Illyria Street Commune — Chapter 1

By Fredy Perlman (2011)

Revolt Library Anarchism Illyria Street Commune Chapter 1

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(1934 - 1985)
Fredy Perlman (August 20, 1934 – July 26, 1985) was an American author, publisher, professor, and activist. His most popular work, the book Against His-Story, Against Leviathan!, details the rise of state domination with a retelling of history through the Hobbesian metaphor of the Leviathan. Though Perlman detested ideology and claimed that the only "-ist" he would respond to was "cellist," his work as an author and publisher has been influential on modern anarchist thought. (From :


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Chapter 1

TAPED NARRATOR (voice of Olympia played through a tape recorder): It began with isolated strangers in the big city, hostile and suspicious individuals surrounded by shells, their tentacles warning them of constant dangers.

VOICE OF OLYMPIA (from right): Your garden is extremely well kept.

VOICE OF DONNA: It’s what I like best about this house, especially now when the sprouts start coming up.

VOICE OF OLYMPIA: I’ve never seen such an enormous kitchen and so well equipped!

VOICE OF DONNA: I guess they just ran off and left all their stuff, as if the city were being invaded.

VOICE OF OLYMPIA: What’s in here?

VOICE OF DONNA: I don’t know what they used this room for, but I’ve been putting things here I didn’t have the heart to throw away.

VOICE OF OLYMPIA: That chandelier — did it actually hang somewhere?

(DONNA & OLYMPIA enter from right)

DONNA: Right in the middle of this room. But it was so old fashioned we couldn’t stand it. Do you think you’ll take the room?

OLYMPIA: Do I ever? I’ve never had such a large room all to myself. Do you mind if I have my friends over?

DONNA: Have parties if you want. (Ges to right and calls) Philip!

VOICE OF PHILIP: What is it?

DONNA: One of the new roomers is here.

VOICE OF PHILIP: Just make sure they’re able to pay the rent.

DONNA: I thought you’d at least want to meet her.

VOICE OF PHILIP: Oh, all right.

OLYMPIA: Are there other applicants? Are you going to choose among them?

DONNA: I don’t understand — Oh, no, nothing like that. Only one other person answered my ad, and I asked you both to come here tonight when Philip and I are both home —

(PHILIP enters, stands in archway)

OLYMPIA: I’m sorry. I guess I’ve filled out so many applications that I’ve come to suspect every new situation of being another application.

PHILIP: Hi. I’m Philip.

OLYMPIA (turning around): Oh, hi. I’m Olympia. I think this house is unbelievable.

DONNA: She’s employed at —

OLYMPIA: I work part time as a waitress. I’ve got all kinds of projects which I intend to use my room for and they are increasing every minute — but none of them are noisy or smelly.

PHILIP: Fine. Any arrangement Donna makes is acceptable to me.

DONNA: Philip, she’s trying to tell you about herself.

PHILIP: Oh. Pleased to meet you. Sorry. I’m Philip.

(PHILIP exits right)

OLYMPIA: I’m all in a sweat — I’ve never had such a cold reception —

DONNA: Don’t mind him. He was always a little like that — quiet, I mean — but he’s gotten worse since his wife left him. That’s why I’m trying to rent the rooms. Becky was the life of this house, always giving parties for her friends and her kids friends. She’s had three already and she’s only my age. I just turned twenty. Becky and I were friends in high school. When we graduated we both got jobs in the same office, the year of the riots. I was telling you about Philip. Two weeks ago Becky packed up her two youngest sons, left Philip with the oldest — a four year old brat — and ran off with Rick. Rick was my boyfriend.

OLYMPIA: I’m sorry.

DONNA: Don’t be for me. I mean, I could see the storm brewing for the whole past year. But I guess Philip didn’t see anything. Anyway, it’s not because of the money that I put the ad in the paper. With Becky gone the house seemed like a tomb. She’s the one who did all the redecorating and she kept changing everything every week. It was always so full of people, like a constant carnival. The kids parties sometimes got on my nerves. But I guess I understand how Philip feels. I miss the noise and the parties and Becky more than I miss Rick. He got to be such a slob, expecting me to do things —

OLYMPIA: I know exactly what you mean.

DONNA: He called me his broad and even his old lady. We did have a marriage certificate, but that’s no reason. We all got married together, right in this room. Becky arranged for this Jewish priest to do a non-religious service since none of us believed any of that — You’re not religious, are you?

OLYMPIA: I was brought up a strict Mormon and I’ve been rebelling against it ever since.

DONNA: I wasn’t brought up a strict anything but I can’t stand it either, all that hocus pocus about a bath. Maybe when people didn’t bathe, but what’s the point nowadays? Anyway, as soon as I saw what was happening I started dating Steve. He was a typewriter repairman then; he works for the phone company now and he promised to get my phone hooked up so I don’t have to pay —

OLYMPIA: How does he manage that?

