By Olga Ezhova
Translated by Fiona Bell
Volume 8, Number 3 (Spring 2021)
Olga Ezhova is fascinated by the violence that can develop from radical iterations of a political ideology. In Sisters, this Russian playwright turns her focus to trans-exclusionary radical feminism. The play’s three protagonists—members of RadFem—journey through trash dumps and forests to reach the princess. The plot is structured around three encounters with allegorical male figures (the Psycho, the Scientist, and the Boy), but the true conflict is the unsettled relationships between the women themselves. Even during the snappy dialogue, Ezhova hints at the immense hurt propelling each character’s violent radicalism. Ultimately, each woman’s personal desires take precedence over the sisterhood’s collective mission, and we see how selfishness prompts cruelty in people of every gender.
Ezhova spent months following Russian radical feminist chat boards to research the group’s beliefs and lexicon. By exploring this corrupted form of feminism (with which many feminists are loath to share a name), Ezhova asks questions of the broader movement that many of us tend to ignore, for fear of jeopardizing it. In so doing, Ezhova challenges the prevailing view of Russia as a reluctant latecomer to feminism.
One of Ezhova’s feats here is the creation of a new radical feminist lexicon. The protagonists use feminized nouns, like “liudini” instead of “liudi” (“people”). I assume Ezhova made this neologism by tacking on the Sanskrit feminine suffix “inī,” but the English “people” doesn’t offer up a similarly elegant variation. Also difficult is the diverse range of attitudes towards gendered nouns in feminist movements around the world. American feminists have largely rejected these (we say “waiter” and “actor” for people of every gender, instead of “waitress” or “actress”). In the play, the characters’ insistence on feminized language comes off as regressive to a contemporary American feminist’s ear. I’ve translated it as “peoplesses” instead of “people.”
Even more difficult was Ezhova’s lexicon of slurs for men: “kun” (n.) “kuets-molodets” (n.) “kuemraz’” (n.), and “kueobraznyi” (adj.). She developed all these “ku” root words from the Japanese word “kun,” which is a diminutive form of “man.” But Ezhova also notes that these terms hint at the Russian word “khui,” (“prick”) which is sometimes even pronounced with a “k” instead of a “kh” sound in certain dialects.
I didn’t want to transliterate the Japanese “kun” because in performance it might sound like the American racial slur “coon.” And, besides, I thought it would be better to find a word that hints at an already existing derogatory English-language word. I thought of “pigs,” but in a play with a fairytale-like blurring of the animal and human, I decided it would confuse.
A friend suggested that I relate the word to the male body, so I thought of “scrotes.” But that made me laugh, ruining the sinister sound of the one-syllable, etymologically ambiguous “kun.” I wanted something cultish and creepy. Another friend reminded me that Ezhova took a word from Japanese, so I could, in turn, take a word from Russian and continue the chain of foreign-language neologisms.
I thought again about why “kun” worked so well—it was its kinship to the Russian “khui.” I finally decided that “hoon” mimicked the sound well, combining the Japanese and its Russian shadow. Then I realized that “hoon” is an Australian slang term for a reckless male driver. Though the sisters use “kun” to refer to men in general (rather than badly-behaved men), I was pleased with this word’s gendered, derogative history. Since my translation is in American English, I hope that “hoon” is strange enough to unsettle an audience of American-English readers.
Olga Ezhova (b. 1986) is a playwright from Saint Petersburg, Russia. Her satire, Sisters, was featured at the 2019 Lyubimovka Festival for Young Playwrights. She has written several other one-act comedies and plays.
Fiona Bell is a literary translator and scholar of Russophone literature. Her translation of Natalia Meshchaninova’s Stories received a 2020 PEN/Heim Translation Fund Grant. She is a PhD student in Slavic Languages and Literatures at Yale University.
Translated by Fiona Bell
Cast of characters:
1. At the Landfill
Manana, Lana, and Heron, on different sides of the trash piles, stare at a spot in the sky.
LANA: This is how Apocalypse Now started, remember?
HERON: I was just about to say that.
They listen as the sound of helicopters grows louder.
MANANA: They’re here for the princess.
LANA: What do you think? Bringing her presents?
MANANA: No. I think they’re security. Not for her, of course.
HERON: As if anything in this world was ever done for women’s safety.
LANA: We’re gonna do something for it, Heron. Right now.
MANANA: Now and for the rest of our lives.
HERON (shouting over the helicopters): “I want to see a man beaten to a bloody pulp with a high-heel shoved in his mouth, like an apple in the mouth of a pig!”
MANANA: Stop it. Don’t attract attention.
HERON (runs after the helicopters): Motherhood isn’t a privilege! Motherhood isn’t a woman’s obligation! Stop your lies!
LANA: Heron, don’t stoop to their level. Don’t engage with people who aren’t worth it.
HERON: Well, who’s worth it?
MANANA: In any case, sisters, this place is full of food, so we can fix ourselves a nice dinner before sundown. I propose we sleep here.
HERON: Ew, there are rats here.
LANA: You know, there are things even more disgusting than rats.
MANANA: In fact, compared to hoons, rats are harmless and sweet.
LANA: Well said, Manana.
Manana, Lana, and Heron wander around the trash heaps gathering food.
MANANA: Let me remind you, sisters, of the main commandments of our journey. Due to the numerous particularities of our situation, violations of these rules can lead to either a temporary boycott, or expulsion from our sisterhood, and also expulsion from the communities of the RadFem paradigm. Do you hear me, Heron?
HERON: Yes, Manana.
MANANA: Good. In that case, rule number one. We don’t talk to anyone. We don’t volunteer our voices. We don’t offer help and we don’t accept it.
HERON: That was a helicopter, though! It doesn’t count.
MANANA: It counts. But since it’s the first time, I’ll let you off with a warning. Give it some thought. If that’s not enough, give it some more thought. Reflect.
HERON: Huh, I guess that was pretty stupid of me…
MANANA: You understand now — that’s what matters. Rule number two. Woman to woman, we don’t insult each other, we aren’t rude, we don’t speak sarcastically, ironically, or in a backhanded manner. We don’t pick fights with each other, we don’t devalue each other, we don’t twist each other’s words unfairly. We do not justify or defend the patriarchy, sexism, or misogyny.
