PHALLACY

 

 

 

By Carl Djerassi

 

 

 (A play in 27 scenes)

 

 

 

 

 

 

djerassi@stanford.edu                                                                        www.djerassi.com


Program Note

 

Some time ago, Professors Alfred Vendl and Bernhard Pichler of the University for Applied Arts in Vienna drew my attention to a superb life-sized bronze of a naked young man that for several centuries had been described as a Roman original. Recent modern chemical analysis in their laboratory revealed that it was a Renaissance cast. The overnight loss of approximately 1400 irreplaceable years had many consequences for the museum that for over a century had displayed the sculpture as a jewel of its Antiquities collection. Aesthetically speaking, does that revisionist attribution make the sculpture less valuable? Does pricking the balloon of financial inflation automatically also diminish the art historical merit of the sculpture or the viewer’s pleasure in its beauty? And what about the art historian’s personal and professional response when an unblemished favorite suddenly becomes irretrievably tainted?

 

For decades, I, a chemist-turned-playwright, have also been a serious art collector, who has been well aware of the disturbing fetishization of many art objects. But instead of addressing primarily the change in value as a well known art object is reattributed--a situation quite different when a work, say a presumed Vermeer painting, is found to be forged by Van Meegeren--I decided to focus on what effect such reattribution might have on the behavior of the principals involved in the dispute.

 

This dramatic lode has been mined before. Alan Bennett’s play and subsequent BBC TV film, “A Question of Attribution,” uses the question of a Titian painting’s authenticity to depict the relation between art historian (Sir Anthony Blunt) and owner (Queen Elizabeth II) as well as Blunt’s behavior as a notorious Communist spy. And Simon Gray’s more recent “The Old Masters”-though ostensibly covering the dispute whether a certain painting was created by Titian rather than Giorgione-really delves into the ethical and psychological conflict between art historian (Bernard Berenson) and art dealer (Lord Duveen). In other words, the principals and the art in those plays have a historical basis, which however has been altered to make a dramatic point.

 

And what is that point in my “Phallacy”? Here I concern myself with a conflict much closer to my professional competence: the quirks and idiosyncrasies of art historian and scientist, when they examine the age of an art object from their grossly different perspectives: aesthetic and art historical connoisseurship versus cold material analysis. In addition, I also wanted to explore the ramifications of a well known character fault that transcends the gulf been art scholar and scientist: falling in love with a favorite hypothesis and defending it against all comers and new evidence.

 

Like other playwrights working with factual material, I have modified, manipulated, disguised or even deliberately misused many historical nuggets by claiming the authorial freedom that any playwright rightly exercises. Thus I request that any resemblance to the actual principals associated with the ongoing saga of the putative Roman sculpture in the Antiquities collection of a famous European museum be largely ascribed to coincidence and that in no respect have I attempted to damage the reputation of a living scholar. And if the explanation in my play of what has happened to that original sculpture should in the future prove to be correct, it is not a reflection of my art historical acumen but purely a playwright’s dumb luck.

 

Aside from my interest as a scientist and art collector, there is a deeply personal reason why I chose this theme for my newest play. Born in Vienna, I emigrated after the Nazi Anschluss to the USA, where I became a research scientist. In 2004, the Austrian Government offered me Austrian citizenship. Since by that time, I had turned into a playwright, what better token of reconciliation than creation of a play that I situated in the city of my birth?

 


 

Cast

 

DR. REGINA LEITNER-OPFERMANN, middle aged art historian and director of the Department of Antiquities in an important Austrian museum.

 

EMMA FINGER, assistant curator of the Renaissance Art Department, late twenties or early thirties.

 

DR. REX STOLZFUSS, middle aged Professor of Chemistry and head of the art conservation department of an unnamed technical institution in Austria.

 

DR. OTTO ELLENBOGEN, late twenties or early thirties, recent Ph.D. and assistant to Prof. Stolzfuss.

 

GERALDO LOPEZ, Spaniard of undetermined occupation (same actor as Otto Ellenbogen, but speaking with Spanish accent).

 

DON JUAN OF AUSTRIA (1547 - 1578), illegitimate son of Emperor Charles V and Hero of the Battle of Lepanto (25 years old). (May be played by same actor as Otto Ellenbogen)

 

BARBARA BLOMBERG, Don Juan’s mother (43 years old). (May be played by same actor as Dr. Regina Leitner-Opfermann)

 

VOICE OF HIGH SCHOOL STUDENT (sitting in back row of the theatre).

 

TIME

 

The recent past in Vienna except for some scenes in Luxemburg in 1572 during Don Juan’s historically documented stop on his way from Spain to the Netherlands.

 

 


Scene 1. Present time. REGINA Leitner-Opfermann, director of the Antiquities Department of the Museum is evidently concluding a lecture to a group of high school students.

 

REGINA (With kind and animated voice in middle of a lecture): I’m sure your chemistry teacher has told you that bronze is a metal alloy made by melting copper and tin in varying proportions… that it melts readily… is easily molded… does not rust… is durable… and takes a fine smooth finish. You may even have been told about the additional presence of trace metals, but frankly (flashes a slight conspiratorial smile) who cares? It’s all a bit dull if you don’t learn to what spectacularly beautiful use this material can be put. That you will hardly learn in chemistry. So now… please, put away your pens and pencils and turn off your cell phones, pagers, blackberries, watches, in fact all electronic devices and use your eyes, your hearts, your souls.... to absorb the beauty of this, the most important piece of our antiquities galleries: a bronze Roman sculpture from the second century, discovered right here in Austria.

Bronze casting was practiced at least 6,000 years ago in Anatolia and subsequently in Greece, Egypt, Rome and the Near East. The earliest bronze works were solid and not hollow. It took 2,000 years for artisans to learn how to cast hollow interiors and in the sixth century B.C. the Greeks introduced the use of molds made out of clay and wax… ever since called the “lost wax” method… which brought bronze casting to a level of sophistication never before achieved. Advances such as these eventually opened the door to the creation of larger more detailed statues like this one.

(Points to image of sculpture on the screen).

During the two centuries before and after the first Roman emperor Augustus came to power, many sculptors settled in Rome, the one city whose wealth afforded an opportunity for the exercise of their talent. The Romans’ artistic education had begun during their conquests of the Greek cities and the plunder of thousands of the greatest Greek sculptures. The desire to collect and hoard was apparently insatiable among the wealthy Romans, and after the supply of originals was exhausted, copies were created.

But now comes the tragedy: the acute shortage of metal needed for weaponry during the Middle Ages led to the melting down of the majority of Greek bronze statues. The ones you can see in museums are mostly Roman survivors that had been lost at sea and retrieved by chance centuries later… or that had been buried. This young man (points to image behind her) is one of the most beautiful and best preserved roman bronzes ever recovered. He was found 500 years ago… not in Italy… but in our own country. (Beat). So now… let’s go and visit this crown jewel of our antiquities collection.

(REGINA is interrupted by a voice coming from the theatre.)

TEENAGE VOICE (from audience): Frau Director. A question.

 

REGINA (Faintly annoyed): I’ll answer questions during the tour. (Beat). All right. One question.

 

TEENAGE VOICE (from audience): If this sculpture is just a copy of a Greek original—

 

REGINA (Sharply interrupts): We do not know whether it is what you call just a copy… we believe that it is actually a Roman original of around 200 AD influenced by the Greek aesthetics of the Polyclitus school—

 

VOICE (Same teenager from audience): But how can you tell whether it is a Roman original?

 

REGINA (Turning defensive): Young man, I have written an entire book on the subject. You should read it. (She’s about to leave and then has another thought). Suppose he were just a copy. What then? My figure has not lost an iota of its ravishing beauty. If it were a Roman cast of a Greek original, it would then be a clone of the original… and hence as beautiful. You know, most modern sculptors authorize multiple bronze casts. The art market considers them contemporary clones and therefore equally valuable. So what’s the difference with our ravishing figure here?

 

VOICE (Same teenager from audience): But a Roman copy of a Greek original is not contemporary—

 

REGINA (Now truly annoyed): That’s enough, thank you! We’re late for the tour. If you still have some questions, come see me in my office.

 (Steps off podium. EMMA intercepts her.)

EMMA Frau Director Leitner—

 

REGINA Leitner- Opfermann.

 

EMMA Sorry.

 

REGINA Well?

 

EMMA I’m Emma Finger… Renaissance department…. We’ve met a few times before—

 

REGINA Yes?

 

EMMA Yes. I just wanted to introduce myself… since we’ll be working together.

 

REGINA (Surprised): Oh? On what?

 

EMMA You haven’t read the report?

 

REGINA What report?

 

EMMA Professor Stolzfuss—

 

REGINA I hardly know him. What’s this all about?

 

EMMA I’m sorry, I thought the Director told you about the situation.

 

REGINA Well, he hasn’t, and neither has anyone else. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to lead a tour.


 

Scene 2. Regina’s office.

 

REX You don’t have much use for chemistry, do you?

 

REGINA (Disingenuously): Professor Stolzfuss! Now what makes you say that?

 

REX My son told me about your lecture.

 

REGINA Your son was there?

 

REX According to him, you thought trace metals in bronze were a bit of a bore.

 

REGINA Is that what I said? Frankly, my lecture dealt with the history and beauty of antique bronzes… not chemistry. I barely mentioned your field.

 

REX It registered with my son.

 

REGINA I suppose it would with the son of a chemistry professor. (Beat). There was a boy who kept asking questions.

 

REX That would be him.

 

REGINA You put him up to it?

 

REX No, no…

 

REGINA Are you quite sure?

 

REX I told him about our work on your sculpture, and he—

 

REGINA (Starting to get angry): You did what?

 

REX I told him about the results of our work.

 

REGINA I see. And you think that was appropriate? Telling your son about results that we’re only discussing now?

 

REX It’s not a state secret. Your museum director had asked me to take a look at your sculpture—

 

REGINA “Take a look?”

 

REX Yes. We developed some new chemical methods. We got some top-notch new equipment. There’s nothing wrong with the museum commissioning a new approach to confirm the putative age of a sculpture.

 

REGINA (Wounded) Putative?

 

REX It’s not an insult. More often than not, age is considered putative until it’s confirmed… even the age of a person. Take my son. In another couple of years, he’ll have to produce a driver’s license in order to buy a drink.

 

REGINA (Sarcastic): And our museum director came to you for the driver’s license of this bronze?

 

REX (Enjoying the direction of the conversation): Just a parking permit. Doubts have been expressed whether it truly belongs in the Antiquities galleries.

 

REGINA Are you aware of the evidence I have amassed over years of research? Summarized in a scholarly book that has already been reprinted?

 

REX By your museum bookshop.

 

REGINA You’ve read the book?

 

REX I always read evidence before questioning it.

 

REGINA Are you suggesting I don’t?

 

REX It is not meant personally. The business of a scientist is to question all evidence and then to confirm or refute it through independent means.

 

REGINA You read my book from beginning to end?

 

REX Eventually. But I started at the end.

 

REGINA You mean the last chapter?

 

REX The index.

 

REGINA The index?

 

REX Yes, the index. And looked for the words “trace analysis” and “nickel.” Now of course, their absence is clearer since according to my son you find them dull.

 

REGINA Why did you start with those words?

 

REX Because Roman bronze has a very low Nickel content.

 

REGINA (Sarcastically) I am delighted to hear that.

