Categories
#11- 35 Language at/of the border

Tsaplya Olga Egorova and Dmitry Vilensky // The Script of A Border Musical

 

A Border Songspiel

The Characters

Characters from the Russian side of the border:

· Tanya, wife of Ola Nordmann. Former director of the children’s choir in the Russian town of Nikel, she plays the accordion. She still has a poor grasp of Norwegian.

· A Chorus of Miners. Manifestations of Tanya’s conscience, her “inner miners,” the men double as workers at the local mine and processing plant.

Characters from the Norwegian side of the border:

· Ola Nordmann (“John Q. Public”), Tanya’s husband. Owner of a trucking company, Ola himself enjoys getting behind the wheel of a big truck from time to time.

· A Friend. Ola Nordmann’s schoolmate, he currently works in the civil service.

· Child Welfare Inspector

· First Neighbor Lady

· Second Neighbor Lady

· Third Neighbor Lady

Scene 1

Starting on the Norwegian side of the border, the camera slowly pans across the scenery. It gently tracks over the quaint streets of Kirkenes and enters a cozy Norwegian house. First, we see a well-equipped workshop, equipment for underwater hunting hung on its walls, then a living room with a large window and, finally, a tiny kitchen. When the camera pans across the living room, we see two border posts, Norwegian and Russian. This is their first and last appearance in the film. After passing through the house, the camera enters the Russian side of the border and slowly tracks through the town of Nikel, whose landscape features black clouds of smoke puffing from the plant and trees disfigured by acid rain. The camera settles on the Chorus of Miners, who sing.

Radio broadcast and the song “I Love My Cold Land” by Jesper Alvaer

 

The Characters

Characters from the Russian side of the border:

  • Tanya, wife of Ola Nordmann. Former director of the children’s choir in the Russian town of Nikel, she plays the accordion. She still has a poor grasp of Norwegian.
  • A Chorus of Miners. Manifestations of Tanya’s conscience, her “inner miners,” the men double as workers at the local mine and processing plant.

Characters from the Norwegian side of the border:

  • Ola Nordmann (“John Q. Public”), Tanya’s husband. Owner of a trucking company, Ola himself enjoys getting behind the wheel of a big truck from time to time.
  • A Friend. Ola Nordmann’s schoolmate, he currently works in the civil service.
  • Child Welfare Inspector
  • First Neighbor Lady
  • Second Neighbor Lady
  • Third Neighbor Lady

 

Scene 1

Starting on the Norwegian side of the border, the camera slowly pans across the scenery. It gently tracks over the quaint streets of Kirkenes and enters a cozy Norwegian house. First, we see a well-equipped workshop, equipment for underwater hunting hung on its walls, then a living room with a large window and, finally, a tiny kitchen. When the camera pans across the living room, we see two border posts, Norwegian and Russian. This is their first and last appearance in the film. After passing through the house, the camera enters the Russian side of the border and slowly tracks through the town of Nikel, whose landscape features black clouds of smoke puffing from the plant and trees disfigured by acid rain. The camera settles on the Chorus of Miners, who sing.

Miners

Our work is not for the weak.

Our work

Is for strong men.

Nickel forges our character,

The character of miners,

Of northern men.

Tell me, miner,

What do you have?

What wouldn’t you betray

Or abandon?

I have everything

A man needs.

The shoulder of a friend

Who won’t let me down.

The heart of a mother

Who waits.

And the hands of a loving woman

Who has graced me with her care

Every day, in grief and in joy.

Whence this pride

Of yours, miner,

In being a real man?

Nickel will not let

Our souls go to ruin.

Rust will not penetrate them

Nor corrosion consume them.

And all because

Nickel forges our character,

A firm character,

A northern character.

Tell me, Miner,

In what do you believe?

What gives you strength?

I believe my son will grow up

And take my place,

To maintain our character,

Our firm character,

Our northern character.

Tanya appears on camera, carrying an accordion.

Tanya

Your songs are a pack of lies, enough!

Miners

Uh, hello, Tanya.

Tanya

What a joke—

The masculine character!

Just look at yourselves, miners!

Your work is dangerous and tough,

But you’re paid pennies.

Why?

Miners

The laws of survival are well known.

Shut up and work: it could be worse.

Everything’s a lie,

But it isn’t forever.

