G. I. GURDJIEFFAct One
S c e n a r i o of t h e Ballet
THE STRUGGLE OF THE MAGICIANS
S c e n a r i o of t h e Ballet
THE STRUGGLE OF THE MAGICIANS
THE ACTION takes place in a large commercial town of
The market square where various streets and alleys
meet: around it, shops and stalls with every variety of
merchandise - silks, earthenware, spices; open-fronted
workshops of tailors and shoemakers.
To the right, a row of fruit stalls; flat-roofed houses
of two and three stories with many balconies, some hung
with carpets and others strewn with washing.
To the left, on a roof a tea shop further on, children
are playing; two monkeys are climbing on the cornices.
Behind the houses are seen winding streets leading
to the mountain houses, mosques, minarets, gardens,
palaces, Christian churches, Hindu temples, and pagodas.
In the distance, on the mountain is seen the tower of
an old fortress.
Amongst the crowd moving about the alleys and the
market square, types of almost every Asiatic people are
to be met with, clad in their national costumes: a Persian
with dyed beard; an Afghan all in white, with proud and
bold expression; a Baluchistani in a white turban with a
sharp peak to it and short white sleeveless coat with a
broad belt, out of which stick several knives: a halfnaked
Hindu Tamil, the front of his head shaved and a
white and red fork, the sign of Vishnu, painted on his
forehead;. a native of Khiva wearing a huge black fur
cap and a thickly wadded coat: a yellow-robed Buddhist
monk, his head shaved and a prayer-wheel in his hand;
an Armenian in a black 'chooka' with a silver belt and
a black Russian forage cap; a Tibetan in a costume resembling
the Chinese, bordered with valuable furs; also
Bokharis, Arabs, Caucasians and Turkomans.
The merchants cry their wares, inviting customers;
beggars with whining voices beg for alms; a sherbetvendor
amuses the crowd with a witty song.
A street barber, shaving the head of a venerable old
'hadji' recounts the news and the gossip of the town
to a tailor who dines in the adjoining eating house. A
funeral procession passes through one of the alleys; in
front is a 'mullah' and behind him the corpse is borne
on a bier covered with a pall, followed by the women
mourners. In another alley a fight is in progress and all
the boys run there to watch. On the right, a fakir with
outstretched arms, his eyes fixed on one point sits on
an antelope skin. A rich and important merchant
passes along ignoring the crowd, his servants follow him,
carrying baskets laden with purchases. Then appear
some exhausted beggars, half-naked and covered with
dust, evidently just arrived from some famine area. At
one shop Kashmir and other shawls and materials are
brought out and shown to customers.
Opposite the tea shop, a snake-charmer seats himself
and is at once surrounded by a curious crowd. Donkeys
pass by, laden with baskets. Women walk along, some
wearing the 'chuddar' and others with unveiled faces.
A humpbacked old woman stops near the fakir and
with a devout air, puts money into the coconut almsbowl
standing near him. She touches the skin on which he is
seated and goes away: pressing her hands to her forehead
and eyes. A wedding procession moves by: in front are
gaily dressed children, behind them buffoons, musicians
and drumbeaters. The towncrier passes, shouting at the
top of his voice. From an alley is heard the din of the
copper-smith's hammers. Everywhere there is noise,
sound, movement, laughter, scolding, prayers, bargaining
- life bubbling over.
Two men separate themselves from the crowd. Both
are richly dressed. One of them, Gafar, is a handsome.
well-built, wealthy Parsi about thirty or thirty-five years
of age, clean shaven except for a small black moustache
and close-cut hair. He wears a light yellow silk coat
belted with a pale rose-coloured scarf, and blue trousers;
over this a brocade robe, the skirt cuffs and facings of
which are embroidered in silver; on his feet are high
boots of yellow leather, the legs embroidered in gold
and precious stones; his head is covered with a turban
of a figured Indian material, its predominating colour is
turquoise blue; on his fingers are rings with large emeralds
and diamonds. The other man is his confidant
Rossoula, dressed equally richly, but carelessly. He is
short, stout, subtle and cunning, the chief assistant of his
master in all his love affairs and intrigues. He is always
in a sly and merry mood. On his head he wears a red
skull-cap with a yellow turban wrapped round it; in his
Hand is a short red rosary.
Gafar looks at some of the wares and stops occasionally
to speak with some of his acquaintances, but evidently
nothing interests him in all his movements one
can see the pride of a man satiated with pleasures. To
his equals he is patronizingly civil, but on everyone
else he looks with contempt or aversion. He has
experienced everything seen everything, and the things
for which other people struggle and exert themselves
no longer exist for him.
At this moment two women come out of a side street
on the left, into the square. One of them, Zeinab, is
young about twenty or twenty-two years of age, of an
Indo-Persian type, more than average height and very
beautiful. She is dressed in a white tunic with a green
scarf round her waist; her smoothly-dressed hair parted
in the middle is bound with a gold fillet: thrown over
her head she wears a 'chuddar' but her face is uncovered.
The other is her confidant, Haila. She is a
short, plump, middle-aged good-natured woman. She
is dressed in a blue velvet coat under a violet 'chuddar'.
Her mouth is covered with a handkerchief.
