Translation:Puss in Boots/Interval 2
Now, that's what I'd call a heroic ballet.
And so beautifully woven into the main plot!
The ballet is the play's only redeeming feature.
The performance of the cat continues to amaze me. — A truly great and experienced actor is always known by his attention to detail; for example, whenever he took the rabbit out of the sack, he always lifted it by the ears — the stage directions did not instruct him to do that; did you notice how the king grabbed it carelessly by the body? But these animals should always be held by the ears, because that's where they can best tolerate it. Now, that's what I call a master!
I wish someone would lift him by the ears!
And his terror when the eagle was sitting on his head! He didn't dare move for fear, he didn't budge an inch — no, such perfection is beyond description!
You take a very thorough view of the matter.
I flatter myself that I am a bit of a connoisseur; of course, the same cannot be said for all of you, and for that reason the matter must be explained to you somewhat.
You shouldn't put yourself to so much trouble!
Oh, when you love art as much as I do, it is no trouble at all! — Just now a very clever idea occurred to me concerning the cat's boots, one in which the genius of the actor is to be admired. — You see, at the outset he was a cat; so he had to discard his natural apparel in order to assume the appropriate guise of a cat. But then he has to appear as a hunter (or so I assume, since every one refers to him as such and no one is surprised at his appearance); an inept actor would no doubt have worn a hunting costume: — but — what would have happened to our illusion? We might perhaps have forgotten that he was still primarily a cat. And imagine how uncomfortable a new costume would be for the actor on top of the fur he was already wearing! By means of the boots alone, however, he very skilfully suggests the hunter's costume; that such suggestions are entirely dramatic is superbly demonstrated for us by the ancients, who often—
Again with the ancients!
Forgive me, it is a pleasant, not to mention commendable, habit that I have acquired, one which suits all kinds of modern refinement. Anyway, gentlemen, it is my intention to publish a book of my own on the rôle of the cat (concerning which I shall be expecting some astute comments from all of you later), so I dearly wish we could enjoy the play without so many interruptions. The scene in which he handed the rabbit to the king with such artistry was, I thought, almost the acme of his performance, if we exclude the final scene, in which he displayed his genius even more splendidly; for he played that one entirely with his left index finger and a slight movement of his right foot. How many actors would have resorted to violent movements and loud screams? But he, he stood calmly by himself, knowing himself, trusting his greatness, fully aware that the rabbit was sitting in the knapsack and he had only to open it in order to make his fortune.
But he strikes us as rather boring.
Perhaps you are merely fastidious, gentlemen. Were you not deeply shocked then by that unique and inimitable scene in which the worthiest of his race had his venerable whiskers plucked on the orders of the tyrant? No doubt you were expecting him to scream and stamp his foot and grind his teeth? How many of our stage bawlers, who are lauded to the heavens whenever they play heroic rôles, would have mobilized the entire battery of their talents in the hope of eliciting the mob's applause? Not so our great and original artist. There he stands, silent, self-absorbed, suppressing his pain; his right hand thrust into his unbuttoned waistcoat beneath the jabot, while his left hand, stretched out with upturned palm, expresses his indignation, summoning the heavens themselves, as it were, to his aid; his countenance remains unruffled, smiling almost, in contempt of the tyrant's servants; only a fleeting twinkle flickers in his upturned eyes, revealing the full depth of his feelings, and then from the heaving breast a heartrending cry is heard, Ow, Miaow, Miaow, so prolonged, so drawn out, so plaintive a whimpering that we are all left breathless. But the feeling of indignation cannot be restrained forever; hence that sudden and bold outburst of anger, which the jester called a purr, and before which even the shameless servants of the despot retreated. Truly this was the pinnacle of all art. Indeed, I would like some day to see this unique individual play the rôle of King Lear or Wallenstein with the same snarling, whining and mewing tone. I am confident such an interpretation would be unprecedented, and would contrast strongly with the performances of those bawlers who can only ever play the tragic rôles with so-called vigor and energy.
That's just what we need! But this is insufferable: as soon as our tormentor up there on the stage falls silent, this connoisseur takes over. One is as bad as the other! — The curtain's rising.