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Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Playwright Portrait, John Patrick Shanley, Excerpt from Celllini, 2008

Playwright Portrait, John Patrick Shanley, Excerpt from Celllini, 2008

Adopted from the Autobiography of Beuvenuto Cellini
CELLINI: Now it pleased my glorious Lord and Immortal God that at last I had brought whole to completion. The Duke was stationed at a window low upon the first floor of the palace. Just above the entrance to the piazza. There, half hidden, he could hear everything that folk were saying of my statue. So on a certain Thursday morning, before the sun was fully in the heavens, and before such a multitude as I have never before or since seen, I exposed my Perseus to the public gaze. Florence! Florence! (The lights change. The company sees the Perseus. We do not. The, as first, have no reaction except to draw back ever so slightly, Then, one by one, led by Bandinello and Riccio, they begin to applaud. One breathes, “Bravo” another “Che Bella,”another “Magnifica” another “Grandiosa”another“Bellisima”Cellini faces the Pope and genuflects, He faces the Duke and bows, He throws Caterina a kiss. She returns it. Then he signals them tosilenceand speaks to us). There are those who say I worked the metal too much. That my Perseus has failed the terrible test of greatness. Some flaw of proportion in the work. Perhaps. But I say to you, as I prepare to tell my life, no man can will himself to excellence. No fool or hero, of his own, can climb from the sky to Heaven itself. Such things are the province of Almighty God. But God looks down with favor on those who are merely animals, eating and drinking and fucking and dying. God looks down—and Time is nothing to Him, and our doubts are nothing to Him—He looks down with favor upon the fellow who tries his hand, who never gives up, though upon the wheel of the world turns against him and reveals to his mortal eye the insufficiency. The Creator of us all looks down upon our lives and hopes for us that we are not animals only. But that we behave in a way that does us merit on the level of divine. Whether that be in Kindness, or in Justice, or in Erudition, or in Workmanship, or in Love or Teaching or, in my pitiful case, Art. My Life has saved me, my Nature has uplifted me. I am ashamed of nothing, I have killed men and beaten women and ridiculed my enemies and I am ashamed of nothing. I will tell you. God will judge me. I have already judged myself. Write this, (the boy opens his book and poises his pen) I am happy that I was born. I have dwelt in the presence of greatness> Hold there a moment. (To the audience)Pray upon the telling of your tale, that you can say the same. Across 443 years, and all the way from Florence, buona sera. And Benvenuto.
COMPANY. (simultaneously) Benvenuto. (The lights fade. Darkness. Celebratory music. Curtain call)

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