Dream Ballet Chinois

(包子 Ballet)

The Set: Beijing at dawn, springtime 2006.

The fin de siècle has arrived in China. The Northern Capital has become a city of broken pavement and crushed brick, the remnants of old neighborhoods demolished. Gravel mixes with soot and grit blown in from the Gobi, coating the stage with an industrious grey patina. Willow trees droop under the weight of the dust, trees whose twigs will be stripped to make the street sweeper's brooms.

Beijing's boulevards are wide, suitable for parades and traffic. The stage is traversed by dancers in long strides, struggling to fill the inhuman space.

The Gendarme stands in the center of a massive rotary, directing traffic smartly with his club. Soft-featured but professional, neither corrupt nor honest, his indecision keeps him from advancing in the bureaucracy.

Dancers, as cars, swirl around him, slowly at first, but more quickly as rush hour sets in. The cars are joined by a dazzling array of vehicles- bicycles, electric bicycles and mopeds, motorcabs, sidecar motorcycles, trucks and mule carts. Business commuters in suits mingle with workmen hauling cement and farmers pedaling comically overloaded tricycle trucks.

A fountain stands dribbling center stage, festooned with a clutch of sleepy teenagers. It begins building pressure as traffic increases, until it's spraying huge gouts of water, misting the teenagers and rousing the Punk, an anachronistic young man in full 1980's regalia: a fan-like mohawk, tattered bomber jacket, and tight jeans. He blearily regards the world around him, his mohawk limp from the spray.

Meanwhile, on the road, a taxi and a BMW scrape, stopping in the road and bringing traffic to a sudden halt. The Cyclist squeezes between the cars while the Gendarme takes testimony by the aggrieved parties.

The Cyclist is an athlete, intent on his craft and dull to the possibilities of life on foot. His body is sleek and fatless from exercise, starvation and drugs. He wears red spandex, a teardrop helmet, and on his back, he bears the linked rings of the Olympic insignia.

Warming up, he takes a second turn around the rotary and exits stage right.


The Set: The bun shop at dawn.

One thousand thin red sausages hang from the ceiling, extending up into the lights and casting their long shadows across the scene. The Dumpling Maker is a young woman, the daughter of minorities. An unpious Uigur, she chafes against her parents' conservatism as well as Han condescension. Baozi are her only escape, and her movements are both tender and exultant as she prepares for the day, kneading dough, slicing onions and examining the sodden bamboo steaming baskets of her trade.

Mo Yan stands in the shop, her first customer this morning. A plump novelist in middle age, he spends long minutes staring up at the sausages, and inquiring about the various other fly-blown tidbits in the display case. He is collecting materials for a picnic, and finally buys a dozen buns and a bottle of beer. As he is leaving, he passes the Punk, who does not dance, but strides directly to the counter and orders ten buns with crossed fingers, as if warding off a vampire. Now fully awake, his mohawk no longer droops, but stands alert atop his head.

The Dumpling Maker gives his baozi the same careful attention as Comrade Mo's, wrapping them in a veil of cellophane and handing them over gently. The Punk exits stage left, leaving the Dumpling Maker alone.


The Set: An open plaza in Chaoyang District.

Modern apartments, new and already crumbling, rise on all sides, blocking the spring sun. The Punk strides across the pavement, right to left. He holds a bag with one hand, and grasps a single baozi in the other, considering it. He brushes past workmen, minorities and beggars on his way to somewhere else, radiating nonspecific hostility. The Cyclist, entering stage left, expects him to yield, and comes to a screeching halt at the last possible second. They glare at each other with real enmity. A shouting match begins. Bystanders circle, staring, pointing and debating the case. The Punk turns away in disgust, unwilling to fight the gristly athlete, stuffing the baozi into his mouth as he goes. He's stopped by the Gendarme, who has come to investigate.

The crowd continues to circle like cars in the rotary. The Gendarme interrogates the Punk, officiously weaving to and fro, a proud cobra. The Cyclist tries to break in, but is waved away by the officer. The Punk stares blankly, stock still, the bun protruding from his mouth. Infuriated by his silence, the Gendarme strikes, snatching his bag away.

