Newsletter # 48
Professors and Researchers
Special Interest Group
The Naturist Society
May 2013

    ● Lee Baxandall Drama Issue ●

    1.  Introduction: The Rabinal Achi
    2.  Claws of the Eagle, Claws of the Jaguar
    3.  Lee's Notes on the Play

    Before he founded The Naturist Society, Lee Baxandall was a drama critic, and produced at least one play of his own.  As T. A. Wyner recently wrote:

"He was a Renaissance man of our time—not merely among Naturists:
Lee was a co-founder for The Living Theatre (where I first encountered his writing).
He was an internationally respected theatre critic—here and in England.
He was a leader in the peace movement.
He protested the US bombing of Japan and attended the world gathering on the anniversary of that bombing annually.
He was a leader in the anti-Vietnam War movement.
He designed the poster that set off a fire-storm and court cases when NY port authority removed them from the subway and buses.
He was a First Amendment Freedom Fighter.

When law enforcement first appeared during the performance of one of my plays on the beach, Lee stood up and warned them that any interference with a performance protected by the first amendment would be challenged."

    The Rabinal Achi  (pronounced rah-bin-AHL a-CHEE) is the only Maya dance-drama to survive from ancient times.  (Lee read it in a Spanish translation.)  

    In that play, a Maya lord has been captured in a war.  The enemy king is willing to pardon him if he will just bow down.  The proud captive says he would rather die.  He only asks that he be allowed to see his homeland once more before he dies.  Warriors of the Eagle division and the Jaguar division wait to sacrifice him.  This is the last scene.  It begins and ends with dance.

from The Rabinal Achi 1

Listen to me     Approve of me
                    to the sky-face
                    to the earth-face.
This is what I say
                    to your mouth
                    to your face:
Allow me two hundred and sixty days
allow me two hundred and sixty nights
to go salute
        u vach nu huyabal
        u vach nu tagahal
        my mountains' faces
        my valleys' faces
Where long     and long ago      I went alone
        to the four corners
        to the four walls
        to look for
        to encounter
        my needs      my food.

(He dances out of sight, then returns--symbolizing the completed journey.)

            O Eagles!
            O Jaguars!
"He's gone" you said
a moment ago.
No     I hadn't gone
No     I hadn't disappeared
    I went    for a moment
to say    goodbye
        to my mountains' faces
        to my valleys' faces
where long      and long ago      I went alone
        to find my food
        to find my meals
        in the four corners
        along the four walls.

                AAAH SKY!
                AAAH EARTH!

my valiance      my bravura
were no use.
I figured out my way
                below sky
                below earth
I opened my way
among grasses
among thorns.
My valiance     my bravura
were no use.

                AAAH SKY!
                AAAH EARTH!

Do I really have to die
to die in this place?
really disappear
disappear in this place?
                O my gold!
                O my silver!
                O my arrow's sons!
                O my shield's sons!
                my Toltec war-club!
                my Toltec axe!
                my wreaths      my sandals!
        go back to our mountains
        go back to our valleys!
Take our news
to the teeth of our Man
to the face of our Governor
"It's a long time since
our valiance      our bravura
has looked for our food
has found our meals!"
says the word of our Man
the word of our Governor

He won't say so any more
now all I expect is my death
now all I expect is my disappearance
                under sky here
                and on the earth.

                AAAAH     SKY!
                AAAAH    EARTH!

Since I can't do anything else but die
since I can't do anything else but disappear
                under sky here
                and on the earth
why can't I change fates with this squirrel with this bird
dying on the branch of the tree dying on the bud of the tree
dying in their own little country in which they've found their
food      in which they've found their needs

                chuvach cah
                chuvach uleq?
                under sky here
                and on the earth?

            O Eagles!
            O Jaguarsl

Come on then!
Let's get your work done
let's get your duty over with
        sink your teeth
        sink your talons
        get it over with
        in one moment

since I am a Valiant     an Achi*                    *lord
        from our own mountains
        from our own valleys
                May sky
                and earth
                be with you

            O Eagles!
            O Jaguars!

    Lee Baxandall adapted this ancient drama to the plight of modern freedom fighters.  (Those familiar with his later attempts to coöperate with The American Sunbathing Association will recognize his attitude that people who claim to be on your side but are willing to sell out should be shot.)  Claws of the Eagle, Claws of the Jaguar played at the Astor Palace Playhouse in New York City in 1967, with music by Philip Corner.  The occasion was the Festival of Angry Arts Against the War in Vietnam.  Lee published a limited edition of the text in 1994.  It included pictures from the 1967 production, an optional audience participation scene, and Lee's notes written in 1970.

 Claws of the Eagle,
 Claws of the Jaguar

Early morning and a mountainous jungle terrain.  The sunlight filters through the trees into an ancient ceremonial ground, partly overgrown, where the stele of a vanished civilization stand or lie upon the ground.  There is, centrally, a stone platform in disrepair, with rows of deathheads on its sides carved in profile, as though skewered on upright poles.  Jungle sounds, which continue.

Without a noise, a guerrilla fighting unit enters the open area.  The nine men and two women are wearing nondescript battle fatigues.  Some of the men are naked to the waist.  Others in shorts.  They are festooned with heavy cartridge belts at the waist or across the chest, and with grenades and canteens—two carry the pans of a machine gun.

The appearance of these people is striking.  They are strong, lithe, brown-skinned, and with eyes slightly slanted.  The men are beardless, their noses jutting, and the receded area between the eyes built up artificially so the nose blends by an almost unindented line into the forehead.  Both the men and women have long, dark hair.  The women's is the longer, parted in the middle and bound.

A watch posted, the guerrillas put down the weapons and the equipment and relax.  One or two work on their camouflage hats and their handpieces covered over with foliage.  Others sprawled with their weapons or smoking.

In the quiet somebody is heard approaching at a run.  The guerrillas soundlessly become part of the jungle.  Into the clearing bursts a man.  He pauses, panting; he is dressed in the peasant way.  The guerrillas reappear, all around him, their weapons ready.

A GUERRILLA (MAQUA) softly.  Tachi!


Two or three GUERRILLAS take the intruder Tachi's arms and force him against a stele.  ANOTHER searches him and turns out a pistol.  TACHI loudly protests his innocence.  He is gagged.

A WOMAN GUERRILLA to Maqua: You know this man?  (MAQUA nods, slowly.) He is your brother?  (MAQUA nods.)

BALAM to the guerrillas, who are engaged in discussion: Hold it! You must silence your tongues.  This man was going somewhere.  We are not alone in these forests, amid these rocks; and his friends are near, who are not our friends.  For Tachi is no brother to his blood brother Maqua, or to our brothers.  The army has patrols everywhere and though they are clumsy, frightened and unresolved, their artillery has wings and ears.  We are not suspected here, or Tachi would not have been careless.  But our voices are informers.   (To two guerrillas.) You go and stand the watch.  Take your place on our high rocks, and we must talk like outlaws.  Go now!

THE TWO GUERRILLAS go.  BALAM walks to the prisoner, who makes an impatient gesture with his head.  BALAM strikes him hard across the face.  THE PRISONER stares in surprise.  BALAM extracts the gag.

BALAM: You shall speak with us.  But you shall speak softly, Tachi.  Or—Tachi, your life shall be forfeit at once.  Release him.  Now, little Tachi, tell us why you are here.

TACHI jokingly: Balam—you bastard, why do you take me captive?  You know who I am, what I have done, why do I deserve this suspicion?  I was coming to warn you!

BALAM: No lies!  (Slaps him.)  Respect yourself.

TACHI: I speak only the truth.  The army has patrols nearby and I had to warn my brothers.

BALAM makes a sign and A GUERRILLA clamps his hand over the prisoner's mouth.

BALAM: Once more like that, Tachi...once more that loudly, or lies, and your blood returns that moment to the mother soil.  Speak softly, and only truth.

TACHI: And so I do.  There are many, many everywhere.  The army.  The artillery.  The long claws of the eagle bombers will surely rip the life from our throats.  We must disperse to our villages.  You must prove a wise chieftain, Balam.  I say it beneath this sky, above this earth:  I will not end as their victim or yours! You must prove a wise chieftain, we have to disperse to our villages.