We are real men,

And we know what is fair and just.

The day will come when we rise up and. . .

Tanya

It’ll never happen!

You’re lazy slugs!

And drunks to boot!

Miners (confused)

We drink on occasion

Because our work is hard. . .

Tanya

You defend the family!

Really?

You hide behind your women’s backs!

Miners

The things you say, Tanya!

Tanya

The nickel you dig up, miners,

Has long ago corroded your souls!

You’re only specters of mighty labor.

I’ve had enough!

I’ve had it!

I’m leaving town.

Miners

Where are you going?

Tanya

To Norway,

The country where everyone is happy.

Miners

Who’s expecting you there?

Tanya (takes accordion from case and gets ready to play)

My new husband is waiting for me.

A Norwegian!

Now there’s a real man for you.

(sings)

He doesn’t drink

Or beat his kids.

He respects women

And goes to work in his car

As if he were going on holiday.

Miners

What about your son?

Tanya

I’m taking him with me.

Miners

You can leave of course,

But you can never escape yourself.

You will always be

A girl from Nikel.

Tanya

Don’t kid yourselves.

Miners

We’re the miners of your heart, Tanya.

Tanya (not listening to them, playing the accordion)

I’ll be singing different songs

In that marvelous land

Where everyone is happy.

Miners

We are the miners of your heart.

We dig the ore of your soul

And bring to the surface

From out of your depths

Your songs, Tanya.

Tanya

Goodbye!

I’ve had it.

I’m leaving

For that beautiful country

Where everyone is happy.

Tanya leaves, taking her accordion with her.

Scene 2

A typical living room in Kirkenes. The photos and posters on the walls reveal the owner’s commitment to the environmental movement. A Tom Waits concert tour poster is also visible. Ola Nordmann is alone. In a close-up, we see him tuning a radio. He finds a local news program. The announcer first reads world news—reports from Palestine and Russia—before segueing to local news—cute, insignificant events.

The news broadcast ends with a report about a concert the evening before by the local church choir. It featured the premiere of a song by a local amateur composer, “I Love My Cold Land.”

Radio

Despite your long winter’s night,

Home’s warmth and embrace suffice,

And the aurora’s rays;

You dance over us

Unity grows here in your arms,

In work and leisure, night’s sleep,

Sea, mountains and barren soil;

With nature, we are one

Last stop, where ocean reigns

In cold silence; alone now,

I downshift, and you show me,

Stormy wind and plain warm us

We bear a common dream.

Diversity is when everyone has his or her place,

Even far from where townsfolk live,

In wilderness and by the sea

From underground you pour out

Your treasures that were hidden,

Gas and oil, iron ore, gold, yes,

From prehistoric times you give more.

Last stop, where ocean reigns

In white silence; alone now,

In new snow, the ruts show me,

North-northeast you show the way

Everyone gets an equal chance here,

Freedom responsible and boundless,

Daily chores and obligations,

The weekend free, and one’s own time

Let’s go. There is some (a little) difference:

Everyone cares for one another, it’s common sense

Yes, you give a little and get some of mine,

We are a big family

Last stop, where ocean reigns

In comfy silence; alone now,

I look in the rearview mirror, and you show me

Here is where I’ll be nor will I forsake you

We will tell our young

What they saw, your old ones now,

In the generations before us

Their hard work we now reap

Last stop, where ocean reigns,

Proud Finnmark, you rise up

My headlight shows me

My cold home, I love you!

All this time, Ola Nordmann moves about the room. He goes in and out of his workshop to fetch something, then hangs a framed portrait of Tanya (she is depicted with the children’s choir and holding an accordion). As the music plays, Ola puffs up the pillows and straightens the curtains. He is waiting for Tanya.

It is evident he likes the song. There is a knock on the door and the sound of the radio cuts out.

Scene 3

Ola Nordmann meets Tanya at the threshold of the living room. They hug. Tanya speaks broken Norwegian.

Ola Nordmann

It’s you! Finally!

Tanya

I’m so happy!

Ola Nordmann

Me, too!

They kiss.

Ola Nordmann

Welcome to your new home. (He spreads his arms, proudly showing off the house.) I built it with my own hands, but without you it was empty. But now a happy family will finally live in it.

