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Lesbian Historic Motif Podcast Episode 235 – A Farce to Suit the New Girl by Rebecca Fraimow

Saturday, July 30, 2022 - 07:00

Lesbian Historic Motif Podcast - Episode 235 – A Farce to Suit the New Girl by Rebecca Fraimow - transcript

(Originally aired 2022/07/30 - listen here)

The Lesbian Historic Motif Podcast has published several stories set in Eastern European Jewish communities around the late 19th or early 20th centuries. This hasn’t in any way been a deliberate plan, but there seems to be something about that era of social change, peril and upheaval, exciting social and political movements, and tantalizing dreams of new possibilities that inspires stories. It’s also a rich era of literary creativity for Yiddish culture and new stories in the same setting participate in that heritage.

Our story today, “A Farce to Suit the New Girl” by Rebecca Fraimow, focuses on a Yiddish theater troupe at a time when that field was just in its infancy. In the next episode, we’ll have an interview with Rebecca and talk about the setting, the story’s inspirations, and how it connects to Rebecca’s other fiction. I confess I hadn’t realized when I chose this story that I’d already loved several of her tales.

Rebecca Fraimow is an author and archivist living in Boston. Some of her other short fiction about queer Jews encountering unexpected situations can be found at PodCastle and Diabolical Plots. Rebecca's work has also appeared in venues such as Daily Science Fiction, The Fantasist, and Consolation Songs: Optimistic Speculative Fiction for a Time of Pandemic. She can be found on Twitter at @ryfkah and has a website at Check the show notes for links.

Our narrator today is Violet Dixon, who has appeared previously as a narrator. Violet lives with her wife, two teen sons, and four tolerant cats outside Philadelphia. When not in the recording booth, she plays and teaches acting. Other lesbian titles that she has narrated include Jeannelle M. Ferreira’s The Covert Captain and KC Luck’s Venandi and her Darkness Series. 

This recording is released under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International Public License. You may share it in the full original form but you may not sell it, you may not transcribe it, and you may not adapt it.

A Farce To Suit The New Girl

by Rebecca Fraimow


            “It’s a disaster,” said Ida Glickl, head in hands. “To leave St. Petersburg before we’ve even had a chance to recoup our costs --”

            “We’re leaving?” said Chava-Leah.

            “-- and Goldfaden will hear the news, of course, so he’ll turn back before he gets here, and no doubt will beat us back to Odessa with ‘Two Kuni-Lemls’ –”

            “But why are we leaving?” said Chava-Leah.

            “And when I think how we raced to get here before him, and how many shows we missed! We’ll make it all back in St. Petersburg, says Chaim! – oh, you haven’t heard?” Ida raised her head, shoving her luxurious hair back from her face. “The Tsar’s been killed. So the theaters have been closed, and they say there was a Jew involved, so of course the news for us will only get worse. You must start packing up the costumes, darling, as quick as you can – oh, and here I almost forgot what I came down here to tell you to begin with! There’s a new girl who’ll be coming with us when we leave St. Petersburg this evening, we’ll have her as Libenyu in Two Kuni-Lemls if we ever get a chance to perform it. I’ll send her down today so you can get her measurements before we go. We’ll need the costume altered for her, but of course that will be no trouble for you and your clever fingers. Bless you, Chava-libte, for being my rock!”

            She blew Chava-Leah a kiss as she left, which normally would have Chava-Leah blushing; at this moment, she could hardly think to notice it.

            The Tsar dead! And killed by a Jew! Who’d be such a fool?


            She was packing up the last of the hats when she heard footsteps behind her, and sprang to her feet. Her heart was hammering in her chest, as it had been, on and off, ever since Ida brought the news.

            The new arrival took a startled step back. “Ah – you’re the costumer? Ida said you’re to take my measurements.”

            Chava-Leah took in a breath, trying to calm herself. “Then it should be done, of course. You’ll take off your clothes, please. What’s your name, new girl?”