 

REX I wouldn’t be if I were you.

 

REGINA Why not?

 

REX Your sculpture contains a lot of nickel. Rather typical of Renaissance bronze. (Beat).

 

REGINA Say that again.

 

REX The nickel content of the sculpture is typical of Renaissance—

 

REGINA (Interrupting) And you told this to our Museum Director?

 

REX Of course.

 

REGINA Instead of coming to me?

 

REX But… he was the one who requested we examine your statue. Anyway, what matters here is the nickel content.

 

REGINA You’re saying that our sculpture could not be of Roman origin? That all Roman bronzes, without exception, had low nickel content?

 

REX I didn’t say without exception—

 

REGINA You see?

 

REX I’m saying it’s extremely unlikely. And that’s why I’m here. As a courtesy call. To tell you… before informing anyone else… what additional chemical tests we carried out to prove our assumption-

 

REGINA (Pouncing on this) Assumption!

 

REX Yes.

 

REGINA So, you’re just making an assumption?

 

REX Well, no, because we carried out further tests—

 

REGINA Nonetheless, these tests were all based on your assumption. You assumed that the sculpture is a Renaissance work. That all the evidence in my book… all 345 pages… is hogwash.

 

REX Well… hogwash, no… I wouldn’t say that, not exactly hogwash—

 

REGINA You see, this is what I find so I infuriating. You slavishly follow the rules of chemistry you learned as a student… lessons you now teach to your students… who will then teach it to their students, it’s sterile crap—

 

REX (Outraged) Crap?

 

REGINA (Ignores interruption) I said “sterile” crap… consisting of rules promoted by art-hating boors, shielded from any sense of beauty by a dense fog spread from ear to ear. You disembowel every vestige of aesthetics… you ignore style, form, patina… in fact all connotative accompaniments. (Deep breath). You remind me of … an overzealous mouse trying to act like a rat.

 

REX Excuse me?

 

REGINA Someone really ought to prick that balloon of self-righteous… pompous… simplistic arrogance of yours. No, not simplistic…cocksure. Transforming the wine of aesthetics into vinegar! How typical of you chemists. When chemists dabble with art, the best that can be said is the results are unpredictable.

 

REX Unpredictability is what science is all about…

 

REGINA Is it really? Then why doesn’t that teach you humility… rather than arrogance? And why not recognize the importance of visual beauty… a concept that barely exists in your chemical world.

 

REX For this discussion, the beauty of the sculpture is not important. Even the sculpture is not important—

 

REGINA So what is?

 

REX Truth.

 

REGINA: That’s all?

 

REX That’s all.

 

REGINA How pathetic. And if the beauty of this sculpture is not important, what about art?

 

REX Define Art.

 

REGINA An image from the mirror of life.

 

REX (Derisive) Good God!

 

REGINA: All right then. How about Art being everything other than what you see in the mirror?

 

REX Better! But how necessary is that?

 

REGINA Art is never necessary. It just happens to be indispensable.

 


Scene 3.  In the Museum & Emma’s office. A Few Days later.

 

EMMA She was still steaming when she told me about it.

 

OTTO She really described him as an overzealous mouse?

 

EMMA What are you getting so worked up about?

 

OTTO: She meant all chemists, which includes me. Anyway, if you’re going to side with your boss, what are you doing hanging out with the enemy?

 

EMMA She’s not my boss. I am a curator in the Renaissance department. I was lent to her by the big boss… the museum director… to help her get out of this mess. Because a mess in the Antiquities department is a mess for the museum… especially when dealing with such an important work. Besides, I’m not hanging out with you… I’ve barely started hanging out.

 

OTTO It must be chemistry.

 

EMMA (Teasing) The authority speaking.

 

OTTO You know… I think I’m in love with you.

 

EMMA Nice change of topic. You never told me that before.

 

OTTO Not in so many words.

 

EMMA But you’re quoting.

 

OTTO What do you mean?

 

EMMA It’s a quote… it’s been said millions of times.

 

OTTO But that’s true of everything said between lovers.

 

EMMA Listen. There’s still a way to go on that lover front.

 

OTTO Well… what would you say if you loved someone?

 

EMMA You want to hear it now?

 

OTTO: Of course.

 

EMMA (Reflective) If I really loved him? (Pause). I might say: “Is there a way to keep my soul from touching yours?”

 

OTTO (Startled and pleased) Wow! Did you just think of that?

 

EMMA (Softer) “But everything that touches me and you/draws us together, making one from two,/as one bow gives two strings a single tongue.

 

OTTO My God!

 

EMMA Upon what instrument are we two spanned? And what musician holds us in his hand?”

 

OTTO You couldn’t have thought of that just now.

 

EMMA: I didn’t… I remembered it. Because I’m wondering whether one single voice can be teased out of two such different strings as yours and mine?

 

OTTO Who wrote that?

 

EMMA Rainer Maria Rilke.

 

OTTO So you were quoting as well.

 

EMMA Yes… but that wasn’t said millions of times before.

 

OTTO Frau Opfermann has turned you against me.

 

EMMA She doesn’t know about you. (Beat). And her name is Leitner-Opfermann. Opfermann was the name of her former husband.

 

OTTO (Dismissive and mocking) “Leitner-Opfermann!” I can’t stand those hyphenated names. They reek of compromise.

 

EMMA She won’t drop it because she made the mistake of publishing her book under that name. A book whose basic premise your hapless professor is now questioning. She expects to be called Frau Director Leitner-Opfermann. How long have you been in Vienna?

 

OTTO Long enough.

 

EMMA Clearly not long enough to understand that titles still count for something here.

 

OTTO Not with everyone. I call my boss “Rex.”

 

EMMA Not “Professor?”

 

OTTO: I’d barely started working in his lab when one day he said, “Just call me Rex.” A king doesn’t need another title.

 

EMMA I’d hate to think what would happen if I called her by her first name.

 


 

Scene 4.  Regina’s office. Continuing from Scene 2.

 

REGINA What do you think of Klee?

 

REX We’re talking about bronze…not clay.

 

REGINA Paul Klee.

 

REX I see.

 

REGINA (Dismissive) So you have heard of him?

 

REX I don’t have to put up with this.

 

REGINA Well… how do you like Klee?

 

REX Is this relevant?

 

REGINA Indeed. Because here’s what Klee told a chemist…

 

REX (Prickly) What kind of a chemist? Analytical? Organic? Physical? (Beat). Or was it a cook that he mistook for a chemist?

 

REGINA A famous chemist.

 

 

REX What’s his name?

 

REGINA A Nobel Prize winning chemist… who liked lecturing to artists about his scientific theory of colour.

 

REX Don’t tell me… Wilhelm Ostwald.

 

REGINA Yes, if you must know.

 

REX And what did Klee say to Ostwald?

 

REGINAYour scientific ideas just fetter us artists. They renounce the wealth of the soul. Thanks, but no thanks!” Well what’s good enough for Paul Klee is certainly good enough for me. So let me repeat: “Thanks, but no thanks.”

 

REX I’m trying to be collegial—

 

REGINA Collegial?

 

REX I wanted to explain how we arrived at our conclusion—

 

REGINA You think I need an explanation?

 

REX (Sarcastic) Oh pardon me! I forgot. You have no use for trace metal analysis, but you’re an expert in thermoluminescence… and scanning electron microscopy. In their scope and limitations—

 

REGINA Their limitations! Exactly.

 

REX I’ve had it! You’re impossible! Here… (hands over the report he wrote). Read it.

 

REGINA I don’t need to read this… I’ll just file it in the only place I file such rubbish.

 

REX In that case… wait till it’s published! And the shit hits the fan!

 

REGINA (Taken aback) You plan to publish this?

 


Scene 5.  Emma’s office. Continuation of Scene 3.

 

OTTO So…the Frau Director knows nothing about us?

 

EMMA There’s nothing to know.

 

OTTO Yet.

 

EMMA (Beat, then) No. Will you tell Rex?

 

OTTO No.

 

EMMA Good. And what about us two? Is continued shoptalk wise?

 

OTTO Why not?

 

EMMA It might be smarter if we didn’t. That argument isn’t over… it’s just begun.

 

OTTO What do you mean not over?

 

EMMA I know what’s at stake. I work here… and a museum is not a lab.

 

OTTO (Touchily) Meaning?

 

EMMA At the end of the day, when you leave your lab, you leave it and your experiment stays behind. When I leave the museum, the work goes with me…

 

OTTO So my work is just a job, while yours is a life?

 

EMMA (Laughs) I wouldn’t have put it quite so bluntly. But I deal with images.

 

OTTO You can’t slide a knife between art and science!

 

EMMA Of course you can. (Beat). Art historians do it all the time.

 

OTTO Believe me, she’s going to feel so sick that she started this.

 

EMMA Not Regina Leitner-Opferman. She has a cast iron stomach.

 

OTTO Maybe. But chemists know their poisons. And Rex is one of the best in the business.

 


 

Scene 6. A few hours later as in Scenes 2 & 4; Regina’s office.

 

REGINA (Sarcastic) So his eminence thought my department needed help?

 

EMMA He thought my Renaissance background would be useful. (Beat) He would like to salvage the situation.

 

REGINA (Bitterly) Wouldn’t we all?

 

EMMA You know, I do want to help. But if I’m just in your way—

 

REGINA Forget it. Even if you’re just trying to be polite, I shouldn’t take it out on you. I should blame myself.

 

(Long pause with Emma starting to get uncomfortable)

 

REGINA (Suddenly) Have you ever been in love?

 

(Notices Emma’s surprise)

 

I mean truly in love. Convinced that there’s nobody like that… and never will be?

 

EMMA (Embarrassed, searches for words) Maybe not quite like that.

 

REGINA (Dismissive) Of course not. You’re too young. So pay attention.

 

          Suddenly changes demeanor and voice, now low, almost pleading.

 

I’ve lived with that young man for years. But instead of taking him for granted… or even worse, getting bored with him… he’s turned into an ever-increasing passion. When I thought that there wasn’t a millimetre of his body I had not explored… suddenly… sometimes in the middle of the night… a missing detail would hit me. Do you know what sort of details?

 

EMMA (Confused and embarrassed) No.

 

REGINA (Dismissive) Of course you don’t. (Pause). Say the space between his big toe and the adjoining one. Whether there was any difference between the left and the right foot. (Almost demandingly). Have you ever run your finger between a man’s toes?

 

EMMA (Embarrassed) I don’t remember… probably not.

 

REGINA Then you haven’t because you would’ve remembered it. Now! You have seen him. So how tall do you think he is?

 

EMMA (Startled) Oh… I don’t know… 1.7 or 1.8 meters.

 

REGINA 1.835 meters! (Pause). What about the width of his head?

 

EMMA I don’t know.

 

REGINA 20.5 centimeters! The length of his face?

 

EMMA (Taken aback) I have no idea.

 

REGINA 18.2 centimeters. The distance from his hairline to the nose?

 

EMMA (Deeply embarrassed) Please don’t!

 

REGINA (Ever more obsessive and progressively faster) 4.5 centimeters. The length of his nose? 6.2 centimeters! From the nose to his chin? 6.5 centimeters. Inner width of his eyes? 3.5. The distance of one eye to the other? (Beat). Never mind. But don’t think I just remember the face. (Increasingly rapid). Width of his shoulders? 46 centimeters. Distance of Adam’s apple to navel? 41.4 centimeters. Distance between his nipples? 27.5 centimeters. Length of his thighs? 57 centimeters. (Suddenly turns silent).

