5c 1924 ON THE ROAD TO PALESTINE
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Palestine 1925. Alma, Franz Werfel, the young pioneer Hulda, and the chauffeur Paul in a truck. Alma is having problems with her luggage.
ALMA (To Werfel:) So this is your Palestine!
WERFEL The same thing could have happened if we'd gone to your India..
ALMA From the moment we set foot in this Godamn country of yours it's been nothing but trouble!
WERFEL I don't know what's wrong with you, Alma? For me it's been one wonderful experience after another.
ALMA Oh yes! What an experience! What a wonderful experience that rotten trip on that shabby train from Cairo to El Arish. And what a wonderful experience it was that ice-cold storm at midnight in the dark stinking railway station in El Kantara. And that wonderfully endless waltz of passport-and-custom-control! And then that wonderfully ridiculous Russian Jew who was sent to help us!
WERFEL He was not ridiculous. He was very charming.
ALMA Oh yes! Very charming indeed! Until he found out I wasn't Jewish. Then he really turned on the charm, , that repulsive xenophobic chauvinist.
WERFEL His only fault was his sense of humour.
ALMA And what a sense of humour! Look, Mrs. Werfel, you don't have to worry. As long as you are with Mr. Werfel, for us you are Jewish too ! Hilarious!
WERFEL It's typical Jewish humour.
ALMA In my mind it's nothing but ugly, repulsive nationalism.
WERFEL Darling, I think you're getting a little carried away. The people here are going out of their way to give us a good time.
ALMA Who asked them? Who asked them to send down that tedious Seligmann who did nothing but bore us with stories about his silly family ---
WERFEL He was only trying to find out if we had any common relatives.
ALMA Why should you be any relation to him, hmm? It's ridiculous! What right's he got to poke his long nose into our genealogy?
WERFEL Into mine, my dear. Only into mine.
ALMA Remember I'm your wife now. It's my concern too. .
WERFEL You are looking at the fruits of Diaspora! These are dispersed People! Scattered all over the globe! Without hope! Without a country! They can't resist the temptation to retrace of their parents' path so they can put their ears to the earth and listen to the footsteps of catastrophe.
ALMA Ahh! How poetic! How very poetic! It's been quite a while since you've written any poetry at all, Franz. Congratulation!
WERFEL How can I write poetry, my love, with you reminding me from morning to night that I'm not yet a Thomas Mann!
ALMA Darling, it's the truth. The bitter truth: you aren't Thomas Mann, although you've got much more talent than he has. !
WERFEL I don't want to be a Thomas Mann! You understand?! I don't! All I want to be is Franz Werfel!
ALMA In that case you won't have to exert yourself. Just relax, eat and drink without restraint, and in no time at all you'll end up as Franz Werfel: fat, squashy and disgusting
WERFEL Look who's talking ! Piggy Twiggy!
ALMA Oi oi oi, what's the matter with you all of a sudden, Franzl? I've never seen you so vulgar and aggressive. I wonder why you're suddenly so bold and daring.
WERFEL Maybe It's being among my people, eh? Is that what you're trying to insinuate so delicately?
ALMA You seem to be enjoying it enormously, being among your People.
WERFEL I've never felt so close to myself! I want to learn Hebrew, keep silent for five years - and then write in Hebrew, a book born out of that silence.
ALMA Your mother tongue is German! A true writer cannot write a work of value in a foreign language.
WERFEL Hebrew is not a foreign language for me. Its music resonates inside me whenever I hear the children in this country speaking it.
ALMA Please - stay here! Learn Hebrew! Break your teeth on that strange and weird language! Yes! It's' Strange and weird ! But don't wax starry-eyed about its music. Your enthusiasm will dry up soon enough. Then will come the dreary days, days of mental desolation. Your soul will cry at night in German! I'm telling you the painful truth. .
WERFEL Alma! You see before you the greatest adventure of our century ! A new culture is being born right here in front of your eyes!
ALMA You're dreaming! A new culture
(She yells like a jackal) a new culture! Really! This place is so poor, so depressing-
WERFEL Instead of supporting me at this painful moment in my career as a writer you're demoralizing me.
A small explosion, a puff of smoke, the car comes to a stop.
ALMA What's the matter? What's going on?!
PAUL I'm afraid we're stuck.
ALMA Stuck? What the hell does that mean?
PAUL I'm sorry to say it - but our car is dead.
ALMA Dead? What do you mean dead?!
PAUL It means the engine is extinct, inanimate, no sign of life, in a word: dead! - Hulda, will you help me?
PAUL lifts the cover of the engine and starts to mess with the motor.
WERFEL You mean we can't go any further? (to Hulda:) That means we'll miss your group reunion and the political discussion?
HULDA No, why do you have to miss anything? We can leave the car here, and go on foot up the hill to the settlement. It's only a two hours walk.
WERFEL Very good! Let's go then!
ALMA Without me.
ALMA Without me!
WERFEL OK, anything you say. anything you say.
ALMA Go, go! You reckless egoist! I hope you get lost on the way and die!
HULDA I'm going with you. I'll show you the way.
WERFEL What's the matter with you?! Are you coming, Alma?
ALMA No, I am not coming! I'm staying here.
WERFEL Alma, please! You can't stay alone in the middle of nowhere!
ALMA I don't care! This car is the last vestige of civilisation in this godforsaken place, and I'm going to stick to it even if it costs me my life!
PAUL Don't worry, I'll stay with her. I'll try to fix the car . Maybe we'll get lucky.
WERFEL Alma, for the last time...
ALMA Go, go, go! Get lost! You selfish Judas! You brute!
WERFEL Very well. Anything you say. ! Anything you say ! Adieu! Adieu!!
Werfel and Hulda leave. Alma stays with Paul.