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Full Online Book HomePlaysPrince Hagen - Act 1 Scene 1
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Prince Hagen - Act 1 Scene 1 Post by :rkbholding Category :Plays Author :Upton Sinclair Date :May 2012 Read :2635

Click below to download : Prince Hagen - Act 1 Scene 1 (Format : PDF)

Prince Hagen - Act 1 Scene 1

ACT I SCENE I

(Shows a primeval forest, with great trees, thickets in background, and moss and ferns underfoot. A set in the foreground. To the left is a tent, about ten feet square, with a fly. The front and sides are rolled up, showing a rubber blanket spread, with bedding upon it; a rough stand, with books and some canned goods, a rifle, a fishing-rod, etc. Toward centre is a trench with the remains of a fire smoldering in it, and a frying pan and some soiled dishes beside it. There is a log, used as a seat, and near it are several books, a bound volume of music lying open, and a violin case with violin. To the right is a rocky wall, with a cleft suggesting a grotto.)

(At rise: GERALD pottering about his fire, which is burning badly, mainly because he is giving most of his attention to a bound volume of music which he has open. He is a young man of twenty-two, with wavy auburn hair; wears old corduroy trousers and a grey flannel shirt, open at the throat. He stirs the fire, then takes violin and plays the Nibelung theme with gusto.)

GERALD. A plague on that fire! I think I'll make my supper on prunes and crackers to-night!

(Plays again.)


MIMI. (Enters left, disguised as a pack-peddler; a little wizened up man, with long, unkempt grey hair and beard, and a heavy bundle on his back.) Good evening, sir!

GERALD. (Starts.) Hello!

MIMI. Good evening!

GERALD. Why . . . who are you?

MIMI. Can you tell me how I find the road, sir?

GERALD. Where do you want to go?

MIMI. To the railroad.

GERALD. Oh, I see! You got lost?

MIMI. Yes, sir.

GERALD. (Points.) You should have turned to the right down where the roads cross.

MIMI. Oh. That's it!

(Puts down burden and sighs.)

GERALD. Are you expecting to get to the railroad to-night?

MIMI. Yes, sir.

GERALD. Humph! You'll find it hard going. Better rest. (Looks him over, curiously.) What are you--a peddler?

MIMI. I sell things. Nice things, sir. You buy?

(Starts to open pack.)

GERALD. No. I don't want anything.

MIMI. (Gazing about.) You live here all alone?

GERALD. Yes . . . all alone.

MIMI. (Looking of left.) Who lives in the big house?

GERALD. That's my father's camp.

MIMI. Humph! Nobody in there?

GERALD. The family hasn't come up yet.

MIMI. Why don't you live there?

GERALD. I'm camping out--I prefer the tent.

MIMI. Humph! Who's your father?

GERALD. John Isman's his name.

MIMI. Rich man, hey?

GERALD. Why . . . yes. Fairly so.

MIMI. I see people here last year.

GERALD. Oh! You've been here before?

MIMI. Yes. I been here. I see young lady. Very beautiful!

GERALD. That's my sister, I guess.

MIMI. Your sister. What you call her?

GERALD. Her name's Estelle.

MIMI. Estelle! And what's your name?

GERALD. I'm Gerald Isman.

MIMI. Humph! (Looking about, sees violin.) You play music, hey?

GERALD. Yes.

MIMI. You play so very bad?

GERALD. (Laughs.) Why . . . what makes you think that?

MIMI. You come 'way off by yourself!

GERALD. Oh! I see! No . . . I like to be alone.

MIMI. I hear you playing . . . nice tune.

GERALD. Yes. You like music?

MIMI. Sometimes. You play little quick tune . . . so?

(Hums.)

GERALD. (Plays Nibelung theme.) This?

MIMI. (Eagerly.) Yes. Where you learn that?

GERALD. That's the Nibelung music.

MIMI. Nibelung music! Where you hear it?

GERALD. Why . . . it's in an opera.

MIMI. An opera?

GERALD. It's by a composer named Wagner.

MIMI. Where he hear it?

GERALD. (Laughs.) Why . . . I guess he made it up.

MIMI. What's it about? Hey?

GERALD. It's about the Nibelungs.

MIMI. Nibelungs?

GERALD. Queer little people who live down inside the earth, and spend all their time digging for gold.

MIMI. Ha! You believe in such people?

GERALD. (Amused.) Why . . . I don't know . . .

MIMI. You ever see them?

GERALD. No . . . but the poets tell us they exist.

MIMI. The poets, hey? What they tell you about them?

GERALD. Well, they have great rocky caverns, down in the depths of the earth. And they have treasures of gold . . . whole caves of it. And they're very cunning smiths . . . they make all sorts of beautiful golden vessels and trinkets.

MIMI. Trinkets, hey! (Reaches into bundle.) Like this, hey?

(Holds up a gold cup.)

GERALD. (Surprised.) Oh!

MIMI. Or this, hey?

GERALD. Why . . . where did you get such things?

MIMI. Ha, ha! You don't know what I got!

GERALD. Let me see them.

MIMI. You think the Nibelungs can beat that, hey? (Reaches into bag.) Maybe I sell you this cap! (Takes out a little cap of woven gold chains.) A magic cap, hey?

GERALD. (Astounded.) Why . . . what is it?

MIMI. (Puts it on his head.) You wear it . . . so. And you play Nibelung music, and you vanish from sight . . . nobody finds you. Or I sell you the magic ring . . . you wear that . . . (Hands it to GERALD.) Put it on your finger . . . so. Now you play, and the Nibelungs come . . . they dance about in the woods . . . they bring you gold treasures . . . ha, ha, ha! (Amused at GERALD's perplexity.) What you think they look like, hey? . . . those Nibelungs!

