Artistic Discoveries in European Schoolyards

Ákos Németh (Hungary)

The purse

Text Extract

TOMI: And how are the stars distributed throughout the galaxy? Let’s look up at the sky on a clear winter night. What we see is that there are few very bright stars, and those are haphazardly scattered about. Aside from those, there are also dimmer stars, and then stars so dim that scientists can only observe them through telescopes. Those flow together in a faintly glimmering band. That’s what we call the Milky Way.

ANETT: This is boring, Tomi.

BERNI: So then, which ones belong to the Milky Way? The dim ones?

ANETT: Where’s your family going for vacation?

TOMI: What is their actual distribution in space, and from what vantage point are we seeing them if that’s how we see the Milky Way? What was your question?

ANETT: I asked where your family’s going for vacation.

BERNI: So what is that Milky Way thing again?

TOMI: Stop distracting me. I’ve already told you three times what the Milky Way is.

ANETT: We’re going to Crete.

TOMI: I have no idea where we’re going, not the foggiest idea, but in any case I don’t care. Wherever it is, dad’ll be yelling from the steering wheel the whole way there.

BERNI: You didn’t tell us three times what the Milky Way is. You didn’t, you’re very wrong about that. You only told us twice.

TOMI: Then pay closer attention.

BERNI: I am paying attention. That’s how I know you only told us twice. And not very clearly at that.

ANETT: It was boring enough the first time. And there aren’t any stars now anyhow.

TOMI: What do you mean not very clearly? I’m not clear? You’re very wrong about that. They’re there, only you can’t see them.

ANETT: No they aren’t there! Look up at the sky, smart aleck! Where are your famous stars? Where? Nowhere, that’s where.

TOMI: They’re there, all right, they are. Only they can’t be seen because of the sun. And don’t distract me all the time. I don’t know where we’re going for the vacation, because it’s only May. I’d rather not go anywhere, because dad’ll be worrying about the company, about losing orders because he left the place in the hands of a bunch of idiots, and he’ll want to get back so he can take control, and mom’ll be crying. Where would we go anyway? To Croatia, that’s where we always go. As for you, I’ve already told you what the Milky Way is three times.

ANETT: And where’s your family going, Berni?

TOMI: We already know the answer to the previous question. The stars are mainly to be found in a flat disk… They flow together forming the Milky Way.

ANETT: And where’s your family going, Berni?

TOMI (desperately): How is it that we can’t perceive this, that all we can see is a narrow band? Well, how?

ANETT: In other words you’re not going anywhere.

TOMI: This is exactly what proves that we live within the galactic disk of the Milky Way. In the disk itself!

ANETT: You’re going to rot at home all summer.

BERNI: I don’t get this disk thing.

TOMI: The starting point for astronomers was that the Milky Way is longer in the southern celestial hemisphere than in the northern, consequently…

ANETT: How can you be so dumb-ass poor? Why doesn’t your father work?

BERNI: He works.

ANETT: On and off.

BERNI: And you’re divorced.

ANETT: That’s not the same thing. We’re divorced, but there’s a new wife on the horizon.

BERNI: She’s just a girlfriend. Your father has a girlfriend. Marriage is marriage.

ANETT: We’ll marry her. We’ll marry her if that’s what we want. It’ll be a nice wedding, take it from me. In the Matthias Church!

TOMI: The Milky Way…

ANETT: Shut up about your stupid Milky Way, Tomi!

BERNI: At least I have a mother. I have one, and she lives with us too. And I’ll be going home to her from here.

TOMI: In any case, we didn’t skip school so I could show you that the sun’s path through the meridian…

ANETT: I don’t give a shit about the sun’s path through the meridian, Tomi! The reason I’m skipping school is because I hate drawing class.

BERNI: No. You came with us because Tomi wanted to show me the sun’s path through the meridian. And you couldn’t stand not being the one he shows something to!

TOMI: We’re not at the sun’s path yet! We’re not there yet! We’re at the Milky Way, for heaven’s sake!

ANETT: Your father says that.

BERNI: You just leave his father out of this, okay? Lay off his father!

ANETT: Oh, gimme a break! All I said was, his father says that. He says: for heaven’s sake. His father does, when they come over to our place. His father says: for heaven’s sake, get a move on, sweetheart, for heaven’s sake! His father says that to his mother, you idiot! That’s all I said!

BERNI: Because you can’t stand him showing me the Milky Way.

ANETT: I don’t give a shit about the Milky Way. Who gives a shit about that? The Milky Way can kiss my ass, along with that disk.

BERNI: You can’t stand it when there’s something you’re not in on.

TOMI: The Milky Way isn’t even visible now! If we assume that…

ANETT (to Tomi): Shut up! You show me the Milky Way when I say so, whether it’s day or night. Until then, chill. Together with the Milky Way. Chill for chrissake.

BERNI: I don’t even want to go to Crete.

ANETT: You’re not going anywhere. That’s the point, not anywhere. That’s how degenerate your father is. Okay, where’s that Milky Way, Tomi? Let’s have it!

TOMI: The Milky Way, the Milky Way… well, it’s not… it’s not visible now.