Tanya (uttering a phrase she has evidently memorized)

I’ll be the best wife to you, and my son, the best of sons.

Ola Nordmann

Our son, Tanya. Our son. He’ll become a real Norwegian. I’ll teach him to drive a truck. What happiness it is, Tanya, to travel the snow-covered roads, delivering goods to people and being at one with nature.

Tanya looks at him admiringly.

Tanya

How well I understand you.

Ola Nordmann

And I you!

Tanya (having trouble pronouncing the word “understanding”)

Mutual understanding is the most important thing, right?

Ola Nordmann

Of course.

They look at each other, holding hands, and kiss.

Tanya (taking her instrument out of its case)

Here. This is my accordion.

Ola Nordmann

I wanted to ask you. Are you sorry you quit your job?

Tanya

My children’s choir? No, because my music is always with me. (She points to her accordion and laughs.)

Ola Nordmann

You can form a new choir here. We’ll sing Russian songs.

Tanya (laughing happily)

How nice! Russian songs are good, yes?

Ola Nordmann

Tanya, play our favorite song. (He hands her the accordion.)

Tanya plays her own arrangement of Tom Waits’s “Russian Dance” as Ola Nordmann dances passionately. As Tanya plays, she turns toward the window (and the camera) and sees the Miners standing outside. Continuing to play, she addresses them. (Ola Nordmann cannot see them, of course, and continues to dance.)

Tanya

Is that you, miners? You see how happy I am without you?

The Miners say nothing, but they mock Ola Nordmann’s fervent dancing. Tanya smiles and continues to play. When the song’s last chord sounds, Ola Nordmann freezes.

Scene 4

The camera pans across the lovely townscape of Kirkenes: illuminated by different lights, the scenery imparts a joyous, festive feeling. The camera zooms in on the War Mother’s Monument, where two women, the First Neighbor Lady (who is radically minded) and the Second Neighbor Lady (who is more thoughtful), are chatting.

First Neighbor Lady (continuing the conversation)

. . .yes, that’s right. Not parents, but pedagogues. We have to get over our dependence on biology.

Second Neighbor Lady (haltingly)

I agree, of course. . .

First Neighbor Lady

All children in Norway are the property of the state.

Second Neighbor Lady

Even the children of tourists? Or of foreigners who’ve come here to work temporarily? There was recently an incident—

First Neighbor Lady (interrupting her)

Definitely! Every child’s welfare is more important than the biological rights of parents.

Second Neighbor Lady

But how do we strike a balance between not interfering in people’s private lives and society’s responsibility for posterity?

First Neighbor Lady

Professionals should decide. Experts. They have special training and can best see what’s best for the child.

Second Neighbor Lady

But parents aren’t professionals.

First Neighbor Lady

And that is why they don’t always understand what’s best for the child. Our job is to find families where the children are having problems, remove them and place them with families who have a correct understanding of the child’s welfare.

Second Neighbor Lady (ironically)

Then maybe we should immediately send the kids to children’s homes?

First Neighbor Lady

Yes, to children’s homes! I’m confident that children will be raised collectively in the wonderful future society we build.

Second Neighbor Lady

Well, you know, not all parents share your communist ideas.

First Neighbor Lady

What’s communist about them? How else can we reconcile freedom, individualism and a sense of community?

Second Neighbor Lady

It’s so simple, something our forebears have done for generations. Be like everyone else and you’ll become an individual.

First Neighbor Lady

While we’re still only building the future, we can’t waste time: we also have to create the individuals who will live in it. We must focus on children.

Second Neighbor Lady

Maybe we need to begin by educating parents?

First Neighbor Lady

We don’t have time to educate parents. We cannot risk children’s lives. Imagine how a child who hasn’t gotten a proper upbringing will feel in our future society. It will feel like an outcast!

Second Neighbor Lady

How awful!

First Neighbor Lady

We can’t let that happen!

The Third Neighbor Lady runs up to them.

Third Neighbor Lady

Hi, girls. It’s settled. I’m moving to the south, to Stavanger.

First and Second Neighbor Ladies (expressing their amazement and hugging her)

Congratulations.

First Neighbor Lady (coming to her senses)

But I still don’t get you. How can you trade our north country for the spoiled south?

Third Neighbor Lady

I’ll come back for visits.