Zeinab holds a roll of parchment wrapped in a silk
handkerchief. She passes along the square graciously
giving alms to the beggars whom she meets. Gafar
notices her and follows her with his eyes. Her face
interests him because it seems, at the first glance, to
remind him of someone or something. He enquires of
Rossoula and other acquaintances who she is, but no
Just then, Zeinab goes up to a beggar woman near
whom stands a half-clad boy about eight years old with
an open sore on his naked arm. As she gives him alms
Zeinab notices the sore and bending over him she
speaks sympathetically to the beggar woman about him.
Finally she says something to her, pointing to one of the
side streets and then to the boy. It is evident from her
gestures that she is advising the woman to take the boy
where he can be cured.
All this time, Gafar does not cease to observe Zeinab.
Zeinab wishes to bind up the boy's arm, but she has
nothing to wrap round it, so she unfolds the silk handkerchief
in which the rolls of parchment are wrapped
and binds it round the sore. Then accompanied by Haila,
she leaves the square by a side street.
Gafar quickly consults Rossoula. It is evident that he
is giving him instructions to follow Zeinab and to find
out what he can about her. When Zeinab has disappeared
Rossoula follows by the same street. Gafar stands
looking after him, then slowly goes up to the beggar
woman and begins to talk to her. Recognizing the
handkerchief on the boy's arm as the gift of Zeinab,
he, without knowing why desires to buy it. He offers
the woman some money, but she refuses to sell it. Gafar,
thereupon throws down a handful of money and takes
the handkerchief almost by force from the boy, then
slowly walks towards the middle of the square. The
astonished woman excitedly picks up the money and
raising her hands to heaven, thanks Gafar. Then, taking
the boy by the hand, she goes down the alley pointed
out by Zeinab.
Rossoula returns and with deprecating gestures, tells
Gafar that he has discovered that Zeinab is not a woman
whom it is possible to approach casually. Then, still
talking together, Gafar and Rossoula go out by one
of the streets on the left.
Evening draws on. In one of the alleys there is much
movement, and out from it comes a dervish accompanied
by a crowd amongst whom are many women and
children. This dervish has been much honoured in the
country of late, and he enjoys great respect amongst all
the different nationalities. He recites some sacred verses
and to the rhythm of the verses he makes certain
movements resembling gymnastics or a dance.
The meaning of the verses is:
God is one for all,
But he is three-fold.
Men err, because he is seven-fold.
In his totality he is one-sounding,
In his division he is many-sounding,
And in another division he is contradictory.
He is everywhere in all forms.
When men see him
It depends on their qualities
Which part they touch
But who touches if he is ignorant,
Sees in the part he touches, all of him
And not doubting, preaches about him
He sins already
Because he acts against
The laws laid down
In the commandments of the Most High.
The commandment is this:
I am truth.
Your unbelief draws you
Into nearness with me
Because he who sees me...
The end of the verses is lost in the loud beating of
drums round a charlatan selling medicines.
The twilight deepens. One by one the merchants
collect their wares and close their shops. At the moment
when the movement of the crowd is at its height the
In the school of the White Magician.
A spacious room which looks like a laboratory or an
observatory with here and there shelves on which stand
boltheads, glasses and objects of fantastic shape recalling
modern apparatus, also several parchment rolls and
At the back, an enormous curtained window. To the
left, a door leading to an inner room. To the right, a door
In the right-hand corner stands an hour-glass. At the
lefthand side stand low tables on which there are more
boltheads, glasses and open books.
In front of the window stands a telescope of strange
form, and to the left, on a small table is an apparatus
similar to a microscope.
To the right stands a large throne-like chair, with
a high back on which is portrayed the symbol of the
enneagram, and at the left side is a small chair for the
When the curtain rises there are several pupils, both
men and women, already on the stage and others are
seen to enter from time to time. They are well-built,
nice-looking young people with good and pleasing expressions
on their faces. They are dressed in white
tunics; those of the girls are long, those of the men, to
the knee. On their feet are sandals. The girls have their
hair dressed smoothly and bound with gold fillets, the
men wear silver ones. All have scarves round their
waists; those of the girls are yellow, orange and red,
those of the men are green, dark blue and light blue.
They are all occupied. Some are arranging and cleaning
the apparatus, some are reading and others are
shaking certain liquids in glasses. By now, the number
of pupils has increased.
Through the outer door the Magician's assistant enters.
He is an old man of medium height, wearing spectacles
and with a short thin grey beard. He wears a robe of
yellow over a short white under-garment with a violetcoloured
scarf round his waist. On his feet are sandals;
on his head a white skullcap with a violet-coloured
scarf wound round it. In his hands he holds a long rosary
of mother-of-pearl, and on his breast, hanging from a
silver chain is the symbol of the heptagram - a sevenpointed
star in a circle.
The pupils greet the Magician's assistant who responds
graciously while going from one to another examining
and correcting the work. The pupils continue to
assemble. It is evident that the relationship between
them all is kindly, gracious and friendly.
A servant enters through the inner door and says
something, and from the movements of those present, it
is obvious that they await someone.
The White Magician enters. He is a tall well-built old
man with a benign and pleasant face and a long white
beard. He is dressed in a long white robe with broad
sleeves and facings beneath which is seen a cream undergarment.
On his feet are sandals. In his hand is a long
staff with an ivory knob, and on his breast, hanging from
a thick gold chain, is the symbol of the enneagram
worked in precious stones.
To the deep bows of the pupils the Magician replies
with a kind smile as he blesses them. Then walking
slowly to the throne, and after again blessing the pupils,
the Magician sits down. (At this moment the symbol on
the throne lights up.) The pupils each in turn, come
forward and kiss his hand, after which they return to
their places and resume their interrupted occupations.
