Riten (1969) Script

THE RITE


SCENE ONE AN INTERVIEW ROOM


Hello.

Let them wait.


Show them in.

Welcome!

How do you do?

Please, come in.

This weather's very trying.

Record temperatures, I hear. 34 degrees, most unhealthy.

Yesterday's thunderstorm didn't help, although it was pouring down.

The show was interrupted twice when the lights went.

Odd when it happens in a big city.

It's more common in the country.

A kind of panic. Please, sit down.

A drink, anyone?

Cognac, whisky, a glass of sherry? That's all we can offer on a Sunday.

Ice water or Coca-Cola for my wife, she's not entirely well.

The heat is excruciating. I'll have a sherry, I need one.

I heard that your father... Yes, on Friday. It was very sudden.

How enviable!

Enviable?

I suppose so, Mr Ritter. Forgive me, Mr Fisher.

I think I'll have a sherry after all.

Splendid! And you, Mr Fisher?

I'll have some of Thea's Coca-Cola. You can have your very own bottle.

The Government is paying. My humble thanks.

Kind of you to give up a Sunday. Equally kind of you to receive us.

You're giving up your Sunday. Welcome!

Every day is a work day for me, I'm a workaholic.

My doctor has warned me. When you're past fifty and all that.

If I had a loving wife waiting at home with my dinner and slippers.

We're not here to talk about me, agreeable though it is.

Where to next? I see you've just come from Poland.

A few weeks in Holland, then we go on to the Far East.

For how long? Six months.

Doesn't it get boring?

You get used to it.

Forgive me for asking, but as far as I can tell you're all Swiss citizens.

For the last five years we've lived in Ascona, in between tours.

We've been trying to find out your income over the past three years.

The Swiss tax authorities are, how shall I put it, very reticent.

A colleague of mine called the places where you've been performing.

He estimates your annual income to be close to $2 million.

On the surface, your income isn't connected with the case as such but I'd like to have as much background as possible.

Then there's the speeding offence.

The Dutch police caught up with you between Arnhem and Nijmegen.

You stated that you were late for a charity event in Liège.

You were driving at 160km per hour.

We told them we were terribly late.

True, it's in the report.

My wife had been ill, hence the delay.

It says Mrs Winkelmann was drunk and that she abused the officers.

Furthermore, that she undressed and I quote, "made lewd movements".

We sent a doctor's certificate.

True.

Mrs Winkelmann suffers from a kind of epilepsy, which can lead to certain mental side-effects.

I had a feeling of suffocation.

I see.

The Dutch police were utterly shaken, that's for sure!

Did you make the charity party?

It wasn't a charity party at all.

A friend has a chateau near Liège and we were performing for a group of politicians and industrialists.

The charity thing just came out, it was stupid.

The report does lament this little oversight.

We did actually hand over three quarters of our fee to charity.

Really? I haven't been notified. I'll certainly make a note of that.

Oh well, these are mere details.

My driving licence is clean. You jumped the lights in 1956.

Unfortunately I'd forgotten that. Yes, that is unfortunate.

Hello?

Is that so?

I'll be right there.

Excuse me. Certainly.

Rude bastard! He'll be hard on us. Don't get hysterical, Sebastian.

I can't stand situations like this! Let Hans...

Right, let me do the talking. We'll stick together.

Are there microphones here? We have nothing to hide.

We've done nothing illegal, this is a normal discussion.

I'm suffocating! Calm yourselves.

Not a living soul in the whole street.

Lightning over there, behind the gas holder.

Do you see the huge beetle on that window sill there?

Second window from the left.

It's huge.

It saw you and flew away.

Shall we kill the doctor? We just walk away after, there's no one here.

Hans will look after us. He's our boss.

So caring, so wise, so dignified.

You just go on and on.

I had this indefinable angst all day.

I just want to cry and get drunk.

You got drunk yesterday. Are you saying I'm drunk right now?

Don't bloody accuse me all the time!

Hans didn't mean it that way.

SCENE TWO A HOTEL ROOM

Must you be so noisy with the paper?

It makes me jump. Go to your own room then.

Are you turning me away? If I'm annoying you, you can go.

Did I say anything else?

I hate you. I hate you too.

The judge expects you at ten. I'll be there.

You haven't cleaned your teeth. Neither have you.

It's none of your business. Your breath smells, you smell.

I'd love to sleep on my own but you can't sleep if I'm not there.

Portner is dead. It says here.

"Lvan Portner, 50, died in Stuttgart, following a long illness."

The poor devil had lung and throat cancer. He had two operations.

I saw him in February. You didn't tell me.

He looked like hell but he was still working.

End of February, it was. He looked near death then.

You never said. Was Marina there? No, I didn't see Marina.

Yes you did. I told you I didn't.

You saw her and you two cheated the poor fellow.

I didn't see her.