LANA: Thank you, Manana, for reminding us of such obvious yet important things.
MANANA: Rule number three…
The Psycho appears. The girls fall silent. Pause.
PSYCHO: Happy Birth Day!
Manana, Lana, and Heron make to leave.
No, don’t leave! Please… Wait… Stop… I won’t hurt you!
MANANA: Heron, could you get a move on? We have to go.
PSYCHO (grabbing Heron’s hand): Your name is Heron? Don’t be afraid.
LANA: Hey, let go of her.
HERON: I have to go.
PSYCHO: Stay and talk with me, please. Let’s just talk. They can go.
HERON: I’m sorry…
PSYCHO: No, you don’t get it. I haven’t eaten or slept, I’m afraid of everything.
HERON: That’s not my problem.
LANA (to Manana): Are you just gonna stand there?
PSYCHO: Heron, look at me. I won’t hurt you.
HERON: Let go of me, please. This is making me uncomfortable.
PSYCHO: What are you all so scared of? Am I scary? (Laughs.) I’m sweet, very sweet!
LANA (to Manana): Why aren’t you saying anything? Manana!
PSYCHO: His sweet little hands, his sweet little feet… so tiny. Why don’t I kiss the bump? A kiss would make me feel better. And you won’t run away anymore. He stopped growing when you left. Not an inch bigger.
HERON: I don’t understand what you’re talking about. I’m sorry.
LANA: Listen, dipshit. You’ve obviously got a screw loose. You need to see a shrink.
Pause. The Psycho laughs.
PSYCHO: It’s all happening again.
HERON: What do you want from me?
PSYCHO: Let’s go home. He’s not growing at all, you know. And he smells bad.
HERON: Who is “he”?
PSYCHO: Our little guy. Our son. What’s with you, honey? You were giving him a bath, remember?
HERON: You’re confusing me with someone else. I’m Heron, not your wife… or whoever she was to you.
LANA: Listen freak, who gave who a bath?
PSYCHO: This one here. My wife. She was giving our son a bath. And he drowned.
HERON: I’m so sorry.
PSYCHO: Really? Cause I think you killed him on purpose.
The Psycho starts hitting Heron.
LANA: Don’t touch her!
HERON: Fuck, he knocked out my tooth!
Heron breaks loose and hides behind Lana.
PSYCHO: She left, she ran away! And he was just lying there, all red.
HERON: That wasn’t me, asshole! This is the first time I’ve ever seen you!
LANA: How can you hit a woman! She’s weaker than you!
PSYCHO: You shouldn’t have left. You shouldn’t’ve. The bathwater went cold. Why did you do it?
I pulled him out, warmed him up. Rubbed his little feet, his little hands. A long time I rubbed him. I wrapped him in a blanket. Sat there, rocked him.
HERON: Well, fuck…
PSYCHO: And now look at me. This isn’t something you get over. People don’t do that.
HERON (to Lana): Do you think he’ll do something to himself now?
LANA: If he doesn’t, I will… Does it hurt?
HERON: No, it tickles. I just had my tooth knocked out!
PSYCHO: I’ve tried sleeping, but it all comes back in my dreams, you putting him underwater. He looks so happy there, underwater. I mean, he doesn’t understand what’s going on. And I’m watching this happen, but I can’t do anything, it’s like I’m glued to the spot. Tongue tied.
The Psycho lies down on a pile of garbage.
I can’t eat because I don’t understand — I mean, how could this happen? Me eating, and he’ll never eat again. He’ll lie there cold. He’ll never grow. He’ll never make another sound.
I wanted to warm him up. I thought — well, maybe that’s how kids look when they’re really cold. I thought he’d wake up. And that you hadn’t really left us. That you’d just gone out to get a onesie.
HERON: Who are you telling this story to, hoon?
PSYCHO: Or a towel.
(To Lana) Throw something at him.
Lana pokes the Psycho with a stick.
Is he sleeping or something?
LANA: I mean, his eyes are open.
MANANA: He’s dead.
LANA: What do you mean, dead? Hey, scumbag, get up, wiggle your hooves!
HERON: For fuck’s sake! He couldn’t have died before knocking out my tooth?
LANA (kicks the Psycho): Hey, get up! What do you think you’re doing lying down? This death is too easy! No fair!
MANANA: His heart probably gave out.
LANA (crying): Get up, get up right now! You drove a poor woman to kill a child! You have to answer for this!
HERON: How do you know? Maybe it was an accident.
LANA: Remember, Heron, when it comes to hoons, there are no accidents. Even if he didn’t do anything physical, like raping or beating her, then he drove her to the edge psychologically. Tell her, Manana.
MANANA: Of course, Lana’s right.
LANA: You don’t get an easy death. You deserve to suffer. We have to do something. We could dismember him somehow.
HERON: Lana, what the hell? Leave him alone. Let’s go. He’s dead. That’s good enough.
LANA: I can’t. He should’ve died some other way.
HERON: He’s already suffered enough!
I mean, he was obviously sick. Come on, seriously.
MANANA: Heron, do I need to repeat the second rule?
HERON: That’s not what I meant. I’m not defending him. But come on, clearly he’s out of his fucking mind.
MANANA: That doesn’t excuse the fact that he knocked out your tooth. And drove a poor woman to murder. However, I must admit, the fact it was a boy who was killed somewhat ameliorates the situation.
HERON: Fine. Maybe that’s true.
LANA: I could set fire to his body.
MANANA: You could kill him again.
MANANA: He’s already dead — you won’t actually have his blood on your hands. But it’s your duty to stand up for your friend.
LANA: I could strangle him.
MANANA: If that will make you feel better—more peaceful, joyful—then of course, go ahead.
HERON: He’s already dead, Lana. This is disgusting.
Manana plays with the Psycho’s corpse.
MANANA: Hey pumpkin, why so quiet? Cat got your tongue?
LANA: Heron, you can be so weird sometimes.
HERON: Fine, do whatever you want.
LANA: You’re the one whose tooth he knocked out—it’s up to you.
HERON: I’m just happy he’s dead.
MANANA: How much longer is this gonna take?
LANA: Okay, I got it. Let him die like his son.
