Scene 9: Music

We hear for the second time, ‘The Protecting Veil’ by John Tavener.Greta is playing. The family respond – they are drawn to the music and move their chairs around her. They move to the table to eat a Christmas meal (these are both impressions of what the music means to Gregor – music from his past life – from yesterday).

Gregor is drawn to the music. He enters the room.

As he does so, there is a knock at the door. The lodgers have returned – they have changed their minds. Gregor is concealed behind the chairs but the lodgers see him. They are disgusted and leave, promising that they will report what they have seen to the authorities. 

Scene 4+5: Confinement and Hiding their Shame

There is a loud knocking at the door. (One of the pieces of Gregor has now become his employer.)The employer is standing in front of the door to the flat. He is impatient. He knocks again.There is confusion and panic inside. Mr Samsa looks through the peep-hole as he did before.

This scene then crosses to a flash-back to memories of moments in Gregor’s life.

Gregor’s boss arrives again offering a prayer for Gregor.

Script

“We Didn’t Become Beetles”

(A working title we can change later)

 A structure for a script

Script Notes
Scene 1: EquilibriumThe play opens with the stage divided into three areas: the Samsa’s dining room; Gregor’s bedroom; and a narrow area in front of both that could be a corridor outside their flat or the street.The furniture and the objects in the dining room are visible.Gregor’s room is covered in cloths – we can only see the shapes of things underneath.

 Ideally, uplighters come up and cast strange shadows as ‘Journey 4’ (Max Richter – ‘Infra’) can be heard.

We become aware that the cloths are moving. The movements are alien and confusing. They are the movements of a beetle.

 One person, who will become Mr Samsa in the first scene, emerges from the cloth and removes the cloth from another, who will become Mrs Samsa. The second person removes the cloth from the third, who will become Greta.

 They are not yet fully in character but make their way slowly around the floor uncovering Gregor. They then take up their positions in the dining room.

 We see their routines: these centre around the meal – they are polite and well ordered – one of them serves the others – they make polite conversation (which we may or may not hear).

 There is an interruption – a knocking at the door. It is insistent. Mr Samsa looks for Gregor. It is clear that Mr Samsa never answers the door.

 Gregor’s chair is empty. It is as if they notice his absence for the first time. They knock on his door and call out his name. No reply.

 Mr Samsa goes to the door and looks through a peep-hole. Someone else is looking through but can’t see him. He jumps back. More insistent knocking. Eventually a letter is posted.

 Mr Samsa opens it. He is worried. He calls out for Gregor again.

It might be worth considering that all of the actors are covered in cloth as well.The set should be a reflection of the things that we saw through the windows. They don’t have to be naturalistic but should give the impression of darkness and storms, of broken bottles and bicycles, of a few flowers but nature is not being controlled – it is taking over. It is a hostile world.

 

Very little script is needed for this scene – perhaps only Gregor’s name. But it must be made clear that although they appear to be ordering him to do things, they are also completely dependent on him. They are like children who are cross with their parent.

Scene 2: MetamorphosisThe first part of this scene is in flashback – that it to say, we see what Gregor used to do every night of his adult life. The set becomes invisible for this sequence and everyone becomes Gregor for a few moments.  He: locks the front door; prays; plays music; checks personal emails; drinks tea; checks texts; cleans his teeth; writes a diary; counts the cost of the bills; opens the bible; prays without sincerity; falls asleep in a chair because he is so tired.

As we see each moment, all of the others are frozen.

We hear for the first time, ‘The Protecting Veil’ by John Tavener.

We also hear the following words. The words are shared out amongst everyone.

1)     Gregor Samsa was a traveling salesman. He worked very hard.

2)     He woke early while his family were still asleep and went to bed late.

3)     His room was peaceful, if a little too small.

4)     Above his bed he had hung a picture a lady fitted out with a fur hat and fur boa who sat upright, raising a heavy fur muff that covered the whole of her lower arm.

5)     At night he had a routine: first he made sure that the family was safe and that their finances were in order. Then he made a little time for himself before retiring for a few hours’ sleep.

