Ladies by Ad
Comedy in two acts
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ฟ Valentin Krasnogorov
The characters of this paradoxical comedy are women of different age and nature, who are not familiar with each other. An ad in the newspaper prompted them to gather in the same place. Their conversations, disputes, conflicts disclose the influence of our crucial era on the fate, views and moral values of the heroines of the play.
Reception of an office. Several chairs for visitors. A door with a sign leading to the office of MANAGER. Another door to the adjoining room. A gun hangs on the wall. The rest of the scenery is at the discretion of the theater and artistic director.
DAME enters. She is about fifty, she carries herself not very surely. She looks around the empty office, then hesitantly knocks on the MANAGER’ door. Nobody answers. She sits down, waits, then takes out a paper with some handwritten text and starts reading to herself, moving her lips: obviously, she is learning or rehearsing some text, accompanying her reading with gestures, as if she was trying to persuade somebody.
A brunette of 33-35 years old enters. She is dressed without undue modesty. A lack of clothing is compensated with an excess of cosmetics. DAME, very annoyed, stops reading and removes the paper.
BRUNETTE. Good day.
DAME. (Reluctantly.) Hello.
BRUNETTE. Have you been waiting long?
DAME does not respond. BRUNETTE comes up to the door and knocks. Nobody answers.
No one, or what?
DAME shrugs. BRUNETTE sits down. Pause.
What business are you here on?
DAME. It must be the same as yours.
BRUNETTE. Maybe then, shall we get acquainted?
DAME. (Giving Brunette an unfriendly look.) Why?
BRUNETTE. Why not?
DAME. What for?
BRUNETTE. Since we are here together...
DAME. We are not together. You are on your own, I am on my own.
BRUNETTE. Well, at least to know how to contact you.
DAME. Why contact me?
BRUNETTE. Maybe, after all, you will tell me what’s your name?
DAME. Mr. Twister.
BRUNETTE You are not too friendly.
DAME. Just I carefully choose my friends.
Silence. A beautiful cheerful spontaneous young Blonde comes in. Gorgeous legs, the dress smells like money.
BRUNETTE. Good day.
BLONDE. Is there a queue here, or what?
BRUNETTE. Or what.
BLONDE is sits down. Short pause
BLONDE. Have you got acquainted yet?
DAME. I do not make acquaintance with strangers.
BRUNETTE. She makes acquaintance only with acquaintances.
BLONDE. Have you received letters too?
BLONDE. Why is no one meeting us?
BRUNETTE. It is too early.
BLONDE. Isn't it two o’clock yet?
BRUNETTE. Ten to three.
BLONDE. But we were invited by two!
BRUNETTE. By three.
BLONDE. So, as always, I messed everything up. (Surprised.) But this time arrived on time! Even earlier. Good. One can take a breath and take care of yourself. I look like a disheveled chicken. (Pulls out a makeup bag and starts to make her face up.)
DAME. (Concerned.) Do you think it's important to look well at this meeting?
BLONDE. You always need to look well.
DAME also takes lipstick and powder out of her bag.
BLONDE. Imagine, I'm coming here, and whom do you think I meet? My... well... with whom I now live. One musician. Terribly jealous. And he asks: “Where are you going?” And what could I tell him?
BRUNETTE. You could say that you are coming here.
BLONDE. The matter is that I forgot where I was going.
BRUNETTE. But you somehow reached the place.
BLONDE. I found after a piece of paper with the address. But the musician didn’t get an answer from me. How stupid he is! But this is not what I wanted to tell.
BRUNETTE. And what?
BLONDE. Something else... (Trying to remember.) I'll tell you later when I remember. (Begins to makeup again.)
Another young attractive woman enters. She wears a very businesslike English suit; a modest but stylish ornamentals. However, her impeccable appearance cannot hide her stiffness and tension. The presence of the other women, unexpected for her, does not seem to be very pleasing to her.
BUSINESSWOMAN. Hello... By the ad - is it here?
BRUNETTE. It seems to be here. (Looking at the watch.) Fifteen zero-zero. You are very accurate.
BUSINESSWOMAN. I'm never late for anywhere.
BRUNETTE. A laudable habit.
BUSINESSWOMAN. Accuracy is a part of my profession.
BLONDE. And what is your profession?
BUSINESSWOMAN. (Not very willingly coming into contact with women not of her circle.) Manager. In the field of business.
BLONDE. Wow! Well, and how is the situation in this field now?
BUSINESSWOMAN. I don’t know how it is with others, but as for me everything is fine.
BRUNETTE. Aren't you hot in your suit?
BUSINESSWOMAN. Aren't you cold in yours?
BRUNETTE. Not. I'm used to it.
BUSINESSWOMAN. And I am used to mine.
BLONDE. (To Brunette.) And who are you?
BRUNETTE. An individual entrepreneur.
BUSINESSWOMAN. (After measuring Brunette with an incredulous look.) Can we find out in what field?
BRUNETTE. In the field of business.
BLONDE. Wow! Where did I go! Oligarchs only! (To Dame.) Are you in business too?
DAME. No, I'm in my own field.
BRUNETTE. (To Blonde.) Well, and who are you?
BLONDE. Difficult to say. I am not the same person all the time. This differs me from other women and from other people in general.
BRUNETTE. How should I understand this?
BLONDE. Well, you are, for example, always an entrepreneur, (To Business Woman) you are always a manager. And I'm always different. Yesterday a queen, today a servant, tomorrow a faithful wife, and the day after tomorrow a courtesan.
BUSINESSWOMAN. And who really you are?
BLONDE. In fact, I forgot who really I am. I’m an actress and I always do not portray myself, but someone else.
DAME. So are you an actress?
BLONDE. Well yes! Didn't I say this before?
BUSINESSWOMAN. But you only portray someone else on stage. In life, you do not play.
BLONDE. That's just the point that I play. Habit. The second nature.
DAME. Are you still portraying someone now?
BLONDE. Sure. Just don’t know whom.
DAME. (Ironically.) Then show us a smart woman, please.
BLONDE. No problems. Portraying a smart woman is much easier than a stupid one.
BLONDE. Sure. A fool needs to talk and talk all the time, but it is difficult. A smart one just has to be meaningfully silent. And if to speak, it does not matter what. The main thing is to speak slowly and significantly. And it is better not to speak something of your own, so as not to put your leg in the mouth, but to quote some famous person. Here listen (slowly and significantly): As Nietzsche said, “the happiness of a man is called: I want; happiness of a woman is called: he wants. " (In an ordinary voice.) Well, how is it?
BUSINESSWOMAN. (Sadly.) He is right...
DAME. Do you know who Nietzsche is?
BLONDE. No idea. But I played in a play where this saying was.
BUSINESSWOMAN. What was the play about?
BLONDE. About philosophers. They gathered all the time and argued endlessly about something. About what – I don’t know. I only learned the role in my episode, but I didn’t read the play. But I remembered a few clever phrases. It can always come in handy. The main thing is to pronounce them with a smart look.
BUSINESSWOMAN. And how do you make a smart look?
BLONDE. I try not to think about anything at this moment. Here, listen again (in a "smart" tone.) "According to Spinoza..." (Hesitated and slightly embarrassed.) How was it?.. "Spinoza said..." (In her voice.) I remember exactly that she said something, but I don’t remember what. I did not play Spinoza. But actually, I really love philosophy. Maybe because I don’t understand anything about it.
BUSINESSWOMAN. Do you ever play yourself?
BLONDE. How can I play myself if I don’t know for a long time who am I? But if the director tells me how to play myself, I will play.
BUSINESSWOMAN. And it doesn’t bother you?
BLONDE. My only concern now is how to stay beautiful. Be beautiful - it is myself. Everything else can be played.
BRUNETTE. Beauty can also be played: tint lips, hair, eyebrows, eyelashes, cheeks....
BLONDE. This is clear. But I already almost exhausted my capabilities. Hold on as much as I could. Now my task is not to get from Snow White directly to an old cat.
BRUNETTE. Well, you are still far from being old.
BLONDE. Do not tell. The scene is good because they look at you from afar. And in life, to be a young girl is getting harder and harder for me.
DAME. How old are you?
BLONDE. It depends on what age you want to know, a real or stage one.
DAME. Real of course.
BLONDE. I’d better say the stage one. I'm twenty-eight. And sometimes twenty-six. I use all possible methods.
BRUNETTE. Methods for what?
BLONDE. In order not to get old.
DAME. (With obvious interest.) Are there such tricks?
BLONDE. There are. And a lot. But they do not always help. Now, in order to look natural, I need to sit at the mirror for two hours. And before, to attract men’s attention, it was enough just to unzip my blouse a little. I'm afraid: a little more, and men will stop looking back at me. There will be no one left but my husband. What will my life be like?
BUSINESSWOMAN. So are you married?
BLONDE. Sure! Every self-respecting woman should be married. At least once or twice.
BUSINESSWOMAN. How many times have you been?