First Neighbor Lady

I’m certain you’ll move back for good. Anyone who grows up in the north cannot betray it.

Third Neighbor Lady

I wouldn’t leave for anything, but the offer was so tempting. It’s such a good job.

First Neighbor Lady

The more so since such opportunities are opening up here. You can see yourself that money is flowing into the Arctic. With your experience you’ll be in demand here.

Third Neighbor Lady

Well, we’ll see whether the money comes or not.

First and Second Neighbor Ladies

Yeah, that’s right. . .

First Neighbor Lady (after a pause during which each of them thinks about her future)

By the way, we were at a performance by a Sámi dance group yesterday.

Third Neighbor Lady

A Sámi dance group? But I thought Sámi dances didn’t exist.

Second Neighbor Lady

Imagine, they recreated them the way they might have been in the past. It could have been that way, right?

First Neighbor Lady

It was great! I especially liked this dance. (Addressing Second Neighbor Lady) Do you remember?

Second Neighbor Lady

Uh-huh, like this!

She begins to dance and is joined by the First Neighbor Lady.

Third Neighbor Lady

How do you do it? Show me! Is it like this?

She joins their dance. All three women laugh, dance and goof around. Tanya walks past. She stops to look at them, and they draw her into the dance. Everyone laughs and falls in the snow.

Scene 5

Ola Nordmann is in his workshop going through his fishing tackle. The radio is playing a literary program entitled “The Life and Work of Aksel Sandemose: The Law of Jante.”

Radio (begins in mid-phrase)

As you know, of course, the Law of Jante is a set of rules for the typical Norwegian. Aksel Sandemose described it in his 1933 novel A Fugitive Crosses His Tracks. Today we’d like to examine certain problems of growing up vis-à-vis the Law of Jante. Our first guest has recently published a book that has garnered a lot of reaction in the media. The book is entitled Humiliation: An Inconvenient Pride, and it deals with the dark side of the anti-individualism common in our society. What could be bad about wanting to be like everyone else? Writer Per Anders Juvik will help us answer that question. Welcome!

Hello! Thanks for inviting me.

The second guest in our studio is head of the national parents organization Respecting Children. Welcome to the program, Linda Ramm. My first question is to you. What is the place of the Law of Jante in today’s society?

We see that the Law of Jante is, thankfully, on its way out of the Norwegian popular consciousness, but there are still many problems, especially with children and adolescents. . .

Tanya runs into the room, excited. When Tanya sings in Norwegian, she mangles the words in a Russian manner, so that they sound funny and unrecognizable. Ola Nordmann remains seated while Tanya whirls around him in happiness.

Tanya

Dear! First prize! Imagine, first prize!

Ola Nordmann (looking at her puzzled, turning the radio down)

What did you say? There’s an interesting program on the radio now. . .

Tanya

Yes, yes. Listen, I just got a phone call. My choir took first place at the competition in Murmansk. I’m so happy.

Ola Nordmann

Your choir? The one you worked with in Nikel?

Tanya

Yes, my kids from the culture center. I gave so many years to them. I put so much inspiration into them. The money was bad, but that’s not even important.

Ola Nordmann

I still remember your concert in Kirkenes.

Tanya

You remember?

Ola Nordmann

How could I forget? That’s where we met.

Tanya

You see how much music means? Music brought us together.

She twirls around the room, knocking things over. Ola Nordmann picks them up.

Tanya (singing in Russian)

Music brought us together. Music la-la-la-la-la. . . (Turning to Ola Nordmann) I’d really like to be with my choir.

Ola Nordmann

What’s the problem? You definitely should go.

Tanya

Do you think? What about my son? Will you look after our son?

Ola Nordmann (correcting her)

On the radio, they said it would be more correct to say our “nurturee,” Tanya.

Tanya

Yes, yes, I forgot. Will you look after him?

Ola Nordmann

I’ll look after him, of course.

Tanya (singing)

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Ola Nordmann

By the way, have you noticed anything strange?

Tanya

Strange? (Singing) Strange, strange, strange, la-la-la. . . Strange about what? (It is clear she is thinking about something else.)

Ola Nordmann

About the boy’s behavior?

Tanya

His behavior? No, I haven’t, la-la-la. . .

Ola Nordmann

Nothing of yours is missing?