Gradually the scenes of human routine disintegrate and we see the beetle emerge.

6)     One morning, when Gregor Samsa woke from troubled dreams, he found himself transformed in his bed into a horrible vermin.

7)     He lay on his armour-like back, and if he lifted his head a little he could see his brown belly, slightly domed and divided by arches into stiff sections.

8)     The bedding was hardly able to cover it and seemed ready to slide off any moment. His many legs, pitifully thin compared with the size of the rest of him, waved about helplessly as he looked.

9)     “What’s happened to me?” he thought. It wasn’t a dream.

10)  “How about if I sleep a little bit longer and forget all this nonsense”, he thought, but that was something he was unable to do because he was used to sleeping on his right, and in his present state couldn’t get into that position.

11)  However hard he threw himself onto his right, he always rolled back to where he was. He must have tried it a hundred times, shut his eyes so that he wouldn’t have to look at the floundering legs, and only stopped when he began to feel a mild, dull pain there that he had never felt before.

By the end of the scene, there is one huge beetle, trapped in Gregor’s room.

The script for this scene is already written. We just need to decide who will say them. It is a kind of narration.
Scene 3: DisequilibriumThe music changes to ‘Journey 3’ (Max Richter – ‘Infra’).The three family members emerge from the beetle and slowly make their way to the table. It is breakfast. In very slow time, they perform the rituals of the meal.Painfully slowly, Gregor makes his way through the door to the table.

In real time, the family become aware of him. They are disgusted. Mr Samsa raises his hand to strike Gregor. Mrs Samsa stays his hand. They all stand and move to the other side of the table, paralysed by shock and fear.

The music stops abruptly.

There needs to be very little script for this scene but it must be made clear that the family realise that this is Gregor transformed.
Scene 4: ConfinementThere is a loud knocking at the door. (One of the pieces of Gregor has now become his employer.)The employer is standing in front of the door to the flat. He is impatient. He knocks again.There is confusion and panic inside. Mr Samsa looks through the peep-hole as he did before.

The employer knocks again and calls out:

Employer: Samsa! Gregor Samsa! This is  your employer speaking. I need to speak to you now!

The family gather beside the table to discuss what should happen. They agree to say:

Mr Samsa: I am sorry to say that Gregor is not himself today. He will be back at work tomorrow. Rest assured. Good day.

Employer: I would like to speak to him myself.

Mr Samsa: I am afraid that is not possible.

Employer: Then I would like to speak to his parents.

The family turn on Gregor and get him into his room, shut the door and lock it.

When the employer is admitted, he insists on seeing the ‘sick’ Gregor. In a panic, the family lie and tell him that Gregor is dead.

At this point the employer offers his condolences and leaves.

This scene needs to be carefully scripted.
Scene 5: Hiding their shame We hear ‘Infra 2’ (Max Richter – ‘Infra’). We see a series of images that respond to the questions: a) what stops them from killing the man? b) why do they lock him away? c) what do they worry that the employer might see if he returned?These take the form of memories of better times.

The music stops abruptly.

There is a knocking at the door. The employer has returned with a bunch of flowers. Mr Samsa tries to keep him out again. But he is admitted again and asks to see Gregor’s corpse to pay his last respects.

When he is told that this is not possible he asks if he can offer a prayer:

Employer: Dear Father, Take your son, Gregor, into your house. Like us, he is a sinner but in your infinite forgiveness, we ask that you look upon him with sympathy. He worked hard upon your earth to the glory of your name. His hands were never idle. His heart was always pure. We ask this in the name of Jesus Christ Our Lord. Amen.

He departs asking to be informed of the funeral.

This scene needs to be carefully scripted.
Scene 6: Misunderstandings Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.Gregor is fed food that he cannot eat. The family do not adapt to change. 

Its dinner time, and Greta enters Gregor’s room with a plate of leftovers to find he has not been eating.

Greta: Father, he’s not eating!

Father: Well, what are you giving him?

Great: The same thing as always but he’s not eating! He still hasn’t finished yesterday’s food!