MANANA: Let’s find a washbasin.
Lana finds a basin or a bucket in a trash pile. They fill it with water.
LANA: All right, asshole, go forth to your scum-son! Let us perform the ablutions, for the good of the matriarchy!
The girls undress the Psycho and put his face in the basin.
That’s more like it.
HERON: Now can we leave?
MANANA: Lana, have you finished your Gestalt therapy?
LANA: I feel fantastic!
MANANA: Then let’s go, sisters.
LANA: Herrie, your tooth!
HERON: Just leave it…
2. On the Road
Manana, Heron, and Lana eat a snack on the side of the road.
LANA: So many mosquitoes. Manana, can I ask you a dumb question?
MANANA: Of course. And don’t call yourself dumb. Remember, we don’t put ourselves down.
LANA: Why didn’t you stand up for Heron when that chimp-man-zee grabbed her?
MANANA: Personal safety.
LANA: Uh huh…
What do you mean by that?
MANANA: I mean just that. I won’t put my life or my health in danger.
LANA: Damn… and what if Heron had been killed?
HERON: Why are you bothering her? I don’t understand what the fuck you’re talking about.
HERON: Fuck you.
LANA: What’s going on?
HERON: I don’t really get how, but you’re picking a fight with me.
LANA: I didn’t even say anything to you.
Heron, I’m sorry if I provoked you.
HERON: Sometimes I feel like you’re just pretending to be a woman. And you’re actually just a horny piece of shit.
LANA: You cut me off.
LANA: You cut me off when I was talking about that asshole.
LANA: What if he was telling the truth? What if you really are his former wife?
HERON (mimicking her): What if you really are a piece of shit?
LANA: What if he wasn’t a psycho after all?
HERON: I’ve never been with a man. I mean, I’m a virgin.
LANA: Yeah, you tell everyone that.
HERON: Do you want proof?
MANANA: Sisters, this is your second warning.
HERON: Great. (To Lana) If I get blacklisted, it’ll be your fault.
LANA: It’s about time we boycotted you.
HERON: I heard how you laughed at my missing tooth.
LANA: Heron, it’s not like that.
HERON: Yes it fucking is! That’s exactly what people say when it is like that. With that exact smirk!
LANA: I wasn’t laughing at you.
HERON: Yes, you were. And now you’re falsely accusing me of lying.
MANANA (scratching her leg): Sisters, stop this fighting. Otherwise I will declare a boycott on you both.
Lana and Heron stand frozen, watching Manana scratch her leg.
LANA: Manana, excuse me, please, but… what the fuck?
HERON: What the fuck, Manana? What’s on your leg?
MANANA: Oh. It’s a… trophy.
HERON: A bracelet?
LANA: Look, it’s a men’s bracelet.
HERON: Is that the Psycho’s?
MANANA: Yes. But I wasn’t wearing it as jewelry. I’m telling you, it’s a trophy.
HERON: So, basically for yourself?
LANA: Manana, what are you talking about?
MANANA: It’s just a bracelet.
LANA: No, it’s not just a bracelet. It’s jewelry.
HERON: Plus, it’s uncomfortable and heavy.
MANANA: No, it’s not that heavy.
HERON: Sisters don’t lie to each other.
MANANA: I’m not going to justify myself.
HERON: Lana, what is our stance on any and all beauty practices?
LANA: They’re an addiction. You have to get clean.
MANANA: I’m not addicted to any fucking jewelry!
HERON: Lana, we should check her stuff. Look in her backpack to see if there’s anything else.
MANANA: Heron, don’t you trust me?
HERON: Give Lana your backpack.
MANANA: I’m not going to do that. And if you insist, then I’ll have you expelled from the sisterhood. Do you understand? This is serious.
HERON: I get it…
Pause. Lana grabs Manana, Heron rifles through her backpack.
Well, what do we have here? Aha… (She pulls out a bead necklace) Manana, is this yours?
MANANA: I don’t actually wear that! Lana, let go.
LANA: Quiet… (To Heron) What else?
HERON (she pulls out more jewelry): What a disgrace…
MANANA: For the love of Shulamith…
LANA (letting go of Manana): It seems to me, Manana, that we need to have a talk.
MANANA: Fine, report me.
HERON: No. No one’s going to tell on you. But you need to seriously reflect on what you’ve done.
MANANA: I wear them purely for my own pleasure.
LANA: Manana, you know better than anyone that no one does anything “purely for their own pleasure.”
MANANA: I only put them on when I’m alone. So, for my own pleasure.
HERON: You surprise me, Manana. This is genuine, grade-A patriarchy bullshit.
МАNАNА: No. I have the right to wear jewelry when I’m alone. Self-love.
LANA: We’re boycotting you, Manana.
MANANA: You can’t boycott me!
Enter the Scientest.
SCIENTIST: Happy Birth Day, girls!
LANA: Great. This is where self-sabotage gets you.
SCIENTIST (offering the girls some flowers): I heartily congratulate you on the impending birth of the heir!
LANA: That remains to be seen.
SCIENTIST: Could I trouble you for some water? I’m sorry, I heard your voices…
HERON: Why the fuck are you giving us flowers, dude?
SCIENTIST: Well, the holiday, after all… and you’re all so beautiful.
Manana, Lana and Heron look at each other, then laugh.
I’m a Scientist. I’m preparing a gift for the heir. I kind of let myself go and started working alone. I thought the deep woods would be the best place.
HERON: Are you a sex offender or something?
LANA: That’s a rhetorical question, Heron!
MANANA: I want to remind you, sisters…
LANA: And I want to remind you that you’re under boycott.
HERON: What kind of gift, Dr. Sex Offender?
SCIENTIST: Hard to say… Basically, imagine an enormous capsule, plowing through space.
SCIENTIST: A spaceship. Or a space plane. We can fly to different planets, land on the moon, see other worlds… a giant leap for mankind.
LANA: Okay. So just another piece of crap built to compensate for a small dick.
HERON: Nothing, gramps, continue.
SCIENTIST: Everything is nearly ready. The only thing I haven’t calculated is the food and water provisions.
HERON: Watch out, we’ve got a professional over here.
LANA: Listen, dude, do you understand that by giving women flowers, you’re highlighting your own masculine gendered socialization?
