Mine Water

*

The translation of Mine Water was one of four works developed during hotINK at The Lark 2015.

Synopsis

The story takes place in an imaginary mine region in Transylvania. The mine has closed and the village people struggle with poverty and despair, and often fall asleep at church. Characters are consumed by desires and dreams. A tragi-comic tale with witty linguistic humor and a not-so-exotic theme: how can we go on if we lose resources and traditions?

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Characters

IGNÁC (pronounced: ignatz) – Catholic priest

MÁRTON – Church caretaker, Ignác’s adopted son, 25-26

ISTVÁN (pronounced: ishtvan) – Village schoolmaster

IMOLA – his daughter

IRÉN – the priest’s housekeeper

*

Living room of a Catholic priest’s house in a small Transylvanian village, with no phone signal and internet. The present. The walls are covered by crosses and icons. In the room there’s a lectern, covered with black velvet. On it there is a bottle of homemade palinka (very strong homemade alcoholic beverage usually made of plums).

(Father Ignác standing behind the lectern.)

IGNÁC

(loudly) Grace to you and peace from our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Brothers and Sisters let us examine our conscience and repent for our sins to worthily celebrate the sacred mysteries of the Lord! (pause) I confess to the almighty God and to you my brothers and sisters that I have sinned… (stressing the ‘s’ sounds) Sinned exceedingly… s…s… (quietly) Six stick shifts stuck shut. … (loudly) Sssssinned exxxxceedingly

(Enter Irén, a middle-aged housekeeper, carrying a pouch and an open letter.)

IRÉN

Here I am, Father.

IGNÁC

(notices her, goes on) greatly sinned in my thoughts and in my words, 
in what I have done and in what I have failed to do… (quietly) thought… th, th, th… Thatcher had a thin thing in her thong. Not these things here, but those things there. (loudly) Through my fault…

 …through my fault, I can damn well see that you’re here, Irén, I’m not blind. Through my most grievous fault. Therefore I beseech…

IRÉN

Here I am, Father.

IRÉN

Is Márton home yet?

IGNÁC

Nope.

IRÉN

When does he come?

IGNÁC

Don’t know. Tttherrrreforrre I besssseech…

IRÉN

I’ve bought all kinds of things for lunch. I’m going to cook goulash today.

IGNÁC

Therefore I beseech blessed Mary…

IRÉN

Goulash with onions.

IGNÁC

…blessed Mary with onions…. Irén! What the rabbit-fucking dog’s ass do you think I’m doing?

IRÉN

Cursing?

IGNÁC

Doesn’t it rather look like I’m trying to rehearse the mass?

IRÉN

(offended) All right, Father, go on with that rehearsing, I’m not going to disturb you. I just wanted to tell you that… (raises the letter, then lets it down) But why are you rehearsing, Father? Have you forgotten the text, or why are you rehearsing?

IGNÁC

No, Irén, I have not forgotten the text. Forgetting everything is some other person’s habit in this house. My (over-enunciating) diction needs some improvement, that’s why I’m rehearsing. If I pronounce the words clearly, people will pay more attention to my and the Lords’ words.

IRÉN

The problem is not your dickshine, Father, if you ask me.

IGNÁC

Sorry?

IRÉN

I don’t think that your dickshine is the reason everybody falls asleep at mass.

IGNÁC

What? What makes you say that “everybody falls asleep at mass?” It’s not true!

IRÉN

All right, not everybody. Just the old ones. Not everybody. And sometimes the choir, too.

IGNÁC

They get tired. That’s how old people are. But the young parishioners don’t sleep!

IRÉN

True, they don’t.

IGNÁC

See?

IRÉN

I haven’t seen any young parishioners at the church for fifteen years, though.

IGNÁC

Don’t you rather want to cook your bloody goulash now?

IRÉN

Of course I want to. I just…. (raises the letter again, then lets it down and walks towards the kitchen)

IGNÁC

Wait a second, Irén! If the problem is not my diction…then what do you think the problem is, in your opinion?

IRÉN

If you ask me, the problem is that you have no more whats-it in you. Passion. That’s what you have lost.

IGNÁC

Passion?

IRÉN

That’s right. No passion twinkling inside you anymore.

IGNÁC

That’s not true. The passion is twinkling quite well inside me.

IRÉN

If you say so, Father, then it’s twinkling. If you say so.

IGNÁC

Last time it was twinkling so well that…how many people were crying? All the old women burst into tears when they heard my words.

IRÉN

When was this exactly?

IGNÁC

About two weeks ago.

IRÉN

Two weeks ago?

IGNÁC

Yes. When I announced that the government would cut their pensions in half.

IRÉN

All right, all the old women were crying, probably, all right.

IGNÁC

See?

IRÉN

Is Márton home yet?

IGNÁC

No he isn’t, told you already.

IRÉN

I could use a helping hand with the onions…. Where is he?

