Different from the Others, A play in two acts,

Barbara Peterson, 2355 Fairview Ave
Roseville, MN 55113
Email: [email protected]


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DIFFERENT FROM THE OTHERS

or Babylonian Eyes

Written and Copyright 1998 by Barbara Peterson

Actors:
CONRAD VEIDT
CESARE

Set:
The black and white design of Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. Across the back of the stage, three arches open onto usable staircases. Three wide, white stripes radiate out from front of the stage, each leading up to one of the staircases. Along the back left, a narrow platform raises up like one of the roofs in Caligari.

Back stage left, a high chair, tilted forward (on wheels), and a high desk (both ala the authority's in Caligari). Backstage right, a flat that is movable by two minions. The flat should appear black at the beginning of the play, be illuminated as a distorted city scape halfway through (or be on wires on a track, so that if can be lifted out of site depending on the configuration of the stage). Back stage left, angled so that most of the audience can see it, a large mirror. Back stage right, angled so much of the audience can see it, a long, narrow box, ala CESARE's box in Caligari. Stage right, a circular black and white small 'merry-go-round' continuously spinning overhead. Behind it, a movable spiral staircase.

Props:
The mirror: An actor should be able to step through it, but it must still 'reflect' everything except the actor. Must be able to shatter (scrim that can roll up like a shutter, sound effects, etc).

The box: Must be a trick box, from which an actor can enter and disappear, as well as obtain costumes, and situated such as to cause audience to wonder how the heck it's being done.

A long, wicked looking knife
Two heavy dueling sabres
An old fashioned telephone
Teeth prosthetic ala 'The Man Who Laughs'
Two monocles

Costumes:
Two 'CESARE' outfits (black skintight leotard and shirt with a gray stripe running across the chest)
Two Student of Prague caps and jackets
One fancy wig and coat ala The Man Who Laughs
A hip length cape, slouch hat ala The Spy in Black
One Nazi colonel's coat and hat, ala Casablanca

Act One

VEIDT enters slowly stage right, dressed as CESARE (his make up, dead white face, eyes and lips heavily ringed in black, black wig, must be able to come off quickly and completely with a swipe of a handkerchief), sliding along the flat. Right arm up high on the flat, back pressed against it, but leaning forwards, left arm low. He's insecure, hesitant, feeling his way in small steps, but he's ready to lunge. A mixture of fearful and aggressive attitudes. He slides along the flat slowly until he's in the middle, then the flat begins to move with him, at an angle up stage left so that the entire audience can see him. Flat and VEIDT come to a stop upper stage left.

VEIDT : (Still pressed against the flat as if he had oozed from it) 'The heaven over my head seems made of molten brass, The earth of flaming sulphur, yet I am not mad.'

(He steps forward, eases out of CESARE persona and into that of a European man of the world talking to an audience touring a film studio. This despite his current makeup.)

VEIDT : I am an actor. My name is Conrad Veidt. Welcome. It has been a year since the end of the Great War. We lost. The enemy never set foot on our homeland, but we lost. For four years our government told us we were winning, but we lost. We entered the war to honor are treaty with Austro-Hungary. Now our enemies tell us that we are to blame for the war, we must pay reparations, we lost. Wives mourn for their husbands, mothers for their sons, fathers for their sons and their fortunes. Wherever you look - you look into the mirror of your own face - you see nothing but your own poverty and despair. But pleasures must be found, and can be found. The cinema business is booming! At the beginning of the war there were 20 production companies, now there are over 200, each one churning out dozens of films a year.

This is the set of The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. Dr. Caligari is a fairground exhibitor. He travels across the country with his exhibit, a somnambulist named CESARE . (Hand on chest) Myself. I have slept for all my years. Only Caligari has the power to waken me.

(He walks to the box) The fairgoers have crowded into the tent, eager to see this somnambulist, this man who has never seen the light of day. (VEIDT slowly opens one door first, then opens the second door with one finger, revealing a second CESARE , sleeping.) Dr. Caligari begins his spiel. 'This man has slept for 23 years, but he knows the past and sees the future. Wake, Cesare, wake!'

(As VEIDT describes the action, CESARE performs it). I wake. Oh so reluctantly I wake. I yearn to remain asleep, but that insistent voice calls me, I cannot resist it. First, my lips twitch, my nostrils flare as I breathe the fresh air, my eyelids tremble. I do not want to open my eyes, to see the crowd of people before me, their empty, foolish faces staring at me, their ugly, gaping uncomprehending faces...I open my eyes (CESARE 's face is a bit fearful as he opens his eyes, before it slides into impassivity). 'Step up, step up,' cries Caligari, and one man does so. 'How long do I have to live?' he demands to know. I stare at him for long seconds. Then my lips part. I speak. 'Until the dawn.' (Suddenly irritated, waves with one arm for emphasis) They put a title card here! One of the most dramatic scenes in the movie, my entire face filling the screen, my lips parting to utter his doom, and they interrupt the moment with a title card! (With real feeling, as an aside) Mein gott.

