Illyria Street Commune — Chapter 9

By Fredy Perlman (2011)

Revolt Library >> Anarchism >> Illyria Street Commune >> Chapter 9

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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 9

TAPED NARRATOR: The larger community became increasingly involved in the activities of the commune, giving rise to new projects and enlarged perspectives, while old members, whose participation was ever more marginal, resisted the changes with a growing ferocity. Something like a fight to the death began between the dynamism of the new people intent on pushing the commune in new directions and the stultifying negativism of the freeloaders intent on bringing all activity to a dead halt. This was one of the historical instances when the living were not crushed under the weight of the dead.

(OLYMPIA enters from right, removes a plant from the picture window. DONNA enters from right)

DONNA: Please be careful with that one! (Donna takes down another)

PHILIP (enters from right, removes a plant): This is the greatest move we’ve made in years.

OLYMPIA: Where do you want them?

DONNA: Just set them on the floor. I’ll arrange them later.

(OLYMPIA exits right with plant)

DONNA: Philip, please do be careful. (Exits with plant; then PHILIP)

(BARRY enters from right with pail, starts cleaning the cleared portion of the window)

BARRY (shouts to right): I never even knew there was glass here!

(OLYMPIA & PHILIP & DONNA return from right, repeat plant removal)

OLYMPIA: Oh, wow, what a workroom! No painter’s studio could be brighter than this.

PHILIP: Give people a chance to actually see what we do here.

BARRY: Anastasia and Lyman said they’d be here about now.

PHILIP: Maybe something came up. They’ve sure made a lot of useful suggestions.

OLYMPIA: What I’d like to know is, where are the other people who are constantly talking about improving this place?

PHILIP: Who else knew about this?

OLYMPIA: Grover, for instance.

BARRY: Yea, Grover has a big mouth, but when it actually comes to doing the work he’s fifty miles away turning someone else on to a project.

DONNA: There won’t be enough sun in my room to keep all these plants alive.

OLYMPIA: You could get one of those lamps.

PHILIP: You’re not changing your mind, are you?

DONNA: No, Philip. It’s the first house-decorating idea you’ve had since you’ve been here, and I agreed.

(OLYMPIA, PHILIP & DONNA exit right with plants. MATTIE enters from right)

MATTIE: Do you know where iodine and bandages are kept, Barry?

VOICE OF OLYMPIA: They’re in the bathroom cabinet.

BARRY: Cut yourself?

MATTIE: Rose Anne bruised her knee climbing to the tree house. Spring cleaning?

BARRY: Sort of. We’re removing the plants.

MATTIE: Permanently? But that window is such a perfect place for them; they get sun during most of the day —

BARRY: Yea, but look at the landscape you can see now.

(OLYMPIA, PHILIP & DONNA return from right, remove last plants)

MATTIE: The landscape! Is that why you’re doing this? You can see the same landscape by opening the front door, by sitting on the lawn, by walking — I’m sorry to see those plants go, especially now that I’ve finally gotten Rose Anne to stop trying to pull them down.

OLYMPIA: If you like them so well, Mattie, why don’t you put some up in your living room.

MATTIE: Thanks for the suggestion. Maybe I’ll do that. (Exits right)

OLYMPIA: What a crock that is. She doesn’t only stay away from the work, but she’s full of good ideas about how I ought to do my work.

PHILIP: It’s true that Mattie hasn’t been very cooperative lately. She used to be so interested.

DONNA: Do you ever wonder why, Philip?

OLYMPIA: Once this is clean, we’ll have to schedule our next steps.

DONNA: All I want to know is when you schedule the planting.

(PHILIP, OLYMPIA & DONNA exit right with plants, DAN enters from right)

DAN: What a change!

BARRY: Yea, you’ll be able to see what you’re typesetting.

DAN: I suppose so. But I never had trouble before.

BARRY: You too?

DAN: Me too what?

BARRY: Never mind.

(OLYMPIA & PHILIP enter from right, clean with Barry)

OLYMPIA: Dan, I know you’re awfully busy, but do you think you’ll find the time to fit our brochure in between all those political things you’re doing?

DAN: I haven’t been doing much of anything, Olympia, and I didn’t know you were in a hurry for it. When Philip gave me the manuscript he said he wanted me to look it over.

PHILIP: That was two weeks ago. Did you look it over?

DAN: Yes. I suppose I could start on it next week. When do you want the typesetting done?

PHILIP: What did you think of it?

DAN: Frankly, I liked the first brochure we did a lot better. In spite of his whiney politics, Ben writes intelligent texts and good poetry, whereas your friend Lyman —

OLYMPIA: We’re a commune, Dan. When did we start discriminating between your friends, my friends, his friends?

DAN: When didn’t we? I can’t stand this character and I don’t consider him my friend, comrade, fellow communard —

BARRY: You don’t even know him, Dan.

