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                                                               YIDDISH THEATRE 101 > THE YIDDISH PLAYS > THE PLAY IN HISTORY  >  THE VERDICT

 

"The Verdict"

(Der urteyl)

 

THE VERDICT

A play in 3 acts and 8 scenes
By Sophia Levitina
Translated by Z. Fishberg
Staged by Joseph Buloff
Settings by A. Chertoff
Music by Leo Koutzen

CAST OF CHARACTERS
(in order of their appearance)

 
 

Tanya

 

Luba Kadison

 

Yefim Martinov

 

Joseph Buloff

 

Parafianov, Bolshevist Commissar

 

Isidore Hollander

 

Olga, an agent of the Cheka

 

Hannah Hollander

 

Aphanasia

 

Leah Naomi

 

Sergei Petrovich

 

Judah Bleich

 

Boris, a lieutenant on the White Staff

 

Michael Gibson

 

Anna Alekseyevna, a declassed gentlewoman

 

Helen Appel

 

Molotov, a Red Army officer

 

Chaim Schneuer

 

A Red Sailor

 

Wolf Mercur

 

Red Soldier

 

Harold Miller

 

Nina Zaretzka, daughter of a declassed aristocrat

 

Helen Blay

 

Bravarsky, Secretary of the White Staff

 

Jacob Mestel

 

Nikolai

 

Ben Basenko

 

Bell, Colonel of the White Staff

 

Leib Kadison

 

General Sukhov, Commander of the White Staff

 

Louis Weisberg

 

Glib

 

Joseph Margolis

 

Peasant

 

Morris Bilawsky

 

Orcoshka, A Red Soldier

 

Reuben Wendorf

 

Nikita, A Soldier of the Red Army

 

Wolf Barzell

  Masha   Zelda Gould
 

Maid

 

Leah Wendorf

   
The action takes place in Dragunsk during the Russian Civil War.
    Peasants, Red Soldiers, White Soldiers; Jacob Temni, Pincus Trachtenberg and Harry Lazarus.


SYNOPSIS (prepared by Maximilian Hurwitz)

Introductory Note. -- The present play portrays the civil war in Russia following the Bolshevik Revolution of October 1917. It brings into vivid contrast the old Russia and the new -- the one romantic, irresolute, indolent, helpless; the other matter-of-fact, determined, active, resourceful. Typical of the old and the new, respectively, are the leading characters of the drama. Tanya, the daughter of a former land owner, and the Communist commissar Yefim, her husband. By the swift and tragic end of their union, the playwright -- a Soviet authoress little known in America -- implies that between the two Russias there could be no peace and no understanding even on the emotional plane, and that the destruction of the old by the new was inevitable. Implied also is the familiar Communist doctrine that an individual's character and behavior are determined mainly by his class ties. Thus Tanya, although deeply in love with Yefim, in the end becomes his mortal enemy because she comes from the deposed gentry and he of the victorious proletariat.

ACT ONE
(Sergei Kazhurin's residence)

Scene 1. (Room of the commissar Martinov)
Tanya, daughter of the former country squire, Sergei Petrovitch Kazhurin, has married the commissar Yefim Martinov, whom she first met when he came to requisition rooms in her father's house for himself and his comrades, including the girl Olga, who is an agent of the Cheka. Although Tanya and her husband love each other dearly, she finds her honeymoon rather boring, because Yefim is too much engrossed in his work to show her those little attentions and tokens of affection which a lady of quality expects. This leads to mutual reproaches, which serve to bring out their different natures, interests, and outlooks on life. Parafianov, a fellow commissar, comes to bid Yefim goodbye before leaving for the front. After Parafianov is one, Yefim expresses regret that, owing to this marriage, he cannot go to the front too. This starts a fresh quarrel between him and Tanya, but as usual they kiss and make up. When Olga enters, Tanya demonstratively leaves the room, for she fears and mistrusts the girl Chekist, being unable to conceive of a close associaiton between a man and woman which has no sexual motive. Olga tells Yefim she has unearthed a band of counter-revolutionary conspirators, and invites him to drive with her to Communist headquarters for further details of the plot. He agrees, and she goes out to wait for him the automobile. He calls in Tanya and quarrels with her over her attitude toward Olga. He then tells her that he must go to headquarters, whereupon she complains at the prospect of another night of loneliness and neglect.

Scene 2. (Room of Kazhurin. The Same Evening.)
While this is going on in Yefim's room, Boris, a former suitor of Tanya and now a spy, visits her parents in the guise of a peasant. He brings them a letter from their son Nikolai ("Kolia" for short), who is likewise a White lieutenant attached to Gen. Sukhov's headquarters, he also delivers to them counter-revolutionary proclamations calling on the populace to rise against the Soviets. After Boris' departure, Sergei asks Taya where Yefim went at that late hour. She tells him where, but is unable to tell him why Yefim went there. The father takes her task for failing to spy on her husband, since that was the main reason why he consented to her marrying Yefim. Tanya hotly replies that she will never engage in spying and, although no Bolshevik, she will always be loyal to her husband. Their quarrel is terminated by the arrival of Anna Alexeyevna, a declassed gentlewoman, who informs them about the arrest of a neighbor by the Cheka, and warns them to be on their guard. She leaves, but before Tanya's parents can dispose of a trunk containing incriminating evidence, the Soviet authorities, including Olga and Yefim, raid the house and search the premises. The trunk is discovered in Tanya and Yefim's room, and is found to contain weapons and counter-revolutionary literature. In an effort to save her parents, Tanya, who knew nothing about their conspiratory activities or the trunk's contents, asserts that the trunk and all it contains belong to her. She is shocked and indignant when Yefim agees that she as well as her parents be taken to Checa headquarters.