(He calms, down, smiles deprecatingly at the audience and continues as if he had not fallen out of character)

The next morning, that man is found dead. Murdered, in the same way that the town clerk had been murdered the morning before. His best friend vows to discover the culprit. He suspects Dr. Caligari and myself. That night, Caligari wakes me from my sleep again, and sends me out to kill a woman. But when I stand over her bed with my knife raised high (CESARE steps out to just in front of the coffin, raising a knife), I pause, I see her sweet, lovely face. She would never come into Caligari's tent to stare at me. I lower the knife, I caress her cheek, she wakes and screams! (VEIDT grabs CESARE 's arm as he starts, to keep him from running, after this grab CESARE stands still dociley)(VEIDT presses CESARE 's chest, he steps back inside the coffin, closes his eyes, VEIDT closes the doors, then returns center stage).

Francis - that is the name of the best friend, confronts Caligari at the fairgrounds. Caligari realizes that the jig is up and flees. Francis is right behind him until he disappears behind the doors of a lunatic asylum. Francis rushes in after him, demanding to know if there is a patient there named Caligari. There is not. For in reality, Caligari is....the asylum director. The next day Francis confronts the director with my body, and with various other bits of evidence that he has discovered. The thin veneer of sanity behind which Caligari has been hiding, cracks. He is trussed up in one of his own straight jackets and deposited raving onto a bed. End of film.

(Conversationally) Caligari was written by two men, Hans Janowitz and Carl Mayer, who had served in and survived the Great War. They had both witnessed the madness of authority and the blind obedience of the masses, and they wished to put this on film.

The madness is defined by the sets. (VEIDT walks to each setpiece as he mentions it.) The merry-go-round at the fairgrounds, constantly goes round and round, it is never still. This represents the chaos of the times.

The chairs and desks at which the officials sit are preposterously high, to indicate their place of authority over the people. (He climbs up onto one of the chairs) Painted shadows streak up and over the walls. Dr. Caligari has three white streaks in his black hair (VEIDT runs three fingers over his hair), has three black lines running up the backs of his white gloves (VEIDT runs three fingers over the back of one hand). There is a white stripe leading up to each of the three staircases (in an aside) Staircases always figure prominently in German expressionist films. In this film, they represent authority, the hierarchy of authority under which the German masses live and die, and at which Dr. Caligari sits at its head.

But, this reality of Caligari was not to be. Authority could not be shown to be insane! The people could not be shown to be sleepwalkers. So, a framing device - rahmen-handlung, was added. This device of having a prologue and epilog to films was quite popular in German films of the 1920's. In its reality, therefore, Francis is the one who is insane. At movie's end he attacks the kind and gentle head of the lunatic asylum, accusing him of being Caligari. He is restrained, and the asylum director's benevolent face fills the screen. Now that he knows what is causing Francis' madness, he can cure him. End of film.

The screenwriters, Janowitz and Meyer, protested of course. It totally reversed, totally destroyed, totally perverted their message. But they were ignored. Writers always are.

And, I am happy to say that Cabinet of Dr. Caligari was a success! My first international success. You know, many people believe it was my first movie, but in actuality it was my twenty-ninth....or my thirty second. I made so many between the years of 1917 and 1926 that I have lost track.

It took only a few weeks to make a movie during the 1920's. I made an average of six a year. My first film, I made in 1917. I had served a year at the Front, and been invalided out. When I returned to Berlin and the Deutsches Theater, I was approached by film makers who were prepared to pay me as much in a day as I would make on stage in a month! I became a movie actor.

(Smiling, sadly amused) My friend, Emil Jannings, expressed what many theater actors felt about the films. He hated them. On stage, you act in one continuous stream. You remain in character, you react to everyone around you. Especially the audience. The audience can dictate the mood of the play. In the movies, the shots are only seconds long, then you stop and do it again. And wait and wait and then do it again. And you do not play your part in order, either, as the time follows the time. Because of this it is impossible to gain emotional momentum. But, most importantly, no audience, no real audience, to provide that...that electricity that is so vital for an unforgettable performance. The inspiration that is provided by the audience degenerates into mere technique.

I believed this too, at first, but soon I found that I enjoyed making films. It is a challenge. You have only a few seconds to play your part, to convey the emotion needed for a certain scene. It concentrates the mind wonderfully. And the money ain't bad either. Jannings comforted himself with that knowledge.

I grew more and more popular with the public, and of course because of this I was on top of the world. Soon I was given starring roles. Over the next ten years I became one of the most popular actors in Germany. But, in 1926, I made a movie that cemented my fame abroad as well. My 69th film, the Student of Prague.

(As VEIDT goes to the box he wipes his face with a handkerchief, slips off the black wig to reveal a high forehead. He deposits these things in the box and takes out a student's cap, jacket, and sword. He goes over to the mirror, turns on a light, and CESARE (who always remains made up as CESARE regardless of the costumes he puts on, stands on the other side of the mirror, as a reflection. Simultaneously they put on the cap, the jacket, then pick up the sword. VEIDT turns back to the audience, turning off the light.)

I play Balduin, a poor student, who is, nevertheless, the best fencer in Prague. I'm popular with my classmates, a young flower girl is infatuated with me, but I am sunk into depression because of my money woes. I meet and fall in love with a woman - beautiful and aristocratic, sympathetic and kind - in order to woo her I must have money!