Now doubly disgusted, the Punk simply walks away. The Gendarme makes a move to stop him, but is distracted by a luscious odor. The Gendarme reaches into the bag, draws out a bun, and takes a bite. He is filled with a blissful sensation, and briefly floats away from the ground, above the heads of the curious crowd.


The Set: An unfinished jetty, Terminal 3, Beijing International Airport.

Jean-Luc Goddard is holding a press conference, thronged by adoring European and Asian reporters. A famous film director, JLG has obviously passed into old age. He wears a huge pair of glare-blocking sunglasses, and in his hands he holds an enormous ax. He drags from his cigarette, coughs uproariously, and begins the to speak.

Goddard has come China to cast his latest film, a version of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, and needs to find a modern Cyd Charisse to lead the cast. Standing next to him, two Young Assistants, one male and one female, perform a pas-des-deux to illustrate. The Female Assistant has a black pageboy wig which she pulls over her blonde ponytail at critical moments, to illustrate Goddard's words. The Male Assistant has a fake red beard and does the same, taking the ax from Goddard and swinging it in artful, threatening arcs around his female counterpart. The Female Assistant dances fearlessly, but her partner grows a little too bold; his next swing goes wild and lodges in an expensive-looking video camera. Goddard gestures to the stunned cameraman- you see? I need real dancers for this!

JLG exits, stage right, trailing his assistants and the press.


The Set: The bun shop.

The Dumpling Maker is sweeping up, when into the shop strolls her Mother, a shy Young Man in tow. Mother is a hijabedfilial peasant, short and massively wrinkled. The Young Man wears a white shirt, tucked in, and sports a crewcut. Mother presents the youth, who performs a series of brief turns, showing himself off.

Broom in hand, the Dumpling Maker berates her mother, furiously, for bringing this obvious homosexual to her as a groom. Mother replies with equal fury, dancing with the Young Man to prove his virility. Unexpectedly, the man darts out of the store at the climax of the dance, leaving family arguments within the family.

The Dumpling Maker mocks the Young Man with an effete parody of his spinning dance, seducing the filthy broom. She then hobbles around in imitation of her love-struck mother, and the broom becomes the ridiculous young man.

Mother responds, en pointe, mocking the pride of her arrogant daughter, accusing her of lacking filial love.

Exasperated, the Dumpling Maker thrusts the broom into her Mother's hands and storms out of the shop.


The Set: A meadow outside the city.

The hot sun pours down on a field of weeds and sand. The meadow is windswept; bleached cans and fragments of rain-pitted newspaper cling to the earth. A glossy black Chiangjiang 750 sidecar motorcycle rests in the background, blocking the road. Mo Yan sits with an older Prostitute on a blanket downstage, lunching.

The writer's soft hands can't open the bottle of beer he bought, and he must pass it to the Prostitute, who deftly pops the cap with a pair of chopsticks. Having overcome his impotence, and she hands him back the bottle after taking a preliminary swig.

In return, he hands her the picnic umbrella, which she snaps open. This gives him an opportunity to threaten her with the beer, splashing it against the open parasol. She splashes him back by rapidly opening and closing it as they move to and fro in a pseudo-tango. They exchange bricolage, and she takes another swig while he shades himself from the bright sun. They playfully switch again, and the writer cools himself with a flick of brew while the Prostitute spins en pointe with the umbrella, giving us a taste of her former grace. Writer responds by trying to splash her again.

They reach a climax of the dance when he pours the remaining beer into the upturned cup of the umbrella. She takes a long slip from it, and he has the umbrella raised to his lips when they are interrupted by the Cyclist, who crashes into the motorcycle with a spectacular flip and an explosion of bicycle parts.

The two old lovers abandon their game. The Prostitute rushes over to the Cyclist, cradling his head in her lap and unsnapping his helmet. Comrade Mo strolls over, examining the bicycle's destroyed front wheel and shattered fork, before reaching the Cyclist.