BLONDE. Three. Or no... (Counts on the fingers.) Four. You see, it is difficult to find a suitable husband from the first time. We have no experience, especially at the beginning.
DAME. Or maybe you just do not take marriage seriously?
BLONDE. Oh no, very serious! (Taking on a “smart” look, significantly.) As Montaigne said, “marriage is one soul in two bodies.”
DAME. Add to the second body a lover. Get three bodies. At least. This is a real marriage.
BUSINESSWOMAN. And who is Montaigne?
BLONDE. Don't you know?
BUSINESSWOMAN. Suppose that no.
BLONDE. And I do not know as well
. But who cares who he is? The main thing, it is said beautifully. Consider it was me who said it. Oh wait! I seem to have mixed up: it wasn’t Montaigne, but Aristotle. Montaigne said about marriage something completely different.
DAME. And what did Montaigne say?
BLONDE. (Significantly.) “Marriage is a deal that is voluntary only when it is concluded.”
D AME. Well, and your personal deal, was it successful?
BLONDE. You can say yes. If not the husband, we would be the perfect couple.
BUSINESSWOMAN. All this is very interesting, but it’s already thirteen minutes past four, and none of them appears yet.
DAME. Yes. And the meeting is scheduled for three.
BUSINESSWOMAN. Very strange. People are invited, and all the doors are closed.
DAME. On their part, it is not very beautiful.
BUSINESSWOMAN. And most importantly, they will not ever think to apologize.
DAME. You will never draw it from them.
BLONDE. (Carefree.) It's okay, let's wait a bit.
BUSINESSWOMAN. (To Blonde.) Do you have a favorite role?
BLONDE. There is. I want to be like the heroine of Dostoevsky.
BUSINESSWOMAN. Which one?
BLONDE. I don’t know, it’s impossible to read him. But everyone just says: “Dostoevsky, Dostoevsky...” (Dame.) Have you read Dostoevsky?
DAME. Dostoevsky is a great writer. The Pride of the world literature. To tell the truth, I did not read it either.
BLONDE. I think no one read him. Just pretend. And why to read if there are TV shows?
DAME. Tell me, does not your popularity prevent you from living?
BLONDE. Of course, it does. Everyone asks tickets for performances for free. In addition, I have a horde of relatives: three ex-husbands, their wives, brothers, children and God knows who else. And all want a pass-out.
DAME. It's probably, hard to be a good actress.
BLONDE. Very hard. But I have tricks. I can teach you too. If, for example, you need to show that you are surprised, you need to turn to the public, open your mouth and stare. (Demonstrates a trick.) If you didn’t like something, but you pretend that you are glad, you have to show your ivories, as if you are smiling through force - like that (Makes the appropriate grimace.). Well, and so on. In general, you don’t need to think about anything. The director thinks for us. He will prompt and help you. Especially if you live with him.
DAME. Does this happen?
BLONDE. How do you think? We need to get roles, we need play in films, in a word, we have to live. While you are sitting in your corner, you cannot have a future. And anyway, if you don’t know who is sleeping with whom, you will never understand anything and you won’t get anywhere.
DAME. In my opinion, this is immorality and unscrupulousness.
BLONDE. Neither one nor the other. This is a professional duty. After all, there is not enough money all the time. And how to dress if you have no man to support you? To have good clothes one has to be close.
BUSINESSWOMAN. And me, for example, I have good clothes but no one to be close.
BLONDE. Why, there is nobody to? Why then to get well dressed?
BUSINESSWOMAN. I just have different principles. I do business. And this is not only a profession, but also a way of life. I am working. From morning till night. Sometimes at night as well.
BRUNETTE. Even at night, like me?
BUSINESSWOMAN. Do you do your business at night?
BRUNETTE. There is no day or night for us. There is a desire of the client. We must always be ready.
BLONDE. By the way, you haven’t told us till now what is your occupation.
BRUNETTE. I said: individual entrepreneur.
BUSINESSWOMAN. And more specifically?
BRUNETTE. Try to guess.
BUSINESSWOMAN. There are many kinds of occupation... How can we guess?
DAME. (Contemptuously). What is to guess here? She’s a prostitute. It is evident at the first glance.
BLONDE. So are you really a prostitute?
BRUNETTE. Well, one could say so.
BLONDE. Why were you hiding it? Why not to say at once?
BRUNETTE. I didn’t hide it. I was asked, I answered.
BUSINESSWOMAN. You seemed to call yourself an “individual entrepreneur”.
BRUNETTE. I am really individual entrepreneur - in the sex business.
DAME. In short, a whore. That's what you should call yourself.
BRUNETTE. I am a well-educated woman and do not like to use a rude vocabulary.
Dame defiantly changes to another chair, away from Brunette.
Why did you move? Is my neighborhood humiliating you?
DAME. I 'm not used to be in the society of ladies of easy virtue.
BRUNETTE. Better to have an easy virtue than a hard temper.
DAME. You sell your body and dare to give me a lecture?
BRUNETTE. I do not sell my body, but rent it out per hour basis.
DAME. You may call yourself as you like, anyway you are an ordinary cheap whore.
BRUNETTE. Let me be cheap. But a very expensive one.
DAME. (Unable to restrain her curiosity.) And for how much, for example, do you sell yourself? Sorry, renting out?
BRUNETTE. You better not know this: you will die of envy. You won’t be paid so much.
DAME. I'm not going to make money this way. I am a decent woman.
BRUNETTE. We often call decency simply a lack of courage.
BUSINESSWOMAN. (Evaluating the dress, handbag and shoes of Brunette with a glance.) I am a university graduate, but I cannot boast of such income. Apparently, your product is selling well.
BRUNETTE. Sex is selling well in any genre: in literature, at the theater, in video and in a natural form as it is.
DAME. Still, keep yourself modest.
BRUNETTE. You use the slightest chance to prick me. But, by the way, I also a university graduated.
BUSINESSWOMAN. I didn’t know that this métier was taught at universities.
BRUNETTE. And in vain. A woman should learn this activity first of all.
BUSINESSWOMAN. To go to bed with a man, is not necessary to have a higher education.
BRUNETTE. (Parries.) Sometimes the higher education is not enough to get a man to bed.
BUSINESSWOMAN. (Outburst.) What are you alluding to? Think I don’t have a man?
BRUNETTE. Do you?
BUSINESSWOMAN. I do not intend to report to you.
BRUNETTE. By the way, my husband says that he loves me mainly for intelligence.
BUSINESSWOMAN. (Startled.) And you're married?
BRUNETTE. Of course. Like any decent woman.
BUSINESSWOMAN. (With a challenge.) I'm not married.
BRUNETTE. I had no intention offending you.
BLONDE. (To Businesswoman.) Are you really single?
BUSINESSWOMAN. Do you want to offend me too?
BLONDE. What offensive is in this question?
BUSINESSWOMAN. For a married woman, nothing.
BLONDE. Understand. No questions more. And weren’t you?
BLONDE. If you don’t have good clothes and don’t want to be close with anyone, how do you expect to get married?
BUSINESSWOMAN. I don’t expect.
BRUNETTE. Well, do you have children at least?
BUSINESSWOMAN. Where from?
BRUNETTE. You do not know where the children come from?
BLONDE. Why not? What’s here a husband for?
BUSINESSWOMAN. Do you want me to have children without a husband?
BUSINESSWOMAN. I don’t need a husband. But children need a father.
BLONDE. Not sure. A husband is a moot point, but children are always good.
DAME. Until they grew up.
BLONDE. True, I have no children, but I will definitely have them as soon as I find the time. But now I do not have a minute free and no money either.
BUSINESSWOMAN. (To Brunette.) But tell me, how did you manage to do this?
BRUNETTE. What exactly?
BUSINESSWOMAN. To get married having such a profession?
BRUNETTE. Do you really think that having so many opportunities for searching and choosing, I could be left without a husband?
BUSINESSWOMAN. Well, how do you live with him?
BUSINESSWOMAN. And he does not reproach you?
BRUNETTE. For what? He knew whom he married.
BUSINESSWOMAN. And he doesn’t require you to quit your job?
BRUNETTE. At first he did. But when he realized that then we would have to live on his salary only, he made the right decision. We agreed with him that I would work for one year.
BLONDE. And then?
BRUNETTE. Since then, we have renewed the contract five times. Should I get bored sitting at home? And money is needed.
DAME. Is there anything but money for you?
BLONDE. What’s wrong? Every work deserves a reward. For some reason, they always inspire us that working for free is sublime and decent, and working for money is greed and money-grubbing.
BUSINESSWOMAN. (To Brunette.) It’s impossible that everything’s going smoothly between you and your husband. Sure you have it out with him every day.
BLONDE. If you want to make peace with a man, you must not have it out, but just kiss him. Words do not lead to anything good. The more people talk, the less they understand each other.
BUSINESSWOMAN. (To Brunette.) I think your husband is still unhappy in his heart.