At this moment Zeinab enters. She is late and out of
breath from hurrying. She goes up to the Magician and
also kisses his hand. By the way in which the Magician
greets her, it is evident that she is one of his favourite
pupils. She then goes to the other pupils and apparently
imparts to them her recent impressions of the beggar
woman with the boy.
One of the pupils goes up to the Magician, who is
talking with his assistant, and asks him to explain something;
Evidently the Magician's answer interests everyone,
for gradually they all collect round him and listen.
Continuing the explanation the Magician rises (at this
moment the symbol on the throne is extinguished) and
going to the microscope he starts some demonstrations.
The pupils in turn go up to the microscope and look
through it. Afterwards, the Magician goes to the window
and draws back the curtain. The clear starry sky
is seen. The Magician directs the telescope towards the
sky. The pupils in their turn go to the telescope and
look through it, at the same time listening to the explanation
of the Magician.
The chief idea of the exposition is as follows: What is
above is similar to what is below, and what is below is
similar to what is above. Every unity is a cosmos. The
laws which govern the Megalocosmos also govern the
Macrocosmos, the Deuterocosmos, the Mesocosmos, the
Tritocosmos and others, inclusively down to the Microcosmos.
Having studied one cosmos, you will know all
the others. The nearest cosmos of all for our study is the
Tritocosmos, and for each one of us the nearest subject
of study is oneself. Knowing oneself completely one
will know all, even God, since men are created in his
Having said this, the Magician slowly returns to his
The servant enters and approaching the Magician,
informs him that someone is asking leave to enter.
Having received permission, the servant brings the beggar
woman with the child. She throws herself at the
feet of the Magician and begs for help, pointing to the
boy. Zeinab also goes up to the Magician and intercedes
for the boy.
The Magician after looking at the wound speaks to
two of the pupils who then go into the inner room and
return, one carrying a cushion on which lies an ivory
wand with a large silver ball at one end and the other
carrying a handkerchief, a cup and a jar containing some
liquid. The Magician takes the jar and pours the liquid
into the cup, steeps the handkerchief in this and lays it
on the wound. Then with great care he takes the wand
and without touching the wound passes the wand several
times over the boy's arm. When the Magician takes
the handkerchief off, the sore is no longer there.
The beggar woman, struck dumb with astonishment,
falls on her knees and kisses the edge of the Magician's
robe. The Magician strokes the boy's head caressingly.
and then dismisses them.
The pupils disperse to their places and resume their
occupations. The Magician walks about the room, going
to some of the pupils to examine their work and give
suitable instruction. After some little time he says something
to all of the pupils and returns to his throne.
Immediately the pupils leave their work and place
themselves in rows, and at a sign from the Magician they
go through various movements resembling dances. The
Magician's assistant walks up and down and corrects their
postures and movements.
These 'sacred dances' are considered to be one of the
principal subjects of study in all esoteric schools of the
East, both in ancient times and at the present-day. The
movements of which these dances consist have a double
purpose; they express and contain a certain knowledge
and, at the same time, they serve as a method of attaining
a harmonious state of being. Combinations of these
movements express different sensations, produce varying
degrees of concentration of thought, create necessary
efforts in different function and show the possible limits
of individual force.
During an interval, one of the pupils points to the
hour-glass, whereupon the Magician tells them all to
finish their previous occupations and prepare themselves
for what is to follow. Meanwhile he himself goes to the
window and raises the curtain.
It is early morning and the sun is rising on the horizon.
As the first rays appear, the White Magician with
his assistant and his pupils behind him fall on their
knees. They pray.
The curtain falls slowly.
In the house of Gafar.
A room with an alcove in the right-hand corner, in
which - behind carved columns - can be seen a fountain
with a marble basin.
To the left, a door leading to the inner apartments,
and at the back, another door leading to the garden.
The room is arranged in the Perso-Indian style. At the
right, benches covered with rugs and cushions are
placed in several tiers against the wall Mindari. In the
left-hand corner is a low divan near which are several
fretwork tables. On one stands a kalian and other
smoking appliances, on another a sherbet set, on a third
a small gong and on a fourth a jug and basin of exquisite
and costly workmanship for washing the hands.
Gafar is walking about the room. He is without a
robe but on his head is a skullcap adorned with precious
stones. His every movement, his every glance show
that he is waiting impatiently. Occasionally he sits on
the divan and becomes absorbed in thought. He feels
that quite new things are happening to him. He who
has always been so haughtily calm and indifferent is
now agitated and worried by trifles which before would
not even have attracted his attention. Of late he has
become irritable, suspicious and impatient.
Just now he is waiting for Rossoula who is to bring
him news concerning Zeinab, the woman whom they
met in the bazaar a month ago, and whom Rossoula -
in spite of all his skill and experience in such matters -
has not yet succeeded in enticing into Gafar's harem.
Yesterday Gafar ordered Rossoula to arrange this at any
cost and what disturbs him so much now is the expectation
of the result of Rossoula's final efforts. But at the
same time, he feels that all this is simply ridiculous.
Many times before he has been attracted by some woman,
but while Rossoula has been busying himself in
the matter, either he forgot about the woman or she
ceased to interest him. But now, not only does he not
forget, but every day he thinks more and more about
Rossoula enters by the door at the back. He seems
very distracted - and this is quite unnatural for him. He
brings very discouraging news. He tells Gafar that all
his efforts to fulfil his orders have failed and even he
does not know what more to attempt.
