Are you in a hurry?
ALBA, interrupting the conversation: Maurici, Lídia and I have been talking.
MAURICI: I wanted to tell you when we were back home. When you were back on your feet.
LÍDIA: Well, I think it’s best if I…
LÍDIA (to Alba): Congratulations. It suits you, being a mother.
Lídia exits. Silence.
ALBA: Why did you hide this from me?
MAURICI: I thought you’d be happy…
ALBA: Being your assistant?
MAURICI: That we’ll all be running the gallery together.
ALBA: You’ve made a fool of me!
MAURICI: It’s just temporary, next year…
ALBA: Next year? Come on!
MAURICI: Of course, next year!
ALBA: Do you really believe that shit? Please!
MAURICI: What did you want me to do? Let Lídia get it all?
ALBA: Or let me get it all, right?
MAURICI: With you, would I have been an associate?
ALBA: You’ll never know now.
MAURICI: You’ll only be an assistant once Carles leaves…
ALBA: And is that a good thing?
MAURICI: Being associates is better than being enemies.
ALBA: So everything is settled then.
MAURICI: You’re ruining everything, Alba!
ALBA: And I said that I wanted to be the new art director…
MAURICI: What did you want me to do?
ALBA: Nothing. That is precisely what you had to do. You did not have to make any decisions. It should’ve been me, do you hear me?
MAURICI: I’m just as qualified as you are.
ALBA: I see that. Everything’s gone to shit now. Everything.
MAURICI: This way we make sure we don’t lose our place.
ALBA: I’ve lost mine.
MAURICI: Nonsense. We’re a team Alba! We’re all equals this way. In the end, it is an advantage, because we’re two…Get it?
ALBA: It’s the same thing again.
ALBA: Why did I do it?
MAURICI: What are you talking about?
ALBA: I did it for you.
ALBA: Just because you wanted to. I never wanted it. You fooled me into it…
ALBA: You made such a fool of me…
MAURICI: When? Alba, when did I fool you?
Alba says nothing.
MAURICI: It’s always the same. You never value my efforts. You’ve been so ungrateful all this time… Do you even know everything I’ve done so that you wouldn’t lose your job at the gallery? It’s been so hard, all these months…
ALBA: That night.
MAURICI: What are you talking about?
ALBA: You fooled me that night. I needed you to tell me the truth… But no. I didn’t know…Shit.
MAURICI: I don’t know what you’re talking about. Which night? Which one?!
ALBA: The night that I smoked a whole box of cigarettes and gulped down three gin and tonics. The night that I hit my belly with all the strength I had. The night that I went and got a bunch of cash to hit the clinic the next day. The night that I realized that no, I wasn’t ready to be a mother. The night… that I decided to have a baby with you.
MAURICI: Did you do all that?
ALBA: I knew that if I didn’t make the decision to leave all this madness behind, my life would be different… And there you were. I had it all figured out. I just had to make the decision, I just had to do it. My breath stank wonderfully. And then you looked at me and I saw it. You took me by the hands. Everything was so fragile… You told me that you’d always be there for our child, that you’d help me through the pregnancy, that we’d be a team, the two of us. You wouldn’t leave me alone. Two equals, no differences between us. I could hear the silence, but like a real silence, you know? And when I looked you in the eyes… No. Then I just threw the cigarettes in a drawer… And then… No.
MAURICI: Why didn’t you tell me any of this?
ALBA: I was scared.
MAURICI: But I helped you, didn’t I?
ALBA: I thought you did, but not really.
MAURICI: How can you say that…
ALBA: Only when you benefited from it. You’ve used me to become stronger. Accept it!
MAURICI: If I’ve become stronger is just because I’ve achieved it myself. Don’t you think?
ALBA: You never wanted to do it, for real. You’ll never do it.
MAURICI: Yes, yes I will.
ALBA: I’d like to believe you.
MAURICI: Believe it.
ALBA: I want to be the one to go to the fair.
MAURICI: And that way, would I have helped you?
They stare at each other.
MAURICI: Ambition is getting the best of you. How can you ask me that? You’re crazy.
MAURICI: Because, at this point, it’s just stupid.
ALBA: It is. I’m certain it is.