BRUNETTE. And why should he be unhappy? He used to pay me for every visit. Since we got married, he stopped paying, that’s the whole difference. But it’s my life that is not easy. He used to come for half an hour and then disappear, and now he sticks around all the time. At night with my husband it seems to me that I work. And work for free. I'm getting tired of it. And I want to relax so much!
BLONDE. So, he’s happy with you?
BRUNETTE. Sure. After all, this is my profession - to make a man happy. I know my job, I have experience. As Francis Bacon said, we turned sin into art.
BUSINESSWOMAN. (Acutely.) What kind of intelligent female society are we in! Everybody, even... (Having glanced at the Brunette, stops.) That is, everybody around quote philosophers.
BRUNETTE. You have outdated opinions about our profession. For a long time, we use the Internet, we build a customer database in our computers, we plan calendar schedule of our meetings, we use navigator going to a customer. And intelligent people willingly visit us.
BUSINESSWOMAN. One might think that these "intelligent people" come to you to talk.
BRUNETTE. Imagine, and for that too. And sometimes just for that. That's why they are intellectuals. Especially they like to complain about their wives.
BUSINESSWOMAN. And what then are you doing?
BRUNETTE. We listen, give advice, we console. We love that kind of talk. For other affair, men need fifteen minutes, but a talk of this sort can last forever. And our fee is time-based.
The cabinet door opens and a middle-aged woman comes out. We will call her MANAGER.
MANAGER. Good afternoon.
Women greet in an unstable choir.
I am head of this branch of our institution. As I understand it, you have responded to our ad and received an email with our invitation.
Women are exchanging glances.
MANAGER. Very well. Unfortunately, the specialist who will talk to you is being late you should wait a little. In the next room there is tea, coffee, cookies, you can serve yourself. Please come in.
All women, except DAME, go out. She goes to the MANAGER.
DAME. (In an undertone.) Maybe while there is no one, you will talk with me right now?
MANAGER. (Surprised looking Dame.) Are you also invited?
DAME. Of course. (Hands the paper to Manager.)
MANAGER. (Incredulously reading the invitation.) Excuse me, this name here is really your name?
DAME. (Confused.) Yes, it’s mine.
MANAGER. I do not want to ask you immodest questions, but how old are you?
DAME. I am young in spirit.
MANAGER. Of course. And as to the body?
DAME. This question may interest only a man.
MANAGER. And besides that, many others. For example, a pension fund. So how old are you?
DAME. I am not going to answer such questions.
MANAGER. Tell me, how did it happen that you have received our invitation? We sent it only to women no older than 35 years old.
DAME. As you see, I have received it.
MANAGER. It's some kind of mistake. I have to check. (She wants to leave.)
DAME. (Holding up MANAGER.) Wait... The fact is the invitation was sent to my daughter. We have the same name. So, I thought...
MANAGER. In vain. Let your daughter come here.
DAME. I can’t send her to some cathouse.
MANAGER. And you yourself are not afraid to get into this “cathouse”, as you put it?
DAME. Darling, I’ve gone through so much rough time in my life and supped so much sorrow, that nothing won’t scare me and won’t surprise. If a cathouse, be it cathouse.
MANAGER. I advise you to return home.
DAME.I am younger than any girl (Tries to demonstrate tap-dancing.) Does the year of birth really matter?
MANAGER. It does not interest me personally. But we have criteria... All the best.
DAME. I beg you to still talk with me.
MANAGER. A specialist will talk with you. I am only an administrator.
DAME. (Adamantly.) Then, with your permission, I will wait for a specialist.
MANAGER. As you please. But you will waste time for nothing.
DAME. I have enough of it. (Noticing Businesswoman.) I'm going have a cup of coffee. (She leaves with her head held high.)
BUSINESSWOMAN. Since you are now free, we could resolve all issues right now. (Hands over her folder with documents to the MANAGER.) These are my recommendations, characteristics and resume.
MANAGER. (Returning the paper.) This is not necessary.
BUSINESSWOMAN. Why? I am a top manager. I have a large experience.
MANAGER. What is the difference between a manager and a regular employee? Salary?
BUSINESSWOMAN. Salary has nothing to do with this. The main difference is responsibility for the result. The manager has five functions: planning, organization, team selection, leadership, control. I am perfect in all these functions and am ready to offer you my services. I worked at Integral company. You heard of it, of course?
MANAGER. Unfortunately, no.
BUSINESSWOMAN. It’s impossible! A huge company, thousands of employees. When it burst with a bang, it was an event! On TV for a month talked only about this. But I managed to get a job in another company. "Differential". You know of it of course. Colossal corporation.
MANAGER. Unfortunately, I do not know. Do you still work there?
BUSINESSWOMAN. No, it burst too.
MANAGER. And also with a bang?
BUSINESSWOMAN. And what a bang! But thanks to my experience, I was accepted for employment in a very large bank.
MANAGER. And it, of course, also burst?
BUSINESSWOMAN. Yes. How do you know? However, everyone knows this. One fine morning, we come to work, we see the lock on the door, the police at the door, and we find out that the bank went bankrupt, and its owner fled to Venezuela with three billion dollars. He looked like a decent man, but turned out to be a real pig. Run away without sharing with anyone.
MANAGER. You, apparently, are a very talented manager.
BUSINESSWOMAN. I understand your irony, but when the whole country is going to the dogs, all the firms burst in a row. I’m a manager at the corporation level, and not nationwide. Leaders of an another level sit there. And they grab much more than such a little thing as three billion.
MANAGER. Why don't you run away after grabbing something first?
BUSINESSWOMAN. Sometimes I ask myself the same question.
MANAGER. All this is wonderful; however, we are not looking for managers, but just women.
BUSINESSWOMAN. (Puzzled.) What does “just women” mean?
MANAGER. This means "just women." Profession and experience do not interest us.
BUSINESSWOMAN. How it is?
MANAGER. Like this.
BUSINESSWOMAN. Well, let's say, "just women." Do you think I'm a man?
MANAGER. We need not just women, but women who meet certain criteria.
BUSINESSWOMAN. And I do not meet them?
MANAGER. This issue will be decided at the interview by a specialist. In the meantime, sit down and wait.
The manager exits. Businesswoman is disappointed. Blonde and Brunette come in with cups of coffee in their hands. They are followed by DAME.
BLONDE. The manager is not here?
BUSINESSWOMAN. As you see.
BLONDE. She did not say what kind of interview expect us?
BLONDE. Didn’t she say, how many persons they suppose to take?
BLONDE. And whom exactly are they recruiting, did she say?
BUSINESSWOMAN. No. However, she said: women.
BLONDE. Just women?
BUSINESSWOMAN. Just women. However, no, not “just”. Women meeting certain criteria.
BLONDE. What criteria?
BUSINESSWOMAN. I don’t know.
DAME. I know. Young women. Not older than thirty-five years. (With longing.) Everywhere they need young, very young, only young, and again young. Young, young, young...
BUSINESSWOMAN. I studied my specialty for many years. What for? Evidently, women have to study only one profession - to be a good wife. But now, they think that being a wife is very simple and you needn’t learn this: just to marry and go to bed with the man, that’s all.
BRUNETTE. This also needs learning.
DAME. Now it’s more often the opposite: first they go to bed, and then they marry.
BLONDE. More often they don’t marry at all.
BUSINESSWOMAN. We are just human slaves for the employers. They buy you like a horse. And we still have to thank them and eat dirt before them. The owners usually have neither brains nor knowledge. Only impudence, dexterity and the ability to give bribes. They hire specialists, workers, sellers - and themselves rest on the Caribbean Islands. And we have to graft.
BRUNETTE. But you love to work.
BUSINESSWOMAN. DO I? I hate it. Love for work is insanity, it is a false ideal imposed on us by society. For centuries, owners inspired us that we have to work, leaving aside that we have not simply to work, but to work for them.
DAME. Yes. And we are taught that the rich people are always bad and the poor are good. That is, we are taught the ideal: work hard, but stay poor. And for some reason, it is believed that if women like to earn money - it's good, and if they like to spend it - it's bad. Why then to earn?
BLONDE. Personally, I prefer to spend. I am arranged so: I do not like to work, but I love life, I love men, I love sex - in short, I love everything that brings money.
BRUNETTE. But work also brings money.
BLONDE. But it takes life. The desire to work is unnatural. Only the love of man and woman for each other is natural. And only weak intellectuals having problems with the opposite sex love to work.
BUSINESSWOMAN. That's right. Why are we so embittered and suspicious? Because all our mental and physical forces are given to work entirely. If people worked less, they would be happier.
BRUNETTE. Do not worry. You can always find work. The main thing is self-confidence.
DAME. I am quite confident in myself. I have experience.
BRUNETTE. This is bad.
DAME. Why do you think so?
BRUNETTE. Experience is the result of mistakes and failures. Here, for example, the experience of one of my colleagues. Unhappy love. Unsuccessful marriage. Another unsuccessful marriage. Theft in her apartment. Two more times unhappy love. Dismissal from work. Asphalt. AIDS. Hospital. Disability.
BLONDE. (Delighted.) What an experience! Differs from ours.
