A Square of One's Own
A half-hour radio sitcom produced by Liz Anstee
LYTTON: Nor did we. No doubt each of us, rising daily to paint, write or theorise upon Charlattans sun-dappled lawns, yearned inwardly for the ascetic stone of Budsbury; but we bore Friendships burden stoically. None more than Clive, who entertained his exiled friend with inordinate diligence.
FX: BIRDSONG AND COUNTRY ATMOS (UNDER)
GRAMS: DRAUGHTSMANS CONTRACT THEME
FX: FOOTSTEPS ON GRAVEL
CLIVE: Believe me, Hans, when the history of civilisation is written I dont mean MY pamphlet now our circle will be seen to have played an epochal part.
HANS: Ja, ja.
CLIVE: Budsbury shall be to the twentieth century what Florence was to the Renaissance.
HANS: Ja, ja.
CLIVE: Avant garde in literature, art and philosophy. And, of course, personal behaviour.
HANS: Ja, ja.
CLIVE: Not for us prissy bourgeois conventions of so-called morality, timidity dressed up as principle.
HANS: Nein, that is no good. (YAWNS)
CLIVE: Tired, Hans?
HANS: Ja, ja, I am not so good sleeping.
CLIVE: Must be the air. Vanessa was dog tired this morning too. Not like me. Slept like a log.
HANS: Ja? You are not waking in the night at all?
HANS: That is good. Look at those two little hillocks.
CLIVE: What? Ah yes. Classical reference, see? No? Symbolise the Pillars of Hercules according to Vita.
HANS: Ja? I am thinking they are intended to represent a womans chests.
CLIVE: What? No, dont think so.
HANS: Ja, ja. And down there, the cave
CLIVE: Entrance to Hades. So Vita says.
HANS: Hades, ja, is perhaps one way of putting it.
CLIVE: Hans, what on ? Bohemianism is one thing, but we DO draw the line at filth.
HANS: Ja, ja. Is unconscious maybe. Vita is not knowing much about art but is knowing what she likes.
FX: CRUNCHING ON GRAVEL RECEDES
GRAMS: DRAUGHTSMANS CONTRACT (OUT)
END OF SCENE 7
LYTTON: Virginia too found inspiration in the air of Charlattan all, happily for Posterity, recorded on my phonograph.
FX: WINDING UP OF PHONOGRAPH
VIRGINIA: (CLEARS THROAT) Testing. The Journey In. Part Two
FX: KNOCK ON DOOR
VITA: (OFF) Virginia, are you there? Let me in .
VIRGINIA: Oh God.
FX: OPENS DOOR
VITA: I thought I heard you talking, Virginia. To a woman.
VIRGINIA: I was.
VIRGINIA: To my muse.
VITA: Oh darling Virginia, dont tease I thought you were avoiding me! That Id offended you! I thought oh, its too silly I thought it was my garden.
VITA: That you were jealous of it.
VITA: With your window facing it your constantly seeing such beauty comparing it to your present barren block as I said, the whole idea is absurd.
VIRGINIA: Its preposterous.
VITA: I HAVE offended you. I knew this would happen so many creative temperaments under one roof, some explosion was inevitable. Ive made you unhappy!
VIRGINIA: Dont be ridiculous.
VITA: But you ARE unhappy.
VIRGINIA: Of course I am. It is my destiny as an artist.
VITA: Not because of me? Thank God. Or do you WANT me to make you unhappier? Virginia, speak
VIRGINIA: How DOES one get this thing to go?
FX: WINDING UP PHONOGRAPH
VITA: I dont know. Oh Im worrying about my own feelings, and youve so many troubles of your own
FX: KNOCK ON DOOR. OPENED
HANS: Guten tag, I am coming to ask if you have any canvases I can be for paint using?
VITA: No, Hans. For we landscapists, the Earth is our
HANS: Ja, ja, this is good .
VITA: My curtains? Theyre not canvas, theyre cotton.
HANS: Ach, canvas, cotton, what matter? I am seeing your garden and I am inspired! Vita, think of Art!
VITA: Im thinking of Art, but that fabric cost twelve-and-sixpence a yard. From Selfridges. Go and see if theres anything in the maids room to paint on.
HANS: Very well. Virginia, is that phonograph trouble giving? Here, allow me. (SCORNFULLY) Women!
HANS: See, press this lever and .
VIRGINIA: (D) the Journey In. The contours, hills and valleys of consciousnessness, terra incognito of the soul
HANS: Maybe it is broken, is coming out nonsense
HANS: Here, try that.
VIRGINIA: (D) which every explorer must chart afresh and throw the charts away, and start again each day .
HANS: (CHUCKLING) They are telling me you are a writer, Virginia, but I am not knowing you are a satirist. Oh well, it works good now. Wiedersehn.
FX: DOOR CLOSES
END OF SCENE 8
LYTTON: Inevitably though, given their shared background as practitioners of the visual arts, it was Vanessa with whom Hans established the closest rapport.