 

EMMA (Totally embarrassed) May I leave?

 

REGINA (Absentminded) What?

 

EMMA: I said, may I leave?

 

REGINA: Not yet. (Beat) The moment I laid eyes on him, I felt a wave of intuitive attraction… of feeling he was authentic. I was so besotted by the accuracy of my hunch that I ignored my own warning signals, including the untarnished state of the patina. You don’t know what I’m talking about, do you?

 

EMMA Not entirely.

 

REGINA Art historians acquire a powerful unconscious ability.  We have the capacity to sift huge amounts of information, blend data, isolate telling details, and come to astonishingly rapid conclusions, even in the first few seconds of seeing something. (Beat). It comes from years of examining art.

 

Long pause.

 

But there is a problem if one depends on such hunches.

 

EMMA (increasingly uncomfortable): They don’t always work.

 

REGINA: Right! And now I have to find a way of rectifying my mistake without giving that chemist the satisfaction that he did it. (Beat). For me the young man was so perfect. I didn’t want to face this one blemish. A plugged hole on the top of his head. Never in my worst nightmare would I’ve guessed that this dismal orifice would be the fatal flaw… I could’ve worked it all out by myself so easily. Tomorrow, I’ve got to give a talk to our sponsors. But after that, we’ve got to plan. There must be a way out.

 


 

Scene 7. Later that day. Rex’s office.

 

REX Do you know what that woman said? What she dared say to me? (Tries to mimic Regina’s tone). Your scientific ideas just fetter us artists, and then some dribble about impoverishing the soul.... Thanks, but no thanks!

 

OTTO She was quoting Paul Klee.

 

REX (Astonished) How on earth did you know that?

 

OTTO (Realizing he should not have volunteered that information) Oh… from some art… friend.

 

REX We’re going to rewrite our paper.

 

OTTO But there’s no need. The point has been made. The energy dispersive X-ray microanalysis showing a nickel content much too high for a Roman bronze. The thermoluminescence data. The computer tomography—

 

REX Forget about our fancy science! I was prepared to use it… then… when I was still thinking of professional collegiality. When I was prepared to publish something jointly with her that would avoid a public embarrassment. But after that barrage of insults, collegiality is the last thing I’m thinking of. This is war! (Short pause). I’m not saying we eliminate the scientific evidence… just underplay it. I want every reader of that paper to realize that sophisticated science wasn’t needed to demonstrate how wrong she was. Simple horse-sense… uncontaminated by all that art historian crap. It’s bad enough that she’s mocking professional scientists, but she’s only an art historian.

 

OTTO You’re not actually going to say that are you?

 

REX I’d love to… but we’d never get it into print. No. We’ll write it so that every reader still recognizes it for what it really is. We’ll start with the hole.

 

OTTO Why?

 

REX I thought you’d be pleased. You’re the one who first stuck his nose into it. I was so fixated on analyzing the bronze, I didn’t even pay attention to the physical flaw. What made you open it in the first place?

 

OTTO Curiosity.

 

REX Commendable.

 

OTTO Once I opened it, I stuck an endoscope in to check the armature and anything else I might…

 

REX Of course. But we’ll point out that an endoscope wasn’t even needed to see their error. Roman casts were never more than five millimeters thick. This was twenty! One could see that practically with the naked eye once the hole was unplugged. Renaissance casts were that thick because the sculptors got paid by weight. Even an art historian should have noticed… but they hardly ever look inside. It’s always on the surface. (Mocking tone): “sensitivity of visual perception”… “critical connoisseurship”… But it’s all based on external observation. They’re blinded by the self-assurance of their aesthetic infallibility.

 

(Rex sees Otto still writing.)

 

Don’t put that in the report… that’s just between you and me. No, start with the hole. Show that once it was opened, calipers would have sufficed to determine the thickness.

 

OTTO What about all the work I did, especially the thermoluminescence? That was unambiguous evidence. Are we ignoring all that?

 

REX Yes.

 

OTTO But—


 

REX No buts.

 

OTTO: Okay… okay.

 

REX Good. Now get on with it.

 

OTTO You don’t need collaborators… you need slaves.

 

REX You know what she called me? That arrogant, vain, supercilious, pretentious…

 

OTTO: You were going to tell me what she called you!

 

REX: “Cocksure.” She… who never mentioned his dick in all her 345 pages. There’s no penis in her index! And she calls me “cocksure”!

 

(Rex exits.)


 

Scene 8. The following day. REGINA presenting a lecture 

 

REGINA (Video showing overall sculpture): Allow your gaze to fall upon this stunning masterpiece… first, its overall cardinal constancy, coupled with a dash of impetuousness. But then resist the temptation of starting with the face. Start the way I did when I first encountered him: From the base…

 

(Video zooms to toes)

 

… for instance… those perfect… almost delectable toes. And then… the feet fast… the shins and calves well favored; knee ever so gently flexed; thighs so shapely yet solid; and then the proud loins…

 

(Just before reaching the penis, the video image turns to show buttocks).

 

And the buttocks with their bivalve roundness… (As zoomed video image travels upward from navel): Navel discreet; young chest manly and rippling … adorned by nipples perceptive; throat unflawed; chin almost unreal; lower lip… so tempting. (Beat). The nose…aquiline and Roman; (close-up image of the face appears) and the eyes… though a sculpture’s dead eyes… limpidly seductive and simultaneously blazing. And now… those beguiling curls… those tantalizing ringlets. (close-up of the hair fades up) Let us start over here. (Points with laser pointer). Five of them twirling to the left… then eight coiling to the right… and now thirteen! In other words… the famous Fibonacci sequence. (return the to full image of the sculpture) I shall not ask the trite question whether this unknown sculptor genius was also a mathematician…

 

 


 

Scene 9. Immediately after Regina’s lecture.  Emma’s office.

 

OTTO Jesus!

 

EMMA  Be grateful… it wasn’t easy to smuggle you in. At least, you’ve now heard her at her best.

 

OTTO (Derisive) “Delectable toes!”

 

EMMA Why not? Not so long ago, you said something like that about mine.

 

OTTO I was talking about flesh… not bronze. “Buttocks with their bivalve roundness!” She couldn’t have thought of that on the spur of the moment.

 

EMMA She was quoting. She’s good at it.

 

OTTO And even better at not citing the source.

 

EMMA The black and white scientist! Always insisting on true or false… the bon mot cited or not cited. How about just discreetly borrowed?

 

OTTO But so precious.

 

EMMA At times, precious discourse in museums does work. This was a discourse to our potential sponsors. And a rather effective one at that.

 

OTTO And that stuff about the Fibonacci sequence?

 

EMMA Oh, that. That’s her favorite line. She always uses it.

 

OTTO All that simulated aesthetic bliss. I thought she was going to have an orgasm.

 

EMMA You mean you missed it? She had at least two.

 

OTTO Probably faked ones.

 

EMMA: What do you men know about faked orgasms?

 

(This stings him a little.)

 

OTTO As a matter of fact, she missed something.

 

EMMA Oh?

 

OTTO The penis.

 

EMMA What about it?

 

OTTO Small.

 

EMMA He’s young.

 

OTTO He’s at least twenty. Cocks stop growing at seventeen.

 

EMMA (Sarcastic) We’re dealing with aesthetics here…

 

OTTO Jesus! You sound like her!

 

EMMA: … with conceptual coherence…

 

OTTO I thought we shared an interest in the study of the penis.

 

EMMA But where? In art, literature, anthropology, medicine? 

 

OTTO: How about in bed?

 

EMMA Otto. This is a museum…

 

OTTO What‘s your Regina’s hang-up? Considering the fact that she covered every millimeter of that precious body… yet ignored one of the most important appendages.

 

EMMA Sometimes… not mentioning a feature emphasizes its importance.

 

OTTO Feature?!

 

EMMA There are times… especially in art… when the penis is only a feature. In most classical Greek art, nude males have small penises. On purpose… as a sign of an aristocratic male. The Greeks didn’t make an issue out of size… on the contrary, the point was daintiness.

 

OTTO You must be kidding.

 

EMMA Seeing the small flaccid phallus in the openly displayed male nude and then contrasting it with an engorged jutting protuberance—

 

OTTO (Pretends outrage) Protuberance?

 

EMMA The tiny one in public… the oversized erect one in private. Enjoying the best of both possible worlds: conventional modesty and yet—

 

OTTO (Disdainful) Very small and then oversized? That’s an anatomical contradiction!

 

EMMA We are dealing with convention in Greek art and society… not anatomy.

 

OTTO That’s pretty subtle.

 

EMMA Subtlety may be one of the key differences between science and art.

 

OTTO For Christ’s sake—

 

EMMA All right… take Christ. Take Christ’s penis.

 

OTTO (Taken aback) Blasphemous.

 

EMMA Hardly. Do you know what art historians have to say about Christ’s sexuality?

 

OTTO I didn’t know this was a subject of discussion among your clique.

 

EMMA: Do you know that in the hundreds… no, thousands... of Renaissance pictures of the Madonna and Child, there is hardly one that doesn’t show the penis of the Christ child? Look.

 

(Mantegna’s painting, preferably with close-up focus on infant Jesus and several other examples appear)

 

OTTO: Your point being!

 

EMMA: Look! They even have him play with his penis.

 

(Sodoma painting and several others)

 

OTTO (Momentarily taken aback): Well… infants are known to do that.

 

EMMA: Of course they do… even though some adults are shocked. But what about his grandmother fondling his penis?

 

(Baldung woodcut)

 

OTTO: His Grandmother?

 

EMMA: St. Anne. But now take the images of the adult Jesus from that period. In most paintings, he’s virtually naked, but invariably some drape or fold covers his loins. But as always, there are the odd exceptions.

 

OTTO (Testily): Meaning?

 

EMMA (Goading him): The occasional erection.

 

(1520-1525 images of van Heemskerck’s and Ludwig Krug’s engraving of “Man of Sorrows”)

 

OTTO (Shocked) You’re joking!

 

EMMA Relax! It’s covered… though not too subtly. So what’s the artist’s point?

 

(Images fade out)

 

OTTO To show that Jesus was a man.

 

EMMA (Ironic) Brilliant! But that has already been established in all the nude baby Jesuses and their penises. Now… aside from that signifier—

 

OTTO (Dismissive) Oh, God! No, not signifier!

 

EMMA That’s exactly what the penis is, a signifier. But since it is usually associated with reproduction—

 

OTTO Not pleasure?

 

EMMA And pleasure. But neither reproduction nor physical pleasure had anything to do with Jesus, so his groin is never openly displayed.

 

 (EMMA Reaches over and unzips his fly, pulling his shirt tail out).

 

OTTO (Grabs her hand) What are you doing? Someone might come in!

 

EMMA Now, do you see? There are times and places when the penis is neither displayed nor discussed. Now, go away, I’ve got work to do.

 

OTTO How about lunch?

 

(He zips his fly back up)


 

EMMA Out before the Frau Director catches you. (She bundles him out of the office)


 

Scene 10. Later that day. Regina’s office.

 

REGINA They lapped it up, didn’t they?

 

EMMA You were very persuasive.

 

REGINA Who was that young man you were with at my lecture? I couldn’t see him properly.

 

EMMA (Taken aback) Just an acquaintance.

