Sunday, October 15, 2006

The Fire in the Prof's Pants or: THE FIRE IN BRADFORD

It's one of those days when I've overloaded myself with work, trying to make up Jaye Wells' impossible assignment of 40 pages a day, trying to sell a play review to big media, and atttempting a replate of my Black Icon novel to be put up on this site, more or less complete.

So I will cheat a little bit here as I try to convert my novella, The Fire In Bradford into a play that I have just forced upon poor Ray Burdon, a theatre director in Newmarket, Ontario.


Set: A really cool English-style pub, replete with oaken bar, general Tudor wood-and-plaster atmoshere, oak tables in front of the bar. There is a dart board behind the tables.

But first, there is voice-over. There is a picture of Celia in full Marilyn Monroe mode on the wide screen in the bar.


Celia appears before you while you are rolling your own cigarettes, the 1920's Vogue face, the bobbed hair, a beautiful flapper not yet fallen into the rye on one September day, though I would know in future September days that she had a hunger for opium and cocaine, and that would make her thoroughly modern, thoroughly like My Lady of the papers.
Hash papers, and hot knives.
I was in fact a newspaperman with a predilection for French authors because they were so maddeningly thorough, that mark of real writers, and so well did I get to know 20th century authors in French that I soon got to teach a nigh course in it. Ah, that French penhant for the absurd, the splayed-out mysticism of an Andre Malraux and that incredible clarity of image and idea that only the French writers possess--and they'd be the first to tell you.
The French are somewhat superior and they know it.

Enough that I was a teacher of French authors and she walked in one day with no hint of the Vogue beauty that I would later get to know, no inkling as to the heaviness of spirit that would later come to oppress me, no clue at all as to the beautiful woman who resided in the suburban Mam's bib overalls she used to wear to my classes, the little white tee shirt with the apple on it, or the closely cropped hair of the liberated, funky, suburban young woman.
Ah, but there is another visitation right now, a flahsback from the days I'd imagine myself a Goethe scholar, abandoning French altogether for some time, the image of Katschen Schoenkopf :(image presented here on screen) Goethe's first love, the nice high forhead som many girls from Ontaro possesses, the hair severely back in a bun with the neatest little bonnet atop, large haunting eyes like your mother's, straight nose, somehwat probing, delightful little crooked lips with the overbite. This too is the image of Celia, but this time with a pre-Victorian dress exquitedly corsetet, nice breasts, waist hardly existent at all.
And granny boots! My God, there were at least two Celias that I knew about, and after the years, many, many more.
Ah, yes. She had been in to study French authors, a fascination for the Bastille, I guess, the French Revolution, socking it to the Boubons, all that stuff of high drama for a fairly active imagination constrained somwhat by a husband--always the husband!--whom she imagined as pesky.

I was a somewhat raffish professor who enjoyed drinking with his students afte class. I had no objection at all when she asked through another dsudent if she could come over to one of the pub nights, and could she bring her husband.


The professor, slightly grizzled and a dozen students revelling at three tables that had been brought together.

Two people, straight out of a Conde Nast fashion publication approach the table.
It is Celia and Lief. Lief is handsome as the night is long, like a Eropean Wayne Gettsky, with continental manners, but no accent at all.
Celia is in a silk minidress, long sleeves, all a natural silk colour. She has one lavender eye contacts which give her a surreal, elfin look.
Canny Lief (The Lucky?) says nothing as we offer seats to him and Celia.
He has a Wayne Gretsky smile.

Celia: This is my husband, Lief.
Lief, still silent and smiling, shakes the prof's hand.

There is a meeting of eyes.

Lief's appearance is highly attractive. He is a tall man, visibly so, even when sitting down in his Maple Leafs jersey.

There is sudden activity stage right. Tha band has come in.
Lief: Oh. It's going to get busy. I'd better get the drinks for me and Celia before they start playing.

Lief rises. The prof has a good look at Celia.
She is stunning. Hair short and bobbled, cut straight across the back like a Twenties flapper. She has on blue eyeshadow. Yes, the blue eyeshadow. Dead givaway. She is available.

Lief returns with a pint of Toby's beer and a glass of white wine for Celia.

Lief: Celia has told me a lot about you. Seems you are really into Flaubert...and even Tolstoy in translation.

Prof: "Yeah, I find myself amazed that hardly anybody in the class, largely women--look at them all--has ever read real novels instead of the Harlequin trash all around them....And how they themselves love to write Harlequin--I have seen the samples. My god, what active imaginations! No wonder they're in a French Novels class. They all seem to think their problems will end, just by leaving old hubber.

Lief masks a wince, by a smile and a nod; Ah well. It's l986.

Prof: Kinda makes you think you're in a movie. Everybody's lost her sense of history. This will certainly pass.


Professsor: Think I'm going to ask one of these lovely students to dance. Excuse me for now.

Lief to Celia, sotto voce: I've never met a man like him before. So like Inspector Cluseau from, you know, the movie.

Celia: Shut the hell up, Lief.

The professor is back from his dance.

He sits down.

Lief, a little miffed excuses himself.

Celia and the professor face each other across the hastily-wiped, oaken table.

Celia is beautiful.

The professor bends across the table and kisses her plain on the lips.

Lief, just opening the washroom door, notices.

He sits down. Celia and the prof have locked eyes.

Prof (heated now by the booze) You have a wonderful wife. Do you mind if I ask her to dance?
Lief appears totally unruffled. He holds an open-palmed hand out.
He is truly sweet as a pimp.
Celia and the prof dance. And dance.
Back to the table, and back to the drinks.
There is now a smokiness to the pub.
The professor is describing great sprawling French novels in the smoky air.
He is starting to brag, throw wild promises to the wind, descibing the novel in French he hoped to write one day.