HERON: Stop bullshitting us, why don’t you go beg from your colleagues.
LANA: Chill out Heron, let’s have some fun with this.
SCIENTIST: I don’t understand.
MANANA: We don’t have anything.
LANA: Boycott! No talking!
HERON: We’ll give you some water, grandpa.
MANANA: Heron, how come you’re always so ready to fly the sisterhood’s coop?
LANA (to Manana): Shhh! (To the scientist) If you apologize, of course.
HERON: Hey, man, are you really a scientist? You’re a little slow on the uptake.
SCIENTIST: I just don’t understand what happened.
LANA: Benevolent sexism isn’t admissible.
SCIENTIST: I must’ve done something wrong.
HERON: You were trying to bribe us, dude.
LANA: Those flowers of his were grown on the grave of the patriarchy.
HERON: We don’t need to be reminded yet again of our place and social standing.
LANA: “Sit still, be sweet and pretty.”
HERON: Don’t make us feel like we’re weak and helpless.
LANA: I mean, we understand the purpose of all this emotional pressure.
SCIENTIST: Oh my God… what is the purpose?
LANA: Look at him, all wide-eyed.
HERON: Poor little man. They all act like this when they’re confronted.
SCIENTIST: I just wanted some water.
LANA: You didn’t want to sleep with us?
HERON: You weren’t looking for some free emotional, romantic labor in exchange for that stinky bouquet?
LANA: You didn’t want to make the acquaintance of three women?
SCIENTIST: I was preparing a gift for the heir… I’m a scientist… I’m not against social interaction, but I haven’t finished my project yet…
HERON: He’s not against social interaction.
SCIENTIST: I don’t know what about me put all these ideas into your heads, but I’m truly sorry. Please excuse me. I don’t need any water. I’ll go into town and buy some there.
LANA: For Shulamith’s sake…
HERON: Manipulation, Lana! Pure, distilled, and bottled manipulation.
LANA: What was this whole production for, then? Why didn’t you go to town in the first place?
HERON: Because he lied. Hey, do people give you flowers?
SCIENTIST: No, not usually.
HERON: And why not?
SCIENTIST: I don’t know. No reason, really. (He smiles.)
HERON: Maybe you really didn’t know that this degrades women.
SCIENTIST: If I’d suspected that, I never would have brought you flowers.
LANA: Fine. Why don’t you apologize and then have some water.
SCIENTIST: Ladies, I’m very sorry. If I can smooth things over… maybe I can help in some way? I can take you somewhere, or carry your things… are you also going into town?
HERON: No, we’re just walking around in circles.
LANA: This is unacceptable.
SCIENTIST: Girls! I didn’t mean to offend you. If I said something wrong, I’m sorry.
HERON: What a jackass.
SCIENTIST: Did I just say something else? What do you want? Can’t you explain it to me?
LANA: Perfect! Another hoon asking for our emotional labor!
HERON: You need to figure it out on your own.
LANA: You’ve got lots of evidence to work with.
SCIENTIST: Ok, I’ll work on it as soon as I finish my project.
HERON: Your spaceship.
SCIENTIST: Yes, exactly! In fact, you’re the first people I’ve told about it.
HERON: So? Are we supposed to be grateful? Again with the manipulation!
SCIENTIST (wiping sweat): I guess it’s been a long time since I’ve talked to people.
LANA: To peoplesses.
SCIENTIST: Are you joking?
LANA: We’re not people. We’re peoplesses. Feminine gender.
SCIENTIST: Ok. peoplesses. I’m sure there’s a word like that.
LANA: Ok. You understand what you did wrong. And made a real apology.
HERON: And you don’t really seem like a sex offender.
LANA: Careful, Heron.
HERON: Just that he didn’t mean anything by giving us the flowers.
SCIENTIST: Of course! Get rid of them! Or let me do it! Or maybe it’s better if you do it. I mean, I’m not trying to compliment you. Okay, I’m sorry. I’m leaving.
The Scientist leaves.
MANANA: Hey. Take this.
The Scientist comes back. Manana hands him a bottle of water.
LANA: You’re so gonna get kicked out for this.
MANANA: Why? He can have some water.
SCIENTIST: Thank you very much! Thank you…
The Scientist drinks the water.
MANANA: You can even use it to wash your face. To perform your ablutions.
HERON: Geez, Manana…
The Scientist starts screaming.
What did you do?
MANANA: Nothing. I overturned the status quo. (To the Scientist) Can you go yell somewhere else?
LANA: What’s in the water?
MANANA: What do you care? I made a mistake. I reflected on it. I realized you were right. And I made amends. (To the Scientist) I can’t even hear myself think with you over there!
HERON: By murdering someone!
MANANA: What? Are you accusing me of murder?
HERON: If he dies, then yeah! And that’s obviously how all this yelling is gonna end.
LANA: Manana, have you lost your mind?
MANANA: I’m one of the elders of our sisterhood and the leader of our team. I was the one who planned this mission, who sponsored it, who selected assistants. If you think I’m just gonna sit in the corner, boycotted by a couple of hysterical women, then you’re out of your fucking minds. (To the Scientist) Oh, when are you going to shut up?
The Scientist dies.
Finally… You need me, understand? You can’t do this without me. You are both amazing peoplesses, amazing friends, but you’ve already made mistakes… That’s a big risk in our current situation. Do you understand, sisters?
LANA (touching the Scientist): He’s dead, Manana.
MANANA: Well thank the Goddesses. I suggest we seek shelter and get some sleep. We still have a ways to go, and we need to gather strength.
HERON: What about him?
MANANA: Well, drag him away somewhere.
Heron and Lana drag the Scientist’s corpse away.
Manana pulls the jewelry out of her backpack and puts it on the SCIENTIST:
Now you can go. Oh, and, girls? Never boycott me again.
3. At Camp
Lana and Heron in a tent.
LANA: Are you asleep?
Heron, are you asleep?
Why aren’t you saying anything? I can tell you’re not asleep.
HERON: What do you want? I’m tired.
LANA: Nothing. Can I lie down next to you?
HERON: I want to get a good night’s sleep.
LANA: I’ll just lie down with you for a minute. I can’t fall asleep.
