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Pass

5 July 2011

This the the complete script of  Pass, a 10-minute short which was part of the original season of Stories from the 428, produced by Augusta Supple at Sydney’s Sidetrack Theatre in 2010. It was directed by Anne-Maree Magi.

Pass is written for a ‘speaking choir’ of at least 6 voices, ideally more.A riff on the word ‘pass’ and its multiple meanings, it takes place on a crowded bus.

Some lines are the passengers’ random thoughts, some are fragments of conversation, some are snippets of headlines glimpsed over shoulders and through windows, some are lines from puzzles, text messages, and passengers’ reading matter, and some are one side of a phone call.

Spaces between lines indicate a change of speaker, a / is an overlap, and layout and punctuation suggest rhythm and delivery. Other than that, I leave it to the director and performers to attribute lines and orchestrate the piece.

Pass, 2010. Photo: Leah McGirr

Such a tiny word. Pass. 4 letters. Breaks down into pee and arse.
Pass the ball, the parcel, the time, the hat around.
It came to pass …
Question—
Pass.
Another question.

I like films with a lot of rain. Or people caught up in situations.

The total of countries around Germany is 9.
Belgium
The Netherlands
Denmark
Poland
The Czech Republic
Austria
Switzerland
France
and Luxembourg—everyone always forgets Luxembourg.

Pass—
Fail.

IBM under fire. Indian programmers demand better pay and benefits.

Yeah, no, yeah, I spent 6 months on a kibbutz after uni and it was crap. All heavy metal and washing up and endless Russians.

Do you want him taken out of the picture?

Pass.

Minister promises to get back on track after Chinese Escort Business.

Fail.

He says rumours are premature.

Pass joins word to make a secret code, and port to let you in or out.

I was hooked
from the moment Mrs Polyakova said:Доброе утро [pron. dóbroe útro], Good morning, class. Today is Russian.
When the Soviet Communist Party held its final congress, Mrs Polyakova wept into her shawl and turned on Shostakovich.
Me, I started looking up Russian words in the dictionary. And writing poetry about railway stations and snow:
Rhyming white with night,
and trying to find something to go with the Moscow express.

I should write a book: My Life in the Bus Lane.
Sic transit Gloria mundi. [trans: Worldly things are fleeting.]
So it is that transport brings us from the glorious to the mundane.

Foreigners, I expect. Overstaying.

‘I came last night to Wuthering Heights, and heard, for the first time, that Catherine has been, / and is yet, very ill.’

There’s pockets of them out there eating cheesecake and God-knows-what.

The government should round them up.

Cattle cars waited in sidings.

Where’s your pass?

Divides into P—A and S—S.
Security pass, restricted pass, / pass it on.

Everyone knew what was waiting for them at the end of the line.

I like some of the old ones too, those films made way back when men wore hats.

They closed all the pharmacies, so no one could buy poison.

When it was all black and white.

The only option was to jump out the window or off the roof. But there was no guarantee it would be quick.

They gives me a uniform and says:
You’re in charge of trolleys. Sort shallow from deeps, and those with baby seats.
Remove receipts, any rubbish left inside,
then shunt them together in lines.

Pass the buck, a sentence, pass judgement …
let it pass.

I’ve never met anyone from Luxembourg.

A pass can be special or cut through / mountains.

And you never hear about it on the news, do you?

A gap, an access, the go-ahead.

‘… Catherine made a spring, and he caught her, and they were locked in an embrace from which I thought my mistress would never be released alive.’

Got your pass, love?

Permit, authority, / classification, ID.

When they put Estonia back in its place, the borderline went through the back yard. So the house was in Russia, but the toilet, which was at the bottom of the garden, was in Estonia.

Yeah, that’s what he does, his business is getting rid of people: exes mostly—wives, boyfriends, whatever.

Keys—check.
Purse—check.
Pass—check.
Always before you leave the house.

You can remove anyone with PhotoShop.

I had it, I know I did, I’m sure, I thought I had it, I must have left it in my other bag or dropped it, I had it, I did, I know I had it, I must have lost it or maybe I’ve displaced it somewhere, because I did have it …

In her passport she’s tall, 5—8 in the old money,
forever ago when she was straight
as an iris,
with a river of red hair.
Now her stem is bent and the fairytale hair is grey.

Pass—one syllable, 2 in German: Ausweis.

Where’s your pass?

Zeigen Sir mir Ihr Ausweis. [trans: Show me your pass.]

You don’t want to get caught without your pass.

The incitement. The rhetoric. First of blame. Then transport.
In such a time.
As that.
As then.
As there but for the grace of geography
when the sky was black, and the stars obliterated. And there was no wind to carry away the stories.

Only 2 countries have got an X in their name:
Mexico
and Luxembourg.

Hannah Hoffman stayed in Kraków, and by some miracle, survived the Nazis. No, miracles don’t come into it. She survived because her mother clasped a crucifix around her neck, and removed the diamonds from her own mother’s earrings. She had them hidden in the heels of Hannah’s shoes, and sent her daughter away to be the niece of non-Jews.
And every day Hannah walked to school.
And every day the train of death went by without stopping.
Until the war was over.
And she mentioned the diamonds to an aunt who had, like Hannah, survived by passing as Catholic. ‘Where did you get them?’ the aunt asked.
‘From Grandma’s earrings,’ Hannah said, and the aunt burst out laughing.
Before she died, Hannah’s grandmother confessed to the aunt that she’d sold the diamonds to get out of some financial trouble. She didn’t want anyone else to know, so she replaced the stones with worthless replicas.
Hannah Hoffman survived the war treading on glass.

Basically I like situations with a lot of rain.

They takes me outside and says:
There’s been complaints so hose them down.

The centre of Gaza City was a scene of rubble and chaotic horror. The dead included civilians and children in school uniforms.

I don’t know anything any more. Only the truth of the truth. And the untruth of lies.

Wow, is that true? IBM technology helped the trains to Auschwitz run on time.

Bet they don’t advertise that on their website.

I wonder what happened to Hannah Hoffman?
Did she stay
or did she go
slowly out of her mind, with that quiet, lurking madness that strips you of the will to understand?
Forget the documents,
the movies,
the falling phrases of the Kaddish—
Perhaps she’s the old woman sitting next to you on the bus …

© Noëlle Janaczewska

From → Plays

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