            “Greta,” said the new girl. She looked around at the small room, piled high with trunks, then picked one to sit on and began to unbutton her plain dark dress without a trace of shyness: a relief, under the circumstances. Chava-Leah had been worried she’d need coaxing they didn’t have time for. She folded her dress and petticoats carefully over one of the trunks, then stood up in her drawers and chemise. “Sufficient?”

            “Stand straight,” Chava-Leah told her, and picked up her measuring tape. She ran the tape down the knob of Greta’s spine down her center back, and noted the value. The familiar motions were soothing. Practical considerations. Ida had been right, to focus only on what had to be done. “You’re too long to match our last Libenyu, more’s the pity.” She knelt down to measure the length of her leg, from the hip down. “The old skirt, I think we could make work. How much do you mind if your skirt’s a bit short? You’re not fussed about a little ankle?”

            Greta laughed, short and harsh. “I’m not fussed about much.”

            “You’d be amazed, some of the girls I’ve seen come and go,” said Chava-Leah, straightening. “What they think is going to happen for them, I don’t know. Silks and feathers appear for them out of nowhere? This is the Yiddish theater, not the Ballet Russe! Once they see what’s what, they’re not so loud when their mothers come fetch them home. Hold your arms out, please.  Can you read?”

            Greta raised her eyebrows. “I’ve a degree from the Academy of St. Petersburg.”

            She bit her lip as soon as she said it, and Chava-Leah barked out a laugh. “Well! Good for you for saying so. The theater’s no place for a modest girl, that’s for sure.”

            “If a person can’t read, that’s no shame to them,” said Greta. “The shame should be for those who made it hard for them to learn.”

            There was something about her diction – a little hesitant, a little stilted. “Still,” said Chava-Leah, “if you read only Russian, that won’t help you here, either. What about Yiddish?”

            “Of course,” said Greta, chin high – then, after a moment: “But … I’m a little out of practice.”

            Chava-Leah suppressed a sigh. Well, actresses were always in short supply around the Yiddish theater, and beggars couldn’t be choosers. “That’s what I needed to know. You’ll ride in the wagon with me when we leave, I’ll go over the part of Libenyu with you so you learn it.”  She began to walk the measuring tape around Greta’s narrow frame.

            Greta held herself stiffly as the tape wrapped around her, with a touch of embarrassment that Chava-Leah hadn’t expected from someone who’d shucked her clothes with so little fanfare. “You know all the parts, as well as making the wardrobe?”

            “There’s always more work to do around the troupe than hands to do it. I’d have been Libenyu, next time we played, if you hadn’t come along to save me from it.” 

            Greta raised an eyebrow. “You’re not sorry, then, to lose your role?”

            “I’m no actress. It’s my husband who’s the actor – he’s a star with Goldfaden’s troupe, God rot him. So it’s the theater or my mother-in-law’s house, and I like the theater better than my mother-in-law, and Ida Glickl better than Goldfaden – or my husband, for that matter.”

            She chuckled at her own joke as she checked the under-bust measurement, then moved on to the next. Greta tensed as the measuring tape slipped over her breasts. “Really,” said Chava-Leah, not sure whether to be annoyed or amused, “you’re jumpy as a bride!”

            “That I’ve never been,” said Greta, “and don’t intend to be.”

            Chava-Leah drew the tape taught and answered, lightly, “Well, I can’t say I get much use out of the man himself, but it’s not so bad having the paperwork.”

            “No?” said Greta, glancing backwards over her shoulder. “I suppose you get more use from Ida Glickl?”

            Their eyes met. Chava-Leah became irritably aware that the color had risen to her cheeks. Greta’s face went wary for a moment; then she smiled, ruefully and shook her head. She looked as if she had been making a joke to herself, and hadn’t expected Chava-Leah to understand it.

            But there was no denying that they both had understood it.