DAME. Who knows, maybe I have no less.
BRUNETTE. What happened to you?
DAME. It is not only about myself. The world is generally shaken. Everything has changed, people began to think differently and live differently. So many good things have been invented, people should seem to be happier, freer, calmer with every year, but it turns out the opposite: rush, nerves, crises, unemployment, high prices, wars, terrorist attacks, enmity, anger... Where are we going?
BLONDE. It’s better not to think about the whole world. Let’s think about ourselves. I guess they are recruiting actresses for a play. And if so, there is certainly a role of a prostitute. They don’t write a modern play without such characters. And I, of course, will receive this role.
BRUNETTE. Why exactly you?
BLONDE. Because I’m most suitable for it.
BRUNETTE. Do not you think, that I am more suitable for it?
BLONDE. You don’t understand the difference between theater and life, between reality and play. Being and appearing are completely different things. Being a prostitute is simple, every woman can. But only a professional can play it convincingly.
BRUNETTE. And you think, I’m not a professional?
BLONDE. I don’t object: maybe you are a professional in your business. But the audience, looking at you, will not believe that you are a prostitute. You have to be able to play it you have to convince them. That’s why my profession is very difficult.
BRUNETTE. You think, mine is easier?
BLONDE. Easier. All of you just live, but I’m always watched, understand? Everybody looks at me all the time.
BRUNETTE. They also look at me. Especially when I’m undressing. I don’t take a separate charge for it. All is included.
BLONDE. Anyway, you will see, it doesn’t matter what profession they need. They will accept me. They need a hairdresser - I will play a hairdresser. They need a cashier - I’ll easily play a cashier.
DAME. And if they are looking for a mistress for their director?
BLONDE. So what? I will be a director’s mistress.
BUSINESSWOMAN. But you have got a husband!
BLONDE. So what? After all, it is my character who will be the mistress, not me.
BUSINESSWOMAN. It is too complicated for me.
BLONDE. Not at all. I will be in the image, understand?
BLONDE. What is there not to understand? Imagine me in the image of Queen Roxana, kissing on stage Alexander the Great. This does not mean that I am cheating my husband at that time.
BUSINESSWOMAN. But these are not real kisses.
BLONDE. Who told you that they were fake? The very real ones! But it’s not me who kisses at the time, but my character. This is called being in the image. Now you get it?
BUSINESSWOMAN. Not really.
BLONDE. Well, what is there you don’t understand? When I give myself to a man on the stage, it is not me who surrenders to him, but my character.
BUSINESSWOMAN. But you are ready to give yourself in a reality!
BLONDE. So what? I’ll imagine that I'm on stage, that's all.
DAME. And it will also be your character, who will make love with the director, not you?
BLONDE. Sure! Well, maybe, to some extent, a little bit of me too. You see, it’s hard to separate…
BUSINESSWOMAN. You are an actress, for you, the main thing in life should be art. And you are ready to agree to be waitress, cashier and mistress?
BLONDE. I love art, but even more I love cash. We always love what we don’t have.
BUSINESSWOMAN. I could understand, that you may choose to be director’s wife. But a mistress...
BLONDE. Being a wife is much worse. After all, a wife, unlike a lover, is obliged not only to make love, but also to work, and to conduct a household, to cook, to wash... What's good in it?
BUSINESSWOMAN. So you can be unfaithful with a clear conscience?
BLONDE. To whom? To my lover?
BUSINESSWOMAN. Why lover? To your husband!
BLONDE. It is love that connects you with your lover, and with your husband just law and household. Therefore, cheating on your lover is betraying love, and cheating on your husband is not cheating at all.
BUSINESSWOMAN. I refuse to understand you.
BLONDE. What is there to understand? So, you worked in business with different bosses. Didn't you have a close relationship with them?
BUSINESSWOMAN. Never! I would not allow this.
BLONDE. What then were you hired for?
BUSINESSWOMAN. (Uncertain.) To do business.
BLONDE. But does one interfere with the other?
BRUNETTE. By the way, would you enlighten us what is going on in business now. You are a specialist.
BUSINESSWOMAN. In business? (She becomes gloomy.) The talk may appear to be difficult.
BRUNETTE. Try in plain words
BUSINESSWOMAN. You still will not understand.
BRUNETTE. Try briefly.
BUSINESSWOMAN. (Reluctantly.) Briefly? Well... Lack of demand, decline in production... (Continues, becoming more nervous and inflated with every word.) Bureaucracy, unemployment... (Faster.) Instability, uncertainty, officials, theft, bribes, taxes, recession, crisis, crash, collapse, collapse, collapse...
BLONDE. (Scared.) Calm down...
BUSINESSWOMAN. (On the verge of a nervous breakdown.) Audits, inspections, prohibitions, searches, checks, invoices, offshore, racketeering, stagnation, devaluation, raiding, default, bankruptcy ......
BUSINESSWOMAN. And under such conditions, in conversations with clients, I am obliged to assure that everything is fine and to look a vigorous optimist, radiant and successful. I do so, and as a result, everyone considers me a complete fool. And they’re quite right.
BLONDE. (Hastily taking pills from her purse.) Here, take a pill. It will calm you down.
BUSINESSWOMAN. (Hands trembling, takes the glass and pill.) The pills don’t help me for a long time. Nothing can help me.
BRUNETTE. We have no choice, so is our life. Think mine is easy? As in any business, we are stifled by competition, taxes and authorities. Many people think that there always is and will be a demand for the female body, but this is not so. Of course, not yet all the men are exhausted by work or sitting at computers. However, they are now not the same as before, they are tired, finished, torn out. Their desire, time and money is becoming less and less. In addition, the more and more women come in our business, the proposal clearly exceeds the demand. Therefore, we have to fight for our place under the sun.
DAME. (With unexpected fervor.) So, finally, I heard this word: “fight”! I knew that you were ready to fight and would fight! Everybody for himself! Everyone against everyone!
BLONDE. (Puzzled.) What are you talking about?
DAME. (More and more heated.) About that! You will stick at nothing! For a place in the sun you will crush everyone so that they will not crush you. You will crush me too, and move on without even looking back!
BRUNETTE. For that matter, you will crush us sooner.
DAME. I would be glad, but I can’t. How can I compete with you? Everywhere, only young ones are needed. Business needs young ones. Theaters need young ones. Men need young ones. And where to go for those like me? Do we have no knowledge? No experience? No skill? No energy? Is everything only for young? And us to the dump? Of course, I am still young, but... I hate... I hate...
BUSINESSWOMAN. What's wrong with you?
DAME. (Losing control of herself.) I hate... I hate people. I hate women.
DAME. And why should I love them?
BRUNETTE. But why to hate us?
DAME. Because it is you who are always and everywhere my competitors.
BRUNETTE. But then you can hate everyone.
DAME. And I hate everyone. All people are competitors. It is impossible for everybody to have everything. This cannot happen. Therefore, everyone hates each other. This cursed envy and competition...
BRUNETTE. Calm down, here no one is competing with anyone.
DAME. (She shakes in hysterics.) No, that's the law. If you, then not me. If you got married, then I was left without a husband. If a man in bed with you, then not with me. If you're young, then I'm already old. If you're beautiful, I'm ugly. If you are a rose, then I am nettle. If you go straight before your boss, then I bow my back. If you succeed, then I fail...
BUSINESSWOMAN. (Nervously.) To be young is also not easier. If you always give way to everyone, then you yourself will be left with nothing. Here, I, for example ... But now all over with it! Enough!
BRUNETTE. What’s enough?
BUSINESSWOMAN. Everything! Now I will care only of myself! Only of myself! Every woman has a husband, money and job, and I with my two diplomas have my troubles for nothing.
BRUNETTE. Pull yourself together, nobody takes away anything from you.
DAME. You have nothing to worry about, you have everything: work, money...
BRUNETTE. If anyone envies me, then please: the way to asphalt is open. There is enough room for everyone on the street.
DAME. Not for me already.
BLONDE. Why have you all flied off the handle? Are we going to fight?
BUSINESSWOMAN. You do not know what people are capable of when they are looking for work. When our company invited a group of candidates for an interview, they were always first searched, and everything that was found in bags and pockets was taken away.
BLONDE. What for?
BUSINESSWOMAN. Knives - not to rush at each other, guns - not to threaten the employer, ropes - not to hung themselves immediately on the place in case of failure. Want to hang yourself? - Please. But do it at home.
BLONDE. Horrible! It happens?
BUSINESSWOMAN. (Gloomy.) Everything happens in life.
BLONDE. But they didn’t search us!
BUSINESSWOMAN. Maybe on purpose. They wanted us to shoot each other.
BLONDE. (She looks around, startled, and notices the gun hanging on the wall.) Look!
BLONDE. A gun hangs here.
DAME. So what?
BLONDE. Don't you know famous phrase? «If in the first act of the play a gun hangs on the wall, then in the last act it must certainly shoot».
BRUNETTE. But we have only the first act, and not the last one, so you may not worry yet.