You did see Marina in Switzerland in between the tours.

I no longer believe in your jealousy, it's just bad temper.

I know you saw Marina.

My contract expires in six months. Then we'll dissolve our friendship.

You, me and Mr Winkelmann. You'll have to do without Sebastian Fisher.


That's Hans. Or the waiter coming for his tray.

I'm sure it's Hans. So?

Bad conscience? I don't know.

I dreamt last night...

...I was walking down a street, it was Monday.

It struck me that school started on this Monday and that I wasn't there.

It frightened me.

Oh dear!

Am I boring you? Not at all.

I was really frightened.

Then I thought, I can leave school whenever I want.

I went home. Mother opened the door and said, "Aren't you at school?"

I said, "No, I've left school, I'm never going back."

My mother's face was strangely red.

She had a cold and kept blowing her nose.

I thought it suspicious and kept my distance.

She said, "How will you manage if you don't go to school?"

I told her I make three-quarters of a million a year, so I'd manage.

I dreamt I was going for a ride in an old cart.

I had a choice between a young and an old horse.

I took the younger one, as the older wasn't as strong.

After a while, the horse sat in the cart and I was pulling.

And the horse went on about love and art and freedom.

So slaughter the horse! The horse had an ulcer and a cold!

It's hard to sense the humour in a situation and not be able to laugh.

Do you remember that poem?

"I'm half man, half bird." I'm not interested in poetry.

No, only in magazines. I don't remember it anyway.

What? The poem! You're not listening.

The bird poem.

"Half bird, half man Bird's heart, man's lungs."

"Bird's head, man's eyes."

"The body bursting with a longing never sated."

"The body bound by heavy limbs eyes turning to the sky"

And so on...

Sebastian, bird!

Don't!

The glowing woman's flower open, moist, generous, fearless.

Mother Earth's own sister, slurp, slurp...

You always have to avenge yourself just because you can't satisfy me.

At least Hans can do that. And I can't?

No, you can't, not in any way.

I'm too frail. I can't perform, what shall I call it...

...the grotesque.

I'm going to tell you what a psychiatrist once said to me.

He said, "You're not solid matter, you're a movement."

"You flow into others, they flow into you."

"Nothing's constant. When you realise this, your neurosis will go."

And then he said...

"The islands in the river are a sign of approaching death."

"They grow and solidify, rising out of the flowing darkness."

"One day the stream will be suffocated - by islands."

You should have four different men.

One to keep you, one to fuck you, one to amuse you and one for your psyche.

I'm so very poorly off! I'll get up now.

And I'll go to my room. Sebastian...

Sebastian, Sebastian...

I'll miss you. You've been so mean to me today.

I'll miss you and I forgive you. Not just for today but every day.

Don't go. It's late.

What about Marina?

I'm getting a cold.

You never listen to me.

I remember something a director once said about actors.

"I never cease to marvel..."

"Suddenly lilies will shoot up out of the arses of carcasses."

Lord have mercy on me.

Oui, ma petite.

I have mercy on Thursdays.

Take me unto you.

Deliver my soul let it perish in the void.


SCENE THREE AN INTERVIEW ROOM I have a cold, a sore throat. My body aches and my eyes.

And, pardon me, a hellish diarrhoea. I feel utterly indisposed.

I've hardly slept all night.

I considered cancelling this meeting.

I've got a performance tonight, that comes first.

You have to be nice. We'll start with some forms.

Sounds menacing.

Your name in full? Albert Emanuel Sebastian.

Second name? I thought you knew that.

German or English spelling? Originally German.

My father, who emigrated in 1931, changed it into English.

Jewish grandparents.

My mother was of a Dutch artists' family. Heard of Vaalendorff?

No? There's a Vaalendorff's Circus. Sorry.

No? It's run by two uncles of mine.

My father was a musician.

He could have been great, but he was a drunk.

In the end he became ill, hallucinating but that's irrelevant.

Are you married? I've been divorced for many years.

My ex-wife is a professor of archaeology. She lives in Cairo.

You're separated, not divorced. That's different.

Well, excuse me. Why ask when you already know?

Mere formalities, Mr Fisher. I won't keep you long.

That's very kind of you. Time to talk about the scar on my cheek?

Irrelevant. You were convicted of unpremeditated manslaughter.

A fight with knives. It was self-defence.

Was he a close friend?

He was my partner for four years.

He went wild when he was drunk. Winkelmann's wife was his then.

An unhappy marriage.

We were all engaged by the same company for several years.

Hans was married with two daughters.

We shared a house outside London.

Your partner's death split you up? My wife, the professor, left.

Hans and Thea began working together.

I was in prison and Hans' wife went mad with jealousy.

I could put my tongue through my cheek.

Why stab your friend four times when the first blow killed him?

Has it got any relevance to this? I'm curious.

