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Black King

Author: Ignacio del Moral
Translated by: Gary E. Bigelow
Language: English
ISBN: 84-956-83-29-6
Price: 2,00 €
File size: (BlacKing.pdf) 394 Kb.

(2 women and 12 men, several of the latter parts can be doubled).
Illustrated with photographs from the Madrid production directed by Eduardo Vasco.
Tells the story of Kigali, exiled king of a harshly punished and only partially imaginary Central African nation currently immersed in a bloody civil war; after wandering through various countries, he has ended up as a homeless person in a large American city, where his subsistence depends on charity. Accompanying him is Boniface, his secretary, the only one who has stayed by his side all these years, and the only bridge between the imaginary world of Kigali, who still aspires to be recognized as a king, and the sordid reality which surrounds them. Together they try to survive in a world they don’t understand, in a world revealed to be a much more dangerous jungle than that which they left behind, being surrounded as they now are by tribal wars equal to those of their own country.
Excerpt

Black King

In the park. Birds’ songs. Seated on a bench with his eyes closed, Kigali soaks up the sun. His appearance is that of a corpulent, mature, black tramp. With eyes closed, he lets the sun bathe his face. He is wearing glasses, one of whose temple pieces is held on with adhesive tape. Through the park go the following passersby: couples, families, runners in jogging suits…

After a few moments of calm, Boniface enters. He is another black tramp of a similar age, but his skin is a lot lighter and he is shorter. He is carrying a plastic bag. He approaches stepping lightly, but when he sees that Kigali has his eyes closed, his movements become careful. Trying not to make noise, he puts the bag down next to the bench, and begins to remove from it several wet articles of clothing: undershirts, socks, underpants, shirts, which are few and rather worn. He carefully spreads them out, using the bench for a drying rack. At a given moment, Kigali stirs and murmurs.

 

KIGALI  Is it you, Boniface?

BONIFACE  Yes, Majesty. I have finished washing all this. There was a big brawl at the fountain. One woman was fighting with another one she said took her soap. It will be dry right away. With this sun it won’t take long. I’m sorry I took so long.

KIGALI  I fell asleep.

BONIFACE  That’s fine, Majesty. Until they open the soup kitchen, it’s the best thing you can do: sleep.

KIGALI  I dreamed I had an audience with the Pope.

BONIFACE  Keep on dreaming. Some day he’ll receive us.

KIGALI  He seemed old and tired to me. I got the impression that he’s very ill.

BONIFACE  We’re all old, tired, and ill.

KIGALI  Before opening my eyes, Boniface, I was listening to the birds. (Suddenly.) Tell me something. Did you mail the letter to President Clinton?

BONIFACE  Yes, Majesty.

KIGALI  Did you put the stamps and the address on right? That letter is important. I know that it is going to impress him. He’s not like the others. He will read it carefully and will send for me. He’s a good man. Besides, I know that he’s very worried about our people. Everyone is, lately.

BONIFACE  We’ve made some progress. Before, they were only concerned about the gorillas. They said we were catching too many gorillas. Do you remember?

 

(Kigali seems not to have heard him.)

 

KIGALI  What time do they begin serving lunch?

BONIFACE  At noon. It will still be a good while.

KIGALI  How long a while?

BONIFACE  Don’t think about it. The wait will seem longer. Try to distract yourself. If you want, we can start strolling in that direction until…

 

(Kigali hushes him with a gesture, and points with his finger.)

 

KIGALI  Look, Boniface….That white thing moving like a wounded heron, isn’t it a newspaper?

BONIFACE  Yes. Someone must have left it forgotten on the grass.

KIGALI  Grab it, please, before someone else takes it. Maybe it’s today’s.

 

(Boniface gets up and exits to retrieve the newspaper. While Boniface has his back to him, Kigali rummages in his pockets and takes out a piece of candy. He unwraps it and puts it into his mouth as fast as he can, before Boniface returns. He chews it until, with a painful grimace, he holds his hand to his mouth, palpating a tooth through his cheek. Boniface returns with a wrinkled newspaper.)

 

BONIFACE  Here it is, Majesty. We’re in luck: it is today’s and it’s all here. (Noticing his gesture of pain.) What’s wrong?

KIGALI  This tooth. The filling that young man put in has fallen out.

