Rodin Rilke.
of Bruce Krebs

Play in 5 acts followed by an epilogue.


versions: French versionGerman version

Inscription SACD n°162 104 (SACD: Company of the dramatic type-setters authors)




Act I, scene 1.

The curtain rises on Rodins workshop.
The workshop is cluttered up with white sculptures, rough shapes and handling tools such as, hoists, winches, wheel barrows etc...It's a work place.
The workshop slightly in set, enables a view of the actors arriving via the garden through the conservatory. Two other levels can be seen on the courtyard side, one of them, at a slightly lower level (2 or 3 steps) leads to the foundry in the wings on the courtyard side, the other overhanging level is a mezzanine, it's Rodin's office. (Rodin sees his customers in the workshop and not in the office.)


Antoine Bourdelle, Charles Despiau and Pompon (Pompon is the eldest). They are Rodins' practioners ( sculptors' assistants). One places logs on the wood burning stove, another tidies the tools and the third washes a bowl. The lighting is that of the early morning.


        Charles Despiau :
- Last night I got carried away in a public cinematography screening on the big boulevards... There were crowds of people, believe me ! They were flocking in, goodness me!...

        Antoine Bourdelle :
- You always know where to poke your nose, you really do...

        Charles Despiau :
- ...And to see what, I ask you! (he mimes) People wriggling around in all directions on a taught canvas ! That's not art! Upon my word! It's nonsense!

        Antoine Bourdelle :
- It's a novelty, so they say!

        Charles Despiau :
- A sad novelty, I agree ! People jiggling around the place and you sitting on a bench with a sore backside, you're squeezed up, laughing at them whilst fidgeting just as they do on screen... And every evening it pulls in the crowds. Nearly as many as the first day of the exhibition...

        Pompon :
- I dream of such enthusiasm for our sculpture...

        Charles Despiau :
- You must be joking! It is highly improbable my old man, it is far too... too motionless! That's the problem: Sculpture, (Changing his voice) " has something rather too motionless ".

        Pompon :
- We shall have to say a word or two to the master !

        Charles Despiau (miming the scene, exaggerating shyness):
- My good master... do you not think that... how should I put it... your... things there... are a little too... how shall I say... too stony-faced!

        Antoine Bourdelle (also miming):
- But my good... if my things... as you say, moved incessantly... when could I stroke their behind?

        Charles Despiau (his voice returning to normal and stroking an imaginary flat screen on the palm of his hand):
- It would be true to say that on the model side of things... a canvas is a little... flat.

        Pompon :
- Cinematography attracts a lot of people because it's new, but it it will become unfashionable. Sculpture however, will go through the ages and passing fashions. It is the highest Art, perpetual magic.

        Charles Despiau :
- Perpetual, I would like to be so sure...

Charles Despiau whilst trying to grab a roll of paper on the shelf, knocks a plaster cast to the floor.

        Charles Despiau (picking up the cast with the leg dangling):
- ...Oh Blast! The little nymphet!

        Pompon :
- Don't worry too much, the master loves accidents, he loves rebellious matter...

        Antoine Bourdelle :
- There is nothing more stimulating than a piece that wants to live its own life.

        Charles Despiau :
- It's a safe bet to say it will be promoted ! Oh, I too dream of that... to live surrounded by a horde of plaster nymphets and wait till dawn to see what they could find to impress me. (coming back down to earth) But before that I have to finish my apprenticeship...

        Pompon :
- You're the one to decide if your apprenticeship is finished or not.

        Antoine Bourdelle : (he hesitates and then confides)
- ...Precisely... my friends... my wife and I... have decided... I am to set up my own business. I must leave the master, take the plunge and throw myself into the venture... risk it all.

        Charles Despiau :
- You want to set up alone! Antoine, you're leaving us!

        Antoine Bourdelle :
- Well ! If I must, why not now! ... You'll stand on your own two feet one day too Charles !.. (Despiau shrugs his shoulders)

        Pompon :
- And what does the master think ?

        Antoine Bourdelle :
- ...Well that's just it, I don't really know how to tell him...

        Pompon :
- It will surely sadden him... how long have you been his assistant ?

        Antoine Bourdelle (gesticulating to suggest "a lot"):
- Oh goodness!...

        Charles Despiau (to Pompon):
- Either way, Pompon, when you have to leave, you leave. That's life. Don't worry, you have to think that he also left his boss at one stage: so you see ! when art commands, you obey...

        Antoine Bourdelle :
-"...when art commands..." Hang on Charles, there is no better place than here to express art !.. But if I stay with the master, I will never know if I can be a sculptor in my own right, Or even just a sculptor.

        Charles Despiau :
- Then run for it!

        Antoine Bourdelle :
- Oh no! I could never do that to him!...

        Charles Despiau :
- Pull yourself together, the boss is coming on his rounds!...

They all busy themselves as if feeling guilty of gossip.


 
Acte I, scène 2.



The same characters including Rose Beuret.
She is holding a little metal spray and is aiming it at the clay models that are all covered with cloths.
She lifts the cloths and systematically sprays the models with three small spurts.

        Rose :
- Good morning children!

        Les autres :
- Good morning Madam Rose...

        Rose (while accomplishing her task) to Bourdelle:
- Ah Mr. Bourdelle, I think we shall have a good day today. I saw swifts flying very high in the sky this morning. It's a sign of good weather.

While Rose is talking to Bourdelle, Despiau puts a cloth on his head and leans on his elbows on one of the steles. Rose who is methodically spraying the clay under the cloths and not looking, sprays Charles Despiau's face, who proceeds to make a scene by spitting everywhere. Rose shrieks and steps back.

        Rose :
- Oh my goodness you gave me a fright Mr.Charles ! (she sits down and sighs)... Especially as I have nightmares like that all the time : clay reacting like you did or drying and crackling or pieces of their faces crashing down, their eyes rolling over the floor and attacking me !

        Bourdelle :
- Oh ! Madam Rose !

        Rose :
- Like I said! .. (she insists) They attack me. (she mimes being surrounded) I have other nightmares where my body crackles, I crumble and Rodin sweeps me up without paying attention... There's only one bust that doesn't turn a hair and that's Miss Camille's bust. I don't like that one, one little bit. I could water it a thousand times and it would still never return to mud !

        Tous :
- Oh ! Madam Rose !

        Rose :
- Oh I know very well that it's sacred since it left the workshop but every time I water it, its face just seems to taunt ! You see for yourselves!

Rose lifts the cloth, (the audience can not see the sculpture) The assistants get closer.

        Rose :
- You see that glare !...

        Despiau :
- It has to be said that the master is without equal in finding the truth of a face !

        Rose :
- Truth ?... Lie more like! The worst type of deceit to top it all!

        Bourdelle :
- Come a long now ! Madam Rose !

        Rose :
- You know very well!..

They all return to work. Rose lifts the cloth again, checks that no one is watching her and keeps on spraying... She then finishes her round and leaves through the door under the mezzanine...

        Bourdelle :
- Poor Rose, the master does mess her around. It's nearly been four years since Camille left the workshop.

        Despiau :
- The master is still in just as much admiration of her talent...

        Pompon :
- He sometimes sends me to help out in her workshop... She's talented all right but... she definately has a foul temper...

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