They both reflect deeply. Every means of enticing
Zeinab has been tried; everything has been done that
can be done in such a case. They have sent her the most
varied gifts: ancient Indian fabrics embroidered in gold;
the finest horses - Arab, Chinese and Persian; Siberian
furs; such a rarity as a priceless emerald necklace - the
gift of the Rajah of Kolhapur to Gafar's grandfather; Gafar's
famous blue pearl, the 'Tear of Ceylon'; and lastly,
they have offered her for her very own - as a separate
harem with menservants and maidservants - the renowned
castle of the Gafars, the pride of their family,
the 'Breath of paradise'. But all has been in vain. Zeinab
has refused everything and will listen to nothing.
Gafar is perplexed. He becomes more and more convinced
that he has not the strength to reconcile himself
to Zeinab's incomprehensible stubbornness and he understands
that, in truth, she has been the cause of his
unusual mental state during this time. It is evident that
in this woman there is something exceptional. The way
in which he, Gafar, receives all Rossoula's failures amazes
himself. In any other case he would simply have been
indignant, but now although he is unable to suppress his
anger, in his heart he is almost glad that in this case
all Rossoula's ordinary methods are insufficient.
The strange things which he observes in himself turn
his attention to his relationship with women in general.
Thanks to his riches, his eminence and the circumstances
of his birth, his life has been so arranged that,
even at seventeen, he was already surrounded by women
and - in accordance with the custom of his country
- he had his own harem. At present he is thirty-two
but still unmarried in spite of the fact that for a long
time he has wished to marry especially to please his old
mother who is always dreaming of his marriage. But
until now he has never met any woman who, according
to his views, is suited to be his wife. Many women have
attracted him and in the beginning have seemed devoted
and deserving of his trust, but in the end all have shown
that their love and devotion have only been masks beneath
which have lain petty egotistical feelings. With
some it had been the passion for a young and handsome
man, with others the thirst for the luxury which he
could procure for them, with others again, the vanity of
being the favourite of a nobleman and so on.
All that he has seen has utterly disenchanted him. He
has never known a woman for whom he could feel the
trust and esteem which according to his views should
belong to his wife. He has become accustomed to look
on all the fine words about love and the sympathy of
souls as the mere fantasy of poets and gradually women
have become more or less alike for him differing only in
their types of beauty and in their varying
manifestations of passion. His harem has become part of
of precious things. He could no more live without his
women than he could live without smoking, without
music, or without all the luxury which has always
surrounded him. But he has long ceased to look
for anything more in woman than the momentary
enjoyment of a beautiful thing.
And now, suddenly there has arisen within him this
strange curiosity towards this incomprehensible woman.
Can it be possible that she is in truth so utterly different
from all others? Zeinab's appearance had impressed him
at the first glance, but what more does he know of her?
According to the information obtained by Rossoula,
Zeinab is the only daughter of a rich khan of a distant
town. She is twenty-one years old and completely free,
not betrothed to anyone, and she lives alone very quietly,
with some servants and an old woman called Haila. At
home she occupied herself with sciences and she came
here in order to study at the school of a celebrated
magician. This school she visits every day and the
remainder of the time she spends at her house engaged
in her studies. In all this there is much that is strange,
unlike anything to which he has ever been accustomed.
But the thought of Zeinab gives him no rest; he cannot
stop thinking of her and he is prepared for any sacrifice
to gain possession of her.
Still thinking deeply, Gafar gets up and walks about
the room. Then, evidently in the grip of a new thought,
he seats himself once more on the divan.
It is now clear that it is impossible to seduce Zeinab
by means which attract other women and conquer their
resistance. This being so, there remains but one thing to
do - to marry her. Sooner or later he must take a wife,
and a more beautiful one than Zeinab he will never
find. And if she should prove to be such a wife as he has
dreamed of then it will be happiness for him and joy
for his mother.
Gafar thinks thus for some time and finally speaks of
his decision to Rossoula. Then he summons a servant
and gives him an order. The servant goes out by the
door on the left.
Soon after an elderly woman enters by the same door.
She is one of Gafar's nearest relatives. He explains his
decision to her and begs her to undertake the part of
matchmaker. The old lady says she will carry out his
commission with pleasure and has no doubt of success.
It is well known that all the most famous beauties of the
country would count it a happiness to become his wife,
knowing of his wealth and position. She goes back to the
inner apartments and presently returns accompanied by
two other women. All three, veiled in 'chuddars', then
set out for Zeinab's house.
Gafar, with a thoughtful expression, still sits on the
divan. Rossoula walks about the room and from time to
time turns to Gafar suggesting various distractions. But
Gafar's thoughts are far away and nothing attracts him.
He listens to Rossoula in an absent-minded way and
finally, only to get rid of him, agrees to one of his
Immediately on Rossoula's orders, musicians enter
forming an orchestra of assorted Afghan, Indian and
Turkestan musical instruments. These instruments are:
a zitera (a kind of balalaika with a long finger-board
with seven strings, played on with a bow), an adoutar
- (a kind of balalaika with two strings, played with the
fingers), a rabab (with three gut strings and three copper
strings, played on with a small wooden pick), an atarr
(a kind of mandoline with a long finger-board and seven
strings, played x a mandoline), an asaz (also a kind of
mandoline with three silk and three gut strings, played
as a mandoline), a caloup (a kind of zitera with many
strings of steel and copper, played on with a bone pick
worn on the thumb), a zourna (a kind of pipe), a gydjabe
(a kind of violin), a. daff (tambourine), a davul (a kind
of drum), a gaval (a kind of flute), a galuk (a kind of
clarionet), and others. The musicians seat themselves
on the Mindari and begin to play.