I really don't know. It felt good, I suppose.

I was holding him.

He was coughing, we were both covered in blood.

I could feel his stubble against my naked shoulder.

We were talking and laughing, not realising how serious it was.

Have you suffered since then? Suffered, in what way?

Have I missed him, you mean?

It goes without saying. I loved him.

Felt remorse? No, why should I?

You've a wedding ring. That's my business!

Of course it is.

Could I have a drink? Sorry, I have nothing to offer.

How many children? Don't know.

I honestly don't know. I've never cared to count them.

I support some four or five of them. My lawyer has all the facts.

With the professor I had two and a miscarriage.

Perhaps we should talk about the main issue.

Is the act, or whatever it is, your invention?

Invention?

Christ, you're ridiculous with your bloody self-esteem.

Your lower-class curiosity and tactlessness.

Your lack of education and sympathy.

I've noticed you're not very clean, Mr Abrahamson.

You neglect your personal hygiene.

Underneath your aftershave is a sour smell of filthy corpulence.

You put on a clean shirt every day, but I see a tidemark on the collar.

Your nails aren't very clean. I despise you.

I find your officiousness unbelievably ridiculous.

Not bad to mix with three world-famous artists.

Your picture in the paper next to us.

It feels good to pester us with humiliating questions under pretence of decency and discretion.

Pulling down our trousers and giving us a spanking.

I'll demand a judge who's on my level.

You're unable to either understand or judge our work. You're dull!

I've said what was on my mind.

Lock me up now, for contempt or whatever.

It grieves me you find me so repulsive.

I admit I sweat profusely.

I've seen many specialists about it, it's my metabolism.

I can understand if it bothers you. The smell, that is.

But I will not accept that I'm dirty.

No one washes as often as I do.

And it's not a tidemark on my neck.

It's an old sunburn, a pigmentation, that looks a bit odd.

You say I'm lower-class.

I don't know about that, it's a flexible concept.

My parents were well-off, my father was a lawyer, my mother a teacher.

We were five siblings, I dare say we were brought up well.

I've tried not to hurt or embarrass you, possibly I've been too discreet.

I immediately sensed your animosity.

And as I pointed out, it grieves me and makes me insecure.

All this has been upsetting for both of us, so I suggest we say goodbye.

I wish you a speedy recovery and look forward to tonight's performance.

I won't take your outburst to heart.

It's forgotten and, if you wish, forgiven.

I can understand your strong emotions.

Goodbye, Mr Fisher. Will you find your own way out?

Straight down the corridor, the lifts are on your right.

From there on it's easy. Goodbye.

Not only are you nasty and repulsive, you're a crap actor to boot.

Your acting in the past few minutes is among the worst I've ever seen.

You're ruthless, immoral and rotten.

People like you don't deserve to live!

I'm embarrassed on behalf of you and myself.

I'm incapable of feeling aggression.

I'm only seized with a feeling of impotence. I beg you, go at once!

That's how it is.

Mother of God! That's as it should be.

I have seen it and there's no return!

I have no family. Nothing to live for.

Don't worry, I won't touch you, that would be too vile. Just sit down.

While you cool off... Shit, it's hot!

I'll tell you about an act that Hans and I have performed.

A man enters a police station to report something peculiar.

What is it he wants to report? He's been seized by a huge appetite.

He ate his wife, a shop assistant, his two children and his grandmother.

A bearded man had entered the shop, God himself.

He cut out a fillet from God's shank and ate it.

He had an irresistible urge to shit and then he went to the police.

Calm down, I'm near the end.

He lifts his cranium, which he's sawed off and shows the astounded inspector an empty inside.

His head was empty.

At the bottom was a string for the eyelids but that was it.

Are you calm now? I'll go before we get any closer.

One more question. Your religion?

I have no religion. I don't belong to any faith.

I don't need a god, salvation or eternal life.

I'm my own god, I supply my own angels and demons.

I reside on a stony beach, which sinks into a sheltering ocean.

A dog is barking, a child is crying. The day closes and turns to night.

You can't intimidate me!

No human being will ever frighten me again.

I have a prayer that I say to myself in the absolute silence.

May there be a wind to stir the sea and the sultry dusk.

May a bird fly in from the sea and scatter the silence with its call.

SCENE FOUR A CONFESSIONAL

Father, I don't want to confess but I need someone to talk to.

I'm listening.

I think I'm going to die.

Strangely enough, I'm scared.

On my way home yesterday, I had to sit down on a bench.

I felt as if I was already dead.

My body had a stench I've never noticed before.

There's the abnormal heat, of course, and my weak heart.

And then my old father's death. Try as one may, everything changes.

What am I saying?

I'm talking through my hat.

People can pardon each other, can't they?

There is an earthly grace.

But outside the fragile circle of human warmth, cruelty reigns.

