Story of the Man Turned Into a Dog

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					             Story of the Man Turned Into a Dog
                                      By Osvaldo Dragún

                                 (Translated by J.H. Stevens)

The Theatre of the Absurd is a designation for particular plays of absurdist fiction, written by a
number of primarily European playwrights in the late 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s, as well as to the
style of theatre which has evolved from their work. Their work expressed the belief that, in a
godless universe, human existence has no meaning or purpose and therefore all communication
breaks down. Logical construction and argument gives way to irrational and illogical speech and
to its ultimate conclusion, silence[. Critics coined the term "Theatre of the Absurd", relating these
plays based on a broad theme of absurdity, roughly similar to the way Albert Camus uses the
term. The Absurd in these plays takes the form of man’s reaction to a world apparently without
meaning or man as a puppet controlled or menaced by an invisible outside force. Though the
term is applied to a wide range of plays, some characteristics coincide in many of the plays:
broad comedy, often similar to Vaudeville, mixed with horrific or tragic images; characters
caught in hopeless situations forced to do repetitive or meaningless actions; dialogue full of
clichés, wordplay, and nonsense; plots that are cyclical or absurdly expansive; either a parody or
dismissal of realism and the concept of the “well-made” play.

Cast of Characters:

ACTRESS

ACTOR #1

ACTOR #2

ACTOR #3



Actor #2: Friends, the third story will be told thus…

Actor #3: As it was told to us this afternoon.

Actress: It is the “Story of the man that was turned into a dog.”

Actor #3: It began two years ago, at a plaza bench. There, sir…., where you were trying to guess
the secret of a leaf.

Actress: There, where with extended arms we stretched to the world from head to toe and we
said, “play, accordion, play!”
Actor #2: There we met him. (Actor #1 enters) He was… (he signs) just like this – as you see him,
nothing more. And he was very sad.

Actress: He was our friend. He was looking for work, and we were actors.

Actor #3: He should have supported his wife, and we were actors.

Actor #2: He sounded with life, and woke up screaming in the night. And we were actors.

Actress: He was our great friend, of course. It was just as you see him… (he signs.) Nothing
more.

Everyone: And he was very sad!

Actor #3: Time passed. Fall….

Actor #2: Summer…

Actress: Winter…

Actor #3: Spring….

Actor #1: Lie! It was never spring.

Actor #2: Fall….

Actress: Winter….

Actor #3: The summer. And we returned. And we went to visit him, because he was our friend.

Actor #2: And we asked: “You OK?” And his woman told us….

Actress: I don’t know.

Actor #3: Is he bad?

Actress: I don’t know.

Actors #2 and #3: Where is he?

Actress: In the dog pound. (Actor #1 on four legs)

Actors #2 and #3: Ohhh!

Actor #3: (Observing him.)

I am the manager of the dog pound,
And this appears to me phenomenal.

He arrived barking like a dog

(main requirement);

And although he comes dressed like a man,

He is a dog, without a doubt.

Actor #2: (Stuttering.)

I-I-I am the v-v-veterinarian.

And t-t-this is c-c-clear to m-me.

E-E-Even though h-he appears t-t-to be a m-m-man,

T-T-That w-w-which is here is a d-d-dog.

Actor #1: (To the public.) And me, what can I tell all of you? I don’t know if I’m a man or a dog.
And I believe not even all of you will be able to tell me in the end. Because everything began in
the most common way. I went to a factory to look for work. For three months I couldn’t find
anything and I went to look for work.

Actor #3: Didn’t he read the sign? “NO VACANCIES”

Actor #1: Yes, I read it. Don’t you have anything for me?

Actor #3: If it says NO VACANCIES, there’s NO VACANCIES.

Actor #1: Of course. Don’t you have anything for me?

Actor #3: Nothing for you, nor for the minister!

Actor #1: Ah-ha! Don’t you have anything for me?

Actor #3: NO!

Actor #1: Lathe operator…?

Actor #3: NO!

Actor #1: Mechanic….?

Actor #3: NO!
Actor #1: Night watchman! Night watchman! Even if it be a night watchman!

Actress: (As if playing a bugle.) Dum-da-da-Dum! The Boss!

(Actors #2 and #3 talk in signs.)