As soon as the music starts, the dancers of the harem
make their appearance entering by pairs, dancing.
These dancers have all been brought from different
countries. For their beauty, as well as their skill and
agility, they are considered to be the finest in the land.
People have come from afar simply to see them. No
stranger seeing their group dances could help being enraptured
by them, and when each one dances the dance
of her own country, the cleverest judges are moved to
There are twelve dancers, all of them dressed in their
national costumes. To-day either because they feel the
mood of their master or because it is long since they
have danced before him, they dance with exceptional
First, a Tibetan performs one of the dances of her
mysterious fatherland. Next an Armenian from Mousha
dances to the accompaniment of slow music an amorous
dance of her country, almost drowsy but full of hidden
fire. She is followed by an Osetinka of the Caucasus in
a dance light as air. Then a Gipsy, a daughter of the
people who have forgotten their homeland in a burning
whirling dance seems to speak of the freedom of the
steppes and the distant fires of the camp. After her, an
Arabian, beginning slowly then quickening and quickening
her movements, attains a mad pace, then suddenly
relaxes and gradually swoons in ecstasy. Then a Baluchistani,
a Georgian, a Persian, an Indian nautch girl -
each one by her movements - manifests the soul, the nature,
the temperament and the character of her country.
Gafar, indifferent to everything .else, has always delighted
in his dancers, but to-day he looks at them almost
without seeing them so completely is he immersed in
his thoughts and feelings.
During one of the group dances the women envoys
return. With a contrite look the old lady tells’ Gafar
that his proposal is not accepted. Gafar becomes mad
with rage, chases everyone out of the room and remains
alone with Rossoula. They are both silent.
Gafar strides up and down the room. He could have
expected anything but not this. It is beyond everything.
Never in his life has he had to experience such a
humiliation. Rossoula is no less thunderstruck than
Gafar. He stands in deep thought and is evidently
racking his brain. Presently his face clears and he goes
up to Gafar and speaks to him.
Gafar listens with a gloomy face. What Rossoula proposes
goes against his deepest feelings, but he is insulted
and indignant and wishes at all costs to have his own
way. His desire for Zeinab has almost turned to hatred,
and the wish to have revenge for his humiliation overpowers
him. Rossoula continues to persuade him.
Finally, after a short struggle with himself, Gafar
They call a servant and send him with a message.
Gafar again seats himself on the divan with a morose
and wrathful expression. Rossoula wanders about the
room rejoicing in his inventiveness and resource.
After a short time, an old sorceress enters accompanied
by the servant.
She is short and bent with large hooked nose,
tousled grey hair and lively roving eyes, swarthy-faced
with a large hairy wart on the left cheek; her long, thin,
sinewy hands have long dirty nails. She is dressed in a
short soiled coat of violet colour and black trousers; on
her feet are old Turkish slippers: she is covered with a
dirty black 'chuddar' patched in many places with
coloured scraps; in her hand is a plain stick.
Gafar asks the sorceress whether she can bewitch a
woman into falling in love with him. The sorceress,
with self-confident expression, replies affirmatively, but
when she hears the name of the woman, she trembles
with fear and says that in this case she is powerless.
They offer her gold, but this time gold does not help.
The sorceress is unable to do anything herself but she
tells them that there is one person who if he wishes,
can bewitch Zeinab. It may be possible to persuade
him, but it will be necessary to give him much, much
Gafar and Rossoula consult together; they question
the sorceress and evidently decide to set forth at once.
The sorceress consents to guide them.
The servant enters and helps them on with their
outer garments. Meanwhile, by Gafar's order, servants
-bring from the inner apartments bags filled with gifts.
Then, accompanied by the servants carrying the bags,
Gafar and Rossoula go out by the door at the back.
The school of the Black Magician.
A large cave. The back wall has a projection in the
middle; to the right is an ascent to the entrance, to the
left, a passage leading to an inner cave.
At the left-hand side in a dark recess is a kind of hearth
or stove in which a fire is blazing. On the stove is a
cauldron out of which clouds of greenish smoke escape
occasionally. In front of the stove sits a shaggy half
naked creature who stirs the fire with a three-pronged
fork of strange shape and now and then throws wood
into the stove. In a niche above the stove is a human
skeleton and more curiously shaped forks project from
one side. In the centre of the cave, towards the back,
stands a large stone shaped like a throne-couch. On a
pole above it is a symbol of the pentagram.
Hanging from the ceiling are various stuffed animals -
an owl, a toad, bats, also human and animal skulls.
Here and there stand low tables with various objects
scattered on them, and boltheads, glasses, books and
rolls of parchment are lying in disorder about the cave,
A boa-constrictor glides around at liberty and black
cats walk to and fro.
This is the school of the celebrated Black Magician.
When the curtain rises some of his pupils are moving
about the cave; others are sitting down. A few are laying
out cards as though telling fortunes: some are studying
the lines of each other's hands and some - collected in
a corner - are preparing potions.
The pupils are men and women of varying ages some
young, others older, but all of unpleasing appearance.