At first, the Cyclist appears to be dead. The Prostitute gives him a languorous mouth-to mouth, caressing his concave chest and tweaking his nipples in an attempt at defibrillation. His limbs flop limply, despite her attempts to rouse him. Mo Yan peers down at him, pointing to the Cyclist's well filled spandex crotch, and brandishing a bun, holds it between the cyclist's thighs for comparison.

The marvelous scent of the baozi rouses the Cyclist slightly. Noticing, the Prostitute grabs it from Mo, and waves it in front of his face. The Cyclist recovers slowly, rolling in her lap, swinging his nose to and fro. As he comes to, Mo plants the umbrella over them to provide shade, and the Prostitute dangles the bun just out of his reach.

The Cyclist performs a short solo, stretching each muscle individually as he tests to see if his fragile athlete's body has been damaged. As he rises confidently to his feet, Mo Yan crowns him with the remains of his front wheel, bent into the semblance of an Indian headdress. The Prostitute hands him, in turn, the shattered fork, and the bun (but not before taking a salacious bite).

He stands, orb and scepter in hand, king of the meadow.


The Set: The bun shop

The Gendarme enters, brandishing a confiscated bun with a single, moon-like bite in it. Mother is behind the counter, and greets him decorously as he enters. He presents the evidence. Yes, we make those here. The Gendarme is skeptical, and asks for a fresh sample. The Mother dutifully makes a baozi with an air of sacrifice, in diminished imitation of her daughter from the first scene.

The Gendarme ducks behind the counter to observe as a detective, shadowing the Mother in his own restrained imitation. She finally presents the finished product, tweezered at the end of a pair of chopsticks.

He sniffs, takes the bun, and sniffs again. Convinced, he takes a bite, heaving his body in expectation of flight. He comes down flat-footed and unmoved. He shakes the bitten bun at Mother, and holds the two seemingly identical baozi side by side. One draws him into the air like a balloon, the other drags him to the floor like an anvil. He finally lets go of the second, heavy bun to demonstrate the miraculous powers of the first. Surely, it was made by a beautiful young woman?

The mother is furious! You don't like it? You leave good food on the floor? She stomps and huffs around the Gendarme, who's flinging himself towards the sky. Perhaps you want my daughter, then?, and kicks the bun out into the audience. Get out, she points, no charge for police!


The Set: The plaza.

Goddard and his two assistants pull up in a black 1969 Fiat Spider convertible, trailing the press. They leave their cars and stalk through the midday crowd, moving in formation, a wedge of migrating white geese through the Asian crowd. Goddard gestures, and his two assistants wade into the throng, pulling people out and presenting them to the director.

The selectees, uncertain of themselves, stand abashed before the filmmaker. Goddard has a tiny booklet with him, where he makes notes about each. The first few slink away, uncertain as to what has happened to them, but a few grow bolder.

A pair of aspiring movie stars descend from the balconies of the surrounding apartments, leaping floor to floor in a breathtaking demonstration of gongfu. Landing, they confront the director, who shrugs, disinterestedly.

Goddard then points to the Young Man- the crowd clears around him. The Young Man is unimpressed by the director- he doesn't know JLG from Adam. The Assistants urge him to dance, and he looks as though he might begin, but instead, he addresses Goddard directly with a wagging finger. Who wants to be in your you tai ren movie?

Goddard seems interested. He motions for a dance. The Young Man turns his back. Goddard signals his assistants, who grab the Young Man's arms. There's a struggle, but the Young Man throws off the pallid secretaries. The director is delighted, but his cronies are bruised and insulted. They sulk as JLG joins the Young Man in waltz. Reluctantly, the Assistants join, forming a quartet, periodically changing partners.


L’Entr’ Acte: A musical interlude - Hip Hop Battle. Raw Mandarin style vs. Smooth Cantonese flow.

The Set: The Intersection.