So, I sell my soul to the devil. Yet I didn't know that is what I was doing! He approached me, told me he'd give me a fortune in gold pieces, in return all he asked was to take whatever he desired from my room. There was nothing of value in my room...I thought. But he, the devil, tells me to stand before the mirror. (VEIDT snaps on the light again and CESARE is once more in the mirror) . As I watch, he gestures at my reflection. And my reflection begins to move, to walk forward...he steps out of the mirror.

(CESARE steps out of the mirror. He moves stiffly, without emotion, carrying the sword, advancing on VEIDT who retreats. VEIDT stops center stage, pivoting as CESARE walks past him and stops stage right, staring at him. VEIDT refaces the audience)

Things go splendidly for me at first. I make a gift of money to the University to support a hundred poor students and the entire student body cheers me! More importantly, the young lady with whom I am in love, begins to return my affection, and because of my new-found wealth, her father has no objection to my attentions. I buy a new warddrobe to reflect my new status.

(VEIDT remove the student coat and cap and places it in the box, removes a fancy jacket and takes it over to the mirror to try it on. He places a pistol to one side. The light is on, but there is no reflection of him (but the mirror must be seen to 'work' in other respects.)

There is only one difficulty. I can't see what I look like, in my new finery. I have no reflection. No reflection, no soul.

(He spins away from the mirror) Still, everything would have been all right! But the devil is not content to have my soul and let me enjoy my life. I am insulted by the man who is the fiance of the woman I love. I must challenge him to a duel, and I do so. And, I am the best fencer in Prague. But...but - I give my word not to kill him. Disarm him, make him look like the fool that he is, but not kill him....( VEIDT approaches his doppelganger, they extend their swords simultaneously, running the blades up and down as if measuring each other, circle and part, staring at each other the whole time) my doppelganger has my skill with the blade....it is he who fights the duel, he who kills my enemy.

My life is ruined. I am expelled from my University, and my classmates will have nothing more to do with me. My love's father will not grant me entrance to his house. I sneak in anyway, of course, late at night, but even she hates me now. She accepts nothing I say until I show her....myself, and the mirror. She faints. And he won't let me comfort her. He appears...he rings the bell for a servant. I can't let them see us together. I run. But everywhere I go - he is there. ( VEIDT goes over to CESARE , steps this way and that and CESARE blocks him.) I run and run and always he is there, I turn and there he is. At last, I return to my old rooms, and grab up my revolver. (He picks the revolver, backs over to the mirror). My double does not flee. He walks in front of the mirror and waits. (VEIDT pauses, but his double does not walk over to the mirror - VEIDT aims the pistol at him, then turns and fires the pistol at the mirror, the mirror shatters, there must be a few shards on the floor).

My double vanishes, and suddenly I can see my reflection once more! I have my soul back. But...my aim with the pistol was true. (He falls to his knees). I have my reflection back, but I have killed myself.

( VEIDT rises, and glancing to the right sees CESARE still standing there. He starts - he'd expected CESARE to be gone. Surreptitiously he checks the shard of glass in his hand as if to make sure he can still see his reflection. It should become gradually clear to the audience that VEIDT didn't expect CESARE to still be there. He accepts him, uses him as a foil/prop, but gradually becomes more nervous of him. CESARE'S actions also, gradually, become more independent)

This is not the first time that The Student of Prague has been filmed. Although mine does become the definitive version. Paul Wegener, one of the great German actors, first made Student of Prague in 1913. You have all heard of Paul Wegener, yes? He made the two Golems, Student of Prague, and Alraune, to name just a few.

For an actor, playing a dual role is a welcome challenge, and there are always dual roles to be found in German cinema. If not a doppelganger, than a character who is not what he seems - a Caligari figure, a middle-class, respectable gentleman who is also a figure of the supernatural. We Germans have always been concerned with the foundation of the self. We are unsure of our identity, and it can easily be lost it by the way.

Germans have an inborn liking for chiascuro and shadow. (Lights come up from bottom stage to highlight VEIDT from below, casting shadows behind him.) The German soul prefers twilight to daylight. Daylight imposes limits on the eye and creates corporeal objects. Night dissolves bodies, but daylight dissolves souls. We love the night. 'Ah, if only I were night. Why am I not shadow and darkness? How I would quench my thirst at the breast of light.' This too is reflected in our Expressionist movies.

1919 to 1924 was a time of nightmares, of fairy tales, of despair, of destiny, and our cinema reflected that. Expressionist acting became the rage. (Lifts a hand to declaim) 'You must wear your heart painted on your chest.' (Exaggerates his emotions Expressionistically as he demonstrates them) Fear, terror, love. The distortion of gesture is the counterpart to the distortion of objectivity.

German films are famed for their unity, yes? The sets, the lighting, the acting, all combined together to make works of macabre, sinister and morbid art.

Films were very rarely made on locations. The landscape - rocks, trees, buildings, were created for specific purposes. Only when a director built his own landscape could he give it a soul, and every landscape was the idealized body of some frame of mind.

The streets of the cities had a life of their own as well. ( The flat lights up as doors in a wall of buildings )They always have. At night, especially, 'the houses reclaim their lives, they stiffen and their sly faces fill with malevolence. The doors become gaping maws and shrieking gullets.'

Within the houses, there are staircases. There are always staircases in an Expressionist film. (VEIDT walks up a spiral staircase, CESARE advances below it.) They symbolize many things. Climbing the stairs present upward movement, the degrees of which is represented by the stairs themselves. They symbolize one's position in the hierarchy. At times they are just intriguing places on which to stage the action.