            And now Chava-Leah understood, too, the particular quality of Greta’s stiffness while being measured. Chava-Leah had taken a lot of measurements in her day: there were girls who’d never had a hand on them, and girls who knew what a man’s hands could be good for, and then, more rarely, the girls who knew what a woman’s hands could be good for, too. The latter, it could be a pleasure to meet – but even if Greta and she were alike in that way, it still didn’t give her call to make personal remarks. “Don’t turn your head,” she told Greta. “When your back twists like that, it sets the measurement off.”

            To the wall in front of her, Greta said, “I didn’t mean to give offense.”

            With a figure like this, the new girl would never be in competition with Ida for the leads. Chava-Leah finished her measurement and snapped the tape back into her hands. “You can put your clothes back on. I’ve got what I need for now.”


            The inn was a beehive of activity, actors in every corner shouting for each other’s belongings or fighting each other over trunk space. In the midst of the confusion, Ida found Chava-Leah and pressed some letters into her hands. “Chava-libte, you’re packed up already? I knew you would be! Be a darling and post these for me if you can, will you? If we’re lucky, we’ll have a stage to play on in Odessa!”

            As always, Ida’s endless energy was contagious. Chava-Leah set out briskly into the streets without thinking twice about it, but she hadn’t gone more than a block before she started to feel a prickle on the back of her neck. When they arrived in St. Petersburg three days ago, she’d been impressed by the bustle of the streets. People didn’t hang around the corners to schmooze; they’d talked as they walked, moving with purpose, heads held high. They all had business to be about, even the Jews. But today all the Jews she saw – and there weren’t many – kept their heads low and their voices quiet, and the further she got from the friendly chaos of the inn, the more Chava-Leah felt her own shoulders shrinking in.

            When she reached the post office, the doors were closed. There was no sign on the front. Thinking someone might be on their lunch break, Chava-Leah rattled the door, then knocked, but no answer came. As she turned away again, a woman glared at her from across the street.

            Chava-Leah went back the way she had come, conscious of her pace. She didn’t want anyone to think she had a reason to be running.

            After the uneasy silence of the streets outside, the familiar squabbling of her troupe attempting to organize itself in the inn-yard felt like a Purimshpil. Chava-Leah shoved the unsent letters into her pocket and dove into the middle of it, as relieved as a fish thrown back in the water. She found a cake of rosin for Jacob the violinist, a treasured false beard for the younger Schmuel, and a box of illegal fireworks that the other Schmuel had hidden under the bed for safekeeping and then forgotten about.

            Into the middle of all this stormed Ida and her husband Chaim, caught in a moment of high drama. “How could you be such a fool?” Ida roared, then caught sight of Chava-Leah, and swung round to her, grabbing her hands. “Chava-Leah! Tell me you didn’t leave the costumes unguarded!”

            “The new girl’s there,” said Chava-Leah, promptly. She wasn’t entirely sure that this was true – Greta had certainly been there when she left, but she might easily have wandered off by now – but she wasn’t going to tell Ida that until she knew there was trouble. She pressed Ida’s hands, and said, “What’s happened?”

            “The innkeeper’s taken the trunk with our scripts in it hostage,” said Chaim, “and won’t let us leave with them unless we pay his villainous bill.” He raised his voice. “Three times what our stay was worth, here in this rotten, flea-infested --”

            “How could you let them out of your sight!” cried Ida, whirling back on her husband. “You never learn! And now we’re trapped here for days, for all we know – well, there’s nothing to be done for it. I’ll go throw myself on the innkeeper’s mercy, and see if he’ll bend. A part below my merits, and an offense to my pride --” She cast one more glare at Chaim, and lifted her chin high. “-- but what’s that, when necessity calls?”

            She swept off towards the inn, leaving Chaim and Chava-Leah staring at each other in her wake.

            “What’s going on?” said Greta, from behind her. Her eyes were wary in her thin face. “I heard shouting.”