BONIFACE  He didn’t seem very trustworthy to me. The ones who always come don’t know anything. When I see them with such new white coats, I start to shake.

KIGALI  We ought to be grateful to them….They help us without asking anything in return.

BONIFACE  Experience. They get experience, and then they can treat patients who pay.

KIGALI  Everybody is happy, then.

BONIFACE  No; not everybody: you lost the filling.

KIGALI  (Shrugging his shoulders.) It served me well while it lasted. Is it much before noon?

BONIFACE  (Rummaging in his clothes.) Somewhere here I have the candy they gave us yesterday. Maybe it will help distract you from feeling hungry.

 

(Boniface finds the candy and offers it to Kigali. The latter is about to take it but, remembering his toothache, refuses it.)

 

KIGALI  No, Boniface. You need it more than I do. Yesterday you hardly had any dinner. You gave me almost all your share. Don’t think I’m unaware of this. I see it and I am thankful for it. And I take it into account: eat the candy.

BONIFACE  I’ll save it in case we need it later.

KIGALI  As you wish. Go ahead and read me the paper…; I can’t understand very well what it says. Besides, with these glasses I can’t see very well. I wonder who they belonged to.

BONIFACE  To someone who stopped needing them. Someone who died, perhaps.

KIGALI  May God receive his spirit. Now he must be seeing the face of the Lord.

BONIFACE  I hope he doesn’t need his glasses for that. It must be terrible to ascend to Heaven to see God’s face and realize when you get there that you’ve forgotten your glasses.

KIGALI  Go on and read, and don’t blaspheme any more.

 

(Boniface browses through the newspaper.)

 

BONIFACE  It’s about politics in this country….(Pointing out a photograph.) This is the man in charge of economic affairs…

KIGALI  (Looking.) He seems like a good man. He may be. I don’t understand why the world is so terrible, being in the hands of people who seem so charming.

BONIFACE  You’re becoming cynical, Majesty.

KIGALI  Why?

BONIFACE  Look at this. Last night a homeless person was beaten. Right near here, by the warehouses.

KIGALI  Who did it?

BONIFACE  (Reading.) “The victim, a beggar named Jim Ortega…”

KIGALI  Jim Ortega? Is he the one who took my overcoat?

BONIFACE  Yes, I think so. Yes, his name was Ortega.

KIGALI  May God forgive him. Keep reading. Who did it? Does it say there?

BONIFACE  “According to a witness, there were two or three clean-cut young men…”

KIGALI  What does “clean-cut” mean?

BONIFACE  “Clean-cut” means they looked rich. “They got out of a large, red car, which they parked at the entrance to the alley where Ortega was preparing to spend the night, as usual. The victim says he remembers nothing: only the blows and the insults.” I’m asking myself why they had to insult him.

KIGALI  My God, forgive them, for they know not what they do.

BONIFACE  You think they didn’t know?

KIGALI  Read me more. Read me the international news. I know you don’t like to, but I have to know.

BONIFACE  What for?

KIGALI  (Sitting up, indignant.) What kind of question is that? What do you mean what for? I have to know what is going on. What would happen if they finally did agree to meet with me?

BONIFACE  Who is going to meet with you?

KIGALI  Whoever. Someone will, and then, how can I show up there totally ignorant? You surprise me, Boniface. I assure you that sometimes I think you don’t realize my situation. You are so obsessed with little things, that you forget what is truly important. It’ll take time, but I know that I’ll succeed in speaking at the United Nations. Arafat spoke at the UN, and he didn’t even have a real country.

BONIFACE  He had a gun.

KIGALI  (After a pause.) Render me that service, Boniface. I beg you.

 

(Boniface turns the pages of the newspaper. Upon arriving at a certain page, his face contracts in a grimace of pain.)

 

BONIFACE  Here it is: “The tribal killings continue. The army has laid waste to the whole region to the north of the capital. The international observers found a scene of desolation and death at their arrival: (He swallows and continues, speaking with difficulty.) hundreds of cadavers, beheaded alive or after they were killed with machetes, are lying along the shoulders of the roads. In a school near…”

KIGALI  That’s enough. You are right. Stop. Stop it, Boniface. Don’t torture yourself. I’m sorry to have asked it of you. That’s enough.

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