Forever in all eternity.

Insight.

God.

Insight.

I know you're not laughing at me.

You must be familiar with the phenomenon from your practice.

You'll know that non-believers often pray.

I pray. It gives me relief in my pain.

Night has fallen.

It's dark and I'm afraid.

My mother has left and shut the door.

No one will hear me if I call out.

I daren't walk on the floor because of the animals.

I have to stay in my bed.

If I start to cry from anxiety, I'll be even more afraid.

SCENE FIVE AN INTERVIEW ROOM

Dear Mr Winkelmann, I'm so sorry.

How long have you waited? Two hours, that's awful!

I heard you didn't get my message. I asked my secretary to contact you.

You weren't in your room. Maybe not at that time.

Nevertheless, it's most regrettable.

As you may know, I had a talk with Mr Fisher.

I can't say we got on very well.

I've searched my conscience to ascertain whether I offended him.

He is very sensitive and quite poorly.

He's had a series of infections, it makes him irritable.

Yes, I see.

He takes the matter too seriously. And you?

I've stopped fretting over professional matters long ago.

I do my best, that's all.

It's only natural your judicial system wants to investigate this.

The penalty is lenient, if we're found guilty.

The fine has been deposited in a bank nominated by you.

I'm delighted to hear that we have the same attitude.

Our laws may be antiquated but they have to be applied.

Other authorities make them and repeal them.

The fine is modest.

And our action has given you great publicity.

On principle, we don't rely on box office takings.

I see.

Do you negotiate and set up the contracts?

Oh no, our agent does that.

He negotiates with agents abroad who then negotiate with our employers, it's a complex business.

I outline the principles behind our performances to our agent.

After consulting my partners, naturally.

Who among you is the creative force?

That's hard to say, we're so mixed up with one another.

We share thoughts and feelings, know one another's reactions.

If you perform day in day out in such an utterly demanding environment, you eventually merge into an integrated body.

That doesn't prevent our having different views on this and that.

So it's impossible to say who thought of the act?

Absolutely. The props?

I don't remember. The gestures?

Each of us is responsible for our own gestures. A cigarette?

Quarter past four. Sorry, I didn't mean to be rude.

I left my wife at the hotel, she might be getting worried.

Do you want to call her? Oh no.

Are you afraid of leaving her alone with Mr Fisher?

My wife needs me to be there. This business has upset her.

I'll be seeing her alone. I'm sure I'll be able to reassure her.

Don't you think so, Mr Fisher? Winkelmann.

I wanted to discuss that. One moment, please.

How long have you been married? Five years.

Any children? A boy. He's in a home, an idiot.

Your former wife, where is she? I don't know.

You pay alimony for your children? My lawyers take care of that.

So you never see your children? Why not?

Is that relevant? Just curiosity.

Does it bother you? Yes.

No. I blame the travel.

You take a holiday every year. I'm too tired then.

Does your present wife not want you to see them?

No.

What were you asking earlier?

I wanted to ask you a favour. Oh?

I'd be immensely grateful if you'd call off your interview with my wife.

Or if I could be present. I see.

My wife is, shall we say, an unusual woman. Neurotic, many might say.

I'd say she's unusually sensitive, mentally and physically.

Sometimes she has very peculiar outbursts and ideas.

With me she is calm and perfectly normal, apart from her stammering, which derives from a childhood trauma.

Moreover, she has an unreasonable need to please.

You can make her say or do anything, far beyond reason or dignity.

Your meeting would be meaningless.

My dear Mr Winkelmann, I'd gladly grant your request but I have my orders.

You can accompany her here and sit next door but I do need to see her alone.

I can see the difficulty in cancelling the interview.

Could you just make it a formality? Say I let her in...

You exchange a few empty phrases and then I pick her up.

I value you highly and want to spare your wife but I have to follow my instructions.

You can't imagine her fear, it's bestial.

I can get a doctor. It'll only make things worse.

For years I've tried to make Thea see she's not mentally ill.

You must understand my position.

By the way, why does Sebastian Fisher still wear his wedding ring?

It was his father's. He had an unusual bond with his father.

About my wife... Are they having an affair?

I don't understand... Are they in love?

I don't understand.

Do they sleep together? They're very close, like siblings.

And you tolerate it? I know all about humiliation.

I don't know why. Is there something in me that invites humiliation?

Really big artists are invulnerable, in their core, that is.

I'm not one of them.

My biggest fear is to be left alone. You're surprised?

I look so robust. Well adjusted, intelligent, talented and so on.

Well, I love Sebastian Fisher and my wife.

Love. Oh, I don't know.

I need them. But I'm not so sure they need me.

So I try to make myself indispensable.

You won't call off the interview?

I thought that was settled.

I beg you, on my knees. I know it's melodramatic but I mean it.

Could I pay you?

