Beauty of the Father
Marina, a young woman of twenty-five
Emiliano, a man in his mid-forties, early fifties
Paquita, a woman in her late forties, early fifties
Karim, a young man of twenty-five
Federico García Lorca, the thirty-eight-year-old poet as a ghost, dressed in a white suit
TIME AND PLACE
Summer 1998. A small town called Salobreña, in Granada, Spain.
An old Spanish beach house that faces the Mediterranean. The open terrace has been converted into a sort of artist studio because of its open space and view of the sea. There are wooden sculptures and canvases. A rifle hangs from a wall. The furniture and decoration have a Moroccan influence.
Not all the characters can see Lorca. Exceptions are noted in the script.
And there are bodies
that shouldn’t repeat themselves at dawn.
—Federico García Lorca
The sound of bells. A long shaft of orange light bathes Federico García Lorca, He is dressed in a 1930s white linen suit.
Lorca: Five o’clock in the afternoon. The hour that bullfighters get killed. (Writes a note) There was no death today at five o’clock in the afternoon. No, no death reported. Perhaps there was a wound. But there is always a wound in the world, open and exposed for everybody to see, and a little sand bucket of tears by the edge of the sea.
(A flash of white light. Emiliano stands with a pair of espadrilles in the palms of his hands. Flamenco music plays.)
Emiliano: This is a picture of a pair of espadrilles I bought for you. In the South of Spain we use espadrilles in the summer. If you come to Salobreña, you have a pair waiting for you. Now that your mother is no longer alive, why don’t you come and live with me. Love, your father, Emiliano.
(A flash of white light. Marina stands holding an old birdcage.)
Marina: This is a picture of me with a birdcage I bought at the market. I’m going to buy myself a green parakeet. This way the house will seem less lonely I can’t get used to living without Mamá. I think I’m coming to see you.
(Marina exits. A flash of white light. Emiliano holds a bird’s nest.)
Emiliano: This is a picture of a nest I found in one of my walks to the woods. I’ve been making sculptures of nests ever since you told me that you’re coming to see me. I want to father you again after all these years. Don’t buy the green parakeet. Just come to Spain!
(A flash of white light.)
Lorca: I would’ve been a hundred this year. Yes, me, Federico Garcia Lorca. But now I’m dead and gone, and there is no difference between a wisp of smoke and myself, so I constantly have to remind myself that I’m only a spirit and I have to look at life from a distance and not get too involved with humanity But the living have a way of beckoning us back to life through prayer or a work of art, and sometimes what pulls us to the world exists independently of our will. And it’s only natural that we respond, because as spirits we have our little sad attachments to the world, and there’s always work to be done.
(The lights change. Paquita enters the stage running. She holds a cloth and is drying her hands.)
Paquita: She’s here, Emiliano. She called from the airport. She took an earlier flight from Madrid.
Emiliano: How long ago did she call?
Paquita: Twenty minutes.
Emiliano: How do I look? Why didn’t you call me?
Paquita: I did. But your phone didn’t pick up.
Emiliano: Where are my car keys? I have to change my shirt.
Paquita: No. You stay here. I sent Karim to pick her up in your car.
Emiliano: Will he recognize her? He doesn’t know her.
Paquita: Vale, hombre! Calmate! Calm down…He’s seen pictures of her.
Emiliano: Damn it! I wanted to pick her up at the airport. (Takes out his cellular phone) What’s wrong with this shit!
Paquita: I’ll go tell Tomasa she can start preparing lunch.
(Paquita exits. Emiliano stays with Lorca.)
Emiliano: It’s my daughter.
Emiliano: I have to pick up this place. I started painting and I made a mess . . . (In a sort of frenzy he starts organizing the mess on top of his work table)
Lorca: How long has it been since you saw her last?
Emiliano: Almost ten years.
Lorca: Why that long?
Emiliano: Her mother thought I was unfit as a father.
Lorca: And what on earth does that mean?
Emiliano: I think you understand.
Lorca: Bah, that’s like saying that a woman in order to be a mother has to knit, milk cows and know how to cut a sausage.
Emiliano: I have to change my shirt.
Lorca: Then change your shirt, hombre, and wash your face. You’ve been out in the fields gathering your nests. You must smell like a horse.