Lana snuggles up to Heron.
It’s kinda cold.
HERON: Lana, I’m trying to sleep.
LANA: Do you really think I was laughing at your tooth?
HERON: For the love of Shulamith…
LANA: I just don’t want you to think I felt that way. I don’t care how you look.
HERON: Awesome. Can we go to sleep now?
LANA: The moon is so pretty tonight…
HERON: Lana, are you hitting on me or something?
LANA: A little.
HERON: Don’t be ridiculous.
LANA: I thought you liked me.
LANA: I mean, you kept looking at me… You held my hand, that kind of thing. I thought you were flirting with me.
HERON: You thought.
LANA: Listen, Heron, I don’t get you. Are you messing with me?
HERON: Let’s talk in the morning.
LANA: You were flirting with me! Unless you were mocking me?
HERON: I honestly don’t understand what you’re talking about.
LANA: Listen, forget it. I won’t allow myself to be bullied. Come here.
HERON: Back off, Lana.
LANA: What? Are you scared of me or something?
HERON: I’m not interested in you, okay?
LANA: During the day you’re one way, at night you’re completely different. You’re abusing me.
HERON: Are you drunk or something?
LANA: Come here, Herrie.
HERON: Don’t touch me, freak!
LANA: Shh, don’t shout.
HERON: Lana, go sleep somewhere else.
LANA: I don’t want to sleep somewhere else. I want to be with you. And you want it, too.
HERON: What makes you think that?
LANA: Listen, Heron, stop making a fool of me. Either we sleep together now, or in the morning I’ll tell Manana that you engage in prostitution.
LANA: You’re forcing my hand!
HERON: Fine. You might as well tell her that I used to be that Psycho’s wife, that I killed my own child.
LANA: That’s not even true.
HERON: How do you know?
LANA: It’s not true, Heron!
HERON: What are you clucking about? It’s true. I mean, I never thought I’d see him again…
LANA: Heron, please calm down. Manana will hear.
HERON: What did you think? I’m not a lesbian! I like men.
LANA: You’re talking nonsense now. I’m sorry. I probably scared you.
HERON: I’ll never let a horny bitch touch me.
LANA: Herrie, sweetie, I forgive you for abusing me. But for the love of Goddess, tell me that you hate the oppressors. Please.
HERON: I love men.
LANA: Please, don’t be stubborn. And talk quieter.
HERON: You’ve killed two people. That’s not okay.
LANA: What people? What are you talking about? Since when have men been people?
HERON: You’re murderers!
LANA: That’s enough. You’re acting pathetic.
HERON: That’s not okay. Women aren’t capable of violence. All violence comes from hoons.
LANA: Right. That’s why they died.
HERON: Men are just heinous abusers. What are you saying? Women can also hurt people. No, they can’t. If they can, then it’s just healthy anger. A healthy reaction. A healthy reaction doesn’t end in murder. Read the good female psychologists, Heron. You’ll find tons of examples. Yes, yes, yes, but which one? You just need to calm down. What if we just left everyone alone? If I leave everyone alone, will they leave me alone? No, are you joking? That’s utopian thinking. Yeah, you’re right. That’s what a utopian society looks like it. Listen… I have an idea. What if we planted a mandarin tree?
Lana slaps Heron.
LANA: Heron, are you okay?
HERON: I’m not Heron. I have a name. I’m Henrietta.
LANA: Damn, you really should see a psychiatrist…
HERON: You also have a name. Guy.
LANA: Heron, I think you really need some rest.
HERON: You’re a tranny, aren’t you? You got balls dangling between your legs?
LANA: Heron, hey, did you forget where you are?
HERON: Stop gaslighting.
LANA: Just answer me. Where are you right now?
HERON: Right now, I’m in a tent with the most repulsive guy.
LANA: Do you really think I’m a hoon?
HERON: Who are you, then?
LANA: I’m a woman, Heron.
Look, I’m a woman. I’m just like you.
HERON: No. A woman would never do what you and Manana did.
LANA: I’m a strong woman. I can protect you.
HERON: You’re trying to convince me that I’ve gone crazy. That’s called gaslighting. Only hoons do that.
LANA: Look at me, Heron…
HERON: I’m Henrietta.
LANA: Henrietta… look at me. Touch me. Give me your hand. Touch me. Look, I don’t have any balls between my legs. Do you feel it?
HERON: What are you doing?
LANA: Nothing. I’m showing you I’m a woman.
HERON: That’s assault!
LANA: No, no, come on… Quiet. You’ll wake Manana up!
Heron and Lana struggle.
You’re so tiny… why are you scared of me? I’m just like you.
HERON: Manana! Manana!
Lana’s trying to rape me!
Lana quickly gets dressed.
LANA: I was just flirting with her. Nothing serious.
HERON: She took my hand and made me touch her.
LANA: I was just showing her…
MANANA: Quiet. Heron, what happened?
HERON: She assaulted me. She made me look at her. She called me a whore. She blackmailed me.
MANANA: She called you a whore?
LANA: No, it wasn’t like that.
HERON: Manana, you saw…
LANA: Manana, she’s got it all wrong…
MANANA: Shut up! I’m thinking.
I can’t kick you out of the sisterhood right now. Tomorrow we’ll be at the palace gates, and I can’t find anyone to replace you. But I can’t simply let this go. So, I’m forced to punish you.
LANA: What? How?
MANANA: Firstly, of course, you’ll reflect on your psychological problems. And you’ve got some, no doubt about that. Secondly, Heron will decide what will help her feel calmer and happier. Heron, pick something.
LANA: This is unbelievable! Heron, I’m sorry, I’m so sorry, please forgive me!
Heron finds a thick stick.
MANANA: You’ve picked something? Good. Lana, get on your knees. Toes toward Heron.
LANA: I’m not going to do that.
MANANA: Lana, we’re all tired. Tomorrow’s a big day. The faster you do this, the faster we’ll be done.
LANA: But I really didn’t do anything!
HERON: You didn’t rub my hand between your legs?
LANA: Heron, I’m sorry, please forgive me…
MANANA: Lana, don’t make me come over there.
Lana gets on her knees.
Go ahead, Heron. Stop when you feel satisfied.