            Chava-Leah swung round. “What are you doing here? You should be with the costumes! Quick, quick --” She herded Greta back towards the inn, glad enough to leave Chaim Glickl behind to stew in his own pot. She saw the practical necessity of keeping a Chaim around, but that didn’t mean she had much to say to him.

            “I thought we were leaving,” said Greta.

            “I’d be glad if we were,” said Chava-Leah, and explained about the kidnapping of the scripts.

            Greta didn’t look impressed. “Surely you can get more scripts --”

            “You think they’re so easy to come by?” Chava-Leah picked up her stride, suddenly impatient with Greta; why had she come at such a time, and knowing nothing! “Goldfaden guards his plays more jealously than he does his wife! Ida and I copied them out secretly at night, while my husband snored in his bed beside us – the only plays ever written in Yiddish, the first time it was ever done. If it weren’t for this, we wouldn’t have a troupe. If we had no scripts, we would have no troupe again. So how could we leave them behind?”

            She heard her own voice coming louder and faster as she spoke. The silence of the streets, the glares from all sides, were still in her mind.

            Greta was right. Nothing good would come of staying. They’d no way to raise the money, or do anything but go deeper into debt.

            But she remembered sitting shoulder by shoulder with Ida, scribbling pages upon pages of prose in guttering candlelight. She remembered the way her heart had pounded at Ida’s nearness, at the feeling that they were stealing their own futures. Once, her husband had woken in the middle of the night, and asked what they were doing. “Copying recipes,” Chava-Leah had answered, at random, “to cook for you Ida’s blintzes!” When he snorted and rolled over again, they’d clung to each other in silent laughter.

            “So write your own,” said Greta now, unmoved. “What does it matter?”

            “What does it matter --” Chava-Leah threw open the door to the room she’d been using as a wardrobe, and then turned around to throw up her hands as well. “Maybe it’s so easy for you! You write us more scripts, if it’s so simple, you with your degree from the Academy of St. Petersburg!”

            “In midwivery!” said Greta.

            “Midwivery!” Chava-Leah stared at Greta. Despite everything, she really had to laugh. “Really, what are you doing in the theater?”

            “It’s the only course available to women,” said Greta, a little defensively. “That and nursing. But it’s not like you need to be Tolstoy to write a script, either. I’ve seen one or two of these Yiddish plays – it’s nothing but farces and fairy tales. Pure distractions, to make people smile, and not think about serious things.”

            “You think it’s so easy to make people smile these days?” said Chava-Leah. “You’ll find out what hard work it is soon enough – but never mind, there’s no point wasting time while we have it.” She didn’t want to think about the hardships ahead of them. Her hands itched to be doing something. She looked round at the various trunks, considering and rejecting various tasks – it would take too long to find the old Libenyu’s costume, and create more work for herself in packing everything up again later – before flinging open the smallest box.  “Easier to do this here than in a jostling wagon, anyway. All right, sit down over there –”

            Greta looked at the box, then at Chava-Leah. Her voice dripped disbelief. “Right now, you want to do my makeup?”

            “Test your makeup,” said Chava-Leah, irritably. “We’ll need to see what works with your coloring. What else should I be doing?”

            “You could tell Ida that we have to leave,” said Greta. She took Chava-Leah’s arm, urgently. “You and she, you’re close like that, aren’t you? Chaim’s nothing, anyone can see that but you – if you can convince her we should go, and not wait on this nonsense with the scripts –”

            Chava-Leah’s heart pounded, and she pulled her arm away. “You don’t know everything you think you know,” she snapped. So she and Greta had something in common – who was Greta, to use that against her like this! To guess at what Chava-Leah would most want to hear, and try to pull her strings with it! “Ida’s the one who runs this troupe. I don’t tell her what to do, and neither do you.”

