Theme Of The Hero And The Traitor
Concept by Jorge Luis Borges
Adapted by Chris Hamann
Set: The set should consist of furniture and architecture that is slightly Outdated for Ryan’s time, and slightly anachronistic for Kilpatrick’s time. For example, Architecture from the late 1800’s and the turn of the century work well.
Clothing: Same as above, but with a little more variance. Military garb should be from World War I
Characters: The play can be made comfortably with 5 actors.
Borges/Javert/Conspirator 3: The writer, storyteller, narrator. Bookends the acts, and closes the play.
Fergus Kilpatrick: The focal point of the play. An honorable person, who makes a terrible mistake.
Ryan Kilpatrick/Conspirator 2: The great-grandson of Kilpatrick. He’s working on a biography of the famous leader.
James Nolan/Soldier: A playwright and one of the conspirators. He plans and orchestrates the murder of Kilpatrick.
Nigel/ Conspirator 1: a friend of Ryan’s. He acts as a sounding board for Ryan’s book.
The play begins with Borges standing under a spotlight, with the rest of the stage blacked out. Borges is an older man, distinguished looking, maybe resting on a cane. Borges is a showman, with a vague Spanish accent and a flourish to everything he does. It begins…
The stage must be set with a Clocktower in the background, and an old, crumbling town set. The set must suggest decay and unrest.
BORGES- Under the notorious influence of Chesterton (inventor and embellisher of elegant Mysteries) and the court counselor Leibniz (who invented the preestablished harmony), in my spare evenings I have conceived this plot- which I will perhaps commit to paper but which already somehow justifies me. It needs details, rectifications, tinkering- there are areas of the story that have never been revealed to me. Today, January 3, 1944, I see it in the following way:
The action takes place in an oppressed yet stubborn country- Poland, Ireland, the republic of Venice, some South American or Balkan State.
Or took place rather, for though the narrator is contemporary, the story told by him occurred in the mid or early nineteenth century- in 1824 (Lights up on the Clocktower), let us say, for convenience’s sake; in Ireland, let us also say. The Narrator is a man named Ryan,
(RYAN enters, crosses, and exits)
the great-grandson of the young, heroic, beautiful, murdered Fergus Kilpatrick
(KILPATRICK enters), whose grave was mysteriously violated, whose name gives luster to Browning’s and Hugo’s verses, and whose statue stands high upon a gray hilltop among red bogs.
Kilpatrick was a conspirator and a secret and glorious captain of conspirators. Like Moses, who from the land of Moab glimpsed yet could not reach the promised land, Kilpatrick perished on the eve of his victorious rebellion he had planned and dreamed of.
(KILPATRICK exits) The date of the first centenary of his death is approaching; the circumstances of the crime are enigmatic; Ryan, who is writing a biography of the hero, discovers that the enigma goes deeper than mere detective work can fathom… End Scene