The Punk sits among his fellows, their backs to the fountain. Most are dressed in a restrained and updated version of the Punk's attire. Plugged into their separate headphones, they rise, one by one, dancing to their own music, completely independent of one another, a private urban idyll.

Their ecstatic solos are interrupted by Mo Yan's motorcycle unexpectedly running onto the sidewalk, scattering the dancers. The Prostitute, riding behind Mo, waves to her son, the Punk, who marches up to the idling bike and dutifully kisses his mother on the cheek. He's taken aback, however, by the Cyclist, sitting in the sidecar, clutching his broken vehicle.

The Cyclist, too, is appalled- his angel of mercy is the mother of his bitter enemy. Betrayed, he leaps from the sidecar, dismissing the whole crew and dragging the remains of his mangled bike with him. He marches away unsteadily, on legs accustomed to pedaling.

Mo Yan follows, abandoning the prostitute and her son.


The Set: The unfinished Jetty, Terminal 3, Beijing International Airport.

The Gendarme hangs over the railing stage left, smoking, watching the planes take off, and contemplating a fragment of bun. Frustrated, he balls up the last of it and pitches it at the landing strip just as the Dumpling Maker drifts up the stairs. She comes to ground stage right. In their own solitary worlds, they watch dancers, as airplanes, wheel in the sky, taking off and landing with the vigor neither of them feel.

The Gendarme looks over at the young woman. She regards him cooly. Suddenly, all the airplanes fall into formation as the wind shifts, blowing right to left. The Gendarme is electrified. Where is that delicious smell coming from? He sniffs his hands, and waives his nose in the air. But the wind suddenly changes; the planes all wheel in unison, and the Gendarme looses the scent. He sniffs his hands again, and begins to pace the stage as the airplanes resume their individual trajectories.

An international flight lands, and the stage is flooded with Koreans. Almost swept away by the foreigners, the Gendarme makes a decisive move towards the Dumpling Maker. He fights his way savagely through the crowd, throwing stylish young women and red-faced businessmen out of the way. Frightened by his ardor, the Dumpling Maker flees, going with the flow of passengers as the Gendarme struggles across it.

A particularly drunken and combative businessman trades blows with the Gendarme, who must take a moment to show his badge and handcuff the man. While the Gendarme struggles, the Dumpling Maker makes her escape. The jetty drains of people; even his prisoner wanders off, still cuffed. The Gendarme is alone.


The Set: The bun shop.

The Dumpling Maker bursts into the store, frightened by her brush with the law, surprising the Young Man, the Mother, Goddard and his Assistants.

The Young Man catches the Dumpling Maker, arresting her flight and trying to reassure her. Goddard closes in, as the Young Man tries to engage the panicked woman in a pas-des-deux. Seizing the opportunity, she dances savagely, with complete disdain for the young man. She has no time for this foolishness now.

Goddard is enchanted, and grabs Mother to jig his delight. His Assistants take their cue, and join the dance. They circle they young couple, urging them on. Finally, the Dumpling Maker, unable to exhaust or dissuade the Young Man, relents, allowing the assistants to guide her away to the safety of the movie set.


The Set: A bar.

Located near the airport, we can see planes, or the shadows of planes, departing through the windows. Mouldering in the Chinese manner, the bar is populated by old veterans, each with a cigarette and a glass of baijiu, drinking mechanically, in sync. At the tables are circles of pilots, their heads down, drinking seriously between international flights. They periodically raise their heads, a flurry of blue caps, glance around, and return to their whisky.

The Cyclist limps in, his wounded mount slung over his shoulder, bun in hand. He takes his place among the old men, ordering baijiu with his upraised finger.

The stage is, for a long time, a scene of quiet synchronization. The old men sip, the pilots look up, the Cyclist knocks back a glass, and takes a rueful bite from his bun. The old men sip, the pilots look up, the Cyclist knocks back a glass and takes a bite.

