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Untamed hair  or

The aesthetic duty

(Versão em Inglês da peça Cabelo Difícil ou O Dever Estético)

Play by Rubem Queiroz Cobra
(Brazilian writer)

Brasília, 2007

escrita por Rubem Queiroz Cobra
(Site original:




[SCENARIO: The School yard.
In the center of the stage two big vases with plants, and a bench between them.]



[A group of three male students are seated on the bench facing the audience.]

BOB (to BEN)

You always want everything for yourself, Ben. Oh, my goodness! Let Fred choose whoever he wants for king.


We need a queen too. 

BOB (impatient)

And you also want the role of queen, I guess!


Of course not, Bob. But I want a beautiful girl for that role. (Dreaming) The King's spouse, my queen! ...

FRED (in an authoritarian way)

These choices will be made later. For now we must think of where we'll  perform.


Why? Mrs. LINDA agreed that we should rehearse in B-8 and perform in the main Stanley Hall auditorium.

FRED (harshly interfering)

I should decide that; Ben. I am supposed to talk to Mrs. LINDA, not you.


OK, boss. But you had better fasten your pace. What about the fundraising?  We have not collected a single penny yet! You said Mrs. Fortune – that witch with her red stockings and silly hat – could produce the play. And then?


She is a rich widow, no mater her red stockings. But she is a Republican and she refuses to finance the play because the Director of the School is a Democrat.

BOB (as in a dream)

Uff! In Stanley Hall! It is so big. It makes me shiver.

BEN (express great hope)

The theater should commensurate with the show!  Boys, I do believe it will be a great show.

BOB (With criticism and disdain)

A theater performance is not a show. It is a performance.

BEN (ponders prudently)

The auditorium is OK, Fred. Student's families will be present. About two or three hundred people. There is no other place.


Let's go there and take a look.

[The three students leave the yard and EUGENIE enters]




[EUGENIE enters the patio and seats on the same bench facing the audience. She has her uncombed hair loosely arranged on the top of her head. She wears a dress too baggy at the waist, with her belt left unfastened. She looks distressed.]


I hate this school. My class is full of idiots. They laughed at my hair.! (She dramatizes) ― One of them even said it looks a bird made its nest in my head”.”

[EUGENIE stands up and walks from one side to the other, in front of the bench, staring at the ground, with her hands on her back. Occasionally she looks to the audience. Her skirts, loose in her belt, are stirred down well bellow her knees. Her short stockings fall on her ankles like folds of a concertina. ]

Oh, How I hate them! I heard about the auditions for actors. I am sure they will refuse-me any participation. Fred will say that I don't fit in any role. But Amahlia, with her thick glasses, will be the scene director has a part, and flora's crocked legs didn't keep her out. She will play one of the maids. But I don't care what people think or say about me. I am not concerned with others' opinion. How I hate Fred and his fellows!

[EUGENIE stops walking, and speaks to the audience.]

But hate is not rational. If you bend to it, you will behave like an animal, not as a human being. Hate is a sickness. I hate people so much. I need someone to tell me what to do. Oh! ... Yes! I know exactly who I shall ask!




[SCENARIO: The stage is divided by an imaginary line. In the left up stage, two doors. Through the door most at left, enters a school woman-instructor who blows a whistle. A line of boys and girls begins to enter through that same door. They go around and leave the stage by the second door Boys and girls are joking and laughing. The instructor orders silence and nervously sounds her whistle once more, making comments on good behavior at school. Head down and looking at the floor, EUGENIE comes in the end of the line and is the last one to enter. While the instructor looks the other way yelling orders to the children, she walks behind her towards an imaginary door in the imaginary line. The instructor follows the children and goes way without noticing that EUGENIE stays behind



In the right side of the imaginary line there is a desk with books and a  woman's purse. A lady seats behind the desk. She seems to work on some papers. A desk name-plate in front of her says "MRS. LINDA BONATESTA - School Counselor". The picture of a house with a garden hangs on the wall. Eugenie breathes deeply, and knocks on the imaginary door. The lady in the desk raises her head towards that door.]

MRS. LINDA (with sweet voice):

Come in, please!

[EUGENIE, looking very distressed enters the office of the School Counselor. MRS. LINDA is pleasantly surprised but at same time sorry for EUGENIE obvious unhappiness. MRS. LINDA comes to meet EUGENIE near the door, and walks back with her right arm over the girl's shoulder.


 Oh! Eugenie! The bets student of our school! What has you so distressed?

EUGENIE (dries her eyes with the back of her hand):

I need your help, Mrs. Linda. Kids are laughing at my hair. I hate all of them! I know that I shouldn’t hate people, but I can’t help feeling that way. I can't find any other way to deal with it 


Oh! I see. Let me see if I can help you some how. Maybe you are not trying to be accepted by your school mates. Instead, maybe you are at war with them.

 EUGENIE (intrigued):

 Who, me?


 I think I know how to end their laughing.