Mirrors, of course. Mirrors to show the reflection of one's soul. Mirrors to reflect the events going on around us. Many murders took place off screen, for example, while the audience watched it in a vast mirror. Or by shadows, congealing together, acting with a life of their own.

And we actors, we actors embodied the emotions as works of art also. In Germany, all of the film actors had worked for Max Reinhardt at the Deutches Theater. A whole generation of stage actors made the transition to the movies, and the work on the sets were like one vast repertory play - I worked with Werner Krauss over twenty times, Anita Berber, Gussy Holl, Emil Jannings, Reinhold Schunzel, and my friends Paul Leni and F.W. Murnau directed me.

Most of these men were established theater stars by the time I first walked on stage as a spear carrier for Max Reinhardt, in 1912. I carried a spear onto the most prestigious stage in Germany! The day I was hired as an extra, I went out and had visiting cards printed up - Conrad Veidt, member of the Deutsches Theater. I bought (he goes over to the box and removes items as he speaks) a hat, a black cape, and a monocle. I was young. Independent from my cold father and doting mother. I walked the streets of downtown Berlin with a feeling of power. Many eyes turned to look after me...some of them in admiration. (This is a throw away line, supposed to elicit a laugh). I exercised my power when I could.

Then came the Great War, and my country's defeat. The Kaiser was overthrown and the Weimar era began. Berlin during the Weimar years. The activities of the people of Berlin have become notorious. Lust, debauchery, seizing at any hope of happiness, from experimenting with drugs to experimenting with sex. I plunged fully into this milieu. I made film after film, with beautiful actresses and handsome co-stars, and after the day's filming was over we went out on the town and enjoyed ourselves even more.

Our movies were successful in Germany, and gradually throughout Euripe. It was not until 1920 that a German film was shown in the United States. The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari was not shown until 1921. But once our films were being seen in England, in the United States, the superiority of our methods of filming was quite apparent. Hollywood dangled the carrot of money in front of such directors as FW Murnau and Paul Leni, and actors such as Emil Jannings and myself.

(Telephone rings. CESARE opens the box, VEIDT arrives in time to give CESARE a look while he picks up the receiver.). Hallo. Barrymore? Of course, Herr Barrymore, I know who you are. Your Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and your Sherlock Holmes were tour de forces.

The Beloved Rogue? I am not familiar...oh, Francois Villon. And you wish me to play Louis XI? You will not make the movie without me? Herr Barrymore...what can I say? I accept. Yes...yes...no, herr Barrymore, I do not fly. I must finish a film here, and then I will take an ocean liner to America. Yes, yes. My agent will discuss all the details with your agent. Thank you, Herr Barrymore. (Hands the phone to CESARE, who replaces it . CESARE closes the door).

I kissed my wife and new-born daughter farewell, and took an ocean liner to America. The ship docked in New York and I was met by a friend named Lothar Mendes, and we partied for a couple of days before I took the train to Hollywood. There it was like old home week. Paul Leni and Ernst Lubitsch was there at the train station to meet me. And even Herr Barrymore in full costume as Francois Villon.

Herr Barrymore looked at me in horror. Barrymore is not a tall man. I am 6 feet 4 inches - Barrymore was only 5' 7. This was 1926, remember, the hero could not be shorter than the villain! The production people - Barrymore and the director and the costume designer went into panicked consultation. So I was given a long black cloak, and told to hunch myself over, to make myself more on a line with Barrymore. Such a posture also caused me to scuttle along as I walked (he demonstrates, then straightens with a throway line). The reviewers praised me highly for my unique and effective characterization of the King.

I made three other movies in America, Man Who Laughs, directed by Paul Leni, The Last Performance, in which I played a magician, and A Man's Past. I believe that the one that will remain a classic, long after I am gone, is The Man Who Laughs.

The story takes place during the time of King James., written by Victor Hugo My father is a political enemy of the King, he is captured and executed. But that is not enough. I am only a child, but the King orders my lips...to be cut off... (VEIDT moves towards the box, opens it, but steps back as he notices CESARE 'take control - it is CESARE who puts on the makeup - prosthetic teeth, a fancy coat. VEIDT watches this, only his eyes glancing at the audience reveal he didn't quite expect this. He finishes his line about the horrible, horrible smile. Then he shrugs and in an aside says, It is no treat to wear a device that makes you smile like that for hours at a time. I disliked this part. Leave those kinds of roles to Lon Chaney!) so that I am always smiling. A horrible, horrible smile. (see stage direction for additional line) Anyway, I am cast out into the snow and rescue a young blind girl, and then we are both taken in by a circus. I become a circus attraction. After I grow to manhood, and the political times change, it is discovered that I am the heir to a title, and I go to court - to be stared at by all. Until I find my young blind girl again. She loves me for myself, not for my appearance. I renounce my claim to the title and flee to a far country with my love - and we live happily ever after.