A WOMAN GUERRILLA: We have to go to our villages? You and I are from Rabinal, Tachi.  You know as I why we left Rabinal.  No one can really live in Rabinal, between the landlord of Rabinal and the army, the artillery, the eagle bombers sent to Rabinal—sent by the landlords from the city where they live in many comforts—and the tax and rent collectors, who command what the city has not yet destroyed.  We and no one can really live in Rabinal.

TACHI with great sincerity: You can say that?  But I know that Balam, as the senior chosen by our people, will be wise.  I have helped our cause, you know I have helped, but now it is the end!  They are too many with their machines for death, they are everywhere.  It is the end, we must go quietly, back to Rabinal, and when they see that we are quiet, their army, their artillery, their eagle bombers will leave us in peace.  We shall have the breath in our bodies.

A GUERRILLA: And not much else.  We would not really live, for did we really live before this began?  You know we did not.

A GUERRILLA: The breath we had in our bodies.  But the grains we raised doing little else from the rise of the sun to its setting, they tore from our hands.

A WOMAN GUERRILLA: And our sons and brothers they took from our huts and fields.  Dressed them as soldiers.  Paid them little.  Praised them a lot, and sent them against our brothers and sisters in distant huts among distant valleys—these faraway brothers and sisters, who understood before we did they did not really live, and so learned to be jaguars, driving the people of the eagle, and yaqui and ladino* away.
                                    *pillagers and connivers

YOUNG GUERRILLA: Just one harvest ago I was in Rabinal.  I was taken from Rabinal to be made a soldier...and I could not believe the cruel things we were made to do to the people of villages like Rabinal, who only want the land to be theirs.  I had heard of Balam and I left their army.  Many have done as I—a deserter, they call me—and you want me to crawl back to Rabinal?  To what?  What?

MAQUA: Can your words be honest, Tachi?  Does Rabinal really live tranquilly in your memory?  Without the rumble of trucks that drove the bulk of our grain to the city as rent and tax?  And those other trucks that drove away even you and I, to soldier against some faraway brothers and sisters who knew they could not live any longer even as you and I?  Are your words honest, Tachi?

TACHI: They are.  I know all that you say, but know also that we are at an end.  They are too many and the machines of our death are too many.

A GUERRILLA: But they can not find us.  We have the breath in our bodies, and we find them as last night we did, and as again and again we shall, and they will finally go away or their empty bodies remain in our fields and jungles—unless you have led them to us.

TACHI: No one saw me come here.

A GUERRILLA: That is not what was said; what we all of us are thinking.


MAQUA: You are a stinking traitor!  Our mother U Chuch gave birth to a dog who eats the city's garbage!

TACHI: Maqua, you must know that is not so.  You have yourself eaten too much of the root of fanaticism that must feed the lonely life of a fighter in these mountains.  I have spent time in the city, that is true.  That is why I have an understanding of their power, and see that to live again in Rabinal now is at least to live.  As your brother by blood you must understand me, at least you!

MAQUA: I do.  Beneath this sky, above this earth, I know you for a city dog!  Assent from the OTHER GUERRILLAS.

TACHI: Maqua!  I swear, no!  You bastards.  You shall not have me as their victim or yours.  You have too long dug with your knives the starchy root of fanatic believing.  Why do you not release me?  Balam, as chieftain, be wise!

BALAM: deftly: And do you say that?  Brave fighter, man of our people, do you call us bastards?  Call us fanaticism eaters and not recall what you had not to eat while a man in Rabinal?  Are you not to fall here?  Are we to fall here?  You do not look well at our rifles and cartridges, our machine guns, our mortars, our manfalls, our courage and numbers, confidence and our audacity.  As senior of this fighting unit I shall proceed as our people find wise.  And we shall discover whether you are to fall here.  There is much to which you must answer, Tachi.  As you are now our captive, may you prove of our limitless sky, of our vast valleys.

A WOMAN GUERRILLA: We shall not believe you; we shall not disbelieve you.  To see what you are now and whether you must fall here, we shall see what you have been.

1st Interlude

The stage darkens, with the exception of a strong light on the skull platform.  The jungle sounds cease.  TACHI steps onto the platform.  He cradles a small bundle in his arms.  Sits.  MAQUA with TWO OTHER GUERRILLAS steps onto the platform without weapons.  TACHI moaning.  A WOMAN GUERRILLA without weapons steps onto the platform.  She has bright rouge on her lips.

WOMAN GUERRILLA to Maqua: As I told you, brother.  The only boy child of Tachi has now died.  Dead our sister-in-law and the daughters of Tachi and our father, long ago.

TACHI moaning.

MAQUA gently: I am so sad for you, Tachi.  It is the life in the city.  You, Tachi, said you could not bear the hard life of our valleys and rocks.  It has come to this.

WOMAN GUERRILLA: But he had to come to the city.

MAQUA: You told us then: It could not possibly be as hard in the city.  It will be better in their city, the machines and wages are there.  You took your leave of us.  We had not then taken up arms.

WOMAN GUERRILLA: You found what? What has the city borne you?

TACHI groans.  Bending down, MAQUA takes the small bundle from Tachi, after a moment passing it to another GUERRILLA.

MAQUA: So you left the valley of Rabinal; you took a day job, first here, then there, every day a different day job.

WOMAN GUERRILLA softly: You were ambitious, and took a wife.

MAQUA: There were no bonds upon you here, you said; you could make your way with your good wife's help.  Your wife bore daughters, a son.  She was captive to your dream in this small room, and what became of her?

WOMAN GUERRILLA: Of your daughters?

MAQUA indicating bundle: And now...

WOMAN GUERRILLA: Little to eat, and no doctor for the pestilence this city spreads; and now...  Dead, all but you dead.

MAQUA: All but you.  And your brother and sister.

TACHI groans.  

MAQUA: What have you left of your dream?

WOMAN GUERRILLA: It was wrong of that good woman to marry you.  Your silly hopes poisoned her breath and killed her.  I am a bad woman, as you tell me.  I have not married.  I came to the city, setting you an example.  I have not suffered as you.  I have not married, how could I, into what?  But I know very well the men who pay your small wages, yes, I know them far better than you!

TACHI: What do you want?  I would not do as you have done; you have fouled our mother's name.  Ah, ah, our high mountains, the vast valleys of Rabinal!  This could not have happened there!  My son, my namesake!

A GUERRILLA: You have been proud, townsman—stubborn.  And our movement has grown up on the soil which the landlord thought his own.  We are making those valleys ours.  While you struggle put yourself at their service for wages.

TACHI: What would you have me do?  What should I have done?  Our land or theirs, the breath is choked out of one in our valleys; the way we must scratch at the soil without machines.  Should I have not come to the city?

MAQUA: What has the city borne you?

WOMAN GUERRILLA softly: I know well, Tachi, the men who grind you here are the men who grind the people of our valleys and mountains, they have the same helpers, same tax collectors, the same banks, the same names.  This I have learned in my work.

MAQUA: Tachi, you should not have come.  You should come back with us, today.  

TACHI after a pause: Your movement is growing?

A GUERRILLA: We were once few, and now we are many.  And it is the same, everywhere in the land of the Quiche*.                *One group of the Maya

TACHI: I hear each day on the loudspeakers of your defeats.

WOMAN GUERRILLA: You are foolish, Tachi.  I hear the truth from the brandy caressed throats of those who turn the loudspeakers upon you, as they argue before completing deals.  Among themselves, they do not lie.


TACHI gets to his feet: So you told me, Maqua.  I put my faith in their loudspeakers.  I now hear only your voices.

WOMAN GUERRILLA: They took me, no virgin, into their temple.  Believe me, the gods of the people of the eagle are oil and dollars, tin and rubber, and there is no soul in these gods, nothing for men and women.

Those on the skull platform hold their positions, as the GUERRILLAS around it perform the "Song of the Eagle and Jaguar" to the accompaniment of a small flute and improvised percussion.

