Part One

This part is a collage of impressions and memories Emilija has as she gets into the cattle car

It’s all wrong. Did you notice? There are no dignitaries sitting under the Venetian chandelier. Antons is not in his office. Somebody moved the Steinway. Do you have an invitation? Do you know who I am? You know. Then why don’t you greet me?

She runs to the row of chairs and says: Is this the women’s car? (meaning the women’s section in the train. Witnesses saw EB running along the platform, saying she’d been put in a men-only wagon by mistake)

She lies in the train in her underwear. (witness said it was very hot and she stripped down to her underwear). She discovers she has lost her brooch (Brosche) – given to her by the Swedish ambassador.

She meets a Russian soldier and asks him to tell Commissar Lacis that is all a mistake.

She plays cards. [witnesses say she played bridge sitting on tree stumps on her way to Siberia] While playing cards, she relates the family biography – how she was born in poverty. I’m not going to live like that.

With the help of a member of the audience, she builds a lectern and gives a lecture in Jurmala to a select audience on Tips for Modern Living. Diet and Fashion are very important. Also Lingerie.

Lingerie is very important if you are playing strip poker, especially if you do so with 2 policeman and then your husband – Elks – comes home. It’s a very useful way to get a divorce.

Modern people are looking for love. Perhaps you are a divorcee. A bookkeeper who meets a married man in the office every day and goes for rendezvous in the park. He has 4 children. You decide you must break up with him. You need to wear the right hat for this occasion.

A scene in the park with Antons. EB says she is going to leave him. She has brought him a copy of his play – In the Fog. Not bad. Modern women love idealists who dream of becoming millionaires. Antons says you’re leaving me because you don’t love me. EB says – no – I need clarity that’s all. She walks out on him, but in the last minute says Mr. Benjamins, you dropped your glove.

If a man drops his glove, it’s a sign he wants a serious relationship! Working together will strengthen your bonds. I highly recommend founding a newspaper.

The next section is a collage of information about Jaunakas Zinas, their newspaper – ads and jokes. I got all the advertisements myself.

WWI begins. Ads looking for lost family members are for free. Modern people bear up to changes with patience. If your sister Annija has disappeared, stay calm. Perhaps she is a prisoner in the Soviet Union, because she married an Austrian citizen. Perhaps she will bear her first child. You will be able to adopt Juritis later. It’s a good idea to disappear – to survive.

Latvia becomes independent and EB is jubilant. In 1922 she marries – she is Benjamina!

Suddenly she is back in the cattle car. She asks a little girl to go to the man they can see on the platform – the medium Finks – and to tell him theres a lady that would like to speak to him. Then she discovers that she has lost her brooch.

Can anybody tell me -- !!

The correct way to wear gloves?

Tips on wearing gloves. In the opera – only white. She greets many presidents. Then she applauds the Leader (dictator). Then she speaks to Lacis secretary. I can wait forever. I’ll come to his office every day wearing the same hat. Tell him Benjamina wants nothing. Just a spot in the country where I can write the history of Latvian journalism. I don’t want it to be lost.

She’s lost her brooch again. She exits.

Part two

...takes place in 1930 at the opening of the house on Kr. Barons street, in the dining room between the two stained glass windows. One of them is covered – it is Antons big surprise for Emilija. When she finally sees it, she is very shocked!

The story is told in a series of vignettes.

1. EB and her servants. EB arrives angry – It’s all wrong. The Minister came with a bouquet of roses and no one was there to take them. They’re wilting in the vestibule.
She will hold the servants responsible if the evening is not a success.

2. EB and the kiosk ladies – the sellers of newspapers. EB wants to know whether they’ve had a good look at the house. Have they read the novel Antons gave them – is it any good? No? Then we won’t publish it. The covered window is Antons big secret. But EB can guess what it is – if Bearslayer is on one side, then it has to be Spidola (a legendary heroine, Bearslayer’s partner) on the other side. Just like if Romeo was on one side, you’d have Juliet on the other; or if Antons was on one side, Emilija would be on the other – but that would be tasteless.

3. EB and the photographer. I’m not ready! she says, but then gives in. She talks about how she and Antons helped raise money to produce the play Fire and Night (in which Bearslayer and Spidola are the main characters).

4. EB and her sisters. EB gets mad at her sisters because they are not wearing their folk costumes and Antons asked them all to be in folk costumes. EB has a tantrum and threatens not to attend the party. She’s guessed what Antons’ big surprise is, anyway. It’s --- and she peeks.

EB is in shock. Annija, you look alright. But the fat lady with the double chin – that’s me. Minna – you’re kneeling there, probably crying. And who’s the fourth one? Antons first wife?

