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Authors: Tom Stoppard

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BOOK: Travesties
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LENIN
(
Dictating to
NADYA
): Letter to Yakov Ganetsky in Stockholm, March 19th, 1917.
(
NADYA
writes on a pad
.)
‘I cannot wait any longer. No legal means of transit available.
Whatever happens, Zinoviev and I must reach Russia. The only possible plan is as follows: you must find two Swedes who resemble Zinoviev and me, but since we cannot speak Swedish they must be deaf mutes. I enclose our photographs for this purpose.'
(
CARR
,
with his jacket off, surfaces from behind Cecily's desk
.)

CARR
: Two Swedish deaf mutes …??

(
An unseen hand yanks him back out of sight
.)

NADYA
: The plan mentioned in this letter was not realized. (
LENIN
produces a blonde wig from a cardboard box and puts the wig on his head
.)
(
Writing in her pad
) Letter to V. A. Karpinsky in Geneva, the same day, March 19th, 1917.

LENIN
(
Dictating
): ‘My dear Vyacheslav Alexeyevich. I am considering carefully and from every point of view what will be the best way of travelling to Russia. The following is absolutely secret.'
(
For emphasis
,
LENIN
bangs his fist inadvertently on the bell on Cecily's desk
.
CECILY
pops up and disappears again without being seen by
LENIN
.)
‘Please procure in your name papers for travelling to France and England. I will use these when passing through England and Holland to Russia. I can wear a wig. The passport photograph will be of me in a wig. I shall go to the Berne Consulate to present your papers and I shall be wearing the wig.'
(
CARR
reappears again, fully dressed, and eavesdrops on the
LENINS
.)
(
Continuing
) ‘You must disappear from Geneva for at least two or three weeks, until you receive a telegram from me in Scandinavia … Your Lenin. P.S.: I write to you because I am convinced that everything between us will remain
absolutely
secret.'
(
TZARA
enters briskly,
unseen by
CARR
and not seeing him, and bangs the bell on Cecily's desk
.
CECILY
pops up from behind the desk
.)

CECILY
: Jack?

TZARA
(
Turning away
) Cecily!

CECILY
: I have such a surprise for you. Your brother is here.

TZARA
: What nonsense! I haven't got a brother.

(
He turns the other way and sees
CARR
) – Oh my God.
(
The
LENINS
stop and stare at these events
.)

CARR
: Brother Jack, I have come to tell you that I am sorry for all the embarrassment I have caused you in the past, and that I
hope very much that I do not have to embarrass you in the future.

CECILY
: Jack, you are not going to refuse your own brother's hand!

TZARA
: Nothing will induce me to take his hand. He knows perfectly well why.

CECILY
: Jack, if you don't shake hands with your brother I'll never forgive you.

TZARA
: Well, don't forgive me. Why should I care? The fact of the matter is, he is no more my –
(
At this point
LENIN
removes his wig and
TZARA
recognizes him
.)
Ah… Comrade! Do you know my brother Tristan?
(
CARR
shakes hands heartily with the stunned
LENINS
.
CARR
holds his hand out to
TZARA
.)

CARR
: How do you do Comrade, Mrs Comrade. Brother!

TZARA
(
Shaking hands
): This is the last time I shall ever do it.

CECILY
: How pleasant it is to see so perfect a reconciliation. Let us leave the two brothers together.

NADYA
: The plan mentioned in this letter was not realized. (
The
LENINS
gather their possessions and leave
,
CECILY
going with them
.)

CARR
: She is a darling. I am in love with Cecily. Which puts me in something of a moral dilemma. I must have a muffin to resolve it. You can have some tea-cake.
(
The library gives way to Carr's room, the conversation continuing
.)

TZARA
: But I don't like tea-cake. Besides, I have sworn never to shake hands with you again.

CARR
: I don't want you to shake hands with me when I'm eating muffins. Muffins should never be eaten with shaking hands.

(
As
BENNETT
enters with a muffin dish
)

Ah, Bennett. Is there anything in my correspondence that I might share with you and Mr Tzara?

BENNETT
: The odds on Lenin have shortened somewhat, sir, but you can still get a hundred to one against.

CARR
: A hundred to one?

TZARA
: Put a tenner on for me, would you, Bennett? – running the show by Christmas.

CARR
: And a tenner for me, Bennett – the dustbin of history.

BENNETT
: Yes, sir.

(
BENNETT
leaves
.
CARR
and
TZARA
help themselves to the contents of the dish
.)

TZARA
: I am shocked, Henry. You are surely not going to let your so-called duty stand in the way of your love for Cecily Carruthers.

CARR
: I haven't decided – there are still several muffins left.

(
He takes one
.
NADYA
enters, dressed to travel, and lugging a suitcase and a bundle or two. The boundary between Library and Room is now, perhaps, obscure
.)

NADYA
: On the same day, March 19th, there was a meeting of the Russian political emigre groups in Switzerland to discuss ways and means of getting back to Russia. Martov suggested obtaining permits to pass through Germany in exchange for German and Austrian prisoners of war interned in Russia. (
LENIN
enters, similarly dressed and similarly encumbered
.)

LENIN
: March 21st, letter to Karpinsky in Geneva. ‘Martov's plan is good. Only, we cannot deal directly with the German authorities.'

NADYA
: Therefore, Comrade Grimm, President of the Zimmerwald Committee, undertook the negotiations. March 25th – telegram from the German High Command to the Foreign Ministry in Berlin. ‘No objection to the transit of Russian revolutionaries if effected in special train with reliable escort.'