Ours the jaguar god
the jaguar is at home
within his jungle
The jaguar slips easily
through the mountains and valleys
The jaguar survives.
Theirs the eagle god
the eagle may fly anywhere
but to feed it must come down
It sets its design on us
on our lands
And now the jaguar pounces.

A GUERRILLA ON THE PLATFORM: You cannot eat the mud outside this door.  You cannot wrap yourself in the scrap eagle metal of this wretched hut.  Come wrap yourself in the jungle of the mountains and valleys near Rabinal.

TACHI: I hear you.

MAQUA: Where we hold power—and that is in much of our mountains and our valleys—under the guidance of Balam, our lands are returned to us.  To those who work them.

WOMAN GUERRILLA: Go with them, brother.  This city offers you nothing.

A GUERRILLA: Join with us.  Beneath the sky and above the earth!  We are growing, grow with us.

TACHI: I leave this empty hut; I come with you.

End of 1st Interlude

Full scene.  The jungle sounds, and now in the distance the dull thud of artillery.  TACHI stands in the center of the ceremonial space in a semi-circle of the guerrillas.

TACHI: You recall what I was.  You must know what I am now.  One of you; a man of Rabinal, its mountains and valleys.  Could anyone have been more miserable than I in their city?  Or more happy now with my people?

BALAM: Nothing is yet proven except the plague fallen upon our country, the curse of going among the yaqui*.  We saw your misery.  We want to know still whether you have acted miserably.  We do not believe or disbelieve.  We shall see.        *pillagers

2nd Interlude

The stage darkens, with the exception of a strong light on the skull platform.  The jungle and artillery sounds cease.  TACHI steps onto the platform, in the company of MAQUA and the TWO GUERRILLAS.

GUERRILLA: We are taking you to our senior, Balam, who has won the confidence of the Quiche in the conduct of their struggle.

BALAM mounts the platform: Welcome, brothers.  Maqua, is this the brother in blood who has come to us newly, and who has fought for us well, in the jungle and the city?

MAQUA: It is.  Tachi.  

BALAM: What has Tachi done?

GUERRILLA: In the city he has spread the truth to the people.  About their conditions and about those who keep the people in them.

BALAM: This is so, Tachi?  Have you been reliable?

TACHI: More than anyone else!  While I ate the mud of illusions in the suburb streets; while I begot a family, and watched with glazed eyes while it perished, no one of your people ever came to me with truths in a ragged pocket.  But I have gone about tirelessly, in every street of the wretched slum about that city—puncturing vain hopes with truths, often under police eyes.  And the suburb of slums begins, serpentlike, to contract about the throat of the vicious city.  None has done more than I to have this happen.

BALAM: You have done well.  Others have told this to me.  But not only you have done well, the movement has grown.  As you have.  And our propaganda slips now through every crevice in the slums.  The Quiche awake from their painful slumber.

GUERRILLA: Tachi has also done well in the warfare of the jungle.  

BALAM: Is this so?

TACHI: Certainly it is! You have a first-class guerrilla in me.  In the city I learned how to keep up their machines, their roads.  Now I use my skills to destroy their machines, their roads where they destroy us.  In the city I learned to talk and to listen to their givers of orders.  Here I go among them as you see now (mimics stupidity), as a harmless man of the land; talk with respect, listen with eagerness, to plans which I bring back.  None has done this better than I.

BALAM: You do well.  Yet all this is nothing without the concerted action of our people, their patience and creativity; remember that, Tachi.  Those who form the vanguard lose their way when they do not pay attention as much to the rear as to the fore.

TACHI: I am sure you are right.

BALAM to Maqua: Do you believe Tachi is known to the city authorities as one of us?

MAQUA: I am quite sure he is not.

BALAM with deliberation: Tachi, a special and delicate mission awaits you.  Your cleverness is equal to it.  You are not known to the city authorities as one of us.  They know you still as a trusty Quiche.  You are to go to their authority for a village militia, get arms, and bring them to us.  Have you the courage to do it?

TACHI: Trust me.

TACHI and BALAM embrace.

End of 2nd Interlude

Full scene.  The sound of distant planes is now added to the thudding of artillery,  TACHI in the semi-circle of guerrillas.

TACHI: I asked you then to trust me—and trust me, I ask of you now.  I have worked without pause since the death of my son for my people.  Only for my people.

GUERRILLA FROM THE 2ND INTERLUDE: We trusted you, but saw also your pride.  Your great belief in yourself.

MAQUA: I had to agree with my brothers:  you were more useful to your people far from the Quiche, in the city; using your city cleverness, thinking little of your people's cleverness.  In the people's cause.

GUERRILLA FROM THE WATCH entering: Those planes are distant, but circling and looking closely over the ground.  I do not like their motions.  The eyes of those pilots grow sharper.

BALAM: Return to your watch, brother.


BALAM: We must see them first.  If they draw nearer we shall go under the trees.  For now we continue.  Tachi, you fool, do you not see you as we see you?  Or has your life made you too clever to look upon your person with the eyes of your people?  Truly, are you one of us?  Are you not rather in your heart one of them?  A traitor with head in the clouds and not beneath this sky, upon this earth?  You have carried pistol and rifle—are they really turned on us?  These questions must be asked.  Let you be brave.  Tell us in what way you have served your people, for we shall know.

TACHI: Ah, my sky and earth, you speak absurdly and yet you called me brave?  You said that I am of this people, of these valleys, this sky.

BALAM: Do you say that these rocks and mountains of Rabinal are yours?  Then, Tachi, the test shall go on.  Until your death or your acquittal.

A GUERRILLA: How can you speak of acquital?

TACHI: Can you threaten my death?  I, who carry the Quiche in my heart?  I, who have dealt cleverly for our cause?  Who have sacrificed comfort, become an outlaw, obtained arms, worked great things for his people?  Speak more wisely, senior of the guerrilla forces, Balam.

YOUNG GUERRILLA: I have seen much casual death, Balam, while in their army with others who still understood nothing.  To have a full stomach was cause enough for some of us to kill poor farmers.  I hate the casual death, Balam.  Only that is why I came to join you.  I do not want to see blood spill from this fellow's chest unless absolutely, it is just and necessary.

BALAM: I understand your cause for joining us.  For that cause we are here.  Tachi, you mis-spoke.  We are not outlaws, we are but finding the power to satisfy the needs of our people; and in such times, justice for our people may be forced to speak through the mouth of a rifle and with the tongue of a knife.  Blood shall not spill from the chest of Tachi unless it is proven, absolutely proven, that he has lent his eyes to the eagle.  We are not the outlaws—justice is where we are—and for that we are careful of every life.

YOUNG GUERRILLA: I have seen that; and wish to understand the story of Tachi.

MAQUA: It is true that Tachi grew up one of us, and was brother to our suffering.  I cannot believe he has forgotten it.  That he betrayed our common blood seems beyond the possible.  I think that the suffering that brought us together we must bring before our eyes; in the interests of justice.

TACHI: Yes; I shall recall how I have served my people and you shall approve it.  But let us call to mind the misery of those days in Rabinal, the misery that drove me first to the city, then to the movement.  A misery I never forget, which nothing could ever erase, which moves me in all that I do.  —And you shall know I am honest!

WOMAN GUERRILLA: I was with you and your sister, Tachi.  The day your sister, even before you, went from Rabinal on the city road.  Do you remember?  She was seduced from Rabinal, to become a paid woman.  But before that could be done to her she had to be made less than herself.  In a village less than fit for humans.  Let us all remember how our village was, since the memory of one may be a traitor.  Tachi, —do you remember that day as we sought, little more than children, on the threshing platform for some grain we might have missed, to fill our howling stomachs?

MAQUA: Let us recall Rabinal from which you have been long away.

3rd Interlude

The stage darkens, with the exception of a strong light on the skull platform.  The jungle, plane and artillery sounds cease.  TACHI and the two WOMEN GUERRILLAS mount the platform.  They assume an oddly constrained adolescent demeanor.  Sitting or squatting they sift handfuls of chaff, looking for missed grain.