All of these films were popular, and I felt that I could insist on better and better roles, But then, (flickering lights, as if a movie, Al Jolson's tinny voice singing Sonny Boy... VEIDT looks out at the audience.) the earthquake hit Hollylwood. The earthquake of sound. Silent movies had never been really silent. Orchestra pieces were composed for all the major productions, and every little theater had its own organist. My films at the UFA-Palast premiered to full orchestral accompaniment. They were never black and white, either, but tinted - blue for night, green, red for anger, brown.... But when the 'talkies' arrived, I felt I must return to Germany. My English was good, but not so good as to allow me to give full power to lines in a film. Unlike many actors, I was ectstatic about this new invention! An actor can convey so much with his voice. One's cadence, one's manner of delivery, one's pitch - even more than the mime of an actor, the speech can convey everything, if one has the skill to use the language.

I returned to Germany in 1929. I had brought my wife and daughter over to America, after my success in the Beloved Rogue. We all sailed back to Germany, where I had no difficulty resuming my career in films. I was much in demand. But, my country had changed in the two years I had been away. The Nazi party was beginning to gain power. Not power in the government - they never had the majority in any election. But power over the people. The power of fear. Streetbrawls between Nazis and Communists were commonplace, swastikas began to appear on the doors of Jewish citizens...the people were too apathetic to realize what would happen if they let Hitler continue as he was.

I made plans for the future. I worked hard to perfect my English diligently for three years, and in 1933, when Hitler became Chancellor of Germany, I decided it was time to leave my country. By this time, my marriage to Felicitas was over. We felt it was best to separate, we had grown apart. I fought within myself greatly, but decided that my beautiful daughter would best be left in her hands. Then I married again, Lilli. The woman I had truly been searching for all my life.

(The telephone rings from the cabinet. VEIDT waits for CESARE to answer and hand him the receiver)

Hallo? Ah. Herr Goebbels. (He covers the mouthpiece and speaks to the audience). Herr Doktor Goebbels is the Reichminister in charge of propoganda and culture. The film industry has become his own private kingdom.

Yes, Herr Goebbels? Yes, I have decided to emigrate to England. What? Ah. Ah, yes. (Voice considering). Artist of the State. My choice of roles, written especially for me. A mansion? Indeed. Very kind, I'm sure. But, Herr Goebbels, there is a problem. I am married, you know. Yes, yes of course you would know. You must know also that she is Jewish.

(Sincere puzzlement). Oh, that is not a difficulty? You can take care of things? Well, yes, I'm sure you can, Herr Goebbels. It is a special case, yes. Oh, you flatter my poor talents, Herr Goebbels. Yes, I am sure no one would dare mention it, if you decree it. No one need ever know. Yes, these things can be taken care of, I know your skills, Herr Goebbels.

(He turns mouthpiece down into his chest, closes his eyes)

'The heaven over my head seems made of molten brass, The earth of flaming sulphur, yet I am not mad.'

(Returns receiver to his mouth)

Herr Goebbels, I fear I must disappoint you for two reasons. First, I am very happily, and very proudly, married to Lily Prager, a Jewess. And second, I am Conrad Veidt.

(He slams down the receiver, rips out the cord, and flings the phone at his doppelganger, who catches it neatly. They stare at each other as CURTAIN.)


Act Two

(VEIDT , dressed in the white turban, blue 'jumpsuit', black and silver necklace, and white robes of Jaffar from The Thief Of Bagdad, appears on a 'magic carpet' which glides forward a few inches off the floor til he arrives stage front and center. He steps off the carpet which sinks to the ground, and looks around arrogantly.)

VEIDT The villain should always get the girl. You laugh at me. I may never get the girl in the movie, but I believe the villain always does 'get' the women in the audience. I'm not quite sure what this says about women.

The technique to playing a villain is to believe that you are playing the hero. Any actor will tell you this. No human being is a villain just for villainy's sake. Something beyond his control is relentlessly driving him on. I enjoy playing these parts, not because their violent evil attracts me, but because I want to show that even the worst evil-doer has some remnant of humanity in him. I have always tried to mingle a little sympathy with the audience's hate. But why is the villain attractive?

The villain has power. (Throws up his hands, vertically over his head, he's lit from below so a gigantic shadow falls over the back of the stage.) He sees what he wants and takes it. He disposes of anyone in his way. He does everything that the people in the audience wish they could do, if they thought they could get away with it. He is totally ruthless and totally unscrupulous. Perhaps...not totally ruthless.

In Thief of Bagdad, I play Grand Vizier Jaffar, a powerful magician, in love with the Princess of Basra. (He closes his eyes, visualizing her, longingly) 'Her eyes are Babylonian eyes. Her eyebrows like the crescent moon of Ramadan. Her body is straight like the olive.' (Actor is advised to slur over this last word!) But, she loves not me but the deposed King, Ahmed. I had her on my ship, alone, just her, and myself and my hypnotic eyes....staring at her....asserting my control (he goes to top of stage as he says this, seeks out and makes eye contact with a woman in the audience, then breaks it off). No. No. I have powers that could force you to my will. But I want more than they can give. I want your love. Forget Ahmed. He is no longer blind. For men with eyes the world is full of women. (Voice breaking) Only I am cursed, that I can see only you .

(Backs off a bit, but still feeling the emotion of not getting the woman he loved as he speaks to the audience) I loved her so much...the women in the audience saw this and knew it. Knew that at that moment I wasn't acting, that as I spoke my heart was breaking. And they thought to themselves, I would not spurn him. I would not be such a fool! I would fold him into my arms, embrace him..Reform him.

