WAR

First performed 22-23 December 1963 at the Barr-Albee-Wilder Playwright’s Unit, Vandam Theatre, NYC.

 

Directed by Michael Kahn, with Gerry Ragni, Jerome Dempsey, and Jane Lowry.

A year later War opened at the Caffe Cino, one night before the Cino burned down. A Café LaMama (Ellen Stewart, Artistic Director) production, directed by Tom O’Horgan, inaugurated the American Center in Paris and toured Europe. War was produced Off-Broadway at the Martinique Theatre, produced by Ted Mann and Paul Liben, directed by Tom O’Horgan, on a bill entitled Six from LaMama.

FROM REVIEWS OF WAR

 

...two male actors, ..competition and sexual tension...a charming lady in Edwardian dress…the personal origins of social conflict.” Bill Coco

EXCERPT

OLDER ACTOR (with a little mock bow): Any time...

YOUNGER ACTOR: What is all this stuff?

OLDER ACTOR (as the Younger Actor walks about the older actor’s loft, looking at the props and costumes): Things. Appurtenances. Stuff. Silks. Daggers. Masks. Robes. Swords. Pistols. Clubs. Uniforms. Slippers. Brocades. Velvets. Various properties. Old muslin. Feathers, rapiers, stilts. Powders. Paints. Various things. Take your choice.

YOUNGER ACTOR: What’s this?

OLDER ACTOR: A drop. An old drop.

 

YOUNGER ACTOR: What’s behind it?

OLDER ACTOR: Nothing at all...

(The older actor picks two hats from a pile of headgear. One is the sailor’s cap; the other is a woman’s broad-brimmed hat, gray with pale roses. The door opens and the rock music is louder again. The older actor holds both hats in his hands, taunting the younger actor with them...There is great tension between them. Suddenly the older actor tosses the sailor cap to the younger actor, while with his other hand he holds the other hat behind him where the lady who is entering at that moment catches it up from him. It matches her dress...The music changes...to a frankly poignant old French waltz...The lady waltzes gently around both men. She is young. She carries a parasol. Her dress...is one which a lady of fashion in Edwardian days might have used for strolling in the park on a fine day.)

LADY (ecstatically): Warvelous and grumptious. Two silken scoops of peach ice cream. Two peches melbas bespattered with baby halves of cherries.

   (She throws a kiss to the audience.)

I adore you. Je vous adore, mes enfants. My children. Je vous adore mes enfants. Seem, ‘neath the hem of my sleeve? I have bumpgeese. Mes naughtys enfants. When I arose from my bed this morning I knew it was an apricot-colored day to be filled with delights and goodies. My toe touched the ground and I knew. My parasol. See my parasol? A morning for strolling in the park...

Published in War and Four Other Plays by Jean-Claude van Itallie, Dramatists Play Service, (acting edition), and in America Hurrah and Other Plays, Grove/Atlantic, 2001.

2021©  Jean-Claude van Itallie—All rights reserved