TACHI: Do you find any, sister?  Any missed kernels to plant in the valleys of our stomachs?

TACHI'S SISTER: I find some but not many.  We were foolish, we worked carefully when we first threshed the grain.  We left little for ourselves now—and the rest is at the landlord's, now.   (To the Neighbor Girl.) It is good of you to help us.  I know your hut is as empty as ours and your mother as eager as mine to thicken the water in the cooking pot.

NEIGHBOR GIRL: We brought in the grain together.  We all are hungry together, and together we can do this.  With a song the work is lighter, our stomachs less empty.

SHE begins the song.  The OTHERS join as they sift the chaff with rhythmic movements.


We gather in the grain
we must go with the grain
we must live from the grain
of our Rabinal village
we perish of the nothingness.

Now we hunt for each grain
for each grain of the grain
for there's none in the sack
and there's none in the pot
the harvest time is weeks away.

The grain the landlord took
is in the landlord's storehouse
he drove it down the mountain
and he drives its price up
we perish of the nothingness.

The sound of a truck is heard.  A pause.  Two of the guerrillas appear as the LANDLORD and his FOREMAN on the back of the threshing floor.

FOREMAN: Here are some lively young ones.

LANDLORD: Do you think so?  I cannot tell; they look so filthy, so scrawny.  

FOREMAN: I can tell.  I see them often enough; they'll do.  THE THREE remain quiet.

LANDLORD: You youngsters!  Well? I heard you singing a moment ago, don't deny it.  Are you happy here then? Well?  Are you unhappy?  It seems you must be unhappy.  You, young fellow.

FOREMAN: His name is Tachi.

LANDLORD: Tachi.  What do you think of the natural hardships of life in this
forsaken village?  Hm?  In your place—I wouldn't think it natural to put up with it!  (To the Neighbor Girl.)  Come over here.   (HE waits.  SHE slowly comes.)  You're pretty.  Do you still live at home?  (Runs his hand over her cheek, then over her breast.)  What's your name?  How old are you?  (SHE doesn't answer.)  What, you can't speak?  Shy.  You're too thin.  You know, I'm your landlord; you should be nice to me.  How would you like to come help out in your landlord's house?  It's big, and a room just for you.  You'll eat well.  You know I haven't much time.

NEIGHBOR GIRL: I'd rather move into your storehouse.  Bring the whole village with me.

THE FOREMAN slaps her.  SHE runs off.

LANDLORD: That is a stupid girl.  Nothing much can come of her.  How can she want to live in such conditions?  You youngsters want something better, I can tell.  Come closer.  Girl, you would be a beauty in a real dress.  I can get you clean fine dresses if you serve in my home.   (HE touches her; SHE restrains herself.)  Good.  You have poise.  And—Tachi.  You'll starve if you stay here.  You must see that.  There isn't enough grain left in the village after taxes, to feed the old people and the young.  You need good food.  A nice uniform.  A chance to see something more of your country.  And we need soldiers.  Badly; that's why we are here, with the truck.  That's why so much of the grain must go out of the village in taxes.  You can follow the grain.  Do you know that most of the young men of Rabinal have signed up already?  You won't want to be left behind.  The truck is loading now.  Both of you.

TACHI'S SISTER: We would have to ask our mother.  

LANDLORD: Your mother has already been—asked.

FOREMAN: That's so.  Your brother has already climbed in.  He's smoking his first cigarette already.  He was issued a whole carton.

TACHI'S SISTER: Mama! Do you want me, do you want Tachi to go along with the landlord in his truck?  He says we can eat, and after a time come back.  U Chuch!  Mama?

VOICE OF THE MOTHER: Children, it must be as it must be.  

TACHI: What about the grain, Mama?

VOICE OF THE MOTHER: I will see to that now.  Were I of any use to them I would have to go myself.  Leave the grain you have found in the bag.  I will see you next when I see you back.  I will live, children; go...

FOREMAN: There you are! What keeps you?

TACHI pours the grain he has collected into his sister's sack.  THE FOREMAN roughly takes it from her.

FOREMAN: Here, I'll bring that along.

ALL leave the platform.  Sound of truck starting up.  "The Song of the Grain" heard distantly as sound of truck recedes.  THE NEIGHBOR GIRL cautiously reappears, looks about platform then in truck's direction.

End of 3rd Interlude

Full scene.  The jungle, plane and artillery sounds.  TACHI in the semi-circle of guerrillas.

TACHI: Yes, it was like that!—and because of that, although the city might at last have offered many comforts, I have been honest always to my people and my people will acquit me.

MAQUA: Were your city comforts that great?

GUERRILLA with humor:  Was it someone else, then, who walked on jaguar claws with us by day, and by night skulked—a coyote—to our enemies?

GUERRILLA slyly:  Some one of us fattens on the carcasses their eagles leave..  .isn't it you?

BALAM: Well, Tachi—was not that your audacity?  Treason must be paid.  To whom are you the outlaw?  To them, or us?  Shall you fall upon this earth?

TACHI hurt: Shall I fall, because for my people I have sharpened my wits, and run every sort of risk?  Am I a traitor for having left these blighted valleys and rocks—crossed and recrossed by the eagle people striking death?  For having gone to the city, and come back striking death to the eagle in my turn?  Or am I traitor for having run into this clearing to bring the warning of patrols of the army higher up?  Do not you be a bastard, Balam!

BALAM savoring the moment: Of our people or theirs?  Quiche or yaqui?  In the battle that now grows there is no breed between.  The eagles sweep overhead; a coyote runs among the jaguars.  The eagle flies, but must rest and feed.  The eagle shall not walk this ground again.  The coyote shall have no carcass to feed on; he shall be known.

WOMAN GUERRILLA with a leap: Well Tachi—coyote?

TACHI as all laugh: No—no!

BALAM: Let us then see how Tachi served his people, when he went to flatter arms from authorities of the tame militia.

4th Interlude

The stage darkens, with the exception of a strong light on the skull platform.  The jungle, plane and artillery sounds cease.  TACHI, followed by an ARMY CAPTAIN, mounts the platform.  TACHI transforms to a humble appearance.  THE CAPTAIN is in full uniform with medals, brown-skinned but like Tachi lacks the facial configuration of the guerrillas.

TACHI: Please sir, most honored officer.

CAPTAIN: Yes.  Oh, you must be the fellow my adjutant was telling me about.  You are, am I right, from the village of Rabinal?  In the mid Quiche mountains?

TACHI: I am the man of Rabinal, that is so, yes, sir.  Tachi.

CAPTAIN shrewdly: And you want—what?

TACHI: To fight the communists!  With all my heart I hate the communists.

CAPTAIN: Of course.  We all do.  All men of integrity and goodwill do.  There are not many of them left in your mountains.  We send the big birds to them daily, drop tons and tons of dirt remover on 'em.  Everyone hates communists.  They'll soon all be gone, fellow.  Just have some patience.  Anything else?

TACHI: I want to do what I can to kill the communists.  They make it so my village is no longer a place where I can live.  They make it so your eagle bombers must come over, spend much money to blow up the village, to keep them away.  Must this be?

CAPTAIN: Of course this must be, fellow.  How can we kill the communists if they don't get bombed in your village, when they skulk there in their cowardly way?  It must be!  You are on the right side, fellow.  You will live long.

TACHI: But must it be like that?

CAPTAIN bellowing: Of course it must be, like that!  What are you—a communist?

TACHI: Captain, sir, most honored officer, you do not understand me.  I want to say—my words are so poor, I know—I wish to say that you would not need to bomb my village, my Rabinal—if the communists did not come there, in their cowardly way.

CAPTAIN: Well of course!

TACHI: Well, sir, I will keep them out of Rabinal!

CAPTAIN laughs: You, fellow?  Just how?

TACHI: Well, by organizing my people in Rabinal.  By making, what I think you call, a militia.  Then by killing the communists if they dare come, which I do not think they will.  They are cowards and terrors of the people.

CAPTAIN: Do you think that is possible, in Rabinal village?

TACHI: What, to kill communists?  Of course!  I will kill them all if I have the chance!