One or two are deformed, thin with disagreeable shifty
eyes, dishevelled hair and warts. The movements of all
are sharp, angular and jerky. Their attitude towards
each other is hostile and derisive. They are dressed in a
slovenly fashion in short violet-coloured coats and black
trousers. On their feet are Turkish slippers. The only
difference between the dress of the men and the women
is that the women wear belts of black cord and have
black handkerchiefs on their heads. Some of them are
tattooed on the face and hands.
One of the pupils near the throne begins slowly to
make strange, rhythmic movements which apparently
please the others, for one by one they leave their various
occupations and join him. As their number increases
the movements quicken and become more and more
varied and gradually they form themselves into a ring
and begin to revolve madly round the throne. At the
moment of greatest frenzy a noise and a knocking are
heard at the left of the cave.
Instantly the ring breaks up. Disordered movements
and bustle follow. Jostling one another with fear, the
pupils rush back to their places and snatch up their former
occupations trying to give the impression that they
have never interrupted them.
From the inner cave the Black Magician enters. He
is a man of medium height, lean, with a short half-grey
beard, black eyes with long eyelashes and thick unkempt
hair. His movements are jerky with a characteristic
manner of his own, his glance is contemptuously
piercing. He is dressed in a short black silk coat
beneath which is seen a glowing crimson under-garment
a little longer than the coat. On his feet are Turkish
slippers; on his head a black skullcap. In his hand is a
long whip, and on his breast, hanging from a black
silk cord, is a golden pentacle.
At the Magician's entrance all fall on their faces. He
goes to the throne without looking at anyone; on the
way he even steps on one of the pupils. He seats
himself (The symbol above the throne lights up at this
moment.) He throws open his coat baring his breast
and his belly. The pupils in turn go up and kiss him on
the belly. With a kick he knocks one of them over.
The others with cowardly malevolence mock at the
When the ceremony of kissing the belly is ended, the
pupils at the Magician's order, place themselves in rows
to right and left of him and at a sign from him they begin
to perform various movements.
During one of the intervals the old sorceress comes
in through the outer entrance with a candle in her hand.
She goes slowly and fearfully up to the Black Magician,
kisses him on the belly and says something to him in a
cringing manner, pointing towards the entrance.
After a moment of reflection the Magician nods his
head in consent. The old woman goes out backwards
and quickly returns with Gafar. Rossoula and the two
servants carrying, the sacks of gifts. The servants come
in trembling with fear and looking about them with
astonishment and horror. When they reach the centre
of the cave they throw down the sacks and rush headlong
away. Rossoula and even Gafar feel almost as much fear
as the servants.
Gafar goes up to the Magician and tells him what he
wishes. The Magician listens but when Gafar mentions
the name of Zeinab, he absolutely refuses to do anything
whatever, knowing, like the sorceress, that Zeinab is a
pupil of the White Magician.
Gafar persists. Pointing to the sacks he pulls out his
purse, draws a ring from his finger, takes off precious
jewels and throws all before the Magician.
At the sight of the gold and jewels the Magician
hesitates, and finally consents to cast the spell if Gafar
can obtain something that has recently been in contact
with Zeinab's person. Gafar reflects, then suddenly remembers
the s i l k handkerchief which he bought from
the beggar woman, and drawing it out he gives it to the
Magician. The Magician points to the corner of the cave
and bids him wait. Then in a powerful voice he gives
some orders to his pupils.
Some of them move a table into the centre of the
cave and cover it with a black cloth bordered with the
signs of the Zodiac and Kabalistic symbols worked in red.
Others go into the inner cave and bring out various objects
including an ebony wand with a gold ball at the
top and a lump of soft clay which they place on the table.
Next to the clay they place, opened, a thick book with
strange hieroglyphics and the symbol of the hexagram
and an urn, out of which projects a human thigh bone.
The Magician takes off his garment receives some
unguent from one of the pupils, smears it over his body,
resumes his garment and over his usual dress puts on a
robe with very wide sleeves. The robe is bordered all
round with the signs of the Zodiac; on the back is embroidered
the symbol of the pentagram, on the breast a
skull and crossbones. On his head he places a high
pointed head-dress embroidered with large and small
Then he takes Zeinab's silk handkerchief and crumpling
it up places it in the middle of the lump of clay, from
which he models the likeness of a human figure. This
he places on the table. Next, on the floor around the
table, he draws a large circle within which all the pupils
collect. The Magician stands near the table and gives a
certain order to the pupils. They immediately form
themselves into a chain, men and women alternating.
The man standing on the Magician's right and the woman
on his left, take hold of his elbows with their free hands.
Some of the pupils remain outside the chain.
The Magician takes the wand in his right hand and
with his left he makes certain movements and whispers
It is seen that the pupils in the chain contort themselves,
making convulsive movements; some of them
become weak and even fall. Their place is speedily taken
by other pupils outside the chain who try to do this as
quickly as possible so that the chain may not be broken.
The clay figure on the table gradually begins to light
up at first faintly, then more strongly and more brightly.
Two pupils are working at the stove; one constantly
throws wood into it, the other stirs it up. The fire in the
stove grows fiercer, long tongues of flame shoot out
As time goes on, the movements of the pupils in the
chain become ever more violent and terrible; they are
evidently exerting their utmost strength. The Magician
himself is making an intense effort.
The clay figure lights up ever more and more strongly
when the wand passes near it, and at intervals it gives
out bright flashes. Above the cauldron a noise is heard
which gradually increases and at the moment when the
noise becomes very loud, the light in the cave becomes
dim and suddenly - above the stove - the shadow of
Zeinab appears and slowly lights up. As the shadow
brightens the steam escaping from the cauldron decreases.