How much? Just name a reasonable sum.

Fifty... a hundred thousand. A hundred thousand.

Will a cheque do? That'll do fine.

Thank you for your kindness.

You've been very understanding.

Here. I spelt your name with two s's, I hope that's correct.

That's correct.

Now I'm really curious. Why?

I'll disregard the enormity of your attempt to bribe a civil servant.

That's your responsibility.

You must have strong reasons for wanting to stop the meeting.

We're done here.

I may see you tomorrow if you accompany your wife.

I'm grateful for your generosity.

I wonder if something dangerous lies hidden in your act.

I don't think so. Goodbye, Mr Winkelmann.

Is the front door open this late? I'll notify a porter.

SCENE SIX A DRESSING ROOM

How are you, dear?

What's wrong? I'm so bloody scared of that judge.

Just hand over the statement I've written for you.

If he starts questioning you, just start stammering.

If you panic, I'll be sitting next door.

Calm yourself.

I've done everything I can.

The day after tomorrow it'll all be over. We'll go to the country.

I know an inn with great food.

If it's not too hot, we'll go walking in the woods, sleep under a tree.

We can't leave Sebastian alone. So we bring Sebastian with us.

He's going to leave when the contract expires.

He won't leave. This time he will.

I'll have a talk with him. He's going crazy.

I don't think so. I'm afraid of him.

Stay away from him then. He can't be without me.

Every night he wants me to be with him, he feels such angst.

It looks bad but I can't say no. Remove your make-up now.

Are you angry with me? You sound so harsh.

I'm just a bit tired. You always are.

Do I make you tired? No, why?

You do love me, don't you? Of course.

Without you I'd kill myself. You'd have someone else.

You sound so bitter. No, I'm just tired.

Not long ago you said it was your life's mission to look after me.

You're my only security.

Isn't it better if it's one big insecurity with islands of security?

That's much closer to reality than your idea of a big security with little bursts of insecurity.

Why do you say that? Because I'm tired.

You're tired of me.

I didn't say that, but alright...

...I am tired of you.

And I'm tired of Sebastian.

I'm tired of you and Sebastian.

I'm tired of touring with two lunatics.

I'm tired of our so-called artistry.

I've lost belief in our purpose.

We're pointless, disgusting, ridiculous.

We lost our relevance.

I don't know what 'relevance' means.

We're not needed, we're obsolete. You are tired of me.

Yes, my tedium is limitless. I don't even feel sorry for you.

You're lazy, you don't rehearse. Three hours yesterday!

The day before you were ill, you were drunk, you saw a friend.

I didn't see anyone! Or whatever the hell it was!

We were on the road, you and Sebastian had a fight.

You're lazy, sloppy and insufferable. Not worth a tenth of what you earn!

Do what you want when the contract expires. Go to hell, if you want!

I don't know what I'm saying.

I never speak about myself.

Still, I love you. I do.

You understand? Despite everything, I love you. I feel sorry for you.

Nearly all my thoughts are centered on you.

I'd do anything to spare you discomfort or trouble.

Seeing your and Sebastian's passions worries me.

I see you tear each other to pieces.

But I should know better.

You can say anything, commit any barbarity. Nothing works on you two.

You're monstrous.

I know it, I recognise it.

I can never be like you two, I don't want to be.

I don't even want...

Try to listen to me!

We have reached the extreme limit.

It's humiliating, degrading. Enough is enough.

Do you understand what I'm saying?

I'm tired of you. Poor Hans.

No, no, no. You haven't understood a word.

Poor Hans. Poor guilty conscience.

The world is falling to pieces, burning and bleeding.

Poor Hans, poor little conscience.

It should be this and not that. That and not this.

I believe in my common sense.

Me too, your common sense won't desert us.

It won't desert me.

Poor thing, you're tired. I'll hurry up.

Do you know where Sebastian is? He's gone.

To the hotel?

I don't think so.

Have I got ugly?

No, no, no.

You're still my husband.

We'll get a divorce.

We'll move to your farm together. No.

You must be so tired of me and Sebastian.

We behave like lunatics!

What are you laughing at? Sebastian.

You laugh at me with him.

Of course!

Christ, I'm tired! Release me from this prison!

Oh Lord, set me free!

You want to die?

No, not exactly die.

I'd like to sleep. Do you know, that every morning...

You wake up at five, angst sitting on your chest like black birds.

You want to sleep, till ten, eleven?

I want to be free.

Wipe your nose.

Oh, sorry.

I'm almost ready! Please pass the dressing gown.

It's all damp.

The dressing rooms they provide... It shouldn't be tolerated!

You should complain to the manager!

I'm sorry. No, go on.

No, it's hard.

We don't understand each other. We can never talk.

The words are never right.

The absolute incomprehensibility...

Shall I call a cab? You'd better!