[MRS. LINDA unmakes Eugenie hair and leaves it free over her shoulders. Gets a hair brush out of her purse and brushes it, letting coquettish little curls at the temples.]


Now it is exotic, different... you must believe it is beautiful. Leave it down.


Thank you, Mrs. Linda. I feel encouraged by your words!


I am pleased in helping you, Eugenie. 

[MRS LINDA open again her purse and extract a little box. Open it and shows to Eugenie a pair of earrings.]


Do you like them? I just bought them. They will look fine on you.

MRS. LINDA  (puts the earrings on EUGENIE's ears and takes a look at her entire figure):

Now you look like a princess. Take care of your hair and your appearance. Use a light perfume. You need a new pair of shoes. Retire these old ones.

EUGENIE (a little offended,  protests):

But I love them! And they were very expensive…


That is the question! You have to decide between what you love and what really looks good on you. Don’t simply follow your taste, or fashion magazines. Reason about how colors combine. Care that the lines of your dress match with your body shape, and the style of your hair goes well with your face…

EUGENIE (cutting MRS. LINDA’s speech):

I have to do all that?

MRS. LINDA (with a tender and affectionately voice):

Eugenie, you should do even more! It is not only your figure that matters.  The environment for which you are responsible also matters. Please sit, Eugenie.

[MRS. LINDA before seating her self, points to a portrait hanging behind her seat]:

This is my home. I am so proud of my house that I keep  its picture hanging in the wall behind my desk. My garden pleases me and also pleases my neighbors. I have inspired them to reform  their gardens and paint their houses. We now live on a very nice lane.

[MRS. LINDA moves her arm to reach the purse and put the hair brush inside it, and continues her talk]

Aesthetic duty, my dear! Pay attention to what I say. The human being is a social being. This creates for him the duty to seek to make social life enjoyable for all. We can’t be aggressive against aesthetic feelings of people.  So it is an aesthetic duty to have a nice looking, have good manners at the table, to smile sympathetically do people, and to care for your environment as well. A clean street, well trimmed gardens, beautiful looking houses, will make your neighborhood a pleasant place to live. But you should not do it in excess. Do not cover your body with too many beautifying things. If you exaggerate you will be aggressive in the same way. Do you understand that?

EUGENIE (nodes, smiles, and says):

Yes. Do you mean that my school mates reacted to my aggression upon their aesthetic feelings by laughing at my hair?


Right! Now you may go. You will see: things will be quite different from now on.

EUGENIE (says with deep filling of gratitude):

Thank you so much, Mrs. Linda, from the depths of my heart!


Bye Eugenie.

[MRS. LINDA collects her papers on desk and leaves by the right side. Eugenie crosses the imaginary line (no need to open an imaginary door to the hall)]


[At the same time that Eugenie crosses the imaginary door of MRS. LINDA's office into the hall, the students come out from the second door and walk to the first door at left. They come by flocks, talking, commenting on subjects of their interest. Every group notice Eugenie different looks, but make no comments. One group stops, all look at Eugenie, and starts conferencing in low voices between them.  The quick glances they give in EUGENIE leave no doubts that they are speaking about her. They come slowly toward and around the girl  peering attentively her figure. She looks afraid and turns her back to the students.]

EUGENIE (rising her eyes).

My God! All that MRS. LINDA did was for nothing!...

AMAHLIA (in a kind voice, trying to tranquilize EUGENIE):

Don't be so shy, Eugenie. Would you join us this afternoon?


I told them you would fit well as the queen in our play, because you are different. I am different too. I am a Jew.


Yes. Queens are different from common people. Do you accept?


Please, Eugenie!

EUGENIE (joyfully, breathe out in relief)

Yes! O, yes!... Sure! Thank you!




[SCENARIO: A commercial street. In the center of the backstage are the windows and doors of a stationery shop. At the right side of the front-stage, the window of a jewelry store where many necklaces hang on the side visible to the audience.]



[In left up stage BEN, BOB, FRED, EUGENIE and AMAHLIA look at the window of a stationery shop, their back turned to the audience. Mrs. Fortune enters by the right side, walking with the help of a cane, wearing a hat, a colorful dress, several necklaces and rings, red stockings. She stops and cheerfully admires the jewels, with a smile of satisfaction on her lips. Fred turns his head and recognizes Mrs. Fortune.]

FRED (surprised)

Look! It's Mrs. Fortune!

[All the other three look to the lady]

BEN (fastens his gaze on MRS. FORTUNE)

Spending her money!


Why not talk to her and ask  her for money to buy the scenery material?  We tell her we are all republicans and will vote on republicans, and that we have nothing do to with the Director of the School being a democrat.


I will talk to her.

[EUGENIE walks towards Mrs. Fortune, without listen to FRED].


Mrs. Fortune, I am Eugenie. Listen to me, please! You can do much more than only clothe your body with expensive dresses, jewels and high-heeled shoes.