GRAMS: DRAUGHTSMANS CONTRACT
FX: BIRDSONG (UNDER)
VANESSA: How does that look?
HANS: Schon. Is Vanessa of course is schon.
VANESSA: Oh Hans darling, you are sweet, SO poetical.
HANS: With such a muse, who would not be? If you would please to push out the left chest.
FX: FOOTSTEPS ON GRAVEL
CLIVE: Vanessa! What are you youve got no clothes on!
VANESSA: Hello, Clive darling. Im a muse
CLIVE: Hans! Youre naked too!
HANS: Ja, ja. I am at one with my subject becoming.
CLIVE: Extraordinary. Never used to paint in the nude when you were executing that series of abattoirs.
VANESSA: You do sound irritable, darling. What do you want, anyway?
CLIVE: My shirt, have you seen it? Nearly dinnertime and . What IS that hes painting on?
VANESSA: An artist needs a canvas as champagne needs a glass.
CLIVE: But ... its silk!
HANS: Ja, ja, is schon. Is a wonderful, incandescent quality of the light imparting, ja?
FX: CLIVE FURIOUSLY TRAMPING AWAY OVER THE GRAVEL
VANESSA: Clive! Dont be so petty.
HANS: Nein, he is a critic. He is to his opinion entitled.
FX: FADE DOWN ON BIRDSONG
END OF SCENE 9
LYTTON: Thus did one such delightful episode succeed the next. The storm-clouds of war gathered above; yet amid the gloom, Charlattan blazed like a beacon, kindled with the tinder of companionship, sparked by the flint of genius on the stone of privation. As I observed to Vita, some days later at dinner.
FX: DINNER TABLE ATMOS (UNDER)
LYTTON: Vita, your maids departure shows you to be as consummate an artist in the kitchen as in the arboretum. Bravo.
VITA: Horrible girl. If she can betray me to go and work in a munitions factory, Im well rid of her.
VIRGINIA: Girls of that class ooze meagreness of spirit like ectoplasm. Their poverty of circumstance does not, as with us, spur nobility of soul.
FX: SOUNDS OF DISTANT GIGGLING AND THUMPING (UNDER)
LYTTON: Vanessa indisposed again, Clive?
CLIVE: Headache. Said she wants to lie down.
CLIVE: (THROUGH CLENCHED TEETH) I suggest we read our memoirs to each other. The long night of Prussian philistinism may be about to to
VITA: Fall over Europe. The Prussian bayonet may be be
CLIVE: . At our throats . But
FX: SOUNDS BECOME LOUDER
CLIVE: Conservatory then. Might get some peace and quiet for civilised conversation THERE.
FX: FOOTSTEPS ON PARQUET (UNDER)
CLIVE: Well bask in the dying rays of a glorious summer day rather profound metaphor that, have to put it in my pamphlet .
FX: CREAK OF OPENED DOOR
COINS: Testing, testing economic consequences of (PAUSE) the war oh, Lytton! Everybody! Hello!
CLIVE: Hello Johnny, not disturbing you I hope, use the library if we are .
COINS: Me? Oh alright. Maybe Lytton can come and help me work this thing, its beyond me.
CLIVE: Yes, go on Lytton .
LYTTON: No need its the work of an instant. There.
FX: WINDS UP MACHINE
VIRGINIA: (D) The Journey In, Journey In, Journey In .
LYTTON: You have been inspired to fresh heights Virginia.
HANS: (D) a writer Virginia, but I am not knowing you are a satirist .
VIRGINIA: Puerile man switch this thing off.
FX: THUMPS MACHINE
HANS: (D) Vita, Vita, who can beat her, making her garden grow .
VANESS: (D) Oh Hans darling, thats so funny .
CLIVE/VITA: Intolerable man!
CLIVE: But a great artist. Let us not forget.
LYTTON: Then, what is greatness? In some ways, are not all of us great?
FX: FADE DOWN
END OF SCENE 10
LYTTON: I confess, I advanced this proposition in the manner of a devils advocate, to stimulate conversation. My companions no doubt realised this and responded in a similar spirit of irony, though I cannot say for certain, subsequent debate being abruptly curtailed.
FX: CRUNCHING OF FEET ON GRAVEL. KNOCK ON DOOR
FX: OPENING DOOR
ROGER: Mrs. Sockville-Pest?
VITA: Who are you?
ROGER: Lieutenant Delamour. Acting Officer in command, Ninth Infantry Division
VITA: A LIEUTENANT commanding a ? What is the world coming to? What do you want?
ROGER: Well, in a word, Madam your house.
ROGER: Yes, Madam. I have a requisition order made out .
COINS: Hold on Lieutenant what was that name again?
ROGER: Charlattan, sir.
COINS: No, your name. Delamour? Werent you at Kings? Went down 1912? Gentlemans degree?
ROGER: Doctor Coins!
COINS: So, what have you been up to?
ROGER: Running a gold mine out in Southern Rhodesia, sir. My uncles, actually.