I'm not quite sober, and you've had a drink too! I'll take a shower.

Oh Hans, I'm so bloody anxious. Don't be, I'm here.

You won't be in the room. Next door.

That judge is horrible. He's all right.

He's only doing his job.

You know better than that. I suppose I do.

Christ!

SCENE SEVEN AN INTERVIEW ROOM

Good evening, Mrs Winkelmann.

Welcome. Good evening.

Let's sit down and talk.

Trust me, it won't be painful. I didn't think it would be.

What a remarkably beautiful dress. I'm glad you like it.

Do you mind if I take some notes? Of course not.

We usually use tape recorders nowadays.

But machines of that kind have a restrictive influence on trust.

You're probably right in that.

Today was the hottest day of the summer.

Thirty-five degrees in the shade. It's very trying.

I like the heat. Do you? Well, people are different.

No performances on Mondays? No, we have Mondays off.

That's nice. It's nice.

How many performances per night? Four performances at present.

That must be tiring? You get used to it.

Where will you go on your holiday? Hans and Sebastian say Africa.

And you yourself? I'll go with them, I suppose.

You're seldom in Ascona. Not much of a home life.

We usually spend a few weeks there in between tours.

Does Mr Fisher stay with you then? Yes.

Such a trinity must be wonderful. It is.

To be loved like that. Conflicts? At first there were difficulties.

Your husband said this meeting worried you.

Hans thinks I'm so sensitive. A drink?

That would be nice. Brandy? I don't have much choice.

I'll have anything. One for your husband as well?

He's outside being bored. He deserves a drink.

Shall I send him your regards? Yes, please do.

Your husband sends his regards.

He was worried about you, but I reassured him.

You really are extremely beautiful, Mrs Winkelmann.

The way the light falls over your face.

Forgive me.

I have written a statement. A statement?

I've addressed it to you. My dear Mrs Winkelmann.

Please read it now, here. Please read it out loud.

Why out loud? So I can explain certain points.

"My name is not Thea von Ritt- Winkelmann, despite my passport."

"Neither is this my true hair colour and I hardly know my real age."

"My mouth has changed position as I changed all my front teeth."

"I have been subject to severe physical pain."

"The worst was an itch that plagued me for two whole years."

"It went away as suddenly as it appeared."

"Another difficulty is my highly developed senses."

"I experience pain from sudden noises, strong light and unpleasant smells."

"A completely normal pressure from a dress can drive me insane with pain."

It's very long-winded. Not at all.

"I began my artistic career with singing lessons."

"I had an engagement at a theatre where I met a man who trained me in music hall."

"We toured for many years. That's how I met Hans Winkelmann."

"I pretend I'm a saint or a martyr, hence the name Thea."

"I can sit for hours at the table in the hall and look at my palms."

"Once a red spot appeared...

...in my left hand."

"But there was no blood."

"I play at going into ecstasy and talking to the holy Virgin."

"Belief and unbelief."

"Defiance and doubt."

"It's all a game."

"But inside, I remain the same."

"Sometimes utterly tragic."

"Sometimes exhilarated."

That's not at all what I mean. What do you mean?

Is any of this related to the case? I knew you'd be bored.

It's beautiful, I dare say you're talented. But let's get to the point.

I thought you talked to the others about the act!

You didn't stammer. Sometimes I don't.

Why? I don't know.

Are you acting? Sorry?

Acting, pretending, taking me in.

Why should I? Your stutter comes and goes.

Your husband mentioned a childhood trauma. What is true?

You don't use your real name or age, or your own face.

Why all this acting?

And this confession, or statement, or whatever it is.

A poetic declaration.

Do you want it read out in court?

All this theatre. Your husband's apprehension about our meeting.

Let's be plain and frank, Mrs Winkelmann.

Artists have their ways of attracting curiosity.

You've put out a rosy smoke screen. Your beauty and grace.

But I'm discerning your true character behind your insincerity.

Only simple and clear facts apply here.

What's your name?

Claudia Monteverdi.

Excellent. Your age?

I don't know. You must know your age.

You must know your age!

Don't call me Claudia!

I'll call you what the hell I want! Please kiss me!

Your age?! Bloody circus whore!

Don't get hysterical! Stop this drama!

Please, stop it now.

It was your own doing, you made me furious.


Hans Winkelmann!

She suddenly had a fit.

We were just talking. I heard you shout at her.

She could be faking it!

Is it really so impossible that she's faking it?

We'll take a taxi to the hospital. I'll drive you.

I forbid you to go by taxi! I'll get a police escort.

I'll come with you to clear this up. There'll be two doctors and police.

The deceit must end. I've tried to be nice but to no avail.

Unfortunately for me and for you.

A police car for transport.

This is Doctor Abrahamson. Judge Abrahamson.

We'll be down in a couple of minutes.

We don't need help, two police constables will suffice.