 

REGINA What does he do?

 

EMMA (Now desperate to change the subject) Dull stuff. (Beat). I noticed you skipped the usual introduction.

 

REGINA What?

 

EMMA The oldest Roman sculpture discovered north of Italy?

 

REGINA That’s why I didn’t take any questions. What if someone had brought it up? His Eminence has already asked: what will the museum’s official line be?

 

EMMA And your reply?

 

REGINA That we’re working on it.

 


Scene 11 Luxemburg, 1576 during Don Juan of Austria’s voyage from Spain to assume his duties as Governor General (Generalstatthalter) of the Netherlands.

 

FIRST DON JUAN/BARBARA BLOMBERG INTERMEZZO A room in Don Juan’s residence. Blomberg, waits as Don Juan enters.

 

DON JUAN: Madam! What favor did you come to ask? (Louder when she does not reply). I said: what favor? (Beat). Madam! Is your hearing impaired? (She shakes her head.) Then speak. (Beat) I cannot know what troubles you unless you tell me. (Beat) Your name then? (Beat) Come, come, there’s no need to be afraid! Out with it. (Beat) Why won’t you speak? (Beat) Do we know each other? (She nods) Then take off your veil. (Louder). Take it off! I have witnessed many terrible things in battles. Faces of men mutilated beyond recognition. If you are scarred or ugly, fear no shame in front of me. (Beat) Madam! You try my patience! 

 

Slowly, she lifts her veil.


 

DON JUAN (Taken aback): But you have no reason to hide your face… there’s barely a blemish. We have met before… somewhere.

 

BLOMBERG: Sire, I’m your mother.


 

Scene 12  The next day.  Rex’s office and Regina’s office, split scene.

 

REX What’s your hypothesis?

 

OTTO About what?

 

REX What’s she up to? I told the Museum Director that I was working on the formal report for him and he told me to take my time. I wonder whether he’s trying to protect her.

 

OTTO Why ask me?

 

REX (Laughs) I always like to hear my younger colleague’s opinions.

 

OTTO Only to then demolish them.

 

REX Correction! Try to demolish them. That’s what science is all about… a lesson that Frau Director Dr. Leitner-Opfermann does not seem to have learned. To her, counterarguments are just personal affronts. Well? Let’s hear your hypothesis.

 

OTTO (Clearly uncomfortable) I wouldn’t want to guess.

 

REX I’m not out to screw things up for the Museum.

 

OTTO But there’s nothing to screw up! It’s either a Roman cast or it’s not. Like pregnancy. The woman is pregnant… or she’s not.

 

REX But who’s the daddy? (Pause) Has she ever met you?

 

OTTO No.

 

REX Seen you?

 

OTTO I don’t know.

 

REX: What do you mean you don’t know?

 

OTTO (Uncomfortable) Well… I went to one of her lectures.

 

REX Oh? How small was the audience?

 

OTTO The room was overflowing.

 

REX Really?

 

OTTO She’s a pretty flamboyant lecturer.

 

REX All icing, no cake?

 

OTTO No, quite a bit of cake.

 

REX Well… if the place was full she wouldn’t have noticed you. (Beat). How about doing some sniffing around a bit... discreetly, of course.

 

OTTO Why?

 

REX Have you read her book?

 

OTTO No.

 

REX: You should. It’s not bad… in spite of some myopic arty-fartiness. She does have a lot at stake… I just wonder what she’s going to do. (Beat). Maybe I’ll call her to see whether she has calmed down. If she has, I’ll give her another chance.

 

OTTO (Surprised) Do you really think that is a good idea?

 

(OTTO excuses himself and calls EMMA on his cell phone. EMMA’s cell phone rings)

 

REGINA Would you please shut off that infernal instrument!

 

EMMA (Embarrassed) I’m terribly sorry. I thought it was off. It won’t happen again. One second. (Turns away, whispering into phone). Mm hmm.

 

OTTO It’s me.

 

EMMA (Whispers while shaking her head) Uh-huh.

 

OTTO Are you in her office?

 

EMMA Uh-huh.

 

OTTO Make some excuse.

 

EMMA Uh-unh.

 

OTTO Rex is calling her.

 

EMMA What?

 

OTTO One sec.

 

REX  Take your time. (Lifts desk phone and dials).

 

REGINA Emma!

 

EMMA (To Otto) Gotta go.

 

OTTO Wait! You’ve got to warn her!

 

Regina’s phone rings. She picks it up.

 

OTTO Are you there? Hello?

 

REGINA (Irritated): Yes? (Pause).

 

REX Stolzfuss speaking.

 

OTTO Listen.

 

REGINA Yes. (Turns away from Emma).

 

EMMA (Turns away from Regina) Quick then.

 

REX I would like to give you one more chance.

 

OTTO There’s one more possibility.

 

REGINA One more chance?

 

EMMA For what?

 

OTTO Compromise.

 

REX A ceasefire.

 

REGINA You’re prepared to apologize?

 

EMMA He’ll apologize?

 

OTTO Apologize?

 

REX I should apologize? I?

 

EMMA Why not?

 

REGINA Of course!

 

OTTO We have nothing to apologize for.

 

REX I haven’t even started and you’re asking me to apologize?

 

REGINA I’m talking about your report.

 

EMMA Is that all you can say?

 

REX And I’m talking about its contents.

 

OTTO I’m working for him.

 

REGINA In that case there is nothing more to discuss.

 

REX What?

 

REGINA (Slams down the phone). What an ass!

 

REX: (Slams down the phone) What a bitch!

 

EMMA (Quick) I’ve got to go. (Does so).

 

OTTO What! What? Hello? (Realizes she hung up)

 

REGINA Do you know who called?

 

EMMA (Quietly) I can guess.

 

REGINA I wonder why he called?

 

EMMA So do I.

 

REGINA I shouldn’t have lost my temper… at least not before finding out what he’s up to. I don’t trust that man… or that stooge of his, what’s his name?

 

EMMA Otto Ellenbogen.

 

REGINA You know him?

 

EMMA (Disingenuously) What do I know about chemists?

 

REGINA Keep away from them. They’re poison. And if they’re not poison, they’re plebeians. Correction! They’re bullies. And scientific bullies are the worst kind… because they try smothering you with facts. Words like “beauty”… “aesthetic perspective”… even “historical provenance”… don’t exist in their vocabulary. I wouldn’t be surprised if he comes out with the story about Michelangelo and the Cupid he buried in a Roman garden. Hmm, well we’ll show him what provenance can do!

 

EMMA We?

 

REGINA Yes, because you’re going to help me search for supporting evidence.

 

EMMA And if I do find something?

 

REGINA You tell me… but no one else. As a Renaissance scholar I presume you speak some Spanish?

 

EMMA Claro.

 

REGINA What about reading old Spanish texts?

 

EMMA (Smiling) No hay problema.

 

REGINA: Good girl!

 


Scene 13 SECOND DON JUAN/BARBARA BLOMBERG INTERMEZZO picking up on the first intermezzo

BLOMBERG The King, your brother, made me promise never to see you again.

 

DON JUAN And what have you to do with the King, my brother? He is not your son.

 

BLOMBERG You share the same father.

 

DON JUAN Father? Yes.

 

BLOMBERG The Emperor recognized you as his son…

 

DON JUAN When I was 12. If not for my father’s generosity… the Court would never have accepted me.

 

BLOMBERG But you are his son.

 

DON JUAN His bastard.

 

BLOMBERG A hero.

 

DON JUAN They call me the Imperial Bastard… not to my face, of course… and think I’m not privy to their thoughts… or to my brother’s. (With increasing bitterness). His Majesty, Philip II, husband of Queen Mary of England, who denied me the right… after my return from victorious battle… to wed Mary Stuart of Scotland! (Angrily and with increasing speed). He… Philip II… King of Spain and of Castile, Leon, Aragon, the two Sicilies, Jerusalem, Navarre, Granada, Toledo, Valencia, Galicia, Majorca, Seville, Sardinia, Corsica, Murcia, Jaén, the Algarbes, Algeciras, Gibraltar, the Canary Islands, the Indies, and all the islands and lands of the Ocean-Sea, Count of Barcelona, Lord of Biscay and Molina, Duke of Athens and Neopatria, Count of Rousillon, Marquis of Aristan and Sociano, Duke of Brabant and of Milan, Count of Florence and of the Tyrol. (Stops suddenly, switching tone and speed). I could go on. Yet my brother never shared any with me... not one kingdom… not even Naples!  Who saved the Holy Roman Empire from being overrun by the Ottomans? Who… led the Holy Catholic League’s fleet out of Messina against the Turks and vanquished them?

 

BLOMBERG You my son… not yet 24 and the hero of the Battle of Lepanto.  I beg you, Sire, indulge me. I may never see you again. (Beat). You were born on the 24th day of February in the year 1547, also the day of your father’s birth. (Beat). Nine months before, His Imperial Majesty, Charles V, came to Regensburg. It was Spring. I stood in front of a statue… waving like so many others… as the emperor passed. But he noticed me.

 

DON JUAN (Curious) Why you?

 

BLOMBERG They say I was beautiful… then.

 

DON JUAN (Kinder) Your appearance still pleases the eye.

 

BLOMBERG Your Highness flatters me. My years and travails have taken their toll. (Beat). But that night, I was conducted… in strictest privacy… to the Emperor. His Majesty was 46 and long widowed. He seemed lonely… and desired solace from me. I was but 18… and still unacquainted with the ways of men.  We spent the night together. I never saw his Majesty again.

 


 

Scene 14  REX’s office. Continuation of Scene 12.

 

OTTO That was quick.

 

REX I don’t know why I bothered.

 

OTTO I didn’t think that was such a good idea giving her a call.

 

REX (Defensively) To give her one more chance to see whether we could arrive at a joint statement that would avoid embarrassing her in pubic? I thought it was damn generous of me.

 

OTTO How could you avoid embarrassing her? Any concession would be an embarrassment. She’s a true believer.

 

REX What’s belief other than a source of energy? In her case, the source is a battery that is about to go flat.

 

OTTO Who knows? She may well try to recharge it.

 


 

Scene 15  Regina’s office. Continuation of Scene 12.

 

EMMA So far so good. But what’s your hypothesis?

 

REGINA That the original… the one dug up in 1502… went to one of the Spanish Habsburgs, while we were left with the 16th century cast.

 

EMMA And you just thought of all this… after the chemists questioned the age of our bronze?

 

REGINA No. Years ago. When I first worked on my book.

 

EMMA But I’ve read your book… from beginning to end. Even the dedication: “To Ignaz Opfermann, supporter and life companion.”

 

REGINA I forgot to delete that page when they reprinted it.

 

EMMA There’s no mention of the Habsburgs.

 

REGINA I know.

 

EMMA At least no Spanish ones.

 

REGINA I know.

 

EMMA Why now… but not then?

 

REGINA It was a Spanish Habsburg insurance policy… in case my Roman theory was off the mark. Unfortunately, I was so in love with my Roman theory, I pursued that.

 

EMMA So who ended up with the Roman original?

 

REGINA Good question.

 

EMMA Any hints?

 

REGINA: There are always hints for a plausible hypothesis…. especially with the Habsburgs.

 

 

Scene 16 THIRD DON JUAN/BARBARA BLOMBERG INTERMEZZO)

 

DON JUAN You never saw my father again?

 

BLOMBERG Never.

