Illyria Street Commune — Chapter 4

By Fredy Perlman (2011)

Revolt Library Anarchism Illyria Street Commune Chapter 4

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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 4

TAPED NARRATOR: The ice was broken. Two members of the community joined us, then a third, and still others followed, even actual street people. We were no longer a green island surrounded by indifferent, salty sea; the waters receded and new land began to appear. The community around us became aware that something live and vital was stirring in its midst.

(During the narration, a typesetting machine, a desk and a chair are brought to the room. ALEC runs in from left, panting, and slams the front door. OLYMPIA runs in from right)

OLYMPIA: What’s the matter? Is something wrong?

ALEC: Nothing’s happening yet. Toni wanted me to get the largest pan we’ve got.

OLYMPIA: I know the one she means.

ALEC: Phone fixed yet?

(OLYMPIA, ALEC exit right)

(Doorbell rings. OLYMPIA runs to left. STEVE enters)

OLYMPIA: You must be Steve. Am I glad to see you!

(ALEC enters from right with pan)

ALEC: You the phone man?

STEVE: I guess so.

OLYMPIA: Does Toni need me, Alec?

ALEC: Naw. She says one more would be in the way.

(ALEC exits left, clowning with pan)

OLYMPIA: What an awful time for the phone to go out! Mattie’s giving birth.

STEVE: Donna told me she was due. I’m sorry I couldn’t come yesterday. (Starts to take apart the telephone)

OLYMPIA: I’ve been dying to find out how you managed to rig us up a free phone.

STEVE: It’s not a free phone. It’s a regular phone with an unlisted number, bills are sent out monthly, and I’m making a standard service call —

OLYMPIA: But we never get any bills —

STEVE: That’s because the bills are sent to the General Motors Corporation.

OLYMPIA: You’re kidding.

STEVE: This phone is regular in every way, only it’s located in an executive office at GM headquarters. This particular office isn’t likely to report discrepancies —

OLYMPIA: That’s ingenious!

STEVE: It’s just wire and a splice. I’ve been trying to connect your electricity to the same office —

OLYMPIA: Do you do a lot of that?

STEVE: Not really. One time I put two people who weren’t supposed to know about each other on a party line. Another time I put eight such people on a party line.

OLYMPIA: That’s hilarious! I meant, do you do things like this for other friends than Donna?

STEVE: I’m not familiar with that many executive offices.

OLYMPIA: Donna told us you can fix all kinds of things.

STEVE: Oh that’s what you mean! I used to fix a friend’s van and he’d get me things I needed from his plant. But he retired and moved away.

OLYMPIA: Have you ever thought of relating that way to our commune?

STEVE: Donna keeps asking me that. I don’t know. Recently I did some wiring for some young people like you who are setting up a printing cooperative —

OLYMPIA: An actual printing plant organized like a commune?

STEVE: I wouldn’t call it a plant. They’ll be able to do a few books and brochures, nothing large. When I was done they all offered to do things for me, and I was sorry I got involved.

OLYMPIA: I don’t understand.

STEVE: There, it works now. Look, they offered to do printing for me. Now why would I need anything printed?

OLYMPIA: Couldn’t they offer you something more useful?

STEVE: That’s just it. Why did they have to offer me anything? Everything was fine while we worked together. Then everything went foul. I became some kind of charity case.

OLYMPIA: I think I understand. What if each of us is so involved in his own thing that no one remembers to thank you?

STEVE: I’d better go now before the company gets suspicious. I’ll think about it.

OLYMPIA: Dan’s car is on the blink and he can’t afford to take it to a garage.

STEVE: Donna could have told me that. When does he need it?

OLYMPIA: There’s no hurry, he’s using Donna’s. Philip finally agreed to drive Donna to work.

STEVE: I’ll try to get to it this weekend. You’re Olympia, right?

(STEVE exits left)

OLYMPIA (Shouts left): Steve! When will you do our electric wiring?

VOICE OF STEVE: As soon as I get to it.

OLYMPIA: (slams door and dances to phone) We’ve got it made now! (dials) Hi, Leon. Tell Toni the phone works and I’ll be right there.

(Doorbell rings)

OLYMPIA (opening door): Did you forget something — Oh.

VOICE OF BARRY: Hi, what’s happening? We’ve been seeing this sign you’ve got, and —

OLYMPIA: Please come in.

(BARRY AND SHARON enter from left)

BARRY: Thanks. I’d like to introduce you to my girl Sharon. And your name is? —

OLYMPIA: Olympia. Won’t you sit down? Would you like something? Coffee? Beer?

BARRY: Don’t mind if I do. Beer will be fine.

SHARON: No thank you.

(OLYMPIA exits right)

SHARON: You don’t have to order things the minute we arrive!

BARRY: Shit, Sharon, how else are we going to find out what it’s all about?

(OLYMPIA returns with beer)

BARRY: Me and Sharon, we got a pretty clear idea what a commune is. I read in the papers about this commune in West Germany, the Red Army Fraction —

OLYMPIA: Oh, we’re nothing like that!