Finally, the door of the bar opens, and Mo Yan peers in. Ah, my boy, I've finally found you. He reaches out, trying to engage the Cyclist, who ignores him, and continues his drinking rhythm. The novelist does a cake walk of joy, throwing his hands left and right, marching between the tables, trying to break athlete's icy gloom. He appropriates the hat of an annoyed pilot, disrupting their boozing, and takes the cyclist's bent bike as his partner, giving his elbow to the mangled device. The pilots appreciate his comedy, and egg him on.

Mo Yan courts the broken cycle, swinging it around the stage, stroking its handlebars, seducing it. He changes to a waltz, rolling the bike around upright on its good back wheel, Harpo Marx style. His hands grow more adventurous, at first holding the bike chastely away from him, but slowly sliding them around the frame, taking hold of it's mechanism, getting grease on his white shirt as he clutches it ever more passionately. Finally, he brings the bike into a dip, and is about to kiss it, when the Cyclist leaps up and pulls him away from his "lady".

The novelist turns suddenly serious, pointing from the Cyclist's outlandish clothing (he still wears his helmet), to his broken bicycle. As a novelist, he is interested in broken things, and liquor- he dashes around the stage, upsetting the glasses of the old men as he points out their beautiful decrepitude. He circles the pilots, arms out, drunk like a crashing plane. That is why they're interesting.

The Cyclist looks skeptical, but begins to waltz with his bike like Comrade Mo. Mo then grabs an old man, and dances him against his feeble objections. The pilots rise, and each takes an old, protesting man for a partner.


The Set: The meadow. A hot and dusty morning.

Goddard and his cronies stand upstage, where a massive camera truck has replaced Mo Yan's motorcycle. Technicians scramble across the stage, running cables, checking sound, policing the litter, and setting video monitors. The Dumpling Maker, now heavily made up and in gingham, stands downstage.

The rest of the ensemble arrives, and the Dumpling Maker finds herself joined by the six other brides- a mix of minority women. All are dressed in gingham, and sport either blonde hair or outrageous permed afros. The Dumpling maker herself is fitted with red pigtails.

Goddard signals, and a cameraman approaches the group wearing a massive Steadicam video rig. The monitors scattered around the stage flare to life with images transmitted from the camera. The septet begins a salacious ballet-squaredance-burlesque.

Without warning, the set is flooded with police, who swarm through the meadow, batons drawn and waiving. Initially they move in a pack, Keystone Kops style, but they suddenly break formation, waving permits in the air.

Suddenly the Seven Brothers, an equally assorted bunch, swarm in from stage right, dressed as dandyish lumberjacks with fake beards, axes in hand. A melee ensues. Each brother defends one bride against one officer, advancing in formation, the Gendarme against the Young Man, with the Dumpling Maker looking on. The cameraman keeps shooting, and the scene is broadcast across the stage to the many video screens. Goddard is appalled, but neither he nor his Assistants elect to join the fray.

Although the Brothers are serious, they're balladandos, and are quickly overwhelmed by the tougher police officers despite their menacing weapons. The girls turn as a group to seek safety with Goddard, who gathers them together like hens beneath a skirt. They're quickly surrounded.

Only the Dumpling Maker shies away from the director. She tries to escape the scene yet again, as the Gendarme handcuffs the vanquished Young Man. The two Assistants, however, block her way, grabbing her (as they could not with the Young Man), and throwing her back to the waiting officer.

The Gendarme confronts her with a warrant. You are the Dumpling Maker? She nods. You are Chinese? From Beijing? She stands en pointe, and flips the pigtails of her wig. I am Uigur. The Gendarme shrugs and indicates the paper. It cannot be helped.

She's handcuffed by the Gendarme.


The Set: The plaza, night

The motorcycle is parked on the steps of the pedestrian plaza.

Mo Yan has gotten the Cyclist smashed. They sit on the ground, sharing a bottle. By dint of practice and craft, the writer has stayed mostly sober, and has a small notebook, where he notes the Cyclists movements and incoherencies. The broken cycle lies beside them. The Cyclist rolls on the ground, his movements infantile but strong. It takes Novelist some time to determine the real source of his misery: like the Gendarme before him, he's nearly finished the magnificent bun, having gnawed it down to a stub.