Tanya

Mis-sing, mis-sing, mis-sing. Nuh-uh-uh-thing. . .

Ola Nordmann (looks puzzled at Tanya and realizes she doesn’t understand him)

Okay, go. I’ll take care of things here myself. I’ll consult with someone I know.

Tanya (almost not listening to him; in Russian)

I’m going! I’m go-ing! I’m go-o-o-ing!

Ola Nordmann turns up the radio.

Ola Nordmann

Tanya, I caught a fish. Look, it’s in the kitchen.

Tanya darts into the kitchen and sees a fish on the table. It is breathing. She gazes at it. Then she grunts and flies off in the direction of Nikel.

Scene 6

Ola Nordmann continues listening to the radio program on Aksel Sandemose and the Law of Jante while going through his fishing tackle.

Radio

So where is this place where we can enjoy success, our own or that of others?

Wherever it is, it isn’t Norway! Even in the Old Norse Hávamál we find such admonitions as, “If you speak too softly, they will think you stupid; if you speak too much, they will think you a fool.”

That means everyone should be the same, eh?

Social equality can play an oppressive role. We’re talking about humility, when recognition of your outstanding abilities is experienced as “inconvenient pride,” a sense of guilt.

For example, one should not seek to be too successful in school. . .

Ola Nordmann continues working for some time. Then he looks at the clock, removes his apron and turns off the radio. It is evident he is waiting for someone. The door opens and his Friend walks in.

Ola Nordmann

Thanks for coming. I really wanted to talk with you.

Friend

How could I not come? That’s what friends are for!

They shake hands warmly and hug.

Ola Nordmann

Let’s go into the living room. Would you like some coffee?

They go into the living room.

Friend

Sure, thanks.

Ola Nordmann brings in the coffee. It is clear he is a little embarrassed, so instead of getting straight to the point he talks about the radio program.

Ola Nordmann

There was a program on the radio just now about the Law of Jante. Do you remember it?

Friend

How could I forget? (Begins quoting the Law of Jante.) “You’re not to think you are anything special. . . You’re not to think you’re smarter than others.”

Ola Nordmann

Yes, yes. That’s what I meant. What do you think about that?

Friend

I think it hasn’t gone out of date.

Ola Nordmann

Really?

Friend

Well, yes. It needs to be reinterpreted, of course, but. . .

Ola Nordmann (working up his courage)

I wanted to get your advice. I really love Tanya, you know. And her son too. I meant to say our “nurturee.” (Looks to his friend for support.)

Friend

Yes, you’re right to say “nurturee.” It’s the new trend in child rearing.

Ola Nordmann

I keep thinking about what a complicated job I have, bringing him up to be a real Norwegian.

Friend

I have no doubt you’ll cope. Your older kids are full-fledged members of society.

Ola Nordmann

Listen, it’s not the same. This boy is completely different.

Friend

Oh, come on!

Ola Nordmann

It’s true! He’s not an open person somehow. . . He doesn’t smile at people, doesn’t look them in the eye, doesn’t want to be friendly. He hit a boy in his class!

Friend

You don’t say!

Ola Nordmann

He steals cigarettes from his mother.

Friend

That’s not good.

Ola Nordmann

He doesn’t like sports.

Friend

Unbelievable.

Ola Nordmann

He doesn’t go snowmobiling with me.

Friend

He doesn’t go snowmobiling?

Ola Nordmann

No, he doesn’t. And I’m even afraid. . .Don’t get me wrong, I might be mistaken. . . I’m afraid he doesn’t like the scenery here.

Friend

No kidding. . . Have you talked with him?

Ola Nordmann

How can one talk to him? He doesn’t say anything. And Tanya yells at him in Russian.

Friend

She yells at him?

Ola Nordmann (embarrassed)

Yes, she yells. It’s quite awful.

Friend

It’s forbidden to yell at children.

Ola Nordmann

Yes, I know. . . And there’s another thing. . . I saw her hit him once. Well, not exactly hit him, but still.

Friend

Yeah. . . It’s a tough situation.

Ola Nordmann

That’s why I wanted to ask you what I should do.

Friend

Let me think.

Ola Nordmann

Please do.

Friend (after a pause, expressing his expert opinion)

Yes. . . First, you can’t forget where the boy grew up. Have you been to Nikel?