 

DON JUAN But you spoke?

 

BLOMBERG Yes… that night.

 

DON JUAN What did my father say?

 

BLOMBERG I do not know. I only knew German then. His Majesty spoke in Castilian. But he was kind. (Long pause). Yet…  Nine months later… when I bore a son… I was persuaded by the Emperor’s emissary to wed one of his officers. A bribe.

 

DON JUAN Madam! You must choose your words more prudently.

 

BLOMBERG I was favoured with a generous payment once I was married to that officer. Yet, not yet four years old, my son was removed. It was the last time I saw you, Sire… until today.

 

DON JUAN (Reminisces) When I was seven, the Emperor’s confidante, Don Luis Quijada and his wife, Donna Magdalena took me into their home where I was tutored in Greek, Latin and French…not German. But also in matters of the Court.

 

BLOMBERG I was never told.

 

DON JUAN Ever since I have called Donna Magdalena “mother”… (Pause) until today.

 

BLOMBERG My son… When did you first encounter your father?

 

DON JUAN: After his abdication. But then, I did not know he was my father… not until after his death. The Emperor wrote a codicil to his will in which he recognized me as his son. (Quotes). “I state and declare that, while a resident in Germany, and after I became a widower, I had an illegitimate son named Jeromín by an unmarried woman.”

 

BLOMBERG: No name for her?

 

DON JUAN “I charge my son, Prince Philip, that Jeromin be given duchies in the Kingdom of Naples as an annual income. I further charge him that he honor his natural brother as Don Juan of Austria.” (Beat). I am now Lieutenant Governor and Captain-General of the Low Countries.

 

BLOMBERG The Emperor… in heaven… will be pleased how the people and King Philip now honour you.

 

DON JUAN Governing the Low Countries? An impossible task… as my brother well knows… and hence assigned to me.

 

BLOMBERG Nothing is impossible for the Hero of Lepanto.

 

DON JUAN (Suddenly spent) We shall see.

 


Scene 17  Regina’s office.  Continuation of Scene 15

 

EMMA Ok, so this is where I come in. Just think how many Habsburgs there were in the 16th and 17th centuries.

 

REGINA Let’s start with Emperor Charles V?

 

EMMA An obvious candidate.

 

REGINA But?

 

EMMA If he’d gotten the statue, there would have been some record. Every day of his life has been accounted for. There is his son, Philip II. But there are lots of others… even some women. Is there more?

 

REGINA A hint. But we need facts. Hard facts. Ideally, unimpeachable facts to convert the hint into a plausible hypothesis. If you find them, we’ll package them with grace and wit. To overcome this (again pointing to Rex & Otto’s report in front of her) accretion of pedestrian chemical detritus. Here… (reaches into drawer to produce some sheets of paper). Read this… my notes from way back. The beginnings of a hypothesis that never made it into my book.

 

EMMA: And where do you want me to start?

 

REGINA: Buy a round trip ticket to Spain. But make it Austrian Airlines… not Iberia. I’m charging this to the director’s budget.

 

Scene 18. A couple of weeks later.

 

OTTO What’s going on with you? I leave messages, which you don’t answer—

 

EMMA (Interrupts) I’ve been awfully busy.

 

OTTO And when I do reach you… you keep stalling.

 

EMMA I told you… my new project. Roman antiquities are not exactly my métier. I have a lot of catching up to do.

 

OTTO Day and night?

 

EMMA Yes. She doesn’t have much time. The Museum director is bugging her.

 

OTTO What are those people after? They can’t show we’re wrong.

 

EMMA We don’t question the chemical evidence.

 

OTTO We? You mean you’re taking her side? Look. It’s quite simple. The sculpture was cast in 1577.

 

EMMA What makes you so sure?

 

OTTO I was the one who did the thermoluminescence work—

 

EMMA Which leads to such precise dating? How?

 

OTTO After I opened the hole in his head, I dug a small piece of ceramic out. With thermoluminescence, you can determine the exact date when the ceramic was subjected last to high heat… it’s all in the report we’re sending to the Museum Director…

 

EMMA And which you intend to publish?

 

OTTO Of course. Just quote this as a private communication from one of the authors… and then be done with it… and then meet me for dinner.

 

EMMA And bring Leitner-Opfermann along? So she can congratulate you?

 

OTTO Well if you’re not going to shower me with your admiration right here… then do it at dinner. And if not at dinner, then—

 

EMMA Right now it’s all about her. It’s her project… it’s her life’s work. Our Museum director sent me to help her and I plan to do so.

 

OTTO (Getting curious) What can you people still do about the statue?

 

EMMA Plenty.

 

OTTO No. It’s settled.

 

EMMA Perhaps for you . But not for us.

 

OTTO Emma. Why bother crossing t’s or dotting I’s?

 

EMMA: How about changing a page or a chapter if not the entire book?

 

OTTO: I smell your (smirking) Frau Director Dr. Leitner-Opfermann behind such conceit.

 

EMMA: Leave her alone. You’ve barely met her. Besides… it’s also turned into my conceit.

 

OTTO (Surprised) I don’t believe it.

 

EMMA That’s your problem.

 

OTTO (Slightly backtracking) Sorry… I didn’t mean that.

 

EMMA I think you did…So you’re satisfied with finding the cast was made in 1577? That’s it?

 

OTTO But what else is there?

 

EMMA You don’t think to ask, “why and where it was cast, and who did it?”

 

OTTO (Irritated) All right! Why?

 

EMMA I don’t know. (Beat).

 

OTTO Are you sure? (Beat). You’d tell me if you did, wouldn’t you? Emma?

 

EMMA Talking about privileged information is dangerous.

 

OTTO What? (Beat) Even between us?

 

EMMA That doesn’t make it less privileged. And if you’re snooping, then it’s verboten.

 

OTTO What’s come over you?

 

EMMA Regina thinks she is on the track of an explanation that would make your work not wrong… but trivial.

 

OTTO (Outraged) Trivial?

 

EMMA You heard me.

 

OTTO (Trying to let it go) Let’s drop the subject… and be nice to each other. How about dinner tonight?

 

EMMA I can’t.

 

OTTO Tomorrow?

 

EMMAI wish I could. But I’ve got to pack and get ready for a trip.

 

OTTO For how long?

 

EMMA It’s open-ended.

 

OTTO I see. (Beat) Am I allowed to know where you’re going? Or am I snooping?

 

EMMA Spain.

 

OTTO Really? Hey – I’ve got an idea. Let me go with you. I can be your translator. For years I spent my holidays at my grandfather’s house in Ibiza.

 

EMMA (Realizing she should not have offered that information). Please keep quiet about Spain. And I don’t need a translator.

 

OTTO (Getting curious) Why Spain??

 

She is silent.

 

Oh, Emma! We can’t go on like this all day! Just tell me!

 

EMMA All right, but… keep it to yourself.

 

OTTO Of course! What do you take me for? I wish you’d trust me. Just once!

 


 

Scene 19 Later that day. Rex’s office.

 

REX Spain?

 

OTTO Hm-mm.

 

REX What is Leitner-Opfermann up to? Sending Emma Finger to Spain. (Musingly). Any idea?

 

OTTO Well… I think she’s trying to get out of the corner you’ve painted her in.

 

REX Now, now! You’re the one with paint all over his hands. You deserve much of the credit…

 

OTTO (Hesitatingly) I think she’s trying to prove that what’s standing in the Museum is more than just a 16th century cast.

 

REX (Becoming suspicious) Are you guessing or do you know?

 

OTTO I’m putting two and two together.

 

REX Well? Out with it!

 

OTTO I think she believes that the original is somewhere in Spain.

 

REX You mean, they dug it up in Spain and then made a cast there in the 16th century to ship it up here? Ridiculous!

 

OTTO How about the reverse? The cast was made here… in Austria… and the Roman original shipped to Spain?

 

REX And she’s trying to find it?

 

OTTO I guess so.

 

REX She’s whipping up some sort of Spanish smoke screen to obscure the real science. What’s your evidence?

 

OTTO Reading between the lines.

 

REX What lines?

 

OTTO Just lines Rex! Things I pick up here and there.

 

REX: And your source?

 

OTTO Source? Well, no one in particular.

 

REX I see. You wouldn’t want to point a… (beat) finger at anyone… would you? (Beat)  Okay! If she wants a Spanish explanation, I’ll give her one.

 


 

Scene 20  Later that day. Regina’s office.

 

REGINA Start in Aranjuez. Check the Royal Gardens of the period. See what you can find out about the two sculptures that disappeared a couple of hundred years ago.

 

EMMA The ones in your notes? (Points to papers in her hand). One male, one female? Are they a matching pair?

 

REGINA Nobody knows. But that’s an important point.

 

EMMA What’s the evidence that one was Venus?

 

REGINA Indirect. One of the inventories mentions a Venus donated around that time by Francesco de Medici that ended up in the Royal Gardens.

 

EMMA A gift to Philip II?

 

REGINA Apparently. And presented by the Medicis in Florence.

 

EMMA That may be worth looking into.

 

REGINA I wish I had pursued that myself… Mea Culpa.

 

EMMA And the sculptures disappeared?

 

REGINA Both at the same time… in the 19th century. Suggesting that they were a pair.

 

EMMA Or belonged to the same owner?

 

REGINA Precisely. So why not start in Aranjuez? And a special bonus: Did you know that Aranjuez has the best strawberries in Spain?

 


Scene 21  A few days later. Rex’s office.

 

REX Drop everything you’re doing. I want you to start on a project that shouldn’t take more than eight weeks… meaning it must be finished in seven. Is that understood?

 

OTTO (Attempting banter) What’s the alternative?

 

REX (Firmly) There isn’t any.

 

OTTO Sounds serious.

 

REX And important. Better take some notes. Let’s go back to the complete computer scan of the statue. (Rex punches up image on the computer screen)

 

OTTO What else is there still to do?

 

REX I have marked three sections (points to them)… here… here… and here.

 

OTTO (Puzzled) Right foot, torso and head?

 

REX Minus the left ear! Don’t skip that. It’s crossed out on the picture.

 

OTTO Okay… no left ear.

 

REX You know how to do computer molding, right?

 

OTTO (Dismissive) I learned computer modelling before I joined your lab.

 

REX (Sharply) Otto…pay attention. I said “computer molding”… not modelling.

 

OTTO (Embarrassed) Sorry.

 

REX Well?

 

OTTO Yes?

 

REX How comfortable are you doing a careful molding job?

 

OTTO: Alone? Without help?

 

REX I told you this is confidential.

 

OTTO I’ll need to practice a bit.

 

REX In that case, start practicing… today!

 

OTTO And then what?

 

REX I want plaster figures… precise ones… of those three sections.

 

OTTO (Astonished… pointing to the screen): Of this?

 

REX None other than that young gentleman. As soon as they’re ready, you bring them to me for some finishing off. (Disingenuously). You know… the master’s touches.

 

OTTO To establish co-authorship?

 

REX You’re a bit of a smarty pants, aren’t you Otto?

 

OTTO (Who, suitably chastened, starts scribbling in his notepad) And then?

 

REX Make bronze casts… no more than 5 millimeters thick… and pay particular attention to the trace metal composition. Especially very low Nickel values… you know… typical of the early Roman casts.

 

OTTO You said Roman?

 

REX Good… you’re now paying attention. And I want to see the complete atomic absorption data: tin… lead… zinc… iron… silver… antimony… as well as bismuth and cobalt.