DAN: He’s a hack, a PR man, an author of advertising copy, and his material stinks; the whole thing reads like an advertising brochure. I thought you might be willing to ask Ben to write the texts.

OLYMPIA: We’ll think about it.

(DAN exits right)

PHILIP: I didn’t see anything wrong with Lyman’s texts.

OLYMPIA: I think they’re much more to the point than Ben’s were.

PHILIP: Then what’s there to think about?

OLYMPIA: Wait. I have an idea.

(SHARON enters from left, in overalls)

SHARON: Has anyone seen the lug wrench? It’s not in the garage.

OLYMPIA: Yes, it’s in the kitchen; I needed it as a pry bar.

SHARON: What did you do to Donna’s plants?

BARRY: What did we — we smashed them, Sharon, that’s what we did.

OLYMPIA: Of course you wouldn’t know, would you Sharon? Ever since your Hollywood movie romance started you haven’t had time to find out what’s going on around here.

SHARON: I do my share, and more —

OLYMPIA: Don’t we all, Sharon. But we don’t all criticize the work other people are doing. Why do you decide you like the window dirty the moment when someone finally starts cleaning it? Why do you decide you’re no longer interested in improving this place the moment when people with fresh ideas start making improvements?

SHARON: I — I don’t know. (Runs out left, without lug wrench)

OLYMPIA: Speak of negative energy! She wants tomatoes in precisely the spot where you’re planting parsley, and it you’d put tomatoes there she’d talk your head off about parsley.

BARRY: She’s always been like that. I don’t see how Steve can work with her.

OLYMPIA: He’s another person who’s had his head up his ass since that great romance began.

(GROVER, ANASTASIA & LYMAN enter from left)

GROVER (roaring with laughter, waving a newspaper): Has everyone seen this morning’s news? “Easter Canceled. Christ’s body found.” Look at this picture! “The feet that once walked the Sea of Galilee here protrude from the mud, still showing the nail scars.”

BARRY: Let me see that.

PHILIP: We’re almost done.

LYMAN: I’m terribly sorry we’re so late. Grover’s car broke down and —

OLYMPIA: And you probably had to wait for him for an hour. We know Grover. What do you think?

ANASTASIA: It’s fantastic!

LYMAN: What a transformation!

BARRY (reading): This is a riot!

OLYMPIA: Grover, what do you think?

GROVER: About what?

OLYMPIA: The window!

GROVER: Oh, the window! The vegetation is gone.

PHILIP: Is that all?

GROVER: The thing I like least about plants is that people who already believe God exists point to a plant and tell you it proves he exists; makes me associate plants with religious icons.

OLYMPIA: The three of us have been discussing the exposition you suggested, Lyman, and we don’t think we could have it together in less than six months.

PHILIP: We wouldn’t want to have it in summer.

OLYMPIA: Barry and I have barely started photographing Philip’s new creations, and Philip wants to revise several old ones and make a whole series of new ones.

LYMAN: I didn’t have any kind of deadline in mind. The sooner the better, I say.

OLYMPIA: There’s a minor bottleneck. Have either of you ever typeset on a machine like this one?

ANASTASIA: Certainly. It’s an ordinary office typewriter.

OLYMPIA: I know, but it has some special attachments.

ANASTASIA: It has that device on the right if you want to justify copy; my friend Lamia operates a machine just like this one; she’s a secretary.

OLYMPIA: Do you think Lamia could typeset the texts for the brochure?

ANASTASIA: I know she could; she’ll be flattered to be asked. I’ve told her about you and she’s absolutely thrilled about your programs. Shell has an interest in primitive mythology and art, and particularly in modern revivals of ancient forms.

OLYMPIA: That’s wonderful. Then there is no bottleneck. (Shouts right) Dan! Could we talk to you for a second?

(DAN enters from right)

OLYMPIA: Could you return the brochure manuscript to us sometime today? There’s no hurry. We’ve had a change of plans.

DAN: You’re going to reconsider the texts?

OLYMPIA: We’re going to reconsider everything. We’re playing with the idea of having the commune women prepare an exposition.

DAN: The idea seems good.

OLYMPIA: I knew you’d think so. Of course we’ll want the women’s group to do all the work that’s involved.

DAN: I understand. I’ll bring the manuscript by after lunch.

OLYMPIA: And the machine is going to be in use some of the time.

DAN: Obviously. I don’t have many projects now, so that won’t inconvenience me.

(DAN exits right)

PHILIP: A women’s exposition?

OLYMPIA: Of course we’ll still exhibit your things, Philip, but we’ll take care of all the other arrangements, isn’t that right, Anastasia?

GROVER: I don’t get it.

OLYMPIA: Let it settle gradually, Grover. It’s such a beautiful day, why don’t we discuss this some more while walking. We should also talk about our schedule for the coming months.


From :


November 30, 2010 :
Chapter 9 -- Publication.

October 11, 2021 17:34:05 :
Chapter 9 -- Added.



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