Actor #3: (To the public) The dog of the night watchman, ladies and gentlemen, had died the
night before last after twenty-five years of loyalty.

Actor #2: He was a very old dog.

Actress: Amen.

Actor #2: (to Actor #1) Do you know how to bark?

Actor #1: Lathe operator.

Actor #2: Do you know how to bark?

Actor #1: Mechanic…

Actor #2: Do you know how to bark?

Actor #1: Bricklayer….

Actors #2 and #3: THERE ARE NO VACANCIES!!

Actor #1: (Pause) Woof! Woof!

Actor #2: Very good, congratulations…

Actor #3: We’ll give you ten bucks a day for salary, dog house, and food.

Actor #2: As one can see, he was getting ten dollars more than the real dog.

Actress: When he returned home, he told me about the job he got. He was drunk.

Actor #1: (To his woman.) But they promised me that just as soon as one worker retired, died,
or got fired they would give me his job. Have fun with it, María, have fun! Woof! Woof! Have
fun, María, have fun!

Actors #2 and #3: Woof! Woof! Have fun, María, have fun!

Actress: He was drunk, poor guy…

Actor #1: And the other night, I began work… (He squats down on all fours.)
Actor #2: The dog house was so small.

Actor #1: I can’t crouch down like that.

Actor #3: Do you feel pressure here?

Actor #1: Yes.

Actor #3: Good, but don’t tell me “Yes”. You have to begin to get used to things. Tell me: Woof!
Woof!

Actor #2: Do you feel pressure here? (Actor #1 doesn’t respond.) Do you feel pressure here?

Actor #1: Woof! Woof!

Actor #2: Good… (Leaves.)

Actor #1: But that night it rained, and I had to put myself in the doghouse.

Actor #2: (To Actor #3.) He still doesn’t feel pressure.

Actor #3: And he’s in the doghouse.

Actor #2: (To Actor #1.) Did you see how one becomes accustomed to everything?

Actress: One becomes accustomed to everything.

Actors #2 and #3: Amen…

Actress: And he began to get accustomed.

Actor #3: Then, when you see someone enter, yell out: Woof! Woof! Let’s see…

Actor #1: (Actor #2 passes by running.) Woof! Woof! (Actor #2 passes in silence.) Woof! Woof!
(Actor #2 passes by crouched down.) Woof! Woof! Woof! .... (Leaves.)

Actor #3: (To Actor #2.) There are ten bucks extra a day in our budget…

Actor #2: Mmm!

Actor #3: … but the poor man that is before us deserves them. He’ll get the job done.

Actor #2: Mmm!

Actor #3: In addition, he doesn’t eat more than the dead one (dog).

Actor #2: Mmm!
Actor #3: We should help his family!

Actor #2: Mmm! Mmm! Mmm! (They leave.)

Actress: Nonetheless, I saw that he was very sad and tried to console him when he returned
home. (Actor #1 enters.) Guests came today!...

Actor #1: Yes?

Actress: And the dances in the club, Do you remember?

Actor #1: Yes.

Actress: Which one was our tango?

Actor #1: I don’t know.

Actress: What do you mean you don’t know? “Woman that abandoned me…” (Actor #1 is on
four legs.) And one day you brought me a carnation… (He looks at it and remains horrified.)
What are you doing?

Actor #1: What?

Actress: You’re on four legs… (She leaves.)

Actor #1: I can’t take this anymore! I’m going to speak with the boss!

(Actors #2 and #3 enter.)

Actor #3: It’s that there isn’t anything else…

Actor #1: They told me an old man died.

Actor #3: Yes, but we have to cut back. Wait a little more, huh?

Actress: And he waited. He returned three months later.

Actor #1: (To Actor #2.) They told me someone retired…

Actor #2: Yes, but we’re thinking of closing off that section. Wait just a little bit longer, huh?

Actress: And he waited. He returned two months later.

Actor #1: (To Actor #3.) Give me the job of one of those guys you fired during the strike…

Actor #3: Impossible. Their positions will remain vacant…
Actors #2 and #3: As a punishment! (They leave.)

Actor #1: Then I can’t take any more…. And I quit!

Actress: It was our happiest night in a long time! (She takes his hand.) What’s the name of this
flower?

Actor #1: Flower…

Actress: And what’s the name of that star?

Actor #1: María.

Actress: (Laughs.) María is my name!

