- Feb 4, 2006
A melody is heard, played upon a flute. It is small and fine, telling of grass and trees and the horizon. The curtain rises.
Before us is Europe. It is projected onto the stage from the back, presented in meticulous detail. Scandinavia disappears off stage-north, North Africa off stage-south. To stage-west stretches the seemingly infinite Atlantic Ocean, and the vast Russian Steppe disappears to stage-east.
Three MINISTERS sit on children’s stools to one side. They are drab little men, wearing drab little suits. Behind them are a series of cages, each with a ferret inside.
Above the stage hangs a screen. Projections are made on it throughout the show, and it currently displays the 15th century cityscape of Lübeck from the title page. Just below the screen is a calendar which reads 30 May 1453.
Onto the stage strolls LÜBECK, an aristocratic dandy, a bit camp and rather effete. One hand is held at a right angle to his waist, his little finger outstretched ‘just so’. A pair of silk gloves are draped casually over this hand, more resting than held. His hair is black, long and curled. He wears a dark coat with gold trim over tight breeches and shining leather shoes. On his lapel is a badge which reads BERTOLD WITIG, BÜRGERMEISTER. He strides from side to side, taking in the audience, and letting himself be taken in by them. Finally he stops. He speaks in a flowery German accent.
LÜBECK: I am Lübeck, Qu… Where is my fanfare?
MINISTER ONE: Sir?
LÜBECK: My fanfare. Do I not get a fanfare?
MINSITER ONE: But Bürgermeister…
LÜBECK turns and exits stage-north.
LÜBECK: I shall return when my fanfare is prepared!
The three MINISTERS stare blankly at one another. After a moment, one whispers in another’s ear. The message is then passed to the third.
MINISTER TWO: We’ve got it, Herr Bürgermeister.
LÜBECK strides out on stage once more, as the MINISTERS break into perfect harmony.
MINISTERS (together): Bah, buh-duh-daaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhh!
LÜBECK: Excellent. Thank you. I am Lübeck, Queen of the Hanse. I am…
MINISTER THREE: Queen, sir?
LÜBECK: Queen of the Hanse. I am the Queen of the Hanse. It is my title. You scoff?
MINISTER THREE (stifling laughter): No, sir. Nein, Herr Bürgermeister.
LÜBECK: I should think not. You had better be nice-nice to Lübeck, poopsie. It is I who butters your bread.
MINISTER THREE: Sir?
LÜBECK: Butters your… takes your… Oh, shut up. What of affairs of state?
MINISTER ONE: Sir, the Byzantine Empire is no more.
LÜBECK: Really? You don’t say!
MINISTER ONE: I do say, sir. Crushed by the Turk.
LÜBECK: Nasty old Turk.
MINISTER ONE: Yes, sir.
LÜBECK: Still, we mustn’t dwell. This opens up some interesting prospects. We should be dispatching merchants.
MINISTER TWO turns and frees three ferrets from their cages. They go running and tumbling off-stage.
LÜBECK: With Constantinople in the hands of the Turk, perhaps we shall see Lübeck rise again. Since our founding by Heinrich der Löwe in… errr…
MINISTER TWO: 1159, sir.
LÜBECK: Very good, Minister Two. 1159, we have been one of the world leaders in the trade of all manner of things. But today, I can sense something – feel something – swelling on the air, throbbing like a…
The ministers all cringe, waiting for the next words.
LÜBECK: …warm breeze. (The ministers visibly exhale) It is a new dawn for us, gentlemen. A new day. And I’m (does a small shimmy) feelin’ good.
The calendar starts ticking over, as it will do for the rest of the show.