Saturday, 16 May 2009

Susanne Ringell - So Long, Marianne



I borrowed a typewriter from Susanne Ringell and her then boyfriend thirty years ago. So I thought I'd pay her back by saying a little about her and reproducing here the first scene of a radio play of hers, broadcast on Radio Vega last November-December and printed in the latest edition of Kontur, the literary insert in Ny Tid.

Ringell has also published poetry, including the recent book of prose-poetry Ryggens måne, Söderströms, 2009.

The play is gently absurdist, something that David touched on in his mention of her in the Swedish Book Review.

So, without further ado, here is my draft translation of Scene 1:


SO LONG, MARIANNE


by Susanne Ringell


A radio play


CAST


MARIANNE I - 17-year-old girl
MARIANNE II - in her 50s, played by a man

Anne - an older woman, over 70

Harold - in his forties, dad, played in English
Kim - Marianne’s American sister, played in English

A waitress
A girl’s choir
A chorus, in English


Set in the 1970s and the present day.
There is music.


SCENE 1

Rain. Music. (Zarah Leander: I’m standing here in the rain and waiting for you, only for you...) Rain. Music. (From the same song: I heard a clock strike, all too many strokes...) Footsteps pacing, another cigarette is lit, an umbrella that is put up by someone else. Two pairs of footsteps that walk round one another, the women’s footsteps impatient, nervous, the man’s calmer. Rain.


MARIANNE II
Are you...

MARIANNE I
No.

MARIANNE II
I think you are, you know.

MARIANNE I
Absolutely not, no, absolutely not.
(pause)How could I be?

MARIANNE II
I knew all the time it was you.

MARIANNE I
But I was meant to meet myself grown older.

MARIANNE II
Yes.

MARIANNE I
But... you’re a man!

MARIANNE II
Yes, That too. I’m also a man.

(pause)

MARIANNE I
Have you...?

MARIANNE II
No, absolutely no way! I’d never think of doing so.
(pause)
It was more something inside me, a broadening out, a new orientation. Perhaps it’s only an optical illusion. Don’t worry about it.
(pause)
You freezing?
I knew it was you all the time.
(pause)
That it was me.

MARIANNE I
Yes, you’ve got the better of me.

MARIANNE II
Not really.

MARIANNE I
You’re holding all the cards! I’m just an unshuffled pack, an almost unshuffled pack.

MARIANNE II
No, you aren’t.

MARIANNE I
No, I suppose I’m not.

MARIANNE II
Haven’t you in fact been shuffled away? Pretty well shuffled away?

MARIANNE I
When I arrived there, I was almost new. I was almost a new pack, I had played mostly with low cards.
(pause)
She broke my seal.
(pause)
It started out as a game. I thought it was a game, I thought I was in control.

MARIANNE II
I know.

MARIANNE I
But she ran away, everything ran away, everything became chaotic. She was no game. She was deadly serious. She was my first seriousness, and it crushed me, I became frightened. I became cruel.

MARIANNE II
You became unhappy. You were 17.

MARIANNE I
I am 17.
(pause)
Do you like me?

MARIANNE II
Hard to tell.
MARIANNE I
Tell me, honestly. I can put up with it.

MARIANNE II
No, you can’t. That’s just it. You think you can put up with anything, that you ought to put up with things and manage, that that’s what life and adulthood are all about.

MARIANNE I
But you do like me?

GIRLS’ CHOIR
Do you like me? Do you like me?
(pause)

MARIANNE II
You have my sympathy.
(pause)
Shall we share an umbrella? We can’t stay out here in the rain.

MARIANNE I
Why not?

MARIANNE II
Because you get wet.


The play centres around a young girl who visits a family in America. The play continues in a multi-voiced way, with several versions of Marianne, at various ages and during various decades, overlapping in their commentary of events.

I shall post the remaining scenes, one by one, assuming I get copyright permission from the author to do so.


Translated from Swedish by Eric Dickens

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