All women think they can...desire to, reform men. The more evil the man, the more power it takes to reform him. This is true, is it not? We men, we can go out into the world, have adventures, pit our wits and our brute force against each other, find adventure and danger wherever we choose. Women can find their danger only in affairs of sex. They want to exercise their power, the power to glance at a man, to cause his head to turn, to cause him to follow her to the ends of the earth. And as soon as her quarry succembs to her, he becomes boring and she must find a new conquest!

Many women have tried to reform me. I have married three of them. My first wife, Gussy Holl, was a cabaret singer. Very famous, very popular. We married in 1919..We were divorced by 1920. It took me a long time to realize why the marriage failed. I married Felicitaz in 1922 and she gave me a daughter, Viola. My beautiful daughter. Despite my happiness in my child, Felicitaz and I were divorced in 1933. And then I married Lilli, my current wife, and we emigrated to England after the rise of the Nazis. We were quite happy there. My daughter would come to visit us every few months, there were many of my friends there as well. I was very happy, perhaps they were the happiest days of my life. In Lilli I have found, I confess it to you..the mother figure whom I had been searching for since my own mother died.

You see I am not so bad. I live the roles I play on the screen, the evil, villainous roles, but that, that screen image is the doppelganger (points at CESARE). In real life I am... (shrugs) myself. Some women, even some men, still wish to reform me, there are others who do not . We tried to hire a maid once. She took one look at me and said, 'You think I will come to work for a man who slaughters women like hens? And she fled the house!. You see there are drawbacks to being the man women love to hate.

In my eight years in England, I had become typecast as such a villain. But it was not always so. When I first arrived, in 1933, I played the 'good guy' in two films, Jew Suss and The Wandering Jew.

(The phone rings. CESARE opens the box, hands receiver to VEIDT) Hallo? Hallo, Herr Goebbels. I did not expect you to have my phone number here. Oh, yes. Yes, of course you would. How silly of me. What? Why, yes, Herr Goebbels, I play the part of Joseph Suss. Filming begins in one more week.

Yes, Herr Goebbels, I am aware of the consequences in my homeland, should I play such a role. Yes, Herr Goebbels.... (looks out at the audience, with an expression of - sorry about this, he's just going on and on and on and I can't get him off). Herr Goebbels, I simply cannot tell you what I think of your offer of these roles, Herr Goebbels. I am perfect for them, I agree with you. But, Herr Goebbels, I would like to offer you a job, here in England. But yes, herr Goebbels, you would be perfect for the job of stage manager. Everyone here thinks so. You have done such a good job with Herr Hitler. Herr Goebbels? (Returns phone to CESARE, who replaces it, etc)) .

My country is not a happy country. The Weimar years were a time of ...desperate despair. Of laughing through tears. But now, now there is only fear. Now there is only...the German look. (He looks over his shoulder one way, then the other, to see if he's being overheard.) When governments turn evil, there is no way to reform them.

I was speaking of being typecast. I played another good guy, during my first years in England. I played 'The Stranger' in The Passing of the Third Floor Back. I was a saintly character. (Eyes the audience). It was a morality tale, based upon a play by Jerome K. Jerome. The world is in microcosm at a boarding house, with several miserable people wasting their lives. I arrive and show them the errors of their ways. They all reform - until I leave. So you see my career in England was getting off to a good start. My films had always been very popular there, and the people accepted me with open arms when I arrvied. My first roles too, were important ones. The Passing of the Third Floor Back, especially, was very successful, and generated quite a lot of fan mail for me! Fan mail is very important to an actor. A screen actor gets no immediate applause and public acclaim. The critics and his fan mail are the barometer by which he sets the weather of his popularity.

(Opens the door, picks up a newspaper, should obviously be a German paper - big Gothic, Fraktur script, reads). "It is well known that the Jewish film industry in England has filmed two crude sensationalistic films in the service of Jewish propaganda, namely The Wandering Jew and Jew Suss. In both films, Conrad Veidt played the lead roles. Conrad Veidt was paid back for this betrayal of his country by the praise of the Jewish public. With that, there will no longer be any reason for a single finger in Germany to point to him in praise." (VEIDT does not react - just stands still for a couple of seconds, then replaces the paper in the box and very gently closes the door. Deep down inside of course he's feeling a bit shattered.)

All my films are now banned in my country. (Smiles, shaking it off, nothing matters). Some of them were banned even before I made Jew Suss. In my early career, 1917 through 1919, I made several aufklarung films. Enlightenment films, for the producer and director Richard Oswald. They covered the controversial subjects of the day. Homosexuality, prostitution, abortion. In 1917, in Germany, there was Proclamation 175 - anyone engaged in homosexual acts could be thrown in prison. I made a film called Anders als die Andern - Different From the Others. I played a homosexual violinist, seduced by one of my students. He then blackmails me. I cannot bear to be disgraced, and so I commit suicide.

( He speaks matter-of-factedly. Very European, very mature ).

This movie did not achieve its intention in 1917, and it was even less popular in 1940 with the Nazis in power. Proclamation 175 was a tragedy then and it is a tragedy now. Many of the best artists of the day are homosexual, or bisexual. This is perhaps true in every country. My friends, directors F.W. Murnau, and Paul Leni. Actor and director Reinhold Schunzel. Many others. As Marlene Dietrich has said, in Europe it does not matter if you are a man or a woman, if you find someone attractive you sleep together. I did my share of this. And there were many illicit pleasures in Weimar. Drinking, drugs, yes. After I walked out on Gussy - for I did walk out on her, one day I just walked out on her, I did it all.