Emiliano (Running offstage to get a clean shirt): Yes, I want to look good. I don’t want her to get the wrong impression of her father. (Reenters wearing a clean shirt) We really don’t know each other that well. I left home when she was a little girl. Does this shirt look better?
Lorca: Much better, Oh, I wish I had a daughter!
(Emiliano sees a mess under the table and starts arranging his paint tubes.)
Emiliano: I have to pick up these paints. And if you don’t mind, Federico, I don’t think you should be around when she gets here.
Lorca: Ashamed to introduce me?
Emiliano: No. But what would she think when she sees that I converse with a dead man?
Lorca: Thank you, my dear. Perhaps I should leave now.
Emiliano: No, I didn’t mean . . . Not just a dead man, my dear friend Federico Garcia Lorca—Did you have anything to do with my daughter coming?
Lorca: Do you think I can perform miracles?
Emiliano: I don’t know. You’re the first dead man I’ve met—
Lorca: Departed, Emiliano. Perished. There are words that can alleviate reality.
(Paquita enters running.)
Paquita: The car just pulled in. They’re taking the bags out of the trunk. Oh, she’s even more beautiful than the photos. And she speaks Spanish, too!
Emiliano: How do I look?
Paquita: You look fine! You look fine! Let’s go! Let’s go! (Starts to go, then stops) Oh wait! So what are we going to tell your daughter when she asks about me?
Emiliano (Playfully): We’ll tell her that you had a lobotomy and forgot who you are! Paquita You fool! (Hits him playfully)
Emiliano: Let’s go! Let’s go!
(Paquita and Emiliano start to exit. Emiliano signals Lorca to leave.)
Lorca: A whole new life is starting for you, Emiliano. A new beginning. . . Now you’ll recover your place in the world and you’ll cease to be an exiled father. Just remember that your past with your daughter never made it to the future, so you might encounter that unforeseen tear.
(Lorca exits, We hear laughter outside. Marina, Emiliano, Paquita and Karim enter the stage.)
Marina: You should’ve seen what happened, Papa. Should I tell him? (Breaks into laughter)
Emiliano: Don’t tell me he was late to the station.
Karim: She makes me laugh.
Marina: I won’t tell you if you’re going to get upset with him.
Emiliano: No. I don’t think anything can make me upset today. (Changes tone) So what did you do, Karim?
Karim (Looks at Marina and breaks into laughter): Your daughter makes me laugh.
Marina: We got into a little accident.
Emiliano: Oh! That can make me upset.
Paquita: Vale hombre! Let them explain.
Marina: It wasn’t his fault, Papa.
Emiliano: What’s a little accident, Karim?
Karim (Looks at Marina and begins to laugh again): I can’t look at her . . .
Marina: He was taking a curve and all of a sudden there was a deer crossing the road. He tried to steer the car away and the wheels started to skid and the car went around in circles.
Paquita: Did you hurt yourself?
Marina: No, no, we’re fine. It was like being in a roller coaster, right?
(Karim does a circle with his hand.)
Karim (Laughs): Isn’t she funny! Isn’t she beautiful!
Emiliano: Was he playing his loud music? (Looks at Karim)
(Karim looks at Marina and breaks into laughter again.)
Marina (Laughs with him): I was the one who told him to play it loud. Being around all those mountains, it felt like there was so much freedom all around us, so much room to breathe and take in life . . . I told him to step on the accelerator and to blast up the music!
Karim: You see, she’s lovely! You have a beautiful daughter.
Marina: I think it’s the only time I have felt like myself since Mama died.
Emiliano: Well, you are here now and that’s what matters.
Paquita: So, did anything happen to the deer?
Karim: Oh no! We saved his life.
Paquita: Then nothing really happened. Nothing happened to Marina. Nothing happened to you. Nothing happened to the deer. We don’t have anything to worry about. Let’s have café! Welcome to Spain, Marina! Welcome to Salobreña!
Emiliano: What about my car?
Paquita: Ah, hombre! Nothing happened to the car! (Starts to make her way to the kitchen) Let’s drink café. Marina, please don’t tell me that you don’t drink café.
Marina: I do.
Paquita: Good. You have our same sweet habits. I hope you smoke, too.
Marina: No, I don’t.
Paquita: Ah, don’t worry. I’ll smoke on your behalf.
(Paquita and Karim exit.)
Marina: Are they for real?
Emiliano: After you’ve had six glasses of wine, yes.
Marina: I like them.