GERALD. Why . . . I don't know . . .

MIMI. What do your poets tell you? ha?

GERALD. Why . . . they're little men . . . with long hair and funny clothes . . . and humpbacked.

MIMI. Look like me, hey?

GERALD. (Embarrassed.) Why . . . yes . . . in a way.

MIMI. What are their names?

GERALD. Their names?

MIMI. Yes . . . what ones do you know about?

GERALD. Well, there was Alberich, the king.

MIMI. Alberich!

GERALD. He was the one who found the Rheingold. And then there was Hagen, his son.

MIMI. Hagen!

GERALD. He killed the hero, Siegfried.

MIMI. Yes, yes!

GERALD. And then there was Mimi.

MIMI. Ah! Mimi!

GERALD. He was a very famous smith.

MIMI. (Eagerly.) You know all about them! Somebody has been there!

GERALD. What do you mean?

MIMI. Would you like to see those Nibelungs?

GERALD. (Laughing.) Why . . . I wouldn't mind.

MIMI. You would like to see them dancing in the moonlight, and hear the clatter of their trinkets and shields? You would like to meet old King Alberich, and Mimi the smith? You would like to see that cavern yawn open . . . (points to right) and fire and steam break forth, and all the Nibelungs come running out? Would you like that? ha?

GERALD. Indeed I would!

MIMI. You wouldn't be afraid?

GERALD. No, I don't think so.

MIMI. But are you sure?

GERALD. Yes . . . sure!

MIMI. All right! You wear my magic ring! You wait till night comes! Then you play! (Puts away trinkets.) I must go now.

GERALD. (Perplexed.) What do you want for your ring?

MIMI. It is not for sale. I give it.

GERALD. What!

MIMI. Money could not buy it. (Takes up pack.) I came to you because you play that music.

GERALD. But I can't . . . it . . .

MIMI. It is yours . . . you are a poet! (Starts left.) Is this the way?

GERALD. Yes. But I don't like to . . .

MIMI. Keep it! You will see! Good-bye!

GERALD. But wait!

MIMI. It is late. I must go. Good-night.

(Exit left.)

GERALD. Good-night. (Stands staring.) Well, I'll be switched! If that wasn't a queer old customer! (Looks at ring.) It feels like real gold! (Peers after MIMI.) What in the world did he mean, anyhow? The magic ring! I hope he doesn't get lost in those woods to-night. (Turns to fire.) Confound that fire! It's out for good now! Let it go. (Sits, and takes music score.) Nibelungs! They are realer than anybody guesses. People who spend their lives in digging for gold, and know and care about nothing else. How many of them I've met at mother's dinner parties! Well, I must get to my work now. (Makes a few notes; then looks up and stretches.) Ah, me! I don't know what makes me so lazy this evening. This strange heaviness! There seems to be a spell on me. (Gazes about.) How beautiful these woods are at sunset! If I were a Nibelung, I'd come here for certain! (Settles himself, reclining; shadows begin to fall; music from orchestra.) I'm good for nothing but dreaming . . . I wish Estelle were here to sing to me! How magical the twilight is! Estelle! Estelle!

(He lies motionless; music dies away, and there is a long silence. The forest is dark, with gleams of moonlight. Suddenly there is a faint note of music . . . the Nibelung theme. After a silence it is repeated; then again. Several instruments take it up. It swells louder. Vague forms are seen flitting here and there. Shadows move.)

GERALD. (Starting up suddenly.) What's that? (Silence; then the note is heard again, very faint. He starts. It is heard again, and he springs to his feet.) What's that? (Again and again. He runs to his violin, picks it up, and stares at it. Still the notes are heard, and he puts down the violin, and runs down stage, listening.) Why, what can it mean? (As the music grows louder his perplexity and alarm increase. Suddenly he sees a figure stealing through the shadows, and he springs back, aghast.) Why, it's a Nibelung! (Another figure passes.) Oh! I must be dreaming! (Several more appear.) Nibelungs! Why, it's absurd! Wake up, man! You're going crazy! (Music swells louder; figures appear, carrying gold shields, chains, etc., with clatter.) My God!

(He stands with hands clasped to his forehead, while the uproar swells louder and louder, and the forms become more numerous. He rushes down stage, and the Nibelungs surround him, dancing about him in wild career, laughing, screaming, jeering. They begin to pinch his legs behind his back, and he leaps here and there, crying out. Gradually they drive him toward the grotto, which opens before them, revealing a black chasm, emitting clouds of steam. They rush in and are enveloped in the mist. Sounds of falling and crashing are heard. The steam spreads, gradually veiling the front of the stage.)

(Nets rise with the steam, giving the effect of a descent. During this change the orchestra plays the music between Scenes II and III in Das Rheingold.)

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(In order of appearance)Gerald Isman : a poet.Mimi: a Nibelung.Alberich: King of the Nibelungs.Prince Hagen: his grandson.Mrs. Isman.Hicks: a butler.Mrs. Bagley-Willis: mistress of Society.John Isman: a railroad magnate.Estelle Isman : his daughter.Plimpton: the coal baron.Rutherford: lord of steel.De Wiggleston Riggs: cotillon leader.Lord Alderdyce: seeing America.Calkins: Prince Hagen's secretary.Nibelungs; members of Society. ACT I SCENE 1. Gerald Isman's tent in Quebec.ACT I SCENE 2. The Hall of State in Nibelheim.ACT II. Library in the Isman home on Fifth Avenue: two years later.ACT III. Conservatory of Prince Hagen's palace on Fifth Avenue. The wind-up of the opening ball: four months later.ACT IV. Living room
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