 

OTTO No arsenic?

 

REX Didn’t I mention arsenic? Of course, that too.

 

OTTO You want me to make a Roman fake of these three sections?

 

REX I want us to make Roman originals. At least so original that nobody can tell the difference… with identical chemical fingerprints. Hence the atomic absorption.

 

OTTO But—

 

REX No buts. (Grins conspiratorially). I want you to search our patina data base for plausible values. You and I will assume that these parts here were dug up near a latrine… an old latrine… in fact very old and then covered with earth that had been farmed with fertilizer used in Spain in the 19th and 20th century.

 

OTTO (Realizing what Rex is driving at) You mean harsh enough conditions to explain why the sculpture—

 

REX (Pleased)… the thin, Roman sculpture… not a thick 16th century version… ended up in pieces. You know… action of ammonia, phosphates… you name it.

 

OTTO I can’t.

 

REX What do you mean, “I can’t”?

 

OTTO I can’t make a fake.

 

REX Who’s asking you to make a fake?

 

OTTO A fake that looks like an original… even if undetectable… is still a fake.

 

REX Don’t you think that depends on its eventual use?

 

OTTO Meaning?

 

REX Meaning if you tried to peddle what you call the fake as an original for lots of money and succeeded, then it would be a fraud, which, of course, is illegal.

 

OTTO I am relieved to hear that.

 

REX But suppose you used it to make a point in an academic dispute… and dress it up as a joke without exchange of money?

 

OTTO Academic dispute?

 

REX Show the other party to be wrong by telling them that it’s been faked. And do it in private… not in public?

 

OTTO Well, that’s different I suppose...

 

REX You bet it’s different! Now get going. And don’t forget! I shall add the finishing touches before the bronze casting, but you’ll watch me. I need a witness. In fact, I need more… I need an active accomplice who knows when to keep his mouth shut.

 


Scene 22 FOURTH DON JUAN/BARBARA BLOMBERG INTERMEZZO)

 

DON JUAN Madam! I wish you would just tell me what you want. What is it? Forgiveness? Reconciliation with your long lost illegitimate son? I am afraid it’s impossible. The King would not allow it.

 

BLOMBERG My son. Permit me to suggest a gift the King cannot refuse.

 

DON JUAN There is nothing my brother cannot refuse.

 

BLOMBERG That maybe so… but he will not refuse this gift. It will be of no consequence to his Majesty, but if you request it, I shall depart in peace even if I shall never set eyes on you again.

 

DON JUAN (Now curious) What gift?

 

BLOMBERG The statue.

 

DON JUAN (Puzzled) What statue?

 

BLOMBERG Of Roman origin, found in Carinthia. You may never have been born, had I not stood in front of it when the Emperor passed. Request it… to remind you of your mother whenever you gaze on it.

 

DON JUAN (Bemused) A gift… desired by you… for me… from my brother? Who’d surely refuse it if he knew its purpose? (Beat). An engaging thought… devious and therefore more engaging.

 

BLOMBERG Nobody need know the source of this request.

 

DON JUAN Indeed… nobody. Hmm. (Nods to himself). Describe the statue.

 

BLOMBERG (Eagerly) A young Roman man… beautiful (shyly)… like you, Sire.

 

DON JUAN Yes?

 

BLOMBERG He is naked.

 

DON JUAN (Smiling) As is his Venus.

 

BLOMBERG (Puzzled): His Venus?

 

DON JUAN: A gift from Francesco de Medici to my brother… and now standing in the Royal Gardens in Aranjuez. (Slyly). Why not couple my naked man with his naked Venus? (Beat). Indeed, why not? Even my prim brother will concur. After all… a liaison of two bronzes is no offence.


 

Scene 23 A few weeks later. Regina’s office. GERALDO LOPEZ (OTTO in disguise, wearing moustache) enters.

 

REGINA Sorry you were kept waiting.  Please, sit down.

 

He wheels a large bag. He opens and unpacks its contents as the conversation progresses.

 

REGINA (Reading his business card) Ah yes, here we are… Instituto Roberto Hernandez, Aranjuez, Espagna? What precisely does your institute do, Sr. Lopez?

 

LOPEZ (Throughout with perceptible Spanish accent) Our institute is named after the founder of Iberian dinosaurology-

 

REGINA: Saurology?

 

LOPEZ Dino… saurology. The study of dinosaurs.

 

REGINA (Condescending smile) My dear Sr. Lopez… I’m afraid you are in the wrong place. You want the Museum of Natural History, which is across from us. On the other side of the Statue of Empress Maria Theresa.

 

LOPEZ (Reaches into his bag and removes a small object). This item is bronze.

 

REGINA: Oh!

 

LOPEZ: A foot. A human one… not a dinosaur’s.

 

REGINA: A right foot. Oh my God!

 

LOPEZ (Feigning concern) Anything wrong?

 

REGINA (Recovers) No… nothing. Nothing at all. Where did you find this?

 

LOPEZ In Spain.

 

REGINA But where in Spain?

 

LOPEZ You know my country?

 

REGINA (Impatient) Yes… yes.

 

LOPEZ In a dig… near my city.

 

REGINA Aranjuez?

 

LOPEZ You know my city? We have wonderful strawberries. Espectacular strawberries.

 

REGINA (kneels next to the foot, but now stroking it almost affectionately as she examines it, turning it over and over in her hand) How did you find this?

 

LOPEZ Dinosaurologists follow one rule: When in doubt, don’t throw it away. (Beat). Since this was bronze, I was tempted, but…

 

REGINA Yes?

 

LOPEZ It seemed old.

 

REGINA (Barely disguising her excitement) Did you find any other bronze parts?

 

LOPEZ Yes… there were other parts.

 

REGINA And you brought them?

 

LOPEZ Claro.

 

REGINA May I see them?

 

LOPEZ Claro.

 

REGINA Well?

 

LOPEZ (Not making any move to remove them) You do not wish to know why I came to see you?

 

REGINA Well, I… (Suddenly realizes she is acting too anxious). Yes… So why did you come to our Museum?

 

LOPEZ The head—

 

REGINA What head?

 

LOPEZ His head. (Points to foot).

 

REGINA (Unable to repress her excitement) You have his head?

 

LOPEZ (Stalling) When I was in Vienna the last time… to visit… how do you say “La Competencia”? (Beat)… ah yes… the competition.

 

REGINA (Confused) I beg your pardon?

 

LOPEZ Your competition… the other Museum.

 

REGINA (Breaks out laughing) The Museum of Natural History.

 

LOPEZ Exactly. I came across to your bookstore and saw pictures of your beautiful young man.

 

REGINA And?

 

LOPEZ So I went to see him.

 

REGINA And?

 

LOPEZ I was impressed.

 

REGINA Of course you would be.

 

LOPEZ Well…

 

REGINA Yes?

 

LOPEZ His head…

 

REGINA Yes?

 

LOPEZ His… how you say? (Pointing to his hair)

 

REGINA Hair?

 

LOPEZ No. (Fashions a curl out of his own hair and points to it). This.

 

REGINA Oh… curls.

 

LOPEZ Yes. I noticed… a Fibonacci sequence.

 

REGINA And?

 

LOPEZ So does this head… here (points to his bag).

 

REGINA (Unable to repress her excitement) Let me see it.

 

LOPEZ Unfortunately—

 

REGINA Unfortunately?

 

LOPEZ Unfortunately… one ear is missing.

 

REGINA: Never mind. Show it to me.

 

LOPEZ (With deliberate slowness unwraps the head and puts it on her desk) Here.

 

REGINA takes the head and studies it with excruciating care and obvious affection, while Lopez observes her. They say nothing for prolonged period.

 

REGINA (Finally) Anything else?

 

LOPEZ Claro.

 

REGINA (Bluntly) Let’s see it!

 

LOPEZ (Again unwraps item very slowly) Here. (Puts torso on her desk).

 

REGINA (Cannot refrain from exclaiming) Superb. (Again turns it back and forth, finally resting torso so that buttocks are exposed, which she strokes absentmindedly while the conversation proceeds). What do you plan to do with them?

 

LOPEZ Sell them.

 

REGINA (Somewhat taken aback by bluntness of his response) I had more or less assumed that. You have a price in mind?

 

LOPEZ You want to buy it?

 

REGINA (Attempting to project restraint and caution) Perhaps.

 

LOPEZ (Points to the three items) Which one interests you the most?

 

REGINA It’s too early to say. Possibly all three.

 

LOPEZ (Pointing to her hands that are still stroking the bronze buttocks) Not this one?

 

REGINA (Quickly withdraws her hand) How much do you want for all three?

 

LOPEZ (Mimics her voice) “How much do I want for all three?” The question is, how much are the three worth to you?

 

REGINA (Somewhat flustered) You first. I am not really in a position to offer any sum. For one thing, we’d have to be certain of the authenticity-

 

LOPEZ Of course. But you say you cannot mention any sum? You mean no sum… for these treasures?

 

REGINA (Quickly) I would first have to consult our acquisition committee and then solicit some sponsors interested in purchasing the items for us. The government is not going to pay for this.

 

LOPEZ Give me a number.

 

REGINA (Firmly) You first. Assume you’re at an art auction. What is the minimum bid you would accept?

 

LOPEZ (Pretends to hesitate, finally reaches over to her desk, picks up a page from a note pad and writes down a figure. Hands over the slip of paper) Here… in writing… for your sponsors.

 

REGINA (Looks at it and then looks dumbfounded) But that is impossible! You can’t be serious.

 

LOPEZ (Reaches for the left foot of the sculpture as if he were about to pack it up) Not serious?

 

REGINA Wait! What currency is this in?

 

LOPEZ (Puzzled) Currency?

 

REGINA: Well here in Austria… when it comes to large purchases, say a house… we still think in Schillings even though we pay in Euros.

 

LOPEZ (Grinning) Also true for most Spaniards. But I never had that problem. The day the EU changed to the Euro, I switched from pesetas to Euros… selling and buying… even in my dreams. (Smiles). Especially in my dreams! No pesetas… not once!

 

REGINA Euros! That is impossible.

 

LOPEZ Impossible? Do you know what I can get for a dinosaur egg?

 

REGINA But these are not dinosaur eggs!

 

LOPEZ Exactly! I can always find another one. But these are unique. (Under his breath). Ojalá. (Louder). And therefore irreplaceable… and worth even more than dinosaur eggs (beat)… to the right customer. (Beat). I guess you are not the one. (Again reaches to wrap one of the items).

 

REGINA Wait! Of course our museum is the right place. But this sum? I simply could not raise it.

 

LOPEZ (Mimicking pitying tone) What a pity… for your museum. But there may be others. Berlin? London? The Getty in Los Angeles? Abu Dabi? The Arabs are now collecting. Who knows?

 

REGINA Wait! Is there some leeway? Surely this is not your final figure.

 

LOPEZ In my business there is no “final.” If there is more than one customer… say Abu Dabi versus Los Angeles… it will be higher. I can guarantee it. Not very different from two collectors wanting the same dinosaur egg. If I find no buyer at this price, it will be lower.

 

REGINA You see!

 

LOPEZ I see nothing. So far I have not approached anyone else.

 

REGINA So you’re not prepared to make any concession… to our Museum… one of the greatest in the world and the only one with the original bronze of the young man?