Marina: So you’re not as lonely as I thought you’d be.
Emiliano: No. I’ve become a nester. I’ve created a family for myself, and now with you here the family is complete.
Marina: I did buy a round-trip ticket—
Emiliano: Good. They’re cheaper.
Marina: No. I mean—
Emiliano: So don’t use it—
Marina: What about my university—?
Emiliano: We have universities here—
Marina: I just—
Emiliano: Relax. Breathe. At least let me try to convince you to stay.
Marina: I’m sure I’ll be tempted. (Looks around. Emiliano signals) It’s a beautiful house, and so close to the sea. Do you always get this breeze?
Emiliano: Always. (Looking at her full of love) Come here. Let me look at you.
(Marina steps away. We can sense that she doesn’t feel quite comfortable with her father.)
Marina: Oh, I probably look like a scarecrow. I didn’t sleep a bit on the airplane. I’m exhausted. Since Mama’s death I haven’t stopped working. I had to take care of so many things. I don’t think I’ve ever worked so hard in my life.
Emiliano: Why did you take so long to tell me about your mother’s death?
Marina: I promised her not to tell you. She told me to wait a while.
Emiliano: Is that because—?
Marina: She didn’t want you at the funeral.
Marina: She didn’t want you to see her helpless and dead.
Emiliano: Did she let Robert go to her funeral?
Marina: Why wouldn’t she? He was her husband.
(Emiliano is confused. He walks to another part of the room.)
Emiliano: I always think it’s terrible these things…
Marina: Just see it as another way of loving. —Is this what you are painting now?
Emiliano: Yes, all these. Do you know Lorca?
Marina: Mama had all his books. She always said if you ever want to know about your father read his work.
Emiliano: And did you?
(Marina glances everywhere. She moves close to the table where Emiliano keeps a few nests.)
Are these the nests that you found?
Marina (Picks up one of the nests): Don’t you feel bad about taking them?
Emiliano: No. They’ve been abandoned.
Marina: But they say that birds always come back to their nests.
Emiliano: I always ask for permission before I take them. I have manners. They’re the ones that are rude. They nest on my roof without asking me.
Marina: Are these the espadrilles?
Karim: Paquita wants you out on the patio. She’s serving café there.
Emiliano: Tell her we’ll be there in a second.
Marina: Why the sculptures of nests?
Emiliano: Because I knew you were coming, because I’d like to father you.
Marina: I’m not a child anymore.
Emiliano: You are my child, no matter how old you are. Let’s go. (Places his hand on her shoulder with affection) You and I are starting from scratch. You are Marina and I am Emiliano, and we’ve been brought together by life once again. Let’s have café. Your first café in Spain.
Lorca: That’s it, my friend! You’re handling it well. Later you have to show her the sea. Let her know that this is where Spain ends and rocks spill over the edge to welcome those who come with pain and affliction.
(Flamenco music plays. The lights change.)
My deepest gratitude to Jay Harris for his generosity in producing most of my plays in South Florida, and for being such a good friend.
Beauty of the Father received its world premiere by the New Theatre (Rafael de Acha, Artistic Director; Eileen Suarez, Managing Director) in Coral Gables, Florida, on January 3, 2004. It was directed by Rafael de Acha; the set design was by Adrian W. Jones, the costume and props design were by Caron Grant, the lighting design was by Travis Neff and the sound design was by Ozzie Quintana; the stage manager was Caron Gitelman Grant. The cast was as follows:
MARINA Ursula Freundlich
EMILIANO Roberto Escobar
PAQUITA Teresa Maria Rojas
KARIM Euriamis Losada
FEDERICO GARCÍA LORCA Carlos Orizondo
Beauty of the Father received its New York City premiere by the Manhattan Theatre Club (Lynne Meadow, Artistic Director; Barry Grove, Executive Producer) on December 8, 2005. It was directed by Michael Greif; the set design was by Mark Wendland, the costume design was by Miranda Hoffman, the lighting design was by James F. Ingalls and the sound design was by Darron L. West; the dialect coach was Deborah Hecht, the stage manager was David H. Lurie and the production stage manager was Barclay Stiff. The cast was as follows:
MARINA Elizabeth Rodriguez
EMILIANO Ritchie Coster
PAQUITA Priscilla Lopez
KARIM Pedro Pascal
FEDERICO GARCÍA LORCA Oscar Isaac