Cast: KRAPP, host

guests, various

Set: a TV talk show, minimal lighting, blackouts where marked. Kitchen chair for KRAPP, couch for guests. Couch is not big enough for all guests, they gradually pile up. Guests are introduced by KRAPP briefly hoisting a placard from a pile under his chair.

(enter KRAPP, K, to brief theme music)

K: not much you have to know about me, I need very little space and I like very little attention. Funny to end up here you may think, in this line of work, did I back into it, well more or less, I guess I did, yes and no, never mind, more important is other people do (need space, like attention), they come here, their eyes are bright, I love the brightness of their eyes, it is ever a surprise to me. If I had a family (I don’t have a family) I cannot imagine they would look at me with such bright eyes. Admittedly there was a time I thought I would grow and flourish here, become happy and interesting and modern, well my old dad put paid to that notion the one time he came to the show – ‘unchanged for the worse’ he said and I believe I have adhered to that standard ever since.

(K holds up placard JACK KEROUAC AND HIS MOTHER GABRIELLE (GABE), enter GK and JK)

GK:         we’re going to Radio City after this
JK:          it’s her birthday
GK:         I’ll be sixty-four where does the time go
K:            where indeed
GK:         I wasn’t always this fat when I stopped wearing a girdle I
went all over the place
JK:          say something in French Ma
GK:         qu’est-ce que tu veux savoir
JK:          you tutoyed him Ma, hear that she tutoyed you
K:            so she did
GK:         it’s like that afternoon the Filipino butler kept giving me drinks
K:            you’ve a butler
GK:         no Barney Rosset’s butler we went for dinner
JK:          had a big screaming dinner all talking French Gallimard
was there you’re speaking pure eighteenth-century Norman
 dialect he said to me
GK:         I played the piano then I went downstairs started kidding
the little butler I was having a ball
JK:          later we hit the bars did Fifth Avenue supposed to have an
interview with Holiday magazine never made it
GK:         Florida when we lived there he didn’t drink at all but over
here oh my
JK:          I can take it you know Li Po drank all those guys drank
dharma bums roaming China
K:           Buddhists I suppose
GK:        think I’d like a sandwich

(GK wanders off)

JK:          whole thing’s a sad mess
K:           drinking you mean
JK:          shallow journalism I mean, Cassady Ginsberg Burroughs
with us you’re talking the greatest American writers since
the Transcendentalists and your name will go down with us
or up with us, your name will go up
K:           so I hope
JK:         what we mean by shallow journalism is simply the failure to
give complete tragic detail to your facts
K:           the tragic detail I think I can capture
JK:         I bet you’re sincere I bet you’re stringent but I don’t know

(GK wanders back in)

GK:         this is a way better interview than the one you did with Neal
remember, what a waste of electricity taping all those ohs and ums
K:            you mean Cassady
JK:          Neal Cassady henchman Cassady Okie Dostoevsky
Cassady I got the flash from his style
K:            his books
JK:         Cassady wrote no books Cassady wrote a forty-thousand-
word letter to me in 1945 greatest piece of writing I ever
saw spontaneous not crafty
K:            where is it
JK:          Ginsberg lent this ecstatic golden document to a guy on a
houseboat in Sausalito who lost it
K:            overboard
JK:          I presume
GK:         that Allen Ginsberg something about the man I couldn’t stand
JK:          she liked Cassady
GK:         Neal was all right loved the horses that’s why he was nervous
K:            what is spontaneous writing
JK:          do not store up in your mind what you might say it is the Holy
Ghost speaks through you first time you’ve met the Holy Ghost I bet
K:            almost, what does the Ghost say
JK:          says I’m a messenger

(GK dozes off)