Heron thrashes Lana with the stick.
I’m going to bed. And Lana, don’t forget to reflect. Good night.
Manana leaves. Heron continues to whip Lana. Lana cries.
HERON: I! Told! You! I’m! Not! A! Lesbian!…
4. At the Gates
Manana and Heron, huddled together, stand at the closed gates. Lana keeps her distance.
HERON: Here we are. I’m kind of nervous. Are you nervous, Lana?
HERON: It’s a nice feeling.
MANANA: It’s too early to relax. The hard part’s just starting.
LANA: The gates aren’t open yet.
MANANA: Right. We’ll set up camp here. And wait.
The girls settle down next to the gates.
Apparently, the princess is really sweet and gentle. So please try to control yourself, Lana.
HERON: And don’t touch anyone else’s hands.
Manana and Heron giggle.
MANANA: I think she’s learned her lesson. She’s done some good reflecting.
LANA: I’ve learned my lesson. Hey, Manana, how are you gonna pay us?
LANA: How are you gonna pay us? And when?
MANANA: Isn’t saving the princess and the world from hoons a priceless gift in its own right?
LANA: Sure. But I’m risking my life and my health. It’d be nice if you gave me a little something in return.
MANANA: You know it’s an honor to be here.
LANA: That doesn’t cut it. Either you pay me a commission for my help, or I leave.
MANANA: I put all my savings into this trip.
LANA: Okay. Ask the other organizers.
MANANA: The other organizers?
LANA: The other elders of our sisterhood. They definitely have money. I mean, we paid them dues.
MANANA: Okay, I’ll talk to them when we get back.
LANA: No, I need a deposit. I need money right now.
MANANA: Lana, right now I don’t have any. You’ll have to take my word for it.
LANA: Think of something. You’re the brains here. Steal it, if you want. But I’m not going any further unless I get paid.
MANANA: Lana, don’t start with the hysterics.
LANA: In that case, I’ll gladly leave.
Lana gathers her stuff to leave.
Manana rushes after Lana, they go to the side.
What do you want?
LANA: I want you to pay me.
MANANA: What do you really want?
LANA: Take a guess. You’re a smart cookie.
MANANA: I can’t do that.
LANA: Listen, you know that Heron is totally useless here. She’s too emotional. She takes the tiniest things to heart. You need strong women.
MANANA: No, it’s against the principles.
LANA: I won’t hurt her.
MANANA: This is inappropriate.
LANA: The two of you will never make it alone. The princess will give birth. It’ll be your fault. It’ll be your fault forever. And you know, some people think she’s gonna give birth to а god.
MANANA: Bullshit. God doesn’t exist.
LANA: Then why else would you have started all this? Ok, fine. Listen. Heron is crafty, but she’s stupid. Give her to me. Or pay me.
MANANA: You really want this?
MANANA: You really won’t hurt her?
MANANA: Well in that case we’re even.
MANANA: And I won’t pay you anything.
Manana and Lana go back over to Heron. Manana steps off to the side.
HERON: Have you changed your mind?
LANA: Yes, Herrie. Where could you have gone without me?
HERON: The third rule?
LANA: Yes. We see the mission through. Come sit by me, please.
HERON: Where’s Manana?
LANA: She’s right here. Sit down.
Lana and Heron sit next to each other. Pause.
Are you scared of me or something?
HERON: No. Are you scared of me?
LANA: Yeah, I am. You’re so pretty.
HERON: Lana, again?
LANA: No, look, my hands are on my knees. And your hands are on your knees.
HERON: I hope you didn’t stay because of me?
LANA: I want to know what’s going on inside your head.
HERON: Nothing to do with you.
LANA: I get it. Something to do with a man. What’s he like?
HERON: None of your business.
LANA: Did he beat you?
Did he rape you? How old were you? Seven? Ten? Fifteen?
HERON: Stop it.
LANA: Do you get off on this?
LANA: It excites you, doesn’t it? You like it when it hurts?
Heron is silent.
What’d they do to you? What did you like? Did they lock you in a cage? Tie you up? Put a collar on you? Spit in your mouth? Strap you to the bed?
HERON: Shut up already! None of that happened!
LANA: You know the RadFem sisterhood’s policy on BDSM? You know it’s a patriarchal practice?
HERON: You’re disgusting.
LANA: Did you have a crush on that pedophile of yours? Who was he, by the way? Your father, maybe? Your brother? Uncle? Stepfather? Why aren’t you saying anything? Was it your stepfather?
LANA: How old were you?
LANA: And him? It doesn’t matter. Horny old fucker. What happened, Heron?
Heron is silent.
You were sixteen. Something happened — not a huge deal, but something bad. You were upset. Maybe the boy you liked slept with your friend. Or you got third place in a competition you’d worked really hard for. Something you don’t even remember anymore. You were sitting in your room. Your mom was gone. He knocked and came in, with some excuse. He’d already noticed from the silence in your room that something was wrong. He’d spent ten minutes deciding, standing in the kitchen, smoking, figuring out how best to do it. He listened to the silence in your room, trying to catch a change in your mood. And he made up his mind. You probably didn’t have many moments alone. He realized he wouldn’t have another chance like this anytime soon. So he came into your room. His voice was cheerful and upbeat. He was always goofy around you. He noticed your swollen eyelids and red eyes. “God, Henrietta, what happened?”
HERON: Everything’s fine.
LANA: Are you sure? Then why is your nose all puffy?
HERON: My nose is fine.
LANA: I don’t know, maybe you should blow your nose.
Lana gives Heron a handkerchief.
There you go. Now tell me what happened.
HERON: Everything’s fine, really.
LANA: Is this because of that boy who was hanging around?
I won’t tell your mom anything. She doesn’t need to know.
LANA: Did he hurt you?
HERON: No, he… well, he likes someone else.
LANA: Damn… what an idiot.
HERON: No, he’s a nice guy. I guess I’m just not good enough for him.
LANA: He’s not good enough for you.
HERON: I don’t know. When I see him I act like an idiot.
LANA: Well, that’s normal when you’re in love. The first time I saw your mom, I acted like an ass.
LANA: Of course. Good thing she has a sense of humor.
HERON: I don’t think I’ll ever find someone. I’ll die an old maid.