Father: well we can’t afford to keep putting food down if he’s going to refuse it! Greta, dear, do what you can but don’t put anymore food in there until he’s finished what has. We can’t afford it!

With that, Greta slammed the door on Gregor whilst he stares solemly at the   plate of rotting food before him.

 

 

This scene may need to be scripted.
Scene 7: AppleWe hear ‘Journey 2’ (Max Richter – ‘Infra’).Gregor emerges from his room again.This time, Mr Samsa is violent and pelts him with apples. One finally lodges in Gregor’s back. One group is Gregor, one is the family, one is the apple.

Narration: 1) Then, right beside him, lightly tossed, something flew down and rolled in front of him.

2) It was an apple; then another one immediately flew at him;

3) Gregor froze in shock; there was no longer any point in running as his father had decided to bombard him.

4) He had filled his pockets with fruit from the bowl on the sideboard and now, without even taking the time for careful aim, threw one apple after another.

5) These little, red apples rolled about on the floor,  knocking into each other as if they had electric motors.

6) An apple thrown without much force glanced against Gregor’s back and slid off without doing any harm.

7) Another one however, immediately following it, hit squarely and lodged in his back;

8) Gregor wanted to drag himself away, as if he could remove the surprising, the incredible pain by changing his position;

9) but he felt as if nailed to the spot and spread himself out, all his senses in confusion.

This scene may need to be scripted. 

It may be necessary to include a piece of narration that explains that there is a financial crisis in the family. That they need a source of income now that Gregor is not working. They decide to rent out a room.

Scene 8: Denial The performers are in three groups: Gregor making noises; The family receiving the visitors; the lodgers. There is a knock at the door. Four lodgers have arrived to see the rooms that are for rent.They are interested but the smell and the noises from the room put them off.

They leave.

This scene needs to be carefully scripted. See the website for ideas – there is video footage of our first attempt at this scene. 
Scene 9: MusicWe hear for the second time, ‘The Protecting Veil’ by John Tavener.Greta is playing. The family respond – they are drawn to the music and move their chairs around her. They move to the table to eat a Christmas meal (these are both impressions of what the music means to Gregor – music from his past life – from yesterday).

Gregor is drawn to the music. He enters the room.

As he does so, there is a knock at the door. The lodgers have returned – they have changed their minds. Gregor is concealed behind the chairs but the lodgers see him. They are disgusted and leave, promising that they will report what they have seen to the authorities. 

This scene needs to be carefully scripted. See the website for ideas – there is video footage of our first attempt at this scene. 

 

Scene 10: AbandonmentWe hear ‘Infra 1’ (Max Richter – ‘Infra’).The family must deal with Gregor once and for all.We see in one action, the way that all three of the family members force him back into his room both with enticement (the food) and force. Greta is forced to sit down by her father. He takes control and with Mrs Samsa, they strip the room of its final traces of humanness. They lock the door and place the key in hiding. There may be few words in this scene but it needs to be carefully scripted. See the website for ideas – there is video footage of our first attempt at this scene. 

Or, we could use these words from the original story:

Greta: Father, Mother, we can’t carry on like this. Maybe you can’t see it, but I can. I don’t want to call this monster my brother, all I can say is: we have to try and get rid of it. We’ve done all that’s humanly possible to look after it and be patient, I don’t think anyone could accuse us of doing anything wrong. We have to try and get rid of it, it’ll be the death of both of you, I can see it coming. We can’t all work as hard as we have to and then come home to be tortured like this, we can’t endure it. I can’t endure it any more.

Scene 11: DeathGregor dies a painful, slow, noisy death.The rest of the family eat a meal next door. Again, few words are needed but it needs to be carefully scripted. See the website for ideas – there is video footage of our first attempt at this scene.
Scene 12: New EquilibriumWe hear ‘Journey 4’ (Max Richter – ‘Infra’) again (first heard in scene 1).Very, very slowly, everything in Gregor’s room dies. All that is left is his spirit which rises up but it too dies.The family choose what they are to take with them and leave, locking the door behind them.

Silence.

I think this scene has no words.