K:           what is your message
JK:         heaven is waiting for us, God is alone
K:           you’re a religious man
JK:         religion darling is your own breaking heart
K:           have you any bananas
JK:         no but we could make a whiskey run
K:           where to
JK:         Elks Bar a few streets down, I’ll go on with my story my
story is endless you don’t want to lose out on that, I lost out
on things for instance ‘Beat Generation’ MGM’s making a
movie with that title but it’s my title! we’re going to sue, I

was in church in 1945 kneeling all alone in the great silence
and I realized beat means beatitude
K:           in the sense beatific
JK:         you see it doesn’t apply to anyone else you see that
K:           I have known such silence
JK:         we get along all right don’t we Krapp
K:           get along we do
JK:         go by the same rules, know what’s my first rule
K:           what
JK:         Nothing Ever Happened so don’t worry
K:           know what’s mine
JK:         what
K:           don’t get drunk in your own house
JK:         so let’s go out
K:           small point, I’ve got to stay and finish the Hour
JK:         freedom is out there Banana Man
K:           perhaps you’d bring me back one
JK:         one freedom
K:          one banana
JK:         sure
K:           thanks
JK:         see you

(blackout, exit JACK KEROUAC)

(lights up and brief theme music, K holds up placard THOREAU’S AUNT MARIA, enter AM)

AM:         well we have to start somewhere
K:             it always feels like breaking into a locked room
AM:         shall we talk about me or Henry D
K:             as you prefer
AM:         I’m a shy person
K:             me too
AM:         let’s not stare at each other

(AM gets up, lies down lengthwise on couch facing away from K, feet over GK who is still dozing)

AM:         I feel smarter this way
K:             I feel more polite
AM:         ‘there are no bad manners in the unconscious’
K:             who said that
AM:         my shrink
K:             you had shrinks in your day
AM:         you’re kidding, yes electric shock therapy too of which let
me tell you the worst part is the sound
K:             what sound
AM:         a tiny splash
K:             God save us
AM:         I no longer harbour that hope
K:             tell me what you hear now
AM:         (puts hand over ears briefly) lamentation
K:             ah
AM:         very faint and far away
K:             has your memory been affected
AM:         I don’t know let’s test it, you heard the story of the gardener
from Cincinnati
K:             no
AM:          a gardener runs up to his princess one day crying Princess
I’ve just met Death in the garden and he made a threatening
gesture please lend me a horse to go over home of course she
lends him a horse
K:              to go over home
AM:          exactly, so later that day she meets Death in the garden
K:              the princess
AM:          yes
GK:          (waking) they have a Princess of Cincinnati
AM:          no the princess isn’t in Cincinnati
K:              oh
AM:          and why are you asking that now
GK:           I just woke up
K:              let’s talk about Henry D defaulting on his taxes
AM:          advance in the direction of your dream he would say
K:              he advanced to jail
AM:           just one night
K:              you paid the taxes
AM:          yes
K:              lot of money
AM:          cost is relative
K:              relative to what
AM:          relative to the amount of life exchanged for it
K:              did you pay his tuition at Harvard too
AM:          check your facts young man, there was no question of
arrears of tuition what Henry David refused to pay
at Harvard was the five-dollar charge for a diploma
K:              ah
AM:           let a sheep keep its skin he said
K:              do you ever get really tired of aphorisms
AM:          yes
K:              and then what
AM:          and then I keep my peace
K:             ah
AM:          so the princess meets Death in the garden
K:              how does she know it is Death
AM:          I presume Death announced himself
K:              really
AM:          what do you mean really
K:              I’d always imagined Death as wordless as having some sort
of sound perhaps but wordless
AM:          what sound
K:              like poplars
GK:           like popcorn
AM:          well this story depends on Death being not wordless
K:              I see
AM:          we leave behind the logic of the everyday
K:              agreed
AM:          so the princess puts a question to Death in the garden
K:              sorry, we have to take a short break here
AM:          do I go or stay
K:              as you wish
GK:           can you move this knee
AM:          I’ll stay

(AM gets up, moves down couch, sits, blackout)

(lights up and brief theme music, K holds up placard MARTIN HEIDEGGER, enter MH)