LANA: No, you’re very pretty. And you’ll grow up to be even prettier.
HERON: But I’ll never find someone like him.
LANA: Listen to me. You’re a princess. The world is at your feet. You’ll find a hundred more guys.
HERON: I don’t want a hundred guys. I want him.
LANA: Did anything happen between you two?
HERON: I mean, we kissed…
LANA: Anything else?
HERON: No, nothing like that.
LANA: So that other girl just put out.
HERON: Yeah, they probably… did it.
LANA: What a pretty girl you are.
Lana kisses Heron’s neck.
I’m sorry. I couldn’t help myself.
LANA: You’re just really attractive. And sweet.
Heron is silent.
Let’s just hug. We’re friends, right?
LANA: Then let’s hug. Like this.
Lana hugs Heron. She doesn’t let go.
You’re an angel.
HERON: I need to go to the bathroom.
HERON: I really need to go.
LANA: You drive me crazy.
HERON: I want to leave.
LANA: Okay… just wait a second…
HERON: Don’t touch me, please.
LANA: Wait. You’re a small, beautiful woman. You have to wait.
Lana puts her hands around Heron’s neck.
HERON: Let me go! Stop it!
LANA: Then what happened, Heron? What came next?
HERON: Manana! Mama! Manana!
Manana pretends she doesn’t hear.
LANA: Were you together a long time? Did you like it when he spanked you? When he choked you?
Lana starts strangling Heron.
HERON: Lana… stop…
LANA: That’s why you changed your name when you joined RadFem? Trying to escape your demons?
LANA: Pretending to be a virgin… lying every step of the way…
LANA: Little kinkster…
HERON: You’re gonna kill me…
A Boy in a girl’s dress appears. Lana lets go of Heron.
BOY: Happy Birth Day.
5. A Conversation with the Boy
The same scene.
BOY: I’m cold.
LANA: What are you doing here?
BOY: I’m lost.
MANANA: Where are your parents?
BOY: They left.
LANA: They left because of you?
BOY: I don’t know.
HERON: I bet you were a handful.
BOY: I guess. Can I have something to eat?
MANANA: This isn’t a restaurant, Boy. Go back where you came from.
BOY: I don’t want to go alone. I don’t like the forest.
LANA: Then go to the city.
BOY: No one knows me in the city.
HERON: That’s not our problem.
MANANA: He must think women love taking care of other people’s children.
HERON: His parents must’ve beat it into his stupid little head.
MANANA: Hey, why are you wearing a dress?
HERON: Do you know that’s a girl’s dress?
MANANA: Are you a little trans kid?
BOY: I don’t know what that means.
MANANA: A trans is a heinous spermbank who thinks he feels like a woman.
HERON: Do you feel like a woman?
MANANA: Then why are you wearing a dress?
BOY (shrugging): I don’t know. My mom dressed me.
BOY: My mom doesn’t like it when I wear pants. She said I can’t anymore.
HERON: Ugh, disgusting.
MANANA: Well, do you like men? Are you attracted to them?
BOY: I don’t know. I like kittens.
MANANA: What do you do with kittens?
BOY: Well, I like petting them. I like tying a ribbon to a stick and playing with them. It’s funny when they chase the stick.
MANANA: Poor kittens.
HERON: What if you poked their eyes out with your stick?
BOY: That’s never happened. I just play with them.
MANANA: And what if they swallowed the ribbon? Ever thought about that?
HERON: Clearly, he’s never thought about anything. This is the age when they start oppressing the weak.
BOY: Is it really bad to play with kittens?
HERON: You can pet them. But not against the grain of their fur.
BOY: That’s how I pet them.
MANANA: So, do you play with girls?
BOY: Ew, no.
HERON: Why “ew”?
BOY: I mean, girls… girls are different. They play with dolls.
LANA: Do you have dolls?
BOY: Yeah. But I don’t like playing with them. I only like playing with kittens or detective.
MANANA: How do you play detective?
BOY: Well… I can teach you later.
MANANA: We’re not going to play with you, you know.
HERON: Find another hoon and play with him as much as you want. Play detective, play doctor.
MANANA: Or concubine.
HERON: Or student and teacher.
MANANA: Or maid.
BOY: You know so many games! Cool! I only have one.
MANANA: Don’t worry, you’ll learn them soon.
MANANA: You’ll learn how to scratch yourself.
MANANA: There, where your outgrowth is.
HERON: Now you should leave. Cause when it gets dark, the bugeyes will come out of the forest.
BOY: What’s that?
MANANA: A bugeye is a kind of monster. It eats children, especially boys.
BOY: But I’m wearing a dress, so it’ll think I’m a girl. And it won’t eat me.
MANANA: No, it’s very smart. It’ll know you’re a hoon.
HERON: Because boys have a particular smell.
MANANA: It comes from your outgrowth.
BOY: What if I swim in the lake? Then the bugeye won’t smell anything!
HERON: Yes, it will! It will still detect your scent, even if you wash yourself with soap or bathe in perfume.
BOY: But I don’t smell anything.
MANANA: Right, people can’t smell it. Only bugeyes.
HERON: It’s a very subtle scent. Imperceptible to a person, or a personne.
MANANA: It smells mildewy and rotten.
HERON: And it’s almost impossible to get rid of.
HERON: Well, yeah, almost…
MANANA: Unless… no, you’re too small and cowardly for that.
BOY: I’m not cowardly. I’ve already been walking on my own for a long time.
MANANA: Well, okay, but… it’s a secret. You can’t tell anyone, all right?
HERON: Especially grown-ups.
MANANA: Because grown-ups are friends with the bugeyes.
BOY: Are you friends with them?
MANANA: Well, not exactly… our relationship is fine.
BOY: So why can’t you tell it not to eat me?
HERON: Look who’s sneaky! Do you know how many bugeyes live in the forest? We’re not going to stop and talk to all of them.
MANANA: Yeah, we already have our hands full. So, you’ll have to decide for yourself.
BOY: What do I have to do?
MANANA: Easy, just cut off the thing hanging between your legs.
BOY: I can’t do that.
HERON: I knew you were a little coward.
BOY: I can’t because my mom already did.
Pause. Manana and Heron start roaring with laughter.
