‘Kafka’s Harem’ is a play for six women about the confrontation between three of Kafka’s real life girlfriends – Felice, Milena and Dora – and three of his female characters – Josephine, Leni and Rosa. Each character feels she knows who Kafka really was and tries to claim him for herself. A theatrical tug-of-war ensues between the real women and the characters. But who will win?
‘Kafka’s Harem’ has been staged in Germany and The Netherlands. It was published in a trilingual edition (English, Dutch, German) and can be ordered at Uitgeverij Van Gruting: http://www.vangruting.nl/fictie/kafkas_harem.html
Scene 4 (fragment)
(JOSEPHINE glides onto the stage with a fixed smile, her arms opened wide and her neck craned. Then she trips and falls on her back. She can’t get up and waves with her arms and legs in the air as if she were a beetle on its back.)
JOSEPHINE: You! Helloooooo! Little girl in nursing costume!
DORA: Are you talking to me?
JOSEPHINE: Do you see anyone else around here? Besides, you’re good at taking care of those in need. (continues waving arms and legs)
DORA: How do you know?
JOSEPHINE: Well, you’re the one who looked after Franz, aren’t you? (DORA helps JOSEPHINE get up and leads her to the bench. JOSEPHINE is limping.) Come on, help me sit down. I can’t possibly sing with an injured foot.
DORA: Where did you meet Franz?
JOSEPHINE: Ah, yes, Franz. He was a great admirer of yours truly and of my singing, you see. Of course, I admired him too. An extraordinary writer. Ex-traor-di-nary.
DORA: But when did you meet him?
JOSEPHINE: In 1924. The last year of his life. Such a tragic end. Tra-gic. (JOSEPHINE coughs a little.)
DORA: But you can’t have met him then! That was the year that I was with him and I never left his side! He wasn’t seeing any other women. Only I was allowed to take care of him. Only I was allowed to be with him every hour of the day, whether he was resting in bed, reading or even writing. Just me. Me alone.
JOSEPHINE: Yes, dear. But when he went back to Prague for a couple of weeks, you didn’t go with him, now did you? You stayed in Berlin and I stayed with Franz.
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