CARR
: (
Eating a muffin
): Look – be fair. I adore Cecily, but the Americans are about to enter the war and it's not a good moment for some Bolshevik to pull the Russians out of it. It could turn the whole thing round. I mean, I
am
on the side of right. Remember plucky little Poland – not Poland, the other one.

LENIN
: Our tactics – no trust in and no support of the new Government. Kerensky especially suspect. Arming of the proletariat is the only guarantee. Telegraph this to St Petersburg.

CARR
: Mind you, according to Marx, the dialectic of history will get you to much the same place with or without Lenin. If Lenin did not exist, it would be unnecessary to invent him.

LENIN
: Telegram to Ganetsky in Stockholm. ‘Twenty of us are leaving tomorrow.'

CARR
: Furthermore, your Marxism is sheer pretension. You're an amiable bourgeois with a chit from matron and if the revolution came you wouldn't know what hit you. You're nothing. You're an artist. And multi-coloured micturition is no trick to those boys, they'll have you pissing blood.

TZARA
: Artists and intellectuals will be the conscience of the revolution. It is perfectly heartless of you to eat all the muffins and leave me with tea-cakes.

NADYA
: On April 9th, at 2.30 in the afternoon, the travellers moved off from the Zahringer Hof Restaurant in true Russian style, loaded with pillows, blankets and a few personal belongings. Ilyich wore a bowler hat, a heavy overcoat and the thick-soled hobnailed boots that had been made for him by the cobbler Kammerer at number 14 Spiegelgasse. Telegram to his sister in St Petersburg:

LENIN
: ‘Arriving Monday night, eleven. Tell Pravda.'

TZARA
(
Getting up
): Well, do what you will. To a Dadaist history comes out of a hat too.

CARR
: I don't think there'll be a place for Dada in a Communist society.

TZARA
: That's what we have against this one. There's a place for us in it!
(
TZARA
leaves
.)

NADYA
: The train left at 3.10, on time.

(
LENIN
and
NADYA
leave with their luggage. Sound of train departing
.)
(
The train is heard, and perhaps seen, to leave
.
CECILY
appears, dressed for the station platform, and waves a red handkerchief at the departing train
.)

CARR
(
Decisively
): No, it is perfectly clear in my mind. He must be stopped. The Russians have got a government of patriotic and moderate men. Prince Lvov is moderately conservative, Kerensky is moderately socialist, and Guchkov is a businessman. All in all a promising foundation for a liberal democracy on the Western model, and for a vigorous prosecution of the war on the Eastern front, followed by a
rapid expansion of trade. I shall telegraph the Minister in Berne.
(
CARR
leaves. Everything black except a light on
LENIN
.
There is a much reproduced photograph of Lenin addressing the crowd in a public square in May 1920
– ‘
balding, bearded, in the three-piece suit', as Can describes him; he stands as though leaning into a gale, his chin jutting, his hands gripping the edge of the rostrum which is waist-high, the right hand at the same time gripping a cloth cap
…
a justly famous image
.)
(
LENIN
,
as the orator, is now the only person on stage
.)

LENIN
(
Declaiming
): Really, if the lower orders don't set us a good example what on earth is the use of them?! They seem as a class to have absolutely no sense of moral responsibility! To lose one revolution is unfortunate. To lose two would look like carelessness!
(
OLD CARR
enters, interrupting, consulting a tattered book
.)

OLD CARR
(
Entering
): No, steady on – sorry – did you notice? Of course you did. Hello, hello, you thought, he's doing it again. Right – well, never mind, here's the picture. April 16th, Lenin in St Petersburg, yours truly holding the bag. I'd got pretty close to him, had a stroke of luck with a certain little lady and I'd got a pretty good idea of his intentions, in fact I might have stopped the whole Bolshevik thing in its tracks, but – here's the point. I was
torn
. On the one hand, the future of the civilized world. On the other hand, my feelings for Cecily. And, don't forget,
he wasn't Lenin thenl
I mean,
who was he?
, as it were. There I was, the lives of millions of people hanging on which way I'd move or whether I'd move at all, another man might have cracked – sorry about that muffin business, incidentally. Be that as it may, where were we? Ah yes. (
CARR
opens his book, searching in it
.) – Lenin on Literature and Art –
(
CARR
remains on stage with the book
.
LENIN
makes a fresh start
.)

LENIN
: Today, literature must become party literature. Down with non-partisan literature! Down with literary supermen! Literature must become a part of the common cause of the proletariat, a cog in the Social democratic mechanism.

Publishing and distributing centres, bookshops and reading rooms, libraries and similar establishments must all be under party control. We want to establish and we shall establish a free press, free not simply from the police, but also from capital, from careerism, and what is more, free
from bourgeois anarchist individualism!
(
NADYA
enters with a copy of the same book
.)

NADYA
(
Entering
): Ilyich wrote those remarks in 1905 during the first Revolution.

LENIN
(
Continuing
): Everyone is free to write and say whatever he likes, without any restrictions.
But
every voluntary association, including the party, is also free to expel members who use the name of the party to advocate anti-party views. Secondly, we must say to you bourgeois individualists that your talk about absolute freedom is sheer hypocrisy. There can be no real and effective freedom in a society based on the power of money. Socialist literature and art will be free because the idea of socialism and sympathy with the working people, instead of greed and careerism, will bring ever new forces to its ranks!
(
The light goes out on
LENIN
.)

CARR
: And a lot more like that, but there's a bit somewhere about bosh and nonsense – hang on – (
He searches through the book
.)

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