MANANA: Oh my Goddess, your mom is my heroine!
HERON: I love her!
MANANA: Why did she leave?
BOY: I don’t know. (To Lana) Why did you leave?
I’ve been looking for you for so long. And for Dad.
LANA: I know, kid.
BOY: I found Dad. He’s lying in the landfill. And now I’ve found you.
LANA: Why were you looking for me?
BOY: It was scary alone. I couldn’t do it.
LANA: It was scary for me with you. And with your dad.
BOY: Is that why you don’t love us?
LANA: Yeah, kid.
BOY: Did we do something wrong?
LANA: No. I just didn’t want you, okay? I wanted a girl.
BOY: Well now I’m almost a girl!
LANA: Yeah, but I still don’t love you.
BOY: Because I’ll grow up and become bad?
LANA: You won’t grow up, kid. You won’t grow up.
BOY: Well… guess what? You won’t grow up either!
LANA: Hey, hey, hey… don’t get mad. This is just the way it is.
BOY: Then leave me to the bugeye. Let him eat me.
LANA: I’m sorry.
BOY: No! Take me to the monster. Or I’ll always come back and find you.
LANA: There aren’t any monsters, kid.
BOY: Take me! Take me!
HERON: Lana… you better just go.
MANANA: We don’t need your dead son here.
HERON: We don’t need your problems, Lana.
BOY: Let’s go. It’s getting dark.
LANA: Where are we going?
BOY: We’re looking for the monster, so it can eat me.
LANA: But we might not find a monster…
BOY (to Lana): Let’s go, Mom.
The Boy takes Lana’s hand.
(To Manana and Heron) That’s how you play detective.
Lana and the Boy leave.
MANANA: Do you see now?
HERON: I feel sick to my stomach. Motherhood is cancer.
MANANA: Absolutely. But we can still save the princess.
6. The Princess
Manana and Heron sit by the gates wearing white coats and surgical masks. The gates are still closed.
HERON: How much longer do we have to wait?
MANANA: Any minute now.
HERON: I’m hungry as a horse.
Heron jumps up.
MANANA: Where are you going?
HERON: I’m gonna prepare the instruments again. Nothing else to do.
Heron goes up to the table and starts carefully rearranging the medical instruments.
MANANA: You’re a part of history, Heron.
HERON: When I’m hungry, sometimes it’s hard for me to appreciate your words of support. So sorry in advance.
MANANA: You’re a great girl.
HERON: Listen, I can’t assist you like this.
MANANA: What do you mean? Lana’s gone. Who else is there? I can’t do it alone!
HERON: I’m so hungry my hands are shaking. Look.
MANANA: That’s just nervousness. I’ll give you a sedative.
Manana goes through the vials in her backpack.
HERON: Do you smell that?
MANANA: Here, take this.
HERON: You really don’t smell it?
MANANA: What are you talking about? Take the sedative.
HERON: Right here… something smells really good.
MANANA: Heron, you’re scaring me.
HERON: It’s a really strong smell! Like some hot, fresh breakfast food.
MANANA: Is it coming from me?
HERON: No. Give me the shovel.
MANANA: Heron, listen. They’re gonna open the gates really soon. Please just take the sedative and rest a little.
HERON: I swear, there’s something stashed down here.
Heron digs with her hands. She pulls out a large egg.
I told you! What a heavenly smell…
MANANA: Don’t touch the egg.
HERON: I’m hungry. What’s wrong with you?
MANANA: Put it back.
HERON: Wait, you knew about this the whole time? And you didn’t want to share with me?
MANANA: It’s not to eat. Please, put it back carefully.
HERON: If you don’t explain what’s going on right now, then I’m going to crack it open.
MANANA: Please, Heron…
HERON: One! Two! Manana, on the count of three…
MANANA: Yes, I laid it there!
HERON: What? What do you mean?
MANANA: I don’t know.
HERON: So you… laid it there, like gave birth to it? Like a chicken or something?
MANANA: I don’t know.
HERON: What the fuck, we’re not talking about a head cold here! How can you not know? How did this happen?
MANANA: I don’t know! It just came out of me.
Do you think it’s alive?
HERON: I don’t think so.
MANANA: I listened, and it didn’t make a sound.
HERON: Manana, there’s nothing alive inside. There’s no heart, no body, nothing. Now it’s just coddled.
HERON: A coddled egg, an omelet, an egg over easy! It’s not alive, it isn’t breathing, it doesn’t talk, it doesn’t have feelings, it doesn’t have thoughts! Fry it up with milk and bread, it would make some great French toast!
MANANA: Heron, that’s cannibalism. Honestly, how can you think of food right now?
HERON: And you’re really not thinking about it?
MANANA: I think it’s nasty.
HERON: Fine. Then I’ll eat it.
Heron tries to break the egg. Manana intercepts it. The girls fight. Manana accidentally drops the egg and groans.
Heron eats the remains of the yolk from the shell.
You’re really missing out, Manana! It’s so good. And with some sauce… mm… hey, what’s wrong? Are you crying?
MANANA: Fuck you, bitch.
HERON: You’re really upset. Is it because of the egg?
I can’t believe it. You have the illness, too?
MANANA: No. Of course not.
HERON: Then why are you sniveling? Manana, did you catch the maternal instinct? Do you wanna go live under some hoonie’s wing?
MANANA: I’m losing my mind.
HERON: Me too.
My tooth grew back.
HERON: My tooth grew right back. Remember when it got knocked out? Well, now it’s back. As if nothing ever happened.
HERON: See for yourself. (She shows her.)
MANANA: I don’t understand anything. Did you do this yourself?
HERON: I don’t know.
What do you think, if I tear off my finger, will it grow back, too?
MANANA: I don’t know. I’ll ask my egg, the next time I lay one.
The girls laugh.
The incredible power of radical feminism.
HERON: The quintessence of radical feminism.
MANANA: The sanctity of radical feminism.
The sound of helicopters. Pause.
HERON: This is like the start of some movie.
MANANA: They’re probably looking for you.
HERON: I’m gonna go prepare the instruments.
MANANA: Of course, princess, go prepare them.
Heron flinches but, unable to remember why this bothers her, returns to the table with the medical tools.