BARRY: I guess not, or you wouldn’t have that sign. The way I see it, it’s not a problem for me. What I mean is, I quit high school two years ago. I figured, it’s boring and there’s so much out there. I haven’t actually reached a lot of it yet, but I’ve got big plans. Last year I worked as a migrant farm worker, and then I went to see what was happening up in Alaska. I’ve got this assembly job now, except on my day off, and in a few months I’ll be going down to check out Mexico. Como esta usted? This dude I work with is clueing me in on the lingo. So it’s not a problem for me, see. But now my girl here, Sharon —

SHARON: I quit high school two weeks ago. Oh, it’s not Barry who talked me into it. I’m committed to experiencing the underside of life, and I’m convinced I can learn about life and people more profoundly on my own —

(Phone rings)

OLYMPIA: How old are you, Sharon?

SHARON: Sixteen, but —

OLYMPIA: (on phone) Hello — Dan! Yes, I’m still here. The funniest people dropped in. How is she?

BARRY: That was a little heavy, Sharon. Besides, it’s Underground, not Underside.

SHARON: What do you want me to say?

BARRY: Couldn’t you tell them about wanting to be an actress? They’re probably into shit like that.

OLYMPIA (on phone): I can bring it and be right over with it! — That’s silly! Just tell me where it is! (hangs up) Please go on. I’m sorry about the interruption. One of us is giving birth.

SHARON (gesticulating with her arms): Oh how exciting. I love newborn things —

BARRY: It’s probably a kid, Sharon —

SHARON: and particularly babies.

OLYMPIA: You said you wanted to experience the underside of life —

SHARON: Well — that’s only half of it. When I was little I dreamed of being a movie actress. And last week I got my first job — in a clothing factory.

OLYMPIA: As a start, you mean?

BARRY: You blew it, Sharon.

SHARON: Ever since two weeks ago I’ve been staying at Barry’s. But we both feel we can experience life more profoundly if we continue to live independently.

OLYMPIA: You mean you’re looking for a place to stay?

BARRY: Aw, Sharon, you really blew it.

SHARON: I’m not just out looking for a room. I know I’ll be able to do everything that’s done in a commune. I’ve seen Dr. Zhivago and —

OLYMPIA: We have an empty room and you’re welcome to it. The thing is, do you foresee any difficulties?

SHARON: You mean I can move in? I promise there won’t be any difficulties. I told my parents to fuck off — I mean, they’ve messed up their own lives and I don’t want them messing with mine!

BARRY: I hope you don’t get the wrong idea, Miss — Sister — I’m not just dumping Sharon on youse here. I’ll come around and see what’s happening.

(DAN, LEON enter from left)

DAN: All right, Leon, go and play your war game in the tree house.

LEON (plays the “marine,” stops in front of Barry): I’ve seen you on the corner! You’re the one with the motorbike.

BARRY: Cool it, kid.

LEON: Bang. You’re dead.

(Leon Exits right, running)

OLYMPIA: I could have brought Toni’s things, Dan, if you’d told me —

DAN: I needed the walk. Mattie’s just gone into labor. Toni’s really competent, and Ben is being very helpful. Even Alec and Lisa are helping. Compared to their usual energy level they’re like robots. But Leon of all people is a royal pain in the ass. Are these the people who dropped in?

OLYMPIA: This is our newest member. Sharon is moving into the empty room. She’s an actress.

SHARON: Pleased to meet you.

DAN: Charmed, I’m sure.

OLYMPIA: And this is Sharon’s chaperon, Barry.

DAN: Her what?

OLYMPIA: I’m not joking!

BARRY: What’s happening, man?

DAN: Fine, thanks. I’d better go look for Toni’s things.

(DAN exits right)

OLYMPIA (shouts from archway): I’ve just spent the most exciting afternoon! Everything’s happening all at once —

VOICE OF DAN: You mean there’s more than Sharon?

OLYMPIA: There’s Sharon’s acting and the puppet theater Toni’s been talking about. Barry’s an experienced farm worker and he’ll probably help us grow our own produce in the garden. And that’s only a start. You can drop that service contract with IBM —

VOICE OF DAN: Sharon doesn’t own IBM!

OLYMPIA: Donna’s friend Steve, the phone repairman, used to repair typewriters, and he’ll fix it free of charge. He also knows some people starting a revolutionary printing commune, so you can consider those brochures we’ve been talking about as good as printed —

DAN (entering from right): You’re putting me on.

OLYMPIA: This coming weekend Steve’s going to fix your car, and if you act as if you take that for granted he’ll teach us all to fix cars and we can open a revolutionary garage, solve our transportation problem once and for all, and start something the community could really get involved in.

DAN: Ben will flip when he hears about the revolutionary garage.

OLYMPIA: Ben isn’t the only one. Philip’s ears perked up when I asked if I could photograph his silver plates before he melted them back down. Watch his ears when we tell him we can put those pictures in a printed brochure with typeset texts explaining what they are!

DAN: I can’t take it all in. Are you coming?

SHARON: Do you have a name picked out yet?

DAN: Dimitri if he’s a boy, Rose Anne if she’s a girl.

SHARON: Do I call you Brother now?

DAN: I’d rather you called me Dan.

SHARON: Being as I’m a member of the commune now, Dan, can I come and watch the birth? I’ve never seen one.

DAN: Sure. Let’s all go. (to right) Leon, coming with us?

VOICE OF LEON: Don’t come any closer! You’ll never get me alive!

(OLYMPIA, DAN exit left)

BARRY: I told you that actress bit would do it.

(SHARON, BARRY exit left)

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Chapter 4 — Publication.

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October 11, 2021; 5:32:36 PM (America/Los_Angeles)
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