The Next day round noon at the De La Vega hacienda……
A soft breeze was shifting through the leaves of a big oak tree. The sent of flowers that rose up in the air was tickling Diego’s nose. Diego loved those smells especially in the spring. His eyes were closed, his mind had wandered off. He found himself in a comfortable chair, in the shade of the oak. He could faintly hear his father, who played the piano in the sala. Alejandro was playing Bach. Diego hummed along with the music waving one of his arms as if he was conducting. All of a sudden the music stopped. Why stop now, father? Oh please continue, Diego thought.
“Who is it?” asked Diego opening the shutters of his eyes.
Bernardo smiled and pointed at himself.
“I can see it’s you all right,” said Diego laughing.
Bernardo explained to Diego that Don Ibrahim and Esperanza had arrived.
“That is right,” responded Diego. "My father told me that he had invited Don Ibrahim and Esperanza for lunch.”
Leaving his day-dreams behind, Diego reluctantly rose from his chair and followed Bernardo to the stone, red tiled patio. The others were already waiting, gathered round a big oval deal wooden table under a big green leaf roof full of wonderful smelling flowers that dappled the shade.
Bernardo had outdone himself this time to turn the table into a feast for the eyes. A lavender blue table cloth, ivy from the garden wall and some purple flowers, which he had picked from a flowerbed esp for this purpose, had done the job. The cook had prepared an omelette, with mushrooms, paprika, and various other vegetables. It was served with freshly baked bread and a green salad. When everyone was satisfied Bernardo cleared the table and served the coffee and cake.
“That was a perfect lunch. Please pass my compliments to the cook,” said Don Ibrahim, wiping his mouth with his napkin.
“Thank you, I will. Just before Diego joined us you told me that you wanted to ask him something. Maybe this is a good moment to do that?” said Don Alejandro nodding in Don Ibrahim's direction.
“That is right,” added Don Ibrahim.
“I’ll listen," responded Diego attentively while he stirred his coffee.
“Diego," said Don Ibrahim, "maybe you know that my wife and I have founded a theatre group we named The Empty Space Theatre Company.”
“Ah, I am glad those rumours are true,” Diego remarked amused.
“I am very glad that Los Angels gets its own theatre,” added Don Alejandro.
“So are we,” continued Don Ibrahim. “For quite some time we have been looking for a location for our theatre. At first we thought about the old winery, but it turned out that the atmosphere in the winery was too damp. Besides that there was not enough room for a proper stage. A few weeks later we heard the old mission school would be sold. As we all know, Monastario claimed the building to turn into a horse stable.”
“ That was just to please his larger than life ego,” said Don Alejandro half aloud. “ I am sorry Ibrahim.”
“Never mind Alejandro,” responded Ibrahim, continuing. “When we heard that the orphans were going to move to a bigger home, we did not hesitate any longer. We bought the old orphanage, and it turned out to be perfect! Of course the orphanage had to be converted. We decided that the dining room would become our 400 seat auditorium. The big entrance hall becomes our foyer. The kitchen becomes the dressing room area and the artist foyer.
“Although a lot of work has been done in the past few months, it is not finished yet. Nevertheless the contractors are more or less on schedule. The fact that they are on schedule made it possible for us to start the rehearsals for the opening production. That would have been last Saturday. That very same day Comez Banderas, the director who originally would direct the play, burst into the office in a high state of excitement. He enthusiastically started pacing up and down the office. He told me had received a telegram in which the Confederacy of Fools asked him to direct their next production "Flux," a play about a cup of tea. He kept on raving, "Imagine me directing the Confederacy of Fools!" He already seemed to have picture in his mind of how he was going to handle it. I had to understand that this was a big opportunity, and he could not let that slip through his fingers. Alas, there was nothing I could say or do to stop him from leaving us.
“Ever since I have been busy trying to find a new director. Finding someone to direct a play on such short notice is a painstaking job, Diego.”
Diego nodded in agreement.
“I was at my wits end till Esperanza told me about her encounter with Don Alfredo Mirabal yesterday.”
“ Ah, my friend from university,” remarked Diego.
“He told me,” continued Esperanza, “about you Diego, and how you have directed the annual university play.”
“The fact,” interrupted Don Ibrahim, “that Don Alfredo was very enthusiastic about what you have done, we decided to ask you to direct our opening play Diego.”
“What do you think? Have we got ourselves a new director?,” Esperanza asked. Immediately after her husband had finished his sentence.
“I have indeed directed the annual university play,” Diego answered. “It was called the The Servant of Two Masters.” In the meantime Diego’s mind went back to the occasion. He thought of the scene where Beatrice - disguised as her own brother Federigo Rasponi who was supposed to be dead - triumphantly drove on stage in that Fiat 500. She was dressed in a suit according to the latest fashion from Paris. The audience had cheered and applauded so loudly, the cast had to wait a couple of minutes till they could continue. It was a big hit night after that night. Diego also thought back of the scene in which he, as Truffaldino, tried to seal with some chewed bread, a letter he accidentally opened and read. Every time there was a roaring laughter in the auditorium while he did this.
“I almost forgot to tell you that we have invited our mutual good friend Don Sergio Diaz to perform the opening ceremony,” said Don Ibrahim.
“Don Sergio gladly accepted our invitation,” added Esperanza.
“I will be looking forward to see them again,” responded Alejandro.
“I’ll direct your play,” said Diego, finally answering Esperanza’s question. “ I really enjoyed directing the The Servant of Two Masters. Besides that, how can I say no to such lovely friends as you?” said Diego broadly smiling.
“I am so relieved you accept,” responded Don Ibrahim.
“Which play do have in mind?,” asked Diego.
“"The Taming of the Shrew" by William Shakespeare,” replied Esperanza.
“Ohhh that is a tough cookie,” Diego responded. They all laughed.
“When can you come to the office to pick up the script and to arrange a few other things?” asked Don Ibrahim.
“How about tomorrow?” replied Diego. “I have to run a few errands in the pueblo anyway. I’ll be there about 11.00 o’clock if that suits you.”
“That is fine with me,” answered Don Ibrahim.
Bernardo served a second cup of coffee.
When Don Ibrahim had finished his coffee, he rose from his chair and said, “ Esperanza, I think it is about time we went home.”
“ Please stay a little longer,” insisted Alejandro.
“Well,” responded Don Ibrahim, “I wish we could, but now that I have found a new director, I have to prepare some things for him.I’ll see you tomorrow,Diego," said Don Ibrahim.
“Till tomorrow,” responded Diego.
Don Ibrahim and Esperanza left the de la Vega hacienda.
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