CAPTAIN: slyly: Isn't that dangerous?

TACHI: Of course.  But there is nothing else to do with the communists, who make it that our village is bombed and must live in fear.

CAPTAIN: I mean that you might be killed.  Do you really know how dangerous it is, to be a communist-killer among your Quiche?

TACHI: I believe in my people to be able to kill all the communists.

CAPTAIN: For myself, I do not have any confidence in your people at all.  They are most of them communists, that is the truth.  You talk stupidly.  And yet I do not think you are so stupid, somehow.  I have looked at your police record, the adjutant brought it to me.  Your record in the city has been extraordinary, you have worked honestly and faithfully for numerous anti-communist employers.  But then you vanished.  We have no record of work for you for the last several months.  Where were you?

TACHI: I went home.  To Rabinal.  To work my father's land and to help in the fight against communists.  I was much upset.  My father's land, which he had rented from the landlord of Rabinal, was no longer as it was, I couldn't find the boundaries, the communists had come and made everything one piece of land for everyone!  Where did the landlord of Rabinal go?  I had no idea.  Where were the communists?  Everywhere!  But I saw that there were good people still in Rabinal, older men, women and even some young who respect their landlord even in his absence and would fight the communists, given a chance.  And help.  I came back to the city, to you, to do whatever I could.  Rabinal wants your help.

CAPTAIN: You want?

TACHI: Arms.  (Pause.)  Rifles, pistols, machine guns, grenades, flares, ammunitions, whatever will make us a regular militia, sir.

CAPTAIN: As I said, this is most dangerous.  Few of our militia programs in the villages are continuing,  many have been overrun.  You know that'  (TACHI nods.)  Yet you will take the risk?  If we call off our bombers, you think you can do it?  (TACHI nods.)  But perhaps you are indeed stupid.  What's your price?  (TACHI looks blank.)  For the sake of heaven, what's in it for you?

TACHI: I ask nothing, Captain, sir.  Only to kill communists.  And that the landlord of Rabinal, when he returns, make me in charge of keeping Rabinal peaceful.  No one can tell me the landlord will not return.  Why, my grandfather's father knew his grandfather when just a baby boy, and brought him duck's eggs!

CAPTAIN: Aha.  A plausible motive.  Fine, Tachi.  That is your name?  We have something to talk about now.  Yes, I think I can promise you that when the landlord returns to Rabinal, you shall be his favorite.  And, until he does, you will so to speak be watchman in his stead, yes?  They have been bothering me about the militia program, the higher-ups I mean, and so I am glad we can agree on helping you in killing communists.

THE CAPTAIN extends a band and TACHI shakes it in both of his.  

TACHI: When can I begin?  When can you send the weapons to Rabinal?

CAPTAIN: In a day or so.  We are agreed in principle then, Commandant Tachi.  You shall very soon have the chance to prove yourself.

TACHI: Ah, I hate communists!

End of 4th Interlude

Full scene.  Artillery and planes, with jungle sounds.  The figure of the Captain has vanished; once more TACHI is surrounded by his interrogators.

TACHI pleased with himself: Did I or did I not get the weapons?

Before anyone can speak, the sound of a plane comes up fast on the clearing.  There is a warning cry from above as GUERRILLAS and TACHI run and leap for cover behind stele, or in a trench beneath brush at the back of the clearing.  Two or three bombs drop very near, shaking the ceremonial ground, startling and briefly silencing the jungle voices.  Pause.  THE GUERRILLAS and TACHI re-emerge.  Someone exhales a long breath.

GUERRILLA: Who is hurt?  Is anyone hurt?

GUERRILLA: Kill him now.   Let's get it over with.   Cut the bastard's heart out.  

GUERRILLA: Did Tachi give our position to the eagles?

WOMAN GUERRILLA: With your help they almost have their claws in us.  

GUERRILLA: Those who go to the yaqui have no claim on mercy.

Some GUERRILLAS move to assault Tachi.

MAQUA: Brothers, wait.  I ask you, Balam, to hear this out.  Not because he bears the blood of my mother U Chuch—but, because we are revolutionaries.  What becomes of Tachi must not merely be undertaken; it must be understood, by us, and by Tachi.  And if he is to...die, this must be accepted by all and by Tachi, too, since we have time.  This is a proper code for revolutionaries.  Do you not agree, Balam, Tachi?

BALAM: It is proper.  We have not yet finished the review of the career of Tachi.  We cannot yet agree, or disagree.

TACHI: Brothers, you will yet agree with me, you have seen so far how I gained, by my wit, weapons from the foe.  You cannot deny that I did and you must soon agree with me, as I am bound to accept your view of my service to the Quiche people.  When all has been set forth.

BALAM: To that must we all, because of our revolutionary honor, agree.

SOME GUERRILLAS show that they dissent.

MAQUA: Forgive me, Tachi.  But my revolutionary duty now compels me to take up the tale.

TACHI surprised: Yes.  Of course.

MAQUA: I do so with grief because of what I now must reveal about a son of my mother U Chuch, and of a daughter of U Chuch, our sister who, in the city, has kept body and soul intact through sale of her body.  In spirit she is entirely at home among the Quiche.

TACHI: I grieve each day for our sister, forced to prostitution.  And how is the health of our sister?

MAQUA: It is better now.  She brought us news; good, for the movement—terrible for you.  Our sister relates that in her work of giving the people of the eagle and yaqui to play upon her body's fields, its valleys and mountains, in submitting to their mechanical plows, she meets other women so employed, in their bars and lounges.  And a woman she thus met, Caron Susa by name, knew you well.

TACHI: I do not know this woman.

MAQUA heatedly: You know her.  Her valleys and mountains.  You have plowed her.  She described to our sisters the intimate marks of your body.  You know Caron Susa very well...for you went to her, and other women, in company of the army captain, and were much with the army captain.  For Caron Susa heard your conversations—and as they grew ever more friendly, your jests, your accounts of the Quiche movement, and of how you were supposed to be fooling the captain.  This our sister told me.  You have become the friend of the captain, and a harrow to our valleys and mountains.

GUERRILLA: Well, Tachi.  Do you agree?

TACHI: I do not!  I saw the captain, but you know well why.  And each sign of accord with him—as I told you—signalled the advancement of our struggle.

WOMAN GUERRILLA: Can you say that? And what of Caron Susa?

BALAM: Yes, what of the word of Caron Susa?

TACHI: I do not know Caron Susa.

WOMAN GUERRILLA: You did not plow her plains, ravage her mountains for your pleasure?

TACHI: It is true that I spent some evenings with the captain!  But only for our cause, only to put his great suspicions to sleep.  The weapons you hold are what you call my pleasure.

GUERRILLA: You were not with that woman?

TACHI: I was with some women.  What would you have done?  It is the morals of their world.  To put the captain's suspicions to sleep, I had to sleep with their women.

THE GUERRILLAS, angered, now circle Tachi and advance on him.  HE falls back and around the ceremonial ground.  The agitated confrontation assumes the aspect of slow dance, TACHI circling, BALAM and the GUERRILLAS advancing, circling.  THE GUERRILLAS utter words of dissent, interrogation, menace.  A Guerrilla perhaps begins softly to play on a flute or native whistle, and one or two others begin a rhythm with butts of weapons on logs or the earth.  Drone of planes and thud of artillery continue.

MAQUA: But you see, they are not their women!  Not all of them, not in their hearts.  Is our sister their woman?

WOMAN GUERRILLA: In body she sells herself: she is not ready for the hardships of our movement.  But her spirit is in revolt, and her tongue speaks to us, you see!

TACHI: Yes, of course, it will be the jaguar's claws that finally speak for our sister's tongue, for her spirit that struggles beneath the claws of the eagle!

BALAM: You say that?

TACHI: I was with some women, only to be with the captain— ...only to bring us weapons!

BALAM: Then tell us, little Tachi, why haveyou run into our tiny clearing?

TACHI: As I said:  to bring a warning of army patrols above.

BALAM: But your own combat unit is supposed to be above.  Are you saying it was destroyed?  We can check that.