Ola Nordmann

You ask? I’ve been there many times.

Friend

Then you know what things are like over there: total irresponsibility and environmental disaster. They’re welcome to pollute themselves, but the acid rain splashes on our area too. (He gradually gets carried away, talking about what really worries him.) And they want to buy our mines to boot. Their church burned down, but they can’t rebuild it. Our community gave them money for it. The mine owners buy themselves villas and yachts while the workers die in the mines. And no one could care less. (He calms down.) Whatever. Those are the conditions in which the boy grew up. Not particularly favorable ones.

Ola Nordmann

It’s not right.

Friend

And his mother has been no help to him. Yelling at the boy! That’s unmotivated aggression.

Ola Nordmann

Tanya’s actually quite kind. . . Don’t judge her too harshly, she’s had a hard life: her first husband was an alcoholic, and her father was killed in a mine accident.

Friend (almost not listening)

Yeah, that’s bad. . . So what must we do? We have to rescue the boy.

Ola Nordmann

You think it’s that bad?

Friend

Yes, it’s clear you can’t handle this alone.

Ola Nordmann

Do you think?

Friend

I’m sure of it. The whole community needs to be involved in this.

Ola Nordmann (repeating his words)

The whole community needs to be involved. . .

The camera does a close-up of Ola Nordmann’s brooding face.

Scene 7

Tanya and the Chorus of Miners stand with the Nikel scenery in the background. Tanya plays the accordion. She is happy.

Tanya

Oh, how my soul sings!

Like a bird soaring into the sky!

My work, my love,

All the energy

I invested in the choir,

It’s all been recognized: our choir was named the best!

The kids didn’t let me down.

Miners

Well done, Tanya, of course.

We very much respect song,

But how did you prepare the children

For a miner’s hard work?

Tanya

The mine? No!

The road leading to success

Is open to them!

Miners

In the mine!

They will go work in the mine!

Tanya

They’ll sing on stage!

Miners

How does your music matter?

You think it has the power

To change the course of events?

Tanya

I believe it does!

Miners

No, Tanya,

Our sons will go work

In the mines,

And continue our dynasty.

But the weaker ones,

The ones spoiled by a soft upbringing,

Will sink to the bottom.

They’ll turn into

Scumbags

Drug addicts

Faggots

Fascists

And, maybe, murderers.

Then they’ll go to prison.

Tanya

The love I gave them

Will make them wonderful people!

Miners

The belt is the basis of a good education.

The father’s hand is the key!

Tanya

Children aren’t beaten in Norway.

Miners

And that’s a bad thing!

Tanya

There’s no violence there against the person.

Father and son are equals.

Miners (chuckling)

You don’t find that funny yourself?

The father is the head of the family.

Tanya

I’m happy I’m going home

To Norway,

Where everyone is happy.

Miners

And tell your husband

That the son should fear the father.

Otherwise he’ll grow up a sissy.

Tanya

No way!

Miners

See that you don’t have to be ashamed of your son.

Tanya

In Norway, it’s people like you who make people ashamed.

I’m in a hurry now.

Good luck staying here!

Miners

Okay, see you later!

You’ll be coming back.

Tanya walks off into the snowy-white distance; after a time, she begins to dance. Then she turns and shouts to the Miners.

Tanya

Miners! Be a bit more positive!

Scene 8

Humming “Oh, How My Soul Sings,” Tanya walks in the door and sees a confused Ola Nordmann and the Child Welfare Inspector.

Ola Nordmann

Dear, this is the child welfare inspector. She has come to check how your son is doing, but he is not home.

Tanya

My son? What happened? Where is he?

Ola Nordmann

Don’t worry. He just up and left, and I don’t know where he is. He doesn’t pick up his phone.

Tanya (worried)

But what happened?

Child Welfare Inspector

I’ll explain everything. The thing is that your nurturee has serious problems at school. And, as we’ve learned, he also has problems at home.

Tanya looks inquiringly at Ola Nordmann.

Ola Nordmann

I didn’t say anything.

Tanya

What problems? Tell me what the problem is.

Child Welfare Inspector

He has hit a classmate.

Tanya

A classmate? But all boys fight.

Child Welfare Inspector

He has been lying to his teachers.

Tanya

Lying?

Child Welfare Inspector

He steals.