The flame in the stove burns even more fiercely.
The sphere on the wand and the clay figure give out
strong intermittent flashes. The Magician and all the
pupils in the chain are terribly convulsed. The noise in
the cave increases and becomes like claps of thunder
and, at one of the terrible explosions the cave is plunged
Little by little the light re-appears. The shadow of
Zeinab above the cauldron can no longer be seen. The
flame in the stove has died down. The pupils, utterly
exhausted, lie on the ground. Even the Magician is halflying
on his throne, weak and spent. One by one the
pupils begin to rise. The less exhausted among them
give the weaker ones something to drink and help them
The Magician having partially recovered, takes the
clay figure, wraps it in a rag and gives it to Gafar with
All that has happened has produced such an overwhelming
impression on Gafar and Rossoula that at
first they cannot move. However, after a while, with
dragging footsteps they go out, accompanied by the old
The Magician, by now fully recovered, takes the sacks
with the gifts and scatters them on the ground. The
pupils with wild rejoicings fling themselves on them and
snatch them up, after which they dance in a ring round
In the midst of the wildest dancing the curtain falls.
The same scene as the Second Act.
When the curtain rises the White Magician and all
his pupils with the exception of Zeinab are present.
The Magician and his assistant with whom he is
talking are watching the pupils who placed in groups,
are performing movements resembling dancing.
Suddenly Haila rushes in, falls on her knees before
the Magician and with excited gestures hurriedly tells
him what has happened to Zeinab.
What she relates is so unexpected that at first the
Magician can scarcely understand what she is trying to
tell him: He is amazed. Reflecting deeply he rises and
walks about the room. The pupils too, are astounded.
From time to time the Magician turns to the old woman
in order to ask more details of the situation.
Finally he comes to a decision, and turning to his
pupils he makes a proposal to them. Several of them express
agreement. The Magician, having chosen one of
them, places him on a chair, takes both his hands and
looks into his eyes. It is seen that the pupil gradually
falls asleep. When his eyes are closed the Magician
makes several passes over him from head to foot. The
pupil is now in a hypnotic sleep. The Magician puts
several questions to the sleeping man. By the movements
of his lips it is seen that the pupil answers. The
room becomes half-dark.
The purport of the sleeper's answers is reproduced
in a series of pictures which appear on the back wall.
Zeinab's room. She is alone. Each of her postures
and movements, every expression of her face, bears
witness to some powerful struggle within her. Sometimes
she springs up and walks nervously about the
room; at one moment she appears to conquer what
torments her, at the next, overcome by something
stronger than her reason, she falls helpless on the divan.
She is suffering terribly; this is evident from her gestures
which are full of grief and despair. At times it seems
as though she were defending herself against something;
her mind is stubbornly resisting a strange feeling or
desire which has entered into her.
Haila, on entering, does not recognize her mistress. So
entirely has Zeinab changed towards her. She hardly
notices Haila, and to the old woman's words and
entreaties she either pays no attention at all, or else
replies with impatient gestures. The old woman goes
out with a crestfallen expression.
Zeinab's torture has no end; the struggle within her
increases and increases. Mixed feelings of fear, desire,
curiosity, shame, alternate more and more rapidly within
her. Now becoming very excited, then suddenly growing
weaker, she hurries from spot to spot and can find no
resting place for herself
At the moment of her greatest agitation Rossoula
enters, bearing a tray of jewels from Gafar. Zeinab is
not in the least astonished at this unusual visit, on the
contrary, it seems as though she had expected it.
Rossoula, after presenting the gifts, speaks to Zeinab,
who with nervous agitation, questions him. She takes
the jewels, and in an excited and automatic manner tries
them on before the mirror. Rossoula, meanwhile, is
trying to persuade her to some course to which she
Haila again enters. She is amazed and can understand
nothing, so unusual is all this for her. Realizing at last
what is happening, she throws herself on her knees
before Zeinab imploring her not to consent to Rossoula's
entreaties. But Zeinab appears completely changed.
Impatiently tapping with her foot, she orders the old
woman to be silent. Then rapidly throwing a cloak
round her, she goes out with Rossoula.
Haila remains distracted, not knowing what to do.
Suddenly she comes to a decision, puts on her shawl, and
goes out hurriedly.
The picture vanishes. The ordinary light returns.
The Magician moves away from the sleeper and
walks about the room, greatly perplexed. His assistant,
making several passes over the sleeper from foot to head,
awakens him, and one of the pupils gives him a drink.
The Magician now realizes what has happened. He is
indignant and at the same time alarmed. Having walked
agitatedly up and down the room several times, he seats
himself on a chair and reflects deeply. Suddenly he gets
up and gives an order to the assistant and to the pupils.
They carry out his instructions rapidly. They move a
table into the centre of the room and clear the space
around it. From the inner room they, bring various things;
certain vestments, various appurtenances and the wand
on its cushion. They cover the table with a white cloth
on the border of which are embroidered astronomical
signs and chemical formulas.
The Magician robes himself. He draws maniples over
his hands; puts on a special girdle and a peculiar kind of
covering on his feet, resembling rubber. On his head he
puts a kind of crown a broad fillet with three cones, the
sharp ends pointing upwards. Over his coat he puts a
robe resembling a chasuble. Meanwhile the pupils, under
the direction of the Magician's assistant, also get ready.
putting similar coverings on their feet, and girdles round
their waists. They wash their hands, shaking them downwards
a few times, and then take some kind of drink.
