Camera Obscura Big festive one act play

Year of writing: 1988
“And so, on a Shrove Tuesday night, all these people meet ‘by chance’ in a half-built flat. That is the start of a story that needs to unwind before our eyes in a single theatrical stroke with all its rises and falls, as is typical of such carnivalesque, unpredictable and entirely drunken nights.”
Total cast size: 6 (1 f, 5 m)
violence, lies and truths, illusion

On Shrove Tuesday night Jana, Dušan and a Berliner Erhard Piler find refuge in an almost empty flat. They want to keep their carnival party going in this unfinished block of flats. When they run out of alcohol, Jana offers to fetch it from the nearby pub. She returns in the company of three masked young men. The party continues, but soon spirals out of control as the three young men try to convince their hosts, especially the failed writer/theatre-maker Dušan, that one can never be sure whether something is true or a mere illusion. The playful atmosphere from the beginning of the party soon turns to horror.

JANA: Bravo, bravo! You fooled us again, boys!

DUŠAN: Jesus Christ.

ERHARD: (German) Wunderbar, gratuliere. Wonderful, congratulations!

(Erhard steps decisively toward the boys and seizes them in an embrace.)

WALTER: (modestly) That's the way a trick has to be. Everyone knows best what seems real to him. Don't you think that's so?

DUŠAN: (surprised and confused) What?

WALTER: When you were taking about Miller.

DUŠAN: Yeah, yeah. Great, really great. You see, one more proof that truth is always playing on the borders of fiction. You never know where you really are.

WALTER: How 'bout the part with the gun, wasn't that good?!

(Dušan grabs the gun and looks at it up close.)

DUŠAN: Amazing how appearances can be so deceiving!

WALTER: Russian roulette! It's Carnival, we gotta explode, right!

DUŠAN: Yeah, it was such a realistic trick. Such a realistic depiction of death. True theatre! 

Erica Johnson Debeljak

Camera obscura A Mardi Gras play in one act

Language of translation: English

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