5. The guests arrive and EB presides over the official unveiling of the stained glass window. She thanks Antons for his very special present. Then she reminds her guests that only 15 years ago, Latvia consisted of 50 square metres on a ship. That it is their generation that has created the independent state. And that their work has only begun. That everyone should be involved in philanthropy. This is the modern way we live in, in 1930 – is something burning? Rolman (her secretary) did you check out the new electric stoves before they – and EB exits, scolding the servants.

Intermission

During the intermission filmed interviews are shown on the television.
An interview with Inta Praulina, who was deported at age 14 and lay next to EB in the cattle car.
Readings from the diary of Marija (not sure of the name) Ozola, who was related by marriage to the Benjamina, and who was also deported, and saw EB die and helped bury her. The interviewees talk about Finks the medium and relate how EB’s coffin was full of dry leaves, etc.

Part Three

It is 1935, and you are a guest of EB’s soiree. This part is a seamless concoction meaning to reflect her during a moment where she is scattered and unsure. The general concept is that the guests are going to surprise Antons with a performance of his play In the Fog and that all present are going to participate in the rehearsal. By the end of the scene, EB is convinced the play should be presented at the Daile, in order to show Ulmanis that Benjamins still has a lot of clout.

EB enters flustered, and immediately drinks valerian drops. She has just been talking to Finks. Did Rolmanis hand out the scripts? His nerves are a mess too – ever since his brother was arrested a year ago.

She will use her copy of the script. Tony wrote it in the last century, when he was still with his first wife.

She jokes with Lacis, one of the guests.

The main hero or anti hero is Peter who is a drunk and nearly ruins his life.
Miss Zemitis will play the role of his wife Ieva.
She looks great tonight – comme il faut. It doesn’t matter if you don’t know what that means – it sounds good.

EB asks her servant Berta what Juritis is doing, and finds out that Finks is still in the house. She gets angry.

Back to the play. Peter wanders through life as if in a fog. His wife leaves him and runs to her parents. But life isn’t easy there either. Her father tries to prohibit reading the newspaper – he thinks reading makes you crazy. He was reading something called the Bloody Nights in Venice and couldn’t sleep afterwards.

EB says she would never publish something like that – it gives you insomnia.

But everybody has insomnia these days. Especially if someone like Finks – he couldn’t prophesy the coup d’ etat – but now he’s telling her she’s going to die of hunger and even asks her to pay for it – and next he’ ll tell all of Riga – and then Juritis will hear it!!!!

I can predict the future, too. Mediums wont be in fashion anymore. This prediction costs 100 lats. Thank you.

She recalls the day Ulmanis took power, one year ago. It was awful. Antons wanted to close down the paper, but she said – no – we managed to publish under Czarist censorship, we’ ll manage under Ulmanis.

Next she performs an extended excerpt from In the Fog. Peter is bankrupt and sets his own house on fire – he is tormented by his conscience and asks how he could get out of this terrible fog in his head.

EB says she has gooseflesh. Everyone should hear this. The play should be done at the Daile theatre and directed by the most famous director, Smilgis. It will be very successful. That will show Ulmanis not to take the Benjamini lightly.

Everyone feels so nervous these days. That’s why at all the spas dancing is very popular. For example, the Charleston.

If you dance the Charleston every day, you wont have those bad dreams modern people have.

For example, yesterday. I dreamt that it was the usual soiree. Except I didn’t know any of the guests. It’s all wrong. No one is wearing gloves. I asked – do you have an invitation? No one spoke. I said – do you know how I am? Silent as the grave There is a knock on the door. Juritis answers and there are two soldiers and they say [in Russian] Do you understand me? Im running down the stairs in my pink satin pyjamas and then I trip and suddenly one hundred mothers burst through the doors, yelling “My child is the most beautiful!”

Atputa has a beauty contest for children at the moment, and EB says she woke up and grabbed the magazine – wondering – who is the most beautiful? And then she wondered – what will happen to all these children? And thank goodness on the next page she found the latest novel by Lacis which put her nicely to sleep.

Herta will get the part of the mother – who is actually in charge of everything and thinks mainly about brutto and netto.

So now everyone knows what they are supposed to do in the play, which has a happy end.

I’m going to predict the future again. Latvians will come to their senses. Democracy will be restored. And even if it wont be restored – we will manage. As long as you have the right hat and the right gloves, you will manage. This prediction costs nothing. Yours, Emlija Benjamina.

The Swedish ambassador has sent a gift – a beautiful brooch!!!

EB has one final rehearsal – a song for Antons called Our Happiness.

(it is a quote from one of the very first numbers of Jaunakas Zinas in 1911)

A newspaper is like a bell
That wakes you up from slumber
So that your pale faces
Should shine with joy.

The end