            Greta thumped down into a seat on one of the other trunks. “How sweet,” she said, caustically. “Just like a real marriage – one above, one below. How pleasant it must be, to know one’s place and never question it!”

            Chava-Leah turned back around, sticks of grease-paint in her hand, and a sharp retort in her mouth, and saw Greta looking pale and defeated.

            Despite herself, her heart softened. She never could find it in herself to stay angry when someone was so clearly unhappy. Greta was rude, but she was new to this life, and nervous, and these were frightening times. “Have a little trust,” she told her. “Ida wants to leave more than any of us, and she’ll turn every stone to make sure it happens. I promise you, she’s a person who gets things done! Now, keep your mouth shut – I need your face to be still for this.” The paint wasn’t cheap, she didn’t want to waste it.

            She didn’t particularly want to spend more time arguing, either. It wasn’t for this newcomer to say what was or wasn’t fair, between Ida and Chava-Leah. It wasn’t for Greta to try to make Chava-Leah unhappy for her own gain.

            Under Chava-Leah’s practiced hands, Greta’s worn, pale face filled in, and turned a rosy ingenue-pink. It didn’t look particularly natural to her, but on a stage in dim light it might do well enough. It did seem a pity that Greta had been assigned to play Libenyu, the ingenue. Chava-Leah’s hands itched to emphasize the starkness of Greta’s features, highlight her piercing eyes and the imposing presence of her nose. Erasing the lines on her face with paint dimmed all the charisma she had. Young, she didn’t look interesting; she could have been anybody.

            Chava-Leah frowned at her handiwork, and stepped back again to assess it from a distance.  Just as she did so, the door behind her flung open, and nearly smacked her in the rear.

            “Watch it!” cried Chava-Leah, spinning around. Younger Schmuel stood there, clutching the false beard she’d found for him in his hand. “What did you lose now?” she demanded, in exasperation.

            “Nothing – only,” stammered Schmuel, “there are police at the front, and I –” He cast a nervous glance at Greta. “I wanted to make sure she –”

            Chava-Leah sighed. Schmuel should have been on his military service, but he had papers to show that he was exempt for health reasons. Unfortunately, the papers had been written for a man named Hershel Kremer. It had never been a concern so long as everyone remembered to call Schmuel by the name of Hershel when the authorities were about. She turned round to explain this to Greta.

            Greta was sitting on the trunk with her hands gripping the edge. Below the smooth pink grease-paint, her eyes shone black with terror, like a calf on a wagon bound for market.

            Looking at the fear in her eyes, Chava-Leah felt a horrible certainty forming in the pit of her stomach. 

            And to think she’d laughed, just a few moments ago, when wondering what unlikely event could have brought Greta to the theater!

            She turned back to Schmuel, and snatched his false beard out of his hand. “I’ll be having that,” she told him. “You run along now, Hershel, and stay out of the way.”

            Schmuel nodded, and went. Chava-Leah stalked back up to Greta and thrust the false beard at her. She could hardly bear to look at her, she was so angry. “You put that on,” she ordered her, and then went to another trunk – she’d packed them all so neatly! – to pull out the belted coat and black hat that Chaim wore as Kuni-Leml. Without looking over her shoulder, she asked, “Does Ida know?”

            “Know what,” said Greta, warily, and Chava-Leah whirled around and furiously shoved the costume in her direction.

            “Really? You think I’m that stupid?”

            “No – I don’t. No, she doesn’t. Are you –” She looked from the coat and hat in one hand, to the false beard in the other. Blankly, she said, “These are for me?”

            “Not if you just stand there without putting them on they aren’t,” snapped Chava-Leah. She turned back around and reached back into the trunk, looking for a pair of trousers that were thin enough to fit.

            Behind her, she could hear Greta’s voice, muffled through the fabric of the coat as she pulled it on. “But my papers –”

            “My papers have my name and my husband’s on them,” said Chava-Leah. “His name is Yakov Spivakovsky and he plays leading men only. You can be him for five minutes.” Finding the trousers she’d been looking for, she grabbed them and tossed them back over her shoulder towards Greta.

