Monologue Of A Broadway Actress

Said an actress from Broadway
time had pillaged like Troy:
'There are simply no more roles.
No role to extract from me all my tears,
no role to turn me inside out.
From this life, really,
one must flee to the desert.
There are simply no roles any more!
Broadway blazes
like a hot computer
but, believe me, there’s no role-
not one role
amidst hundreds of parts.
Honestly, we are drowning in rolelessness...
Where are the great writers! Where?
The poor classics have broken out in sweat,
like a team of tumblers whose act is too long,
but what do they know
about Hiroshima,
about the murder of the Six Million,
about all our pain? !
Is it really all so inexpressible?
Not one role!
It’s like being without a compass.
You know how dreadful the world is
when it builds up inside you,
builds up and builds up,
and there’s absolutely no way out for it.
Oh yes,
there are road companies.
For that matter,
there are TV serials.
But the roles have been removed.
They put you off with bit parts.
I drink. Oh, I know it’s weak of me,
but what can you do, when there are no more people,
no more roles?
Somewhere a worker is drinking,
from a glass opaque with greasy fingerprints.
He has no role!
And a farmer is drinking,
bellowing like a mule because he’s impotent:
he has no role!
A sixteen-year old child
is stabbed with a switchblade by his friends
because they have nothing better to do...
There are no roles!
Without some sort of role, life
is simply slow rot.
In the womb, we are all geniuses.
But potential geniuses become idiots
without a role to play.
Without demanding anyone’s blood,
I do demand a role! '


1967
Translated by John Updike with Albert C. Todd

by Yevgeny Yevtushenko

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