The Cyclist gently lays the remnants on the pavement and turns, en pointe, around the source of his only happiness. His dance is an elegy, however, and after a few moments, he can't stand it any more, and wolfs down the last bit, flying into the air for a moment before crashing to earth and sinking into his previous misery.

The writer takes meticulous notes. When the Cyclist comes back to earth, he gets on his hands and knees to console the athlete. He holds the Cyclist's shoulders and points to the scrap of cellophane where the bun once was. Then he points to his own nose, indicating that he can locate the source of the bun.

Mimicking the Dumpling Maker yet again, he kneads the dough, chops the filling, and composes the bun with a delicate pinch. The Cyclist watches, rapt. When Comrade Mo finishes his demonstration, the Cyclist tries to rise, but is nearly helpless. The writer takes him under one arm, takes the bottle in his other hand, and drags them both to the Chiangjiang.


The Set: The police station.

A run down station in Bei Gao, it's interior is concrete and tile, like a bathhouse. Long benches have been set up for the seven brides, still in wigs and gingham, stage left, and the seven balladandos, in false beards and tights, stage right. All are glum, and a few are crying, including the Dumpling Maker.

The Prostitute, her hands cuffed behind her back, is brought down the middle. The policeman leaves her standing between the cast, and exits stage left. The Prostitute glances around at the sad bunch, and begins a slow turn around the room, greeting each one tenderly, reassuring them that their arrest is not the end of the world. With a foreign celebrity's support, they will surely be treated with leniency.

The Gendarme comes out from one of the offices, and begins to pull brothers off the bench, the crying ones first, and shoving them into the arms of other officers, who will handle their incarceration. The Young Man resists, and is casually punched in the gut by the Gendarme, and thrown to a pair of burly guards.

With all the boys disposed of, the Gendarme wags his fingers at the girls, some of whom burst into further tears. He singles out the Dumpling Maker, though, and takes her aside, leading her to an office and drawing the blinds.

The Gendarme is suddenly on his knees, imploring the still-handcuffed Dumpling Maker. I love you. He mimes eating the marvelous bun, and shows how it lifted him into the air. Let me save you. The Dumpling Maker turns her back, en pointe. Not coy, but sad. The Gendarme circles around her, trying to convince her, offering to uncuff her. No, she cries, veering away from the avid policeman. The pain is nearly unbearable- her rejection will lead, at best, to exile. He pleads with her, on his knees again, kissing her feet. She leaps away, finally just disgusted.

The Gendarme composes himself, and sets his face. Fine. He's resigned. He rises and leaves the room, slamming the door savagely.

As he exits the office, the Punk enters the police station, and marches in his angry way up to his mother, who he dutifully kisses. The Gendarme sees this, and decides to take care of simple business first. He motions to the Punk, who indicates his mother- he's there to pay the bribe.

He leads both of them into his office, where the Dumpling Maker still languishes. With that out of the way, he gets back to processing the rest of the dancers, grabbing them each in turn, and throwing them to guards who lead them off stage. The stage lights dim on this grim scene.

In the meantime, the Punk recognizes the Dumpling Maker, giving a fish-like pogo of joy and surprise when he sees her. Ever the polite son, he introduces her to his mother. They kiss one another's cheeks, happy to meet. The Dumpling Maker then collapses in tears. The Punk and the Prostitute both approach her, concerned.

The Prostitute motions to her son. She nods at the Dumpling Maker. Her son nods, conspiratorially, and removes the massive safety pin from his nose. He uses this revolting instrument as a lockpick, freeing the surprised Dumpling Maker from her bonds. Keeping her back from the door, the Punk opens it and lets his mother out.

The Gendarme is still "processing" the women, and is surprised when the Prostitute plunks her head on his shoulder and kisses his cheek affectionately. He practically jumps out of his skin, and wheels around. The Prostitute kisses him again, and dances playfully back, taunting him. The Gendarme has no patience for this foolishness, and tries to grab her, but she's nimble despite her age, and taunts him just out of reach, smooching the air between them and flaunting her weathered cleavage.

