A monologue from the play by Leonid Andreyev

adapted for the stage by Walter Wykes

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Copyright © 2007 by Walter Wykes

CAUTION: Professionals and amateurs are hereby warned that He Who Gets Slapped is subject to a royalty. It is fully protected under the copyright laws of the United States of America, and of all countries covered by the International Copyright Union (including the Dominion of Canada and the rest of the British Commonwealth), and of all countries covered by the Pan-American Copyright convention and the Universal Copyright Convention, and of all countries with which the United States has reciprocal copyright relations. All rights, including professional and amateur stage performing, motion picture, recitation, lecturing, public reading, radio broadcasting, television, video or sound taping, all other forms of mechanical or electronic reproduction, such as information storage and retrieval systems and photocopying, and the rights of translation into foreign languages, are strictly reserved.

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HE: You’re a fake—that’s what you are.  An impostor.  You talk about your book—your great success.  And it’s true, there isn’t a newspaper or journal to be found in which you and your book aren’t favorably mentioned.  Everyone loves you.  You’re the man of the hour!  Who remembers me?  No one.  I’ve been banished to obscurity.  And the critics were glad to see me go, too.  It was too much effort to extract thought from my heavy abstractions.  It overworked their poor little brains.  But you—the great vulgarizer!  You made my thoughts comprehensible even to pigs and horses!  They don’t have to think anymore.  They don’t have to reason.  You’ve absolved them of that.  They simply read your words and spout them back like some sort of silly mantra.  You dressed my Apollo in a second-hand suit, my Venus in a cheap dress, and gave my principled hero the ears of an ass!  But what do you care—your career is made.  No one is conscious of the theft.  They applaud you wherever you go.  Other writers imitate you.  You’ll be known as the father of an important movement.  Meanwhile, I can’t pick up the paper without being confronted by faces in which I recognize the traits of my own children.  My literary children.  The fruit of long years of devotion to my craft.  Countless hours, locked away in my study, struggling to unlock the secrets of a new language, a new vernacular, stripping away conventions.  And I succeeded.  I finally did it!  Yet, none of my children recognize me.  I’m a stranger.  They know only you.  It isn’t enough that you’ve stolen my wife—you’ve stolen my children as well!  My legacy!  And now you come to me because … why?  You feel guilty?  You want my blessing?  You want me to pat you on the back and tell you it’s okay?!  Fine.  It’s yours.  It’s all yours.  Take it!  My wife!  My children!  My ideas!  Assume all rights!  You are my lawful heir! [Pause.] It’s funny.  There was a time when I loved you … even thought you a little gifted.  You—my empty shadow.

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