TACHI: No, it was not destroyed.  Our brothers' unit is above—and beneath the sky, and above the earth.  But, I was out gathering greens for our meal when I found myself cut off from my unit by a force of the army, and could not warn my unit so thought to warn you.  Forgive me!

BALAM: Is it not so that you ran in our way, not knowing we would be here?

TACHI:   I guessed you might be here.

BALAM: Did you not rather guess that a patrol of the army was here?  Was it not to the patrol of the army that you ran?

TACHI: It was not!

BALAM: Our position was known to no one.  But we knew the position of that army force; and, last night, we fell upon that force, and the blood of those ladinos, those yaqui, ran into the ground last night.  You did not know that.  Nor that we were here.  That is obvious.

TACHI: I can but repeat: I guessed you were here, I was cut off from my own unit.

BALAM: You do not know also that because of the great suspicion about you, I had given orders that you were for no reason—no reason whatever—to be allowed from the sight of your fellows.  These were strict orders and our discipline as revolutionaries, and of the revolutionaries watching you, is absolute.

TACHI: I admit!  I admit I left my patrol without orders, and for the best of reasons.  Our mother, Maqua!  U Chuch our mother is dying and...

MAQUA: Lies!  Ah, Tachi.  Your tongue rattles in your mouth.  Your cleverness falters like a spent bird of prey.  Our mother lives.  Our sister was here, not two days ago, to say our mother, though well, has been taken by the army to a camp of concentration far away, and you knew nothing of this!  Your deceit is over, Tachi lost brother.

TACHI: I did not say I had word she was dying—our mother.  But, I felt a terrible thing had happened to her, and now you confirm it.  And I acted on my terrified feeling.  Can you condemn it?

BALAM: It is condemned by yourself.  Your single-file column of lies that trip over themselves.  Condemned also by the words of your sister, who spoke further of how she had to listen to gleeful tales from Caron Susa about your treachery toward the Quiche.

The tempo of movement in confrontation has intensified.  The demise of Tachi appears to be approaching.

TACHI: I admit! Yes, all you have said, Balam, Maqua, is true...  Yet—in my heart it rings false.  Though I did as you have told, in my heart it was all for the Quiche, for Rabinal, for our people!  True!

BALAM: You can say that?

TACHI: I saw the world differently than you.

MAQUA: Your skies would not be these skies.  Their eagles would float through them.  Their extorters of rent and tax walk our earth without fear.  You and they scorch our valleys—blister our rocks, dry our streams, —and what would become of the people of the jaguar? Look on the grand spaces where the clouds march over the boulders, the fields and valleys, this is our fortress, vast.  And you are not at home here as the squirrel, the small bird.

TACHI: Ah, my sky and earth! You say truly that my hopes have won nothing among these beautiful mountains, these beautiful valleys.  Was it in vain, useless—that I fled in despair to the city, that I came back with my hopes for this sky, this earth?  Has my audacity won nothing?  I would serve my people, truly this is what my heart says.  But if you think to punish me, hear my voice: if all I have done has been wrong, then let me join you anew.  Let my sandals trod only this earth, always this earth.  On the trails of the jaguar.  Let me never go again to the city or away from this people.  By day or by night.  I embrace you as my senior, Balam, with my brothers, my sisters.   I embrace these mountains, these valleys.  And I will now explain to you what and how my heart prompted, what you condemn.

5th Interlude

The stage darkens, with the exception of a strong light on the skull platform.  The jungle, plane, artillery and music sounds cease.  TACHI appears on the platform with the CAPTAIN of the previous interlude and TWO OR THREE OTHER OFFICERS OF THE ARMY played by guerrillas who slip on military caps but are otherwise unchanged.  Also a WHITE-SKINNED MILITARY ADVISOR played by a guerrilla who slips on a sky-blue air force hat and jacket with ribbons, and daubs his face and hands rapidly with white pigment.  The Captain and his friends are amiable; someone hands Tachi a drink (a canteen stands in for the glass), and they smoke.  The white-skinned Advisor looks on with approbation and is unobtrusive.

1st OFFICER: Here, fellow.  Have a good manhattan.  You won't get many as good as this!  But there's more of this sort of thing in store for good anti-communists like you!

2nd OFFICER: It's Tachi, right?  Tachi, welcome to the winning side.  We shall make out well together.  You have a good head on your shoulders.

TACHI: You are kind, Colonel.

CAPTAIN: I wanted you to meet Tachi, a fine son of the Quiche.  Clever, and ready to work for his people out there in Rabinal.  And not only there.

TACHI shakes hands with OFFICERS and ADVISOR.

1st OFFICER: Your people will someday thank you.  You will be known as a hero, when what you are now about to do in the mountains can be made known.  You will be in all the history books of the Quiche.

TACHI: You have shown me that your way is best for the people.  That is all I ask: to be able to do what is best for my Quiche.  If I thought still that the guerrillas were right, I would be blowing up your bridges and airfields.  Believe me.  I am not going to the mountains to do espionage for the sake of the city loafers.  I do not love the landlord of Rabinal.  I do love my people.

CAPTAIN: I am of your people, Tachi, as you know.  Though I have been long away from the mountains and am by birth of rather different station.  You know I am no loafer; that we are no loafers; we have initiative.  Help me; help us, with what you are doing.

TACHI: I want our land to be tranquil.  Where no people die in fighting or from disease or hunger, Captain.

ADVISOR offering cigarette: That is what we shall bring about, Tachi,

CAPTAIN: People, like you and me, the best of the Quiche, with superior talents, shall bring peace to Rabinal and all the land, a free nation.  Where all men of talent can make their way.

TACHI: I do believe in my heart that the aluminum eagles—and (bowing slightly to the Advisor) the advanced people who lend us these wings and claws—will bring a modern way of life to the Quiche.

2nd OFFICER: By all means:  refrigerators, bars, electricity everywhere, hospitals, automobiles, nylon stockings.  Prosperity for everyone who has the wit to apply himself!

1st OFFICER: You have well seen what the eagle people can do.

TACHI: Yes.  Technology—getting ahead!  Of course, we see mostly their military technology just now, but that is necessary.

CAPTAIN: To keep our country free.

ADVISOR: From your misguided townsmen in the hills.

1st OFFICER: But all the communists shall be killed, chased to the top of their mountains and off.

CAPTAIN: When this trouble is over, the other fine things of technology will come too.  Then people with ambition will live like gods.

TACHI: Freedom—for us.

[See possible insert at this point.]   

The circle of GUERRILLAS around the platform is so tight that one can see them with their weapons in the illumination, observing closely.  The sound of exploding shells is also heard—not the heavy artillery as before, but light sharp explosions as of mortars.

TACHI: Indeed I believe in my people and in freedom.  We need quiet and peace in which people may do things for themselves.  With the help of the marvelous machines brought here by your people (to Advisor).  I am doing as you have outlined for my people.  For our sky above, its earth below.

End of 5th Interlude

A CRY in the blackout: You would have our mountains and valleys be theirs!

Full scene.  The planes, artillery and jungle noises.  During the following dialog TACHI, in center of clearing, is stripped of his peasant shirt and trousers down to his store-bought underpants.  THE GUERRILLA who played the Advisor removes the white pigment from his face and hands and smears this on Tachi's face, hands, legs, while Tachi trembles.  The Guerrilla then fits the air force jacket and hat on Tachi.

BALAM: Do you see that you must die?

TACHI: I do not see it.  I see only the forests, the clouds, the people I love.

BALAM: You scorch the mountains and valleys and invite the eagle to walk upon them.  What would have become of the jaguar's people, had the coyote not blindly run onto this ancient ground?  Do you not see that you cannot be let free?  That you would betray us finally—our places, your own sister even?

TACHI: I do not believe that.  Let my sandals always walk only here since my heart has misled me.  I love the Quiche, our places, my sister.

WOMAN GUERRILLA: Where we would make the agrarian reform, you have led the eagle.

BALAM: Do you think your Captain would agree to your silence about us?  Do you know how many of his people he has already killed for refusing to help him?

TACHI: I know how many he has killed.  I thought I knew why.  I do not think he would agree to my silence.