Don't imagine for one moment I found happiness. On the contrary I was haunted by memories, torn by self reproach. I can see now that I should have been strong enough to conquer myself. But it seemed that that other force in me, which was so strong that it was the mainspring of my movie career, was unrelated to my own private life. In this there was no will, no effort. I was restless, unstable, searching for something, trying to escape from something else. And I didn't know what. Then two events happened which changed the direction of my life.

A friend died. She was a remarkable actress. Anita Berber. She rang the bells for herself with joy and sorrow. Perhaps she never had the success she felt her talent and beauty entitled her to. To be with her was a perpetual surprise and often an embarrasment. I remember one evening when I was taking her out to dinner. We were both dressed in evening clothes, for we were to dine en fete. It was a gala night at some hotel and many friends were to be present. Down the staircase we walked together, myself in opera hat and cloak, she looking lovely in an ermine cape which she held tightly around her. The place was crowded, the scene lively. Suddenly, as we walked down the stairs together, she calmly released her cape. She hadn't a stitch on. Everybody gasped. I pretended I wasn't there. I walked ahead trying to look dignified. Then, having created the sensation she wanted, she calmly picked up her cape again, clutched it around her, and walked on smiling as if nothing had happened. She was a flame consuming herself, and very quickly. She died of a drug overdose. This frightened me.

Then, too, I longed to have a child. I set out to discover the most beautiful woman in the world. With her, I thought, there would be the chance of having a beautiful child. I met and married Felicity, and a few years later my little Viola was born. And she is the most beautiful child in the world.

Well. Well. She lives in Switzerland. With the war raging over Europe, she is safe in Switzerland with her mother.

I was speaking of villains. Villains in the movies. When the war started, the villains in the movies became Nazis. I will not deny that things were difficult for me during the last few years. That they are difficult now. . They are difficult for all the German emigres in England. None of us liked the Nazis. We had fled from their mindless hatred, we had left behind a government that put its own people into concentration camps because they were Jews., or because they were communists, or merely because someone didn't like them. But we are still Germans, and we weep for our country. I became an English citizen in 1939, and now I weep for two countries and the world.

Well. Well. I keep getting off the track. Enough of that.

Many German emigres worked in English films. One of my idols, Albert Basserman, a star in Germany, also married to a Jewish wife,. had come to England as well. Some of my best friends...remained in Germany. Emil Jannings. Werner Krauss. They make films...very happily, for the Nazis.

Well, but we were speaking of England. Not only German emigres were there, of course, but many others, Hungarians also. My good friend Emeric Pressburger was Hungarian - an excellent screenwriter. Alexander Korda brought him together with Michael Powell for a film called The Spy in Black. Korda had me under contract, and I wanted to do good films. They crafted The Spy in Black for me, and for Valerie Hobson.

The action of this movie takes place during the Great War, and the place was the anchorage of Scapa Flow, which was still, in 1938, the base for the British North Sea Fleet. It is in the Orkneys, not more than fifty miles from Foula, as the gannet flies! In a scriptwriters conference - Michael told me of this later - Emeric praised the atmosphere, but pointed out that the object of the exercise was to provide a stunning part for me ( hand on chest , and in the present script no such part existed. It was also necessary to provide an intriguing part for Miss Hobson, who was no dummy. No such part existed, and so long as they were bound to the iron rails of the author, Storer Clouston's plot, it would never exist. Emeric threw it out and invented a new one. (In an aside) I told you writers works are never respected. However, Emeric did improve it, trememdously. He brought action which had taken place off-stage in the book and in the existing script onto the screen. Instead of the shadowy, conventional spy figures that were usual in British thrillers of this kind, he invented a whole gallery of masculine types, led by me. I play a gallant U-boat commander who, acting under sealed orders, risks his command and his own person on a secret mission to sink half the British fleet.

In the original story, the ''spy in black'' had been a Scottish minister of religion whose black cloth had been a symbol of his respectability and anonymity. In the weeks to come, the production department racked their brains, and turned the studio wardrobe inside out, to find ways to clothe me in black.

This movie was very successful. Powell and Pressburger did such an incredible job - they edited it splendidly, they crafted it as well as any Expressionist film had ever been crafted.

And so when they offered me the lead role in Contraband, again with Valerie Hobson, I could not refuse, even though the script was not yet complete. I knew what they would do for me. They would give me the star treatment.

This time, I play Captain Andersen, not of a German U-boat, but of a Danish merchant vessel, during this war. My home port is Copenhagen, and I am bound for Rotterdam, at that time a neutral port. My cargo is valuable chemicals, and if it falls into enemy hands it could be used in a very unfriendly manner. The other explosive element in my cargo is a passenger -- a Mrs. Sorenson, an elegant Danish lady who refused to wear a lifebelt at breakfast -- Valerie Hobson, of course. So far, a conventional beginning to an obvious romance between two attractive principals. You see I am the good guy in this movie. I believe Mrs. Sorenson to be a spy, and follow her throughout London. It is blackout time - no lights are allowed to be shown. The shadow and chiascuro as we scurry through the streets are truly Expressionist. The sexual tension between myself and Valerie is there, I am told it was practically incandescent. And, in the end - I got the girl!