The Magician is now ready. He takes a vessel like a
large bowl and places it in front of him; another vessel
of similar shape, but smaller, he puts at the opposite end
of the table. The two vessels are connected by a copper
bar. The pupils hand him a liquid which he pours into
the vessel. Around the first vessel stand nine candles, six
are alight and three are unlighted. Having taken the
wand in his left hand, the Magician makes certain movements
with his right hand, and pronounces some unknown
words. At the same time four of the pupils, two
men on the right and two girls on the left, make passes
above the smaller vessel. It is noticeable how soon they
become exhausted doing this. Immediately they are
replaced by other pairs. Gradually the larger vessel begins
to emit light from within. At the moment when this light
first appears, the three unlighted candles light up. Every
time the Magician brings the wand near to the vessel a
spark appears and as time goes on the spark grows stronger
and stronger. The candles and the symbol above the
throne burn more brightly. The ceremony continues.
The movements of the Magician become ever more
energetic and intense. The noise within the vessel
increases and, at the moment of greatest uproar there is a
crackling within the vessel, and a fearful explosion takes
Immediately there is complete darkness, after which,
by degrees, a half-light returns, and on the back wall a
picture appears showing a portion of the cave of the
Black Magician, who, seated on his throne, contorts himself,
making convulsive movements. The White Magician
continues his manipulations. Again there is a terrific
explosion followed by an echo from behind the scenes,
and accompanied by shrill whistling sounds and great
uproar. The Black Magician falls in convulsions from his
throne. There is again a moment of complete darkness
and oppressive silence, after which the light returns and
the picture of the cave disappears.
The White Magician is greatly exhausted; the pupils
who assisted him are no less spent than he, but the work
continues. Quickly they take away the vessels and
candles from the table. They remove the table and in
its place they put an armchair in which the Magician
seats himself. Around him stand the pupils. The Magician,
holding the wand in his hand, closes his eyes and
whispers some words with concentration. Gradually
the light grows dim again. Another picture appears.
It shows a part of Gafar's room. He is half-lying on the
divan and with an expression of joy and self-satisfaction
looks towards the inner room. Apparently he expects
Zeinab enters with a woman who, bowing low before
Gafar, motions with her hand towards Zeinab and immediately
goes out backwards.
Gafar rises, takes Zeinab by the hand and is about
to seat her on the divan, when at once, with a sudden
start they both become rooted to the spot in exactly
those postures in which they were standing. After a short
pause, they turn, like automata, and go out of the room.
The streets and alleys through which they pass like
sleeping people, flash by. The picture vanishes. The
former light again returns, and at this moment Gafar and
Zeinab enter. Both are in a somnambulistic state. At
their appearance the Magician, with a sigh of relief, gets
up and begins to disrobe. The assistant with some of the
pupils place Gafar and also Zeinab on chairs, and awaken
Zeinab, on coming to herself asks those around her
what is the matter. They explain what has happened
pointing to the sleeping Gafar. She suddenly remembers,
bursts into sobs, and with gestures of penitence, throws
herself at the feet of the Magician.
He, having finished his disrobing, bends down to her
and stroking her hair, raises her from the ground. Then
he goes to Gafar who has already come to himself. Gafar
is at first dumbfounded, but learning what has happened
he grows excited and almost threatens the Magician. The
latter with a calm smile answers him. Gafar listens and
gradually becomes more composed. The Magician continues
to talk accompanying his words with gestures and
pointing to the back of the room where once more a
A street with a crowd of people is seen; there are
women, children and old people. From a side street
comes Gafar; he is old, bent and feeble. He is followed by
some bright being. In spite of his age; Gafar is evidently
very happy and cheerful. In the crowd he is greeted by
everyone, women and men bow low to him and children
bring him flowers. All is joy, happiness and blessing.
The Magician goes on speaking. The picture changes.
The same street with a crowd of people. Again Gafar
appears but this time he is accompanied by a terrible
being of dark red hue. Gafar is an old man with an evil
and dissatisfied face. Those who meet him turn aside with
aversion and spit in his footsteps; the boys throw stones
at him: their disgust is plain, and it is obvious that everyone
is revolted by the sight of him.
The picture vanishes. The Magician continues to speak.
Gafar is evidently perturbed and overwhelmed by some
The chief point of what the Magician has said is this:
As you sow, so shall you reap. The deeds of the present
determine the future; all that is good and all that is bad;
both are results of the past. It is the duty of every man
in every moment of the present to prepare the future,
improving on the past. Such is the law of fate. And 'May
the source of all laws be blessed'.
At this moment the light again becomes dim; some
movement is seen. When the light returns, the assistant
is standing on the Magician's right and Zeinab on his
left; she is kissing the hand of the Magician. Gafar is at
his feet in an attitude of reverence. Around the throne
and about the room the pupils stand in various attitudes.
The Magician raises his right hand aloft. He looks
upwards and whispers these words as if in prayer:
‘Lord Creator, and all you His assistants, help us to be
able to remember ourselves at all times in order that we
may avoid involuntary actions, as only through them
can evil manifest itself.’
All sing, ‘Forces become transformed to be’.
The Magician again blesses them with both hands
and says, ‘May reconciliation, hope, diligence and justice
be ever with you all’.
All sing, ‘Amen’.