IGNÁC

I don’t know. (drinks a shot of palinka)

IRÉN

How is that possible, Father? It’s your adopted son we’re talking about. How can you not know?

IGNÁC

He mentioned something about maybe going to the next village.

IRÉN

To the next village? Travelled boy, this Márton.

IGNÁC

Yes.

IRÉN

And what does he do there, in the next village?

IGNÁC

The priest there is selling clothes for the people who remained without shelter after the floods. Márton said he’d like to buy some pants if I gave him money.

IRÉN

Have you?

IGNÁC

No.

IRÉN

Speaking of travelled people… (smiling) I’ve met the postman, Father. My little girl, Irénke, sent me a letter. (raises the letter)

IGNÁC

(sighs) You don’t say.

IRÉN

That’s right. She says she’s coming home from America, she says.

IGNÁC

And when would that be?

IRÉN

She didn’t say. But she’s coming soon, that’s for sure. Let’s hope she’ll be home for Christmas.

IGNÁC

Let’s hope. (drinks another shot of palinka)

IRÉN

(looking at the glass) Did you know, Father, that people don’t drink there, in America?

IGNÁC

Really?

IRÉN

That’s right. My daughter told me in her letter. Nobody.

IGNÁC

Miserable people.

IRÉN

Did you know, Father, that in America a housekeeper like myself earns one million dollars a month?

IGNÁC

Your daughter told you that, too?

IRÉN

Yes.

IGNÁC

Didn’t she tell you something about the cooking of the bloody goulash?

IRÉN

No, she didn’t.

IGNÁC

That’s a pity. I think that’s what she should have written about. I wonder if goulashes get to cook themselves in America.

IRÉN

Anything is possible in America.

IGNÁC

May the Lord’s bloody lightning strike right into this house, Irén! Would you fucking mind letting me rehearse?!

IRÉN

Jesus, Father, don’t say things like that! I won’t bother you anymore, just don’t say that!

IGNÁC

All right then, may it strike the neighbor’s house. Just go!

Irén walks out through the kitchen door.

Silence.

(loudly) Therefore I… hm, with passion…. (more loudly) Therefore I beseech blessed Mary ever Virgin….

(Enter Márton running.)

MÁRTON

The teacher’s house is on fire!!!

IGNÁC

What?

MÁRTON

(points at the window) Don’t you see? The teacher’s house is on fire!

Irén comes out of the kitchen.

IGNÁC

Quickly, son, pull the bells!

IRÉN

Lord have mercy!

(They hurry out. Noise, shouting from outside, the light of flames can be seen through the window.)

(Blackout)

Bios

Csaba Székely

Csaba Székely was born in 1981 in Târgu Mureș, Romania. He’s a playwright who also writes for television. His first play (Do You Like Banana, Comrades?) won the regional prize for Europe at the BBC’s International Radio Playwriting Competition in 2009. It was also chosen as Drama of the Week by the BBC. A few years later, in 2013, it won the Society of Authors’ Richard Imison Award. Székely has since written a trilogy about country life in Transylvania: Bányavirág (Mineflower), Bányavakság (Mineblindness), and Bányavíz (Minewater), examining issues such as unemployment, alcoholism, nationalism, corruption, and high rates of suicide in the Hungarian population of Transylvania. The trilogy has been published in a volume by the Hungarian publishing house Magvető under the title Bányavidék’ (Minelands). These three plays have been produced in Hungarian, Romanian, and Slovakian theatres. Székely also has written a historical comedy called Vitéz Mihály (Michael the Brave) about the rise and fall of a medieval Romanian national hero. This play won first prize in the playwriting competition held by Hungary’s Weöres Sándor Theatre, which also produced it. He has written a musical titled Hogyne, drágám! (Sure, honey!), produced by the National Theatre of Târgu Mureș, Romania, as well as a contemporary take on Euripides’ tragedy Alcestis (also produced by the National Theatre of Târgu Mureș, Romania). He is one of the scriptwriters for the third season of HBO Hungary’s show Terápia (In Treatment).

Maria Albert

Maria Albert is a lecturer at the University of Arts, Târgu-Mureș, Romania. She has taught comparative literature, Romanian theatre, film analysis, and translation techniques, and has translated texts for the theatre. She is the director of UArtPress, the publishing house of the University of Arts, Tg-Mures. She has a doctoral degree in theatre from the I.L. Caragiale National University, București. She also has contributed to theatre productions as a dramatic advisor. Albert's publications include studies on contemporary theatre and dramatic writing, and an English textbook for drama students (English Act, 2006). She's participated in research projects investigating the history of Hungarian theatre in Romania, contemporary Hungarian theatre, and otherness. She's participated in several international dramatic writing workshops and co-organized three editions of the International Playwriting Camp in Târgu-Mureș, in cooperation with the Lark Play Development Center.

Bányavidék. Copyright (c) Csaba Székely, 2013. English translation copyright (c) Maria Albert, 2015.