MAURICI: There are only 8 days left.
ALBA: I’ll be discharged tomorrow.
MAURICI: And the baby?
ALBA: You take care of him. You’re his father. You will be as much help as I would.
MAURICI: Service? Don’t you feel… anything? A baby has to be with his mother, and even more now, when he needs you more than ever. Nature has it that way, it’s not my fault, you know? I can’t breastfeed him.
ALBA: There’re many babies that don’t breastfeed.
MAURICI: You’re not going to breastfeed him?
ALBA: I already told you.
MAURICI: But what did you think all this was about, being a mother?
ALBA: You knew what kind of mother you were having this child with. Don’t force me to be something I’m not.
MAURICI: I don’t recognize you, Alba.
ALBA: Whereas I recognize myself more and more.
MAURICI: You’ve also fooled me then. You told me you’ll be a mother to this child and you’re just a selfish bitch!
ALBA: You’re right.
MAURICI: Go to hell! Can’t we speak like two adults?
ALBA: We’re not adults.
ALBA: What can I teach that child, I, who know nothing?
ALBA: Go, Maurici.
MAURICI: Are you talking about the fair?
MAURICI: How’re those related? Is this some kind of trap?
MAURICI: You’re strange, Alba.
ALBA: Go, Maurici. Go. Go and be who everyone needs you to be. Make a name for yourself. Enjoy every single moment life is giving you. And when you’ve done it all, return triumphant to your office. Quietly, feel the chair under your hips, the smell the paintings. Make the most of every sensation, moment after moment. And one day, a day just like any other, sooner or later, you’ll get sick, you’ll go on leave, or maybe you’ll just grow old. Any excuse will do. It might be only for a few days, or maybe after a more reasonable time…You’ll turn off the lamp as you leave the office. And after doing that, when you’re not there anymore, someone will take care of everything for you. But they will take care of things just so that you disappear, go away. Now go. Go.
MAURICI: I’ll come back tomorrow. I love you.
ALBA: Good bye, Maurici.
Maurici kisses Alba. He grabs his things and exits. Alba is left alone, thinking. She takes off her ring and leaves it on the bedside table. After a while, Gemma enters.
GEMMA: And Maurici, where is he?
ALBA: He’ll come back tomorrow.
GEMMA: Here are the diapers. You want them in the baby care bag?
ALBA: Yes. Do you have everything?
GEMMA: Listen, I’ve been talking with the midwife and everything seems to be going perfectly normal. She says you shouldn’t worry if you have no milk right now, it is normal after the c-section. (Alba laughs to herself.) She’ll come up to show you a couple of things so that you can breastfeed the baby… She’ll teach you how to hold him so that you don’t hurt yourself with the wound and all. It seems that is not as easy as… Are you listening to me?
GEMMA: There are many different ways you can nurse… It’s amazing.
GEMMA: She’ll be ready in a moment and she’ll come upstairs. Is that ok?
GEMMA: Do you have a nursing pillow?
GEMMA: Are you ok?
Alba gets up and puts on a robe.
GEMMA: Do you wanna use the bathroom? I’ll help you.
ALBA: I can do it.
Alba looks out the window.
ALBA: Tomorrow will be a great day.
ALBA: One of those days in which silence is real.
GEMMA: Did something happen?
ALBA: No, nothing happened.
GEMMA: The midwife will be here any minute.
Alba motions to leave the room. Gemma gestures to go with her.
GEMMA: Alba, what are you doing? You’ve walked enough already…
ALBA: You stay here. Do it. Please.
ALBA: Please. I want to be on my own. Can you stay?
ALBA: Thank you.
Gemma and Alba stare at each other. Alba leaves.
GEMMA: But…where are you going?
GEMMA: Are you gonna go see the baby? Alba? Alba?…
Gemma stays looking out the door as Alba leaves. A baby cries in the distance. Gemma comes back in and sits on the bed. She sees the ring on the bedside table and the baby care package. A baby cries in the room next door. The baby cries shyly and from afar at the beginning, we can barely hear him. But this crying, small and insecure becomes, little by little, stronger, even savage. The crying is vital, solid, demanding. Its sound is disturbing, raucous, full of life.