We're going to the General Hospital.

All will be cleared up. Let's go. Take her bag will you?

SCENE EIGHT A BAR

You're late. We didn't say a time.

We said three, it's half past four. I've waited for an hour and a half.

You could at least apologise. Forgive me.

What do you want? To discuss business.

A lot has happened since this morning.

Judging by your tone, it's not good.

That depends on how you take it.

Our agent says that our Far East tour has been cancelled due to the war.

Also, our US tour is in danger because of this indecency fuss.

That means six months' holiday or unemployment.

We'll lose a lot of money. Certainly.

About half a million each. A bit less, the agent gets nothing.

Then we only have those weeks in Italy.

How annoying, to say the least! That's what I wanted to discuss.

You'll realise that I can't go on lending you money forever.

Here's an account of your finances from our lawyer.

On the right is your income and on the left your expenditure.

On the reverse is the total.

Balance in our favour, 296000 francs.

My part of the house in Ascona will be worth something.

I bought your share when you had that tax bill in Scandinavia.

So we'll have to write a new contract, dear Winkelmann.

Tell Bauer I'll do another season but I need an advance. Bill please!

Will you take care of this?

We'll sell the apartment. Forgive me, I have to go.

There are also some other matters. Sounds ominous.

A letter from our agent. It's getting harder to place us, with our fees.

He suggests two alternatives.

Either we work separately or we lower our demands by two-thirds.

He suggests the former. I see.

That suits me, I was planning to quit in a year or two.

The question is what you and Thea should do.

Thea and you should talk to him about the future.

Thea and I? Yes.

You'd make an interesting combination.

You'd have to work hard on some new acts.

Thea could always be a stripper. I know a good teacher.

Sara Fraenkel. Shit.

I don't care, do what you like.

And another thing...

Your cheque account is overdrawn by 12000 kronor.

The bank called our lawyer but as he won't speak to you, or you to him.

He asked me to tell you. Anything else?

We have to decide who should pay Thea's hotel bills.

You, me or she herself. She says she pays them.

That's not true. She's always asking me for money.

Trifling sums agreed but I'd like to establish who handles her finances.

Well, you're her husband. Exactly.

So we're agreed that in future I pay her bills and handle her finances.

Could you tell her that?

She gets angry with me if I bring it up.

She thinks that she handles her finances herself.

I'll talk to her. Very kind of you.

The garage called, the car is done. Thanks, I'll pick it up at once.

They said the tax disc is two years out of date. It could mean...

Anything else?

Let me look at my list.

What have we got here?

No, nothing else.

How are you feeling?

Like shit. Are you arguing?

Can you call it arguing?

We perform some kind of play where we're both actors and audience.

Long performances.

She says I can't satisfy her.

You!

She says you did. What did you do?

Love and tenderness makes her nervous.

Put the left hand deep inside her. Push with the right on her clitoris.

She'll have several orgasms. Then you can fuck her any way you like.

How the hell did you work that out?

Lack of imagination, desperation.

Don't tell her we discussed it.

Of course not.

Don't start practising it right away. Pretend you discovered it bit by bit.

Don't you worry.

Hell, I never know with you.

How did you put up with her? No problem.

She's funny.

I love her in the spirit of the Epistle to the Corinthians.

"Love always trusts, always hopes..."

"...always perseveres" and so on. Is that it?

But you're still tired of her? Yes, but she doesn't mind.

We're in decline, you'll soon have her back.

You're not quite sane. Actually, I think am.

Can I pay?

Tell me something, do you detest me?

No, far from it.

But I used to like you more. Before I took Thea away?

Before you started drinking and got sloppy. I even admired you.

I thought you were a warm person, full of life.

You had something, Thea did too.

What was that?

Light.

You may smile. There's no other word for it, light.

It's the light that Thea and I are busy extinguishing.

I'm expecting a call from the agent.

Can I ask him to call you and set up a meeting?

Will you be present? Why not, if I can be of any help.

SCENE NINE AN INTERVIEW ROOM Wednesday night, 9th August.

This morning Mr Winkelmann and Mr Fisher requested a meeting.

Mr Fisher did the talking. He was different from the last time.

His arrogance and aggressiveness was gone.

He appeared balanced, amiable, somewhat remorseful and very frank.

He suggested that he and his friends visit after Wednesday's performance.

They would be dressed for the forbidden act.

They'd give a private performance and explain the piece in detail.

I agreed to their modest request that no other audience be present.

Come in!

Welcome! Sorry we're late.

The downpour made the streets impassable.

Not to worry, I had lots of work to do.

We'll set the scene. Sadly there'll be no light effects.

I told the night watchman not to disturb us.

Imagine his face if he were to enter in the middle of it!

How are you? Splendid.

Such beautiful flowers.

I was so relieved when the doctor said it wasn't serious.

