Beatrice – I Want to Love You but I Better Not Touch

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When I was 17 years old, me and some friends decided we were going to do a play. I had earlier only played old ladies and housekeepers and I thought it was time I got to play a young woman, preferably somehow romantically involved.

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I my mum’s bookcase I found a play called Rappaccini’s Daugther by Octacvio Paz. That play built on the Gothic short story Rappaccini’s Daughter by Nathaniel Hawthorne about a girl whose scientist father raised her in his poisonous garden, thus rendered her poiseoous as well.Giovanni, a young student, moves in next door and through his window he watches the adorable Beatrice as she walks around in the garden, talking to and caressing the flowers.

Giovannis teacher, also a scientist, comes to visit him and tries to warn him about Rappaccini and his garden. Gowever, Giovanni is already too smitten by Beatrice to care about what his teacher and friend says.

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Giovanni jumps the balcony that separates his window from Beatrice in the garden and starts talking to her. She has never had any friends and is quite charmed by the handsome student. She knows her father won’t approve of her new friend and keeps it a secret from him.

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Giovanni’s visits become more and more frequent but he also experiences the danger of the garden. He reaches out to touch a flower but Beatrice, knowing the plant is poisonous, stops him and accidentally touches his hand. It burns and he runs off. His teacher comes to visit again, telling him that Rappaccini is a crazy scientist who has poisoned his own daughter. Rappaccini himself cannot walk around in the garden without protective gloves, but Beatrice can touch anything she wants.

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Without Beatrices knowledge, Rappaccini has noticed Giovanni’s visits and secretly makes Giovanni part of his devious plan. Enough exposure to the garden will render also Giovanni poisonous and the boy also discovers that he can make a flower dy by breathing on it. Giovanni accuses Beatrice for making him poisonous and she is devastated but also thinks that he should stay with her in the garden. Giovanni’s teacher comes visiting again and finds out about Giovanni’s poisonous tendencies and gives Giovanni an antidote to give to Beatrice. Giovanni gives the antidote to Beatrice but her father interupts, saying that she will die if she drinks it. At the same time it’s shown that Giovanni’s teacher might have his own agenda and wants to hurt Rappaccini, who is his rival in science. Beatrice drinks the antidote and the play ends.

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I can’t say that I’ve been playing girls that are lucky in love much on stage. There is always some degree of complicated. They are either poisonous or in a non-sex pact to stop an ancient war or their husband died before the play started or whatever problem might occur. I did fall in love once though, in a man who had dedicated his life to mourn his dead wife. Yeah, that one got complicated too…

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Beatrice has always been one of my most dear characters though, probably because I had to fight so hard for her. I was the only one in the ensemble to believe that she would survive the antidote – I had to believe that, why else drink it? She was an interesting character to play, in her first scene she is still a child in many ways but the meetings with Giovanni and the realization that there are other people besides her dad and that her dad might not always be right, made her grow into a confident woman who dared to stand up to her father. Then of course there might me some things to say about this play from a feminist view and also probably from a psychoanalytical one as well. Interestingly enough, when both the play and the original story are described, the plot summery Always start from either Rappaccini’s or Giovanni’s viewpoint, never Beatrice though she is’s obviously the main character (I mean, check out the name of the play).

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To show how Beatrice matured during the play, I played with clothes. In the beginning she wore a girly dress to the knee, that later became longer and ended with a beautiful chiffon “over dress”. Her maturity also showed in her hair, she started with a braid and then in the end her hair was up in a nice coiffure.

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I always connect Beatrice with the color blue. Her dress was a sky blue and the over dress was a darker blue, like a midnight blue. When I found the pattern for Rappaccini’s Garden Shawl by Anne Podlesak, I realized three things immeadiately.

1. It had the wrong name, it was obvious is was Beatrice’s shawl.
2. I had to make it.
3. It had to be blue.

This is my finished, lovely, shawl. It’s beautiful and as a tribute to Beatrice I wore it on stage in February when I, also dressed in blue, played yet another girl where it was “complicated”.

Yarn: Malabrigo Lace, color Indigo.