BLONDE. No, it will definitely shoot! And be sure to get into one of us.
BLONDE. No, I know that for sure. Rather, I feel. I'm superstitious, like all the actors. Foreboding never fools us.
DAME. If they do not accept me, I myself will shoot the manager. (Takes a gun off the wall.)
BLONDE. Do not touch! You can shoot us inadvertently too.
The Manager enters.
MANAGER. I heard a noise. Something happened?
DAME. (After a short pause, lowering the gun.) No, nothing.
BUSINESSWOMAN. Everything is okay.
BLONDE. Tell me, why do you have this gun hanging?
MANAGER. Which gun? Oh, this one... (She takes the gun from the hands of Dame.) It’s nothing. A gift from a female shooting club.
BLONDE. But this is dangerous! It can shoot.
MANAGER. Nonsense, it’s but a toy. Rattles, but does not shoot. A toy hare is also included in the kit to hunt him. Want to try?
BLONDE. I'm afraid.
MANAGER. Nothing wrong. Have a look.
The manager sets the hare and takes aim. Thundering shot. The hare is falling.
BLONDE. You said, the gun didn’t shoot, but the hare has fallen!
MANAGER. The hare is also a sham.
BLONDE. What about the bullet?
MANAGER. (Less confident.) It’s a fake.
BLONDE. But how has it entered the hare?
MANAGER. (She herself is puzzled.) I don’t know. I myself did not play this toy. Actually, I came to say that our specialist stuck in traffic. We ask you to show understanding and to wait a few minutes.
DAME. "A few" is how much?
MANAGER. Difficult to say. Wait. Coffee and tea are at your service. (Comes out.)
BLONDE. I advise everyone to go home.
DAME. And you, of course, stay here.
BLONDE. I will stay. Who does not risk, does not drink champagne. And besides, I need money terribly.
BUSINESSWOMAN. We all need money.
DAME. And everyone wants champagne.
BLONDE. Well, then we all remain.
BRUNETTE. Well, as long as the champagne is not served, let's go to have a cup of coffee?
BLONDE. To hell with coffee. It excites, and we need to remove tension.
DAME. (Not wanting to go to a truce, but also not able to overcome the temptation.) Do you have with you?
BLONDE. Always. I can treat. (Taking out a bottle of brandy.) Not very much, but enough for a small glass to everybody.
BUSINESSWOMAN. Let's move to another room to be sure. There is tea there.
BLONDE. Why do we need tea?
BUSINESSWOMAN. Tea and cognac are the same color. So we’ll spill it into cups.
DAME. (Resolutely.) Let's go. (Shaking his fist to the direction of Manager’s room.) You will still know!
The end of the first act
The same scenery, half an hour later. The scene is empty. A very young girl enters. A very simple hairstyle. Clothing is like a school uniform. She looks around the office and tries to open the door leading to Manager. The door is closed. The girl sits modestly with folded arms on her knees. Then she takes out her telephone, puts on headphones and begins to listen to music, closing her eyes, swaying and trampling his foot.
Businesswoman comes out of the next room and is also knocking to the office door. No answer. The woman is knocking again. Manager appears on the doorstep and looks inquiringly at the Businesswoman.
BUSINESSWOMAN. Sorry to bother you...
MANAGER. What’s the matter?
BUSINESSWOMAN. I would like to talk about work again...
MANAGER. I have already explained: we do not need managers.
BUSINESSWOMAN. Well, even if not a manager... An ordinary employee...
MANAGER. And employees are not needed.
BUSINESSWOMAN. I know. Nobody needs anyone now. But I'm in a very difficult situation... Temporarily, of course...
MANAGER. I'm very sorry, but can’t help. The candidates are selected only by our specialist.
Business woman, dropping shoulders, moves away. Manager notices the girl, approaches her and touches her shoulder. She, immersed in ecstasy, does not react. The manager shakes her. The girl startles and takes off her headphones.
And you, what are you doing here?
GIRL. I'm on the ad.
MANAGER. (Surprised.) By ad? Have you been invited?
GIRL. Yes of course.
MANAGER. How old are you?
MANAGER. (Incredulously.) And are there any documents?
MANAGER. Show me.
Girl holds out documents. The manager studies them.
Why are you almost an hour late?
GIRL. At school, classes ended late today.
MANAGER. Oh well. Wait. (Comes out.)
The girl modestly sits aside, puts on her headphones again. The rest of the women come in. They are of course, not at all drunk but only a little relaxed, more friendly talkative and outspoken.
BRUNETTE. (To Blonde.) For a long time, I want to say: you have a stunning dress.
BLONDE. (Satisfied.) I like it too.
DAME. (Enviously.) How much is it?
BLONDE. (Flaunting.) It is a gift.
BRUNETTE. (Nods understandingly. Noticing the Girl.) And who is this?
BRUNETTE comes to the Girl and touches her shoulder. The girl opens her eyes.
Where are you from, dear?
GIRL. (Puzzled.) What? (Takes off the headphones.)
BRUNETTE. I say how did you get here?
GIRL. The ad. And what?
BRUNETTE. Nothing. Have you talked to the manager?
BRUNETTE. And she didn't send you home?
GIRL. No. Said to wait.
BRUNETTE. Well, wait, if so.
Girl puts again her headphones on.
DAME. Another competitor. Younger than all of us.
BRUNETTE. Stop vibrating. You can’t shoot all the competitors.
DAME. And I want to. There is no personal life, no work, nothing.
BRUNETTE. Are you married?
DAME. Yes, and no.
BLONDE. More yes or more no?
DAME. What do you think, would I go in search of earnings, if I had a normal husband?
BLONDE. What husband do you think is normal?
DAME. Which supports you.
BRUNETTE. I see. And have you at least some husband?
DAME. Yes, there is someone in name only. Somewhere over the horizon. But is this a husband?
BLONDE. What kind of man is he?
DAME. Don’t know how to tell you... On the one hand, he is a nerd, and on the other ... However, there is no other hand. A full nerd and round fool on all sides.
BRUNETTE. Could you expand your vocabulary slightly?
DAME. What do you have in mind?
BRUNETTE. After all, it is not necessary to call a husband a nerd all the time. You can recall other suitable words; for example, an idiot, moron, scoundrel, boor, loafer, scumbag, jerk, hippopotamus, egoist, parasite, alcoholic ... But you can call him simply “husband” for a change. This word contains everything.
DAME. I understood your hint.
BLONDE. In what way is your husband worse than others?
DAME. In no way. He is like all the others. He said: I will throw the whole world at your feet. He did not even throw a salary at my feet. He said - I will love you forever. But the eternity ended in two weeks.
BLONDE. And what is he like at night?
DAME. A poor stick. (Looking toward Girl.) Speak quietly. A child is here.
BLONDE. She is with headphones, does not hear anything.
BRUNETTE. I see your life is really not easy.
DAME. And how! I’m not talking about my husband or my without-husband — I’m used to it. A woman needs to get used to everything.
BUSINESSWOMAN. Hold on. You must not give up.
DAME. It’s easy for you to say ... You have a business; you have normal men ... Not like mine.
BUSINESSWOMAN. Why did you decide that I have men, and even normal ones?
DAME. Well ... Since you have a business, then there should be men.
BUSINESSWOMAN. I said that I’m not married.
DAME. That's why you can have men. It is married women who often do not have men.
BUSINESSWOMAN. (Finishing cognac.) If you’re so interested, I don’t have anyone.
DAME. It’s strange.
BLONDE. Why strange? I also had a long period when I had no one. Almost for two weeks
BUSINESSWOMAN. And I don’t have them at all. It was my decision: if I give up myself to a man, then only for love. At least to the first one. And then I’ll see.
BRUNETTE. If there’s was the first, there is always the second, the third, etc.
BUSINESSWOMAN. The trouble is that so far there has not been even the first.
BLONDE. No! Haven’t you had anyone yet?
BLONDE. At all?
BUSINESSWOMAN. At all.
BLONDE. Does this happen?
BUSINESSWOMAN. It turns out that it happens.
BLONDE. I can’t even imagine such a thing. So you still haven’t met your love?
BUSINESSWOMAN. I am afraid, now I will meet it never.
BLONDE. First you have to find someone who would love you, and then you can look for someone you love. Without hurry.
BUSINESSWOMAN. (Hopeless.) My time is gone.
DAME. What’s wrong in it? Being a virgin is not shameful, even honorable. Roman vestals were virgins. Queen Elizabeth of England was a virgin. Joan of Arc was a virgin. All kinds of saints were virgins ...
BUSINESSWOMAN. And I do not want to be a saint. I want to be just a woman.
BLONDE. So who's stopping you?
BUSINESSWOMAN. No one. I myself.
GIRL. (From his corner.) And who is Joan of Arc?
BRUNETTE. And you, cutie, do not listen to our female conversations. It's too early for you.
The girl becomes silently offended and puts on her headphones again.
BLONDE. (Business tone.). Listen, we mustn’t let such a beautiful girl like you to be lost. I have a friend, quite cute. Well, this one... with whom I now live... I told you...