            Greta’s laugh came harsh, with a note of hysteria. “This doesn’t seem a little farcical to you?”

            “Oh, yes, a real comedy!” Were those footsteps coming down the hall? Chava-Leah turned around to see Greta in Kuni-Leml’s clothes, her hair shoved under the hat, her features bland and blurry with makeup. She was still holding the false beard in her hand, as if she didn’t quite know what to do with it. Chava-Leah snatched up the spirit gum. Thank God for all the times young Shmuel had turned up late and drunk! Thank God for the adrenaline that came before a performance, when everything had to be done before curtain went up!

            She shoved the beard onto Greta’s face. The footsteps stopped in front of the door. “It’s a farce,” Chava-Leah hissed, and then swung towards the door, ready to play her part. It couldn’t be so difficult; she felt as bitter at Greta right now as she did at Yakov whenever they happened to meet.

            The door swung open.

            Ida Glickl stood behind it.

            She blinked at Chava-Leah, and then at Greta, and said, “Who’s this?” she said, and then looked again, closer. “Is that young Schmuel’s favorite beard?”

            “You mean young Herschel’s,” said Chava-Leah, cautiously.

            “Oh,” said Ida, and laughed. “Is that what this is about! The polizei didn’t stop here, Schmuel caught sight of a green coat and panicked, that’s all. But this handsome young man can’t be our Greta? Dear girl, you should be careful how you let Chava-Leah work her witchcraft on you – if they really had come in, they’d have grabbed you as a draft dodger too!”

            She laughed again, her face pink and pretty with satisfaction, as it only ever was when she’d solved a difficult problem. Chava-Leah said, “You’ve got us the scripts back?”

            Ida waved a hand triumphantly behind her. “Chaim’s coming with the trunk. We’ll be on the road in an hour, so you two need to stop playing around and get packed up. You mustn’t let Chaim see you like that, Greta, or he’ll start to think his roles are in danger!”

            She shot Chava-Leah a smile with a hint of warning in it before waving and closing the door.

            Chava-Leah looked at Greta, and Greta looked back at her from under Schmuel’s beard and Kuni-Leml’s Hasidic hat.

            “A farce,” said Greta, her voice full of self-mockery, “from beginning to end,” and pulled off the beard.

            Chava-Leah crossed her arms over her chest, still thumping with the fear of a moment ago. This time, it had been nothing.  It wouldn’t always be so. “Please,” she said, “don’t tell me you killed the Tsar. Tell me anything but that.”

            She meant it to come out strong; she didn’t like the frightened note in her own voice.

            Greta gave her a tight-lipped smile. “You can’t tell me you’ll miss him?” Seeing Chava-Leah’s face, she let out another one of her harsh laughs. “I didn’t throw any bombs. But I’ve been to enough meetings – I’ve hosted some, I know people, and that – with the people who’ve already been arrested, it was only a matter of time. My cousin had mentioned the troupe would be coming...” She shrugged. “I thought it was a clever enough way to try and disappear. But you don’t look impressed.”

            “By what should I be impressed?” said Chava-Leah, flatly. The quiet in the streets of St. Petersburg rang, rang in her ears.  “You’re a fool, and your friends are worse.”

            “Once you realized I was running, you were so quick to try to hide me –” Greta hesitated, then looked into Chava-Leah’s gaze, serious now, searching. “I thought perhaps you were a sympathizer.” 

            Chava-Leah said, really confused, “And I could have done what else?”

            She felt stupid a moment later, and angrier because she felt stupid. As Greta opened her mouth, she rushed on before Greta could say anything. “Yes, of course, I could turn you in – what good would that do? Perhaps they’d arrest us all as accomplices. With the police, who knows? Safer not to attract their attention at all.”