K:            where were you in 1945
MH:         –
K:            Germany was at point zero
MH:         –
K:            perhaps it seemed the world would start over again
MH:         –
K:            you were beginning to think about Anaximander
MH:         –
K:            about justice and injustice paying the price to one another
MH:         –
K:            within the ordinance of time
MH:         –
K:            I was in Berlin the day the Russians entered for some
reason I’m reminded of this now, they torched a
whorehouse next to the zoo and you know the only image I
cannot erase from my memory of war is tigers bears
stags elephants roaming the Ku’damm some of them on fire
MH:         –
K:            look it’s snowing
MH:       (looks)
K:            good thing we’re sheltered here
MH:       (brief sound)
K:            I love that blue colour how it flows out and mingles with the
evening
MH:         –
K:            as if a vein had been opened high up
MH:        –
K:            why don’t you take the shorter way home

(exit MH)

K:             I saw a singed baboon sitting on a park bench drinking a
bottle of India ink

(snows briefly, blackout)

K:             there was no shorter way home

(lights up and brief theme music, K holds up placard LA CHATTE PROSECUTED FOR COLLABORATION WITH GERMANS PARIS 1945, enter LC)

K:            you don’t like questions
LC:          no
K:            how about subject headings
LC:          go ahead
K:            danger
LC:          I found even as a child a thrill in danger
K:            the Resistance
LC:          I who had never read a spy story in my life
K:            errors
LC:          even small errors could be fatal
K:            meals
LC:          I ate meals before a mirror to feel less lonely
K:            cat
LC:          I was called la chatte perhaps for my fluid movements
K:            Bleicher
LC:          Bleicher offered me six thousand francs a month
K:            pâté
LC:          pâté with champagne was how Bleicher celebrated
rounding up all the agents in my agenda
K:            father
LC:          father remained silent
K:            mother
LC:          mother screamed
K:            villa
LC:          coming and going from the villa I met gazes of hatred
K:            sex
LC:          sex was purely animal and it weighed against me at the trial
K:            trial
LC:          people who condemned me never knew me
K:            facts
LC:          in my deposition I have shortened them but retained all the
actual facts
K:            épuration
LC:         ‘cleansing’ was for working-class women not Coco Chanel
you notice
K:            Coco
LC:          got her name because she gave pretty good coke parties
this was before the war, Nazis didn’t care much for drugs
K:            lawyers
LC:          any fool can defend an innocent person takes talent to save
a guilty one
K:            last words
LC:          I had some ready
K:            last minute
LC:          why de Gaulle came through who knows
K:            guilt
LC:          one is subtle or one isn’t

(K holds up placard GHOST, enter G partly backwards)

K:            can you turn around
G:            no (turns partly)
K:            is it your birthday
G:           shreds
K:           are you awake, asleep, do you sleep
G:           how could I lose the address
K:           you smell like stone
G:           can you, what it how it how you learned to see it, as,
something visible to or this object do they
K:           first day of school you mean
G:           they, shivering frail slow to a standstill around no you’re no,
more little dear no more closing the back of your out you go into
K:           into what
G:           I forget everyone forgets there’s no way not to, hear that
green snap this, what out is
K:           how did you die
G:           suicide
K:           I’m sorry
G:           I’m in the pines one day the sunrise falls out of the sky was
that sin
K:           oh no that wasn’t sin
G:           the rule I remember is no one can do both of both things
but they must have been okay to do, it will be lingering in
their mind the bruise of thinking how both, that both
K:           you seem to be sinking or scattering or
G:           I have no jokes I don’t like jokes
K:           I’m not joking
G:           don’t mean you
K:           ah
G:           night is hard on the lambs
K:           have you no rest
G:           you know it will end without anyone being free
K:           what’s that sound
G:           everything in me falling
K:           is there wisdom
G:           A=A
K:           what remains of all the misery
G:           something mechanical
K:           don’t go
G:           did you ever sing

(blackout which continues, snow continues)

(K and all guests in unison out of the dark whisper yes)

(blackout continues, snow continues, actors exit, light up on K’s chair with his shape left in snow)

 

 

Photograph © NBC / Getty Images


Grandma and Me
The Mast Year