COUNTRY: Puerto Rico
translated by Prof. Charles Philip Thomas
Quimera (Chimera) takes place in Ponce, Puerto Rico in August of 1898 as the invading American forces are about to enter the city. The play presents the dilemmas experienced by Antonio Alonso (actor, 68 years old) and his wife, Leonor Roncoroni (60 years old) as contrasted with those of a differet generation; Mario Alonso (his son, 40 years old) and his lover, Amanda de Atocha (actress, 23 years old). While the original intent of Alonso was to raise money for rifles and horses to be used against the invading American force, the plans have changed due to several circumstances. Many are fleeing the city, so Alonso has no choice other than to allow Mario's lover to take on an important role in the production. Intrigue and conflict between Mario and his father heightens as the preparations are made. Mario has visions of a chimera (face of a lion, tail of a dragon, and body of a ram) which for him foretell the future of his beloved land.
After the American forces enter the city we learn that Alonso's lover (the mayor's wife) brings him the news that her husband will remain in power and that they must prepare the show to entertain General Miles and others of the invading forces. The anti-american rhetoric of the production will be replaced by entertainment. Amanda and Mario continue to have their ``visions'' of how the country will change. Everyone is surprised at how peacefully the city has been taken over. Mario, his father, and Amanda have heated discussions about what the changes will bring. Alonso's attitude is ``Más vale poeta vivo que gauchupín muerto'' (Better to be a live poet than a dead Spaniard) while Mario laments to Amanda ``Vinieron a adoptarnos, querida. Porque somos huérfanos incapaces de construir un destino. No les viste las caras paternales?'' (They came to adopt us, dear. Because we're incapable of making our own way. Didn't you see their paternal looks?) Mario comments to his father ``Te vendiste, papá, te vendiste siempre. Te vendiste tanto que ya no vales nada.'' (You sold out, Dad, you always sold out. You sold out so much that now you're not worth anything) The conflict comes to a dramatic conclusion during the theatre production for the American forces as Mario brings in a rifle with the intention of killing the American General while saying that he must kill this ``chimera.'' Alonso and Amanda prevent this from happening, as all seem resigned to their destiny.
AMANDA: Isn't that the worst mistake of all time? That children repeat the mistakes of their parents. (She takes him by the hand for a moment and then lets it go to continue listening to ALONSO.)
ALONSO: My father lived with his uvula in his teeth. He didn't speak unless he was screaming, ``Antonio, you rat, scum of the earth, come here right now.'' (He laughs.) A great actor, he was indeed. One of those old Spanish actors who knew Lope to Shakespeare like the back of his hand. Yes, sir... He had a big moustache, like a broom, and he stood in the center of the stage to recite lines from Moratín with that thunderous voice which left the public clenching its teeth. A hundred orchestras couldn't reproduce his roar!
AMANDA: A man like that should be in the circus.
ALONSO: A man like that was meant for the circus. Dad was born in 1790. That was a hard year. The ends of centuries are always contradictory. But who cares about my father now? He didn't have to fight in any war. Well, he complained about Napoleon, but all of us still complain about that son of a bitch. (He laughs. A pause.) Don't hate me, boy. I'm not asking you to love me, I haven't been good to you. (He rudely embraces him.) And there's nothing to be done about that. But I'm a Freemason, so I'm in agreement with your respect.
MARIO: The voices are talking to me about killing.
MARIO (to AMANDA): This is the most important part of a good first act. The plan for the protagonist.
AMANDA: Who's the protagonist?
MARIO: Uh... well, me.
AMANDA: And what was your plan?
MARIO: To end the chaos.
MARIO: Killing someone. The voices were saying that I should kill. And I obeyed.
AMANDA: You were like a crazy man.
MARIO: All of us were crazy, Amanda. Crazy... like sadness.
ALONSO: Killing someone. Really? (A pause. ALONSO receives the matter with worry and searches for a way out.) They are patriotic voices then. You know? You and I should hoist a couple of guns to our shoulders when those sons of bitches appear, give them four rounds of lead in the forehead to about two hundred of them. Spanish pride. Huh? What do you think? You and me in a trench, the Alonsos, father and son. The headline of the newspaper La Democracia will read, ``The great actor Antonio Alonso and his son, who is... a good, an enthusiastic playwright in the making, in one unequaled patriotic gesture of pride and courage, blew away more than 200 Yankees singing one of Verdi's arias.'' So the mayor will not take the theatre away from us, nor our miserable part of the mamey.... Let's kill 200 Yankees and you'll see how well we eat for the rest of our lives. What do you say?
MARIO: I don't know.
ALONSO: Fine. That's the way I like it. (He leaves singing one of Verdi's arias, with his head up.)
MARIO: Spain is in bad shape, Dad. And us with her. There's nothing to defend. It's all a disaster. There are four centuries of blood and death, Dad. All this patriotism is a Chimera! Dad! Listen to me... (He returns.) Define ``chimera.''
AMANDA: A beast and an impossible dream. I believe I've seen both things. Unless I'm crazy.
MARIO: Chimera:a mythological animal. Imagine it as I saw it... a lion's head; hairy, sharp eyes of an implacable predator, teeth with rotted human flesh in between, yech!
AMANDA: Now... go on, you don't have to be such a naturalist.
MARIO: A goat's body. I don't know if it's a female or a male. Well if it were female, it would give milk. I would kill for a glass of goat's milk. It's so delicious.
AMANDA: There are no goats. The Yankee soldiers ate all of them. Go on!
MARIO: A dragon's tail. From real dragons, not from the ones from fairy tales. Real dragons crap like ten elephants put together and let out giant loud farts that could smother half the kingdom.
MARIO: And on top of that they vomit fire. Flames that are a million degrees hot spitting between those gigantic holes from his nose and his fangs; divine purifying fire.
AMANDA: It's a very complicated animal. I didn't see it that way.
MARIO: That's part of its secret. It's so strange that nobody can imagine it.
AMANDA: I didn't want to imagine it! I wanted to see it as it really was so I would never be afraid of it.
MARIO: That's very wise, too.
AMANDA: You said you didn't hear it now.
MARIO: But that doesn't mean that it has died. It can come if I call it.
AMANDA: Is that what you heard in your mind? Was she the one who was talking to you? (The music increases in volume and intensity, the lights go down.)
MARIO: Now you'll see. Listen, it's close. (Calling to it.) Chimera, I summon you. Show yourself before this poor mortal who is so miserable that she cannot imagine you. Chimera, guardian of God's sins, show yourself! Show yourself so I can justify you! (A HIMERA appears floating on the blue curtain to the rear.) There you have it! It comes flying through the air with unicorn wings. In full color, immense, confusing, violent. A lion's head, a goat's body, a dragon tail, fire and more fire from its fangs! ``Kill'' it says to me, ``Kill so I can live. Kill, Mario Alonso, kill! Kill! Kill! KILL!'' (A violent cutoff of music, ight, images... everything goes away.)
MARIO: Well, there you have it. Complication, the fundamental element of good drama, it's just begun.