BALAM: And do you imagine we can agree to take you back?  To take back the traitor to our rocks, our forests, our people of the fields and jungles?  Traitor to our future?  To the machines that will be ours?

TACHI: I know you cannot trust me; I could not do it, were I you.  I am sorry about that.  I had my people in my heart...that you can trust.  But something else droned into my ears, beat in through my eyes, laid its hand on my chest.  And that too reached my heart.  It is still there even with the words you say, I cannot say why.

BALAM: You, Tachi, sought to live just for yourself—taking your choices, just for yourself.  You thought to be free by freeing yourself of the choices of your people.  For this you must die, and your blood run out, and it run into the soil of your people beneath this sky.  Here, you shall be cut down.  The coyote dies captive.  You have said farewell to valleys and fields.  Really, it shall be so.

TACHI: Shall it be so? I have done badly.  "They provoke us to these measures, they are rebellious" —said the Captain.  "I am in command of the legal forces" —he said— "for my power is from the powerful of the city.  In the city there is order, and no order in the country, together we bring order everywhere."  Said the Captain.  I believed when he said: "This way we bring an end to misery.  All must join under me to bring an end to misery."  He said that.  Now I must pay for the desires of my heart.  But may I not have two weeks to go and say farewell to our mother and see that she has to eat and to sleep, and to say farewell to my home mountains and valleys of Rabinal?

No guerrilla speaks.  SOME go and pick up the foliage handpieces.  They form around him.

TACHI: Balam, I speak to your heart.  As a revolutionary you must be kind, for cruelty in the struggle now can twist the heart of what our brothers later do.  I would be among our brothers when they walk into the cities as free men of all the Quiche lands.  Oh, let me still walk in my sandals along the jaguar trails, not leaving you by night or by day.  Do not trust me, but let me serve my people.

BALAM: You were our brother.  You left, and came back lifted by the claws of the eagle.  We will ask the brothers and sisters whose lives, whose hopes and future you put in danger, whether you shall live.

TACHI: If they say, be at one with our valleys and fields, I shall live forever among them; if they say no, let my blood run out beneath this sky and into the earth.

BALAM: Brothers and sisters, your choice!

GUERRILLA: Several of our people were caught last week.  An army force knew just where to look.  Several of our brothers and sisters died.

WOMAN GUERRILLA: The coyote cannot live with the jaguar.

GUERRILLA: He is not one of us.  For each rifle he brought us, ten more were turned upon us.

WOMAN GUERRILLA: Were it not for your sister, your brother Maqua would not draw his breath tomorrow.

GUERRILLA: I know him no more.

GUERRILLA: I know him no more.

GUERRILLA: Our purpose has been the land for all.  His, each for himself.

GUERRILLA: Here you must fall.  You have said farewell to our fields and valleys, and to the agrarian reform that our children will long praise.

WOMAN GUERRILLA: I educate the children of Rabinal by night; by day the troops of your Captain and landlord still walk in and through Rabinal.  I could not tell those children that the revolution tolerated their betrayer.

BALAM after a pause: Let the claws of the jaguar be shown; he has brought us danger too great for rifles.

THE GUERRILLAS move upon TACHI, who backs away, again comprising a kind of dance confrontation, perhaps to the flute.

TACHI stripping off the air force jacket and hat: Oh eagles oh jaguars—"I sought to live just for myself you have said!  My choice was wrong and by my path my life is lost.  Through the valleys, under the sky I went and went wrongly; must I really die?  Must I fall here, amid my sky and earth?  Ah my hopes.  May they go to the people of my valleys and may you send my pistol, broken to the eagle captain.  Because it was he gave it to me, saying "You shall help your people better than they know!"

BALAM: Your pistol, Tachi, stays with us.  Thus the captain and you help us.  We shall shortly send the captain after you.  Already our people are thick in the suburbs where you took the truth in your torn pocket.  But where you were one and betrayed yourself—we now are many and shall take the city.

TACHI: And what shall become of me? My blood shall run out—among these valleys, under this mountain.  Oh eagles oh jaguars—come and finish your mission, do what you must!  Let your claws your teeth tear me in a moment.  For I am a man lost from my mountains, my valleys.  The sky, the earth are for all,...  Oh eagles oh jaguars!

THE GUERRILLAS have backed their prisoner against the stele of the jaguar god, and now they press in on him, and a knife glistens, the flute rises in excitement, and the scene is blacked out.



Scenario for an Insert, which might be played following Tachi's line, "Freedom—for us," near the conclusion of the 5th Interlude.

CAPTAIN: I want you to know, really know, Tachi, what you, and of course your people of Rabinal, stand to gain.  We can make a short visit.  Let us make a visit.

THE CAPTAIN takes TACHI by the arm and guides him off the skull platform, down from the stage and into the audience.  The auditorium lights are turned half on.  They go a short way up the aisle.  All of THE GUERRILLAS, including those playing the Army Officers and the Advisor, move to the front of the stage, on and around the skull platform, and clearly observe Tachi's confrontation with the audience.

CAPTAIN: I want you to make yourself acquainted.  Don't be shy.  Ask any questions you want.  Find out about the life that is possible, where they have technology.  Just see what the advanced people who lend us wings and claws have to offer you.  I don't want you to think I've been making up stories.

BALAM mounting skull platform: We shall shortly occupy all our cities, and bend them like plows to the use of our people.

CAPTAIN: Go ahead, Tachi.  I won't do it for you.  Ask any question.  Anything you want to know at all.  They're kind people; they'll give you a straight answer, and they won't feel uncomfortable about it.

TACHI: Well...I'd like to know...Is it really true that...that in your country are schools for everyone, even farmers, and free?


CAPTAIN prompting: Ask to what age they can go to school free.

TACHI: To what age can you go to school, free?


GUERRILLA: I have been in the city before.


GUERRILLA: I too.  I drove the truck from Rabinal to the city, for the landlord, at one time.

WOMAN GUERRILLA: In their cities they go to school long, and learn almost nothing of how to live.  They learn how to serve and to know the allotted pleasures of a servant.  Or, how to rule and allow little pleasure.  Neither schooling, neither life is for men and women!

CAPTAIN: Tachi, ask another question.

TACHI: Is it true that you have—skyscrapers?  In your country?  Do you?


GUERRILLA: In their cities little grows, the smoke settles, the poor man slaves at his life's risk to raise gigantic cliff dwellings that shut the sun and stars out.  He goes home to a family that lives in filth.  His spirit is broken.

GUERRILLA: I was a student in a very large city.  My parents are there.  But I was not a slave or a master by nature.  I went to help my people become themselves, that is why I am in these valleys and mountains.

GUERRILLA: Yes, cities are wonders, they are in our future, but not every city is shaped for men to inhabit.

TACHI: Would you tell me, please.  I really want to know.  Is it true that among you, you may vote for the ruler of the city and of the country?


GUERRILLA agitated: Did you hear that?  And yet I know that although they do vote, not all are allowed to vote.  Even fewer than half who are allowed even make the small effort, for in their minds they know: the true rulers are the millionaires and their servants, and these are not responsive to the people's deep needs.

GUERRILLA: It is so without meaning for them, they do not trouble to vote, while we vote with our lives.

(NOTE: In the foregoing, TACHI and HIS GUIDE are mild and encouraging, grateful for any answer.  They must be prepared to improvise.  Although Tachi could, of course, address "plants" in the audience, the effect will be heightened if obviously unprepared members of the audience are called upon to "perform."

The audience becomes aware of itself as individuals in a situation defined by Tachi.  The ultra-familiar is rendered "strange" and scrutable, on a basis of new familiarity with the inscrutable values of the Guerrillas.  The audience is to be confronted with its own civilization.

As the episode develops, silent films and slides of an affluent society may be sporadically and unassertively projected on a side wall, the ceiling, etc.  The scenes might include surfing, poverty scenes, luxury scenes, auto wrecks, racial brutality, TV commercials, foreign interventions, orating politicians, etc.

Additional questions from Tachi to audience members, with appropriate comments by Guerrillas, may be added.