Lief: What do you think of Balzac?
Prof. The Master. The absolute master. The Shakespeare of the novel!

Lief: My favourite. In French or English. I especially like The Fatal Skin. Where the owner of the wild ass' skin can have all the wishes, until the skin shrinks to nothing..
Prof: Yeah, don't I feel that way right now?

The band is playing something uincharacteristic, the piano players lapsing into Debussy.
Prof, looking straight at Celia: Passion flower.
Lief: Passion flower indeed. He avoids sarcasm.

The prof asks Celia to dance once more.
Celia (in his ams): Lief can't do anything. He just can't do anytying any more. I'm worried that he's turning gay.
I've told him....He just can't seem to do anything.

Prof (Now half drunk and self-confident with it): Nah. Get him some French pornography.

There is great revelry, dancing and noise in the pub. Three Scotsmen, in full kilt, knock over two beer pitchers and are asked to leave.The professor knocks over his own glass.
Celia: "That's tacky, David" She had called him by his first name.

But then Lief too, knocks over an entire pitcher, to loud applause from the others.

They are all drunk

Celia (wiping some foam from Lief''s jersey) I like David. I think we should take him home with us.

An indulgent nod from Lief.

------end Act One




Jaye Wells said...

Sure, Ivan, always blame it on the dame. You got yourself into this one.

ivan said...

It's not you, Jaye.
Got chewed out by my accountant(not a dame) and it brings out an anxiety level.
Dames inspire me.
If you hadn't gotten me off my backside I'd just be drinkin' and not writin'. :)

lainey bancroft said...

'K, so ya can't blame me for checking. (Blame Jaye, she seems happy to carry it)
Ah...what to say? Big Leafs fan, are ya?
As handsome as Wayne Gretsky? Eh?
Love the...ah Canadian-ism.
Don't mind me. Not like I posted my 8k word on my site. (mainly because 7.5k of them will wind up in the recycle bin)
But I agree, at least I'm off my backside--or rather on it--in front of the 'puter :P
(love local theater btw. not too far, inform me of your launch)

Anonymous said...


Thanks you very much for forwarding the link to your site to me and I have forwarded it to the cast and crew. You are a gifted writer. Would you consider writing articles for us to submit to the media for our other two shows this season? I Unfortunately we could not pay you in anything but comp tickets- however it would be great to work with you.

Please let me know your thought when you have a moment.

Highest Regards,

Alison Scarlett

Communications Director

Newmarket Stage

ivan said...

Note to Jaye,

Somehow, through a kind of osmosis,
your idea caromed off my aticle- and -playwritig processes; your idea sparked enthusiasm and I wrote madly off in all directions.
I really appreciate the gracious letter above from the Newmarket Stage Company.
Were it not for your spark, the good luck would not have come.
...But then you know me by now, I think.
I am the "girl with the curl":
When she was good, she was very good
When she was bad, she was horrid!

EA Monroe said...

Hi, Ivan. How's Act II coming along? Can't wait to find out what happens when they all get home. Oh, Rickey left you a comment last night and she spoke a little German, too.

ivan said...

lainey bancroft.

I probably won't be able to supply the page count for Jaye, but I will sure as hell try.
So I can't immediately join Kim Jong Il and launch the "Big Dong" missile.
But at least the Newmarket Stage Company is happy with my review of their "The Kitchen Witches".
Unexpected entreaty from the company.
So happy that Jaye provided the goad.
She's getting us all off our backsides.
Well, let's all break a leg!

Josie said...

Uh, Ivan, Wayne Gretsky is kinda cute, but he isn't handsome.

Now, if you had said Paul Gross... yum. And he happens to be an actor.

When do we read Act II?


ivan said...

I wrote a reply to Rickey's nice comments in your second-last blog. Some of my reply was in German.
Unfortunately, Blogger did an essengemacht and ate the whole thing.
So I ended up with a fairly pedestrian reply--the more clever we try to be the more Blogger
seems like the Coyote in the cartoon--Eternus famishus-famishus.

Loved your blog today about the old house. Evocative!

I'd offer to act as your agent, but there has been dead silence from a publisher I'd sent another lady's work to; don't want any bad luck to rub off.

On a positive note, another "client" of mine did have a poem that I'd printed here taken by a good-sized slick magazine.

I am the girl with the curl, "When she was good,she was very good,but when she was bad..."

My late father-in-law used to say
"do no intellectual work this time of night...You will not sleep."
Shiiite. I can't sleep anyway.
But there is schnapps in the fridge,a well-known enemy of fatigue and the blues.
Should raise a glass to your friend Rickey.


ivan said...

Hi Josie!
Wayne Gretsky not as handsome as Canadian actor Paul Gross?
What do I know?

I am actually north of Sixty.

I meant to produce Act II tonight, but I commented on so many other blogs--most comments were eaten by Blogger--that I am near brain-dead from all that effort and frustration. Why does Blogger hate me?...Come to think of it, why does Ma Bell hate me? Every time I get behind on my internet/telephone bill,they give me this hint and cut both services off.
I swear I am going to turn shepherd and leave all this technology alone.
But lord, does it sometimes bring results. My theatre gambit ended up with a kind of job offer. Unpaid,but sort of nice in exposure.
Been reading your blogs. Attractive writing style. You might answer that it is no style at all, but back when I was in the magazine business, they use to say the best style is one that appears "no style."
No excess verbiage here, just plain good writin'.
Think I'll just surf over to "Don't Get Around Much" right