This is one of a number of brief nonsense plays written by Ring Lardner (1885-1933), famous for penning some of the earliest stories about baseball. While Larnder was an accomplished humorist and satirist, these short plays are something else entirely. Some academics (most notably Martin Esslin in his seminal work The Theatre of the Absurd) site them as a precursor to theater of the absurd. While it is doubtful they influenced Samuel Beckett, et al, it is interesting to see Lardner writing utterly unperformable plays while Beckett was still warming up. Not to mention that they are absolutely hysterical.

I am going to do some research on these plays to answer some burning questions: Were these plays performed? How is it even possible to perform them? What were Lardner’s motives? Was it pure comedy or experimental theater? Until then, I’ve typed in one of the plays for your enjoyment. Gritchka tells me that "clemo uti" might be Latin for "gentle to use" or "gentle to possess" or something like that. What that has to do with water lilies, or anything, I don’t know. Just enjoy the nonsense.

CLEMO UTI – "THE WATER LILIES"

CHARACTERS


PADRE, a priest.
SETHSO}
GETHSO} both twins.
WAYSHATTEN, a shepherd’s boy.
TWO CAPITALISTS 1
WAMA TAMMISCH, her daughter.
KLEMA, a janitor’s third daughter.
KEVELA, their mother, afterwards their aunt.

{TRANSLATOR’S NOTE: This show was written as if people were there to see it.}

1. NOTE: The two Capitalists don’t appear in this show.

ACT I


The Outskirts of a Parchesi Board. People are wondering what has become of the discs. They quit wondering and sing the following song.

CHORUS: What has become of the discs?
What has become of the discs?
We took them at our own risks,
But what has become of the discs?

(WAMA enters from an exclusive waffle parlor. She exits as if she had had waffles.)

ACTS II & III


(These two acts were thrown out because nothing seemed to happen.)

ACT IV



A silo. Two RATS have got in there by mistake. One of them seems diseased. The other looks at him. They go out. Both RATS come in again and wait for a laugh. They don’t get it, and go out. WAMA enters from an offstage barn. She is made up to represent the Homecoming of Casanova. She has a fainting spell. She goes out.

KEVELA: Where was you born?
PADRE: In Adrian, Michigan.
KEVELA: Yes, but I thought I was confessing to you.

(The Padre goes out on an old-fashioned high-wheel bicycle. He acts as if he had never ridden many of them. He falls off and is brought back. He is in pretty bad shape.)

ACT V


A COUPLE OF SALESMEN enter. They are trying to sell Portable Houses. The rest of the cast don’t want Portable Houses.

REST OF THE CAST: We don’t want Portable Houses.
(The SALESMEN become hysterical and walk off stage left.)
KEVELA: What a man!
WAYSHATTEN: (the Shepherd’s Boy): Why wasn’t you out there this morning to help me look after my sheep?
CHORUS OF ASSISTANT SHEPHERDS:
Why did you lay there asleep
When you should of looked after his sheep?
Why did you send telegrams
When you should of looked after his lambs?
Why did you sleep there, so old,
When you should of looked after his fold?
SETHSO: Who is our father?
GETHSO: What of it? We’re twins, ain’t we?
WAMA: Hush, clemo uti (the Water Lilies).
(Two queels enter, overcome with water lilies. They both make fools of themselves. They don’t seem to have any self-control. They quiver. They want to play the show over again, but it looks useless.)

SHADES

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