You're quite recovered? Just tired from the medication.

I hope this won't be too hard? No, not for me.

I'll just beat the drum and talk some nonsense.

Only one question, why this particular act?

We read something in a book, I think. I don't quite remember.

Or maybe it was something Hans heard as a child.

We wanted to recreate it. Our imaginations were stimulated.

So it's not that simple? No, it's not that simple.

Call it an intercession. Artists are such sensitive creatures.

The urge to perform a ritual.

It may be meaningless but now and then we're all seized by the desire to kneel or pray.

A ritual game. An incantation. A formula. A kind of conversation.

I'm not versed in spiritual matters but our desire has a Latin name.

Dr Abrahamson, you yourself have experienced weakness.

A sensual longing for surrender.

Perhaps as a child.

Why the knife? I haven't seen the act, only had it described to me.

I can put it away. No, just tell me what it's for.

This bag is filled with wine.

At a given moment I raise the bag and stab it from underneath!

The wine gushes down into the vessel.

I see. Lights out.

Complete silence, then the drumbeat in the dark.

No, I need the light to make notes.

We don't need complete darkness.

Sebastian, we're ready.


The murmur dies away.

It's very quiet.

Even more quiet.

Still more quiet.

The drumming begins. Thea, please.

No, first let me, I have something to tell you.

My father wanted me to be a lawyer, like him and his father before him.

I had no choice in the matter. This case was imposed on me.

It was assigned to me by lot. I'm only doing my duty.

I've been very cautious, I can't help it if it's driven you to despair.

I abused you and have asked your forgiveness. Maybe you hate me.

I have an undefined feeling of fear.

Maybe it wasn't curiosity, I wanted to see the act at a close range.

Maybe from an obscure desire to take part.

Maybe it was a secret need to... I don't know.

I have superiors and subordinates. I take and give orders.

You may be free, but I don't envy you. It's a ghastly freedom.

Isn't it? I don't understand you.

I don't understand what drives you, or your relationship.

I don't understand my own relationship with you.

Maybe you're laughing at me.

Or not laughing.

No, I suppose you're serious.

Aren't we digressing?

It appears so.

I agree.

I have always been afraid.

My first memories are of fear.

How could I in a moment give you a key to myself so that you can understand the horrors that...

What am I saying? I must calm down. I'm prey to phobias.

It's two o'clock in the morning, we're all tired.

Why are you smiling, Mr Fisher? I'm not smiling.

It was a mistake to do this here in the interview room.

It has to take place in court, in the presence of witnesses.

No more fear.

From now on, you command. I'm an obedient spectator.

Dear artists...

You never had a more rewarding and involved audience.

I'll take my chair and sit over here. I hope it's convenient.

Has the performance started?

Or is the orchestra tuning up? Very impressive, in that case.

Joking apart...

I have a first and second name. I was born, raised and educated.

I have lived a number of days, slept a number of nights.

I've been happy and laughed.

I've been sad and cried.

Disappointment, tenderness...

...love.

It's all here.

You hit it on the head, Mr Fisher. I admire your physical daring.

Your hand touched my skin, which is burning.

But it also touched my memories and my dignity as a human being.

You have hit me and humiliated yourself.

Maybe not, maybe you feel satisfaction and pleasure.

Look, how my hands are shaking.

And I want to cry.

I suppose it's a form of desolation, if you understand me.

To lean against someone, find warmth and security in someone's arms.

What a drama!

I'll happily admit there's a measure of cruelty also in my profession.

To reprimand, humiliate, judge and investigate.

Cruelty's lust.

How else would it be possible?

I'm asking you, you artists.

You must know.

You know.

Sebastian Fisher.

Claudia Monteverdi.

Hans Winkelmann.

Start your performance.

I'll give a running commentary of what we do.

Thea, in the high chair, beats the drum.

It's dark, before sunrise.

Dawn breaks.

We can't bring that about here, you'll have to imagine it.

I see, dawn is breaking.

I hold the vessel facing the rising sun.

Sebastian Fisher is standing behind me.

Just before dawn the wind rises across the sea.

When the light is strong enough, at a certain moment, Thea puts a god's mask on her face.

I understand.

I understand.

Sebastian Fisher extends his arms backwards, takes hold of Thea's forearms and slowly lifts her upwards.

At the same time I raise the vessel above my head.

The lighting is on the mask reflected in the blood.

I understand.

I then drink from the vessel.

Swallowing the reflection.

After that Thea slowly sinks down behind Sebastian's back.

That is the act, in short.

I understand.

Dr Abrahamson is now dead.

A doctor was summoned.

He established that Dr Abrahamson had died from a heart attack.

The three artists were subsequently convicted for the pantomimic act that they called The Rite.

They paid their fines, gave some interviews and towards the end of the summer they went on holiday.

They never returned to the country in question.