The Eleventh Planet

A Play by Evald Flisar

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Synopsis from Collected Plays, I (Texture Press, 2006)

On the face of it, Peter, Paul and Magdalene, the three vagrants in The Eleventh Planet, are free individuals roaming at will through our world (our city, any city), needing no more than a few "subsidies" from the generous passers-by for survival. They are people of the present, having forgotten their past and given up thinking about the future. But all is not what it seems. In spite of forming a tightly-knit group with a written set of rules, they cannot avoid the pressures and temptations of the world of "bonkers" (decent, hard-working citizens), which they rejected (because it rejected them by locking them up, for various reasons, in a mental hospital). Having escaped from the hospital they have nowhere to go – except back to the despised reality of the the "bonkerish" world, or to a world so far away that it may not exist except in their imagination.

Their steadily growing (although steadfastly denied) wish to return to a more comfortable, "bonkerish" way of life is given full expression when Peter steals (and decides to wear) a brand new suit (ostensibly because he wants to propose marriage to Magdalene). This shatters the unity of their little community, but so does, on the other hand, the utopian vision of "the eleventh planet," into which they project their desire to be needed, and with whose inhabitants they communicate (separately and secretly) by their stolen cell phones. The voices they hear (and may be the voices of the owners of the stolen phones, or – as it turns out – of the hospital staff trying to locate and recapture them) are so alluring that they cannot resist their appeal. One after they betray their collective commitments and regress into the sort of people they claim to despise: individuals concerned only with their own happiness.

Deep down they all suspect that their time of freedom is running out, and choose to cling to the utopian idea of the "eleventh planet" as a conscious strategy for survival, which is nevertheless real and effective, never more so than at the end, when, in the revolving light of the police car flashing in through the window, they are busy drawing a rocket as a means of dramatic last-minute escape.