Actor #1: Her as well…her as well! (He takes her hand and kisses her.)

Actress: (Pulling her hand away.) Don’t bite me!

Actor #1: I wasn’t going to bite you…. I was going to kiss you, María…

Actress: Ah! I thought you were going to bite me…. (She leaves. Actors #2 and #3 enter.)

Actor #2: Of course….

Actor #3: … the following morning…

Actors #2 and #3: He should have returned to look for work.

Actor #1: I traveled to various places, until at one….

Actor #3: Look, here… We ain’t got nothin’ Except….

Actor #1: What?

Actor #3: Last night the night watchman’s dog died.

Actor #2: He was thirty-five years old, poor guy….

Actors #2 and #3: Poor guy!

Actor #1: And I had to accept.

Actor #2: That’s right. We paid him fifteen pesos a day. Hmmm!...Hmmm!...Hmmm!....

Actors #2 and #3: Accepted! Fifteen it is! (They leave.)
Actress: (Enters.) Of course 450 pesos isn’t enough to pay the rent….

Actor #1: Look, since I’ve got a dog house move yourself to a place with four or five girls more,
huh?

Actress: There isn’t another solution. And since it isn’t enough to eat either….

Actor #1: Look, since I’m accustomed to a bone, I’ll bring you meat, huh?

Actors #2 and #3: (Entering.) The facts checked out!

Actor #1 and Actress: The facts checked out…. Praised be!

(Actors #2 and #3 leave.)

Actor #1: I now had become accustomed to my situation. The doghouse seemed bigger to me.
Walking on four legs wasn’t very different than walking on two. María and I used to see each
other in the plaza… (He moves toward her.) Because she couldn’t enter my doghouse; and since
I couldn’t enter her place….Until one night….

Actress: We passed. And suddenly I felt sick.

Actor #1: What’s wrong with you?

Actress: I’m dizzy.

Actor #1: Why?

Actress: (Crying.) I believe….that I’m going to have, a child….

Actor #1: And for that you cry?

Actress: I’m scared! I’m scared!

Actor #1: But, why?

Actress: I’m afraid! I’m afraid! I don’t want a child!

Actor #1: Why, María? Why?

Actress: I’m scared….that he’ll be… (she mutters “dog”. Actor #1 looks at her in terror, and
leaves running and barking. He falls to the ground. She stands up.) He left….he left running!
Sometimes on foot, and sometimes on four legs…
Actor #1: It’s not true, I didn’t stand! I can’t stand! My waist hurts when I stand! Woof! The cars
were almost running me over….People were looking at me. (Actors #2 and #3 enter.) Go away!
Haven’t you ever seen a dog?

Actor #2: He’s crazy! Call a doctor! (He leaves.)

Actor #3: He’s drunk! Call the police! (He leaves.)

Actress: Afterwards, they told me a man had compassion for him, and approached his lovingly.

Actor #2: (Enters.) Are you feeling bad, friend? You can’t stay here on four legs. Do you know
how many beautiful things there are to see, on foot, with your eyes up? Let’s see, stand up….I’ll
help you…come on, stand up….

Actor #1: (He begins to stand up, and suddenly: ) Woof! Woof! (He bites him.) Woof! Woof! (He
leaves.)

Actor #3: (Enters.) In the end, after two years without seeing him, we asked his woman: “How is
he?” She answered us…

Actress: I don’t know.

Actor #2: Is he ok?

Actress: I don’t know.

Actor #3: Is he not ok?

Actors #2 and #3: Where is he?

Actress: In the dog pound.

Actor #3: And when we came by there, a boxer passed our side….

Actor #2: And they told us that he couldn’t read, but that it didn’t matter because he was a
boxer.

Actor #3: And a soldier passed…

Actress: And a police officer passed…

Actor #2: And passed….and passed… and all of you passed. And we thought that you might be
interested in the story of our friend….
Actress: Because maybe among all of you there was a woman who thought: “Will I not have?
Will I not have?” (She whispers: “dog”.)

Actor #3: Or someone who has been offered the job of the night watchman’s dog….

Actress: If this is not so, we are happy.

Actor #2: But if it is so, if among all of you there is one who wants to change into a dog, like our
friend, then…well, then that…. That is another story!

(Curtain.)

				
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