BUSINESSWOMAN. A musician or what?
BLONDE. No, another. A musician is apart. And this one is apart. Do you want me to lend him to you for a few days?
BUSINESSWOMAN. No, thanks. I said - only for love.
BLONDE. Who's stopping you from waiting for love after you try... Well... At least you will know what to wait for.
BUSINESSWOMAN. No, I don’t want to. After all, all men are disgusting, aren’t they?
BLONDE. (Not very convinced.) Well, I don’t know... Of course, they are disgusting, but on the other hand...
BUSINESSWOMAN. All. Everyone.
BLONDE. I don’t know about everyone; I don’t have enough experience. And that makes me sad. Youth passes, I’m not already twenty-four, and… Well, I have had only twelve of them. True, at the eleventh I stopped counting. What will I remember of when I get old? What to tell to my grandchildren?
The DAME goes to the Manager’s door and knocks resolutely on the door. MANAGER appears.
DAME. Tell me, will your specialist ever appear? We cannot wait forever!
MANAGER. I have told you at once that you personally do not need to wait.
DAME. I will stay out on principle.
BUSINESSWOMAN. Tell me, how many vacancies do you have?
MANAGER. We can accept practically an unlimited number of women in the project. However, the criteria that we set for candidates are very important to us. And now, sorry, I'm busy. (Exit.)
DAMA. Again the «criteria». I hate work. I hate it, but I'm looking for it. Idiocy. It’s like a flea: you hate it, but seek.
BRUNETTE. But a favorite work is a pleasure.
DAME. You are in luck’s way: you have such a good job.
GIRL. (From her corner.) And what is her job?
DAME. You were told not to listen. Shut your ears.
BLONDE. (Cheerfully.) Okay, girls, it’s not so bad. The number of vacancies is not limited, so they will take us all. That is what important. It’s even good that this specialist is late. We can prepare ourselves together for the interview, help each other, give advice...
BUSINESSWOMAN. I myself employed and was employed more than once, and I know perfectly how one has to behave oneself in this situation.
DAME. Well, what would you recommend?
BUSINESSWOMAN. Most important is to be conscious of your own self-esteem.
BLONDE. It’s not enough to be conscious of one’s own worth; one must still be in demand.
BUSINESSWOMAN. To agree to work for three pennies - it means to destroy a career. The next time you will have two pennies. An interview is not an exam. This is a dialogue of two equal parties.
DAME. (Gloomily.) Deuce a bit! "Equal"...
BLONDE. Intelligence, knowledge, experience – all this is very well, but the main thing and the first thing the employer sees in you –how you look. This is where we have to start.
As if on command, the women take out powder boxes and lipstick.
DAME. Well, we have fixed ourselves up. Now what?
BLONDE. It all depends on who this specialist will be. If, for example, he is a compassionate old man, then you can pile on the agony. (Imitating the supplicant in an appealing tone.) Well, please accept me. I have a sick mother at home! (She wipes away a tear.) We are sitting without a piece of bread... (In her own voice.) And if a young man will hire us, then you can do so: (She coos, exposing her shoulder and taking seductive poses.) I am ready to perform any duties. Do you understand me?.. Any. I am very obedient. Believe me, you will be satisfied with me... (In her voice.) Well, how?
BUSINESSWOMAN. I can’t do that. And, besides, it is not clear what kind of work they want to offer us and what kind of requirements they have.
GIRL. (Resolutely enters into conversation. Authoritatively.) What is not clear here? In the ad it is said very clearly – who is required? Young women. Not secretaries, and not salesgirls, but just women. Women! Hence, the requirements should be like to a woman. If they needed, for example, cashiers or nurses, they would have written just so.
BUSINESSWOMAN. And what does “requirements to a woman” mean?
GIRL. Are you a baby, or what? What do you think women are needed for?
BLONDE. Do you think they want to hire us for this?
GIRL. And what else?
BLONDE. Well, if only for this, then we can handle it. But what if they need us to know something else?
GIRL. And what is there to know? I can teach you, if necessary.
BRUNETTE. How old are you?
GIRL. Sixteen. Coming soon. Well, not very soon, but it will be some day.
DAME. You are only fifteen, and you are no longer a virgin?
GIRL. A virgin? What is it?
DAME. Well, have you had an affair with somebody?
GIRL. What a question! Of course!
DAME. Aren’t you starting too early?
GIRL. Big deal! And when do you think we may start? When one gets old as you?
DAMA. And you hope to be accepted?
GIRL. Why not? Everything you have, I have as well, and I'm younger.
BRUNETTE. They won’t take an under-aged.
GIRL. I took the documents of my elder sister. We are alike.
DAME. Have you ever read a book?
GIRL. Books are a prehistoric period. Nobody reads them now.
DAME. And what are you reading now?
GIRL. SMS. Or twitter.
DAME. I don’t understand what language you speak.
GIRL. Ordinary... Albany.
DAME. What is that language?
GIRL. You do not know, because you are of the century before last and naphthalene. But do not think I’m a garbage. I try to learn well. Want to know everything. I just can’t understand why to know. And why "everything"? I asked adults if they needed, for example, trigonometry at least once in their life. Everyone, even engineers, said that not once. So why should I learn so much for nothing? Better to learn what is necessary for life.
DAME. And what is it?
GIRL. You do not know, what it is necessary in the life of a woman? I really respect adults, especially the elderly ones like you, but you can’t be so stupid.
DAME. Why bang "elderly"? I am still only... somewhere in my forties.
BUSINESSWOMAN. (To Girl.) I’m listening to you and wondering - you are only fifteen, but already such an experience!
GIRL. Are you surprised or jealous? And what is my experience? So, a few schoolboys. As to adults, not so much.
BLONDE. Well, and who do you think is better - boys or adults?
GIRL. Of course adults. They give something, or buy ice cream. And schoolchildren do not even have money for cigarettes.
DAME. Do you already smoke?
GIRL. I used to smoke, but quit. It is out of fashion now.
BLONDE. What do you think is in fashion?
BLONDE. (Interested.) Modesty? Why do you think so?
GIRL. Because men love modest women now.
BLONDE. Do they?
GIRL. Sure. Men generally love something that is rare. That's why I dressed modestly today. If my future boss will be a man, he will like it, and if a woman, she will be less jealous. Anyway, I took a selfie to show myself.
GIRL. Selfie. Here, look. (Demonstrates her photo on the phone.) Here I am naked. In case he asks to show.
DAME. (Looking at the photo. Dumbfounded.) Oh!
Enters a young handsome man, dressed quite artistically: a scarf, beret, or something like that.
MAN. Hello everyone.
Women in surprise fall silent. Then, hastily, they fix themselves up. A man looks at them a little surprised.
I say hello!
WOMEN. (In an inconsistent choir.) Hello.
BLONDE. You are probably the specialist?
MAN. Of course.
Women look at each other and, be on the safe side, quickly check themselves again if everything is in order.
DAME. We were waiting for you.
MAN. (Surprised.) Me?
DAME. For quite a while.
MAN. You’re probably the manager?
DAME. Me? No.
MAN. And who is here the boss?
DAME. (Pointing to the door.) The manager is there, in this office.
Man is knocking decisively on the door. MANAGER appears.
MANAGER. Hello. Can I help you?
MAN. I am by the invitation.
MANAGER. (Surprised.) What invitation?
MAN. (Holding out the paper.) Here.
MANAGER. (She glanced at the invitation.) It is not addressed to you. Where did you get it?
MAN. From a friend.
MANAGER. Have you read it yourself?
MAN. With one eye.
MANAGER. If you open the second eye, you would see that we invited only young women.
MAN. What’s difference?
MANAGER. You do not know the difference between a man and a woman? Have I to explain it to you?
MAN. If you need a nurse, then I can be a nurse. If a waitress, I can be a waiter. If a cook, I can be a cook....
MANAGER. Thanks, you may not continue. We do not need cooks or waitresses. We need women.
MAN. After all, there is labor legislation. It is clearly written there that neither gender nor age can be a reason for refusal of employment.
DAME. (Arises nearby.) Exactly. Neither gender nor, most importantly, age! Do you want to break the law? We will complain!
MANAGER. I want to clarify something to you. We offer not a job, but a possibility to earn some money. We do not promise a job or a position; we simply offer to young women to render certain services to a particular company. And get paid for it. Clear?
DAME. Yes, but...
MANAGER. (Interrupting, to Man.) Thank you for coming and spending your time. I am not holding you anymore. (To Dame.) And it seems I am saying it to you for the third time.
DAME. And for the third time I’m answering you: I’ll wait for the specialist!
MAN. (Strongly.) Me too.
MANAGER. Up to you. (She leaves for her office.)
MAN. I haven’t understood: whom should we wait for?
BLONDE. You said that you were the specialist, but it turns out, you yourself are also looking for work.
MAN. I am a specialist who is looking for the application of his energy, intelligence and talent.
BRUNETTE. Why, with such outstanding qualities, there is no demand for you?