 

LOPEZ Original? In that case, what are these? (Points to sculpture fragments).

 

(Regina does not respond)

 

I see. Well… why not tell me what concession you would consider fair?

 

REGINA (Quickly) 25%.

 

LOPEZ A 25% reduction?

 

REGINA No, no! One quarter of this sum.

 

LOPEZ No, no,  no! That’s not 25%, that’s 75%! Absurdo! Even with dinosaur eggs I consider 75% reductions insulting… unless the shell is cracked. But look at the head! Except for the missing ear, it is perfect! Or the torso. Even an intact penis! Admittedly a very small one (makes suggestive dismissive gesture using his pinkie)… but certainly no fig leaf. Just imagine I found a portion of a dinosaur with his penis… a phallo-dinosaurian remnant… even such a puny one! Just imagine what I could ask… (beat)… and what I could get for it.

 

REGINA So what concession are you willing to offer?

 

LOPEZ Did I offer a concession?

 

REGINA (Now desperate) Please!

 

LOPEZ (Looks at her for a long time) All right. I shall make one. But only one!

 

REGINA Yes?

 

LOPEZ A 25% concession… but not one Euro less! Think it over.

 

REGINA Wait! You can’t take them with you. I need them… to show them to prospective donors… and of course to the acquisition committee.

 

LOPEZ That’s all?

 

REGINA Yes.

 

LOPEZ No chemical analysis?

 

REGINA (Hesitates) Well… yes. That probably as well. Surely you have no objections?

 

LOPEZ None.

 

REGINA So you are prepared to leave them here?

 

LOPEZ Claro. But—

 

REGINA (Quickly) But?

 

LOPEZ A receipt.

 

REGINA (Relieved) Of course. Let me tell my secretary-

 

LOPEZ No secretary. A hand-written receipt. I am old-fashioned.

 

REGINA Of course. (Picks up stationery and proceeds to write in ink while Lopez observes her).

 

LOPEZ (As she is writing, he eventually picks up torso piece, playfully touching the penis) By the way, when you list the torso, add “with intact penis.”

 

REGINA Well, er, if you wish…“with intact penis.” (After she finishes writing, hands over page) How is that?

 

LOPEZ (Reads it carefully) One more thing.

 

REGINA (Worried) Yes?

 

LOPEZ How long do you wish to hold it? This must be written here.

 

REGINA: Would you accept three months?

 

LOPEZ (Low whistle) That long?

 

REGINA You’re asking me to raise a huge sum… even if everybody in the museum agrees. I don’t know whether even three months will suffice.

 

LOPEZ  Write down that I’m giving you four, Senora Opfermann.

 

REGINA (As she rapidly writes additional sentence) Thank you, Herr Lopez… but it is Dr. Leitner-Opfermann!

 


Scene 24. The next day.  Regina’s office.

 

REGINA (Brusquely) Why don’t you sit down. I appreciate your coming.

 

REX Ascribe it to curiosity. I never expected to be invited back to your office

 

REGINA Please, let’s put that behind us.

 

REX (Wags his head, surprised) I didn’t expect to hear that from you either, but sure. Why not?

 

(Long pause during which she says nothing, just playing with the cloth covering the sculpture pieces).

 

REX (Puzzled tone) Was there something specific you wanted to tell me?

 

REGINA No. (Hesitates). I wanted to ask a favor.

 

REX (Ironic) You don’t say!

 

REGINA You once mentioned that you wanted to be collegial.

 

REX Whereupon you practically threw me out of your office.

 

REGINA (Conciliatory) Please!

 

REX (Sharply) Well, you did!

 

REGINA (Still attempting to be conciliatory) That was then. Now I’m apologizing.

 

REX (Reluctantly) So what favor?

 

REGINA The paper you were going to publish.

 

REX Yes?

 

REGINA Have you submitted it for publication?

 

REX Yes.

 

REGINA When is it coming out?

 

REX Soon.

 

REGINA Would you be willing to withdraw it for a couple of months?

 

REX (Interrupts) Out of the question!

 

REGINA I meant temporarily. Just delay its publication.

 

REX For how long?

 

REGINA Say three months… maximum four. (Rex remains quiet). Well?

 

REX Maybe. (Pause). If you tell me the reason.

 

REGINA Can I trust you to keep it to yourself?

 

REX Well… you haven’t much choice. But yes, I’ll keep it to myself.

 

REGINA Recent research has shown that our sculpture has a more complicated history… rather typical of items connected to the Habsburgs.

 

REX To me, “research” is an ambiguous word when coming from a non-scientist.

 

REGINA (About to lose her cool). Oh for goodness… (Recovers). I’ll let you decide whether you’d call it research.

 

REX What kind of research are we talking about here?

 

REGINA Let’s say through a major stroke of luck, we’ve gained access to three fragments of an ancient Roman sculpture. (Quickly removes cloth).

 

REX (Feigns surprise) Well… well! Rather like yours.

 

REGINA (Pleased) I thought you’d recognize them. But these fragments aren’t just “rather like” our precious bronze. As far as I can tell… of course so far only from visual inspection… they seem identical. I realize you’re not in a position to judge that—

 

REX Of course I’m not.

 

REGINA … since you’ve never seen them before.

 

REX Of course I haven’t.

 

REGINA We’re about to launch a major fund drive to acquire these precious remnants.

 

REX But for that, you’d first have to announce openly that your young man is not a Roman original. You’re prepared to do that?

 

REGINA Not immediately. Initially, we’re after these pieces on their own artistic merits… Roman remnants discovered in Spain.

 

REX Is that where they were found? You may need an export license for that.

 

REGINA (Slightly sarcastic) I’m touched by your concern. But why not leave that up to us?

 

REX I see. And it would be awkward if our paper appeared before you’ve succeeded in raising the money.

 

REGINA I’m glad you understand.

 

REX And after you’ve acquired them?

 

REGINA Then go ahead and publish. Not that I see any reason why you’d want to.

 

REX Perhaps you’ll be kind enough to explain what bearing these three items have on our publication plans?

 

REGINA You’ll keep it confidential?

 

REX I already said so.

 

REGINA I just wanted to hear it again. What you see here has recently been uncovered in the Spanish Royal Gardens in Aranjuez, where I once suspected—

 

REX “Suspected”? Past tense? When and where did you suspect that?

 

REGINA When I worked on my book.

 

REX I read it carefully and I recall no reference to such a find.

 

REGINA I didn’t publish it… for reasons I now regret, but c’est la vie.

 

REX Go on.

 

REGINA My conclusion is that the original found in Carinthia in 1502 ended up in Spain in the mid 16th century and that these three pieces are part of it.

 

REX And how did that sculpture get to Spain?

 

REGINA A gift to one of the Spanish Habsburgs.

 

REX Which one?

 

REGINA That remains to be proven.

 

REX Unless you find the alleged recipient… and its donor, you have nothing but a vague hypothesis, an ephemeral idea.

 

REGINA I beg to differ!

 

REX Granted, it’s amusing. But as happens so often… slain by an untidy fact.

 

REGINA: (Points to the three sculpture fragments on her desk). We are dealing with three beautiful facts for which I will provide a well-documented explanation.

 

REX A verbal fig leaf…

 

REGINA You don’t have to become offensive.

 

REX (Sarcastic) I defer to your sensitivity. How about “a charming hypothesis, whose authenticity I regretfully must question.”

 

REGINA I see! And it’s chemistry, I suppose, that makes you so—

 

REX Cocksure? Actually… chemical analysis wouldn’t have helped much… even if you’d considered stooping that low. (Picks up torso fragment, pretending to examine it carefully, notably the penis). Not this time. But artistic judgment… careful, visual inspection… attention to subtle, aesthetic details—

 

REGINA Stop spouting art speak… it sounds affected coming from you.

 

REX It is affected…regardless of its source. But you accused me of being cocksure.

 

REGINA It was not an accusation.

 

REX A compliment?

 

REGINA (Mimics his affected tone) Just careful, visual inspection… attention to subtle, unaesthetic details…

 

REX But let’s pursue cocksureness or cockassurance or whatever the noun is. Let me start with… (slowly and forcefully) the phallic angle.

 

REGINA The what?

 

REX May I show you some images?

 

REGINA Be my guest.

 

(Regina turns on the light box, as Rex takes 4 slides out of his pocket)

 

REX Here is your precious young man… Look at it carefully. You agree that’s him, don’t you?

 

REGINA: Of course.

 

REX: Good Here is a close up of the groin.

 

(Close up of penis region to just above the pubic hair)

 

REGINA (Impatient) What’s your point?

 

REX Here.

 

(Rex hands Regina third slide, which shows the torso fragment, but otherwise exactly the same view as the close up from the intact sculpture)

 

REGINA (Shocked) How did you get that picture?

 

REX Why do you ask? Because it seems to be this torso? (Points to item on her desk).

 

REGINA Because it is that torso!

 

REX Are you sure?

 

(REGINA, though clearly suspicious, picks it up, goes closer to the light box and compares the two).

 

REGINA Yes!

 

REX Next picture. A close up of the groin of that torso. (Rex hands Regina 4th Slide). Well? Still sure?

 

(Regina, now very suspicious, says nothing).

 

REX One more image, removing, I hope, any fallacious conclusion.

 

(Rex puts 3rd & 4th slide back to back and hands them to Regina. The slight alteration in the angle of the penis in the original statue compared to that of the torso is now quite obvious)

 

REGINA My God!

 

REX Ah. You noticed?

 

REGINA The angles are different.

 

REX About 7.5 degrees to the Southwest…compared to the penis of your museum specimen.  Not much… but too much a discrepancy to have come from the same cast.

 

REGINA How did you come to know that?

 

REX Guess.

 


Scene 25  A few days later.  Regina’s office.

 

OTTO  Finally I thought you’d never come back!

 

EMMA Well, is he coming?

 

OTTO He said he would.

 

EMMA It’s ten past three.

 

OTTO It’s good to see you again. How was Spain?

 

EMMA  How could you?  

 

OTTO It wasn’t my idea.

 

EMMA You had nothing to do with it?

 

OTTO I helped… but only because Rex insisted.

 

EMMA I bet it didn’t take much persuasion. Well? Is he coming or not?

 

OTTO Where’s your director?

 

EMMA: I didn’t say she’d be here.

 

REX enters.

 

EMMA Professor Stolzfuss… please (points to chair).

 

REX Where’s your boss?

 

EMMA Indisposed.

 

REX As well she might be. But in that case, why waste my time?

 

EMMA I need to say something to both of you… as assistant curator of the Renaissance Department of our museum.

 

REX I am not accustomed to dealing with surrogates…

 

EMMA Is that what you take me for? Just a surrogate?

 

REX I was being polite. I could’ve said “stooge.”

 

OTTO (Pleading): Please!

 

REX (Sharply) Please what?

 

OTTO Give her a chance.

 

EMMA (Ironic):A prick of conscience, Otto?

 

REX You leave Otto out of this!

 

EMMA (Sarcastic) My apologies. I hadn’t realized you were solely responsible for this juvenile prank. Why did you have to rub it in when Dr. Leitner-Opfermann was so vulnerable? When she was so sure she was on the right track after all those years?

 

REX I did her a favor.

 

EMMA (Outraged) A favor?

 

REX So she wouldn’t make a fool of herself with the Museum director or potential donors.

 

EMMA Haven’t you got the sequence of events out of order? If there had been no fake, there would be no sponsors.