            Now she could think through the reasoning; at the time, it had only been instinct. Greta was here, part of the troupe, and you protected your own.

            “You really don’t have any politics at all, do you?” said Greta, after a moment. She sounded as puzzled as Chava-Leah had earlier. “I confess I don’t understand you.”

            “Why should you?” snapped Chava-Leah. “You don’t know me.”

            “No, not really, I suppose, but –” Greta hesitated, then forged on. “A woman who finds it easy to take joy in a man, to care for children – I can see how such a woman has no politics. If you fit in the place you’re given, it’s hard to learn to look outside it, you have to be taught to see it. But for me – it feels like I was born knowing that either I was wrong, or the world was. Aren’t we like each other in that? Doesn’t it bother you for the world to be so wrong? How is it that you’re content to keep house for Ida Glickl, and not look outside yourself at all?”

            She was still looking hard at Chava-Leah, as if hoping to see something in her face; she was twisting young Schmuel’s beard absently in her hands.

            Chava-Leah reached out and took it back from her. “You’re going to damage that,” she said, shortly. “We’re not so like each other, I think – and it’s not so easy to be happy, so I don’t know why you should sneer at it. You can think my life is small and silly if you want, but it wasn’t so easy to come by either. And it’s farces and fairy tales that will get you out of St. Petersburg, so perhaps don’t say so anymore where I can hear.”

            Greta, who’d clearly been ready to argue further, shut her mouth again at this. She began to unbutton Kuni-Leml’s coat, with slightly shaking hands. When she got to the fourth button, she muttered, “I assumed – since you’ve no sympathy for the cause, I thought you’d ask me to leave.”

            “Well,” said Chava-Leah, resigned and unhappy, “most likely I should.” It would have been safer by far to leave Greta in St. Petersburg. She had meant all she said about Greta and her friends. It was hard to see that the things they had in common were all so important, weighed against the things they didn’t.

            And yet – it didn’t sit right, to turn her away, either. However you looked at it, she was a kind of landsman. “In a farce,” she told Greta, shortly, “even the fools end happily enough. That’s why people like to see them. Now give me that coat, we’ve got to pack everything up again.”


            The morning after they left St. Petersburg, Chava-Leah woke to find that Greta had already left.

Well, she had never been going to stay. Presumably she was off to find other political friends in exile, and plan some other stupid activity. With some regret, and more relief, Chava-Leah banished Greta from her mind, and didn’t think on her again until the next time she had cause to look in the costume trunk.

            Placed carefully on top of Kuni-Leml’s coat was a very short stack of pages, written in an unpracticed hand.

            I stayed up all night writing this, read the note at the top. You’re right – it’s not so easy, and I don’t know if it will make anyone smile. But perhaps you’ll get some use out of it anyway.

            There were ten pages in total, more a sketch than a full play. The plot concerned a young Jewish woman whose beloved friend was sent to labor in Siberia for her politics. The dialogue was stiff, the characters prone to wordy speeches, and towards the back half the pages got notably less coherent. Greta had also, unfortunately, made a dutiful attempt to add jokes.

             As Chava-Leah turned through the draft again, a line of dialogue from the heroine to her friend caught her eye:

            If you fit in the place you’re given, it’s hard to look outside. But isn’t it different, if the world won’t let you fit, and you know the world is wrong?

            Chava-Leah laughed and shook her head as she put the play back down. It was a kind gesture – or perhaps it was only an attempt to continue the argument that Chava-Leah hadn’t wanted to have, masquerading as a kind gesture. Either way, they’d never be able to stage it.

            Still, she folded the pages up, carefully, and put them in her pocket.

Show Notes

This quarter’s fiction episode presents “A Farce to Suit the New Girl” by Rebecca Fraimow, narrated by Violet Dixon.

Links to the Lesbian Historic Motif Project Online

Links to Heather Online

Links to Rebecca Framow Online

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