MAN. There is a demand for me. There is no demand for my profession.
BRUNETTE. And what is your profession, if it’s not a secret.
MAN. Women. Preferable, nude ones.
BRUNETTE. There are many such “specialists”.
MAN. But no one has studied the female body as well as I, with all its bends, roundness and hollows, in all positions, poses and angles.
BRUNETTE. This is a hobby. Pretty common among men. But you won’t make much money of it. You’ll rather spend it. But what is your profession anyway?
MAN. You haven’t still guessed? The unluckiest one. I am a sculptor.
BRUNETTE. Sculptor? Why is this profession unlucky?
MAN. Venus de Milo are not wanted in our time. Monuments of leaders and heroes went out of fashion as well. Only the tombstones in the cemetery remain, but there are many competing artisans there. And that creates problems for me. A man is ashamed to sit aground.
BUSINESSWOMAN. A woman is also ashamed to sit aground. No difference.
MAN. Do not tell that. When someone is interested in a woman, he asks not about her profession, but about her age, the color of her eyes and the size of her bust. And the first question about the man – who is this mister? An engineer? Seller? Teacher? How can I confess that I am nobody, unemployed, a necklace on my wife’s neck? True, already no longer now.
BLONDE. So, you have already found a job?
MAN. No, just my wife decided that she could not afford such an expensive necklace. Therefore, the wife is now apart and the necklace (pointing to himself) - apart.
BLONDE. (Emotionally.) Do not grieve.
MAN. I don’t. Especially, since I have found out that my wife cheats me. And, imagine, takes a fee for it from men! I could understand if it were a love or desire. No! For money! It is immoral!
BLONDE. (Thoughtfully.) If for good money, it is not so immoral.
BRUNETTE. Keep your wife properly so that she does not need anything, and then she will cheat you for free.
DAME. If my husband earned by his love affairs as your wife does, I would have welcomed it.
BUSINESSWOMAN. And you would be ready to forgive it to your husband?
DAME. Are there any other options? If you do not forgive betrayals, all marriages, without any exception, break down. But I am not ready to forgive, if the husband still pays her.
BRUNETTE. (To Man.) Why did you stay here? You are not a woman. They won’t accept you.
MAN. One can always try. In the meantime, I can court to the ladies. I'll start with you. (He wants to hug her as a joke.)
BRUNETTE. Remove your hands. I'm not at work right now. (Goes to a side.)
GIRL. (To Man.) Found with whom to talk. Do not you understand, who is she?
MAN. And you yourself, honey, how about that?
GIRL. As soon as you looked at me, I at once realized what you wanted.
MAN. Well, once realized, so when? Tonight?
GIRL. Why not today? But if you want to get something, you must first give something.
MAN. Ah so?
GIRL. Like this. As you see, I have realized, and you have not.
MAN. At the moment, which, however, has been going on for a very long time, I have not a penny.
GIRL. Then go and kiss my grandmother.
BLONDE. (She takes Man’s arm and takes him aside.) Why are you attached to this youngster?
MAN. I was not attached at all. Just to rustle my tongue. And can you offer another variant?
BLONDE. I can. Call me the next week.
MAN. (A little disappointed.) Next week I have a busy schedule.
BLONDE. Well, if you don’t want to wait, we can meet today. (Intimate). You lit in me the fire... When you found a diamond, how can you lose it?
MAN. (Flattered.) Well... If you really think so...
BLONDE. The diamond is me.
MAN. Ah so...
BLONDE. Come and we will realize your wildest dreams.
MAN. I do not have a very ardent temperament.
BLONDE. I have enough for two.
DAME. At least.
BLONDE. Nobody asked you to listen.
DAME. I don’t listen. But it’s just disgusting to watch some women openly stick to a man.
BLONDE. You are sticking, not me. I just want to share his loneliness.
DAME. In the image of the wife of Alexander of Macedon?
BLONDE. Anyway, it does not concern you.
DAME. (Pushing aside Blonde.) Young man, if you look carefully, you can make a better choice in this flower garden.
MAN. (Examining Dame.) In the flower garden, but not in the herbarium.
DAME. Believe, flowers of autumn are no worse than those of spring. (Confident.) And, most importantly, it will not cost you anything.
MAN. I appreciate your advantages, but natural inclinations attract me to another direction. (Approaches Business Women.) May I sit next to you?
BUSINESSWOMAN. Of course. I'm just happy that it is now my turn in the line.
MAN. (With some embarrassment.) What line are you talking about?
BUSINESSWOMAN. Tell me, why are you hanging out here? After the manager clearly proposed you to disappear.
MAN. I can’t leave the society of such nice women.
BUSINESSWOMAN. I'm afraid, you have a difficult problem of choice.
MAN. I have already solved this problem.
BUSINESSWOMAN. And whom have you chosen?
MAN. Of course, you.
BUSINESSWOMAN. How fast are you. It remains only for me to choose you.
MAN. But you have no choice: I am the only man here.
BUSINESSWOMAN. But not the only man in the world.
MAN. The world is far away, and I am here, next to you. Why to go somewhere, to look for? Save time. I am really the only one. There is no other me.
BUSINESSWOMAN. You have chosen me because the others refused you?
MAN. No. Because you are more attractive. And, as it turned out, smarter.
BUSINESSWOMAN. So, I also have a drawback.
MAN. But it does not stop me. And you have a very beautiful body. I say this sincerely as a specialist. Don’t you believe?
BUSINESSWOMAN. Again "specialist"? You are banal and boring.
MAN. Not true. I am very interesting. But only for those who are able to appreciate it.
BUSINESSWOMAN. You, of the march, not saying two words offer yourself to all the women in a row. Do you understand that this humiliates each of us?
MAN. Do you want me to kneel to confess my love?
BUSINESSWOMAN. May be.
MAN. I would be glad, but I do not know how to do this. I read and looked through a bunch of modern books, plays and films, and I have never seen anyone declaring their love to someone. Everyone just goes now to bed right away.
BUSINESSWOMAN. If you are going to offer me the same thing, then you are wasting your time.
BRUNETTE takes out the phone and goes into another room.
GIRL. (Arising.) Love is out of fashion now.
MAN. And what's in vogue now?
GIRL. Just a relationship.
MAN. Are you taught this at school now??
GIRL. What the teachers understand? They fall behind the times.
BRUNETTE returns, hiding the phone in her bag. MANAGER comes out of her office. DAME immediately pounced on her.
DAME. When will your specialist finally appear? It is a mockery!
MANAGER. The specialist is here; the interview will begin soon.
It’s hard to say whether women are happy or scared.
DAME. (Sharply lowering his tone.) «Soon» - it is when?
MANAGER. In a minute. She will talk to each of you separately. Please go to the next room, she will call you. (To Brunette.) And you please come to my office.
BRUNETTE enters into MANAGER’s office.
DAME. (More out of principle than out of a desire to get ahead of Brunette.) Why have you invited her? I came first.
MANAGER. If you want, you can leave first. (To everybody.) After the interview I ask everyone to stay here for a few minutes.
Everyone goes out. Manager holds only the Girl.
MANAGER. And you stay.
Manager and Girl are left alone.
Now tell me, dear, how old are you.
GIRL. I said: eighteen.
MANAGER. You are fifteen years old, and you brought other girl's documents.
GIRL. Nothing of the kind!
MANAGER. Do not lie.
GIRL. Well, let's say it’s not mine. What’s difference?
MANAGER. The difference will be explained to you by the police. Do you want me to call it?
GIRL. (Lamentably.) So, am I to leave?
MANAGER. Not yet. Wait in the next room with everyone. And now go and call someone here.
The girl comes out. The manager arranges the table and chairs so that it would be convenient to talk with the candidates, and leaves. Blonde timidly enters and looks around. Brunette comes out of the Manager’s office. However, now would not be entirely true to call her Brunette. She took off her wig, changed her free dress to a business suit, wiped her bright makeup off, and it’s quite difficult to recognize in her the previous gaudy woman. But for convenience, we will continue to call her Brunette.
BRUNETTE. (She is now polite and formal.) Good afternoon. Sit down please.
Puzzled Blonde sits down.
Our conversation is strictly confidential. Do you agree to answer openly to my questions?
BLONDE. I... Well, yes.
BRUNETTE. What can you say about your intimate life?
BLONDE. In what sense?
BRUNETTE. In that very one.
BLONDE. Fine. And what?
BRUNETTE. Nothing. Regularly?
BLONDE. Very. And what?
BLONDE. You see, I believe that every woman needs feminine happiness.
BRUNETTE. Of course. And children, as I understand it, you are not going to start having a child yet.
BLONDE. What children? I myself am still a child.
BRUNETTE. I understand.
BLONDE. Tell me... Are you that brunette?
BRUNETTE. I'm a psychologist and I own a manpower agency.
BLONDE. Well, never mind. What kind of work are we talking about?
BRUNETTE. This is not work, but participation in a project. A very serious medical firm has developed a new contraceptive pill. It is effective and harmless. The company is looking for volunteers who would agree to test it for a long time.