Tanya

Steals? Did I understood that word correctly?

Child Welfare Inspector

Yes, he steals. That means he takes things without permission. He takes cigarettes from

you without permission.

Tanya (confused)

Cigarettes. . . But that’s not serious!

Child Welfare Inspector

It always starts with the little things. But don’t you worry: we will not leave you in lurch now. We will monitor your family and help you, of course.

Tanya

Our family is all right. We love each other, and everything is great. . . We’ll show you how wonderful our family is.

Child Welfare Inspector (hands her papers)

Read these papers and sign them, please. We’re counting on your cooperation with our agency.

Tanya freezes, turns towards the window (the camera) and addresses the Miners, who are standing there.

Tanya

I know what you want to say to me, but I don’t want to listen! I know who will help me. Tomorrow I’ll go get help there.

The Miners shake their heads and sing wordlessly.

Scene 9

Tanya runs through the pretty Kirkenes scenery. She runs to the War Mother’s Monument, where the three Neighbor Ladies are once again standing.

Tanya

How good you’re here! I need your advice.

The women are glad to see her. They interact half by dancing, half by speaking—as if they were continuing their earlier dance, and Tanya had again come to dance with them.

Tanya (switching from Norwegian to Russian as she becomes more excited)

The inspector came yesterday, but my son wasn’t home. The inspector said he steals, but this is unfair: he only takes cigarettes sometimes. I got very upset, and when he came home, I gave him a slap on the face. (I’m his mother, after all.) We got into a big fight and shouted. (She switches to Russian.) But then we made up and cried. We asked each other for forgiveness, and my son promised me he wouldn’t do it again and from now on things would be okay. Only I don’t know how to convince the inspector of this, because she probably thinks we’re wild, uncivilized people, you know? But we’re actually really okay. Or at any rate, we’re trying real hard. (Switches to Norwegian again.) But my son really wants to be a real Norwegian. Maybe it’s not working out now, but it will work out! It’s not clear who snitched on us to the child welfare agency. It’s not a good thing to snitch, is it?

The women listen attentively to Tanya. They react dramatically to what she tells them. They repeat the movements she makes and do not interrupt her when she strays into Russian—everyone has the right to speak their own language. But then it turns out they have misunderstood everything.

First Neighbor Lady

Look, she beats her kid!

Second Neighbor Lady

Good God, it is her son who beats her.

Third Neighbor Lady

It appears she’s happy about this.

First Neighbor Lady

We must do something!

Second Neighbor Lady

We cannot let this be!

They turn to Tanya, hugging and comforting her. They repeat her movements.

Third Neighbor Lady

Maybe it’s her husband who is beating her?

First Neighbor Lady

You have to stand up for your rights.

Second Neighbor Lady

You have to throw him out!

Third and First Neighbor Ladies

Throw him out!

All

You get it? Throw him out!

The women all show Tanya that she needs to throw her husband out by making throwing motions.

Tanya (not understanding but pretending she does)

Throw? Throw what? Ah, throw. . . I get it. Thank you! I understand everything. I have to stand up for my rights. That’s for sure! (Switches to Russian.) But who snitched? And what do I have to throw?

The scene ends with a close-up of Tanya. Snow is falling.

Scene 10

Tanya enters the house, lost in thought. Ola Nordmann is reading a newspaper.

Tanya

Honey, I wanted to ask you something. How do you think child welfare found out my son steals cigarettes?

Ola Nordmann (slightly embarrassed)

You see, I asked my friend for advice, and he advised going to child welfare and getting help from them.

Tanya

And you went?

Ola Nordmann

No, no: it wasn’t me. No, I didn’t go there. He must have gone there on his own.

Tanya

But that’s no good!

Ola Nordmann (huffily)

No, you’re wrong! Here in the newspaper it says there are no uncaring people in our society. We are responsible for everything that happens in our society, what happens in every family.

Tanya (looking at him intently)

Now I know what I have to throw.

Tanya leaves quickly. Ola Nordmann goes back to reading the newspaper. Suddenly, he hears the sound of breaking glass. Alarmed, he goes to the window (close-up).

Scene 11

Tanya is outside. She throws open her coat and pulls out her accordion. As she plays a very shrill, tired tune, the Miners appear.

Miners

Why did you throw the stone?

Why did you break the window?