COINS: Gold, eh? Few bob in that I daresay?
ROGER: Youd be surprised, Doctor Coins. Making a profit from a gold mine is actually harder than you might think.
COINS: We live and learn, Delamour. Anyway, water under the bridge now, I suppose.
ROGER: Absolutely. When ones needed, one cant ignore the call, sir.
COINS: No, I never thought you were the sort who could.
VITA: Excuse me what did he say about a requisition order?
ROGER: We need your house, Maam. As a barracks.
VITA: A monstrous! Not even an Officers Mess. Hobnailed boots everywhere, trampling over my hillocks, going into the caves of Hades I shouldnt wonder .
COINS: Vita, leave this to me. Delamour, an extra pip wouldnt go amiss I imagine? (PAUSE) Promotion?
ROGER: I shall serve my country to the utmost of my ability regardless of such recognition as may come my way
COINS: Yes, yes, thats the stuff to tell the Recruitment Board. Look, lets have a chat in the library. Theres a First Edition of The Wealth of Nations.
ROGER: I beg your pardon, sir?
COINS: Adam Smith. A book. Not to worry, theres some decent ten year old Laphroig too .
ROGER: Thats very civil of you sir.
FX: NOISE OF HANS AND VANESSA
HANS: (OFF) Ja, ja, ja, ja, mein Gott ja .
ROGER: Good grief Doctor Coins, whats that?
COINS: Its a long story .
FX: FADE DOWN
END OF SCENE 11
LYTTON: As good intentions and happy consequences seldom coincide, rational people have long argued that the true evidence of the former is, indeed, the latter. Puritanical cries of sophistry notwithstanding. In closing this chapter, I note only that our circle were rational people par excellence.
FX: PARTY ATMOS (UNDER)
CLIVE: My love is like a red, red rose, thats newly bloomed in June/ My love is like a melodie .
VANESSA: (SOBBING) Shut up. Oh Clive, how could you? Any of you? Betray him?
CLIVE: We tried to save him. Didnt we?
VANESSA: To think of poor Hans in that internment camp .
VITA: Never mind, itll all be over by Christmas they say.
COINS: 1918 at the latest.
VANESSA: Hypocrites! International Brotherhood, Beauty, Truth and Goodness! Pah!
CLIVE: Vanessa, youre being quite unreasonable. I barred that Army Officers way.
VANESSA: Until he said excuse me.
COINS: And that phonograph recording did look suspicious. All those coded messages.
VANESSA: I dont remember Hans saying any of those things.
CLIVE: You werent with him ALL the time, darling, surely? Not that Id mind, were sophisticated people .
VANESSA: Im going to bed. (FADING) Boohoohoohoo (ETC.)
FX: DOOR SLAMS
CLIVE: Poor girl. She must learn that Mawkishness is the true enemy of Art.
VITA: A few more days wandering about my landscapes should refresh her soul . I have no objection. At least Ive been spared platoons of infantrymen everywhere.
CLIVE: Afterwards, Ill take her on holiday, just the two of us, shell like that. Once the cheque arrives.
COINS: Cheque? In the readies, eh? Whats this?
CLIVE: I put a painting up for sale. (CHUCKLING) Quite ironic, Hans painted it here. Of Vanessa.
VITA: He found some materials then?
CLIVE: Yes. Old shirt of mine. All in the cause of Art. (PAUSE) Very fine picture. In the circumstances. Regarding which Sothebys are hinting at some notoriety value .
LYTTON: (FADING) I know. Lets have a soiree and play charades .
END OF SCENE 12
Of the many talented and illustrious people who have assisted in this creation, I am especially indebted to:
Mr Toby Longworth for his penetrating interpretation of the role of myself, Lytton Strychnine;
Miss Sally Grace for her unrivalled portrayal of Mrs. Virginia Woof.
Mr. Nick Hardy who sensitively adumbrated Johnny Maynard Coins.
Mr. Matthew Bell for special insights into the character of Clive Pill.
Miss Sarah Parkinson, indefatigable in the part of Mrs. Vanessa Pill.
Miss Joanna Brookes, whose depiction of Mrs. Vita Sockville-Pest was, simply, magnificent.
Mr. Jonathan Aris without whom the part of Hans Schwarzmeister would not have been played, and
Mr. Chris Emmett, who unselfishly acted as mouthpiece for those untalented, but sadly necessary, characters: the Scout, Postman, Butler, Newsboy, Gallery Factotum and Lieutenant Delamour.
I must also thank Mr. Ivan Shakespeare for his services as Amanuensis.
Finally, my undying gratitude goes to Miss Elizabeth Anstee, without whose Production skills the foregoing would simply not have been possible.
EPISODE ONE (" THE GREAT WAR") OF THE FOUR-PART SITCOM
A SQUARE OF ONES OWN
All rights reserved by The Ivan Shakespeare Estate . For inquiries about Ivan's work, please contact his widow Elspeth MacLean through the Writers Guild.
ComedyCollective Writers Project