Amelia's Nocturne by Chris Wind

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This Play is the copyright of the Author and may not be performed, copied or sold without the Author's prior consent

Set - a small table and chair in a garret; sputtering candle, 19th century paper, quill pen and inkpot

*****

Amelia lights the candle, gains control over herself, collects her
thoughts, dips her pen into the inkpot, begins writing, stops,
crumples paper and tosses it away angrily; music begins at bar 1.

At around bar 13, Amelia begins writing again, speaking as she does
so; piano fades out at end of bar 14.

AMELIA: Dearest Anne, I am writing to you in such misery tonight.
Whether the clock has struck two or three I do not know, but there is
not a half hour's light left in this poor candle stub. Becky, the
little servant girl (God bless her), smuggled it up to me and I dare
not go in search of another lest I be discovered—for I fear then they
will take away my piano forever. Oh Anne, what a state has befallen
me—I am locked in a garret with strict orders not to be disturbed.
Disturbed! —as if external stillness could calm this raging
fury—but then the good doctors don't account for that—I believe they
don't think it can exist, they don't think anything can exist inside
of a woman, they think we are all beautiful empty shells waiting to be
filled with their dreams and desires—but I do run on. Surely you
will soon agree that I am quite mad—and you mustn't! Anne you must
believe me when I tell you I am of clear, lucid mind as I write to you
this blackest of nights.

But let me go back, in an orderly fashion. You recall the last time
we had the pleasure of a visit. I had come to see Mr. Liszt to
request a copy of the Field nocturnes. Well of course he wouldn't see
me, so I left the request with his man. It was never answered. Then
quite a while later, Lord Ashbury—what a name, have you ever
considered it? ash and bury—Lord Ashbury gallantly presented me with
the complete edition. He thought he was doing me such a pretty
favour—which he was—and expected my gratitude and rapt attention in
return—but it irked me that he, who knows nothing about music, should
have his request attended to, while I had been virtually ignored. And
besides the man is such an irritation.

Indeed, one day he laughed so heartily—I didn't realize he had come
into the parlour, I was concentrating on my finger crossings—he
laughed when he saw me stumbling over and over crossing finger three
over four and two. With much condescension he announced that finger
two crosses over finger one, as if I had got it all confused and
backward. Well—I stood up, slammed the piano shut, and said maybe
his fingers couldn't cross three over, but mine, well prepared by
hours of petit-pointe could and would! And they shall—

(music resumes from bar 15 overlapping with her words)

They must, if I am to play this new nocturne of mine as it must be
played!

(Amelia resumes, overlapping at around bar 20; music stops at end of
bar 24)

But I am so tired—not because of these late nights spent writing, nor
because of the hours of concentrated practice, but because of the
bickering and fighting just to be excused from garden parties, and
afternoon strolls, and yes, petit-pointe, so I can work on my
art—that is what is so exhausting. Oh how I wish I could spend more
time—I need more time—but, well, you know mother. She is so upset
with the time already spent practising, she tells me over and over I
can play well enough, and certainly Lord Ashbury is delighted—-well
enough for whom, I demand, I do not want to delight Lord Ashbury or
any other Lord—but they cannot understand. When I do play for
guests, she criticizes me for not being a gracious host because I
refuse to play their requests (but do you know what they ask for?),
and she thinks it's perfectly insulting when I play on and on
oblivious of their presence, their polite applause, or when I suddenly
stop in the middle of a piece to make a note of something I hadn't
realized before— In short, my intensity is embarrassing

[end of extract]

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