MRS. FORTUNE (looking down on EUGENIE)

How dare! Look at you!

[EUGENIE points toward the stationery shop on the other side of the street]


Look at those other windows.


A stationery shop!


Oh no, Mrs. Fortune. Not the stationery shop. I speak of those three boys standing there. You will find they are like open windows, with honest transparency to what they have in their hearts. We are all so eager to show you our project! And we really think that you will love what you hear!

[MRS. FORTUNE is not impressed with EUGENIE'S metaphor and returns her eyes to the jewels in the window]


Don't bother me, young lady! I want to buy this neck lace before one of my friends buy it. This is a sort of permanent war, Eugenie. If you miss a chance, some other takes it and shine at the next party. The late Mr. Fortune, my defunct husband – God rest his soul – , would be humiliated if another woman down here wears richer jewels than his beloved widow. Same with dresses and shoes. We all are slaves of what pleases us, my dear young lady. The best our money can buy! And I suspect that the paradise up there was featured accordingly – the pleasures of competition, my dear!...

[MRS. FORTUNE turns and peers at EUGENIE for a second, then turns her eyes back to the jewelry windows)

What do these boys have in their heart, as you say?


Oh, Mrs. Fortune. We want to perform a play with a story about aesthetic duty:  dressing well , the proper use of jewels, and living in society…

[MRS. FORTUNE turns her head to EUGENIE showing herself suddenly interested in what she said]


Oh! Indeed?

[Noticing that EUGENIE had won MRS. FORTUNE attention, the boys join the two]


 Mrs. Fortune. We are all Republicans and will vote for the reduction of the taxes. We have nothing do to with the Director's  political choices. If that is the reason why you have refused to finance our play...

BOB (cheerfully)

Listen, Mrs. Fortune. The story happens in a kingdom of liars. The king lies to his people, the people lie to the king and everyone lies to each other. The story tells what happens when there is not, in the entire realm, a single individual who tells the truth. We'd even have a role for you too, Mrs. Fortune, if you wish: the queen's mother.

MRS. FORTUNE (Irate, menaces BOB with her cane.)

How dare! You have a role for me in a kingdom of liars!

[EUGENIE interferes to calm Mrs. Fortune.]

It is not what he says, Mrs. Fortune. The play is about what Mrs. Linda calls our aesthetic duty.

[EUGENIE walks to the proscenium arch, and speaks to the audience. The other students and Mrs. Fortune come near her, to listen to what she is  saying]

Once upon the time there was a kingdom where people lived in poverty and  filth in the streets and homes. No girl of the noble families attracted the king because they all had nasty habits and dressed in horrible dresses. One day, a fine lady of the neighboring kingdom crossed the nasty kingdom and felt sorry for its people. She immediately caught the king's attention and love, and he married her. She said to the King that the people were unhappy because no one cared about being kind and courteous to others. The king laughed, but feeling sorry because his impolite laugh made her cry, he ordered people to listen to her and obey her. People learned to wash their hands before eating, learned to respect their elders, to wait their turn, to use forks, knife and spoons, to have their houses clean. She issued a decree ordering families to cultivate gardens in front of their houses. The king was prohibited of have his pockets full of olives and fried hen legs, and had to order his ministers to take baths, to  dress conveniently and to shine their shoes before coming to  the palace. In only a few months the kingdom looked civilized, people were working happily and eagerly to fulfill their aesthetic duty, one to the other. The kingdom became a land of beauties and happiness and the queen the most loved they ever had.


EUGENIE (turns to MRS. FORTUNE, joins her hands in a fervent supplication, and implores for her acceptance.)

Mrs. Fortune, please!

BOB (steps towards Mrs. Fortune and asks with anxiety).

Which one of the two stories would you finance, Mrs. Fortune? We are in front of the shop where we can buy material for the stage panels. The scenery, you know.


Listen, people. The idea of the performance was mine. I will decide which play is the best and then I will take it to Mrs. Fortune for her approval.


You had the idea, but not the money, dear friend.


MRS. LINDA is a great friend of mine. If she recommended that...hum!... That what?

[EUGENIE rubs her hands and jumps for joy]

All citizens' Aesthetic duty! ... Mrs. Fortune.

MRS. FORTUNE (determined)

That is my choice!

[The students joyously take the lead to the door of the stationery shop. MRS. FORTUNE turns to the audience.]


Old Mr. Fortune, God rest his soul! (Looks up to the sky) will think his widow has gone absolutely crazy!

[MRS. FORTUNE rather comically accelerates her steps with the help of her cane and enter the shop behind the STUDENTS]




Rubem Queiroz Cobra

Página lançada em 21-08-2010 de um texto de 2007.

Direitos reservados. Texto impresso original depositado no Escritório de Direitos Autorais da Biblioteca Nacional.
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Cobra, Rubem Q. - Untamed hair (Cabelo Dificil) or The aesthetic duty (ou O dever estético)
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