 

REX (Backtracking) I also wanted to teach her a lesson… that she can’t refuse to listen to scientific facts because of some art historical obsession.

 

EMMA You might have done it more elegantly.

 

REX You mean I should have changed the angle by only 2 degrees? Admittedly, elegance is a subjective notion… but I thought 7.5 degrees was elegant enough. Besides, I thought it was amusing.

 

EMMA It was puerile.

 

REX What is your point?

 

EMMA What about this? (Points to torso).

 

REX It’s not in our paper.

 

EMMA Of course not. It’s a fake. But Director Leitner-Opfermann posits—

 

REX Exactly! “Posits!” That’s her problem. Positing rather than proving! Speculating rather than testing!

 

EMMA Suppose I present you with some facts?

 

REX What facts?

 

EMMA (Picks up some papers and shoves them in Rex’s direction). Copies of some documents I found in Belgium… in Namur, where Don Juan died in 1578.

 

REX Which Don Juan is this?

 

EMMA Since this text isn’t easy to decipher, let me summarize it for you. Don Juan of Austria was the illegitimate half-brother of King Philip II of Spain. Don Juan asked his half-brother Philip as a favor to give him the original of our sculpture. The King obliged but before sending it to Spain, the Austrians made a cast… the one that eventually ended up in our museum… without telling anyone about it. It’s all there.

 

REX (Sarcastically) Thank you for your pithy summary. But why would Don Juan have asked for that sculpture?

 

EMMA There’s a reference here about pairing it with a Roman sculpture of Venus.

 

REX And where are those sculptures?

 

EMMA: They were in the Royal Gardens of Aranjuez until about 1808 when they were hidden from marauding French troops.

 

REX And now?

 

EMMA The Venus is now in the Prado in Madrid.

 

OTTO And the young man?

 

EMMA Lost.

 

REX That’s all?

 

EMMA It’s enough to indicate what happened to that original 1502 bronze. And since we don’t claim anymore that ours is that original one, what’s there left for you to publish?

 

REX Weren’t we the first to show that it is only a 16th century cast?

 

EMMA Granted. And we’ll happily and fulsomely acknowledge that fact in a footnote to our paper describing how the Austrian original of 1502 ended up in Spain in a roundabout way.

   

REX (Beat) How about us putting your Spanish hypothesis in a footnote to our paper?

 

EMMA (Grinning) As you said, I’m only a stooge. Whose footnote goes where will have to be settled between the principals. But if it all gets reduced to footnotes, I’d call that poetic justice.

 

REX If (assumes sarcastic tone) your Frau Director has anything further to say to me, she knows where she can find me.

 

(He exits)

 

OTTO I’m so sorry.

 

EMMA So am I.

 

OTTO Can you forgive me?

 

EMMA Otto! Your Rex would never have thought of that joke, had he not known the reason why I went to Spain. What about the stunt with the Spanish dinosaur collector?

 

OTTO You have to admit, some of it actually must have been funny.

 

EMMA It was you, wasn’t it?

 

OTTO What if I say yes?

 

EMMA Would you have told me if I hadn’t asked?


OTTO No…I didn’t know how you’d take it.

 

EMMA Why did you do it?

 

OTTO Rex was very persuasive and it all seemed so funny at the time.

 

EMMA Have you any idea how humiliated she felt?

 

OTTO I can imagine.

 

EMMA I doubt it.

 

OTTO All right. I admit I was wrong. Will you forgive me?

  

EMMA It won’t work. I don’t trust you, Otto. Not anymore.

 


Scene 26  A couple of weeks later. Rex’s office.

 

REX What is this? A diplomatic mission or slumming among chemists?

 

REGINA At times even “slumming” requires diplomacy.

 

REX I can hardly wait, considering the total absence of diplomacy in all of our earlier meetings.

 

REGINA On both sides.

 

REX Yes… both. So what brings you here?

 

REGINA How about a peace treaty?

 

REX Usually, treaties only start after a cease fire.

 

REGINA My colleague… Emma Finger… told me about her meeting with you.

 

REX Why weren’t you there?

 

REGINA I didn’t known about the meeting.

 

REX: Well… well. So we’ve both been kept in the dark by our underlings. Otto never told me that he had something going with your Finger.

 

REGINA Emma is not my underling… But I won’t contradict you about your Dr. Ellenbogen, who also seems to have been some sort of double agent.

 

REX (Sharply) That’s not fair. He’s a first-class chemist.

 

REGINA First-class chemistry and crookedness by some of its practitioners are not necessarily incompatible.

 

REX If you consider that a diplomatic overture to a cease-fire—

 

REGINA Let’s get the issue on the table. The Spanish fakes were grossly unfair.

 

REX Perhaps. But Otto’s trace metal analysis wasn’t crooked. The thermoluminescence wasn’t crooked….

 

REGINA And the angle of the penis?

 

REX That wasn’t chemistry… it was closer to art.

 

REGINA Not crooked?

 

REX Why crooked? I told you about it in private… though perhaps not too diplomatically. But then you had royally pissed me off.

 

REGINA But remember the way you marched in… the scientist as the ultimate arbiter of our beliefs… not unlike the Church’s papal bulls in the 16th century.

 

REX What I had really come to discuss…but you wouldn’t let me was whether we had another Michelangelo sham on our hands.

 

REGINA (Triumphantly) I knew it!

 

REX Knew what?

 

REGINA: That you’d bring up the Michelangelo story.

 

REX Well, it’s a famous, not to say notorious fact that Michelangelo buried a marble Cupid in a garden… to age it artificially and then sell it a few months later as an antique. That isn’t fiction.

 

REGINA: But it’s beside the point. His object was money. He even did it a second time… with the head of a Satyr… breaking off one of his teeth to make it look older. But with our Don Juan discovery, we don’t have a Michelangelo sham. Money did not change hands.

 

REX Then why is there no reference to Don Juan in your book?

 

REGINA Let me confess. I’m a serial procrastinator. I couldn’t prove that the original had been shipped to Spain and I didn’t take the time to look for the alleged recipient. I kept postponing the search. But now at last my Emma has found the evidence.

 

REX So we both agree your sculpture is not the Roman original?

 

REGINA Grudgingly.

 

REX One question… a peaceful one: now that we are settled on the chronological reattribution, what does that mean for the value of your sculpture?

 

REGINA Which value? Visually aesthetic? Crass financial? Art historical?

 

REX I suppose all three.

 

REGINA The visually aesthetic value is not altered.

 

REX Financial then. I’d say the Greek Ur-original would be the most valuable, the Roman copies less so and a mechanical bronze cast…like yours… the least.

 

REGINA Let the art dealers worry about that. After all we didn’t buy ours. A Habsburg Emperor donated that cast to our museum and it isn’t for sale now. But to a museum, publicity means capital. And the publics’ attention to our bronze will only increase with its more complicated provenance. In other words, more people will come to see it.

 

REX And thus making your cast more valuable (he laughs). I think I’m hearing you busily making a silk purse from a sow’s ear.

 

REGINA (Laughs) Our 16th century cast tells us precisely what the Roman original looked like. As such, the public should be satisfied.

 

REX But isn’t your collection presented chronologically?

 

REGINA The traditionalist in me insists on that.

  

REX But now you have a 16th Century sculpture among early Roman works of art... it’s lost it parking permit, you’ve got to move it.

 

REGINA: Out of the question!

 

REX In spite of what you just said?

 

REGINA I’m the director of the Antiquities Department… Not of the entire museum. I cannot let go of him. It’s like a Catholic marriage. Divorce is not an option.

 

REX Didn’t you get divorced.

 

REGINA My marriage was annulled.

 

REX So why not annul the sculpture?

 

REGINA You can annul a marriage if it’s fraudulent. But we aren’t dealing with a fraud… we’re dealing with a fabulous work of art that just happens to be younger.

 

REX (Grinning) So you’re tearing up the parking ticket we issued?

 

REGINA (Laughs) It’s a valid ticket all right. I’m just ignoring it.

 

REX A scofflaw in a museum?

 

REGINA Which brings me to the reason for my peace overture. Why not publish our results jointly…our Spanish findings and your chemistry.

 

REX Really?

 

REGINA Really.

 

REX Quite an offer! (Beat). Why not? I can just see what people will say when they read a paper by Rex Stolzfuss and Regina Leitner-Opfermann. It sounds quite magisterial: "Rex and Regina."

 

REGINA No Opfermann. Just Leitner.

 

REX Even shorter. Stolzfuss and Leitner.

 

REGINA I was thinking of Leitner and Stolzfuss. Alphabetical order.

 

REX Since my name starts with an S, I’ve never believed in alphabetical order.

 

REGINA In that case, forget about alphabetical precedence. Call it chivalry.

 

REX That word does not exist in chemistry. My name has always come first on every paper I ever published.

 

REGINA And mine has never appeared second. (Beat) Ah well, our rapprochement seemed promising while it lasted.  All of four minutes… going on five.  It’s time I got back to the museum, Emma is waiting for me.

 


Scene 27  Later that day. Regina’s office and Rex’s office, split scene.

 

EMMA You went to his office? Why?

 

REGINA Trying to clear up some unfinished business.

 

EMMA And?

 

REGINA I suppose we did… as far as he and I were willing to go. 450 years ago Vasari explained why Cardinal San Giorgio was fooled by Michelangelo’s Cupid and Satyr stunt. He said “It is vanity when people go after a name rather than the facts but such a person has been found in every era.” (Wry grin). “A person, who takes more account of appearance than essence.” (Beat, then wry smile). Vasari had me down pat.

 

EMMA Don’t be too hard on yourself, Frau Director.

 

REGINA (Regina smiles at Emma) Call me Regina…. (Regina picks up the Don Juan documents). And I suppose I should go to Belgium and examine the original.

 

EMMA I’d advise against it.

 

REGINA You would. Why?

 

EMMA Well… I don’t think you’d be any happier if you saw the original. There are some problems with dating the document. Not a fake, but…

 

REGINA I see. So what would you suggest I do?

 

EMMA If I were you—

 

REGINA Yes?

 

EMMA Given that I’ve just had my fingers burned —

 

REGINA Yes?

 

EMMA And given that these selfsame documents have just saved my reputation…

 

REGINA Go on….

 

EMMA I would not myself pursue the validity of the documents.

 

REGINA No. No… of course not. That would be overkill.

 

EMMA I would consider that my obsession had caused me enough trouble as it is and I would just…

 

REGINA Forget it?

 

EMMA (Nods): I would. And then just revise my book a bit… especially the index.

 

REGINA Have an entry under “Nickel”?

 

EMMA And perhaps even under “penis.”

 

REGINA (Quick and firm): Not penis. Definitely not. (Beat). And what would you do with this? (Pointing to the documents)

 

EMMA I’d… throw it in the bin.

 

REGINA Good idea. Why not?

 

(Rex picks up the phone and starts dialling).

 

How about dinner?

 

EMMA: Thank you. I’d love to!

 

(The phone rings. Regina picks it up)

 

REGINA Regina Leitner.

 

REX (On phone) Rex Stolzfuss.

 

REGINA Yes?

 

REX I’ve had an idea….

 

REGINA Yes?

 

REX Drink?

 

REGINA Coffee!

 

REX Dinner?

 

REGINA Lunch! (She smiles)

 

BLACKOUT.

 

END OF PLAY