We would have made more movies, Valerie and I, but, the events of the real world intervened. Between Spy in Black and Contraband, I began filming The Thief of Bagdad, also directed by Michael Powell. The filming was interrupted by the start of the war, and was delayed for a year or so, til it was restarted in America.

We made Contraband during the first year of the war - with all that that meant to England. We were outside London, of course, but we all knew what was happening. The threat of invasion from Germany was very, very real. Therefore, when it came time to bring the reels of film for the American release of Contraband to America, I volunteered to take it, and I brought Lilli with me.

I had no choice. Everyone of the Germans who came to America during this time had no choice. We had all fled our country - our names were on the list - and you all know there is only one list in Germany, eh? If England were overrun - we would be killed, and so would my wife.

I did all that a 47 year old man with a weak eye and....well, I did all that I could do. I made a gift of money to buy Christmas presents for the children who had been bombed out of their homes In America, I have been paid most handsomely for my efforts, much of my fees go to British war relief. It is little enough - actors are well paid. My friend Basil Rathbone. He is famous for his parties, you know. Parties to raise money for the War relief. We did what we could. After 1942, of course, raising money for British war relief was no longer quite so difficult. After the United States entered the war.

But I am an actor, I am a German, and all I can do is make movies.

(He goes to the box, and takes out a false beard. He does not look at CESARE who puts a Nazi colonels' hat and long coat. The doppelganger stalks around back of stage with a riding crop while VEIDT stands front and center).

I came full circle. To another doppelganger role. In Nazi Agent, I play a Nazi and his 'good' brother. As the Nazi, I am clean-shaven, as his brother I wear a beard. Our actions - our movements, are mode of walking, of holding the head, all must be different. When the bears shaved off so that I may imitate my evil brother, then my acting abilities must come to the fore. One must take solace where one can.

You see, I wanted to play important roles. Roles where I could embody the nobility of man. Nobel. Pasteur. Instead, I played Nazis.(Turns and sees CESARE. Goes up to him and, as he speaks, addresses more and more of his words til he is pouring out all his anger on CESARE.

Major Strasser, in Casablanca. Terrible film. Yes, yes, a marvelous cast of actors - Humphrey Bogart, Peter Lorre, Claude Rains, Paul Henried. Enjoyable to work with them. But the film. A freedom fighter - whose identity is known, who knows names of the secret resistance fighters, and he is allowed to live? Oh, no, I think not. Anyone who knows anything of the Nazis knows that Laslo would not have survived five seconds upon his arrival in Casablanca.

My poor friend Paul Henreid. He pointed this out, to no avail Nor did he like the weakness of his character. I only regret that the love interest was not a triangle. Ingrid Bergman - what a girl not to get, hm?

But I had no love interest in this film. A one-dimensional character, an inneffectual character. A Nazi stock character. Well, that is all right, Nazis are evil and must be portrayed as evil. Yet I am tired of playing evil characters.

Even in the theater, I must play evil characters now. Rather, it is radio now. I have done several shows, for propoganda purposes. One does what one must. A reporter came up to me, once, and asked me how I felt about being a movie actor - he knew that as a young man my greatest dream had been to be a star of the stage.

I thought about his question, and I answered him in this way. It is the German doppelganger all over again. I told him, It is amazing, this movie business. There is another man abroad who resembles me completely. So that I may stand before you, talking with you, holding a glass of scotch and soda in my hand if our props person was at all competent, while that image of me is somewhere swaying audiences in darkened theaters with an impression of love, or hate, or deceit, or pity, or other emotions. There, too, is an actor's sense of power, and one feels it.

A stage actor is a sculptor who carves his images in snow. A movie actor is immortal. One can only hope that the image the actor leaves behind is worthy of such immortality. And my roles, Strasser, Joseph Jones, Becker, Seidel, these roles are not worthy of me. I can display no power, move no one to tears, in these roles. ..but, but the war can not last forever. And when it is over, then, then I will come into my own.

CESARE moves forward, taking center stage while VEIDT backs off stage left. CESARE lights a cigarette, exhales, and looks out into the audience.) CESARE. Ladies and gentlemen. I regret to announce that Conrad Veidt died this morning. He suffered a massive heart attack and died within seconds. He was only fifty years old. (He inhales from his cigarette, looks at it) . He had a heart problem for many years. But he never gave up smoking. He must have smoked a couple of packs a day. (CESARE inhales again).

Well, I am his legacy. (He removes hat and drops it with only the slightest flick of the wrist - too contemptous to care about putting any effort into tossing it away. Removes the coat.)

(VEIDT, dressed as Major Strasser, reenters stage right, and walks up to CESARE. VEIDT looks out at the audience without smiling.)
VEIDT Good night. (Shadows are flung up on the wall as the lights slowly dim, CESARE and VEIDT look at each other with something akin to hatred.

As he stands VEIDT's voice comes from a speaker.

And if you have won a world,
don't be happy with that
It is nothing.
And if you have lost a world
Don't be disappointed with that
It is nothing
The joy and suffering in the world
will pass away
It is nothing.

CURTAIN


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