BLONDE. And what exactly should I do?
BRUNETTE. Once a day, come here to a nurse and swallow a pill in her presence.
BLONDE. Is the pill free?
BRUNETTE. It’s free. Rather, not. For each testing day you will be paid. And not badly.
BLONDE. You will pay me? And still give the pills free? I agree very much. And this is all that is required of me?
BRUNETTE. No, not all.
BLONDE. (Incredulously.) And what else?
BRUNETTE. You should regularly continue to enjoy your feminine happiness. Understand? Otherwise, it will not be possible to check the effect of the tablets.
BLONDE. Well, if you need it for science... For science, I am always ready.
BRUNETTE. That's fine. Come here tomorrow, to make the agreement and get the first pill. In the meantime, please invite here the next candidate.
BLONDE. Thank! (Exits, very pleased.)
DAME comes in.
BRUNETTE. Good day. Sit down.
DAME. (She peers suspiciously at Brunette.) Is it you or not you?
BRUNETTE. This is undoubtedly me.
DAME. I recognized you only by voice.
BRUNETTE. We are not at the opera house, and it does not make sense to find out who has what kind of voice. Let's get down to business. Your candidacy does not suit us.
DAME. Let me find out why?
BRUNETTE. We are looking for women who agree to have birth control pills. But you understand that at a certain age...
DAME. Again damn age.
BRUNETTE. And, besides, taking such pills at your age is not too useful.
DAME. For money, I am ready to swallow any pills.
BRUNETTE. But they can harm your health.
DAME. There is nothing more harmful than no money.
BRUNETTE. I'm really sorry. All the best.
DAME. Listen... I have to live... Understand?
DAME. So please help if you can. I was harsh with you, sometimes rude... I am very sorry. This damned life made me such as I am. I beg you...
BRUNETTE. Really, I don’t know... Though, there is one option... But you won’t like it.
DAME. I will like it.
BRUNETTE. Well, good. (Lowering his voice.) Some elderly men often turn to me, as a psychologist, with a request to find older woman friends for them...
DAME. Why not young?
BRUNETTE. Men of the golden age sometimes are afraid to have fun with young girls. They are afraid of being overtired. So they turn their eyes to more serious clients. Besides, it is cheaper.
DAME. (Dissatisfied.) Why is it cheaper?
BRUNETTE. Specificity of the business. In these affairs the longer is experience, the lower is the fee. If you want, I will help you establish the necessary contacts.
DAME. (Looking around cautiously.) I would be very grateful.
BRUNETTE. But you seem to have solid principles, and conscience, and morality...
DAME. All in the past. When there is no money, there can be no principles.
A girl bursts into the room.
GIRL. I want to talk to you!
BRUNETTE. No reason. The manager has already spoken to you.
GIRL. But it is very important!
BRUNETTE. Oh well. I give you one minute. (To Dame.) You can go now. They will call you.
DAME. Thanks. (Exit.)
BRUNETTE. Well, what do you want?
GIRL. They say you're handing out pills!
BRUNETTE. Has the blonde already shared her joy? So what?
GIRL. And I really need them!
BRUNETTE. We don’t distribute them. It’s just an experiment.
GIRL. I am ready to test them for free. And if you need more volunteers, I will bring tomorrow all the girls of our class.
BRUNETTE. It is forbidden to test minors.
GIRL. It’s wrong. They just need it most.
BRUNETTE. Go dear. We will call you.
BRUNETTE. In three years.
Dissatisfied Girl comes out. Business woman enters.
BUSINESSWOMAN. (Without waiting for questions.) They told me everything. I know your requirements and I know that I do not fit. So there’s no reason for us to talk.
BRUNETTE. Please sit down and let’s talk.
BUSINESSWOMAN. About the pills? I use another remedy, the most effective, harmless and completely free. Namely, abstinence.
BRUNETTE. Each of us has a pain in our souls that we do not dare to shout out loud. Sit down.
Woman sits down
I have a suggestion for you. Money is not very big, but better than nothing. And the work is easy.
BUSINESSWOMAN. In my specialty?
BRUNETTE. Not exactly. Not at all.
BUSINESSWOMAN. But I know nothing except my profession.
BRUNETTE. As to what I am proposing, you do not need to know and be able anything.
BUSINESSWOMAN. (Suspiciously.) What kind of work is this?
BRUNETTE. To decide on it, you will have to overcome some internal prohibitions.
BUSINESSWOMAN. Not! (After a short pause.) What are we talking about?
BRUNETTE. An art school requires a model.
BUSINESSWOMAN. And you offer it to me?
BRUNETTE. Why not? Your stature is first-class. And that’s enough.
BUSINESSWOMAN. And will it be necessary to lie naked?
BRUNETTE. Lying, sitting or standing depends of what they say.
BUSINESSWOMAN. Naked in front of all?
BRUNETTE. Do you prefer to be naked in front of one man?
BUSINESSWOMAN. (Thinking.) It depends on which man.
BRUNETTE. This is another conversation.
BUSINESSWOMAN. Maybe really to try it? I think there is no great danger. They say that artists see in a model not a woman, but only an object for drawing.
BRUNETTE. Don't count on it. Artists are also people. The only difference is that an ordinary man calls his girlfriend a lover, and the artist - his muse. But everything, of course, depends on the model.
BUSINESSWOMAN. Well, I'm ready. Even just now.
BRUNETTE. Are you serious?
BUSINESSWOMAN. Since I decided why to put off?
BRUNETTE. I heard you talking to this young man right now. He made advances to you, and you were pushing him all the time. Tell me why?
BUSINESSWOMAN. I don’t know. By stupidity. I instinctively got used to resist. Even when really want to give up. And besides, I'm scared.
BUSINESSWOMAN. I do not know. Probably disappointments. Every man is a new hope for me. Hope that has not been realized... (She gets up, goes to the door, but stops at the exit.) Thank you.
BRUNETTE. Call the last one who stayed there.
BUSINESSWOMAN. Ok. (Comes out.)
BRUNETTE. Sit down. I want to help you. Are you, in fact, a sculptor?
MAN. Want to order a waist portrait? Marble bust?
BRUNETTE. A woman who has just left from here, has a bust much prettier than mine. Really marble.
MAN. I have also set eyes on it.
BRUNETTE. Why don't you invite her to be your model?
MAN. Money! Damned money!
BRUNETTE. Perhaps she will agree to work for you on credit. Maybe you’ll have some luck and pay her back some day.
MAN. And who is she at all?
BRUNETTE. A smart, beautiful, educated, decent woman and that’s why she’s naturally unlucky. And you, I don’t know if you are decent, but also unlucky. I am sure: you will be lucky together.
MAN. May I ask you a question?
MAN. I have been told that you have spent an hour and a half in the waiting room, so to speak, incognito. What for?
BRUNETTE. By this way, I received much more complete and truthful information about the candidates than it would be in a formal setting. This was a real job interview. There was another goal, but I’ll say about it when everyone comes together. By the way, invite them here.
All the personages gather in the reception and sit down. Manager comes out of her office and sits next to Brunette. Man, casually or not, is sitting next to Businesswoman.
Dear ladies, only one candidate was suitable to our customer. However, we can somehow compensate you for the spent time.
DAME. How exactly?
BRUNETTE. By order of one company, we conduct a research. Its purpose is to study the behavior of women in certain circumstances. Therefore, today's meeting has been recorded on video.
BUSINESSWOMAN. But it is a violation of the privacy!
MANAGER. That's right. Therefore, the record will be used only by a narrow circle of specialists exclusively for scientific purposes.
BUSINESSWOMAN. And then it will spin in every mobile phone.
MANAGER. None of the strangers will ever see what was happening in this room. This condition will be fixed in the contract. But if ever anyone of you does not agree, the record will be immediately destroyed.
DAME. And if we agree, will they pay us?
MANAGER. Of course. Although not very much.
DAME. I agree.
BLONDE. So do I. Besides, I didn’t say anything very much. Let everyone watch.
GIRL. I agree too. If necessary, you may shoot me on video again. In any form.
BRUNETTE. (To Man and Businesswoman.) Well, and you?
BUSINESSWOMAN. I don’t know…
MANAGER. The decision must be unanimous, because it concerns everyone.
MAN. We agree.
DAME. Is there an opportunity to pay us more?
MANAGER. (Thinking.) Perhaps there is. We can translate this to a text and get a play. If the play is performed in a theater, your roles will be played by actresses, and no one would guess that the story is about you. And you get a decent fee.
BLONDE. Can I myself play my role in that play?
BRUNETTE. Why not? So, those in favor?
Everyone raises her hand.
Adopted unanimously. Well, let’s hope, all of us shall meet in the theater, at the first-night show.
Music. The actors are going to bow.
BLONDE. Wait a minute! In the second act, the gun did not fire! This is a violation of the theater rules!
MANAGER. It is easy to correct.
Manager takes the gun from the wall and shoots up. Colored balls and confetti swirl in the air.