Liliana Heer



Liliana Heer

Do you want to play the drums? (inglés)
By Liliana Heer
Translated by Moira Fradinger and Macarena Cordiviola

While the snow falls, we can see the snowflakes under the clouds.

A silver circle illuminates three figures: their trunks tied together by a black cloth.

During the scene there seems to be three actors but there are in fact two covered by the cloth. If they look as if they are three it’s because we can see three heads with wolves’ jaws and long black hoods.
Once the jaws are open, the stout black figures swirl to the dance coming from the jamb of a prison window.

As the light dilates it shows a chapel and opposite it, a synagogue.
These buildings look as if they had been made out of human flesh but they have in fact been made with cardboard boxes.
Between one building and the other there’s an open ladder
on which the fat hang the wolf’s costumes they have just taken off.
Under the black cloth they wear what a priest and a rabbi would.
Each one goes to the gate to his faith. One kneeling, the other standing, both begin to pray.
Gazing at the sky and at the ground.
Over the buildings different images are projected. Thousands of mouths murmur, request, beg or promise.
The voices of a multitude are heard. The volume goes up to its maximum and right then, a snore is heard.
The mute inoculates burlap, changes all shades, rakes them until they become more distant.

The sound goes up and down.
Mouths, noses, cheeks, foreheads: faces: thousands of faces waving in the sanctuaries.
Suddenly, night falls over the synagogue walls.
The multitude has given way to the curling and breaking of waves.
The rabbi has removed his thalis.
It’s not the sea but the ocean. The water flows away, abysses roar and foam swirls break out from the waves.
And this noise invades the room.
The fat man still drifts along his ship-wrecked fate. He swims skillfully and can be seen moving forward in the water without any sign of despair.
There’s joy in his body.
His gestures less and less humane.

Naked portrait of the man
elastic silhouette
Eternal wanderer
searching for a port in vain,
compelled to a nomadic life
Perpetual nostalgia
as close to garbage as to eternity.

The rabbi swims to the coast that is projected over the walls of the synagogue and when he comes to the sand desert, he rests.
The placid sea-wolf is asleep.

The roar of the ocean becomes a multitude. A powerful reflector illuminates the priest.

Wasps buzz into his eardrum membrane.
He stands at the chapel door covering his ears.
Does he want to prevent the church members from going in?
Is he afraid of God?
The mouths request, beg, promise, threaten.
Shades of sticks on the room walls.
Ambulances and drums wailing.
Do you want to play the drums?

Against the world’s intolerance
attracting scorn and wrath
a swindler
exposed to whatever comes.
His begging hopes already lost.

The priest took shelter under the ladder that is left between the two buildings.
A reflector scans him.
A room unlit.
The priest, in spite of his clothes, climbs up like an alpinist.
He flings a hook before stepping ahead.
He climbs up slowly to the last step and then is seen floating up in the air.
The harnesses that hold the actor can be easily spotted: a human swing.
It is necessary to look up to see him go along a track that gradually becomes bigger and bigger.

In the room there are shadows and noises of beating sticks.
From a corner of the ceiling, pieces of wood and debris start to fall. This is now a small area in ruins. Mortar, wood, bricks, lime.
Human forms vanish into the debris.

The ship-wrecked man is sleeping lightly but is disturbed by a nightmare. Excitement, restlessness, fury.
He is awakened by a pain, a pain in his right foot.
His body motionless and his foot shaking.
There’s panting and irregular breathing.
The actor sits up. He struggles to remain in the position. He endures this for just a few minutes before yielding and finally collapsing.
He tries once again.
One of his legs does not respond. As if it does not belong to his body, it stretches on its own and drags him into the water.
The actor eventually gives up to this tug.
As the endurance is over, there is less pressure. The rules have been set. He ought to be cautious, clever. He raises his head inch by inch. He also raises his trunk lying in his left knee, without moving a single muscle in his other leg.
He only intends to have a look.
Emotionless. Meaningless gestures.
He looks at his ill foot from the angle of his knee. He keeps his eyes on it for a while and then lies again on the sand.
Caution. A saving on strength.
He pretends to be asleep when he is actually plucking up courage.
He evaluates. He assesses each reaction.
He plucks up courage to catch his foot, which slips away as if it were a fish.
The circle of sand expands.

They fight.  The foot gains more and more power.  The body of the fat one vibrates.  In despair he clutches to the sound.  A victim of the fish’s fluttering, he shouts.   The scream immobilizes the animal.  Its arrested force multiplies.  The animal shakes him violently before drowning him in the sea.

Spanish version (original) of this text published in  Tres Puntos,
año 2, no. 87, March 1999.

Serbian version of this text was published in Anuales del Encuentro Internacional de Escritores, Belgrade, Yugoslavia 1988.