DONNA: I guess you can do a lot of things like that when you work for the phone company. I could tell he liked me the first time he fixed the machine in my office. He’s older, I don’t mean that he’s old. He’s in his thirties. As soon as Rick started going for Becky, my typewriter started going on the blink once a week. It was a ball until he got fired — not because of me, but because he wired the assistant manager’s dictaphone to the loudspeaker system and the whole building split laughing. Steve is real shy; he must have had some bad experiences but he doesn’t like to talk about it. For the whole past year Rick was arranging to meet Becky so I wouldn’t know about it and I was seeing Steve at this bar near here twice a week. He walked me home for the first time last week. He likes to sit and just look at me while he sips his beer. I’ve never had anyone like me like that —

(Doorbell rings)

OLYMPIA: I’ll get it.

BEN (entering): I called you earlier about a room? I suppose it’s the maid’s room in the attic?

OLYMPIA: That’s what I thought when I read the ad. You’re in for a big surprise. What’s your name? Mine’s Olympia.

BEN: I’m Ben. Then you’re not the woman who’s renting? —

OLYMPIA: That’s Donna. Why would you want a maid’s room, Ben?

BEN: See, I work with a group that puts out an underground paper and we —

DONNA: Gosh, are you connected with those four students who were shot to death? —

BEN: You mean in Kent? No, I’m not connected, I, er —

DONNA (disappointed): You’re not?

BEN: Maybe I am connected. What an odd question. The fact is I would have liked to see four guardsmen go down instead of four students.

DONNA: Gosh!

BEN: Are you still willing to show me the room?

DONNA (runs to right, calls): Philip! The other roomer is here! Could you show him a room?

OLYMPIA: I didn’t even know there was an underground paper in this town.

(PHILIP appears in archway)

BEN: Oh, sure. It’s one of the oldest in the country; it’s been going —

PHILIP: How do you do?

DONNA: Ben works for an underground newspaper, Philip. Isn’t that exciting?

PHILIP: What do you do for a living?

BEN: I was about to explain. I don’t get paid at the underground paper. I’m on welfare. Disability.

OLYMPIA: Really? I’ve been trying to get on that for years!

BEN: I actually have a disability.

PHILIP: Fine. I guess we could hardly ask for a steadier source of income than the government. Would you follow me?

(PHILIP exits right with BEN)

OLYMPIA: It isn’t clear to me who owns this enormous house.

DONNA: I do.

OLYMPIA: It must be terribly expensive. Are you — I hope I’m not prying — rich?

DONNA: Me? Gosh, do I look like it? I guess you don’t know how cheap these houses were selling, even a year after the riots. Come to think of it I was rich. I was the only one of us who had a bank account; that’s why I got to fill out the loan application. It’s funny. Philip went to college for four years and got a degree in chemistry or something, and then he spent ages filling out applications. He did finally get a job with a chemicals firm — as a shipping clerk. Becky and I had one interview during our senior year and we started working two weeks after we graduated getting half again as much as Philip gets now, and a year later I’d saved over a thousand dollars. Rick and Becky couldn’t hold on to money; they strewed it around like confetti. Here comes the underground.

VOICE OF BEN (from right): You actually do chemistry experiments in your room? Couldn’t you blow up the house?

VOICE OF PHILIP: Not very likely.

VOICE OF BEN: Would you be into making bombs?

VOICE OF PHILIP: I beg your pardon?

OLYMPIA: What kind of experiments?

DONNA: He makes silver, I think. Then he makes things out of it and melts them down again. And pottery.

OLYMPIA: In his room?

VOICE OF BEN: Cripes what a kitchen. My friends’ll think I sold out. I can’t even cook. Mind if I look at the garden?

VOICE OF PHILIP: The light switch is by the door.

OLYMPIA: What if — ?

DONNA: Shhh — I want to hear this.

VOICE OF BEN: This sure looks well kept. Just the two of you work on this?

VOICE OF PHILIP: I hate plants.

DONNA: Can you imagine?

VOICE OF BEN: And the rent — did I misread the amount?

VOICE OF PHILIP: Those arrangements are not my department.

BEN (in archway): You’re putting me on!

DONNA: I don’t understand.

BEN: Forty dollars a month for a room in this house? Half the town should have been here trying to rent it.

DONNA: If four of us each pays forty, that covers the loan, tax, utilities, plus some left over for repairs —

BEN: I know, but — are you sure you own this house?

DONNA: Do you want to see the papers?

BEN: The plants in that window are out of sight. Did you do that?

DONNA: I’m glad you like them. I thought you underground people didn’t care about things like that.

BEN: Will you still own the house an hour from now when I come back with my bags?

(BEN runs out left)

DONNA: Some people sure are odd. I did give you the keys, didn’t I, Olympia? Good night.

(OLYMPIA exits left, DONNA exits right)

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Chapter 1 — Publication.

An icon of a news paper.
October 11, 2021; 5:29:28 PM (America/Los_Angeles)
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