While he's occupied, the Punk ushers the Dumpling Maker out the door, stage right. The curtain falls just as the Punk turns back to see the Gendarme hit his mother with a vicious smack.

The Set: The plaza, evening.

It has rained since nightfall, and the plaza is covered in slimy-looking city puddles. The Dumpling Maker runs across the nearly deserted space, right to left, and in the darkness nearly collides with Jean-Luc Goddard. He's pulled his black Fiat Spider up on the steps where Mo Yan had previously parked his motorcycle.

Goddard is accompanied by his two assistants, who immediately move to block the Dumpling Maker. Goddard pushes them aside, though, and gives his hand to the desperate woman. He can offer her asylum in Switzerland; they only need to make it to the airport. He checks his watch- there isn't much time. The Assistants intervene again, separating them. It's for the boss's own good. But he will not relent, and reaches between them and grasps the Dumpling Maker's hand. She forces her way through the assistants, and together they leap into the car. Goddard points towards the police station in regal command; free my cast! And roars off into the night, stage right.

The two Assistants stand bereft in the evening wet. They exchange long, weary looks, join hands, and slink off, stage left, in search of an easier tyrant to serve.


The Set: The Rotary.

It's midnight, and the streets are littered with the debris of the day. Mo Yan and the Cyclist circle the intersection drunkenly, orbiting the fountain at the center. Comrade Mo drives, clearly still impaired, but better off than the Cyclist, who's a rage of arms and legs, squirming and falling over Mo Yan in a drunken frenzy of lust, frustration and despair. The writer keeps shoving him back into his seat, while he peers into the darkness, trying to figure out which turn will take him to the bun shop.

In the confusion, he fails to notice the Fiat holding Goddard and the Dumpling Maker, coming at them from stage left.

Goddard drives with one hand, the other resting on the Dumpling Maker's leg. He leans in salaciously, going for a kiss, but the Dumpling Maker resists fiercely, unwilling to compromise when she's refused the Gendarme, who was at least handsome.

Goddard and Mo loop past one another a dozen times, each absorbed in their separate distractions. Finally, Comrade Mo looks up from the map and pushes the Cyclist away long enough to see the Fiat coming at them. Goddard, furious, ignores the oncoming motorcycle until it cannot be avoided. Both drivers attempt to swerve, bringing them into each other's path.

The crash is head on, a loud noise and then silence.

Lights down.

Lights up.

Goddard emerges from his car, shaken and cut, but walking. Mo Yan, in the same condition, lifts himself from the pavement. Both gently drag their respective passengers, limp, from their vehicles, and prop them up on the fountain, next to one another.

The two old artists glare at each other, rage slowly changing to bleary recognition. They shake hands. Glancing left and right, they limp off, arm and arm, eager to avoid scandal.

The stage is quiet. Finally, the Cyclist comes to and tries to stand, but his wounds are grievous. Looking to his left, he sees the Dumpling Maker. He reaches out to stroke her hair, and she wakes, but also cannot rise. Instead, they slump together, dying. The Cyclist reaches up and removes his helmet. Then, he pulls off the Dumpling Maker's wig. His nose is suddenly assaulted by the delicious smell. Weeping, he buries his nose in her hair. Weakly, she reaches up to caress his bird-like head.

The two never-met lovers die in each other's arms.

Lights down.

Suddenly, we hear another crash, not as severe as the first.

Lights up.

A paddy wagon now rests against the fountain, having swerved to avoid the accident. As the guards emerge from the front to investigate, the cast of Seven Brides sneaks out the open back, along with the bruised Prostitute.

The last to leave is the Young Man, who stops for a moment to look at the guards examining the dead couple. The Prostitute returns to draw him away. She's urgent, knowing what he faces if recaptured. With a motion of regret, the Young Man flies from the scene, and to freedom.