Scene 3. (The same room a couple of weeks later)
Three weeks later. Tanya's parents have been found guilty and executed, while she herself has been acquitted. She has refused to be reconciled with Yefim, or to accept any aid from him. And now, having sold such valuables as she still possessed, she is preparing to go to her brother at Gen. Sukhov's headquarters, and eventually to an aunt in Paris. After parting with two of her closest friends, she receives an unexpected visit from Olga. The latter says she is going to the front, where Yefim is, and asks Tanya if she would like to send a message to her husband. "Tell him that I wish him happiness with his new paramour," is her reply.

ACT TWO
 

Scene 1. (Main quarter of the staff of the White Army.)
At Gen. Sukhov's headquarters, some time later. Olga, in disguise, and having changed her name and bribed Lieut. Bravarsky, chief secretary of Gen. Sukhov's staff, is now working as a typist at the enemy's headquarters, with the result that there is a steady leak of White military information to the Reds, who surround and cut down every force sent against them. To ingratiated herself further, she carries on a mild flirtation with Staff Lieutenant Kolia, brother of Tanya. Presently Tanya arrives and is introduced by Kolia to his colleagues, including Olga, now known as Ekaterina. Tanya is under the impression she has seen Ekaterina before, but the latter assures her that she is only imagining.

Scene 2. (A corner of a hall, and two days later.)
A dance at Gen. Sukhov's headquarters two days later. Boris dances with Tanya and behaves rather goatishly. She upbraids him for his rudeness; they quarrel and part in anger. She begs Kolia to send her away from headquarters, but he has other plans for her. He tells her that he and Gen. Sukhov consider her coming providential, since the commander of the Soviet division facing Gen. Sukhov's troops is none other than her husband, Yefim. Accordingly, the general and he have decided to send her across the front to Yefkim's headquarters, where Kolia will escort her in disguise. There she is to abstract important military documents which will enable Kolia and his confederates to blow up bridges and ammunition dumps and then to destroy the Red Army. She is reluctant at first, reminding her brother that she once loved Yefim -- a hint that she still does; but he insists that she must do it as an act of patriotism, and in order to avenge the death of their parents. She still hesitates, but agrees to undertake the perilous mission when later the genral himself urges her to do it. Meanwhile her suspicion that the girl typist is none other than Olga has become a certainty, and she implores her brother, as she has repeatedly done during the last two days, to arrest her; but he ridicules her fears, as does the nervy spy herself when confronted with Tanya. Olga, however, realizes that the game is up and makes preparations for her escape. When afterwards word comes that another White force, dispatched on secret orders only the day before, has been annihilated by the Reds, and it becomes clear that there is a leak in confidential quarters, an order is issued for Olga's arrest. Ironically, it is Lieut. Bavarsky who is sent to arrest her. It soon turns out that both have fled.

ACT THREE
(The Campaign of the Red Army)

Scene 1. (On the post.)
At Red Army headquarters shortly afterwards. Tanya is captured by soldiers in the woods nearby and taken to be questioned. She is recognized by Parafianov who in turn takes her to Commander Yefim Martinov, her husband.

Scene 2. (In a farmer's house.)
Kolia, disguised as a peddler, comes to Tanya, ostensibly to sell her his wares. Tanya hands him a forged military permit for peddling in the vicinity of army headquarters, which is contrary to regulations. She begs him to take her away, as she hears that Olga is coming; but he asks to be patient for another two days. He tells her that Boris is also in the neighborhood. Nikita Bandarchik, the alert Red Army sentry, halts Kolia and examines his merit, which however seems to be in proper form. Yefim comes home, and soon Tanya falls to nagging him; for, being the old type of Russian intellectual with a soul divided against itself, she cannot even act her part properly. Parafianov enters and at a sign from him, Yefim sends her out of the room on some pretext. Parafianov begs his comrade to send away his wife, whose presence is arousing suspicion in the army, as it is known she comes from a counter-revolutionary family. Yefim weakly defends Tanya. Olg arrives and, having learned of Tanya's presence at divisional headquarters, reiterates her suspicion of Yefim's wife. Yefim attributes this to feminine jealousy on Olga's part, but Olga, who typifies the new Russian woman, is free from all romantic nonsense. Presently Tanya returns. At the sight of Olga she is filled with terror, completely loses her head, and almost betrays herself. Her consternation knows no bounds when, presently, Kolia is brought in as a prisoner, charged with having dynamited a bridge. it is she herself who tells Yefim that the prisoner is her brother, and offers a lame explanation of his presence hereabouts. After Kolia is subjected to severe questioning by Olga, Tanya, unable to restrain herself, shoots her mortal enemy Olga. Nikita, attracted by the shot, rushes in. Whereupon Yefim orders Tanya's arrest as a White spy.

Scene 3. (On the post.)
Tanya has been found guilty and sentenced to death. Yefim comes to see her in jail shortly before the execution is to take place. She implores him to save her, reminding him of their love; but Yefim is adamant. In order to quiet her, he gives her paper and a pencil and suggests that she draw up a petition for clemency. As she is absorbed in the act of writing, he shoots and kills her, thus himself carrying out the verdict.


 



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