ANETT: It must be visible, only you’re such a loser. You two go ahead and goof off, I don’t care. I’m going to ballet class. Goof off with your stupid Milky Way. A normal boy would be able to show me the Milky Way, but you’re just lame. Just right for Berni.

TOMI: It not my Milky Way. I don’t have a Milky Way!

ANETT: Well, of course you don’t, that’s exactly the point. Not even one rotten Milky Way. You can’t even show me a single one. Attila, he could show me two.

BERNI: I’m heading home.

ANETT: Go ahead an’ head home, for all I care.

BERNI: And don’t go crying to me about your mother not answering the phone. Douse yourself with the stupid perfume she left behind.

ANETT: What? You hear this?

BERNI (picks up something from the ground): What’s this? What the hell’s this?

ANETT: I don’t use perfume! I don’t use makeup! I’m nine years old, how would I be using perfume? Since when does a nine-year-old use perfume? Since when?

BERNI: This is… this is a purse.

ANETT: Shiseido perfume, at most. But my mother’s? No way.

TOMI: That’s what it looks like.

BERNI: That’s what it looks like.

ANETT: Well now. We found a purse?

BERNI: I found it.

ANETT: What d’you mean?

BERNI: It’s none of your business.

ANETT: You mean it’s not mine?

BERNI: It’s not yours. Yours is right there.

TOMI: It’s a purse.

BERNI: A purse.

ANETT: I kicked it out of the ground, out of the sand. While you two were gazing at the sky. You don’t even notice what’s under your feet.

BERNI: Then why was I the one who picked it up?

ANETT: All you did was slip it out from under my foot!

BERNI: That’s right. I’m the one who slipped it out. I am.

TOMI: Shouldn’t we see what’s inside?

ANETT: Not a bad idea.

TOMI: Actually, it is a bad idea. Let’s give it to a grownup.

ANETT: Gimme!

BERNI: Give it back!

TOMI: Cut it out! Quit squabbling. We found it together. Let’s see what’s inside. Although, it might be better if…

ANETT: I’m opening it.

(They look inside. Pause.)

BERNI: Bingo.

ANETT: I’m counting it. (She counts silently.)

BERNI: That’s a lot.

ANETT: No, not so much.

BERNI: It is too, that’s a lot of money.

ANETT: And it can’t be divided by three.

TOMI: Everything can be divided by three.

BERNI: So what does it come to, Tomi?

TOMI: I don’t want to split it up.

ANETT: Then what d’you want?

TOMI: Isn’t it clear?

BERNI: Not to me.

TOMI: We have to give it to somebody.


TOMI: The police.

ANETT: He’s gone soft in the head.

BERNI: That’s for sure. Are you stupid, Tomi?


BERNI: Enough talk. Split it three ways.

ANETT: It’s not divisible.

TOMI: Oh, God. (He reluctantly divides it into three, then suddenly puts one part back in the purse.) I’m putting my share back.

BERNI: Then so will I.

ANETT: What do I care? Then I will too. It’s better all in one place. And I’m in charge of that one place.

BERNI: What now?

ANETT: What d’you think? Let’s go buy something.

TOMI: I don’t need anything.

ANETT: You’re coming with us, enough talk. We’ll buy something nice.

BERNI: I found it, I did! All by myself! I did, I did, I did!

Translation Eugene Brogyányi


Tamás is 12, Anett and Berni are 9. The scene takes place today in Budapest. Several weeks pass during the scene.
One day the three of them decide together not to go to school. Tamás, who wants to become a scientist, is explaining the secrets of the spring sky to the girls, who listen to him seemingly enchanted. Actually, for the two girls, the reason they are ditching school is Tamás and not the mystery of astronomy. It is not even certain that they like the boy so much; they are rather inspired by who is going to come out on top in their battle.
Anett is from a rich family, knows the value and power of money terribly well and she doesn’t miss the opportunity to let the significantly less well-off Berni know this. But it seems she is not bothered by the lessons.
Tamás, the man of dreams, maybe notices none of this.
As Berni is not ready to act hurt and leave, Anett loses in the verbal conflict and is about to leave angrily when the children find a purse on the ground.
They find money in the purse – a lot of money, according to their notions.
The two girls outvote Tamás’ idea, that they give the wallet to a grown-up.
After short thinking they divide the sum between each other and go shopping.
Anett provokingly goes on a shopping spree, Berni is thrifty, Tamás, the dreamer spends it on expensive technical stuff. The boys appetite grows: he borrows money from – who else – Anett.
It seems Anett’s wallet never runs out of money and is always at the disposal of the other two. The way this is possible is that – first in secret, then openly – supplies the money from her own vast allowance. But she expects services in exchange for the money: first smaller, then bigger ones.
Tamás accepts the more and more humiliating tasks complacently, Berni revolts.
It is now not about the money they found, which without paying much attention they have already spent. Anett’s sources, through her very rich and unobservant father, seem inexhaustible, however, even in her case, there are more and more warning signs that maybe it will not last forever.
Slowly Tamás almost becomes a slave, Anett humiliates him baldly, almost to the degree of torture, but Berni is also in her trap. It seems that money makes all of them lose who they are.
After a completely humiliating scene in which Anett shows her worst, Berni and Tamás join forces… And to make matters worse, Anett’s father goes bankrupt and the source of money dwindles…



M: 2
F: 1