Should an audience member offer a more acute reply than is to be found in the high school civics books, the Captain might respond:  "You see, Tachi, there are some malcontents, and you see, they are allowed to run around free.  They are in any event of no consequence: they don't even seek power with which to change the way things are.  That's another advantage of affluence.  They talk, but what's talk?  Ask someone else something.  You'll see the faith most of them have in their system."

Should hostile remarks be injected by an audience member, a Guerrilla may admonish him: "Why not just give a straight answer—look, your girlfriend is embarrassed.  Just say what you know.  What is true for you.  We're interested."

A really difficult person may be invited to the stage, "If you want to make a statement." Should he come, he may be taken in custody by the Guerrillas and hustled out of sight:  "It is enough that you should speak in favor of how you are willing to live.  Why intervene in what we are trying to show you?  We have had enough interventions from your people.  Yes, this is revolutionary justice.  Not pure tolerance, revolutionary justice.")

CAPTAIN: Well, Tachi.  Are you satisfied with what this advanced and favored people have to offer?  Have you more questions?  I'm sure they stand at your disposal.

TACHI: No.  I'm satisfied.  It is wonderful.  I hope we can bring it all to our country as rapidly as possible!  How Rabinal will be changed.  And I'll have much to do with it.

CAPTAIN: Yes, you'll have a very good position in it.  

TACHI: I desire that.  

MAQUA: The little fool.

BALAM: When we occupy the cities, we shall bend them like plows to the use of our people.

TACHI and THE CAPTAIN have returned to the stage and again mount the skull platform, as BALAM and the OTHER GUERRILLAS who are not enacting Army Officers or the Advisor quit it.  Auditorium lights out.  At this point the prepared script resumes, with the stage direction prior to Tachi's final speech of the Interlude.

Notes About the Play

    Claws of the Eagle, Claws of the Jaguar derives in numerous particulars from Rabinal Achi.  And what is the latter?  The one Maya dance-drama to have been written down, before the rich theatrical tradition of indigenous Central America was obliterated.

From Rabinal Achi...

    Most of the indigenous dramatic pieces did not survive the early Conquest.  But with occasional performance and oral transmission, Rabinal Achi was preserved in the mountains of what is today Northern Guatemala through three hundred years of Spanish conquest and colonial administration.  Its performance was discontinued when Spain gave up the rule of Mexico.  Almost thirty years later the last Maya to remember the work wrote it down.  He added:

    "The 28th of October, 1850, I have transcribed the original of this drum dance, property of our town of San Pablo de Rabinal, to leave a record for my descendants, which will endure forever with them.  May it be so.  —Bartolo Zis."

    A parish priest of Rabinal named Brasseur came upon Zis' text and in 1856 had it performed.  For the musical accompaniment the villagers employed a large drum and two trumpets.  Brasseur published the work in Maya Quiche and in French, with his observations, in 1862.

    In writing Claws I worked with the text in Teatro Indigena Prehispanico (Rabinal Achi), Ediciones de la Universidad Nacional Autonoma, Mexico, 1955.  An English translation by Richard E. Leinaweaver has since appeared and may be consulted in Latin American Theatre Review for Spring 1968. the Present Struggle

    The preserved text of Rabinal Achi—like the present performance piece—tells of the capture, the questioning, and the sentence of death passed upon an individual whose deeds were a threat to the communal welfare of a people.

    The nations of the Maya tilled common fields.  And they called intruder-pillagers such as the villain of Rabinal Achi by the name of Yaqui, a term retained here.

    In the Maya Quiche play not a trace of European influence can be found.  Rabinal Achi nonetheless presents a sophisticated language and action which evoke, intricately and powerfully, the Maya sense of their environs and their social identity.

    The present performance piece reaches back to the former work above all for its language resources, for its agrarian semiotical system.  And the truly noteworthy fact about the semiotical resources of Rabinal Achi is that these are not arbitrary or idiosyncratic.  On the contrary.  The expressive motifs used in the new text have a long and a widespread, indeed as it were a universal tradition.  For instance, the Jaguar recurs in the mythic consciousness of many indigenous South American peoples.  Appearing as the friend, and even the brother-in-law of humankind, —as Claude Levi-Strauss has pointed out in The Raw and the Cooked—it is likewise Jaguar who intervenes on humanity's behalf in the supernatural realm.  Jaguar thus acts as the counterpart of Prometheus in the Greek mythos.   He is the bringer of fire to humankind.

    North America does not lack counterpart examples.  Ethan Allen's Vermont militia and vigilante force fought off presumptive landlords from New York State and later, in the Revolutionary War, captured Fort Ticonderoga from the British.  These Green Mountain Boys took the equivalent Catamount as their symbol.  Outside a favorite Bennington tavern a stuffed Catamount stood astride a tall gallows to grin a snarl towards New York State: fair warning to those who threatened the Green Mountain integrity of interest whether from without or within.  After this play was completed, a new political organization, the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense, appeared in the United States, to confirm once more the power of the imagery of Rabinal Achi.  Among the views stated by the founder, Huey P. Newton, was the conviction that "the spirit of the people is greater than the Man's technology." And consider the very ancient Vietnamese prophecy:

When the hawk comes,
the lion will rise.
Then peace will come to the world.

    What about the Eagle?  From the Vietnamese quotation, we observe likewise that birds of prey are in widespread ill repute.  And it will be noted already that nearly all empires have embossed a bird of prey upon their escutcheons, usually an eagle.  In the Greek iconography the comparable creatures are, of course, the terrible vultures which tear at the breast of the bound Prometheus.

    The semiotical texture of Claws is redolent with the topography of jungled, mountainous existence and this too stems from Rabinal Achi.  Yet again it is not idiosyncratic to the Mayan work, but rather is common to the life expression of a social outlook in these rural environs.  An entirely similar passage occurs in the Testament of Ho Chi Minh, for instance.  I quote from the official English translation by the [North] Vietnamese News Agency:  "We must be resolved to fight against the U.S. aggressors till total victory.  Our rivers, our mountains, our men will always remain.  The Yanks defeated, we will build our country 10 times more beautiful."  Only remoteness of a reader from experience of such circumstances could cause him or her to presume that such words would be poor in sensual and emotional evocation.  The actor's passion can overcome this possible danger.

    One asks why this work survived and was transmitted by the Maya under Spanish rule to the exclusion of the other dance-dramas in their considerable heritage.  Could it be that the Maya identified their conquerors with the Yaqui?  And that the performance of the piece aided them in retaining a degree of dignity and a defiance of the Spanish? An early visitor to the Yucatan, Fray Diego de Landa, relates that the Maya often performed entertainments based on the Conquest.  "The Indians have very clever and principally farcical recreations, which they present with much flair; so much so, that the Spanish lend themselves to them for no better purpose than to see the jests the Spanish pass with their servants, spouses and themselves...represented with as much artifice as are the curiosas of Spain itself."  High praise for the Maya theatre, and deservedly mixed with apprehension.

    The newspaper Impartial of Guatemala City for June 27, 1968 carried a report by M. Behar, the Chief of the Institute of Nutrition of Central America and Panama.  The report included this observation:  "The pre-Columbian Maya ate better than the people today."  Rabinal is located in the Baja Verapaz sector of Guatemala.  A guerrilla movement has in recent years been active there.   Might descendants of the transcriber of Rabinal Achi, Bartolo Zis, be among its cadres?

People starve
If taxes eat their grain,
And the faults of starving people
Are the fault of their rulers.
That is why people rebel.
Men who have to fight for their living
And are not afraid to die for it
Are higher men than those who, stationed high,
Are too fat to dare to die.

From the Tao Teh Ching, 5th Century B.C.

1.  English translation by Nathaniel Tarn.  Shaking the Pumpkin: Traditional Poetry of the Indian North Americas.  New York: Alfred van der Marck Editions, revised ed. 1986.  pp. 188-108.

2.  Lee Baxandall.  Claws of the Eagle, Claws of the Jaguar.  Oshkosh: N Editions, 1994.  Reprinted here with permission from Phineas Baxandall.

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