Rasputin – the Libertine

by Robert P. Arthur
  • 120 Minutes
  • M 12; F 6; M/F 4+ Doubling possible

Dramedy, Colleges, Community, Doubling Roles, Staging Design Potential

$11.97$127.90

From a murky past, Rasputin disrupts Russian society with his charismatic fervor. Despite several assassination attempts, Rasputin survives and thrives. Will nothing rid of us this meddlesome priest?

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Genres: Comedy, Drama, Dramedy

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Performance Fee $80.00 A Production License Fee Per Performance (mandatory for all performances)

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Play Details

Overview

Charlatan? Prophet?

One of the most enigmatic characters of history, Russia’s hard-to-kill mad monk lived in the court of Nicolai and Alexandria in an existential maelstrom, his president glimmers and heroic rants occurring in a context of radical theology and sexual license. Arthur’s one of a kind passion play is both disarmingly funny and deeply moving, owing much to theaters of the absurd. Although painfully unconvinced of the reality his own apparent holy powers,

Rasputin leaps to the task of burning sinful pride from the hearts of his flock with the “horses’ smell” of his own body, and wins almost an empire before losing all—except an ironic, heartbroken, but glorious, immortality, from which, by the author’s contrivance, he continues to speak.

Theatrical Possibilities off the Scale

The Libertine has it all: drama. laughs, philosophy, absurdity, history, spectacle, grotesqueries, madness, lyrical flights, sex. Its entertainment value, from the sweaty preparations of Rasputin’s murderers to its lush stage magic is off the scale.

Above all else, perhaps, Rasputin might well be considered a harbinger of the author Robert Arthur’s stunning poetry to come and his passion to capture, or, even in many cases, remake history for emphasis or philosophical ends.

By 2019, he’d tackled the folk lore of Appalachia and the trapped Kentucky miner Floyd Collins, the Jamestown Settlers, Van Gogh, Crazy Horse and Crazy Horses Woman, numerous pirates, a Fut Gar master, Eastern Shore watermen and waterwomen of the previous century, supernatural characters and creatures, denizens of islands, Orkney folk, Billy the Kid, etc. all of which have given him cause to explore his incredible gift for writing in dialect.

Rasputin was originally produced and directed as The Libertine at Frederick Theatre in Portsmouth, Virginia by Gayle Pipkin and starred Ken Flynn. Shortly thereafter it was produced by Tom Arthur and directed by Todd Kovner at James Madison University and then offered in New York City in showcase theatre.

From the Play

Act 1 Scene 4

Lights come up on the inside a church where a Priest Father Petr, is very busily and determinedly putting on his robes. His servant is helping him with the robes, handing him a crucifix, Bible, etc.)

SERVANT: Be careful. Father. Very careful. He’s dangerous, I tell you. Don’t underestimate him.
FATHER PETR: He’s Satan’s worm, a seducer of women.
SERVANT: He has power. Father. You must believe it. Everyone in Pokrovski who’s gone down in that cellar has been converted. Everyone.
FATHER PETR: He’s an ignorant peasant who wandered around Siberia until he fell into bad company. I’ve seen such monks before. I know their smell.
SERVANT: Fathers and husbands of his women once attacked him and he cried out, “Let there be no rain for three months.” And they say the curse was fulfilled, that the sky was cloudless for three months and that the sun scorched the grain.
FATHER PETR: He’s a heretic, a Klysly. The devil is in him. Have you seen his eyes… aggh? They are indescribable.
SERVANT: I’ve seen them, father. But the peasants say that he often appears to them in the fields and has many times helped them bring in their crops. He’s enchanted them. He sometimes sings to them and always preaches about the Holy Ghost They say he once drove a demon from a nun and has the gift of prophecy. I’m frightened. Father. They say he becomes angry. He can kill with a look.
FATHER PETR: Say nothing else to me. He has his darkness, I have my cross. Tm ready for the devil.
SERVANT: Don’t go. Father.
FATHER PETR: You were at the Devine Liturgy, Sunday. You saw the empty church. This serpent has the whole village at his disposal. I must not allow it.
SERVANT: Don’t listen to what he says.
FATHER PETR: I have this for his sermons (Holds up cross), and this for his soul! (Holds up Bible) (Lights go out.)

Act 1 Scene 5

Lights come up in cellar. Rasputin is sitting with his daughter; Vaya, and strumming a guitar.