Tanya

Oh, it’s you, miners. . .

He’s a traitor.

Miners

Didn’t we tell you

There are no real men there?

Tanya

Now they’re going to take away my son.

Miners

How can one take away someone’s son!

Tanya

Now they’re going to take away my son

And they’re right to do it:

I’m a bad mother.

Miners

Grab your son and run back to Nikel!

Tanya (speaking mostly to herself)

You don’t know what happens

When they come to take away children?

How many of them will there be?

Will there be police with them?

What if my son doesn’t want to leave?

Miners

Tanya, come back home!

We won’t let them hurt you!

Tanya

I think he’ll just disappear

In this lovely world,

And I’ll imagine

How he’s happy with other people.

Miners

A mother’s love and one’s own family

Are the most important things in the world!

Tanya

I wonder whether he’ll forget me.

Or will he never forget me?

Miners

Run while you still can!

Tanya (remembering they are there)

What? No, I won’t escape to Russia.

Let my son become a Norwegian.

I can cope with that.

And now leave me,

My miners.

Farewell. . .

My soul’s ore is exhausted,

And I’m no use to you anymore.

Now I will sing other songs.

I don’t know their words yet,

But I know for sure

They won’t be by you.

They won’t come from my heart.

Farewell. . .

Snow falls on the Miners as the camera bids them farewell.

Scene 12

Tanya returns home, where all the Norwegians are waiting for her. Ola Nordmann is distraught, his Friend is grinning, the Neighbor Ladies are excited. The Child Welfare Inspector is calm and friendly: she has done her job.

Ola Nordmann

Tanya, just don’t worry.

Child Welfare Inspector

I’m authorized to inform you that the child for whom you had nurturing responsibility will be transferred to another family for upbringing.

Tanya (exhausted and ready for this turn of events)

Why?

Child Welfare Inspector

For a variety of reasons.

Neighbor Ladies

Don’t you worry. Your child will be fine with another family. And you can visit him.

Child Welfare Inspector

Of course you can—under supervision of child welfare agency employees.

Tanya

Okay. I’ll go along with it. I’m a bad mother. I really hope my child will be happy with another family.

Neighbor Ladies

See that! She admits it all! She’s on the road to recovery!

They begin singing, with all the characters gradually assembling into a single, handsome chorus.

First Neighbor Lady

See that!

Second Neighbor Lady

She admits it all!

Third Neighbor Lady

She’s on the road to recovery!

Neighbor Ladies

We know that everyone

Gets another chance.

First Neighbor Lady

Everyone can improve.

Child Welfare Inspector

We believe everyone

Can correct their mistakes

All

And join the family

Of impeccable citizens.

Ola Nordmann

Thank you, Norway,

For never leaving

Your citizens alone,

For always rushing

To the rescue.

Friend

Like a good mother, you are

Ready to lend us a helping hand.

All

Join the family

Of impeccable citizens!

Neighbor Ladies

Thank you, Norway,

For all that we have:

Third Neighbor Lady

For our educations,

Second Neighbor Lady

For the right to an abortion,

First Neighbor Lady

For our freedom!

Neighbor Ladies

How it hurts us to know

That not all of our sisters

In the world have it so.

All (addressing Tanya and waving invitingly)

Tanya! Come to us!

Join the family

Of immaculate citizens!

During the next stanza, Tanya goes to the window in which the Miners have previously appeared and draws the curtains shut.

Child Welfare Inspector

Thank you, Norway,

That each of us

Can do good.

Friend

Thank you

For teaching us

What is good,

And what is bad.

Child Welfare Inspector and Friend

The whole world

Looks up to us,

For we’ve got our hands

On the Nobel Peace Prize.

Tanya joins the chorus and begins singing with them.

All (including Tanya)

Join the family

Of impeccable citizens!

Friend

Thanks, Norway,

For our wonderful present

First Neighbor Lady

And for our belief in a future

That will be even more

Wonderful.

Ola Nordmann

We will build houses that can walk.

Third Neighbor Lady

With the birds we will talk.

Second Neighbor Lady

We will find new meaning

In the simplest things.

All

We have things to do, Norway!

(addressing themselves directly to the audience, in close-up)

Filling our hearts with love,

We invite everyone

To join the family

Of impeccable citizens!

The End

 

 

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