Traven

Traven is a longer one-act for a man in his late fifties and a woman in her twenties set in a hut in a Mexican jungle in the middle of the twentieth century.  We hear muted jungle sounds and a typewriter as the lights come up on Traven typing.  Marisela says she has been wandering in the jungle since she fell and hit her head on a rock.  She tells the man that he is a great writer whose name is B. Traven.   He says his name is Croves, but she says he goes by that name when he pretends to be his own agent but Croves does not exist.  She wants to translate his work and needs a definitive text.  Traven says the work she’s referring to is “a massive celebration of anarchy.”  He says she wants to kill Traven and that every translation is a lie.  He says there is no way for either of them to distinguish reality from illusion.  He says he was given a steamer trunk full of worm-eaten manuscripts by a man named Traven who sometimes claimed to have written them and sometimes insisted that somebody else wrote them.  He tells her she is searching for a man with no face because she wants to be hurt and is afraid to be loved.  He gives her a peach and invites her into the hut because a storm is coming.  She eats the peach as he lights the kerosene lamp, telling her that “the secret to life is to learn to tell a story so well that it sounds so much like truth that nobody can tell the difference.”  He says that truth is a house of mirrors and that Traven is the mad god of the worlds he creates.  He hands her a knife; she holds it then gives it back.  He opens the trunk and hands her some old manuscripts which she says are the unpublished work of B. Traven and worth a fortune.  She insists, again, that he tell her who he really is.  He says he is her father and that she is delusional.  She says she remembers fragments of things but doesn’t know what’s real.  He then says that they are lovers and tells her to lie down on the bed.  She does and we hear the sound of thunder.  She says he should touch her if her wants to, and he says her secret is that she wants to be violated.  We hear rain and more thunder as she gets off the bed, saying she doesn’t want lies.  But, he says, lies are the only way to the illusion of truth.  He denies, with increasing intensity, being a series of people and actions and throws her on the bed, getting on top of her and clutching her neck.  He accuses her of being a spy who has come to cut his throat and steal his manuscripts.  He says he is a nobody and she is nothing.  He tries to set fire to the manuscripts but the matches are too wet.  She says she is somebody, takes the knife, grabs him by the hair and cuts his throat, standing over him as he bleeds all over the manuscripts.  Well, she says, you finally got your wish, you are nobody.  And, she says, her secret is that she is B. Traven and she must now begin to translate herself.  We hear rain and thunder as the light fades and goes out.

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