RASPUTIN: How about this one. Little Vaya? The one about the bear.
VAYA: On no. Father. I don’t want the one about the bear. I want the one about the horses.
RASPUTIN: Horses. I don’t know one about horses.
VAYA: Don’t tease me. Father. You know. The one on my birthday.
RASPUTIN: Ah, yes. I remember. About the white horses. It goes like this. (Rasputin strums a few chords.)
VAYA: I don’t remember how it goes, but I want to hear it. Sasha says that her father sings it to her any time she wants to hear it, so I told her that you do too.
RASPUTIN:
Like father, like daughter! All right, little muskrat here goes:
(song)
When
evening is nigh
Vaya will ride
VAYA: Thats not the way Sasha’s father sings it
RASPUTIN: Oh, how does Sasha’s father sing it?
VAYA: Like this:
When evening is nigh
Sasha will ride…
RASPUTIN:
That’s because his daughter is named Sasha. My daughter is named Vaya, so I say, “When evening’s nigh, Vaya will ride.”
(song)
RASPUTIN: (song)
When evening’s nigh Vaya will ride
Through her dreams on horses
Snow white horses
O’er hill and plain Through dark and rain
Horses will carry My darling

“Oh, see them glide,” see them glow
Vaya will ride till tomorrow
So sleep my sparrow
And they’ll never slow
Or die, Vaya, Vayii

VAYA: Father, that song doesn’t make a damn bit of sense!
RASPUTIN: Vaya! Your language! Aren’t you ashamed?
VAYA: Sasha’s grandfather says you lie and curse. Do you. Father?
RASPUTIN: Only on business.
VAYA: Sasha says…
RASPUTIN: I don’t care what Sasha says…

Rasputin is interrupted by a pounding on the door. Efim sticks in his head.

EFIM: The priest. Father Petr, is here to see you. (Efim is nervous and excited)
RASPUTIN: Send him away!
EFIM: Half the village has followed him here. You have to see him.
RASPUTIN: Half the village?
EFIM: Yes, Grigori. Everyone’s out front, stomping on the flowers, even old Vasily. You’ve got to see the priest Grigori. Oh, God, I don’t know what’s going to happen now.
RASPUTIN: What could happen? Nothing is going to happen! Are the villagers on my side or are they the priest’s friends?
EFIM: You have to ask? Many of them think you’re Christ They’re on your side, except the old ones. Grigori. Please see Father Petr. If you’re a holy man, he can give you any trouble. Do you think I want the neighbors laughing?
RASPUTIN: All right. Father, send him in; but keep everyone else out. Do you hear?
EFIM: Good, good. Thank you, Grigori. (Efim exits.)
RASPUTIN: (To Vaya) Take this guitar, Vaya, and put it somewhere safe upstairs. I’ll sing to you later. (Rasputin gives her a quick kiss.)
VAYA: But, Father.
RASPUTIN: Do as I tell you. Now go!
VAYA: Oh, Father.

Vaya hugs Rasputin, then starts up the stair. Father Petr enters and half descends the stairs looking first at Rasputin, then the approaching Vaya passes him, giving him an obviously wide berth.

FATHER PETR: Good afternoon, Vaya.
VAYA: Good afternoon.
Vaya exits, frightened Father Petr stops at the bottom of stairs, looks to see that Vaya has left, then addresses Rasputin.
FATHER PETR: Monster. In the name of Jesus Christ, I command thy spirit to leave the body of this man, Grigori Rasputin.
RASPUTIN: (amused) What?
FATHER PETR: (Crosses himself as if about to perform an exorcism, then takes out a bottle of holy water and begins to bless it) In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, amen. Thebal, Enthe. Enthany. In the name of the Father…
RASPUTIN: An exorcism. Father! You’re going to perform an exorcism? Have you gone through the proper channels?
FATHER PETR: Jesus of Nazareth, Mary, Joseph, Michael, Gabriel, Raphael. The Lord made flesh…
RASPUTIN: In a voice that is to be taken by Father Petr as the voice of a demon. This body is mine. Priest, f Rasputin growls and then screams as if possessed) I will kill you if you get too close!
FATHER PETR: (Backs up, frightened He is shaken, prays.) Oh, be with me. Lord!. Shield me from the words of this demon, for he has a serpent’s tongue.
RASPUTIN: (Continuing with the voice of a demon) Thou art a liar, priest..
FATHER PETR: In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, amen…
RASPUTIN: (Laughing.) You’re in big trouble, priest.
FATHER PETR: (Flinging holy water on Rasputin) In the name of Jesus Christ, I command thee…
RASPUTIN: Holy water, aggg! (Rasputin screams and writhes in pain.)

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